things I'm grateful for

Monday, December 31, 2012

because now, more than ever, I need this list

chamomile tea with honey
dutch baby pancakes in the oven
classical music on pandora
our nice new TV to watch movies on
sweet packages from wonderful friends in the mail
being able to clean (after weeks on the couch, it was wonderful)
the beauty of Chloe's new kitchen aid on the counter
candles flickering like Christmas on the ledge
our Christmas tree trunks on the table, all the way back to 2006
watching silly and wonderful chick flicks with chloe and grace yesterday (& quoting almost every line)
that samuel is NOT in the hospital for something celiac disease related
chloe being able to rest up and do fun things at grandma's
encouraging emails and messages (I can't tell you how much they bless me)
thinking about next year
The Message Bible (& the Bible in general)
heartbreak and grief (because it makes you stronger, helps to shape who you are. and in my weakness, He is perfect strength)
playing Just Dance 4 with Grace and Chloe (& looking like idiots while dancing, no doubt)
warm sweatshirts
a clean room
starting resolutions to eat healthy...tomorrow :)
hot water
my moleskine, almost filled
my family

and so we pray.

two weeks of sickness.
brennan, caleb, grace, eli, and I are recovering...slowly.
samuel has influenza A and is going down to Children's hospital right now.
the doctors don't know what's wrong with Chloe and it's possible (most likely) she'll be staying overnight at the hospital.
my parents are both sick but not down and out.
and so we pray.

for healing, for strenght, for peace.

please be praying for our family. this has been one of the hardest Decembers yet.
it hurts my heart so bad that Sam is going to the hospital.

who me?

Sunday, December 30, 2012

& so I guess i've always been an artist
sometimes with paper, sometimes with words
sometimes with pictures but always telling
learning to see the gold in the gritty
there's always shine. the trick is seeing,
not just looking.
open your eyes and keep your head up,
see how wonderful the world is.
open your heart and be
bold and brave.

(sick, so I write rambles and bad poetry and cheesy prose and stuff like that. also, I made this space pretty, because I can)

a short story.

Friday, December 28, 2012

been sick the past 9-10 days. not even sure how long it's been now, honestly. but I've had an idea in my head that I might do something with (or maybe not), so that's exciting. rough and unedited like always, but that's okay. :)

"Did you ever love him?" I scoot closer to her and put my chin in my knees. She sighs and runs a hand through her hair. I wince noticing the grey strands and the subtle threading in her face.

"I don't know." She smiles sadly, generously at me. "But I was so young and he was safe. I wanted out, you know. All around me, death. So many people died." Her voice trails off and she shakes he her head. I see the death in the way her hands shake and her voice breaks. "But your papa was safe. He was so safe to me. And he was a way out."

I catch my laugh before it comes and it turns into a cough. "Papa? Safe?" A snort I can't suppress. I shouldn't be this cruel.

Mama smiles again. She grips my face in her hands, strokes my cheek with her thumb. "I know. It seems so ironic, especially now," another trail and break and I watch as she protects us, "but he was so safe. And there was a time I thought he loved me. Just a little. It was in the snatches of summer and we picked peaches in an abandoned grove."

All at once, I see her as the mama in the photograph, slim with eyes bright and curly hair gathered into a messy braid, her feet bare and dress flowing and bracelets jangling. I hear the laughter in the dusty corners of the room and I see the smiles folded onto her face. I can't see his face, but I feel the corners of his grin and I know he must have loved mama.

"It was barely a grove," she confesses. Mama laughs again and leans back, remembering. "Just a few dilapidated trees. Most of them had been ravaged by the militia. They were mostly wormy -- peaches melting into mush under your fingers. But there was this one tree," her hands move rapidly as she paints a picture with her movements. I sit back and watch as she describes the afternoon.

"The leaves were thick and green like leaves are supposed to be. And the tree was heavy with fruit. I don't know how it escaped notice, and likely, it was tended, which is why we took so few. But your papa and I ate that fruit and I felt like life would be good." She laughs again, this time disparagingly. "Isn't it silly and sad all at once when we put such hope in the little things?" It wasn't a question. But I answered it.

"I think it's foolish."

"Put your stock in the small moments, Alya." She thumbs my cheek again, scoots closer and plants a small kiss in my hair. "Those are the minutes we can count as truly counting. And sometimes," she waves a hand at the grey outside. "the taste of peaches in the summer can give you hope, even long after they're gone."

She puts her hands on her knees and stands up, staring out the window.

I peek up and see that it's snowing. I don't need to see the flakes to know -- I can feel it in my bones. There's a wet chill that won't go away. But all I can think of is peaches and my momma and how things could have been. It's sad and hateful at once, but I'm jealous that I've never had peaches and angry that I never knew the laughing man she talks about as my father.

"Mama?" I venture one more question. She turns to look at me and waits. She waits and waits for what seems like an hour but is truly only a few minutes. She knows I need the moments to taste the question, to chew it. In that sense, she and I are alike.
"Yes?" Her question breaks the silence.

I look down at my hands. I'm afraid to ask but cannot not. "Did papa ever love you?" The words spill out in a tumble, a rush I can't stop. Now that I've said them, I can't look away from her face.

She is careful. She looks away from me, her expression guarded. Her words are steady, but she blinks more than usual and I'm afraid I've hurt her. And again, they are the words I've come to hate more than anything uttered. "I don't know."

It's apologetic, but not for me. She's sorry for the man who is a stranger still.
"Okay. I'm sorry." I stand and rub the dust from the back of my dress. She reaches a hand over to squeeze my own.

"There is nothing to be sorry about." Her voice is soft and I wish desperately that what she says is true.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

“And so my prayer is that your story will have involved some leaving and some coming home, some summer and some winter, some roses blooming out like children in a play. My hope is your story will be about changing, about getting something beautiful born inside of you about learning to love a woman or a man, about learning to love a child, about moving yourself around water, around mountains, around friends, about learning to love others more than we love ourselves, about learning oneness as a way of understanding God. We get one story, you and I, and one story alone. God has established the elements, the setting and the climax and the resolution. It would be a crime not to venture out, wouldn’t it?
It might be time for you to go. It might be time to change, to shine out.
I want to repeat one word for you:
Roll the word around on your tongue for a bit. It is a beautiful word, isn’t it? So strong and forceful, the way you have always wanted to be. And you will not be alone. You have never been alone. Don’t worry. Everything will still be here when you get back. It is you who will have changed.”
— Donald Miller, Through Painted Deserts

hope is very real, i am reminded.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

maybe it's ugly
maybe it's dark
maybe it's hard
maybe it's uncomfortable
but it's real

we cannot hide in the midst
of our own little
homes, squirreling
ourselves away like
we! are somehow better;
no. we do not live in
disney land
and this is
no vacation

if you have a voice
you are to speak
if you have a song
you are to sing
if you have a mission
you are to go

you are a voice to
those who have none;
why are you whispering or
not speaking at all?

were you once --
your ripped, aching, bleeding,
tarnished, dirty, empty,
broken heart --
healed, freed, made new, made whole,
redeemed, by Christ.

(go now, my
child) He says (you
are my hands and

but Lord!

(i have given
because you are
give because
you are mine)

but Lord!

(i have a purpose for
and it's your choice to
walk away or
follow me)

you are not mute
you are not deaf
you are not blind
you are not lame
do not pretend you
cannot speak, hear, see, do

not that, Lord!
it's too hard. someone
else can --

(you are someone else)

it is dark and

(but it is very real)
I am reminded.

my hands
are closed; i live
tight-fisted. it is
too much to
(you are not alone)
I am reminded.

but Lord, there is so much
evil! what can i, just one
(hope is very real,
have i not called you like

there are so many
broken hearts
ripped, scribbled, tattered,
my heart weeps; and
with my one
life -- what? Lord, what
am i to do?

(have i not called you like
Moses? when you
pass through the waters
i will be with you)

i didn't ask
for this, God!
i just want a
normal life, who am
i to speak?

(i have given you a
voice so you may
speak for
those who cannot.
my child)

my voice is fragile
(i am your strength)

what will i
say, Lord?

(have i not called you like
i will give you
words to speak - i have
given you words to speak;
do not let them go

these are real people
these are real hearts
this is real brokenness

hope is very real.
i am reminded.

read some of Christian Caine's book, Undaunted, and feeling my heart break for those caught in sex and human trafficking. this poem is for me. to challenge myself. to dare myself. to remind myself. how can I know of such evil and pain and sorrow and pretend it does not exist, hiding in my own little home? how can i, who am made free in Christ, pretend that i do not have a life to give? sex trafficking and human trafficking is a dark and uncomfortable subject and unfortunately, it is very real. but hope is very real and the Gospel is very real and Jesus is the most real of anything, ever. He has the power to break all chains, to loosen all bonds, to heal, free, and redeem everyone and every circumstance.

break my heart for what breaks yours.

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." - Jim Elliot

and after all this time

Monday, December 10, 2012

and after all this time
we will still say
love prevailed
(dry your cry eyes
little one, my
shoulder is here)
he says

and after all this time
we have only broken
fifteen plates, a
record unmatched
broken plates are
better than hearts
(and yours is
already chipped enough
by this chapped world)
he says

and after all this time
we still dance
in the kitchen
my jeans are coated
with flour, cakes make
a mess, and
i am a clumsy dancer,
but you laugh. love
to take me in your arms
(you are always beautiful
my ballerina)
he says

and after all this time
we wear our laugh lines
like crowns. we can say
it is good, tears
softened our eyes and
it is good,
love prevailed and
it is good,
(and only the brave do
not give up)
he says

and after all this time
we can say, yes
i am in love,
is it hard? yes,
life is better for it,
(cracks are better
than breaks and
mark life in wisdom)
he says

and i taste the dust
on my tongue that says
promise and past of days to last.
my life is tied up in memories
and in those moments
we love every

and after all this time
i love you,
more so every
day until my
heart aches
(and i you)
he says

fifty two feet till home.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

sometimes, my heart is so restless
going going going,
like the spaces between my fingers
where yours once sat.
i wander the roads between here
and there, counting the steps
from your stoop to mine,
and i tell it, wait
i whisper, hope,
i have fifty two feet till home.

it is the morning light
in a tangle of variegating rays
my heart my heart
the memory of days, gone by.
(why are you bright
why are you light
sun in eyes
mind over heart)

sometimes, my heart is so yearning
looking in alleyways, roads untraveled.
my feet are in ruts
my soles are in dust,
i pound the pedaled path
come on, come on

sun in eyes
mind over heart
why have you gone?
where have you come from?

it is the morning light
that catches my eyes.
i lift a hand (why are you bright?)
memory of days
tangled in the skies painted with blackbirds wings.

i have a map in my mind's eye
five thousand forty two steps
to your door,
five thousand forty two knocks
before i wander gone.

feet in ruts, soles in dust,
morning light like summer skies.
i taste salt on my lips, sun in my eyes
it it is the yearning morning,
and i am home
i am home.

sun in eyes
where have you gone
five thousand forty two steps
where have you come from?
my feet pound pedaled paths
but your door is closed
fifteen seconds till gone.

sometimes my heart is so aching
tangled skies in sunlight
i wander the town
pathways i used to know
like each and every laugh line
on your face,
i am home
i am home

come on, come on
i am home