Tuesday, November 29, 2011

One Thousand Gifts - Edition 2

Twelve. Homeschool friends, who came over for the afternoon to play.

Thirteen. The Tapestry Folk Dance Center, where we went yesterday. Thank you, God, for planting us in a city that appreciates art, poetry, dance... I first visited the Tapestry on a swing dance night when I was in college. My brother-in-law went almost every Thursday. He learned English Country Dance there, too, and he taught his students when he became an English teacher. Now my daughter takes lessons there with an awesome group of homeschool friends.

Fourteen. A beautiful, little tree-lined backyard right here in the middle of the city.

Fifteen. Neighbors to share our backyard.

Sixteen. A house that is just big enough...and warm enough...and beautiful.

Seventeen. The fireplace in the big enough, warm enough house!

Eighteen. Photographs...those that line the mantle and those that don't. I'm grateful to live in a time of photographs, to be able to hold onto those memories just a little more clearly.

Nineteen. Email from a friend, who moved away. Oh, dear God, I do not deserve such good friends, but here that are, and they send me encouragement just when I need it, and I'm startled by the way they care about me so much. Help me to always be so grateful.

Twenty. The pocketcast app that Mango put on my tablet so I can listen to Midmorning whenever I want to (and today I ended up listening to a show about gratitude, imagine that!).

Twenty-One. Advent.


This post was inspired by Ann Voskamp at:

holy experience

Monday, November 28, 2011

One Thousand Gifts - Part 1

I stumbled upon a blog the other day called A Holy Experience. The author of the blog is also the author of a book called One Thousand Gifts. I haven't read very much of it yet, and I don't know very much about it. But I thought it was a wonderful idea to keep a running list of gifts in my life, things for which I am grateful. I've felt a great deal of gratitude lately, in the midst of what seems like endless struggle. I've felt strangely grateful, even when anxious. (And I've been anxious a lot.)

So, begins my list...

One. My husband. Mango. My love. He is a most precious gift. A most holy gift. A gift, I've learned, very few people ever receive, even when married. And because of him, I know I have been called to much in this life. Together we can and have and will accomplish much.

Two. Mane. The youngest child, who came to us first. She is both a reflection and so opposite of me. I learn much from her, and together we walk and run through this wild and wooly life.

Three. Vespera. The oldest child, who came to us miraculously. I cannot imagine life without her. Yet there was a time when she was not here. She taught me faith and tenacity and courage.

Four. Niteo. My son-in-law. Child and not child. Gift to my Vespera.

Five. Co-housing with Vespera and Niteo, which gives us all the opportunity to learn from each other, to practice love and service, honesty and loyalty, openness and intuition.

Six. Sharing a duplex with my in-laws. A gift to them, a gift to us.

Seven. My good friend, who comes for coffee/tea a few mornings a week. So often my lifeline.

Eight. Another good friend, whose children are so close to Mane in age, who is always just a phone call away.

Nine. My Bible Study ladies.

Ten. Book club.

Eleven. Wool socks.

30 Day Photography Challenge Grand Finale!!

So, in order to prove that I can actually finish something, I will regale you with photos from the last several months, which fulfill the final 9 days of the 30 Day Photography Challenge!

Day 22 - Hands - Vespera and Niteo's Wedding

Day 23 - Sun Flare - Not a sun flare exactly, but a sunburst on the floor of Children's Hospital:

Day 24 - Animal - Ellie the Elephant, whom I made for Mane when she was a baby...

Day 25 - Something Pink - Don't you just want to eat them?!

Day 26 - Close Up - Warm, fuzzy legwarmers I made this fall...

Day 27 - From a Distance - Rocket launching in North Branch...

Day 28 - Flowers - Fairy House among the flowers in Red Wing, MN...

Day 29 - Black & White - Life is never black and white, and that wouldn't really be any fun anyway, now would it? (In other words, an excuse to include one of my favorite photos full of ORANGE!)

Day 30 - Self Portrait - Nope, I SWEAR I've done a gazillion self-portraits with this challenge already!

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

It's so not a beautiful day in the neighborhood

A post from over a month ago that I just dug up...


I want to run. I want to hide. I want to sit in a dark room and rock. I want to move to the country where I imagine everything is beautiful. I want a ranch house with a wraparound porch and trees to climb and no neighbors. I want to live 100 years ago, maybe 200. I want anything but this.

A man was killed in the alley. My alley. Beaten, stripped, assaulted, shot.

A boy was killed over north. Not far from Mango's school.

A woman was shot at a vigil for peace.

I want to back out. I want to cop out. Helpless. Hopeless. Angry. Anxious. Afraid. I feel all those things.

And yet, when you ask my why I am here, I will tell you that it is to bear witness. To see and know what happens here because so few people will ever really know. And then I can raise the awareness of those who don't know. I can speak for the people who cannot speak for themselves.

But I will tell you right now that I have no words. My mouth is empty. My stomach is hollow. My eyes burn. I want to close them. I want to stop witnessing these moments. I want to stop fighting this fight.

But I won't. Because we have always been about living life on the edge. Because I don't want to be safe and out of touch. Or maybe I do, but it's too late.

Oh, come, Lord Jesus, come. Yeshua, we need you.

Today's thoughts...
I am still here in this neighborhood. The tightness in my chest has eased. Yesterday I was stuck in an awful situation and FIVE of my neighbors came to my rescue, while another offered good, sound and necessary advice. Yet another listened to the story and offered prayers. Friends from outside the neighborhood prayed and listened. Vespera and Niteo sent encouraging text messages all day. 

And at the end of the day, I could do nothing but say that I am truly blessed. I was in the middle of something horrible and something wonderful all at once. I couldn't wallow in my anger, indignation, frustration or even just plain sadness because it was so glaringly obvious that I am blessed anyway. 

This is what it has meant for us, time and again to be called to this life. We have been given much. Much will be required of us. It is painfully difficult. But so poignantly beautiful.

Peregrin House

If you've been wondering where all the action is lately...it's over at the homeschool blog: Peregrin House. Mane & I (and really the whole family) have been very, very busy this fall, which has made it nearly impossible to keep up with both blogs. Our lives are never, ever boring, and there's plenty to say...just not enough time to write it. In the meantime, if you just want to catch up on a piece of our lives lately, Peregrin House is the place to look. Enjoy!