Friday, October 29, 2010

Life! photo of the week

Stand and Stare

"Leisure" by W.H. Davies

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where Squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

This is where I am, folks. I am making time, at last, to stand and stare. Finally. At last. And... I am one happy girl! The most fabulous part about it? My children and I are doing this together. Together, we venture out each morning on a "dragon hunt/princess walk," opening our eyes to the magic in the air. It's only been a week, and we are all happier! Tai collects swords, Ava collects magic wands, and A.J. is content to watch it all from the comfort of my back. We hear every bird that sings and every cow that moos. The children climb ant hills (trust me, they are everywhere here!) and find secret forts in the "bush" (after I do a quick survey for snakes). We even discovered the coolest vine swing ever. Ever. We stop when we want to, squatting to ponder a snail or a ladybug. By the time we get home, all of us have lungs satisfied with fresh air, bodies satisfied with movement, minds satisfied with vibrant imaginations, and hearts satisfied with time together. We all seem more alive. And why wouldn't we?!  We have been singing with Creation, whose song, day and night,  is Glory! and Life! This must be the path I was looking for. This must be the path that has been waiting for me...and my family. The wonder is beginning to awake from its slumber.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Life! photo of the week

The owners of these homes must be my kind of birds!
Their homes are attached to a steadfast tree, yet their homes are free to dance in the wind.
These are my kind of birds.

Life (of the rest of me)

For the life of the flesh is in the blood
~Leviticus 17:11

The life of my flesh is in my blood
The life of my soul, in the blood of Another
The life of the rest of me... a mystery.

My flesh is a breath
My soul is secure
So what about the rest of me?

Like a palm swaying fearless in the breeze
I long to be rooted yet free
Free to be the lover I am

A lover of Wild, untamed land
A lover of colors outside the lines
A lover of Light, wherever it shines

(Written by me, without a care in the world about structure and "oughts" of "good writing/poetry." Written from the heart.)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Bring On The Wonder

Can't see the stars anymore living here
Let's go to the hills where the outer lights are clear

Bring on the wonder
Bring on the song
I pushed you down deep in my soul for too long

I live in Africa. I live in the bush. The stars don't get anymore clear and spectacular than here. And yet, in the place I've been living, this time of jaded life and surface living, I can't see the stars! they sparkle through every glass-less window in my home, but somehow...for me...they just aren't there.

Let's go to the hills where the outer lights are clear

Sometimes the going isn't physical or literal. Sometimes it's a soul journey. That's where I am.

Bring on the wonder
Bring on the song
I pushed you down depp in my soul for too long

If that can be a prayer, it's definitely mine.
I remember a time when every hike in the mountains or run in the country or even the drive through town felt magical to me. Everything exploded with life, and I could see it. From the sun's reflection in a mud puddle, to the crinkling of dried leaves under my feet--it all shouted beauty; it all sang of God's kingdom come.
I still see glimpses of it: in the life-loving eyes of my daughter who was once seemingly doomed for death; in my students' howls as they feel the rhythm of poetry; in the storm hovering above.
The seeing just doesn't come as naturally anymore. And the heart-exploding wonder is gone. I want it back. No more pushing it down deep in my soul with worry...or efficiency...or oughts...or (you name it).
So, God, bring on the wonder. Bring on the song. Tonight I'm going to the hills. Tonight I'm stepping outside my door, lying down beside the swaying banana tree, and allowing the sparkling stars above to reopen my I can see once again.

~This post is dedicated to Amy Hooper and Kerrie Protasewich, who, once upon a time (many years ago), relished the wonder with me.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Life! photo of the week

Do you know what this is? It is a banana tree beginning its life under the shade of banana fiber (essentially dead layers of banana tree "skin"). The vulnerability of burgeoning life is sheltered by the very plant that gave it life.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Breath of Life

Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. Genesis 2:7

Life/living: the Hebrew word can mean "living, alive; raw, fresh, running (water); life, refreshment"

Being: the Hebrew word means "soul"

It's not about me finding life or getting it back. I need God to breathe His spirit of life/refreshment/vitality into me. The thought of being raw and fresh, like running water...ahhhhhhh! THAT is it. I can see it, hear it, taste it. Raw. In its truest form, "out there" and authentic. Flowing.
"And man became a living being." Without the breath of God, I am dust. I am a body without a soul. I cannot grow, I can only decay. I cannot move or feel or choose or create. But when Abba breathes into me, my soul is born. My soul was conceived, and is sustained by, the Breath of Life.
Oh, Abba, breathe into me. Refresh me, revive me.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Show Me

Bind up these broken bones
Mercy, bend and breathe me back to life
But not before you show me how to die.

The entire song seems to swallow me. I listen to each verse and think Amen! Audrey Assad sings about all these ways she is willing for God to use her and to glorify Himself. But then she sings, "But for now just..." let me cry/ let me lie/ let me be/ stay with me.
The part that really gets me, though, is the part I wrote up above. Oh, how I long to be bent and breathed back to life! That's why i'm "back," right? To journey down the path of Life. I want life in my mind, life in my heart, life from the tippy-toppy-est hair on my head to the last cell on the longest toe on my foot (which, on my right foot, happens to be my third toe). And I don't want it for purely selfish reasons either. I know that when life possesses me like that, those I love and serve will be blessed! But that's obvious, isn't it? Remember, I'm not talking about perfection here. I'm not talking about never feeling down or disappointed or angry or like I just need everyone to go away...because I will always have moments like that. I'm an introverted intuitive feeler perceiver.
But even in those moments, I want to retreat into the peace and rest of a soul fully alive. I want to surrender whatever it is I'm fiercely (and selfishly) holding onto. I want to feel the presence of my Abba and hear His voice. I want to have clarity. Is that at least a tiny piece of what life looks like?
The song, though, doesn't stop with Audrey's plea for mercy to breathe her back to life. It's the last line that socks me in the stomach: "But not before You show me how to die." There it is! Death and life just cannot be separated. We cannot have one without the other. Courtney, you cannot have the one without the other. You, my dear, must let go. Surrender. Embrace the truth that Life looks differently now. It includes people. People you love! It includes happenings you can't control and some you don't like. You are still you, but you. are. different. Stop fighting. Let what must die...die. Fear not. On the other side of death is Life to the full.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


I feel like the world is sitting on my chest. Maybe not the whole world, but definitely my world. We are finally ready to go to court for Ava's adoption, and hopefully Asher's adoption as well. But there's a pretty significant hang-up: the organization we work with needs to get its NGO status we can get new work we can prove to the courts that we are legally working in this we have a chance of being approved for these adoptions! And why is it important that we get these adoptions to go through soon? Because election season is fast approaching here, and it seems that it could get, well, like African elections often get: violent. Dangerous. Not that it will, and we're definitely praying it won't! But there's something to be said for being prepared.
So that's just one thing that is sitting on my chest right now. There's more. But that's the personal side of the weight, and that's always the one that weighs heaviest--even if it's not the most "important."
But it's Friday, which means family movie, smoothies, and popcorn. The kids are singing and dancing, and I finished writing the mid-term exam for my Literature class. There's plenty to rejoice about. But I can't ignore the stuff on top of me... that would be foolish, and today I'm not going to be foolish.
What's my advice to myself? Trust, dear one. He's got the whole world in His hands. He's got your whole world in His hands. It's not going to work out like you want it to. It never does. But it will unfold well...and wonderously...and gloriously. Take a walk. Breath in the fresh air. Watch the sunset, and gaze at the stars. This whole world that He's got in His hands, it's broken and struggling. But it's also stinkin' beautiful.

Not what i thought.

It's been a year. Apparently I have a problem with perseverance and continuing what I start. Frankly, that's always been my problem. And just as frankly, I am not returning to this blog out of guilt or a need to "right" the situation. I am returning out of pure necessity. I ignorantly thought (foolishly thought?) all my little quackers were lining up in a row. This past year was going to be We were moving on, turning over a page, starting a-fresh. Silly girl, when will you learn? You, my dear, are not like THEM. You can't do it all and be it all. You can't "just push through." You can't give like crazy without having serious time to ponder and reflect and create and be [end of self-confrontation].
I ache to be the kind of wife/mom/friend/teacher/etc. who breathes beauty and life and creativity into my children, into my world. I thought it would just come naturally. But this is the truth: I don't ooze Life like that on my own. I sure as heck have the capacity, but the actual STUFF doesn't have its origin in me. I do not hold an unending reservoir of beauty, life, and creativity. What flows out of me is as unique as I am; it's just not conceived by me.
So... I am back. Back to figure out what I need to be fully ALIVE. Back to grow in the beautiful fertilizer of the past that God has given me; to get to a place of thriving. There is just no way my children will experience the love and beauty and creativity and freedom and joy and authenticity and courage and honesty and adventure and generosity and winsomeness and LIFE that I desire for them unless I am alive. I want to figure out who they are, how they were created by the Creator, and give them a place to breathe and flourish. It starts with me. Thank God (thank God!) I don't have to be perfect in order to do this. We'd be doomed! Thank God that His Light shines through my cracks. Thank God that grace is abundant and forgiveness is foundational. Thank God I'm not alone.
What's my plan? know.... it's in the non-verbal stage, swirling around in pictures, abstracts, and feelings. But something is forming. It won't be a 3-step process or even a 12-step process. In fact, it probably won't include steps. I don't like steps. I like paths. And the best paths are the kind where you're not quite sure where they'll end up... but the scenery is refreshing.
So, like I said, I'm back (whatever that means), and I'm beginning a journey (wherever it leads). To God be the glory.