It’s been like breathing again….

20140731-090630-32790069.jpg

There are moments now when I just sit and listen to myself breathe….mostly before my children get up and after my husband goes to work. It’s a simple, natural act….air in, air out. For months of my life I cannot remember this sustaining function. For endless weeks I felt like I held my breath and I watched one monument after another crumble. They are still falling and I continue to stand in the wasteland…sometimes with my mouth hanging wide…could anything more come down?

Standing in the dust and ash it is easy to think the prior years have been wasted. I watch money go down the drain and yet another long held belief fall away…and the bitterness edges every corner…holding out for the moment it can rush in…the moment I reach for what is familiar once again. A moment of comfort in sorrow. A wallowing in things lost….anger at having been played the fool.

And I realize I’m holding my breath again….

My child, hear my voice, and give no heed to the voice of the stranger. My paths are straight, and they are narrow, but you shall have no difficulty in finding them if you watch Me. I am guiding you. You need not look to people for direction. You may learn much by fellowship with the saints, but never allow any to take the role that is rightfully Mine….to direct your steps. As it is written, “The steps of a good man are ordered by The Lord. ” ~not by the preacher, not by some Christian worker, but buy The Lord.

Trust Me to do it, and give Me the time and the opportunity to do it. Be not hasty, and lean not upon your own intelligence. Rest in Me. I shall bring to pass My perfect will in your life as you believe and live in faith.

{Come Away My Beloved}
~Frances J. Roberts

And I remember to breathe…and listen. Air in. Air out.

Week 30….Water

20140728-084909-31749816.jpg

The topic for last week was water. How could I pass up the opportunity to snap a few shots of this special place in my life? We just got back from a weekend away….oh, it was needed!

20140728-113458-41698204.jpg

20140728-113456-41696851.jpg

20140728-113457-41697547.jpg

The shots I took of A&A just didn’t turn out well. We took them on a tube behind the boat for the first time this weekend! At first both girls were excited! They had their life jackets on and wanted to go fast! It only took one turn….just a little too quickly….to change their whole perspective. They were tossed from the tube and swam like champs while they screamed in fear an clung to each other. It was a hard mommy moment, but we did ok. One of the girls got back on while the other clung to me for the rest of the boat ride.

Mike and the girls got a little fishing in too! The point cabin is located in the perfect spot to fish on the lake! We just walk to the end of the dock and toss out some bate…it never takes too long to get a bite….even if it isn’t a big one.

20140728-114220-42140668.jpg

This secret little place has been in our family for generations now, and is a total jewel! I am so thankful to our family for their open invitation to come and enjoy this little one room getaway! such a blessing!

20140728-114441-42281795.jpg

20140728-114440-42280579.jpg

20140728-114441-42281212.jpg

Week 28….Yummy & Week 29….Green

20140724-092621-33981385.jpg

Right, so I just couldn’t help myself! I’ve had a July full of weddings, beautiful brides, and amazing flowers! I had to take two weeks from this project and share just a few shots.

So, shameless plug for Little Orange Flower! If you like what you see here be sure to swing by the web page where I have a lot more photos of my work….and if you’re a bride to be and you like what you see…..drop me a line! www.littleorangeflower.com

20140724-093842-34722522.jpg

Week 27….Freedom

20140724-075501-28501534.jpg

So I’m a little behind in my blog posting for each week….I’m attempting to catch up. This theme came out offer the 4th of July week. Most people in out photography project chose photos of events that were taking place over the holiday in celebration of the 4th of July holiday.

I went another route. Every day that our chickens can freely roam the yard is a day they seem to celebrate. They eagerly peck at the walls of the coop and start ‘yelling’ at me the moment they see me….they want out! there are bugs to eat and earth to turn….there are dust baths to be had and any number of small adventures….

20140724-080024-28824117.jpg

I love our chickens! They make me smile just about every day.

20140724-080144-28904638.jpg

W

20140724-080144-28904105.jpge have high hopes to start hatching eggs soon! That will be a whole new adventure! We have yet to get a hen to willingly go broody….but my fingers are crossed! With 13 hens running around you would think one would want to be a mama!

Week 26…Games

20140724-074216-27736479.jpg

Summer tends to be filled with a lot of projects around here! It seems like I am constantly working on something….and with only 5 good months of weather to work outside we are pressed to get things taken care of.

I often forget that there are two little ones in out home that have zero concept of what it means to work other then that it takes mommy and daddy’s time and attention away from them.

So I was really thankful for our trip down to the Chicago Land area a month ago. Wee needed the break….and we needed to play a little! Grandpa Is always good for rounding up some way or another to have a good time!

20140724-074854-28134606.jpg

20140724-074855-28135126.jpg

On the last night of our visit we had a bit of an adventure. In the middle of the night the whole house was woken up by tornado sirens. The girls were troopers! I think they were so out of it that they weren’t even afraid….they just snuggled up in a blanket with their Bapoos (Nemo’s loving name in our home) and tried to go back to sleep.

20140724-075222-28342934.jpg

A post on the ‘situation’….how easily we miss the people

This morning while drinking coffee and reading Facebook posts…yes, I’m still there….I ran into yet another boiled down, simplified video of the Palestinian / Israeli conflict. The poster? A friend….must we agree? No. However, as broken hearted as I am over this ongoing life of conflict in the Middle East my heart churns, a new every time the Western Christian culture supports another simplified version of Israeli support!

Had I married the man I loved 12 years ago I would be living this conflict. Its depths and meanings would hold personal weight in my life….I would have skin in the game….it would be my children who screamed in fear…..my home invaded….my rights taken. It would be my husbands life I feared for every day he went to work.

These are not the things I was going to process and write about today….I was not going to enter Into the fray…I was going to continue to keep quiet….as I do at family gatherings….church encounters and the endless other places where I do not conveniently fit into the prescribed ‘christian’ culture.

Today I live a life of freedom….I have the luxury of making a choice to engage or not. Today I reach out and lovingly hold my blissfully ignorant children and my deepest fear when Mike leaves the house for work is that he may cut himself badly enough to need stitches.

Amidst the angry talking heads, simplified videos and ignorant catch phrases can we try to remember that this ‘conflict’ (it’s really war) affects families, children, mothers, fathers, grandparents! The people of Gaza have no place to go! A million and a half people who can’t run and hide. They are fish in a barrel. Try as we might to understand, we are ignorant….our freedom and our rights are a blessing but they also keep us ignorant of the vary real hardships that others live day in and day out.

So when we (outsiders) ‘hold a view’ or ‘pick a side’ it is always from a half understanding when placed next to those who live it. There are countless ways out for us! I keep silent when I should speak, some put their heads in the sand, while others choose to listen to the loudest argument or pick up whatever their church / religious group or politician tells them to believe.

My heart breaks and I continue to sit on my hands and clamp my mouth shut…if I’ve learned anything it’s this….waving fists and pointing fingers…screaming insults….they all land dead on arrival. We argue about root issues and ‘rights’….how easy it is for an American to point a finger and give and answer. I hear the same arguments over and over…Israel uses it’s weapons to protect people while Hamas uses people to protect weapons…how simple? How clear…I wish someone had thought of that before…we could have saved so many if only we had known sooner.

This world is a sad and dark place. With all of its beauty and joy there are unspeakable pains and suffering that, as an American, I will never understand….never come face to face with….never pay for with my own body or that of a family members….

The shame that I will own is that the taxes I pay contribute to wars and deaths and things that I can not control. The ‘church’ I desperately love, often turns a blind eye and at worst supports this conflict for some obscure belief that we can control when Christ will return to earth. While children scream and the outside world rages…where is the church? Where is our love for the down trodden….for the broken? And, please, what does that even look like?

Let us be wise and loving. Oh, that we would see more clearly and speak more kindly…that we would pray for and love those who hate us and those we love. Take a moment….listen to those on the ‘other side’…hear the fear in their voices when they share their story…choose not to allow your interactions on such topics to speak only in general….only a regurgitation of what you have heard. This world is full of people just like you….just like me. So when we choose to boil down a topic to address only the points we believe are relevant we miss the life, we miss the hurt, we miss the people.

The slow dawning of a realization…my pride and the pain it creates.

The slow dawning of a realization…
The week after week after week of pain….
The look of fear and hurt in the eyes of my children…
The screams…hours upon hours of screaming…

This is what weekly hair cleaning and braiding has come to in our home. The questions in this mother’s head are endless…what on earth? Is this just how it is? Is this normal for African hair? No, no it is not…I’m learning that. I’m learning that I’ve been living in this personal hell of hair care with two children that have EXTREMELY sensitive heads AND they feed off of each others emotions. How am I supposed to just ‘know’ that not every kid is like this…we talk about how to care for hair, to keep it healthy and beautiful….but no one seems to be saying what I need to hear….sometimes heads are soft….sometimes kids are really sensitive….really, really sensitive.

Last week I got up from the tub and walked away. Two beautiful girls screaming, once again, I was afraid of what I might do if I didn’t remove myself. That was it. I was done. We had three options as I saw it. We could chemically relax their hair, we could cut it short or we could keep at it…and I would likely start beating them. (The last was NOT an option)

So we cut or ‘relax’…
The pain of that decision and my inaction for the past year say far more about me as a person then I realized. I was stuck. Truly stuck. I didn’t know what way to go. I called mike, in tears, and asked him to pick up some relaxer on his way home. I hated myself! Here is why…

Relaxers are culturally excepted. For generations girls have been getting their hair straightened…this makes it more ‘manageable.’ It also burns! The chemicals used are harsh…no matter what the box with the smiling girl says…it hurts. But culture says it’s good.

And then there are the issues of self image. Do we choose to promote that straight = beautiful? Ha, even now, as a curly haired white woman, I fight against that….every time I get my hair cut and styled by a professional…it doesn’t look good or right until it’s been straightened….my girls don’t need those messages taught to them by me.

Cutting their hair would be the ‘wrong’ choice per the culture’s view. I would be seen as one more white adoptive mom who has no idea how to take care of her black children’s hair. Judged at a glance. And I rail against this! Seethe on the inside. And yet, what harm is done to my child when she no longer look at her mama with fear when she says it’s time for a bath? Why is it ‘wrong’ to choose what is most healthy and loving?

That’s a small glimpse of the run around, the never ending war fraught in my own head. And then I realized in a moment of clarity (I believe only given by the grace of God, while dear friends prayed) this battle was about me….about my pride….oh that evil wicked thing! Wrapped so tight….clings so fast…pride that I ‘know what I’m doing’, and can ‘take care of my children’ I can do these things, and in the end I will look good.

What a shame, and it began to dawn on me that we have lived years of pain because of my pride.

Mike came home with the relaxer in hand and I was already cutting hair. With each snip and curl that fell to the ground my heart grew lighter. The girls….love their new hair! There is joy each morning when I pull out the spray bottle to make their hair look ‘ohh-la-la’ our family word for beautiful. They are learning that short hair means fewer snags and shorter care time and they get to keep their curls out more…they love their curls! As they should!

And me…I’m learning about my pride…more and more every day. I’m seeing it more clearly…how it webs it’s way into all of life…Lord walk with us and offer strength and wisdom as we grow. Eyes to see more clearly and wisdom to call sin and shame what it is. 20140717-081745-29865721.jpg

20140717-081903-29943345.jpg

20140717-081902-29942343.jpg

20140717-081902-29942888.jpg

Leaving Facebook? (Part 2)

The time has come…..I’m realizing that my world is just too loud, and a tool that was once wonderful is now a burden. The joy of keeping up with old friends, seeing photos of families grow and the off handed jokes that involve chickens are no longer strong enough to hold me to a space.

For weeks I’ve been drowning in one angry post after another. How is it that people I talk with in person sound so foreign to me online? People, our words hold weight! Why do we insist on dumbing our ideas down with insightful language? In a letter I recently posted to a dear friend I expressed it this way.

I wrestle with an honest desire to see and understand both sides of an issue, but there is just endless amounts of crap to sort out before you can even really ‘hear’ what someone is saying.

What does this look like? How will I stay in touch with people? Can’t I just unfriend some? Who knows!

What I do know is that my heart hurts and if people want to stay in touch I’m not going anywhere….I’m just changing where my voice can be heard. As well as how much I have to listen to.

As things stand today I am trying an experiment. I have worked the first step of purging most of my friend list, and I will likely do another purge in the coming weeks. I have also changed who I follow. If these steps don’t help then leaving will….but we’ll see. I am desperate to change some of the norms I have build into my life….they just don’t fit right so I don’t see the value in staying confined to them.

A call for civility…leaving Facebook behind (Part 1)

It has been a few days and I feel like I can now begin to process some of my thoughts more openly. Social media has gone nuts lately! At what point did it become ok for grown adults to belittle and dehumanize those who are not like them? These were not the lessons I was taught as a child….oh, hold on….maybe they were…

In my youth when my questions and thoughts were outside of the prescribed ideal there were plenty of nonverbal signals that informed me I was out of line…as I grew older the pressure of those around me was enough to solidify those early nonverbals. For a child like my brother, lines meant little more then that there was something beyond to be explored, and that it was likely interesting….but for me…the girl who desired to please parents, teachers and bosses…the girl with endless questions on the inside….this was a world of shackles.

I learned young that my opinions had little value…thoughts stifled. Questions always had a specific answer and I knew when my questions were the wrong kind. Tone speaks so loudly when you are young. Now, I am grown a woman of 34 and I look at the world around me with its endless bickering and ragging and I think….this is what I was taught….

Those with power have voice.
Those with a voice keep it by being louder then those around them.
Teach your children the black and white so they know and will do good.
Asking questions = questioning authority.
Learning means that a person can recite what they have been told NOT understand and own what they believe.

It is no wonder to me that this current culture is filled with those who yell…..with people who say horrible things about the ‘others’ that surround them. This is not ‘rag on my childhood hour’ but there were seeds planted years ago that are now coming to fruit. Cultures and generations clashing that don’t even have the vocabulary to speak the same language.

I’m learning and owning a few things

To my Christian friends and community

It is rare that I am in 100% agreement with you, and unlike I grew up believing, that is ok. I respect you. I love you. I want to know you and how God has moved in your life. I do not have the corner of the market on truth, and the body of Christ is diverse for good reason….I can see parts of my savior reflected in you that I would miss if I didn’t know you.

I will do you wrong. I will hurt you. I will speak without thinking, and act on impulse. I will put myself before you…time and again. I am sorry…and I will be sorry. I will do my best to except your correction and criticism with grace and humility. I will trust that you are looking out for my good.

To those I love who do not walk this faith with me

You are a jewel and a treasure, a blessing to me in ways that you can’t even imagine. Thank you for sharing your story with me. It is my earnest desire to create a space that allows for you to share who you are, what you think and why….even if it is drastically different then where I stand. You bring color to my life. Thank you.

I will do my best to respect how we are different and continue to invite you into this life I live. I will not hold you to my convictions and I hope to learn from yours. This doesn’t mean I won’t tell you what I think….sometimes when you ask….sometimes when you don’t, but I trust that if you know me you already know that

There is more to be said….I am confident that it will make its way out in fits and starts….

Ebed House…the continuing saga….

Well, just incase you might have missed it…we don’t have it all together around here. In fact it’s the total opposite. We are visiting family out of town and I realized just what a mess we look like!

It is a major accomplishment that ALL of the rabbits have been moved outdoors! Outdoors means out of the basement. It is the middle of summer….it should not have taken this long, but it did and we are rejoicing that the basement is animal free, bleached and on its way back to some sort of ‘normal’

We have 14 chickens! Yep 13 hens of laying age and 1 rooster. We are currently getting 1 egg a day! Do the math….something is wrong! I have researched, we have treated for all kinds of fun mites and bugs….I have scrubbed that coop….my brother and I have wrangled bird, soaked and lathered each leg in hopes of killing leg mites and easing a little pain. All with no change to the egg count. So they are all being treated for worms. YUCK! Just YUCK! If there continues to be no change we will butcher them all and start over next spring….

Back to the rabbits……we lost 5 last week. They up and died! One at a time, all from the same litter. What on earth? After much research I have come to the conclusion that their diet was a bit out of whack. They were getting too many greens and not enough roughage. Their little tummies need that roughage to keep them happy and healthy.

We have been growing barley fodder for the animals….my one success….or so I thought! We thought we were feeding our animals a GMO free barley. However, the label was never really all that clear and then I opened the last bag a few weeks ago to find all kinds of junk in with the seed. Let’s just say that brought the fodder to a screeching halt…..and that was two weeks ago. I tossed my hands in the air at that point and put the bunnies back on pellets….because they have likely been getting GMOs this whole time anyway!

The garden just makes me sad….there isn’t a whole lot that we could change there….that one is all nature! And then there are the bees. Mike checked the hive before we left to visit family. Out of three hives only one still has it’s queen. So a friend is checking on ordering two more queens….but man! Just Man o man…

And yet none of it is wasted. There are lessons to learn. We are new at this whole thing and I think for two kids who grew up in the suburbs that we are doing relatively well. Yesterday Pearl had 9 kits! Today I am praising The Lord for small joys and every new life. Oh, and that mom and babies are all outside!!