He Tells Us

Brin’s favourite thing is to do her copy work sitting in my lap, while I read from my phone with one hand, and scratch her back with the other. If I stop at one chapter she urges me to another.And the other day, in the middle of that famous winter-time story I read this,

“and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

This is not the traditional Christmas reading of peace on earth. This is special. An intent of peace-making that declares Jesus the king of it.

And the next day I read another verse, a song of heavenly hosts to come,

“He brought me out into a broad place;

He rescued me, because he delighted in me.”

And in the amen those words pleased and delighted nearly scandalized me. Because I understand the fall, justice and at least the idea of substitution. I can wrap my mind around a crisp, legal agreement where we are at least happy to scrape through and stand in the back row of Heaven.

This delight is something new all together, though. God’s pleased face as He restores peace to the chaos is an idea that seems too good to be true. And His care because He not only sees me as righteous, but also as delightful, is so deeply humbling, gratitude for grace bubbles up again.

If we set our faces to this world as those assured of God’s delight in us and His mission to bring beauty out of the ashes, we might walk the hum-drum differently. Praise God for the joy to be more than conquerors this day, and tomorrow.

 

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A Place of Your Own

New neighbours moved in several months ago, hailing from the other side of town, previously from Florida, before that in Pennsylvania and originally from Cuba. They have an American flag hanging out their back window and scoff at people who think they don’t know the laws.

“We’ve been here for fourteen years,” the wife says, “It’s people who grow up here who don’t know!”

For myself, I hardly ever let where I’m living sink in, besides the fact that it is humid, flat and far away from where I grew up. The language and rules of the road are the same, even with my New Brunswick licence. But I was carded at a restaurant one evening, and after asking to see my passport they told me that they technically couldn’t serve anyone who didn’t have current paperwork.

Because the fiance visa is issued for 90 days, it doesn’t matter if I’ve fulfilled the terms of the entry and married an American citizen within that time. My passport still has an ‘expired’ visa and without a study of immigration types and rules, I can’t expect anyone to understand.

I felt jarred and vulnerable, even when they made an exception, handed me my drink and kept thanking me for not being annoyed. The FYI was too much to swallow right then. That scrutiny and a panicked feeling the leaped up as quickly as the need to explain why I even exist here.

In a moment of clarity I understood a little more of the other side of immigration. I’m not immediately pegged as someone from ‘away’ but in that moment in a restaurant I could only imagine how it feels when your appearance, clothing or accent is a flying flag to the fact that you did not begin your life journey in this place.

I do not venture opinions about immigration policy or the wisdom of open doors, but beyond that issue is another. Once the wanderers are here, how do I treat them? Deserving or undeserving, do I think twice before I assume their story? This is not a watery porridge of tolerance – but simply the kindness to strangers, the prodigal, the Samaritan, the woman at the well that God calls us to.

A new land and heart. A redemption and changing and pathway for us to follow is at the very heart of who we’re remade to be. So this will flow to the homeless and confused and shy in the back corner of church.

Belonging isn’t something I take for granted and these days…it is most certainly something I want to share.

Eat Your Veggies, m’k?

At our house, we’re not so much health conscious…as wanting to be health conscious.

I mean, we take our vitamins and eat chickpeas and then get donuts after going to the drive-in movies and eat them in the kitchen at midnight.

After admitting I’d never even tried tofu, Wesley obliged by… frying it in bacon grease and serving with rice.

And there was that time that I made kale brownies with so many ingredient substitutes that I realized later they were vegan.

People get rabid about health and I guess it kind of makes sense. We only have one body in a sea of corn syrup and knee degeneration.

So maybe we’ll get better and maybe someday I’ll make my own crackers, but for now I go for walks when I can and avoid workout videos on Youtube.

It’s about balance I’ve been told and being thankful for strength to get up each morning.

So cheers to that!

 

A Guide to Good Adventures

Today marks six months since Wesley and I promised to have and to hold until we kicked the bucket. I thought to mark the occasion I would offer my list of ten helpful survival tips for road trips, errands, or pretty much anytime we get in the car on a weekend.

  1. Make sure your phone is charged. One car charger is all very well, but if you set off somewhere on foot, you’ll want healthy battery life in case of posting on Instagram emergency.
  2. In a similar vein, take the camera. That way you can fight over who gets to take the pictures and get video footage of anything that moves.
  3. Follow the GPS. Even if it appears to be taking you the wrong way, it actually knows what it is talking about 99.99% of the time. Wagnon Mountain Rd. might sound innocent enough, but after dark?  (Click to 6:02)
  4. Bring a book. Always, always, always. In fact, I often bring two. A book and a blanket can make the car a private little library retreat when you’re waiting in the Auto-zone parking lot.
  5. Nothing will make everyone crankier than being hungry. Correction. Nothing will make me crankier than being hungry. For everyone’s safety, bring snacks. (So many snacks.)
  6. And for the husband, bring an entire thermos or two of water. This is not a joke. It will all get gulped down and eliminates the small bottles kicking around underfoot.
  7. Since this is Alabama, I’ve also learned to bring an extra coat, sweater, shorts, hat, rubber boots and honestly, a bathing suit would also be wise. You may never know what will become weather appropriate before the day is done.
  8.  Add two extra hours onto the GPS estimated time of arrival. This machine generated guess does not include stopping at friend’s houses to look at lawn machinery, long conversations with various old men, or retracing your steps to take a picture.
  9. Pandora. Playlists are life when you’re stuck in the car. This also provides an appropriate context in which to disagree on the musical tastes of your spouse. Fight fair though and take turns in choosing the artist.
  10. Buckle up and be prepared to commentate on anything, everyone and everywhere you pass, explore, walk under, or listen to. Sharing new things is one of the sweetest perks of marrying your friend. In these first months together we’ve started our own repertoire of family stories and as the future unrolls we already find ourselves saying, do you remember when?

It’s been a wild ride so far, Wesley. Here’s to 6 months times 120 more!

 

Speechless

I’ve had a whole lot of nothing floating around in my head these days.

Or at least, there are things…but they won’t hold together into a whole blog post.

It’s been a jumble of pool floating, book quotes, eating more lettuce, watching Marvel movies and not judging someone with a selfie stick.

Sometimes change is a jump in the deep end, and sometimes you just look at yourself clubbing a cockroach or cooking squirrel and think – who am I?

I promise I’ll get back to writing more, friends. Until then, I’ll be over here with my head in the freezer eating watermelon.

xo

Where Did You Come From?

When I miss you most, I’m driving down a strange split road, where people drive 65 mph and stop at lights on a dime.

I miss you when I’m paralyzed with indecision about whether this store, an unfamiliar sign and front, will have what I actually want.

When I get in the car and just circle aimlessly, wishing I knew where to find the green space that I’m craving.

Where to find the friendliest librarians, the freshest produce, the cheapest thrift items.

All the things I took for granted when I knew every route like the back of my hand, when I could expect the rhythm of every restaurant and hiking trail.

I miss strangers knowing exactly who my parents are and the trust that extends from familiar face to familiar face.

A warm sweetness of blossom and asphalt hang around my door now, interrupting the crisp apple of a memory. Fresh bread greets my mind when I walk through the doors of my hometown and I’m hungry for it.

Hungry for the comfort of knowing and being known. Wherever we are, this is the human search in our food, our hobbies, the places we go. Doesn’t a baby know exactly where it belongs because that is where it finds comfort?

You can love something new, while still missing the old and that is my constant balancing act, my privilege, challenge and bitter sweet joy in this season.

And I have to ask. What do you miss the most about where you came from?

 

Tuesday Favourites

  1. I’m becoming probably too attached to iced mochas with whipped cream these days. But it makes me thankful for the weather which is starting to warm alarmingy and gives me a valid excuse. (Wesley tells me it’s not hot yet.)
  2. House plants are starting to be another indulgence, because (assuming you can keep it alive) $5 will buy you something that may last you forever.
  3. This book was a colourful, entertaining and ‘are you serious?!’ read that had me retelling stories to Wesley every couple minutes. I felt a companionship with the author as we agreed in the magic and weirdness of the South.
  4. I love when I upload camera pictures periodically and find shots from Wesley’s last jaunt around the yard. Exhibit A:

5. Curry is probably the most rewarding and simple thing to make at home. Now if only Naan bread was equally doable. Anyone have some tips?

6. If you are traveling the 84 between Dothan and Enterprise, Alabama, please do yourself a favour and shoot out to Working Cow Dairy. Put some cash in the can and get the creamiest chocolate milk you will ever taste out of the big refrigerator.

xo