Friday, November 11, 2016

PDX Wordstock 2016 and Words

The sun rose pink over Portland last Saturday. It was delightful to be footloose and fancy-free on Portland's streets with a hot coffee in hand, sans the children, and a day of words looming large.

I volunteered at Wordstock; it was my first time attending Wordstock and working it. And I am ever more convinced that our words matter in the world. What we do with our words shapes who we are, our families, our communities, and our nation.

Today, Portland's streets are fraught with frantic fear and anger.
I wrote these words last Saturday, taking in the human bodies amidst the crush of books:

One comes to the conference to buy  books. She pretends to write, but is an author junkie. The other silently takes notes, listens. A mass of humans will be distilled down to one myopic viewing - through her lens alone. 

The Portland couple in their matching REI jackets, is, underneath it all, searching for their identities, and deciding if they will craft and create them together. 

Above all, they voraciously read, run around in the rain, choose comfort clothing over "class", wear a wet coffee laden look, and they listen. They are hungry. 

Tonight, they will go and taste Portland and see if they can discern what it means to them: these words hanging in the air, hoping to latch onto someone, something, some place, and some time. These words tingling on their palates, will they swallow?

Will they act? Will the whitest city in America act? They vote, but will they live, and will they use their words to shape the world? And will they follow their words into the world and offer true sustenance?
This morning, I found myself reading Jeremiah 23 about the lies we believe, and the lies we buy into about the lies we live, and the lies we are told.

Who then is righteous? We desperately need Him in the days ahead.

I don't know how the days will turn for my children or the children we sometimes take into our home. I am doing my best not to make judgements or speak outcomes. But, neither have I swallowed the pill that believes there is an elected savior, save Christ. And we don't seem to put Him on our ballot.

We may soon be finding ourselves in one mighty mess - but then many have lived that for a long while now in this nation. So it does not surprise that we are broken, and what flows from our hearts and mouths is brokenness.

Our words, our votes, they matter, and so too their fruit in the world. What is it that we believe and then speak? Are our beliefs and words founded upon Truth?  Or, have we bought and sold a lie? Lies? Are our myopic viewpoints simply our own navel gazing, or do we truly know how others live elsewhere and how they are impacted by our actions?

Maybe it's time we go back to living simply, so that others may simply live. Maybe it's time we go back to listening so others may be heard. Maybe it's time we hear and look, so others may be seen. Maybe it's time we be silent, so we may once again hear the voice of God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God. ~ Mathew 5:9

Let us hold fast to Him,


Sunday, October 23, 2016

Falling Off the Edge of the World

Surely, if I've not fallen off the edge of the world, I feel I've fallen into its depths the last few months. I'm only, just now, poking my head back up to say, "Hello? Anyone out there? Anyone home?" 

As we nearly breathe November air, we are just now breathing in the presence of one another around home. He's been absent from home 90% of our days since June 1st; a demanding mill start-up calling his name.

By God's grace, we hold each other close and are grateful the distance has passed, so too the most difficult season of a mill start-up. Machines begin to manufacture, albeit slowly, and he's home. We are once again a family. Together, as one season changes to another.

School has also been a massive deep dive this year with both kids transitioning to new school environments in two different towns.  One, is hybrid home schooling in the morning with me and then attends classes the remainder of the day. The other is adjusting to longer days, a commute, and way more homework.

This afternoon, the hyrbid schooler has happily volunteered to forgo his book report, Around the World in 80 Days, for chucking pumpkins, my elementary STEM experiment this coming week. STEM Coordination is a new journey for me this fall.

I'm still processing how/when to write about STEM; that will come in time. I'm up to my ears in K-12 STEM visioning and execution for which a growth mindset is required. I will say that taking a lifestyle of STEM from the home schooling environment to a K-12  school program is a leap of faith, no matter which way you jump.

Enough about all that, let's talk books. Some, as of late, favorites...

Hillbilly Elegy A thought provoking read. I'm still trying to process his story through the lens of our time in a poor area of the south, and those we know involved in Oregon foster care, CASA, and Safe Families. How to find solutions for the white poor? We need to hear what JD Vance has to say.

Spare Parts Watched the movie last night. Loved it! Working my way through the book. Another engaging story, and close up look at the incredible accomplishments of 4 boys. Addresses the issues of immigration and deportation and the impact upon families.

A Sudden Country  Fisher's prose is amazing. One of the teachers at Fishtrap in the Wallowas.

Everyone Brave Is Forgiven This was wonderful.

The Things They Carried I came late to read this. When my children are older it will be required reading. The cost of war on the soul? Heart wrenching.  

Right now, words and the time to write them is limited. I have continued to work on a Safe Families book, and also write about Thomas Nuttall. I'm finding him on the trails again. I printed out the 210 pages I've written on him thus far, to get me off my duff and back into his time.

In time, I'll find words again for this space. Hopefully, more than I have this past summer, but for now I leave you with a few September and October explorations and memories.
A 36 hour Labor Day trip to Hellgate JetBoat Excursions on the Rogue was a blast!
Maker Faire Portland was a winner! The people are great. Fifty Licks was there with the most AMAZING ice cream! Vegan too!
 Then we celebrated this young man :-) Love you, Dad!
The tots are no longer tiny. As such, they helped bring about a lovely anniversary dinner with hand inked menus. 
We then wandered east one weekend for Mt. Angel Octoberfest. What a milieu!

We picked up a little beer at the Abbey. Understanding that if it wasn't to our liking, we'd gift it to family at Christmas...not gonna happen.
He came for a couple nights in September with Safe Families. 
Prayers for this young one to be safe, secure, and happy.
They were all listening to sister read a bedtime story.
The wall project is slowly nearing completion. 65' of rock. I put in a whole bevy of plants before the rains began. So far, I've only lost two plants to deer. I'm buying more lavender and rosemary to be on the safe side and tucking that in around the others.
Slimy, out of the rain.
October held wet wet weather, but we soaked up the warmth with dear friends in from the east coast for a wet weekend at the ocean.
Well, that has been most of our last two months. Besides, just getting dinner on the table and the school work done, soccer games and practices, music, field trips, community kitchen, and church. Being a friend. Making new friends. Working to connect with old friends.

In all this, I appreciate single mothers (and fathers) in new ways and with greater depth. They accomplish and face each day with grace and grit, and often we never ever see it or recognize their efforts or them. 

And as I sit here, I realize this is exactly what I needed today: to process pictures and be reminded of my blessings amidst all the busyness, chaos, and stress of the past season. In the middle of it all, including our elections, there is a Light.

He lifts our loads and makes them seem a bit easier to carry, and makes possible any of the reaching out and risking we do. And as we write and work, He cares for our lives and listens right along with us to the Chipmunks squeaking on the vinyl LP. It's all good.

May November be thankful.


Monday, August 29, 2016

Hello, Again

We have been doing a lot of balancing this summer: work, life, children, jobs, love, fun, play, school, learning, and faith. You too?
Slowly, we are getting better at balancing this thing called life. Maybe, we are learning to say, "no," or maybe, I'm getting better at less planning and grasping, "Do what comes next."
There's always a lot of new things to try, and turning of the heads as we try them. "Which direction to go?" She coxed a couple of races for the first time. 
Given his work schedule, it's a miracle he made it to the water. 
 He's a good sport, wherever you take him. Mostly.
We added a young friend for much of the month with Safe Families for Children.
 And managed to meet family near Muir's mountain for a night.

  Then play more on sandy shores,
 and see some fishies.
 We tried to take it all in. 
One day at a time.
Grateful for every moment, and every girl.
Then, this past weekend, she took us to 5,000 feet and made it. 
Some days that's good enough. 
 We rested, read, and got sun burnt. 
Some of us. 
 We tried new, scary things, and got through them.
We smiled.
We were brave.
We did the next thing.