Spring Break 2014

This year was a Minnesota Spring break for us.  Homebound with no outrageous travel plans.  Which in all seriousness was such a welcome change.  There were lazy mornings with Things not rising until almost noon, late nights and a plethora of activities in between.  Let me share a few. 

The weekend began with a trip to MIA, or Minneapolis Institute of Art, for the girls and I.  We set pace to the photography exhibit and sat and took it all in.  Each and every photograph.  Reading about the photographer, the location, the setting.  One in particular moved me.  Mary Ellen Mark was a photographer in the late 70's and she had this way of capturing humanity.  She photographed a homeless family in their vehicle.  Front passenger door flung open, Dad holding on to Mom in the front seat, little girl cupping the face of her younger brother.  Their eyes bore through the photo.  It was mesmerizing in a dark sort of way. 
Tried to have the city skyline in the background, there it is just above Thing 1's most beautiful hair!
There was a day of shopping at MOA, Mall of America.  Thing 4 gave the ropes course a go.  He has been wanting to try his hand at this obstacle course since we've moved here.  Happy to report it was conquered with a smile on his face.  Husband Jared watched from below and was able to provide encouragement as well as a photographic evidence of the mission accomplished!
Another day we took the Things to play bocce ball indoors.  The four of them had played in Cesme, Turkey, on the sand and we knew this would be different.  For starters, the ball rolls a tad faster on turf.  Once they made the appropriate adjustments it was all in and game on!  We played teams, Husband Jared with Thing 1 and Thing 4, myself with Things 2 and 3.  Thing 3 created her own strategy, stemming from her overwhelming strength; new game plan, roll the ball at record force down the lane and knock the other team's balls out of position.  We lost.  No matter, we had great fun.  After the first match we played another and swapped Things.  Can't really say who the winner was as our time ran out and we were on to other matters.
I'm not sure if you can feel the intensity from this photograph, we are nothing if not fiercely competitive!
We had work days, complete with homework and chores and household duties.  The Things baked and had friends visit and played outside.  Movies were watched, popcorn popped and hot chocolate consumed.  Then we started a puzzle.  Nothing too gregarious, just a little Gustav Klimt scattered across the dining room table. 
The Kiss - Gustav Klimt
1000 pieces of agony.   The border was finished first.  As it should be according to puzzle doers across the world.  And then it became a bit trickier.  All patterns began looking the same, flowers blurred together and pieces disappeared from our reach.  My mind left to wander I thought we might never have dinner around our table again.  We didn't for approximately 4 nights.  Optimists that we are, we hadn't even entertained the thought of not finishing.  Sad to say, the puzzle now sits broken inside it's box, waiting for curiosity to win over and the pieces to hold the floor again. 
With winter lingering throughout our Spring break I was craving some green and hope for new life within our four walls.  The answer: succulents.  Every time I say that word Thing 2 laughs hysterically.  I don't quite understand why, but she thinks it's hilarious.  Sometimes I just walk around the house repeating "succulents" over and over.  I love her laugh.  Now we have touches of green on the mantle, in the living space and kitchen.  That makes me happy. 

Waiting to be planted.
The week came to an end and what better way to celebrate than dinner with friends.  We sat and reminisced, music being our muse and the Things and friends sat in awe of BBD, MC Hammer, C&C Music Factory and other notable dance favorites from the 90's.  What can I say, we are a generation full of mystery?  Or not.  We did eat pizza, I attempted to teach the kiddos a whip cream trick and then there was more game playing and nerf wars. 
Whip cream tragedy.  The goal is to flip the whip cream into your mouth from your wrist.  Thing 4 is the master, I had an epic fail and apparently Thing 2 did as well.  She's still cute as ever, don't you think?
Warmer weather was in the forecast and I was itching for one last spring break field trip.  Following much debate and indecisiveness we ventured to St. Paul for the afternoon to visit Landmark Center.  Landmark Center is the restored Old Federal Courts building, sitting across from Rice Park.  It was built in the late 1800's and completed in 1902, serving the state for almost 70 years before being scheduled for demolition.  Thankfully the building was saved, renovated and now serves the community.  Not only does it house multiple museums but several non profit offices as well.  The architecture is stunning and we were even able to take a ride in the original elevator which had been salvaged.  We wandered the halls, listened to Bandwidth, which is a collection of community based bands that were performing in the Center, explored the Schubert Club museum and played the instruments. 
Listening to the bands, we love music.
Giving the "gong" a try.

These fingers, playing Adele. Love.
Having roamed the halls, taken photographs, viewed the cyclone of instruments and sat in the old court rooms we set our sights outside to the river.  The Things tried to estimate how deep the water was, we watched runners and lovers walking and of course we snapped a photo of our own with the mighty Mississippi in the background.
These four have my whole heart.
With grumbly tummies I took to the internet to find us a fine eating establishment.  I had vaguely remembered reading about an old diner car in St. Paul and quickly looked it up.  Thankfully it was mere blocks from where we were.  Unsure of what to expect I would like to say the six of us were pleasantly surprised.  This diner has been operating 24-7, 365 days a year for 70 years.  It is a landmark for certain as are the malts.  Space is at a premium so it took two booths to accommodate us and as we placed our quarters in the table side juke box and I thought I heard all the Things singing along to Rockin' Robin.  Oh how my soul delights in these experiences.  They were apprehensive about the food, given our surroundings, but they put that aside and ordered their burgers and fries and then Husband Jared pulled out all the stops and granted them permission to order their very own malts. (typically they share) Oh what a day! 

Bellies full, malts in hand and four thumbs up! 
The car ride home was complete with gratitude and memories of another Spring break filled.  Filled with what you say?  Well, overflowing with good stuff. 


Storytelling In Cali

We jumped on a plane to LAX with a dream and a cardigan.  Well, sorta.  I must give creds to Miley Cyrus for those catchy lyrics.  Every time I board a plane headed to my home state of Cali I admit that tune runs through my head.  I just can't help it.  I should.  But I can't.  Anyhow, about a month ago Husband Jared and I did catch an early morning flight to sunny Cali!  Only, it wasn't sunny.  That is entirely beside the point.  Or it would be if we did not live in the frozen tundra.  We had scheduled a quick few days in California, visiting family, attending a conference and catching up with loved ones.  Only it was so much more than that. 
For Christmas this past year I asked Husband Jared to attend the Storyline Conference with me.  After dubious research he agreed.  Storyline is a conference created by Donald Miller, the author.  You might have heard of his book, "Blue Like Jazz"?  Or the indie movie based on the book?  Regardless, the motive behind the conference spoke to me.  It is based on the notion of living a better story.  Finding a redemptive perspective on the past and passionately living out what you were created for.  Not pleasure seeking but deep meaningful life.  Full of intimate relationships in a community where one is unconditionally loved.  Inspired?  I was.  The weekend was filled with unexpected surprises and words of truth. 
Point Loma Nazarene University was the host for the weekend's events.  If you have never seen this campus, you must.  I wanted to be a college student all over again if it meant I could attend this university.  The locale can not be matched.  Overlooking the Pacific ocean, lush greenery everywhere and sunsets so majestic I had to pinch myself. Upon check in I dragged Husband Jared  in the rain to the cliff just so I could hear the waves.  That is balm for my weary soul and the one place I never fail to find God.  Ocean waves crashing on rocks and rain drops falling on my head.  In that moment I did not mind one bit. 
Lookout point on campus
Our schedule was full to the brim with sessions and break outs and note taking and listening.  Absorbing everything, sponge like, if you will.  The speakers were dynamic and each and everyone brought a unique perspective to the table.  There was a producer, a widowed mom, an entrepreneur, author, preacher, psychologist, Christian satirist, improve comedian, government lawyer and activist and even the founder of Food for the Hungry.  We soaked in their words.  Heard their stories.  The struggles, the mistakes, the redemption.  They each deserve a post of their own.  Although I could not do their story justice in my words.  A few were poignant for me, personally.  Another Husband Jared and I could not stop laughing with.  And still one had tears rolling down my face from the very beginning.  Their braveness touched me.  The authenticity they so freely shared was a window into their heart, and if anything an inspiration to me. 

The one we could not stop laughing with.  This is where Husband Jared and I were introduced to the phrase, "Bootie, God, Bootie".  Yes, God sandwiched right there between the ever potent "bootie".  Jon Acuff is able to claim the brilliance behind this notion and the way he presented it to us, his audience at Storyline, was hysterical.  Let me explain.  There was a secular radio station he listened to.  Every morning at the same time they would share a clip of a sermon. For real.  Right between BeyoncĂ© and Pink there was preaching to the masses.  Of course, him standing on stage, singing and then switching gears to the "serious" God talk would be so much better than this.  Use your imagination people.  Animated, authentic and humorous.  Anyhow, he went on to say that was how he was living.  A little God time on Sunday and then Monday through Saturday all bootie.  You do know what I mean, right?  It struck a chord.  And the phrase has been coined and used excessively in this household.  Of course, breaking that down with the four Things was entertaining.  They got it though.  First time around. It resonated so deeply with us.  Within the humor there was truth.  Bootie, God, bootie, let it not be so. 

I learned things about myself this weekend that I hadn't paid attention to before.  Discovered long buried fears and dreams.  In the unearthing of these Husband Jared and I pontificated for hours.  Pouring over all that we had ingested each day.  Long dinners, one at a local pizza joint where we made friends with our waitress.  Another in the hotel room with the best Mexican take out we've had in a long time.  You knew I had to mention our meals, right?  Just to mix it up I'll even share with you a photo of the largest oyster we've ever seen.  Served so fresh at the local fisherman's wharf. 

Here we had yet another deep discussion.  This time surrounding the legacy we long to leave for our children.  How we want to put an end to generational sin that has entangled our families' past for so long.  You see Husband Jared and I had never before done anything like this together.  The experience in and of itself was life changing.  We asked ourselves incredibly challenging questions that forced decisive answers.  I was physically exhausted at the end of the two days.  Feeling as though I delved into uncharted waters without a life preserver.  Only there was one, shedding light throughout on the life He has given me.  The passion I was created to live with the grace He so freely gave.  Summary concluded.  I do not serve this conference well with my angsty descriptions.  For a more definitive explanation of all that Storyline has to offer you should visit their website.

Switching gears to the "other" side of our visit.  Family.   We were fortunate enough to have arrived for sister in law Corynn's birthday and what better way to celebrate her than family dinner and dessert! Before dinner Auntie Le Le needed some Gianna and Olivia time. 
A walk to the park was in order and I even wore the Baby Bjorn with sweet Olivia. 
We ran through the grass, chased Uncle Jared, swung on the swings and played lots of pretend games.  More family togetherness was on the docket for our return from the conference. 

A selfie with my goddaughter 
There was even family togetherness happening in San Diego.  Unfortunately there are no photos to offer as proof.  We enjoyed some adult time with Aaron and Maggie.  Loads of laughter, non stop catch up on the latest and greatest with the kiddos a slumber party and then a yummy breakfast at a new fave breakfast place, Snooze.  I stumbled across it in the hotel magazine and I was adamant about giving it a taste test before we left Southern California.  Stuffed French toast with mascarpone and strawberries, a peanut butter banana pancake and the freshest coffee.  We all agreed it was delish and a perfectly sweet ending to our short visit with the Strands. 
 Yet another reunion was in the works with the Aunties and Uncles and Grandparents.  All meeting at Mom and Dad's for dinner.  Yes, most of our plans are centered around food.  Aren't yours?  I was able to visit with cousins and laugh and take silly pictures with them.  We told stories about the Things, shared lessons from the conference and reminisced about times together from the past.  All while carrying on and interrupting each other and talking way too loudly and over and around one another. 
On the way to the family gathering, Jared, Gianna and Me
I'm older than them and I changed all their diapers, yet they're all taller than me! 
How did that happen?
And in the blink of an eye it was over and we were having breakfast with Nani, readying ourselves for goodbyes at the airport, which with this family, is never an easy thing to do.  Thanks Cali for the good times, and yes even for the rain, see you on the flip side.  Or something to that effect. 

Just Lately

Lately I've been absent from this here blog of mine.  I feel as though the last three weeks have been nothing short of a whirlwind.  Two busy weekends upon mine and Husband Jared's return from Cali, weekdays chock full of activities and all the while I've had posts swirling about in this head of mine.  Some on replay.  I hope I don't forget them.  Should have remembered the rule about writing them down, or something like that.  There is just so much I want to share.  Storyline Conference definitely being at the top of the list.  But also right up there is the IF: Gathering Remix that I recently watched with a few friends, the little birthday present that was just given last week and some other fairly routine happenings around this house.  Now, where to begin?
How about the everyday normal of these six.  There has been no shortage of angst over this winter season so last week when we were gifted with a 40 degree day we took full advantage.  Bedecked with only our "Spring" coats we headed to the lake and walked the pup around.  It was a gorgeous afternoon with sun filtering through the sparse trees and snow melting all around.  Thing 4 ran around making snow balls and shouting out targets to us.  I can't even count how many times he missed but the few that he did hit were spectacular. 
Love those shadows
The girlie Things and I made the most of another sun drenched day this past weekend and hit the antique stores for treasures.  Mostly records for our new record player.  Armed with coffee and our hunter's eyes we marched into the most packed to the brim with anything and everything you can imagine store and went to work.  There was an entire room full of records.  Categorized by genre, our fanciful favorite being the musicals.  However, we walked away with Jackson Five and a few blues records.  What can we say, we are full of surprises. 
Mama and her girls, oh and see that scarf 'round my neck?  Yep, that's the one, Thing 3 made that, just for me and I love it!
Another fun update, our Thing 2 is employed!  Now we have not one, but two daughters working for fine establishments serving the frozen confections. Score one for the parents!  Now if Things 3 and 4 could find some decent paying work.  Ha, I kid.  Kind of. 
In other news, Thing 1 has established an IG account for her photography and is hoping to do some portrait sessions this summer for any twin city locals.  And maybe if I say it here there is no going back on; We are training for another half marathon this summer.  There I said it.  Committed.  At least I think anyway.  Training has officially started for Husband Jared.  Not so much for me.  I've been working on getting this body back in shape and accustomed to being active after my 3 month reprieve.  Ahem. 
On a much lighter note, a sweet friend gifted me with a most wonderful present this year for my birthday, a night out at a Wine and Canvas event.   We went together to a local restaurant where our canvas awaited us. Along with a room full of strangers, a patient waitress and an instructor and her assistant.  All there to help us tap into our inner artist.  There was a table top easel in front of me, a completed painting staring at me from the table and a paper plate full of paints, just waiting to be mixed and brushed.  So we did.  Step by step we walked through each element of the painting and in the end we had ourselves masterpieces.  Quite impressive, really.  The free-ness of it all and lack of measurements and lines to trace was a tad intimidating but when all was said and done I had a most enjoyable evening.  I spent a few hours with sweet friends, created something that will now proudly hang on a wall in our home, laughed at myself and I tried something new.  I'd say that was a win-win. 
Before I forget Thing 4 has been continuing his drum lessons and I was able to watch him at his latest session.  Hysterical.  As he was running through a set I looked up and noticed his face.  His tongue was to one side, his eyebrows arched and his features somewhat distorted in pure concentration.  I have never seen anything like it before and I won't soon forget it.  Priceless.  The boy was in the zone.  So grateful I was able to witness that moment.
It really is a shame that his drum stick is obscuring the view.
There have been rowdy dinners with friends, car troubles, March Madness talk, Summer planning and movie viewing.  The girl Things and a few friends went to the premier of Divergent.  To say they were a ecstatic would be an understatement.  They have read the series, we try to enforce that rule, read the book prior to watching the movie.  In fact, they were enthralled with the story.  So much so that Thing 1 had her friend read to her on the way to the theatre just so she could finish the first book in time.  Before that though, Husband Jared and I joined friends of ours for dinner and a movie, sans kiddos.  The movie choice just so happened to only be playing in IMAX 3D.  Oh my word.  I could not recall the last time I saw a 3D movie, let alone IMAX.  Intense.  That's all.  Just that word.  There might have been a few times I had to look away from the screen and close my eyes for fear the motion sickness bug might have found me.  It was an experience to say the least.  Oh and concerts, how could I have forgotten that.  Thing 3's first concert, Toby Mac, thanks to her bestie's family.  That was quite the night for her.  She was hoarse and had to wait a few days before she could even complete a sentence to tell us all her stories from the night.  There was the Kari Jobe and Rend Collective concert that Thing 1 and Thing 3 went to.  Fantastic!  That was the adjective most used.  We are big Rend Collective fans around here. 
Between school and other commitments are plates have been full.  No complaining here, we choose joy.  And then we choose to nap.  Often.  And when we start to feel like it might be a little too much, we hunker down and just be together.  Which brings us full circle to this upcoming weekend.

Might have been a patch job on the catch up for our six but I stuck with the highlights.  Leaving out the mundane.  That's another post altogether.  As is Storyline memories and California dreamin'. Lest I forget, the IF deserves it's own space as well.  Too many ideas and thought provoking teachings to not share.  Soon.  For us, this is the just lately.

Thankful Thursday

Drum Lessons, yes and yes!
5072. higher temps today
5073. family walks around the lake
5074. sweet thank you notes from friends
5075. ranunculus's on my desk and table
5076. Van Morrison's lyrics
5077. coffee dates with my man
5078. Oswaldo
5079. clean floors 
5080. green grass peeking through
5081. a new fitness class that challenges me

The 36th Year

When my birthday arrived this year it was undercover.  Or so it seemed.  Sneaking up on me without the usual fan fare and gusto.  That's cool.  Husband Jared and I had a trip planned so I knew we'd be celebrating then.  But the Things, they chose to wish me a day full of surprises.  One being a record player.  Swoony.  It really is.  I feel all hipster-ish and poetic when I listen to it.  The sound is a tad scratchy and the words a bit more moody.  An unexpected visitor arrived on my birthday to spend a few days with us and that was a gift in and of itself.  Sister time with Aunt Natalie was the perfect present.  I blew out candles and we watched Downton Abbey squeezed together on the cushions.  My birthday was sublime.  And yet with all this I'm still reconciling with this being the beginning of my 36th year.  Unwrapping it slowly, making sure not to tear the paper or break a ribbon. 
I had in mind a post about what I now know. You recall the clichĂ©, older and wiser?  Really not so much for me.  What I am learning is that I am just now discovering ME.  Isn't that wild?  The trip we took recently was all about story.  Your life.  The positive and negative turns.  Relationships.  Recreating dreams.  Jesus and Love and living.  I mean LIVING.  And I think to a certain extent my brain is processing all that still.  While I have been taking it all in this 36th year has been full steam ahead.  Already. With no braking.   
The word of the year crept it's way in and morphed into more than I could have imagined.  Growing legs and arms and wings.  Wanting to come to fruition with it's full of potential attitude strapped to it's back.  Yes.  Thus spurring me on to "Become" this 36th year.  Claim it.  Allow it to flow and move organically throughout these next nine months.   Oh the metaphor is primed here.  Nine months.  The gestation period for us humans.  Growing inside.  I just couldn't help myself.   It rings true and is so applicable for such a time as this. 
With the story unfolding and the word "becoming" as the theme my introspective tendencies are in full force.   I want to sit and download.  Re-read my notes and journals.  Analyze, perhaps?  Yes, that's what I'd like to do.  So here goes.  Not all at once but certainly one puzzle piece at a time.  A list might be in order. Aptly titled what I've come to know.  And not just about me but about the world around me.  That is what birthdays do to me.  Cause me to reminisce and dialogue internally and then output all that pops into this head and heart of mine.  It's a good start to this 36th year, don't you think?

1. I am an introvert.  There, I said it.  And I don't care who knows it.  Pardon me, Elf quotes.  Never thought I was, until recently anyway.  People exhaust me.  In the very best way of course.  I am aware of my instinctual need for people, relationships.  Yes, and watch out because here comes the butt sandwich, but I much prefer to be in my own space with my six.  Comfortable.  Safe.  Now is not the time or space to wax and wane about how sheltered that is.  I'm simply stating my preference.  Don't take it personally.  Please.  That is not my intent.  When a revelation like this takes place I like to share it here.  And this is a revelation.  For years I considered myself an extrovert.  Drawing on other people's energy, charisma and feeling exhilarated by being surrounded.  Now, not so much. 

2. Almost cyclically I become antsy every two or so years.  Itching for a change of scenery.  This is relatively recent.  Like say the last ten years or so.  I previously thought myself anti-change.  Yes, I will stay in the same city where my children were born, watch them grow, mark it on the wall and stay put.  Now, I couldn't say no thank you fast enough.  That is not for me.  I am more of a gypsy spirit that originally believed. Who would've thunk?  I'm prone to wander, ready for adventure and the unknown.

3. My memory is poor, poor, poor.  If I say it three times like Nanny in "Eloise" does that employ enough emphasis for you?  Truly it is.  I must utilize all of my learning strategies to remember.  Read it, hear it, write it, repeat it.  Best of all, do it.  Maybe take a picture of it and blog about it too.  That would surely help.  At least I'm assuming it does.  Err, I hope so anyway. 

4. I like the idea of living in the country, dependent upon the land, no electricity.  Wait, that might have taken it too far.  Keep the electricity and running water please.  What I mean is, a big ranch style house, just me, Husband Jared and all four Things working the land and living off it.  Then when I contemplate what that literally means for me and all my first world, spoiled suburban ways I retract that statement.  The result, I love the idea of all that simplicity and such but I don't actually think it's the place for me.  I have learned to not say "never", it could become a reality, just not by my willing it to.  No, not even hoping for it. 

5.  I am more  of a city girl.  How about an old house, bungalow style, in the middle of a city?  Near a vibrant downtown, quaint but metropolitan enough to host the arts and diversity and culture.  Whoa.  Where did that come from, the depths of my soul?  Probably not.  Dare I say it is a dream.  On any given day though I might just retract that statement as well and be on the edge of a cliff waiting to throw all these worldly possessions to the valley below.   I am a woman full of paradox.  This I know, at least now I admit it freely with this 36th year upon me. 

6. Sometimes I live on an emotional island.  Isolating myself from my family and the rest of the world around me.  Confession.  This self realization came by way of our eldest two Things.  Thank you very much.  More often these four Things are calling me out and holding me accountable.  There was a time where I would have been threatened by that.  These days I am just flat out grateful. 

7. I can be rather reactionary in certain circumstances.  Oh, you find that hard to believe?  Not really.  My emotions cloud my judgment and before  you know it I've gone and said or done something that shouldn't have been said or done.  At least not right away.  Impulsive might be another way to go about in that self assessment. 

8.  Not necessarily something new but a detail I'm paying attention to these days, what makes me cry.  Apparently runners finishing a race and hearing about women rising, using their gifts, especially when it comes to feeding people around a table.  Yep.  Gets me every time.  There is something to be said for goals accomplished, specifically runners.  I read the signs, listen to the encouragement from the crowd, read the shirts of the people running around me and I get choked up.  Every single race I've ran or watched tears have been shed.  Well the table, that just speaks for itself.  It is a sacred space.  Always. 

9.  Regrets are not worthy of my time and energy.  There is no going back.  What's done is done.  I can choose to learn from it and walk in grace or wallow in darkness.  If I do that I am exactly where the enemy wants me, defeated and useless.  So moving forward means looking ahead, remembering the past, not living in it. 

10.  I am becoming the person I was created to be.  Failure is not something to be feared.  Amen and Amen.  Nor is criticism.  Hand in hand with that is accepting that I do not have to be an expert on a topic before I share an opinion, idea or thought regarding it.  What once was debilitating and incited fear has become useful and welcomed.  It's how I grow. 

And with that list of ten I've now given you a glimpse into this sporadic brain of mine.  I will over process and ruminate on this post.  Thinking I've over shared.  Or I haven't explained myself well enough.  The words I've woven together didn't quite meld as though they should have.  If that's the case, please tell me.  I'll clarify.  Have a conversation with you about it.  On the other hand, if you disagree you must know me better than I know myself and there are only a handful of people I'd stake that claim with so enter cautiously here.  Who am I kidding, join the party, we have balloons and cake and bubbly.  After all, I'm still celebrating my 36th year of becoming!  

Thankful Thursday

Tortilla making perhaps, either way this photo encapsulates so much of Thing 3 and who she is.
5062. family gatherings
5063. book club
5064. thank you notes, handwritten
5065. hard discussions
5066. looking back, deconstructing
5067. rainy nights together
5068. sunsets that take my breath away
5069. home, with my Things
5070. a book that challenges my way of thinking and any preconceived notions, not watered down
5071. my husband, plain and simple, complicated and mysterious


Every which way I turn there seems to be poetry.  I'm not necessarily speaking metaphorically either.  In "A Million Little Ways" by Emily Freeman, a book I recently read, she calls us the "poiema" of Christ.  The word poiema is Greek and it is where our English word, poem takes it's origins. Poiema, is masterpiece, or workmanship when translated from the Biblical text as in Ephesians.  Paul's letter to the people in Ephesus states, "For we are God's masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago".  We are His creation, living, breathing, works of art.  Image bearer.  Powerful.  I've thought quite a lot about what exactly that means in my life.  This word has caused me to reevaluate what art actually is.  How my life is a work of art.  Constant.  In motion.  Ever changing.  The life I live gives words to my poem.  My offering. 
Then I stumbled upon a poem written in the foreword of another book I just started reading, "Jesus Feminist", by Sarah Bessey.  I'll share it here, it's lengthy but so worth the read. 
The poem is written by Idelette McVicker, titled
"Let us be Women Who Love"
Let us be women who love.  Let us be women willing to lay down our sword words, our sharp looks, our ignorant silence and towering stance and fill the earth with extravagant Love.  Let us be women who Love. Let us be women who make room.  Let us be women who open our arms and invite others into an honest, spacious, glorious embrace.
Let us be women who carry each other.  Let us be women who give from what we have.  Let us be women who leap to do the difficult things, the unexpected things and the necessary things.  Let us be women who live for Peace.  Let us be women who breathe Hope.  Let us be women who create beauty.  Let us be women who Love.
Let us be a sanctuary where God may dwell.  Let us be a garden for tender souls.  Let us be a table where others may feast on the goodness of God.  Let us be a womb for Life to grow.
  Let us be women who Love.
Let us rise to the questions of our time.  Let us speak to the injustices in our world.  Let us move mountains of fear and intimidation.  Let us shout down the walls that separate and divide.  Let us fill the earth with the fragrance of Love.  Let us be women who Love. 
Let us listen for those who have been silenced.  Let us honour those who have been devalued,  Let us say, Enough! with abuse, abandonment, diminishing and hiding.  Let us not rest until every person is free and equal.  Let us be women who Love. 
Let us be women who are savvy, smart and wise.  Let us be women who shine with the light of God in us,  Let us be women who take courage and sing the song in our hearts,  Let us be women who say, Yes to the beautiful, unique purpose seeded in our souls.  Let us be women who call out the song in another's heart.  Let us be women who teach our children to do the same. 
Let us be women who Love.
Let us be women who Love in spite of fear.  Let us be women who Love, in spite of our stories.  Let us be women who Love loudly, beautifully, Divinely.  Let us be women who Love.
Poetry surrounding.  When I read the words above they seeped in as encouragement.  Spurring me on.  Challenging me.  Infiltrating my senses.  And the word that plays on repeat, Love.  Not the lower case version of the word, the real deal.  Love.  I substituted a "let me be a woman" to personalize the poem when I read it a second and third time.  Much like I do with scripture.  So it penetrates to the depths of my heart.  And the part about us being "women who teach our children to do the same", well let's just say that about did me in.  Yes, let us.  With everything I say and do let me teach them that.  To love, and love well.  For real. 
As if that wasn't more than enough, a few nights ago, as Husband Jared and I were playing cards around the table, Thing 3 was baking some chocolate concoction in the kitchen, Thing 4 was sipping his hot chocolate and Thing 2 was reading, Thing 1 shared a poem she had written for her Humanities class.  Styled after William Blake.  I have permission to share her words here as well.  They moved me.  I believe they came from her soul.  Spilled on the page.  Vulnerable and real.  For her, like me, the written word is a medium to unlock the mysteries.  More poetry for you, by Thing 1.

How joyful can one be
When night soon approaches thee
With silence and beauty
The world slips blissfully
Lights go out, streets become calm
The city a quiet speck dreaming in earth’s palm
Beauty so dark has overcome
Only a soul awake in this solemn slum
She looks up to the stars for light and wisdom
She wonders when she will ever feel freedom
She sees the fluorescent colors begin to rise
What the day ahead holds is but a surprise
May these words bring inspiration to your day, a new thought to ponder, maybe a mystery unlocked or a passion ignited.  I'll choose to use them as a reminder that not only was I created as poem, but each and everyone that I encounter today was as well.  So with that in mind, "Let me be a woman who Loves".