11

Birthday Blessings

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Today is my mother-in-law Janet’s birthday. She is funny, sweet, generous and strong, and defies all stereotypes of evil in-laws. She is one of my best friends.

I remember taking the ferry to meet her the first time. I was so nervous I thought I’d throw up overboard. But from the first warm hug in the ferry terminal parking lot, I knew I had been wrong to worry.

I am amazingly blessed by my relationship with her. She knows me better than almost anyone, and can make me laugh over the phone when things are rough…for example during the pre-bedtime circus with small children or when I wake up after a rough night looking like a porcupine and ready to cry because I can’t even remember to make the coffee. She knows how to put it all in perspective, and loves me despite knowing my worst faults.

So to an amazing person, a super-grandma who is so loved, and one of the most loyal, supportive friends I’ve ever had, happy birthday, and thank you for everything.

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6

Bumbling Towards You

How often I need to visit you, Lord
seeking you throughout the day
as a bee seeks flowers
constantly searching for sweetness

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Again and again
I alight in little pools of beauty
drinking deeply to refresh my soul
and sustain my flight

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If I failed to do so
out of busyness
I would be as a bee
too distracted to visit flowers
and would end up a dry shell
on the parched summer pavement

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Draw me to you, Lord
with your beauteous colours
your enticing fragrance
your delicate invitation
like an open flower
waiting for a kiss

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Remind me that with you
hot summer days and hard work
turn into liquid golden honey
and in all things and every day
keep me bumbling towards you

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10

Deep Roots

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Here we are together
many sisters not of flesh but of heart
praying, laughing, resting and learning
gathering strength in a place apart

Be like giant trees
we are told
stretching to the sky
but humbly, firmly rooted in love

This is your strength
to rely on something greater than yourselves
to plant yourselves deeply in something bigger

Those who base everything on themselves
are like rootless trees
towering egos
unstable ‘I’s ready to topple
in the first wind

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Let the love of God be your strength
your firm root
your soul’s nourishment

For in this way
your branches will grow
stretching out to embrace the world
touching those around you
with the gentle caress of love

And in your shade
they will find shelter
and the safety to grow themselves

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1

First Summer Raspberries

Tonight the baby went to bed early enough that I could catch some evening sun and try the first raspberries of the summer from the garden. There is something about eating fresh berries that turns me into a little kid again, so I just stand there grinning and filling my mouth with goodness.

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My husband can tell you that any walk in the forest with me during berry season is ridiculously slow, because I’m so delighted with each huckleberry, thimbleberry or salmonberry bush. I have to pluck all the tiny red gems and pop them in my mouth. It reminds me of making huckleberry pie on graham cracker crust with my brothers growing up.

I still recall vividly a scene from an old movie— The Return To Oz—where Dorothy discovers she is back in Oz when she finds a ‘lunchbox tree.’ The tree has what looks like giant strawberries growing on it, but they are actually lunchboxes that open to reveal a sandwich, cookies and juice. I remember thinking, “What in the world could be better?”

Eating food off the bush symbolizes nature’s bounty in a special way for me, because it recalls the Edenic reality of goodness and beauty being all around us, ripe for the picking. It helps me remember that in this big universe, I’m a just little child who will be provided for, whose Father God is very good.

Many good things are waiting for all of us. Do we have the childlike vision of wonder to see them, and the simplicity to accept them with gratitude?

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3

Why Tell Stories Barefoot?

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We all come into this world barefoot. We are all essentially the same—the same heart beating, the same little lungs taking their first breath. And the same naked little toes on the end of adorable feet. A unique and unrepeatable person whose features are at the same time wonderfully familiar.

It’s only later that we begin to mask this sameness, to cover it with distinct trappings that say, “I’m me, and not you.” And while it’s so important express our authentic selves, we can take this costuming of ourselves too far. We can fall into thinking that beyond being unique, we are actually superior to some others…”I in my business suit or latest Prada am far too superior to speak to you in ragged jeans…I am in a class above.”

Fashion, finance, culture…so many things we can use to separate ourselves from others, and forget that we are all born into the same human family. We are all born barefoot, and whichever shoes we acquire afterwords are gifts, extras, luxuries, not meant to mask this essential sameness.

So why this meditation on bare feet? Well, it’s because one of the great things that attracted me to the children’s books I’ve just started selling, Barefoot Books, is this beautiful celebration of our world’s cultural diversity, in all its splendid colour and vibrancy. And in celebrating this through traditional children’s stories from people all around the world, Barefoot Books at the same time emphasize the commonality of the human experience.

Whatever our culture, whether we are a rich Norse Queen or a poor African mother walking for miles to buy a cup of flour, we are human; we hope, love, suffer, hunger, and rejoice. We have families, dreams, and stories, and we all need to share them. Our vision of life-—our history, poetry, art and music—all enrich the world and form a part of the splendid tapestry of humanity.

In a world so caught up in superficial differences, I think these tales of diverse cultures are refreshing and important for our children, to help them grow up with a heart that understands that all people are part of the same human family, worthy of our love and respect. So I hope you’ll kick off your shoes and go Barefoot this summer with your kids!

Barefoot Books: Colourful, Cultural Books for Creative Kids

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1

Writerly Ramblings: On Not Blogging Enough Lately

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So for one reason or another, like in the Baby Blues cartoon above, I’ve been letting the usual business take over more lately, and haven’t been blogging very often for the last few weeks. It’s very easy to find something else more urgent on my to-do list (anything that stinks or screams jumps right to the top), but constantly choosing something more pressing than pressing publish is having it’s effect. If I went to a specialist my appointment would go like this:

“What seems to be the trouble , ma’am?”
“I haven’t been myself lately…I’m more irritable and impatient, and I feel like adrenaline is always rushing through my veins, even late at night and early in the morning…”
“I see…and have you been blogging lately?”
“No, not much.”
“No ideas?”
“Quite the opposite. Words are buzzing around my head at night. I’ve got so many ideas I can’t choose which one write about next, or even if I make a draft, which one to publish.”
“Aha! It sounds like you are suffering from an unblogged duct, caused by an excess of ideas and a deficiency in publishing them.”
“But I don’t know where to start…”
“Well, the best remedy for unblogged ducts is to write something, anything, and publish it as soon as possible. This will help overcome this flare-up of perfectionism, and get things flowing again.”
“Thank you, doctor. I’ll get write to it!”
“Once you hear that little sparkle sound of a WordPress notification of someone’s comment on your iPad, you’ll start feeling yourself again.”

So here I am, imaginary doctor’s orders, writing. And I’m glad. I’ve been missing you all. You might think that writers are solitary creatures, only concerned about crafting words in the dark loneliness of a late night office. But the opposite is true. Writers have a great need to connect, to share their experiences, to inspire and be inspired, to encourage others and to be supported themselves. It’s about people ultimately…

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I’ve been wanting to tell you about our giant expedition to the park with Uncle Winston, about the inspiring homeschool conference I attended, about the Father’s Day dinner at a Chinese restaurant that ended by me being peed on by the baby, about my new Barefoot Books home business that I’m so excited about, and about all the crazy things my almost four year old has said lately, among other things. So hopefully I’ll get to all these things very soon, and let’s hope this post gets things up and running again!

And for anyone else who has been putting off writing lately, get to it! You’ll feel a lot better…

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I’ll tell you all more about it soon, but for anyone who wants to check out my new Barefoot Books site, here’s the link. Hope you’ll love these books as much as my kids do!

Barefoot Books: Colourful, Cultural Books for Creative Kids

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0

Wash Me New

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I’ve come to sit in the quiet church
to let it all go

The statues and flowers keep me silent company
while upstairs a group of children
sings joyfully to a guitar

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There is a giant baptismal font
still filled with holy water from Easter
I want to climb in it and float on my back
staring at the ceiling
like I used to stare at the sky
floating in the lake when I was young

Until all the bitter colours are washed out of me
the blaring colours of anger, fear, resentment, regret…
bleeding out until I am pure white
glowing
new

Empty of everything
but an overwhelming gratitude
for the present moment

Remembering I am a creature
a recipient of endless gifts
my life–each day–a miracle

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I don’t need to grip the ropes so tightly
to control the sails
I don’t have to see everything
from the crow’s nest
and constantly consult the map

The real map is in bigger hands
better hands
wiser hands

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I don’t need to understand everything

I can lean back
close my eyes and smile
as the salt breeze mixes with my salty tears

Let the sound of the waves
lull me into a place of peace

so I can see this voyage
as a mysterious adventure
and not a problem to be solved
a gift and not a burden

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