Wednesday, February 14, 2018

A Good Excuse to Love Bigger



I don't remember when I became a Valentine's day fanatic, but I'm guessing it happened well outside the scope of age-acceptability. I'm sure the roots are tangled up somewhere in the naked, improbable hopefulness of my teenage years, when my best friend Sarah and I, doomed to schools in different counties, would write notes to each other on notebook paper in which we talked almost exclusively about our unrequited crushes. Against all reason, we hoped. Romantics to the core.

I secretly like the idea of invisible cupids taking aim on unsuspecting fools who, shot through the heart, turn the tables on classic rock and give love a good name.

I also like Galentine's day. There. I said it.
It's dopey and cheesy. I don't care. Valentine's day does not just exist for the coupled. It exists for any human who needs a reason to throw some puffy-heart pink around and love with extra intention. It's love, and love is for everyone.

So, I've done my due diligence. I brought out all the pink. I hung romantic plates on my wall. (As one does.) I've hatched plans to surprise my closest loves in some weird ways. I even have a plan for dealing with any Valentine's related angst, such as eye rolling, unexplained surliness, and general crankiness. (Hint: it involves believing with my whole heart that they actually love every second of it, despite obvious evidence. It's not denial if it's truuuue!!!!)


Valentine's day is a real, bonafide "you do you" situation. It's okay if you don't geek out over it like some of us. Honestly, it's okay if you're the one rolling your eyes.

But what if we all decided to take the excuse to love bigger and run with it?

What if we reframed February 14th as a strange Thanksgiving/Christmas love-child, where we gather up the love we're given and fling some of it back out into the world? (Heart-shaped glitter optional.)

Two years ago, I spent part of February in Ecuador with Calvin Lee and now, the two are tied up together somewhere on the February calendar of my heart. February is chocolate truffles and it's bearing witness to poverty through the eyes of my ten-year old son. It's grocery store sushi and it's the one-room, tin-roofed home with a romantic, flowered curtain for a door. It's whimsy and silliness, but it's also the triumph of hope. It's resilience.

It's my son, piecing together the puzzle that he was born across the ocean, but lives in Indiana. He was first loved, held, and named by a woman he might never meet, but he also has a new mom who won't ever stop loving him, holding him, and calling him hers. It's loss. And it's love.

This year, it's Valentine's Day and Ash Wednesday, and there's room in my heart for all of it. To me, it makes perfect sense.

I've been working with Compassion International on a way for us to come together as a community and fling some love around. I do believe today is our moment.

The Martin fam has sponsored children (which is to say, families) through Compassion for over a decade now, and we'll never quit. It works. It matters. But today, it all goes a layer deeper. If you click here you'll find a page set up just for us, filled with kids waiting to be sponsored. Every one of the kiddos on our page is an orphan, having lost one or both parents.

Child sponsorship is a lifeline that helps hold vulnerable kids steady, and these are the most vulnerable. These kids need hope more than ever. We have seen it for ourselves. One of the happiest days for a child is the day they are sponsored. They have lost some things, yes. But they are loved, called by name, chosen.

What would it look like if we, as a team, scooped up the entire page?

Mexico. Ghana. Indonesia. Uganda. Ethiopia.
The list goes on and on.

From the looks of it, they are all boys, in desperate need for a shot of hope and love across the sea.

 

We don't need an excuse to care for orphans as we care for ourselves and our "own".
But today, we have one anyway.

Click here to consider becoming a vital part of the life of one of these boys.

Happy ThanksChristTines Day.

We are dust and to dust we'll return.
We are loved and we give love away.

Ever Yours,
Shannan


* Click here to see more of our time in Ecuador. 

** I am a long-haul, devoted partner with Compassion. This means that in addition to over a decade of sponsorship and joining one of their blogger trips, I am also compensated as part of a focused partnership to help spread the word and gain sponsorship for more kiddos. It is with gladness that I share my platform, as I have always done, with this message that beats so strongly within my own heart.


Monday, February 5, 2018

Sweeping the Floor

Back in the day it irritated me when other bloggers would explain why they hadn't blogged in a while, or warn everyone when they were getting ready to take some time off. It seemed a little self-important or something. The world will keep turning, I thought. Just live your life. 

But I logged into this dusty blog last week and did the math. It's been over two months. After a few of you reached out to see if I'm still alive, I was forced to sit with my feelings on my long hiatus. Here's what I know - I've missed you. I've missed this space where we've gathered for so many years to share life.

I don't have any big explanations, I guess. But I'm still here. Hi.


Cory and I were driving the back street that hugs up behind our neighborhood over the weekend. I know it well now. We moved east over ice-slicked roads and I looked to the right, at the porch with the profusion of silk flowers shoved into a wayward shopping cart. There was a time I would have seen it as trashy. Now, it stops me in my tracks, all wild beauty and artificial color. It's resilience. Hope? Yeah, I think so. I looked left at my friend's house, recently painted a pretty shade of blue.

Two summers ago on a rare evening alone Cory and I had walked the buckled sidewalks and alleys of the adjacent neighborhood at dusk. It's one of our favorite things to do, but we didn't do it once last summer. I'm not sure where last summer went, or what I did. But the next one doesn't seem so far away, and I'm already looking forward to really feeling it this time around.

The last year has been a doozy.

As my work made the shift to writing deadlines once again, I sat most mornings staring at a blinking cursor, trying to figure out how to uncork what I know about life and pour it bubbling onto the page. Writing often felt like roaming from room to room, looking for a window that might creak open enough to draw in a fresh stream of air.

When I truly found myself stuck, when every window was painted shut and every door sealed (and those days were many,) I would shove away my laptop and grab my broom. Always, without exception, I would be stunned by the amount of filth five people and a wide rotation of neighbors could drag into one home.

The piles would collect strategically throughout the kitchen, the dining room, the mudroom. Dirt, grime, clumps of fur from the cat, tiny rubber bands, minuscule Legos that wouldn't be missed, scraps of paper, stray Cheerios, and crumbs from our morning toast. By the time the floor was cleared, I usually remembered the one west window that would open if it was jimmied, just so.

And the air would blow through, like magic.

Sweeping my floors didn't exactly unlock the hidden mysteries of extracting the truth and the pain and the solace of living, laying it cleanly on the page with no effort. It's more that sweeping my floors reminded me of who I am and where I belong. There's real freedom in that. And freedom is its own sort of open window, even when it still has to be propped up with a sawed-off tree limb or a hammer, like the bedroom window of my childhood. Air is air. We'll take it however we can get it.

I'm out from under that deadline, and my floors still need to be swept.
Life right now feels new-to-me, like pulling on a forgotten, favorite flannel. I'm remembering that blogging and floor sweeping are the first cousins of everyday living, as long as I'm willing to believe it.

There have been times I have worried that what I write here needs to be Really Important. Or Really Funny. Or Really Well-Written. I have occasionally made it something it was never meant to be, wandering from room to room with a wet paint brush and sealing off any stray breeze that might whistle through the jamb.

I don't know what you expect when you show up here. I'm sure it's different for everyone, but that's actually fantastic news. Because I'm someone a little different every day, and so are you. Life wears against us differently. Some days I'm funny. Some days I'm sad. Some days I have something important to say.

Most days, I just have a few piles on the floor, a collection of the bits and grit of my ordinary life. It's shockingly messy, I know. But I also know you understand, because your piles are no different. I don't mind if you don't.

 

Yesterday I stayed home from church with a sick little girl. Our boys came home and we ate left-overs for lunch. We had a kitchen meeting with one young neighbor and I stood there very aware that my life now lends itself to being bare-faced and wild-haired in the presence of those around me, dealing stern words and fierce love because it's real and it's necessary.

In the afternoon we lounged around in our sweatpants. I read a story to Silas about a room with no windows and three locks on the door, about kids who love life so much that they can't hold it in, about the ways we force them into a box without meaning to. He didn't want to read that book. "Too many words!" he said. "The pictures are boring!" The truth is, he'd never tried it. So we talked about poetry and we talked about freedom while the snow fell outside in thick tufts of white.

I stuck my hands in a bowl of ground beef and pork and squished it around, then rolled out a double-batch of these meatballs that cooked into the best pot of spaghetti I've ever eaten. (No fresh parsley, because this is February and I'm not trying to complicate life.)

I sorted hot air balloon puzzle pieces with Silas and Ruby while Cory and Calvin watched the Superbowl. All afternoon Silas had been confused, saying things like, "Are we eating the snacks tonight when we watch the ball drop?"

I made lists. I wiped off counters.

I swept the floors.

When it was nearly midnight I lay in bed with Cory, listening to Dawes and talking about whatever came to mind. The last thing I remember is rolling over and praying, "I'm sorry I haven't been paying enough attention to you, God."

What I meant was, "I'm sorry I haven't been reading my Bible as much lately."

As sure as I sit here with Monday's sun streaming through my smudged window panes, God chuckled. There hasn't been an inch of space between us. He's always been right here, in every sliver of life. He's in every pile. He's the air. All of it counts.

This is longer than I meant it to be. (There was a time I'd have worried about that, too.) But seasons change and there are no rules to blogging anymore, at least not here.

This is my home. My life. The things we shed without even noticing.
Welcome. I'm so happy you came.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

My Favorite Things (& Then Some)


Today was the first morning we stepped outside to a denim blue sky, faded and torn, that eerie glow following us down the street to school. Honestly, it was a relief. Indiana has been playing that strange sort of atmospheric roulette and I know plenty of people manage without them, but I need the full, four seasons. I needed it to buck up and start being wintery.

Christmas is only twenty days away, after all.

This is about the time that I jump in with both feet. I want to see all of my friends. I want to put butter on everything. I want to stay up too late with Cory, bingeing The Crown. I was coziness. Togetherness. I want that Christmas feeling.

I also want the sorrow, the longing, the truth that Jesus came to save us because we are basically a wreck. He wants to heal us, but that doesn't mean it's simple. It might hurt along the way.


Late last night, I finished a special little project just for you. It's called The 12 Ways of Christmas and it was such a joy to create it. It's my entire heart for the holidays, divvied up into twelve bite-sized emails.

Over the past several years, my family has started to approach the season differently, and it has brought untold peace and joy to our household and our schedules. This isn't a boss-around series. It's just me, opening my front door to you. It's a peek inside. It's a bit of reflection, a bit of evaluation, some prayer, some crack bark, some new ways of thinking, some saying yes, some saying no. It's Christmas hymns, simple crafts, and a couple of little gifts for you as we go.

If you'd like to join me, click here to subscribe.  (The 12 Ways of Christmas series is now closed.)


This is a free invitation to more meaning and less pressure as we wait for Jesus. You'll get the first email immediately, and one each day for the next 11 days. I hope you love it as much as I loved writing it.

While we're here, I've been jotting a list of my favorite things with the intention of sharing them. Now is as good a time as any! You can consider these gift ideas or just an opportunity to be a little nosy. Either way, this is the legit, tried-and-true account of what I'm loving lately. Because we all know Jesus is all we need, but we don't hate good music and fun earrings along the way.


Every Mile Mattered
::  Nichole Nordeman - Every Mile Mattered
She has been my favorite singer-songwriter for over ten years now, and this album is a masterpiece.

:: Denim shirt by ABLE

ABLE (previously FashionABLE) is all over their A-game with their new apparel line. They have denim, bags, shoes, fashion-forward tops (for those younger and trendier than myself,) jewelry, and more. All of it is hand-crafted throughout the world by women who have overcome. The denim shirt has my whole heart for my whole life. It is simply perfection, with a longer, not-too-baggy/not-too-slim fit and a raw, frayed edge. I live in this thing. It dresses up or down. The craftsmanship and attention to detail is impeccable. It costs more than an Old Navy knock-off, but it's a classic piece that will last forever and it's made by women who are paid a fair wage and offered a brighter future.

(Remember when I traveled to Ethiopia four years ago and barfed in a Ziploc baggie in front of Emily Maynard? Yep, that was an ABLE trip. I have seen firsthand the mission behind the high quality fashion and I'm a lifelong believer.)

:: Trucker hat by Peace Within

Here I am after getting four hours of sleep, wearing both the shirt and the hat. If you asked my neighbors to draw my uniform, this is what they would draw, complete with the under-eye circles and bedhead.
(I wear it All of Thee Time. It's handmade in the USA by women transitioning from struggle to a better way. LOVE!)

::  Books
General shout-out to Books, one of my favorite, all-season gifts.
Right now I'm reading Hillbilly Elegy, The Very Good Gospel, and of course Barking to the Choir.

::  Mugs and tea
I will proclaim to the end that there is no better gift than a thrift-store mug (there are So many good ones if you just look!) filled with tea, coffee beans, chocolate, or any other little do-dads. 

:: Literally anything from Belove (a local and online Give Back gift shop)
(I'll take one of everything, plz.)

:: Locally made goat milk body lotion 
My favorite scent is Mandarin Orange

::  Cookbooks
I've been obsessed with the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook and she has a new one out that I'm itching to read, Smitten Kitchen Every Day.

::  Vintage tea towels, tablecloths, pillowcases. 
I can't see this at a thrift store and not buy it. (And I have the sort of friends who consider thrift-store gifts the very best kind!)

:: Painting Class
Calvin just finished a four-week drawing class in town and Ruby and I are gearing up to take The Secret Garden painting course offered by Amanda Evanston.
{Just for the record, these are MY faves, pure and simple. Amazon and ABLE links are affiliate links, which means if you purchase through the link I get a tiny commission from the sale. The rest are just links to help you find the stuff I truly love.}

Tell me, what are you loving lately?



Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Hold the Phone...



Pals, I am coming straight to you from my kitchen island at 8:21 a.m. with (2-day) bedhead and my cup of Pumpkin Spice tea to give this important message (or, as Calvin would have said back in 2012, "A very important newsletter." It's been six years and we still reference this at least once a week. Never gets old!)

Father Boyle has a new book coming out!

If you have known me for more than one hour or if you have read Falling Free or heard me on a podcast or sat with me at Bible study or just talked to me in passing, you know that my favorite author in the entire world is Gregory Boyle, of Tattoos on the Heart fame.

His new book releases in a couple of weeks. It's called Barking At the Choir (!!!!!!!!): The Power of Radical Kinship and you can pre-order* it now, like I just did thirty seconds ago. Click here. (Sidenote: pre-orders really help the success of a new release. It's a great way to love an author!)


And now for some not-as-urgent backstory.

Back in 2010, Greg's publisher reached out to me to see if I would like a free copy of his book to review. He wasn't well-known at that time. My blog reached maybe 200 people. And this was the first offer I'd ever received of this kind. I was like, "Who, me? A free book? YES, please!" I thought I was Queen of the Nerd World.

They sent it.
I reviewed it.
And it knocked me sideways.

I have never recovered.

It changed the way I saw the world. It changed the way I saw God. This was back on the farm, back before Goshen and Robert and the jail. It was before we had ever set foot near a jail. God used Father B's words to move me in fundamental ways. I couldn't have guessed what would happen next, or why the rearranging of my heart and soul furniture would be so important. But I know, there are no coincidences.

True story: when we were going through the editing process for Falling Free, I had to TRIM BACK my Tattoos quotes. I had too many gems, like these, "There is a longing in us all to be God-enthralled." Or, "Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It's a covenant between equals." Or, "What seems to vex us is our tendency to conjure up a tiny God." I WILL STOP NOW. But trust me, I don't want to. My copy is almost obliterated with dog-ears and markings. It's just so stunningly beautiful.

A couple of years ago I was talking to my friend Emily about my book that would be coming out, and who I would ask to endorse it. She asked who my Dream Endorser was, and I said him, without hesitation. I set out to find a way to contact him, but it turns out that is easier said than done. No one knew how to reach him.

In the 11th hour, my brother-in-law found a random, old business card from when Greg had spoken at a conference he attended. Within the next hour, I sent him a too-long, ultra-verbose email shamelessly saying things like, "Tattoos on the Heart has shaped me more than any book I have read. Over the years, I have given copies to innumerable friends, recommended it on every podcast I've been on, and reread it countless times. And while it's easy to love you for your evocative writing, I think I love you more for this, 'How much bigger is the God we have than the God we think we have?'" 

He emailed me back fifteen minutes later, saying yes.

A few weeks later, this showed up in my inbox, along with the kindest note, "Be prepared to have your atrophied, tired notion of God propelled into a new and spacious place. With humor, grace, and not a little jostling of your comfort zone, Shannan Martin will introduce you to the mess at the margins. 'See Jesus in the lowly place,' St. Ignatius writes. You will see Him, in this book, as never before. We are invited here to stare at our 'shared ruin,' so that we can walk away astounded that we belong to each other." - Gregory Boyle, Founder of Homeboy Industries, author of Tattoos on the Heart

I sobbed alone at my kitchen table. It was the only time I cried during my entire publication process. 

Short story long, as kind as he is, he doesn't "really" know me. I'm not sharing about Barking at the Choir as a favor to him. I'm sharing as a favor to YOU. This will be another game-changer. I can't wait.

Happiest of Tuesdays,
Shannan


*Pre-ordering means you reserve your copy today and it's sent on the day it is released, (Nov. 14th.) You don't actually pay until it ships, and then you get this awesome surprise in the mail! And if the price drops by the release date, you get the lower price. Win-win-win!


Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Don't Freak Out but This is a Legit Decorating Post



A couple of weeks ago I sat working at my crappy disastrous homey dining room table for most of the day, at some point remembering I needed to rustle something up for Bible study that evening. Sadly, I didn't have wheels because our "new" car had been totaled while the ink was still fresh on the temporary tags, but that's another story for another day. (Working title, "Why Can't We Have Nice Things?")

I looked in the fridge. I looked in the freezer. Nothing. Then a small swarm of fruit flies hovering in the corner led me to two badly bruised pears. Scanning the rest of the kitchen perimeter, I found a jar of barley, mostly used for decorative purposes.

Because the answer to most problems (except for deep-seated psychological trauma) is acid, I spontaneously began daydreaming about balsamic-pear-something-or-other.

Then I remembered a handful of weary Brussels sprouts in the fridge.
Then I wondered why I've never devoted any sincere effort to caramelizing onions.


A quick internet search led me to two contender-worthy recipes for a pear vinaigrette, but both called for white balsamic vinegar, and I will be honest, I flipped my laptop the bird. My root vegetables don't care what color their vinegar is and neither do yours. That's not how we roll here on 5th Street. We are not that cute.

I settled on this fresh pear vinaigrette and ended up throwing caution to the wind by substituting Champagne vinegar.

Though my "Autumn Root Vegetable Salad with Barley and Pear Vinaigrette and Gorgonzola Cheese" (that's what I named it because I'm an author and words matter) wasn't necessarily applause worthy, I keep sneaking into the kitchen when no one is looking, grabbing a teaspoon, and downing a mini-shot of the dressing. It has lemon, garlic, and pear. It's practically a health smoothie.


The point is, when it comes to cooking I've become a "use what you've got" kind of lady. I've become a real culinary frontierswoman. Salt of the earth. Resourceful. Innovative. Humble. Take your pick.

The same, I've realized, can be said for my decorating.

The last time I did a full-blown fall living room decorating update it was 2014. A lot of things have changed since then, but the blanket on the back of my couch isn't one of them.

I have, in many ways, misplaced my seasonal mojo. These days, "decorating" means dragging a different painting up from the basement and propping it against the wall.


But I handed the first draft of my manuscript in on the last day of August when it was scorching hot, then it got so cold I almost wept, then it flip-flopped between the two extremes a few dozen times, then we went to the beach in October and two of my kids swam in lake Michigan, and somewhere in the midst of this meteorological turmoil, I decided I wanted my house to feel like Fall.



I dug out my favorite fall photo of all time, and put it on a canvas. (Incidentally, my decorating speed always hovers right around 3mph, but this time it took us a solid three weeks to decide which photo to use. Sometimes it's hard to trust the slow work of Shannan.)

I love it so much. It is childhood, the smell of dry leaves, Ruby's cute hiney in pink sweatpants, crisp air, adventure, and home. (It was taken on the farm, but I'm all out of vinegar at the moment, so I can't talk about it right now...)

(By the way, I'm smitten with CanvasHQ. A family-owned canvas company, their work is all done in Arkansas, the customer service is stellar, and they're offering all of us 35% off and free shipping with the code "harvestlove" at checkout!)

(Would you believe my editor once had the gall to tell me I'm overly reliant on parentheses???) (I couldn't believe it, either!)


Our couch is a low-rider, which makes the wall behind it look like a drive-in movie screen if we're not careful. I knew we needed more than just the canvas. But rather than trying to solve that riddle hastily, I drove friends to their probation meetings, tried to stop baking fatty foods, spoke at five different churches in three weeks, moved some of our besties into their new home down the street (you guys blew my mind and are the official best - stay tuned for an update,) clipped Box Tops for the school, and took up the interior hobby of trying to imagine what Jesus smelled while he was alive in the flesh.

One fateful Saturday I helped my homegirl Timi sell her life-changing goat's milk soaps and body lotions at the Madison Road Market and I found the gather sign. And though Dave Ramsey would have said "No way, sucker! Beans and rice for you!," JailChap texted back, "Do it."

So I did, because I like Cory a lot more than I like Dave.

The rest is history, except for the pillows.


Right around the time I began warming to the idea of fur, I found the large fur pillow cover at Good Will for $1.99. (When will Goodwill start selling cars??)

Next, I found the plaid wool at the thrift store for $0.49 and a local woman sewed pillow covers for me for next to nothing. I decided they work with the floral curtains on account of the red and yellow vibes. And they make me want to drink hot cider, which is basically the whole point of seasonal decorating in the first place. I have always loved some heavy-handed pattern mixing. I'm not trying to bore myself to tears over here.

In hindsight, I would probably arrange the pillows a bit differently, and if that's also where your mind was going, I know how to fix it...


See? Nothing like a good distraction to make us unbothered by pillow placement. (It should go without saying that this is the state our house is usually in, only with many more piles of books on every surface.)






{this pic is all about perspective. those are our dining room lights in the foreground.}

As you can see, none of this is fancy or even super organized and pre-planned. If I had unlimited funds and time I would probably bake a French chocolate souffle rather than inventing a weird salad, you know what I mean?

But it works. It stretches my creative muscles. In a small way, it connects me to the seasons and the physical world outside my windows. It makes me want to hunker down with my family and invite people over. It makes me want to boss Cory around like I'm some mid-town Manhattan photographer. "Move that tray two millimeters to the north!"


I've said it before and I'll say it again, if this is not your thing, go do your thing. Whatever it is! No apologies. No disclaimers. No excuses.

But if you're like me and you sort of love the fluffing and the changing-up, don't think for a minute that you need to spend money you don't have or bow to a trend you don't love. Surround yourself with whatever feels the most you-ish. Work with what you've got.

Grab your banged-up pears and turn them into salad dressing, as the old saying goes.


 


This is your one life. Your one living room.

Look around.
Toss it together.
Grin.
Repeat.


PS - Have you signed up to get my Super Scoop secret email? I'll be sharing the file for that sweet little church photo in the big gold frame. Almost ten years ago the sky was so beautiful that I pulled over to the side of the road and took one picture. One. It's still my all-time favorite. It screams Cozy Fall, and I thought you might like it for yourself. It will show up in the inboxes of my subscribers in the next week or so. xo




Sources
Couch - Ikea, Karlstad (this model is now discontinued, but there are similar. We love it!)
Rug -RugsUSA
Canvas - CanvasHQ (Don't forget the code "harvestlove" for 35% off your order + free shipping!)
"Gather" - Joyfully Said Signs
Curtains - Jess Franks for Minted (also, feel free to fall in love with her artwork on her site...)
Table - found
Accordian wall lamp -  World Market (several years ago)
Ceiling fixture - Barn Light Electric
Letterpress "M" block and Shine pillow - Dayspring
All other artwork, plant basket, blanket, tray, frames, tchotchke stuff - thrift stores
Flowers - Kroger and our yard
Howard the Cat - My mom's barn
Paint color - White Dove by Benjamin Moore



Monday, October 9, 2017

Look Down



Yesterday after church, we scrapped our usual plans (lunch at our place with whomever decides to join us) and headed North to one of our favorite escapes, New Buffalo Beach. We listened to '80's music the whole way there, windows down, sun streaming in.

The past two months have been pure hustle. I still don't remember much of August, but I know that on September first I passed the baton to Cory and he took off running. This is one of the gifts of our marriage, this willing partnership and our easy teamwork. But it comes at a cost.

So yesterday was all ours. We packed lunch in the cooler and the kids read books (and napped!) for the 70 minute drive. There were other people with the same idea, but not too many. They sat in beach chairs, soaking up the sun even as our world tilts further from its rays.

A few loony kids actually played in the water. (Hey, Ruby! Hey, Silas!)I hitched my cropped jeans up and waded with Calvin, in search of my beloved sea glass. As I'm prone to do, I tried to manage my expectations by saying I would be happy with just one piece. (It wasn't true.)

We slow-poked up the shoreline and back down, our eyes not on the water, not on the sky, not necessarily even on each other, but on the ground beneath our feet.

Calvin plunged his hand into the shallow surf and pulled out a handful of gravel and sand, fishing out a worn-smooth stone, bottle green, hazy from its journey. "You have to tell your eyes to only look for green," he said.

I tried, but my brown eyes kept finding brown glass.
Ruby only found white.
It was almost as if our eyes really were trained to search for different things.


In the end, we had a small handful of treasures.

For all my talk about paying attention to the sky, the clouds, and the moon in the morning, I learn just as much from looking down. This was easier to remember when my kids were young and and making eye contact meant bending low. Life keeps moving, changing.

Is it possible to see the world as wide but feel it as small?

My obsession with finding sea glass grew around the time I began to find kinship with friends who live banged up by their own journey through life. It's no surprise that after years of hoping, I finally located the place where it's sure to be found. I am learning how to train my eyes. Now, there's no beach I'd rather walk.

People say the sand isn't as good there. It's not as smooth, not as pretty. The crowds flock to better, tidier, more comfortable beaches.

Fine with me.

Because I know that hidden in the rocks are gleaming gems. You know they're ready when their edges are worn smooth. Your eye finds them by the surprising way they reflect the light.

They are worth the search. They're worth the grit.
They are worth it.

Look down.
Scoop them up.
Carry them home.


"Listen to me, all who hope for deliverance - all who seek the Lord! Consider the rock from which you were cut, the quarry from which you were mined." - Isaiah 51:1

~


Precious Memories in a wavering soprano. Inter-generational hugs. The scratch of ink on Work Release paperwork. Grill smoke. Shorts in October. Madonna's "Borderline". Turkey, spinach and cream cheese. Bell peppers. Honey bees. Seagulls. Wave-splashed jeans. Rock ledges. Blue skies. Holding hands. Zanzibar chocolate on a (stale) sugar cone. Smoked ribs. Walnut hauling. Fiery evening sky. Mom and dad on the line. Sunday.