Saturday, May 4, 2013


"Settle in, right where you are, refusing to wish for something different."                     - Emily P. Freeman, Chatting at the Sky

On most Saturday mornings, Cory and I let the Wild Things fend for themselves for an hour or so while we lay in bed pretending that we're allowed to sleep in. There are usually two or three tattling intruders, several high-pitched screams, and the whole jig typically ends in a kitchen disaster along the lines of spilled Cheerios or exploding peanut butter toast. But those 70-odd minutes are still a rare and precious treasure, and it's worth it. Ish.

Today, we rolled out of bed, slapped on some deodorant and brushed our teeth, then headed 2 blocks down the street to our church for Neighborhood Clean-Up Day.

My "team" consisted of Cory, myself, Ruby, Silas, and our neighbor girl Monica (Ruby sometimes accidentally thinks her name is Harmonica). If you know anything about any of the three youngest team members, you know the deck was stacked against us.

But we did our thang.

We filled two giant trash bags and I repressed the heavyweight urge to tip-toe across the floorboards of several porches to "tidy up". For two hours we walked in the sun while Monica told us things that were true, things that were untrue, and laughed her most neurotic laugh.

For two hours I wandered streets with the sun on my cheeks, thankful again that this is where I found my home, surprised for the thousandth time that I love it so much.

We might be different than some of our neighbors, and we might be exactly the same as others, but there's a thread of solidarity stitched between each one of us for the simple reason that this is the place we have chosen. We chose it decades ago or just last month. We chose it second-hand, by default. We chose it on purpose. One way or another, each of us chose. The guy covered in tats with the porch covered in garbage, the lady who painstakingly hand-wired vines of silk flowers to every limb of every tree, the gangly girl just meeting herself for the first time at the age of 36 all chose this.

So the language "barrier" doesn't even reach our knee caps and there's no shade of flesh, no brand of shoe, no brick or timber to separate us. We walk the same crumbling sidewalks and send our children off to the same little school. We press seeds into the same earth and wait for the wild flash of hope to find us out here, in the air and sun, where we live.


  1. This is beautiful and I know God smiles when He watches you embrace the people and the place where He has planted you for now!

  2. I love the way you have found common ground and that you love those where you live, that you never went to serve those "beneath" you but to come along side and just be. Good stuff indeed~ Bless you girl!

  3. I love you because you make me laugh and because you live my life. From my hood to yours~ much crazy love...complete with our own version of plastic flowers and beer bottles and broken pavement. thank you for LOVING well and for choosing to write about it.

  4. i love where you are.
    your heart and your hood.

    praise jesus. xo

  5. Grateful to be right where I am, too. Please do take a photo of the tree with the silk flowers.

  6. The posts you write like these - always touch my heart. So much so that I share many of your thoughts now with my husband as we discuss our purpose of still being in our "wrong side of town" neighborhood in our little house. We used to want out, and honestly, there are days we still do - but your blog the last couple of years has got me thinking and praying and now discussing - trying to figure out why and just be obedient where God has us until He says otherwise.

  7. I came to visit, stayed, read like I would curled up with a good book, and loved every minute of it. You always make the most ordinary of things into something beautiful :) xo

  8. I'm glad you remembered your age correctly. ;)

  9. I'm glad you remembered your age correctly. ;)

  10. Surprised by joy. Love it. So happy you have found more contentment than you imagined you might.

  11. You don't need a garden Shannan. Things are growing all over your and discovery and patience.
    "Remembrance is the sweetest flower that in a garden grows". Your memories, and the life that you are creating will last forever.

    1. This is my favorite comment. She's right. You didn't need a garden at all, and beautiful things are growing.

  12. Well, this made me cry.

    Write the dang book, Shan.

    We're all lined up to buy it. And no, we're not tired of hearing about it.


  13. never tired - always craving more!!

    I love your heart and how speak what's on it!

  14. I wish so much that I could visit you and see where you live. I wish it so much.

  15. Love this.

    We just moved back to the city on Saturday and I feel JOY. Different ethnicities, quirks, interesting neighbors... It makes you feel alive!

    Loved this post.

  16. love that God plopped you right there where you are....
    love hearing stories of you guys doing life in your hood.
    you're blooming where you're planted, and it's the most beautiful garden I've seen in a while.

  17. "thankful again that this is where I found my home, surprised for the thousandth time that I love it so much." Daily! Amen! Same here.

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