Dear Isaac, (A Letter to my 3-year-old son.)

Dear Isaac,

You are three years and three months old, and you are the funniest little boy I know. People often say that it is right that your name means laughter. How can I describe you? You are tough, soft, dancing, stubborn, you love beauty and fruit, you insist on your own way. You are excited by life, you sometimes confide in strangers and sometimes scowl at them.

You were bitten by a dog in a bus station the other day. None of us saw you walk toward it, thinking it was another dog, and getting a bite on the cheek for trying to pet it. A sudden scream and you ran toward me with blood on your face. We taped you up, got you on the bus, and six hours later, we went to the hospital in Chiang Mai. You were very brave. You got two shots, one in each arm, before they injected your face and you decided that you had had enough. It was hard to watch you being sad and getting injections, but mostly I was proud of you, because you were so courageous, so fun, so interested in everything, (you sat up on your gurney at one point and asked, “Mama, why do these neighbors have medicine?” and I really had no idea how to respond to that) and so full of life and sweetness. You told me that coconut is better than any chocolate. And then we walked out and caught a red truck to get back to our hotel and go to sleep.

You are very quirky. You get places mixed up. You get the words, Hospital, Hotel, and Hotsprings mixed up. So sometimes I say, “We’re going to the hospital,” and you jump up and down and cheer. Because you think we’re going to the pool and hot springs and you’re going to get to swim. 

You get bigger places mixed up too. 

A while ago you said, “In America, there are a lot of chickens and dinosaurs, and the road is broken.” I blinked at you. “Are you talking about India?”

“No! America!” 

“Are you talking about Chiang Mai?” I pushed.

“No, America!”

Okay.

Or people, and relationships.

“What’s a wife?” you asked me.

“A wife is…” 

“No! Kenya said a wife is… Uncle Neil’s wife is about… Auntie Ro. Uncle Brendan’s wife is about… Auntie Leaf. Uncle Josh’s wife is about… Auntie Omi.” 

“That’s true.” I said.

Kenya filled in, “And then he asked, is Jazzy’s wife Elkie?” 

We laughed and said, “Elkie is Jazzy’s sister. Jazzy doesn’t have a wife, just like you don’t have a wife.” 

“I do have a wife!” he said. “My wife is in America.”

Hmm. 

Practical life with you can be an exercise in patience.

“I will brush my teeth by myself.” 

“Okay.”

“After I do my breathing.” 

And then you proceed to do some very interesting breathing exercises, as though you are going to give a speech or try to make your way through a difficult childbirth.

Time is also a bit difficult. Everything in the past for you is Yesterday. “Yesterday I was a tiny baby.” “Yesterday I was in India.” 

You are learning letters, and can tell us the letters on packages you find. “Why does this say K-L-I-M?” you asked the other day, about a box of soy milk that you found. 

You have learned to swim. You taught yourself. You kick your feet and dive down, learning to love the feel of your body moving through water, the way the water holds you up and surrounds you. And I watch you swimming, and you come grinning toward me with your face wide open in smiles, your dimples, your little fish body, and I feel so much love for you. We have a favorite game, one we play when you are being "a trial." 

"I love you when you're happy and when you're sad," I say.

"And what else?" you ask.

"When you're sleepy and when you're excited."

"And what else?" 

"When you're mad and you're sweet. I love you all the time."

"And what else?"

The game goes on, and it will always go on.

I love you Isaac, my little bear,

 

Love,

Mama

Infinite.

Ian years and years ago, with Asha

Ian years and years ago, with Asha

Ian, our beloved friend, has gone cosmic. I’m jealous, not of him—because I’m not ready to leave this world—but of God, because Ian is our friend and we wanted him here. That’s why I keep looking at pictures of him. He was with us! The pictures say. He was here and he loved us. Now he’s famous. Glorious. Pain free. He’s gone on to heights we can only dream of. And we’re slightly glorified because we got to know him, his glory reflects on us a little, on our upward-turned faces. (Like my friend Ro said the other day, the whole family gets to claim reflected glory when a family member does something cool. Something cool like going cosmic? That too.) But we’re also left behind, on this side of the door, and it sucks. 

Yesterday Leaf guided a meditation on 1 Corinthians 15. I wish you could have seen her, heard her voice as she spoke the holy words, holding her tanpura (an Indian instrument) and singing. She is unearthly. We all are, glowing with something that is not flesh and brain and bone. We have something else. The verse describes these bodies we have as seeds that are sown. What is sown in dishonor is raised in glory.

We held delicate seeds that fly from our nearby trees. Ro can testify that the seeds take root and grow, as she nearly weekly uproots the tiny trees seeded from the flamboyant tree. They want to grow everywhere, in the vegetable gardens, with the flowers, on the road. I held my seed and thought about that seed’s one-dimensional potential. It holds the potential of a tree. It cannot become a piece of sky, or a bird. It can grow straight and tall, it can throw out leaves. It is a small miracle, but it only holds a tree inside, nothing more.

How infinite, then, is Ian’s potential! The Jesus devotee, scuba diver, dancer, philosopher, excellent drink mixer, programmer, father, husband, incredible friend? This is only the seed? This glorious, kind, thoughtful, generous person? (He was our friend, I’d like to point out again. We knew him!) 

We saw more of this incredible seed’s potential when he got sick. Because then we saw his ability to suffer with great love. To endure and trust. To smile and be generous with his humor even when he was in the hospital for 100 days, when he was in pain, when his poor body was withering. His soul became all the brighter for it. 

Infinite. Now Ian’s soul is lit aflame in the light of God, sown into the heavens, and it is unbearable to think of how fantastic, how magical, how mighty a being he is now. I imagine him striding around, thundering through the cosmos, his laugh shaking the rafters of heaven. I imagine him diving into infinite seas, breaking important things with wild dancing. His soul expanding, exploding with all that potential, so narrowly contained in a human body for so long, confined no longer.

And it sucks. All of this is true and is comforting but infuriating. Even as I write this, my heart hurts and hurts and hurts. One of my dearest friends has lost her husband. Much loved little girls have said goodbye to their father. Chinua has lost his best friend. So many of us have said goodbye, are jealous of heaven, are basking in Ian’s reflected glory with deep, deep pain in our hearts. We knew him. He was our friend. We are so, so thankful we got to know him. I am so thankful that he pursued us, that he and Chinua talked for hours every week, that they crammed approximately 20 years of friendship into these past years. I am thankful for every single time Ian turned to me and said, “You’re so gracious,” and I instantly felt like maybe I wasn’t a failure after all. I’m thankful that he spent his life giving others the courage to be, telling us the truth about ourselves.

And I’m thankful that I get to walk longer with Christy, the mighty, fragile woman whose very soul is a poem, who has shown us what grace truly is. I’m humbled by her, reflecting in her own glory a bit. (She’s my friend! She’s so beautiful, and she’s my friend!) I’m thankful for these friends and with a heart full of sorrow and wonder I’m looking to the years ahead of remembering Ian and loving Christy and the girls. 

For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 1 Corinthians 15:53

 

World Whisperer Launch Day!

Today is the day!!! 

I've been having some technical trouble with the paperback edition, which should be solved in a day or two, but the Kindle version of World Whisperer is live in the Amazon store and because of my desire to start this series strong, it is 99 cents for a limited time. 

Seven years ago, Isika’s mother walked out of the desert with three children in tow, leading the priest of the Worker village to marry her and take in her children. In all those years, fourteen-year-old Isika has never been able to fit in as a Worker or live up to her role as the priest's daughter, and worse, she has been helpless against the tragedies that have fallen on her family. 

But now the four goddesses they serve want another sacrifice, and Isika's stepfather has chosen the next child to be sent out to sea: the little brother who Isika loves more than anything. 

This time Isika will not be powerless. 

  Together, she and her two remaining siblings leave the walls of the Worker village to save their brother, traveling into unknown lands and magic they never could have imagined.

Feedback on World Whisperer has been amazing, with readers describing it as "all-consuming," "a fantastic read," "with a spectacular setting reminiscent of Oz or Narnia." 

If you need a little adventure in your life, World Whisperer is the book for you.

Here's the excerpt and here's the link where you can buy it for your Kindle.

I do this on my own, and so appreciate the tweets, shares, or any way you use to pass knowledge along. Word of mouth is the strongest advertisement. Thanks so much for your support. I'll be hanging out on facebook at about 7:00 PST this evening to hang out and answer questions, so maybe I'll see you then!

Behind the scenes at the crazy house.

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We're two days away from book launch! This is a dream come true and because I want to send the first book of this series into the stratosphere, I am listing it at $0.99 for a limited time. What! That's right, you heard me. More on that in two days. 

Meanwhile, we are celebrating Song Kran, the New Year water festival in Thailand. We went out to play as a posse yesterday, Chinua and I and our kids, as well as our friend Taran and another friend and her son and a few other kids. We soaked many people, we got soaked, we shrieked when people dunked buckets of ice water on us (you try not to scream if you're hit by a bucket of ice water!) and we eventually came home to make a mud puddle on the kitchen floor.

I have to surrender to the chaos. 

I may be the tiniest bit anxious right now. Or the biggest bit anxious, and had a fairly major panic attack/meltdown on the weekend. Just another present from my brain to myself. With anxiety, I never know if it actually comes from anything or if it is just chemicals that are wonky in my brain. All I can do is ride the wave until it passes. My brain doesn't absorb happy things when I'm anxious, so I have to tell them to myself.

Look how much fun we're having, I say. We're playing in the streets with water!  

We wrote a book.

We planted some spinach and the roses are blooming. We harvested seeds. Isaac is adorable. The teenagers are adorable. 

The upper floor house smells like clean laundry and warm wood during the hot season. It gets so warm upstairs that we vibrate with it. And then we go outside and splash water on people driving by in trucks. And old ladies splash us. And the children are growing up and despite myself, despite everything, I am loved by God, who is infinitely wise and restful, fun and kind, giving and deep. 

Two more days, beloved readers! Two more days!