A beautiful gift.

Getting back to school at the beginning of our school season has taken my breath away, to say it in a somewhat dreamy way. I feel like I run from morning till night and sometimes we are doing spelling words or discussion questions at 9:30, right before bed. It is worth it, and I know that I just have a few years ahead of me that are very full, and I won’t wish them away.

They are full of the beauty of bad puns,

Cups of coffee under the white flowering tree,

Teens who sing me happy birthday (my own and others that I love)

Good discussion,

Endless discussion,

Discussion first thing in the morning when I’m still making smoothies,

Trips to the market,

Pencils and pens,

Being read to by a nine-year-old,

Love,

And fairy dust.

And sometimes I am very tired from it all. Even good gifts can make you tired. And sometimes good gifts take your breath away in even dreamier ways.

I just had a birthday and my beautiful, tall, kindhearted daughter gave me this as a present:

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I wish someone could have taken a picture of my face, because I couldn’t speak for several moments. I couldn’t figure out what I was looking at for a minute, because it was a print of Isika, a character that I made up in my own head, and how did that happen? But as it turns out, Kenya drew it, had it printed, and gave it to me, rendering me speechless. 

It bodes well for a magical year. I’m praying it is so. 

A travel day.

This morning I am sitting on the porch at a friend’s house, listening to the calls of the koel birds and spotted doves and feeling completely content. A dog is licking my toe, my boys are swinging in the yard, and the air is still fresh, though it will be hot later.

We are on our way to India. We’ll be in Chennai tonight and Goa tomorrow night. I look forward to those extra senses that get awakened every time I go to India. I look forward to the coconut grove and the sea, to the fishermen and people in the village that I have known for years. I look forward to their expressions of awe when they see how tall Kai and Kenya have become, not so much to the inevitable comments about the weight I have gained. 

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We’ve had a lovely and eventful week. We left last Thursday for the Shamballa in your Heart festival, which is a Japanese music festival in the mountains, with Thai, Japanese, and international musicians. We camped in several tents and brought another friend along. To get everything there, we made a big tarp package on the roof of our car and then tied it up with bungee cords like a present. This is the second year that we’ve gone to this festival and we love it. The kids love being outside the whole time. It’s easy camping with bathrooms and foodstalls that are affordable. The vendors remembered us from the year before and one even had pictures of us on a little board that she had made. Our dear friend Aya is one of the organizers and she found ways for all of us to be involved. Chinua led a couple Open Voice Project workshops (teaching choral singing) and I got to do some live painting, collaborating with Kenya for the first time. 

 The finished painting.

The finished painting.

I’ve dreamed of collaborating with her for a while, because our styles are so different (she is very much an illustrator, more talented that I can believe) and I think they would complement each other well. So it was a dream to do a live painting at one of the stages, listening to music and painting alongside my daughter. It felt like a dream I wouldn’t even have dared to have. So lovely.

I also remember going to the hotsprings with Ro, Lilli, and Becca under the stars, walking in the night to the little pools, getting back to the tent, sleepy and warm despite the chill in the air. Drinking coffee with Leaf in the morning. Listening to amazing jams with Chinua on mandolin, lovely guitarists, and a talented fiddle player. Guiding and attending Christ-centered meditation in the sleepy heat of the day. Music and dancing. The way Solomon loves festivals and music, joining in with Chinua’s workshop, singing and dancing his heart out. The kids running around all day, through rivers and to the top of giant rock piles. Bible circles as a bunch of people read through the book of Romans outside, beside a stream. 

I loved looking out at the stars above the tent flap. Sitting and watching and talking with people from all over the world. Ah, it was beautiful. 

Now we head off to the land that always holds part of my heart, off to dear Miri and the rooftop meditation space, to the sea and delicious food. It's a travel day, just one of many in our lives.

A brief glimpse of sky and a foxy friend.

The sun came out yesterday, and as I drove back and forth from the garden, it illuminated every single beautiful thing. Is my heart soft enough to see all of it? The whole wide world that belongs to my eyes? God's love in the sky and trees?

It was a challenging day. The small child within me wanted to be pouty and out of control. She insisted that she was all alone, that her shoes hurt, that past sadnesses were popping out of the dark woods.

I reminded her that we have a beautiful family in a beautiful world, that we are fully capable of making dinner or a cup of tea, and being exactly who we are is enough. I reminded her that we are not lost, though we don't always know where we are.

And the sun glittered through the trees and agreed with me. I am the smallest bird. The tiniest leaf. But I am loved by God and it is enough.

What else? (Besides the never-ending battle of my mind?) 

World Whisperer is having a cover redesign. The beloved illustration my friend Tom creating is not communicating the proper genre to new readers. I will always treasure it, but I have turned to my trusty multi-talented Superstar Husband for a new cover. And he turned to the ideas and sketches of another multi-talented person in our house... Kenya. So Kenya is helping Chinua design a cover for my Young Adult Fantasy novel and I'm over the moon about this; her sketches of Othra and her Kenya-ness being a part of the cover of a book dedicated to her and the other kids? Perfect.

So I am nearly ready to send World Whisperer 2 to my advance readers, and also waiting for my dazzling new covers. 

I also have a new foxy friend up in my shop:

You can see the details here.

I hope the birds are somewhere nearby, wherever you are. 

Hummingbirds.

A while back, I got a custom order for a large watercolor piece. My friend in California wanted hummingbirds. I wrote back saying that I’d love to do it! And I did enjoy painting all these little hummingbirds, as well as my favorite kind of tree, which has many names: silk tree, saman, and my favorite: raintree. I loved working in a large format. The hummingbirds are done and the prints are in my shop! 

 Detail.

Detail.