Lots of hugs.

 Isaac and Jazzy helped me push the chariot down to the bike mechanic when it wouldn’t start, then sat back and had an old man chat.

Isaac and Jazzy helped me push the chariot down to the bike mechanic when it wouldn’t start, then sat back and had an old man chat.

The past week has been very full. Full of tears and hugs, much joy, many friends.

(Also a lot of news. I follow it, I weep for it, my heart goes out to victims of sexual harassment. There is so much brokenness in this world, so many sins against the body, the spirit of our most vulnerable people. God help us to change, to show compassion and understanding.)

First, we successfully surprised Chinua on his birthday. It was worth every moment of preparation to see the look on his face. After Devotion Circle, we managed to get everyone back from the garden and gathered at our house, and it was Ro’s job to somehow get him to come back. After some moments of trying to figure out what they were going to do, Chinua suggested coming back to our house to drop instruments off. 

Because it was his suggestion, he was floored when he arrived and out of the dark came a little Happy birthday composition, featuring a few guitars, the piano and a clarinet.

I’ll remember the look on his face forever.

At the moment we have a gathering of communities from around this part of the world; mainly the other Shekina communities in India and a community from Israel. We’ve been praying, singing, and eating together. Yesterday we had a circle on the theme of friendship with God and friendship with each other. 

I’m a strong believer of friendship first, a belief I have come to after a lot of trial and error. You know that thing where you look at your spouse as a person to blame because they are like a business partner in the business of your home and family and they have not met your expectations? Yes, I know that thing. In hardship I have a tendency for flipping between outward blame and self loathing. Neither are necessary. Blame and self loathing are both tactics to try to get the bad feelings away. 

You can just feel them. The sadness, the grief, the fear. And put friendship first, learn to go through things together. People in the circle shared about their experiences with friendship, and it was inspiring.

Next week we go down to Chiang Mai for a bigger gathering of communities from around the world. I’m also going to be hard at work on the final edit of Demon’s arrow, which comes out in less than three weeks! I’m very happy to share it with you.

Also, here’s a post that I wrote on the Shekina blog this week: Holy and Dearly Loved.

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Now you can support my writing on Patreon. Patrons can give as little as $1 a month, and get extra vlogs and posts. I really really appreciate your support, it helps me to keep going with writing and publishing my work. The patron extras from last month are up. Here are last month’s extra blog post, Thoughts after 17 years of marriage, and the September Creative Update Video.

Fermented turtle feet.

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I am finally home after my unexpected trip. 

I walked home from the bus station with my lugguge and could hear Chinua playing trumpet as I got close. Wookie whined at the gate when she realized it was me. Then there were all the hugs, sweaty ones from kids at the end of a long hot day. I sat beside Chinua at the piano and we talked about music. I lay beside Isaac as he went to sleep. “Just one time this week, okay?” I said. He threw his arm over me and drifted off.

This morning I stepped over Solo, Leafy and Kenya, all asleep on the front porch. This is a new thing, the sleeping on the porch. I like it. I wouldn’t do it, when my bed is only a few feet away, but I like it. I like them creating adventure wherever and whenever.

Yesterday I finished my most recent edit of Demon’s Arrow. Today I sent it off to my new editor, a friend who lives here in Thailand. The book is nearly finished, although we have to hurry if we’re going to have it out on release date: October 25th! 

I have been floating, not always in the safest of spaces. Old wounds have reopened, my anxiety cat has woken me at night, sitting on my chest. And when I am away from home and family, it seems as though I am untethered. I’m not, of course. But that is easier to remember at home. 

I have wondered, at times, how it is that someone like me came to be surrounded by so many people. Such an introvert, such a strange mind. But I see it more and more clearly; I couldn’t do without them.

Here is Isaac with another sweaty hug. Here is Solomon, rushing into the room dancing while Chinua is showing me songs on the speakers, telling me his theories on the connections between jazz and rap. Solo pulling out everything he has drawn while I have been away. Leafy reminding me that he is going to be thirteen in January, as though perhaps I have forgotten. (I know, it’s impossible.) Kenya and the menu she created for dinner (I was too late for it.) Megalodon stew (sold out.) Fermented turtle feet soup. (Sold out.) Pasta with white sauce. Available for about $300. 

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Here is morning. The neighbors pull their carts out onto the street to sell rice porridge or coffee. Children on the porch. My plants need watering. A pup who needs a haircut. We’re out of eggs. I need to buy bananas for smoothies. The ladies at the market will ask me where I’ve been. They’ll pat me on the arms and tease me and the gentleness of these greetings will nearly make me cry. 

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Now you can support my writing on Patreon. Patrons can give as little as $1 a month, and get extra vlogs and posts. I really really appreciate your support, it helps me to keep going with writing and publishing my work. Last month’s patron-only post: At Home.

The endeavor.

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I am unexpectedly in Bangkok for a few days, with people I love, away from people I love. All is well. I wanted to help with a difficult situation and find myself with delightful friends. I am thankful that God is with us. 

*

The day comes with all the things that need to happen. Standing in a corner of the room, shaking her head at me. 

“Flowers,” I tell her. “Dogs on the street. Surprising patterns on the walls. Men playing chess in between taxi drives.”

“Look at your list,” she says. “How are you ever going to get this all done?”

“Playing with children,” I tell her. “Unexpected smiles. Basil in my food. Bangkok spices. Fruit on the street. Thinking putty. Good smells. I don’t believe that the magic is gone. I don’t believe in being impervious to it all.” 

*

Can it be as simple as love? The fact of being beloved? Of wanting to walk in the world in love? It feels like the world isn’t safe for loving people. But Jesus said that it is, even if it is a different definition of safety, one that doesn’t guarantee much beyond my heart being safe in the heart of God. Today I will endeavor to believe him. 

Monday poetry.

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All that is there

Flipping through photographs
when all that is here is not here
My thumb on a crease on the corner
this is the way we are forever
this is the way we live.
A woman
steps into the street
looks both ways
finds the little white dog
and calls her back.
She buys groceries
remembers her manners
looks for love
forgets
looks again
gets up when she doesn’t want to
fights off her fragility
wants to be strong.
The bricks
the walls
the harrowing escape.
Open, empty hands
the creases in them that tell the years
Oh, we loved you
We failed you but we loved you
I hope it will be enough.

One thing.

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Isn’t it easy to get all tangled up? I want to enter into the suffering of the world, I want to understand. I don’t want to turn away. But then there is just so MUCH. And it is easy to drift along, getting pulled into one mess after another, looking up vaguely when the children want food. 

And I have always wanted to be a monk and mystic, so I need to slow down the intake. 

I think it’s actually pretty simple. I know that I need to do things in their proper order. Or in other words, actually do what I am sitting down to do. When I sit down to edit, I need to stay away from Facebook, although it is excellent in it’s designated time. When I do school with my kids, I need to be there with them, not planning the next day via text.

A time for waking. A time for free writing. A time for exercise. A time for checking in with family, friends and issues on Facebook. A time for writing and editing. A time for school, a time for my community. A time to nap. (Napping makes me feel rich. I have discovered the joys of a twenty minute nap. It can restore a day after a five am wakeup.)


Do one thing. Monk and mystic. Simple work, surrounded by the mystery of God. His close presence, right there, wanting to be with me joyfully for some reason I can’t quite comprehend. His love a glow inside. A quiet presence around, enveloping. 

*

Now the skies are blue again, with swiftly moving clouds that converge in the afternoons, bringing storms and rainbows. It is my favorite time of year, but then they all are. (I even love the smoky season because it reminds me of the veil we live in, how we cry out for it to be taken away.) 

My lanky kids have been busy.  Sometimes I wake from a nap to hear them singing and playing ukelele. Sometimes they get along like puppies. Or they always get along like puppies, but the play turns to snarling. 

Yesterday, Solo and Kenya made cookies with a little M&M surprise in the middle. 

“They’re not perfect, but they’re pretty good,” Kenya told me.

“You can use recipes, you know,” I told her. 

She made a face. They don’t use recipes for anything. They are scientists with food, preferring to experiment. Recipes are boring. When they feel snacky they make themselves hardtack, (after Leafy’s obsession with boats) or strange little biscuits. 

“Mom! I’m hungry and there’s no flour!” 

Quirky kids. Joy of my life. (Of course, for snacks I keep boiled peanuts and corn on the cob in the fridge, so I’m not the most conventional of snackers myself.)

Isaac is finishing up with his second term of school today. He’s most interested in breaking codes. He loves to play with numbers in his head for hours and is a little more impatient with using a number line or blocks to solve equations. (Recipes are boring.) He’s also loving learning to read Thai and has begun speaking bit by bit. He has tons of friends and is cheerfully resilient and impervious to school yard issues. One of his teachers told me that he is “relaxed about friendships,” which means he plays with anyone anytime, without much awareness of the kinds of insecurities the rest of the world deals with, or why friends might be upset if you don’t play with them one day. In other words, he is Chinua’s son. I’m the interpreter for the rest of the world and our complex feelings. He reminds me of Kai, who at that age used to ask, “Why are you crying? When are you going to stop?”

Solo’s dancing continues to amaze and delight us. He is the most uninhibited creature I have ever encountered, and I have to stop myself sometimes from trying to “hibit” him. (Mostly just when he’s shouting out random words in the middle of conversations because things have gotten too normal for him.)

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Also, here’s an exciting thing: The first episode of the Shekina Meditation Podcast is out and the second should be out later today. YOU. GUYS. This has been a dream/idea for so long. One of those ones that just sort of floats out of sight because you don’t exactly know how to do it. (Like writing a book, or playing an instrument.) And we finally grabbed hold of the necessary pieces and stuck them together.

You can find it here. It should be on iTunes soon as well. I’ll let you know.