Influence.

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Well it’s raining, and I’m working on a long post about empathy, and another about fear, but those posts take time, so here is one in the interim. 

I’m always thankful for a little late season rain. It means the garden continues to thrive a little longer without our efforts at watering. Because once the weather here is dry, it’s really, really dry. We human garden-tenders need to be very diligent with our care.

Last night I was reading The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe to the boys, and we got to the part where spring starts to return. Isaac turned to me with big eyes and said, “It’s like Shekina Garden now, but without a sala or a workshop.” It made me think of how it must feel for a little guy like Isaac to spend so much time in a garden like the one we have, with a beautiful food forest at the back, grassy space, spaces to hide. As an adult I adore it and also think about what needs to be done. “Mm, that corner is weedy, those look dry, the front needs to be replanted.” But for Isaac it is just magical.

Kai is doing well at school, and by well I mean he is meeting the challenges and plowing ahead. He’s a brave man-sized kid. It’s good to see him doing hard things and finding a way through. We also miss him like crazy. Our family dynamic has shifted, and that’s not a bad thing. It’s just a weird thing. (Chinua says I use the word weird too much. Chinua is probably right.)

The world is full of fire and anger, and into it we bring our own little globes of influence. Sometimes I am careless with my globe—I don’t keep it safe, I let it fill with fear and stress, and people who walk into it accidentally get smacked around by fear and stress too. This happens when I’m frustrated with endless documents and tasks, things that make me question the purpose of life. When I’m most successful with my little globe, it is full of love and acceptance, empathy and curiousity. I want it to be kind. Even when things are changing, and I don’t always understand the change or how quick it comes.

Our individual lives add up. Our globes of influence overlap and form large spaces.

This morning I have some chapters to read so I can teach English class with the kids who come over to learn with us. I will take the motorbike to the market and buy food for a community dinner. I will read aloud to kids from a book about Mother Teresa and a book about Sharazhad telling her stories. I will tell one of the kids to take Wookie for a walk and think again about how I need to make a chore schedule. I will not make a chore schedule. I will kiss Isaac before he heads off to school. I will help Solo with his math. Later I have a community meeting. Then dinner at my house. My globe of influence. What will it feel like to stand next to me today? Like standing next to a volcano, uneasy and unsure? Or like being in a wide space, where anything is possible? 

This is what it means to try to live a whole, God-filled life. To try to be all that he has made you, to walk around easy in the knowledge of being loved and not being fearful that anyone can take it away. It is contagious. From that space, that globe of influence, where we are influenced by God’s ways, the sacrificial extravagance of Jesus, rather than fearful self-protection, we really can do anything. It’s a life-long journey, I know. It’s one I am committed to, though I fail all the time.

Coming back :: A Poem

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today I look for you in batter
and swirls, in the fridge, 
breaking off a piece of ice,
wiping the counter
everyone left the kitchen messy last night
I’m achy in my bones
evidence of too much time spent away
“Coming back,” he says,
“in Hebrew it means coming back to God”
so I am coming back
into the shape of my eyes
my house
the clutter of family and dishes
a tomato, a single shoe, evidence of life
small perfect things.
You are everywhere, 
I don’t know why you continue with me
but you do
and I
(with my paradoxical longing to be with you and away)
I am coming back.

*

Ps. Thanks for your patience. In the wake of a book launch, I always find myself a little bereft of words.

Demon's Arrow, World Whisperer Book 4 in stores today!

A poison arrow. A prophecy of two sisters. A journey into the heart of the resistance.

While Isika is preparing for her future role with the Maweel, members of the Karee tribe come to ask for help with the problem of masses of disappearing people. Meanwhile, Aria grows weaker daily from the poison arrow lodged inside her, and time seems to be growing short.

A disturbing Karee prophecy might contain more answers, and as Aria is pulled deeper into the Desert King's trap, Isika races to find a healer who might be able to save her sister. In the most dangerous places, she finds more help than she expected, and the group of friends grows and changes as the Resistance enfolds them all.

Isika has resisted the power of the Desert King, but will Aria fall under his sway?

Buy it here.

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This book has a great big part of my heart in its lines. I’ve loved following Isika, Ben, Aria, Jabari and Gavi along. I really hope you enjoy it!

Thank you for being so supportive as I continue to put books into the world. I’m so thankful for this space: you have taught me to write over these years. You’re the best readers who ever existed.

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Some patrons at Patreon get this ebook for free. Dolphins and higher, you can find your ebook here.

Life is so interesting.

The weather is growing cooler and the nights are lovely. I’ve started lighting a candle by my bed in the evenings, so I can sit and journal in a tiny pool of light. I’m trying to be kind and hopeful. I’m trying to learn to rest. 

Today there is an unseasonal rain, which is annoying and beautiful. Annoying because we have just come out of the rainy season and were excited about the sun, beautiful because no rain is wasted on this earth, especially if the river is not too full. A few more rains in the garden are more effective than our pitiful hoses can ever be. 

My heart is full. There is so much fear and worry, so much happiness and excitement about the future. So much love I can barely stand it. So much sorrow for the world and all our old systems and institutions that are steeped in selfishness and fear. I think it’s okay to walk through the world with a heart that is full like this. It is not comfortable, but in a way I don’t have to change anything. I can feel all those feelings, one after another, all day long. (“No feeling is final,” as Rilke says.) 

I offer them to God like stones, as I come across them. “Here,” I say, holding my hand out. “I found another one.”

We’re back at school and I have new kids coming to read and write together. They are welcome. To have the peers we need for our kids, we basically just have to throw our doors open. Right now we’re doing a workshop, writing a story together. It’s so fun. These kids are creative and quirky, so brainstorming sessions are the absolute best. 

I’m busy, so these quiet moments in the morning and night are the most important ones. Soon Isaac will trip into my studio and ask me to make him a cup of tea. I’ll get up and do it, and then I’ll find that the kitchen is messier than I like and I’ll clean up. I’ll make a smoothie and remember that I need to make the kids’ homeschool charts. Then I’ll think about dinner and what to buy for that. And we’ll roll into the day and a thousand conversations. Surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. Somewhere right now, the city of the Living God, thousands of angels in joyful gathering. A consuming fire.

And a bowl of cereal, little boy, cup of tea, dog who needs to be fed. Life is so interesting.

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Have you checked out the Shekina blog and podcast? I have a post up there today. And the podcast is buzzing along.

Demon’s Arrow is coming out on Thursday! 

Some patrons (Narwhals and Blue Whales) on Patreon already have their advanced copies, and Dolphins will get their copies on launch day. I ordered the print copies to send to the Narwhal patrons today. I’m so excited to share this book with you.

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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. Thank you to this month’s new patrons, Jemma Allen and Julie Wells. 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.