upstairs and to the left

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It’s funny how far a few words go.

Or an action.

I remember this thing from so many years ago. I and my sibses had been making fun of our middle sister, because of her orthodontic headgear. Kind, weren’t we?

Mum decided we each ought to wear the stuff, which fitted around the outside of her face, for a whole day. A day, no less, which we should be out in public.

For a homeschooled child, that’s a big deal.

Grrr.

My turn came when we went to town for a field trip to learn about meteorology. During most of the class itself I forgot the atrocity my face displayed, but then at the end, when we crowded out into the entry way I was well aware. WELL aware. I didn’t want to exist.

I saw a little girl with stunning blonde braids. The ten-year-old heart of I was jealous, naturally. Why should she be gorgeous and not I? Then she smiled at me. Ugly face and headgear and shame and all, she smiled at me.

That was over a decade ago. I remember standing there ashamed and looking through the glass at this walking angel and she gave me the sweetest smile.

I figured out a thing, sometime after that.

Words are like that too. They can be this healing, reaching sap that pulls wounds together and binds up tears. Smiles can come in the mail and you can stamp and seal up joy. Belly laughs CAN be transcribed via text (but read said texts near the bathroom.) Those few syllables can break the silence into something so beautiful and lasting that long after you’ve forgotten, that girl you spoke love to is still grinning like you blew her a kiss.

I worded up these paint chips and almost sent them out a while ago. Then I decided they were silly. Then she came home for Christmas and I had promised her a letter so I gave ’em to her and told her not to laugh to hard, or something like that.

Now it’s been a year and she’s texting me on her lonely day and saying she’s reading them again.

Maybe my words make her smile, because hers sure make me smile. Darling, thank you. wpid-2015-01-24-07.06.58-1.jpg.jpeg

I know this thing about words is true. I got a letter from a gorgeous – and busy – lady over in Washington and it wasn’t just a letter, but a verse and some encouragement and happy. I pinned it up there on my bulletin board, next to another letter from another girl.

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And today I got another letter from another girl, and I just smiled. Her words were short and poignant and she just put them there on my heart with a gentle pat, and a twinklin’ eye.

Oh ladies. Your few and simple and precious words are more permanent than you know! I frame them in my mind’s eye and decorate mental rooms with them, and then some days I just go in there and toast my toes by the fire you’ve lit and remember I’m a Swogbabegirl and “I Are Enough” and Before I was born I was Set Apart. I take time to laugh about the little house in Viking where my room was “Upstairs and to the left” and the letter I found on my pillow there, and I bask in the happy of knowing somebody remembers the “32 million little things” I’ve done.

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Today is the day I decided I must keep stationery on hand. Today is when I figured that beautiful and extravagant purchase of cards would be worth it, because wouldn’t I pay that and hundreds more to see the smiles on the faces?

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been doin’ stuff. ain’t been bloggin’.

Huh.

I slacked off, I did.

Oops.

Want some photos?

Really, I don’t know how else to introduce this. “Have a slice of life! Go back pre-Christmas wid I!” Or, “I know people. Here’s their muggies.” Maybe even, “Have fun going back to school, cuz of I aint!”

Did I mention I’ve graduated college?

Ok. Party time!

But before that, some stuff happened. Because Thanksgiving evening, the sibs were swing dancing in the living room and yeah, that’s pretty epic. Have you ever seen a mug shot of people’s feet?wpid-2014-11-27-08.57.51-1.jpg.jpeg

Black Friday is the Official Christmas Decorating Day. Mum’s like, OCDD about it. [Ahahaaaaa bad pun. Sorreh. But not.]

But the point is, KK darlin’ and I put all the pretty red all over Bruno, and I think he actually liked it. Dad did too for about a second and a half and then it had to go. wpid-2014-11-29-02.39.09-2.jpg.jpegThen there’s this chile, who’s basically amazing and I love her and why can’t she come over right now and interrupt me and make me all smiley and stupid? Baby doll child, come home. An order.

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{Today I move from imigraaaaant / to high society!}

Fortuosity, by Tommy Steele, on “The Happiest Millionaire”. That’s what came on spotify at the moment. Go listen to it.

Going forward. The graduated thing! Mumsy had me a surprise party! I love surprises. They got me home and I opened the door and saw the broski! He’s supposed to be at college, so that was a surprise.

“You having friends over?”

“Yeah, cuz that’s – ” but I stopped him; I saw a cake on the table and assumed it was for my sister.

“For Christa’s birthday?”

“No, that’s what you do when there’s a graduation!”

The first realizing begins to happen – snail-paced.

“A party? Why wasn’t I invited?!” #stupidstupidstupid

“Because… it was a … surprise…?”

Oh!

Wow. Some grad I make. Can’t realize when I’ve been given a surprise party! Ha. wpid-2014-12-16-07.32.44-1.jpg.jpegThe lit major failed at Taboo. (That’s I: laugh.)

Kape, get this.

My bestie gotted me coffee, and chat time, AND a SECOND surprise party! May have been some of my best moments this year. But honestly, darling, who doesn’t like coffee and games and surprises and cake and mugs and The Hobbit Premier and all that for a surprise party present?wpid-2015-01-04-02.57.52-1.jpg.jpeg

This is my fave. The peeps are re-doing their floor. So they painted me a graduation congratulation mural on the unfinished floor. And signed it. And yeah.wpid-2014-12-21-08.12.57-1.jpg.jpegSo. Wassa uppa on your end, eh?

21 miles of prayer

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The deepest part of the ocean is in Mariana Trench, in the Pacific. Water stretches thick and dense and cold down down doooown farther than seven miles, to the bottom of Challenger Deep.

Mount Everest is the highest place on our white, snowy earth. If you climbed the seven miles up from the rich blue deeps to sea level, you’d have five and a half miles of upness left before you could reach the tippy top of this planet. That’s twelve and a half miles of surface variation. Seven miles of water – that life-giving element featured so copiously in the Bible. Seven miles of air – designed to refresh us and keep us alive – reach into the very depths of us and cleanse out the mustiness.

There are 2 hours, 11 corners, a cup of coffee and a crooked telephone pole between one of my besties and I.

There are a thousand steps – give or take – between here and The Corner, where I spend the afternoons and arguments and walks and dreams and sweat and happy of my childhood.

There is a life between me and heaven.

There are 60 minutes of potential speeding tickets between me and my sister.

There is a mountain range of warmth, cocoa and books between the all-frozed-up backyard and I.

There is prayer between victims of sexual abuse and human trafficking, and freedom.

Miles of prayer. Miles and miles. Depths. Heights. Corners and telephone poles and roads and everything. Miles and miles of prayer just waiting to happen for these girls.

In twenty-one days, I will turn twenty-one on January twenty-first.

Two and One. They’re wee little numbers we use when we blast things off and count down weddings and reach for Christmas and expect jolly, fussy, poopy, giggly little babies.

Zero.

That’s what I want. Zero. Sure, that can mean for my birthday. But I want zero slaves. I want zero people sexually abused in this world. I want zero girls to cry and lock their bedroom doors at night. I want zero girls to stare numbly at the walls that trap them in torturous slavery; to smile trustingly at potential suitors, at neighbors and people promising jobs; to tremble on the witness stand and tell awful, embarrassing details; to curl up and not tell; to be afraid of trust.

I want it gone.

I can’t do it all. I can’t take all these sweet girls to my trampoline on a starry night and give them cocoa and point out the milky way and lick frothy mustaches and laugh. I can’t raid every trap and brothel and rescue every girl. I can’t erase every faulty court ruling and reverse each victim mentality and hold each one close to me. I can’t pull them all onto the couch for a flick, or rub their backs or hold their hands. I can’t give them back everything they once had, or even the things they’ve never had.

But I can try.

They say one can make a difference. Let’s prove them right. Make a difference with me this year.

Let’s turn my twenty-one days and years into miles. Let’s put a mile in for these sweeties each and every day. I don’t care where you live or how you do it. Jog a mile. Walk a mile. Cry a mile, surf a mile, bike, crawl, swim, scrub, whatever. Take a mile with me. Do it today. Do it again tomorrow. Do it again the next day and the next day and all the next days for twenty-one days.

Challenger Deep: the dark bottom – the farthest reach of water. Let’s be challenged, and let’s be challengers. Be deep. Twenty-one miles of deep and challenge.

Some of you will say it’s a good idea! Seriously though, I need this, because hashtag christmas goodies, laugh out loud.

Some of you will not want to visibly point to you knees and the and achiness thereof. Oh honey, it’s ok. Sit a mile, then. Just make sure you pray it. Because God isn’t looking for you to be in the best shape of your life. He and I, we don’t care really that you’re putting in all that workout time. Do what you can. But pray it. Turn off your music. Take the ear buds out. Tell your walking buddy what’s up. Do the dishes by yourself tonight. Anything.

But pray a mile today. Pray a mile tomorrow. Until;

two

one

zero

just a monday like today

It was four weeks ago, but I can still feel unsettlement down in my tummy thinking about that drive.

It was any Monday, almost. A Monday of a new week, a hard day, a beginning day, a day on which to go love people and praise Jesus and try a little more to understand and pass on that marvelous love He keeps giving.

Also a motion-sickness Monday.

We were in India, eleven of us. Kolkata. We took Monday to go out to the village. The week prior we went to children’s’ centers and learned and loved and selfied with them littles (they love seeing their faces all caught up in a screen). This week we’d go see women and jobs and watch them reclaim dignity and claim Christ for the first time. So we bounced along past the underpasses and Victoria Memorial and some cows and a soccer game and fields of Jute. We ended out there in a green place with rocky paths and busted cement and sweet women, all learning to sew.

These women had stories like none I’ve had before. They had stories of terror and running away. Stories of pain and learning that maybe loved ones aren’t loved ones like they first thought. But they were sewing new stories. They were stitching stories of crimson and beauty and letters and chances and grace. They were stitching diligence and joy and education and stitching together their lives, because many weak threads make a stronger rope.

They sat down and we sat down and we admired those stitches, because those stitches represented standing up and healing and drying the tears, and sometimes letting the tears flow. Those stitches represented courage and walking tall and holding hands.

One story there was still unstitched into any fabric. This story was too recent. No soft healing pattern had set in gently, like a thread hugging its linen plane. She smiled softly at us and folded her hands and listened uncomprehending as English words took her story and put it where we could feel it and understand it; put it in our tears.

Tears she could understand, and hugs. We took her precious story and wrapped it in all the love we had to share. I promised her I’d bring it back with me. I promised her the pain and the wrong would be remembered and lifted up in another country a sea away, and she could feel known. I promised her that if she could only feel my arms around her for a few minutes, she could feel my thoughts around her much longer. I cupped her little face as long as I could, but I still keep that little throbbing heart cupped so gently in mine.

I still cry thinking of that sweet one.

Dear little sister, I miss you and I want to hug you again. I want to tell you about love so marvelous and pure it cannot help but heal. I pray for you, and I keep working for you. I work for all the girls like you here; the ones who don’t know how much better it can be, and the ones who smile sadly if they smile at all, and the ones with hearts so busted and piecey they don’t think there’s fixing for them.

Take those stitches, and let them help you. See how much beauty your untrained fingers can thread out, and think of the ties a heart can thread out. Think of that love stitching your pieces as your fingers stitch that crimson on that linen, and know it works. You pull fabric together and He can pull your heart soft and melty into one piece again. Tie that thread up tight and firm, and feel him wrapping and wrapping your heart in a love that can’t be untied.

Let’s hug again, sweet pea, up there when we can be all whole and lovely like He made us.