This evening I was sitting at my dining room table willing Chapter 12 of Riverdale, Season 1, to load on Netflix.

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When one lives in the country and has used up the month’s internet allotment and it’s a crowded-bandwidth Sunday evening AND it’s cloudy and rainy, Riverdale just isn’t going to happen. So my laptop was in perpetual loading mode, and I had Alexander Chee’s How to Write an Autobiographical Novel in my lap. I was reading one of the last chapters of this brilliant book, the one called “On Becoming an American Writer,” that talks about his post-2016-election hangover. There were a lot of sentences I liked in that chapter:

 

“The coffee seemed impossible to make, as did breakfast. Going downstairs, getting into the car, driving the twenty minutes south to the college where I teach. Walking into the classroom. I couldn’t imagine any of that […] Can you make coffee? I asked myself. No. Can you buy a coffee? Yes. Go buy a coffee, I told myself” (251-52).

 

“I arrived in the college’s town to find it as empty as if classes were canceled. As I walked to my office, a young woman left the library and crossed the strangely empty lawn. As she drew closer, I saw tears streaming down her face. She did not look at me. […] It felt as if a president had been assassinated, but the president was alive. Instead, the country we thought we would be living I was dead. As if a president had assassinated a country” (253).

 

I read those pages several times.

 

I sighed a little, and my gut clenched more than a little when I remembered tucking my crying, worried son into bed that election night and assuring him that it would be OK, that goodness and kindness could still triumph over bullying and unkindness.

 

Again I checked Riverdale, Season 1, Chapter 12.

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Still loading.

 

Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw sunlight.

 

I immediately shut my laptop, closed my book, pulled my chicken rain boots up over my yoga pants, and dashed out the door.

chicken boots

 

This, I thought to myself, would be a great time to see a rainbow. I even started thinking about an essay, an essay about how I was reading about the 2016 election, about how those thoughts sent me down a dark emotional spiral reminding me of the anger and hurt and spiritual betrayal I have felt these past 18 months.

 

But I would see a rainbow! And it would be a sign somehow. And it would be poetic and beautiful and meaningful and a God-blessed splash of color across an ominous gray sky.

 

I first headed out to the east side of our property, where we usually see rainbows. We may live in a space where Netflix doesn’t want to load when the bandwidth traffic is high, but we also live in a space where the bandwidth of our sky is so much bigger than in a beige neighborhood powered by the lightning-fast hum of Google Fiber.

 

(Honest confession: some days I would almost sell my soul to a beige house with Google Fiber.)

 

There was no rainbow.

 

But I kept walking. I trekked through the wet grass towards the north edge of our property, then headed west. Still, no rainbow. Rain was dripping on my head. The sun was filtering through the leaves.

 

There  had to be a rainbow somewhere. I just knew it.

 

But…there wasn’t.

 

I caught a glimpse of this sky, though.

sunlight

 

And as I trekked south up my driveway Matt found me. He said he wanted to go hunting rainbows with me. I laughingly told him there was no rainbow, that there was no hope.

 

But I was kidding. I was totally kidding. There was, indeed, no rainbow. But there was rain dripping on my head, There was sunlight filtering through the trees. There were kids inside my house who had just been playing catch with a water bottle outside in the rain.
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{photo cred: Amélie}

There was a husband beside me who laughed when I told him there was no rainbow and therefore no hope because we both know that’s just not true.

 

We both know that sometimes God gives us a rainbow as a sign of hope. But we also know that sometimes he doesn’t. Sometimes rain still drips on our head. Sometimes the filter of sunlight is only glimpsed way up high through the trees.

 

Sometimes, Netflix doesn’t load.

 

Sometimes hope is not a rainbow. Sometimes hope looks like a husband who interrupts my impassioned speech just to touch my cheek and say, “You are so beautiful. I sure do love you.”

 

Sometimes hope looks like three chicks and a protective mama. Sometimes it’s the right-in-front-of-me-precious reminder of God-as-mother-hen: “He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings” (Psalm 91:4).

chicks.JPEG

mama hen.JPEG

 

Sometimes hope looks like being a faith partner for a young woman longing for a new beginning who is baptized at church today whom I really don’t know very well yet but whom I fiercely love and who sends me a text that says, “Thank you so much for being there for me today. It truly meant the world to me.”

 

Sometimes hope looks like the two kids I love and adore finding me sitting in the grass out by the newly planted mimosa tree and talking and laughing (and maybe this happens 23 minutes after I have decided I am absolutely failing at this parenting gig).

 

Sometimes hope looks like sitting at the dining room table listening to my daughter tell me about rape and suicide in 13 Reasons Why and desperately wondering how I can protect her in a culture where it’s OK to pay off a porn star when apparently one needs hot sex after one’s wife has a baby and how that precious daughter sat in a class one day and listened to two boys talking about what they wanted to do to her and why wouldn’t they think they had that power when their president can grab women by their pussies and she has had two classmates within a year shoot themselves in the head and I looked into her beautiful eyes and my heart just squeezed with fierce, fierce protective love for her.

 

Sometimes hope looks like looking for a rainbow and not seeing one.

 

Sometimes hope looks like my kids playing catch with a water bottle in the rain and my daughter whipping around in her seat and telling those boys to SHUT UP and a husband who quits listening to my passionate speech because he thinks I am beautiful and trees that turned green despite a wretched winter and Fireball doused in a Diet Coke that gives me the liquid courage for run-on sentences and rambling and…hope.

 

I refuse to give up on hope.

I believe in a rainbow that exists somewhere that’s beyond an ominous sky and in the sunlight that’s pushing its way through those clouds.

 

I don’t know what it all means. I told my mom this weekend that I am ready, so ready, for God to create a new heaven and a new earth. Someday God’s going to hand me the deed to a chicken farm with resident coyotes and bobcats and hawks.

 

And rainbows.

 

And I am going to lie down in the wet grass, stare up at that rainbow, and smile.

 

Because light – because hope – always finds a way to filter itself in a prism of beauty and light despite the darkness, and often, because of the darkness.

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match IMG_1277 (1)I haven’t blogged in awhile. A long while. I have been writing, but I haven’t known where to share what I want to say. Sometimes I have big things to say. Sometimes I have small things. I honestly really (really) didn’t want to blog. (I honestly don’t read blogs.) But I wanted a space to process and think and feel and hope and grieve and dream. And after fighting the idea for a good long while, here I am… resurrecting a blog I haven’t used for over seven years. The impetus for this blog are words that I came across when I recently reread Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse. There are many, many passages of literature that I love, but these lines from that book I love more than any other:

What is the meaning of life? That was all – a simple question; one that tended to close in on one with years. The great revelation had never come. The great revelation perhaps never did come. Instead there were little daily miracles, illuminations, matches struck unexpectedly in the dark; here was one. This, that, and the other; herself and Charles Tansley and the breaking wave; Mrs. Ramsay bringing them together; Mrs. Ramsay saying, “Life stand still here”; Mrs. Ramsay making of the moment something permanent (as in another sphere Lily herself tried to make of the moment something permanent) – this was the nature of a revelation. In the midst of chaos there was shape; this eternal passing and flowing (she looked at the clouds going and the leaves shaking) was struck into stability. Life stand still here, Mrs. Ramsay said.

So, that’s what I want to write about here:

daily miracles
illuminations
matches struck unexpectedly in the dark
making of the moment something permanent
finding shape in chaos
Life stand still here.

 

 

family photo

t.e.s.t.i.n.g 1-2-3

I haven’t posted on this blog in 7 1/2 years! How crazy is that. I have posted on other blog addresses since then, but I snagged this one again and thought I could just build on it. So here I am. I just tossed this post up so that I can try out different themes to see how they look. I can’t wait to use this space to work through some thoughts and share some feelings and reach for some hope and direction.

w.e.l.c.o.m.e

peace,
jill

 

I haven’t spent a whole lot of time in my kitchen the past few days.  I had to prepare for Jack’s birthday party, and while it certainly wasn’t THAT big of a party to plan, organizing social stuff like that just takes a lot out of me.  Thankfully, it was fun.  Thankfully, it’s over.  Thankfully, I celebrated by spending the afternoon in the kitchen.  And now, I just wanted to share what I have going on on my kitchen counter right now:

Granola: Right now the grains are soaking in melted butter, melted coconut oil, water, and yogurt.  I haven’t made this recipe before, but it looks yummy.  It is supposed to soak for two days, which means I will have time tomorrow to make…

Bread:  I haven’t tried this recipe before.  I am halving it.  Right now the grains are soaking in whey, honey, and melted coconut oil.  Hopefully we will have some yummy sandwich bread tomorrow.

Oatmeal:  Tomorrow’s breakfast is also soaking on the counter, ready for me to add the rest of the ingredients.

Obviously, I was on a wee bit of a soaking kick today! 

Want to know what else I’m cooking this week?  I know you probably don’t, but if I don’t write it down here I may not remember.  🙂 

I have never cooked with millet before, but I bought some today, and I’m going to try this recipe for millet and cheese casserole.  I’m going to try this for lunch some day this week.

I am also going to make this peanut sauce recipe for a stir-fry, and, because I have some kale I need to use up, I’m going to try this recipe for kale quiche

I am also planning a breakfast night this week, and so I’m going to make soaked whole grain pancakes (which we all adore). 

I think that’s it. 

Hopefully my kids will like at least some of it.  I know Amélie will like the oatmeal, but Jack isn’t fond of the “porridge” texture. So…he will probably starve.  

I think Amélie will like the quiche (last week I wilted some rainbow chard, and the girl gobbled it up), but Jack will hate it…and he will probably starve.

Amélie will also like the stir-fry, I think, and Jack *might* like it.  I at least might get him to eat some rice.

He will hate the granola, and Amélie might like it.  I’m not sure. 

The millet and cheese recipe is anyone’s guess.  We might all starve that day.

I do know he loves those pancakes. 

But do you see where I’m going with Jack?  The boy doesn’t eat.  He does NOT like healthy food.  On his birthday he was much more interested in eating cake than opening presents.  He loves cake.  Loves it.  He basically likes anything unhealthy.  Anything.  It makes me crazy!  Amélie is such a good eater (think wilted rainbow chard), and Jack is just horrible.  I worry about him.  I know they say that kids this age won’t starve to death, but I swear he just holds out for anything remotely healthy that he might find.  He did eat 3 servings of yogurt and some cheese today.  I suppose I should be thankful.  He also eats bananas on occasion and loves the apples I dehydrate.  I am seriously sitting here thinking what else he likes that is healthy…

Hmmmmm……

Oh, he likes peanut butter sandwiches (just please don’t believe him if he tells you that he especially loves peanut butter and Nutella sandwiches). 

Does ice cream count?

He should be pretty set on antioxidants given his love for chocolate.

Every once in awhile he eats a piece of broccoli.

Yep.  I think that’s about it. 

I will just keep trying. 

 So, what are you cooking this week?  I think I have a wee bit of a recipe addiction.  Feel free to feed it.  🙂

As a homeschooling parent (did I just say that?  Am I really a homeschooling parent?) I am often asked the question, “Are you doing school this summer?”  My answer to that question is yes…and no. 

Amélie…and her teacher…need a break, so we won’t be drilling phonics flashcards, and she won’t be writing out her spelling words with dry erase markers on the car window (yes, we do that, thanks to an idea from the excellent book Carschooling).  But, if there is one thing I have learned from homeschooling her this semester (and wow, there has certainly been more than one thing that I have learned!) it’s that educating my kids is an ongoing process.  We took the day “off,” for example, on Jack’s and Matt’s birthday on Tuesday, and we visited the Dinosaurs Unearthed exhibit at Union Station.  We had so much fun!  We didn’t have traditional school that day, but we learned so much about dinosaurs!  The next day was our library day, so guess what kinds of books we came home with?  Yep, you’ve got it–dinosaur books!  So we can continue our “education” during storytime.  How great is that? 

While we won’t go back to the Dinosaur exhibit this summer (it was a little on the pricey side), we did buy a membership at Union Station, so this summer we will go to Science City (more “school”), the Planetarium (“school” yet again), and the KC Rail Experience (truthfully, I don’t know what that is, but let’s just assume it will be fun AND educational).  I am also excited about doing some fun school things that we haven’t had a chance to explore as much this semester as we both have been on the major roller coaster ride of figuring out how to homeschool and be homeschooled!  Amélie loves art, and I bought the first book in the Artistic Pursuits series, and we can’t wait to get started on that.  She also keeps bugging me to take her to the new Egyptian exhibit at the Nelson.  Maybe we can do that sans little obnoxious (and LOUD–did you know that the hallowed halls of the Nelson ECHO LOUDLY?) brother.

The “school” that I am perhaps most excited about starting with Amélie is this Nature Journal.  This might be the coolest book I have ever bought (maybe not–but I am very, very excited about it!).  Truthfully, and much to my husband’s chagrin, I am really an indoorsy person.  I like to be outside…if I am sitting under a tree reading a book or writing in my journal.  Once I am actually doing something outside, like gardening or hiking or camping, I enjoy myself, but it usually takes a bit of earth-shaking to get me there.  I think this book just might do it.  I must say that going on a woodland scavenger hunt, doing leaf rubbings, and following the phases of the moon sound really fun to me (maybe I should buy my own Nature Journal!). 

Another school subject we are going to have fun with this summer is music.  I have heard wonderful things about The Classical Kids Collection.   I wasn’t too thrilled about spending $50 on it, but thankfully my library has copies, so I have the first one, Beethoven Lives Upstairs, on hold. 

The other thing I am doing is making a list of things that Amélie has struggled with this semester, and we are going to slip in teaching of those items.  For example, for some reason she can’t remember what a vertical or a horizontal line is, and while I won’t spend the summer stuffing flashcards in her face, we will occasionally review our math facts.

I almost forgot the most important part of our summer school–READING!  (How could I forget that one???)  We will do the summer reading program at our library and continue to hone her reading skills throughout the summer.  We have had so much fun reading this semester, and I can’t wait to listen to her read all summer long. 

So, as you can see, we’ll be doing “school” this summer, but I don’t think I will be hearing many complaints.  And of course we’ll be doing all kinds of non-school things, like splashing in the pool, playing with friends, and riding bikes.  We both need a break from the regular structure and discipline of school, and we are both looking forward to sleeping in a little and playing a lot.

What are you doing this summer?

Matt is running a 5K this morning.

Amélie is spending the night with a friend.

Jack is (miraculously) still asleep.

And here I sit, with coffee and computer, alone.

A-what?

Yes, alone.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh……………

This solitary space is where my soul refuels, which perhaps explains why I have been running dangerously close to empty lately. 

I think I will pick up a pencil and my journal and my steaming cup of coffee, head out to my porch, and just be.

I know, I know, this has been the longest blogging hiatus EVER.  Yoo-hoo!  Anyone out there?  I hope so, because I have something exciting to share.

First, though, let me say that I have missed blogging.  I took blogging time off during Lent, and then I just haven’t gotten back in the groove.   Truthfully, I am not in any groove right now.  I haven’t been writing.  I haven’t been reading.  I haven’t been thinking and analyzing and ruminating.  I don’t think I’ve been me.  I miss me.  I need to start nourishing my soul again.  She’s hungry. 

This weekend, I am going to nourish my soul by participating in something very exciting for Matt (who, btw, has a photography website set up here).  He was asked to contribute a photograph to be auctioned off during the upcoming Leukemia and Lymphoma Society fundraiser.  The theme of this year’s fundraiser is “Hope in Kansas City,” and Matt came up with a brilliant idea.  Those of you familiar with Kansas City have probably driven downtown at night and noticed the Marriott lit up with a design or a message.  Matt’s idea was to ask them to design the word HOPE to be displayed on the side of the building, and then he wanted to take a picture of it to be auctioned off.  There was only one little problem.  They never say yes to requests.  If they did, they would probably have proposals and baby announcements lighting up downtown every other night.  Matt was persistent, however.  He called one person.  They said “no,” but you can talk to so-and-so.  He called so-and-so, who said “no,” but you can try talking to this other so-and-so.  He tried calling this other so-and-so, who said “no, but you can try asking….. ”

You get the picture. 

Finally, after a month of voicemails and waiting and lots of “no’s,” he got the right answer: Yes!  So tomorrow night the word HOPE is going to light up the night in downtown Kansas City.  Can you imagine it? 

HOPE

It gives me chills to think about it. 

A middle-aged man who just lost his job will trudge the streets of KC on an evening walk, trying to clear his head and not panic about the future, and he will see it:  HOPE

A young mom will be driving to the hospital, yet again, to spend the night curled up on the couch next to her son’s bed, and through tear-filled eyes she will see it:  HOPE

A runaway teenage girl, strung out on drugs, will stumble upon it:  HOPE

A scraggly homeless man will wander out of his alley to go look for some food, and he will look up and see it:  HOPE

HOPE. 

I need it.  Your neighbor needs it.  Your co-worker needs it.  And so does that annoying kid in your son’s first grade class.  Your mom.  Your dad.  Your son.  Your daughter.  Your partner.  Your best friend.  You.

HOPE.

Come see it for yourself tomorrow night.