Song of Songs 2:4

on wanting it to feel like spring already

beneath us, there are rows of peonies
holding their breath against the absence
of light, inside their dark womb, waiting -
waiting with salivating tongues
for flecks of the season,
when they'll wait to fall in love
with the world, to be known,
every inch of them,
loved and used, or adored, and patient
upon the smallest passing glance,
the hint of a smile,
and waiting to grow from the slightest
touch or charity or affection
that comes in season,
like color comes,
or even life.
and if I could see them, I'd look all the way
down, back deeper even than the roots
to where the soil starts, and ask it,
"Do you know what things
you're building homes for? Or that
so much comes from what you began,
back down inside the mystery
of the core of the earth,
or the dark labyrinths of my own heart
where things rest for seasons...
And so how do you handle that,
all this waiting and seeing,
before the peonies are born?"

if I could become any pop star

I would totally want to be Colbie Caillat.
I mean, think about it. I WOULD be her.
Just watch this video and note the following reasons:

1) the video involves breakfast (my favorite meal of the day)
2) the video involves coffee (my all-time favorite beverage)
3) lots of smiley faces throughout (I like smiling)
4) glittery guitar strap (would match my glittery Toms)
5) She has a dog (need I say more?)

I also like her because I can play some of her songs on guitar because they are pretty easy. And she has a good voice. And this song is good. And this one, too.
And I just feel like if we met, we'd totally be best friends. Too far?

one of the highlights of my week

and a constant opportunity to utilize my creative energies is hanging out with one of my favorite new friends, Gray. He is a four-year-old ball of eternal energy and I get to fly rocket ships, search for dinosaurs, and perform sold-out shadow puppet plays with him every Tuesday morning.

Last week, he was on a super hero kick. So from the moment I walked in the door, I was called Super Emily (which was a pretty nice boost to my ego), and we spent the morning hours going on an imaginary camp-out, complete with imaginary bonfire and imaginary s'mores (not quite as good as the real thing). And it was simple - that without a single thing in our hands except for imagination, the world came alive. And it does that every single week I babysit him and his precious baby brother, Tate.

I was thinking about this last week while we were in his room talking dinosaurs, when Gray said something about Jesus. He said, "Did you know that God sent Jesus, and basically, Jesus is a superhero."

Basically, Jesus is the superhero.

That's it. A simple truth rooted inside the abundant imagination of a four-year-old. It is as profound as it is plain. And I keep thinking that this is how I should be every single day: both able to see the world with kaleidescope eyes of wonder, and capable of trusting whole-heartedly in the truth that is simple and simply fantastic - that I've got a savior who comes to my rescue, the one I can always count on.

And it's kind of wonderful - that along with child-like faith we get the ability to make the world magical and complicated and easy all at once, isn't it?

first, you journal.

I don't care if you "don't like to write". You should journal. I really can't think of a reason not to. You should process through your life. You should record the things that are important. You should look back through and learn. You should pause and take note of this world, everyday.

Here's my other two-cents on journaling. It should be your own process. I've heard people say that they feel bogged down by trying to record all the details of their day. I feel that way too when I try to simply list the activities of my life. Give yourself the freedom to journal about anything you want, not everything. Write about what is significant. Write about how you're struggling. Be totally honest. It's for you. You aren't keeping a boring list of your schedule. You should be capturing the vibrant, strange, exciting surprises of your day - it should be fun, not a burden. So figure out how to make it that way. Don't feel like there is a formula, because there isn't.

One way I like to journal is to do it sort of poetically (are you surprised?). I like to take moments or thoughts that were significant to me and just go with it in the loose shape of a poem. Oftentimes, these thoughts and ramblings get edited into "real" poems, and those are usually the pieces that tend to hold the most weight in my heart.

Here's an example. This is the last thing I'll post about Nica for a long time, I promise :)
I wrote this in response to walking along the edge of Chureca last week. I'm excited to sort of dig into it later and edit it into something else, or take a piece of it and grow that into a new thing. I find that the best writing I do comes from something journal-inspired, because it is where I give myself the most amount of freedom and honesty. And those are two important things to have, wouldn't you say?
So go journal. It's good for you :)

Two days ago, I walked along an edge of this place,
up to a small point where the lake begins,
which meant passing over condemned cardboard advertisements,
collapsed doll-faces, series & shards of cloth,
and walked until I felt I would rip into two pieces,
until I felt like separate levels -
no staircase between them - because
the smell began to shred my stomach, and the indignity
of it all...and I had to close my eyes. had to.

and then there was the sound.

it was the lapping of water against the land.
that's it.
that's what it took to divide me up like nations at war,
to feel the wounds of this place internally.
that small little sound.

because there inside the smell, knowing a hollow-cow was
picking through piles to my left,
and knowing there were kids searching for things to sell
a few paces behind me,
was the most gorgeous sound I've ever been a part of,
the way the lake reached out again and again,
said BEAUTIFUL over and over without fail,
like it was seeking something.

and it was lovely.
Lovely in the trash dump.
and I stood with my eyes closed
and let this lovely thing just wash against me
again and again and again
until I retreated back through the trash,
raw and hurting,
and wondered how I could keep hearing it
when I left,
when I'm far away from that lake,
its nightmare-cows,
its hidden beautiful sounds.

if you're looking for color,

you'll find it.

poetry reflection

Nica left me with a full heart and also a stomach virus.

so I'm spending some time curled up in bed, slowing down, editing things, reflecting. Here's one of what might be multiple poems I'll post that was written within the past week.

These are the Words

These are the words

you tell me that I don’t believe:

that you are secretly a lion,

that my Spanish makes sense,

that those scars on your thumb knuckles –

un accidente.

We are on the top of a volcano

when you tell me, the American,

that you, the orphan,

have family in a place far off,

a house where your mother lives, your father,

five brothers, all older.

The “yes” you say is soft and sad

after “do you miss them?”

It is something I believe.

After you say it,

I begin to imagine the small house

with the mother, father, five brothers.

I begin to imagine you there with them,


I begin to imagine you clothed and full there,

speaking English like you do now,

and I begin to imagine the words I'd use

to tell you it was possible that way,

being there,

and I begin to imagine you shinning to hear those words,

if they were true.

And I can’t help but imagine

in place of the small house,

my own heart:

its delicate neighborhoods,

its streets laid with promises orphaned and kept,

where I imagine you residing

in so large an estate.

true life: I'm an idiot gringa

Here's a brief funny story from Nicaragua, because you were probably expecting something along these lines.

One sunny glorious day in Nica, our group picked up a bunch of darling Nicaraguan children from La Chureca and took them to a swimming pool. I found myself playing with 9-year-old Domingo, and I was trying to teach him how to float on his back. I'd demonstrate it myself, show him how he needed to relax his whole body, told him to treat the water like it was just a cloud or a comfy water-bed that could rest his whole weight on.

But he was afraid. He would tense up and then start sinking. And so I thought that I should comfort him as much as I could, make sure he felt safe and secure. I put my hand on his back, looked him gently in the eyes, and told him over and over again not to be afraid. Well, I thought that was what I was telling him.

In Spanish, to say "don't be afraid", you would say "don't have fear", and the word FEAR is "miedo". However, in my flawed and limited vocabulary, I thought that there was an "r" somewhere in that word, and also an "a" at the end.

So what I was saying instead of "miedo" was "mierda".

And for those of you who aren't already doubled over in horrified laughter, "mierda" means "shit".

Don't have shit, Domingo.

Not quite the tone of comfort I was going for. No wonder he never caught on.

for if you're anticipating rain

The last time I was in Nicaragua, it was the rainy season.

I mean really, REALLY rainy season. More water than you've probably ever seen in your life, unless you live in a tropical forest or under the sea.

And so as I'm building up expectations of what it'll be like when I step off the plane on Friday afternoon and onto Nicaraguan soil, in my mind, it's a steady downpour. I envision myself entering a place that is wet and rolling with run-off and scattered with milky puddles of water. But it won't be like that. Nicaragua is in a different season, one that is probably a lot dryer and a little cooler (probably still hot though) and breezier.

The point is - it'll be a different Nicaragua that I'm going to. I just keep having a hard time remembering that.

I spent some time the last hour just asking the Lord what that means, that as I prepare for this trip there is actually so much that I simply can't prepare for, because I just don't know. In my head, I can imagine that I know the drill, but I don't. I don't know what things will shape me this time around, what people, what events. It will be a different experience - I am a different me.

As I've been thinking about that, I've also been thinking that life in general looks different every single day, even when we think it will look the same. Our expectations are blown in so many regards, so much of the time. I have had very little luck trying to anticipate things in my life the past year, and yet I often have some warped sense of confidence about what life will be. I measure it out, I plan for one thing or the other, I expect things from my days. But stuff changes, you know? Even if we don't want it to.

Gosh, that's a hard thing for me, I'll admit. To know that life is not constant or predictable. But yet, it's a good thing too. It's a really really glorious and beautiful thing. The plan of the Lord is not still. He is showing us something different in each day he offers up, in each minute where he says "live this...walk through won't be on the same on the other side".

So you can pray, if you'd like :) Pray for me and this trip, that it would be a time where I trust in the Lord's dreams and not my own, and where I throw aside expectations and wholly-heartedly receive the new things he'll teach me when I'm there.