Monday, November 30, 2009

When Someone Says Thank You

I had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday (as can be seen from the silly picture above) with my family, my "children" and my mom. There were no tears shed, there were no arguments. There was only good food, laughter, movies, and the sound of children talking and playing in the house. For me that is what is most important about the holidays. My mom and I are establishing our own traditions, mirroring the traditions we had in yesteryear when my grandparents were still alive and I was a little girl.

Last night as I talked with my 18-year-old niece, I realized that some things have to remain as a legacy. Family must be a present reality in the lives of the children that are growing up in our home. There is so much missing and I refuse to miss the tiny powerful mmoments of love that they need today. I want my grandparents legacy of family to live on when I am gone too.

My niece told me last night that she appreciates my mom and I so much for being there for her, even though her parents did not. Her mother and father seem to hate the presence of family so much that they tried to convince her that the only way to make it through life was independently, unattached, "on your own." But we have tried so hard to show her that everybody needs somebody, and family must be constant. True love starts there.

She said to me, "Thank you, Auntie Mya." Tears filled my eyes as I remembered the bullets shot through my heart when her mother tried to separate us from her for some crazy reason, and I fought to stay (even on the fringes of her life) because I loved her so very deeply. I remembered the arrows my own brother had shot through my soul out of selfish ambition and hatred. I felt the wounds still somewhat fresh from the last battle I had waged against him when it came down to telling my story in "Father to the Fatherless."

And I knew then that the warfare, the battle for her heart, her soul, her future was and still is worth it. She left me with these words:

"I don't know how I make it through each day; I don't know how I do what I do. I just do. I don't even remember yesterday. All I see is my future."

My 18-year-old baby is a mother to a 2-year-old curly haired boy, who understands far more than I ever imagined what family means - even when neither of her parents are there to teach her. I see her future too, and I am excited for her as well.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Finding Art in the Foreign Soil of Life

Reading Leeana Tankersley's new book, Found Art, was reading the internal map of a woman whose life is in a constant place of discovery. Some discoveries are beautiful, immortal; others speak of the hurt and despair of this world that highlight the enormity of our mortality. As a woman married to a United States serviceman, her life became something far more than what she could have ever imagined it would be, when she said "I do." It became more than a mission of living a new combined life with a husband and a newly constructed household. It became a purpose she had to accomplish within herself, a world she had to be introduced to, a way of finding the art lying hidden beneath the surface.

Change is never easy.

The foreign soil of a life utterly uprooted and changed time and again tested Leeana to the breaking point at times. But the reality that she had to accept and the lesson her writing teaches anyone who reads her book is that the truest sign of that acceptance is the ability to appreciate the beauty in the most foreign of places, in the most strange circumstances which call upon all of us to reach for God even in the most unconventional of ways. God exists in the unfamiliar as much as the familiar. God's peace can exist even when our lives are anything but peaceful.

The precious emblems of life, the art that we find in the ruins of life, are the very tokens of belief that we all need to push forward when God requires so much more than we believe we can give. This what Leeana's book is about - the finding of those moments, those emblems, those irreplaceable artifacts of life that point to God's enormous grace in the face of life's challenges. This is her story, uniquely hers and uniquely powerful as all testimonies are, but it is also her permission to us all - to live with our eyes, our heart, our minds wide open even when we are afraid to do so.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Book Reviews: Trying This Again

I tried to start doing this last year when I began this blog but never quite got the hang of reviewing books as I said I would do. So I am going to start this endeavor again, choosing a book off "Myowne Bookshelf" to review. The first book I have selected to review is "Found Art" by Leeana Tankersley who is a friend of a writer that I have connected with after attending the Calvin College Festival of Faith and Writing almost two years ago (Shauna Niequist, whose blog is listed below). Stay tuned to a future post that will review her book.