Monday, April 30, 2012

Abbreviated Love Story: Heart Ponderings of the Year After

My second book was officially published on March 30, 2012 and I have had several awaiting friends and fans requesting copies. This book is a beautiful memento of love, the love I had for the man that stole my heart and took it with him to Heaven. The pictures are phenomenal, taken by two of the most passionate photographers I have had the pleasure of working with. The book is quite expensive to purchase as a coffee table, adult picture book, so I have significantly reduced prices for those who want to order from me. I am hoping that the other online bookstores and book distributors will sell it for a much more reasonable price than what the publisher is proposing. Really, I am praying that the book will reach whoever it is meant to, just like the last one because the writing of it was not about the money I could make off my own misery. If that's the case, there really no point in writing it. I would have much rather have kept my hurt to myself. But the point is that I want the world to know that while I know what it's like to be hurt, I also know what it's like to be healed. Beautiful words should never be expensive. Pictures of my life are a glimpse into my heart. The world me that keeps spinning without him is immersed in grace despite the pain that spins within it. I went to the Calvin College's Festival of Faith and Writing almost two weeks ago. It was not like other years - seemed a lot lonelier in the sense that there were fewer people of color in attendance and fewer presenters of diversity than in previous. I tried not to focus on how isolating it was being in a place that I love to be. Things felt so strange to me...and then, I sat in on Ann Voskamp's presentation. Tears streamed down face as she talked about the prophetic qualities that make poetry so different from traditional prose. When she talked about embracing grace and giving thanks as a way of life, a way of speaking prophetically poetic even when the heart is broken, I knew that this was why I had come. I needed someone to affirm for me the joy in life when the sadness in death is the background of my painting, the hidden themes of my poetry, the echo of the songs playing in my ear when words and pictures are no longer enough. There is always grace to be found and when it is found, it is ENOUGH. I tried to wipe the tears as quickly as they spilled from eyes. While I wiped at them, the salty wetness slipped over my fingers, refusing to absorb into my skin as if they had never been. The tears slipped between my fingers and finally I gave up. These grace tears would not be denied or hidden quality in the palm of my hands. They would drip down like rain. I thought of my book. I thought of the main character of the book - love personified in me, in him that is no longer here. And love leaked out of my eyes, not able to be contained. Tears streaming down. Breathing between the sighs. Sunshine at nighttime, moon peering at me through the curtains that shield the world out. Memories of what can never be. Pages that can only tell my story because he cannot write his unfinished publication.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Ready to Vacate

I have decided that while I will pay off the debt I owe, I will also begin traveling and enjoying life just a little bit more. I have vacations or time off from work coming up nearly every month of 2012, and to be honest I am really proud of myself. I have put in a lot of work at my job, and I want to enjoy the opportunity to spend more time with the people I love rather than working just to pay bills.

My first planned break is coming up in a couple short weeks, April 19 - 21st. Every other year I attend the Calvin College Festival of Faith and Writing. I have been going to this event since 2004. I love being in an environment with people that love to write, love to read, and love to be with others who also enjoy the same. I live for moments like this. I can remember in times past meeting or seeing authors whose works have now become a staple to my literary diet - like Shauna Niequist and Lauren Winner. I am looking forward to seeing Shane Claiborne, Jamaal May, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie this year. The festival lasts for three days and by the time it ends, I feel like I have just taken a breath of fresh air.

My next break will be my church's annual retreat, in early May. The Revolution Christian Ministries' retreat this year will be at Gull Lake Bible Camp and Conference Center. I love going to this retreat because it reminds me of my teen years of spiritual retreats with the same pastor that oversees my growth and development now. I learn more about God and myself when I am away from life as I know it and have grown accustomed to. I enjoy being near water, be a lake or a river, because here too, I feel refreshed and energized. The retreat only requires an open heart and mind to receive from God. It also requires an open spirit not bogged down with the things of this world that can distract away from worshipping our Creator. I can hardly wait to get away for a little while. This lasts for three days too.

In June I will be taking some time with my niece, Erika. I haven't learned how to navigate seeing my babies being adults or almost adults. I am so used to seeing my nieces and nephews all the time. Yet, the older they get I feel the stretch that often comes when children become adults, responsible for their own lives. It is difficult sometimes, and sometimes, I don't like it. But I respect the process, and when there is an opportunity to spend time with one or all of them, I eat it up like Thanksgiving Dinner. She will be spending a weekend with me where I live, and I am planning to take time off from work to have that one-on-one time that I need too.

In July, I will be flying to Atlanta to see one of my older brothers. He and I met when I was 25, as was detailed in my book Father to the Fatherless. He and I developed a close relationship over these last 9 years, and I look forward to seeing him whenever I can. We are making plans for me to spend the week of July 4th in Atlanta with him. I haven't been to Atlanta since I was 16. I am quite sure he will show me all the sights and sounds. He enjoys having a great time and I have no doubt that this will be like many of my other occasions hanging out with my big brother. The only nervousness I have is with flying alone but I am quite sure I will be fine.

In August I will take a few days off to just chillax near either Lake Huron or Lake Michigan. I enjoy being off with nothing major planned too.

In September, I will not take any time off (I don't think). In October I will take my birthday and the day after off since to me it IS a National Holiday.

In November, my last travel month of the year, I am taking my mom on a five day cruise either to the Southern Caribbean or to the Bahamas. My aunt and my cousin are also planning on coming. I want to celebrate my mom's 63rd birthday in style. Hopefully everything will come together soon.

So, those are my plans and I can't wait to start being more active in life, rather than just sitting around complaining that I never have anything fun to do. I just have to make it happen.