Wednesday, November 30, 2011

just leave me the lyrics

before i knew that he would have strong hands, eyes that turned downward on the sides, and a penchant for making hearty sandwiches, i knew one thing about the man i would marry. he wouldn't interrupt my songs.

he would listen, head slightly tilted, as sam beam whispered, in a way that only sam beam can, to me through the stereo. because he would know one sacred truth: there is nothing in this entire world important enough to interrupt "passing afternoon."

because lyrics are poetry and the english major in me dances when i discover a cleverly turned phrase or a hidden pun laced into an otherwise ordinary ballad. for years, i kept little mead notebooks full of them. i filled three entire ones before i hit middle school. in the age before the internet, i would lie on my stomach on the carpet in my bedroom, stopping and rewinding my favorite tapes to ensure i scribed them correctly. bone thugs-n-harmony's "crossroads" proved terribly difficult, and i wore out the single trying to figure out the rap. my alanis morissette phase is marked by astericks and @ signs.

later, i replayed "your body is a wonderland" until mama got sick of it and robert quit caring, because i loved the phrase "i'll never let your head hit the bed without my hand behind it." even now, when john's lost his appeal, i can still love that song for its cheesy sentiment that somehow hit a chord in me that few other songs have (until i heard passing afternoon, that is. sitting in the dark leather chairs of the library at midnight).

and there are times he forgets. when it slips his mind that i'm not just drumming on my steering wheel to the beat of a song, but actively, fully listening to the story. all it takes is one upturn of the eyebrow to remind him. not now, not now. not while poets are singing in my earbuds, reminding me of all the untapped beauty in the world. it's a brief reprieve, for certain. but a sweet indulgence nonetheless.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

a real world christmas

it was cold that night, and dark.

there were no rooms and people were rude. they were lost, lonely and scared.

on a bed of straw, huddled near livestock. not the ideal way to bring a savior to the world. not the ideal place for anything, really. the birth was flawed, riddled with unexpected setbacks, disappointments and heavy-hearted fatigue. in an age where lead-based paint is feared, the floor of a barn seems an unimaginable substitute for a hospital. but for all its human shortcomings, what a divine, precious perfection. it was real, hay bales and all. the face staring back a marriage of the human and the holy. yes, it was not quite as imagined, but in its very essence, the realness, the grit and dirt and sweat of Jesus' birth is what makes it endearing, special and sacred.

i find comfort in that. in the realization that God wants the soil of our lives, the grimy undercore of our souls, to plant the seed of faith. life is messy and tragic and altogether hard sometimes, but it's also so blessedly beautiful.

we took christmas pictures on sunday. from the moment i slipped on my dress, it just felt wrong. it was windy. and cold. and pablo was preoccupied with the cat running behind the deck. my hair was laying weird and i picked my skirt on the wooden bench. we argued about dog placement and portrait vs. landscape. about self timer length and background location. seven pictures later, we settled on a semi-focused, semi-centered one that will suffice, and ordered thirty.

this picture sort of sums it all up. we were frustrated, ill and tired with each other. i was tempted to send these out as the final picture, a nice detour from the typical, posed shots that line our fridge.

because this picture represents real life. it was not ideal. actually, nothing went according to plan. but it was real and honest and rooted in love. and in the end, the chaos gave way to beauty. much like that birth, i suppose.

Monday, November 28, 2011

a shop giveaway

hi guys! hope everyone had a beautiful, blessed thanksgiving. a holiday with lots of food, time with family, and an awesome parade? it's one of my favorites. but alas, it is over, which means christmas is right around the corner! robert and i stayed up and decorated our little cottage last night, drinking eggnog and making christmas tree sugar cookies. i declare, a warm house twinkling with strung lights is quite possibly one of the homiest, comfiest and sweetest places to be.

to get us in the holiday spirit, i'm participating in a giveaway spree over at chambanachik. hop on over to enter to win a $25 gift card to my etsy shop! and while you're there, do stay a while and learn about the beautiful, spirited soul of my sweet friend erika. she's funny, darling and an excellent mama. one of my favorites in all of blogland.

*also: In the spirit of Cyber Monday, enter coupon code CYBER for 40% off everything in my shop, today only*


Friday, November 25, 2011

the day after: a reflection

i am thankful for the feast. for the green bean casserole and the yams. the chicken and dumplings and the sweet tea. for the children playing in the living room and the adults gathered around the kitchen table. for the after-lunch walk down that country road. a solid, straight path of land, flanked by cornfields and oaks.

but when it's all over, when every single tupperware dish is pulled from the cabinets to hold leftovers and we sink into bed with full bellies after the ballgame, what i am thankful for most of all is this: time.

like my sweet mama and dad who came with me to the thanksgiving eve lovefeast on wednesday night. one town away, in a church we did not know. just to support me, love me and encourage me, feasting alongside me on sweet lovefeast buns served as we sang songs of praise to our Father.

the service was free, and the buns were small and cold. but mama held my hand when i prayed and i looked over and saw dad singing. and i remembered the intangible blessings of life, relayed through a handhold. a song. and a prayer. i am most thankful for this pocket of time, this sweet envelope of borrowed hours. to love every day. every single, glorious, God-given day.

p.s. the giveaway winner of the justaddsunshine contest is amanda! i'll contact you to claim your $18 gift credit! happy thanksgiving:)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

i will be sweet for you

around eleven, he wrestled me onto the couch. my bangs hot with the feel of a house warmed with oil heat. it was dark and the lamp made our shadows dance on the whitewashed, wooden walls. his face was close and he told me, i love how sweet you are. i smiled with my eyes and kissed him, thinking about all that word encompasses: sweet.

and i promise you dear, i will be sweet for you. i will greet you at the doorstoop at six in the evening when your collar is wrinkled and your hands smell of copper. i will let you gather me in your arms, and lead you into the kitchen. and likewise, i will wave to you in the mornings as i pull out of the gravel drive, your face getting smaller and smaller as i get closer to the cornfields.

i will be sweet in the afternoons, calling you to check in from that cafe i love to frequent during my lunch break. i will send you texts, not sexts, because i am a lady. and i will leave you lipstick messages on the mirror on your birthday.

but there is a line, i believe. between sweet and sugary. there is a threshold there. a sacred, delicate, whisper-thin line that can easily be traversed if one is not dilligent. i promise to be salty sometimes, too. i will challenge you, call you out, and, only because i love you and sometimes this happens with people you love, i will disappoint you. make you sad. i may shout out sarcasm in a fit of rage or go to bed in silence, whispering i love you in my lowest tone only because i hate going to bed mad. and i'll mean it, mind you. but that doesn't mean i won't hold a grudge. or give you the silent treatment. or ignore your calls the next day.

yes, i will be sweet. i can't help it. i come from the south, and a good family. and i will love you to the ends of this earth and after. but everything needs a counter, and the salt will inevitebly seep in. but just ride it out. and, if you can, appreciate the difference. the wholesome, satisfying, balanced meal of my love that will feed you, sustain you, and nourish you. long after the sugar buzz wears off.

Monday, November 21, 2011

my weekend: music and the mountain air

there is something spectacular about mountain air, something about altitude and attitude. the weather ran the gamut this weekend, from warm sunshine hitting our shoulders as we sat on rocking chairs to a blustery chill between our fingers and toes as we sat huddled outside the concert hall, waiting for the doors to open.

it was a sweet balloon of time, spent in little breakfast diners. on front rows of live music, lights flashing and sweet folk music wafting a few inches from my wondrous eyes. of still water and rickety old bridges.

but mostly, and perhaps most importantly, it was a weekend spent with two of my favorite men. my brother and husband are good-hearted, kind and spectacular people and just to be in their presence for 48 hours was a blessing. it also helps that they have killer taste in music and don't mind staying past midnight for an encore.
because after all, i do believe that's the heart of living. staying for the encore.

Friday, November 18, 2011

an adultnapping

robert and i are leaving in a few hours to take my brother to the carolina mountains. a weekend spent in the heart of the blue ridge, with early morning pancake house visits and late night walks around still, black lakes. of a lykki li and first aid kit concert inside an old, echoing music hall.

i first wanted to title this post "a kidnapping," because that's what we're doing--stealing him away from life for a few days to breath in air that's a little colder, a little more filling.

but the problem is, he's not a kid. before i could gather him in my arms and ask time to slow down, he grew. from riding his skateboard, to driving to applying for college. he leaves this spring. so, adultnapping it is.

on a semi-related note, adult napping is exactly what i want to be doing right now. filling my veins with lots of black coffee after last night's premiere of the latest twilight installment. yes, i hopped on that bandwagon. and yes, i thought this movie was one of the best. chugging through today with the tree-topped peaks soon on the horizon.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

a giveaway: just add sunshine

every tuesday night, i eat supper and delve into the Bible with my sweet friend megan. with one of the most sincerely sweet hearts i've ever met, megan is the kind of girl who is just calming and comforting to be around. she's deliberate in her faith walk, a dynamic high school teacher, and one of the most fabulous crafters i know. megan just opened up a new etsy shop, justaddsunshine and i am so,so happy to team with her to offer you guys a giveaway today.

from sweet wreaths (check out this christmas one!) to the most adorable little button bouquets i've ever seen, megan's shop so lovely. today, she's offering one reader the chance to win a $18 gift certificate to her shop!

how to enter
visit megan's shop and tell me  your favorite item

extra entry
"favorite" megan's shop on etsy (leave additional comment)

the giveaway will be open until next thursday, november 24. 

**also, because i told you she was sweet, megan's offering all vintch readers 15% off her shop this week. just enter coupon code "vintch" at checkout.

thanks for playing, friends. have a beautiful, blessed day. and thank you, megan!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

but more so the flutter

you tell me all the time you love to watch me sleep. in the nook of the couch around midnight. in the bed at six in the morning, before any living creature is roused and our tiny room is washed in dark.

but i love the flutter of waking. when your eyes shift around under their lids and i can tell you're emerging. out of that deep dream and into the warmth of the quilt, and my my hands in your hair. that look of confusion that quickly gives way to recognition, oh hey, i know you. and for that split second, before words crush the moment and deflate the cocoon, there's a holy peace, a sacred space. yes, i suppose i love the flutter of it all more so than the dreaming.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

oh little me, it's okay

in the waiting room at the speech pathologist's office on friday, i saw a girl. and from her mousy hair to the way she clung to her mama, she reminded me of myself. speech is such a private thing. and impediments are hushed, intimate. but we sat there together, shared the same generic white walls and boring reader's digest magazines. and i wanted to tell her, just lean into her and whisper, you're going to be fine. given the time, i also wanted to let her know, in case her frazzled mama never did, that:

it's okay if you don't have your first kiss until 16. it's also okay if it doesn't happen until you're 20. or 35. because when it does happen, you'll be thankful you waited for it. and once you've kissed the right someone, all you'll want to do for the rest of your days is kiss him, so it's best to wait until  you're good and ready. and have some spare time.

that being said, you might have almost-guys. maybe guys. guys you meet at the beach or at a friend's house. but it doesn't matter if his eyes are blue and he looks good in a polo. that he comes from a good family and goes to your church. if it's not there, don't force it. and for the life of me, don't let that boy at the beach kiss you. because beach boys are usually just that. fluid and constantly changing with the ebb and flow of adolescence.

it's okay if you want to hole up in your bedroom and listen to mixed tapes. and read babysitter's club and american girl books until you're long past the age range listed on the back.

it's okay to make straight As but always come home with your report card marked "talks too much." loquacious little girls become women who can carry a decent conversation. there are worse check marks to get.

it's okay if you don't want to cheer. or do band. if all you want to do after school is come home and walk by the creek bank or sit in the field behind the porch. there's power in the comfort of home.

but also, and maybe most importantly of all, it's okay to leave home. to go to that school a few states away. to get a job in a big city if the offer and timing are right. to marry that first boy who kisses you or maybe the 20th. to set out on your own road, knocking down brush and limbs as you stumble through the wild, the gloriously golden sunrise just on the horizon. make your way in this world, and you'll be surprised at how many follow, inspired and impressed by the the path you created.

Monday, November 14, 2011

two essential topics

#1: today is my sister's birthday. she is turning twenty. twenty!

the girl who slept feet from me all her life until i left for college.

the girl who made my phone calls in high school when i just couldn't and stood beside me at my wedding.

the girl who is infinitely more  beautiful, kind and good-hearted than i could ever hope to be.

i love you, carly. and i'm honored to call you my best friend. the sisters thing is just the icing.

#2: today i'm over at my friend sarah's blog, desirous of everything. sarah asked me to do a little how-to post. and i thought. and thought some more. i've seen super blog tutorials about how to make bib necklaces. how to sew a wallet. how to cook a delish nutrish meal.

but i can't do any of those things, so i began to feel like a tiny failure.

then i looked at my ankles and saw my bundle of fluff, pablo. and remembered.

i am an expert in doggie belly rubs.

so hop on over and watch as i break down the art of the belly rub into seven easy steps! then give sarah some love because her blog is a true treasure. just try to not get lost in her writing. just try!

Friday, November 11, 2011

microscope heart: tiffany

today's microscope heart comes from my sweet friend tiffany from figuring out the plot. tiffany's a country girl like myself, which was one of the things that first brought me to her blog. once there, i was so happy i stuck around. because she is certainly one insightful, lovely woman. she has a heart for Christ and her future husband, and her posts about both make my heart swell. thank you, tiffany!
Hey y'all! I'm Tiffany...a farm girl living in the city practicing law and cheering for Oklahoma State football (Go Pokes!) and blogging about my adventures at Figuring Out The Plot.

First off, how much do y'all love this little series that Courtney came up with? I think it's fantastic! I'm so excited to take part in it my opinion, she is the best writer in blog land! You'll have to bear with me because my writing is not even close to the same level as you read on Vintch every day!

When I saw the concept of Microscope Heart, I started thinking about what little thing I am grateful for. I thought about this for a long time and finally came up with my answer....Hugs.

Hugs just make me happy. They make a person feel special and loved and if you ask me, they make the world a better place.

And hugs are totally not about the physical, but about the feelings. If you think about hugs literally, it's just four arms getting sort of tangled up together. Seems like something strange...doesn't make sense really. But the fact is, hugs are so much more than that.

Just a hug can convey a whole range of emotions. Happiness or sorrow. Excitement or joy. Pain or peace. Comfort or attraction. It's a way to share your love....your support....your soul...with someone else.

And the same thing---one hug---can convey all of these different emotions without needing a single word. With as busy and as complicated as life can be, I love knowing that there is one little thing that can mean so much. It's something small....microscopic.....but its meaning is so much more.
thank you, tiffany! hope your weekend is blessed.
what's the absolute smallest thing that makes you happy? tell me here!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

in seventy years, i hope

i did dishes last night. and this morning. and yesterday morning and on tuesday too.

the sink is deep and metal. it's got hairline scratches from piles of pans stacked up over seventy years of housekeeping. but it overlooks the front yard and the pin oaks i have grown to adore. and at 5:45 in the afternoon there's a sliver of setting sun that falls on the spigot and makes it flicker. i like to sit up on the countertop and let my heels hit against the knotty pine cabinets.

elbows deep in suds, i thought, i'll probably be doing this for the rest of my life. there will be dishes in the sink and clothes in the hamper day in and day out. it's a sort of a ritualistic romance we lead, me and these chores.

but pablo laid at my heels on the rug as i folded the millionth white undershirt. and robert came up behind me at the sink, getting his arms wet. i dropped the cereal bowl. and at nine in the evening i rested my head against him, breathing in the rusty smell of pipes and copper.

and another thought came, i hope so. i hope at eighty i'm still standing over a sink. maybe looking at the same grassy field. maybe not. maybe in a kitchen full of grandchildren, or perhaps just robert. he'll be eighty-two and by then the callouses on his hands will be deeper. a new dog on the old rug, or maybe just my house slippers.

i hope i'm blessed to always tidy up a house filled with love. but more than that, i hope to always have someone there to pull me from it. to remind me that a messy home is better than a clean house. and, on the really overwhelming days, someone to roll up his sleeves, and stand beside me in bright yellow gloves. washing and scrubbing and loving all the rest of our days.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

new in the shop: an exodus to autumn

when it's summer, all i want to do is wear a tank top, sit in front of a fan and drink sweet tea until my sweat cools. but now? now it's autumn and bring out the fun clothes! the layers! the tunics! the pretty, simple lines and flattering fits.

all these pretty vintage lovelies can be found in my etsy shop, starting yesterday. a great big shout-out to my sweet friend kasey, photographer extraordinaire. have a beautiful, blessed day, sweet friends.

p.s. pumpkin. that's the secret code to get 25% off all these bad boys. yep, halloween lives on.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

sew wrong

mama gave me a sewing machine sunday night.

encased in a brown vinyl cover, relics of decades ago perfectly preserved, down to the tube of oil still leaking. a pretty ol' singer, in a sweet shade of cream. the beast was heavy, but i lugged her onto the kitchen counter. with a few minutes of home to myself, i plugged it in and the machine lit up like the highway at midnight.

and i read instructions. i watched youtube videos. i sat and stared at the thing and thought to myself, if i were a bobbin thread, how would i pull myself up? it seemed easy enough, and the fashion designers online made it looks as easy as frosting a cupcake (which can, it turns out, also be kind of hard).

i tried for hours. robert came in and sat beside me. pablo barked at my heels and the sun finally set on the day and my seamstress dreams. i went to bed discouraged. it's such a lovely thing to sew. so domestic and pretty and dainty and all things soft and warm and comfortable in this world. and there i sat, in a seventy-year old house where many a lacy pillowcase had been made. my big knuckles and impatient heart two giant stumbling blocks.

but the thing is, i may never learn. my hands may always be more equipped for washing dishes over a sink of hot water. for lugging around a heavy pup. for making soup and biscuits and painting desks cherry red. besides, whoever decided to make needle eyes so blessed small obviously didn't have a desk job in front of a computer. because those two just don't jive.

Monday, November 7, 2011

the kindness of it all

there are monsters in this world. they are in back alleyways at midnight, and in corporate conference rooms at noon. they are sons. daughters. mamas. robert and i have recently taken to watching 48 hours and dateline. and it's awful, the things people are capable of.

but for the life of me, i just can't shake the realization that as a whole, people are kind. they are sweet and generous and when they're not, there's a reason, and it typically has nothing to do with the situation at hand. or with you.

i wrote about this idea once. after a christmas shopping trip. intoxicated by the carols and the sweet hot cider. just as everyone looks beautiful in candlelight, everyone looks sweet under tinsel.

but i had the same thought this past week--on a random friday in the middle of the afternoon. sitting at my desk with sunlight streaming in through the cracked blinds.

there's a non-profit organization a few cities over. one meeting with one sweet woman last monday and it was settled. they are paying for my speech easy device. every single penny of it. an accumulation of heartache, prayer and wishful thinking, all coming to a head as the week came to an end.

i spent the weekend in awe of it all. sending whispered prayers of thanks up to heaven, swinging on the front porch swing letting autumn wrap its cool, wispy arms around me.

i've seen a lot of this world. i've been mocked and laughed at. i've felt like toe scum after being walked upon. people have hurt me to the core and left me forever changed.

but for all their faults, people can also be extraordinarily kind-hearted. and i declare, they are good.

Friday, November 4, 2011

microscope heart : kaylia

This week's microscope heart comes from my sweet friend kaylia, from the many colours of happiness. writing all the way from beautiful australia, kaylia is such a fabulous fixture in the blogosphere. she's honest and raw about her life, and she does it all in the most lovely way possible. she's salt of the earth, this girl, and i'm so happy to feature here today.
Firstly I want to thank Vintch for coming up with such a beautiful little series. As soon as I read others contributions I knew that I wanted to take part and add a little piece of my own happiness into this wonderful collection.

It took me a while to decide what I wanted to write about. There are so many lovely things in life that it’s hard to pick just one, isn’t it? But, as I’m sure is the case with everyone, there was something that really stuck out for me. You see, when I was feeling a bit down, a bit unmotivated, I looked up ways to maybe make life a little more sparkly again. There were a lot of great suggestions, one of them including ‘stretch in the mornings’.
Such a simple little thing, but one that has indeed brought the sparkle back into my world.
On that first morning after deciding to try it out I got up early and crept softly into the living room, so as not to wake my sleeping husband. I pulled opened the curtains and let the early morning sunlight I often missed in my rush to get ready pour in and fill my soul. Then I began.
But there was a problem. What I haven’t mentioned is that I have two cats. Two cats that feel particularly affectionate in the mornings and who were overly excited to see me up so early. Every time I started my stretching routine one of them would bound up to me, demanding attention and tripping me up. And every time I did a stretch that required me to sit down, one of them would climb into my lap and refuse to budge.
I couldn’t help it, after a few half-hearted attempts I burst out laughing and gave up for the rest of the morning, choosing to cuddle the cats instead. And that has been my routine every morning since. I might not have gotten any more flexible, but when a morning is started with cuddles and laughter? Well how can you possibly have a bad day after that.
And all it took was that simple little thing to bring so much happiness and joy into my life. Pretty cool, huh?
very, very cool kaylia. thank you so much!
what's the absolute teeniest tiniest thing that makes you happy? tell me here.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

the place of remembrance

my co-worker complimented me on my boots the other day.

i looked down at them, tucked into my jeans. remnants of storage dust on their heels from a summer spent in the basement. "i got these the day heath ledger died," i replied absentmindedly. all of a sudden, they weren't just shoes anymore. they were reminders. of that evening in college spent by myself at the mall. why i, the student with campus police on my speed dial, was out shopping alone is beyond me. but there i was. knee deep in the shoe department at belk's. the text came when i was trying them on.

i was little when princess diana died. i bumbled down the steps for a drink of water to find mama alone in the dark, crying in front of the television. years later, i sat on that same couch and watched the coverage of the JFK, jr. plane crash. i learned of aaliyah's death in a church corridor one sunday morning. these places and objects are forever changed to me.

i don't remember much. i joke with robert that my memories start around middle school. but these things--these moments that don't even directly involve me, are stamped inside. they are a part of me and i of them.

i am a collection. of memories and days and evenings spent watching the news. of remembering and forgetting until some off the cuff comment triggers something deep inside and i remember all over again. until a co-worker reminds me that my boots are more, so much more, than leather (well, pleather).

but being human means embracing these associations, these little fibers that connect us as a whole and unite us. in suffering, yes. and in sadness. but also, when the heavens align at just the right moment, in inexplicable joy. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

let me lead

let me lead.

on the kitchen floor in your socks and shirt. my hair falling down as the sun follows suit, a stray ray seeping in through the tiny window.

because no one can match the steps of your feet like me, the clumsy footsteps i've come to recognize as you walk across the creaky floorboards when i'm sleeping.

so go to work, as you must. drink lots of black coffee and stay up past midnight finishing it. carry the stress on the broad shoulders you tuck into your blue collar. callous your hands with pipes and wrenches.

but when you come home and it's late in the day and this little old house is sighing and singing with winter, just find me. in the laundry room out back. and bring me into this room, right here. with linoleum tiles and wood paneled walls.

you bring home the bacon and i'll fry it up. you start the music on the old record player and i'll start swirling before you return. a ballerina in my bathrobe. pretty eyed, pirate smile, yours for the taking.