Tuesday, February 8, 2011


sometimes home is so concrete... it's the way six bodies fill six spaces around our kitchen table built by the hands of my father. it's the worn quilts piled on the couch for a spontaneous sleepover, it's driving stick shift and dancing in the kitchen. it's sleeping in bunk beds. it's a trampoline. it's the soft thud of wood floors. it's a stone driveway that refuses to be paved and blue shutters that offer welcoming winks every time i return.

but sometimes, sometimes we find home in the hearts of others. sometimes home is found in moments...in cafés and bars and snow-covered beaches, in car rides and laughter and a tad too much liquor. (haha)

on thursday night i found home - - -

in Gulu-Gulu café with Genny, Sarah, and Hannah. Eating a nutella strawberry-heaven-on-earth crepe and reading birthday toasts. i found home, in arms clasped, traipsing past the closed-for-the-season gate and straight on towards the coast. in the sky hanging heavy with stars, more stars than these little eyes have seen in a long time, and in ears that heard nothing save the crashing, bone-chilling waves and crunching of snow beneath bright colored boots. i found home in being a passenger. in the voice of sam amidon. in a beach blanketed in 3.5 feet of snow.
i found home in the perfection that was thursday.

we don't mess around with birthdays up here. Genny turned 21 this week and we celebrated two days in a row. a small surprise party, make-shift dancercise, a pancake breakfast, a night out in Salem, birthday poetry/toasts, and Crane Beach. Perfection, my friends. We've got this party thing down.

Other things that are reminding me that love is still alive.

1. Sunsets that melt all over the sky. 
2. Thunderstorms in the heart of winter.
3. Babette's Feast. (it's a movie.) 
4. Sarah Haile.
5. Apple Cinnamon scones and good conversation.
6. Snowshoeing! 

(the weird red fuzz could quite possibly be a red zombie about to attack us. 
or it might just be a mitten.)

snowshoeing is a really good Sunday afternoon activity.

i am thankful for these girls and their adventurous souls.

there is a lot of snow here...

which causes us to walk around all squinty and smile-y. 

in other news, last night was my first pottery class.
last night another tiny dream of mine came true.
two hours down and i am already loving it. it's so therapeutic, so life-giving, so messy and beautiful and challenging. so hard, and yet oh so fun.

pottery is filled with all kinds of crazy metaphors and analogies for life as i'm sure you're aware. and so after my first class i thought i'd share two thoughts i came home carrying in my clay-stained hands.

Thought Number 1: 

So, never having taken a pottery class before I had absolutely no idea what to expect the first night. Honestly I did not even really expect to do a whole lot on the wheel, let alone create anything "real." 

I was wrong.

After about 15 minutes of instruction and demonstration we were told to grab a wheel and start trying, begin learning by doing and asking questions along the way. Begin learning and messing up and trying again and learning, and in the process, attempt to make some bowls.  

So I started. I began to center and spin my clay, desperately trying to remember which hand was supposed to do what and if I was supposed to keep it really wet or semi-wet, straining to recall if it was supposed to be a narrow cylinder or more of a cone shape... etc. etc. Pottery is a lot more technical than I ever realized. 

As I was sitting there struggling to get my clay to mold into anything that began to resemble a bowl, our instructor walked by and immediately saw my continued failed attempts. He took over for a second to get me back on the right track and then began to explain to me that my clay was really hard and definitely not the best quality to begin on. His voice was filled with hope and patience however as he reassured me that I could do it. He left me to continue and simply said, "it needs consistency. don't change the pace of your wheel a lot, don't apply different amounts of pressure, don't do quick motions - be patient and consistent, it will mold." 

And so consistently I tried, to apply the same pressure- to spin the wheel at the same speed, to move my hands in the same fluid motion...and gradually a little bowl started taking shape. Slowly, and with much consistent effort and two very sore arms, my stubborn lump of clay began to open up and transform into something useful; not quite something as noble as some clay morphs into, but something useful nonetheless. 

Working with that clay made me wonder at the patience and time God invests in each of us. Like that little mound of clay i too am often hard. i am a girl who needs consistency. God's faithfulness and consistency in my life are two things i am absolutely in love with. He continues to hold his hands, to spin me around ever so gently - to apply firm and constant pressure on my heart, to slowly mold me into something he can use for his purposes. I may not be ready for any noble purposes yet, but I pray God's hands are beginning to shape me into something useful for his kingdom. 

His consistency despite my rebellion- his faithfulness to me even when I fly off the wheel and refuse to take shape, even when I refuse to let him hollow me out so that he can fill me up... Astounding. 

(note: this photo is not from pottery class. it's from a "paint your own pottery" place two years ago.)

Thought Number 2: 

After making my first bowl last night I set out a bit too quickly to make my second one, foolishly assuming I knew what I was doing. (I didn't.) My bowl was completely uneven and before I could decide what to do about it, the whole thing crumbled in my hands. Ready to shake it off and start over I squished all of the clay back together and began somewhat feebly, to force the clay back into the desired starting shape. My instructor again walked by and without hesitation pointed out my mistake. 

"Once you start a piece and it crumbles, you simply can't shove all the clay back together. It won't work."

Don't ask me the technical reasons but it has something to do with the particles in the clay, air bubbles, the combination of slip and clay and all kinds of things. So in order to begin again, you first have to take out all of the messed up clay. You have to totally start over - there is no moving on until what is broken is discarded. The broken pieces will have to be wedged again, pressed patiently and firmly back into something useful...but if you keep it with the rest of the clay, nothing good will come. 

And that my friends, that's like us too. We have to let God take all our broken pieces, all our failed attempts, and let him in his strength and consistency press them back into something good, redeem them. [Brokenness and humility are two things heavy on my heart these days; two things I'm pondering and longing for.] It's not easy, it takes time and patience and care, but in the end - something beautiful and useful will remain. We may not turn into cereal bowls, but perhaps we'll be vessels of love and joy and encouragement to others - vessels of hope. And that's better than any cereal, even Cinnamon Life cereal, my new favorite. :) 

"'O house of Israel, can I do not with you as the potter does?' declares the LORD. 'Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.'" 
Jeremiah 18:6

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