In a Garden, Seated, Pressing

Peace. I am wrapped in it. Comforted.

Seated in heavenly places.

From this place of calm, my heart’s sanctuary, I share with you a brighter view.

Welcome to the teeny garden, маленький стул (malen’kiy stul), little chair. A vintage bentwood find, Czechoslovakian made, I left it just as I found it, with its endearing wink (paint chip) and all.

Endearing. Showing affection. Giving rise to love.

The summer of 2021 has changed me forever, but I am sorting through, purging unnecessaries, scooping up graces, tightly pressing to my chest every beautiful soul in my life and resting in the knowledge that nothing has or ever will take my Savior by surprise.

Being humane–and ever mindful of our humanity–is as a precious seat of honor. It is only from this position that we are able to see others without impediment.

Only from here, our brokenness, are we able to love, suffer when others suffer, pour ourselves out when others are being poured out, and give unconditionally. And when we exhaust ourselves giving, whether that be returning wrongs with rights or filling the heavens with the pleasant aroma of our prayers and our praises, give again. And again, give.

Only from here, Amazing Grace, can our eyes see.

I am love.

I press.

My pressed bits of spring and summer. Imperfect. Special.

I’ll stop by from time to time throughout the next two months.

Until again, farewell, fare very well.

Forward

Missions that were delayed last year due to the pandemic have now received a green light, and so we must move on.

At times, God seems to shift us when our heart is heaviest, and suddenly a seemingly unbearable burden lifts. Be encouraged, dear hearts, His timing is perfect, and His grace is sufficient.

Graces, The Littlest Flowers and Belanatur, the loveliest pages I’ve ever woven together, all is a trail of perfumed kindness that has actually ministered much to me as it was being laid out. I am grateful. I am very grateful.

The journey ahead, other parts of Belarus, followed by Russia. I had hoped to share more of that but the task is one that calls for all of me. I rise to the calling.

Take care, little flowers.

You are highly loved.

17Jul2021
To all who are hurting for Cuba at this time of dire need, my prayers continue. I share these words of comfort from my morning devotional today.

His stillness is not acquiescence. His silence is not consent. He is only biding His time, and will arise, in the most opportune moment, and when the designs of the wicked seem on the point of success, to overwhelm them with disaster. As we look out on the evil of the world; as we think of the apparent success of wrong-doing; as we wince beneath the oppression of those that hate us, let us remember these marvelous words about God being still and beholding.” Streams in the Desert

The Summer of 1970, a Cuban Journey

My daughter asked me to share a peek back in time to the day I came to America. She’s a clever one to attempt to distract me this way right now, I’ll have her know.

It was the summer of 1970. I was only six years old, but there are memories etched in our heart as clear as the light of this very day. Still standing on Cuban soil, I remember how it took several customs agents to hold me down for my vaccine. I have the distinguished left upper arm stamp to prove it, in my case a cluster from being pricked several times. If you’re a Cuban who made that journey, you know the mark.

I remember my parents nervously trying to distract me from crying. They’ve shared the story many times, how the Castrist customs officials would often use this as a twisted motive to keep families from leaving. She’s crying because she doesn’t want to leave, therefore she must stay.

You’re a child, and of course the magnitude of such crude realities doesn’t hit you at that moment, but in time it does. It does.

Para el amigo sincero que me da su mano franca. José Martí

Breathe. To think of all that my parents risked and sacrificed for freedom, including my dad being unjustly imprisoned, tormented and tortured preceding our exile, solely for political reasons. If not for their only child, I am certain my parents would not have left that island. They did it all for me.

We were separated from so much we loved, but no one could keep me from making the journey without my favorite doll. I kept it all these years. I boarded that momentous freedom flight with it, sat it on my lap and held on to it for dear life until we stepped into my aunt’s Miami home. My new temporary home, a large central air-conditioned four bedroom house that seemed so cold and empty in contrast to the lively open-doored and open-windowed Havana apartment that we once shared with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, neighbors who bustled in and out all day.

Abruptly, an only child who had never been one before.

In the days to follow, fevers from vaccines, tears from homesickness, my first taste of bubble gum. I could still hear my family laughing when I asked, “Por la libre?” If you’re Cuban, you understand. We were used to rationed products, forced by the government to keep record in a booklet. If and when available, you got your dozen eggs per such and such and on and on.

New to America, second grade schooldays were very difficult. Fear, sadness, dread, I still feel every emotion I felt then. I can easily relive the dozens of times I called my parents from the school office sobbing, “Me quiero ir para la casa.” Fifty years later, I still want to go home.

I have so many memories, how I missed out on a larger family table where no one dared to eat until my grandfather, head of that home, took his seat and gave the go. The bright bold colors of Spanish conversation, gathering together in the middle of the work day, pausing to rest, live, it’s all still very vivid.

A way of life, in a blink, switch.

I am profoundly grateful for my parents’ sacrifices; I have always been grateful for a flag with even more stars and stripes than my first, but as I’ve watched in horror chapters unfold, not only from current but prior events, the lack of integrity from a nation I’ve always called The Beautiful, with my heart in my hand I’m finding it so very difficult to say the same. I want to. Heaven knows I want to.

I pause. Do you remember when families would gather around a radio to listen for important news, when the world paused in respect and grieved as one? I did not live that but I know friends who did. An entire nation would mourn together. A world.

I am saddened, deeply grieved and disturbed by our world. I am desperately searching for humanity, but it’s nowhere to be found.

Still calling from that school office, take me home.

To every Cuban.
Written with a heavy heart, as I hear the freedom cries.

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed.
Proverbs 31:8

Starry Little Matron, A Garden Tea, Conversation

 

It’s lily season, and the stargazing has begun.  For me, it never really ends; head in the clouds I’ve been told my whole life.  As an only child, it’s easy to appreciate this wonderful gift, and I am more grateful for it every day. 

When the pandemic hit, I watched as so many loved ones quickly wearied of spending time by themselves.  I told them to remember that we’re never alone, to enjoy the stillness.

There’s so much that we’re only able to see when we still ourselves.

Like intricacies, a peek at a heart, just a peek because who has ever known one except our Creator, glimpses into nature and light, stars that aren’t always up above but right by our side.

I am grateful.

Oh my, tea conversation can get carried away at times.

Little matron, the literal translation of Matryoshka. I’ve always loved them. I purchased these directly from a lovely lady who kept them for years. If you ever visit Belarus, you quickly learn that not every Matryoshka is created equal. There are those that are mass-produced as souvenirs, and there are those that are handmade and hand-painted. The daisies and the deep sky blue on these called out to me.

Thank you for joining me for a sip of bright beautiful. Don’t forget to take a star with you.

Creativity, Graciousness and A Cool Drink

Ins, outs, ups, downs, lefts, rights, roundabout. Throughout all my years of blogging, my constants, a love for creativity and wonder.

Wonder, such as the love letter these roses penned for me, which I did not notice until I got home and opened my photos.

Wonder keeps me.

The joy of sharing my joy, it’s indescribable.

I’ll share a secret. Well, it’s not a secret but it sounds good to write it out that way. Do you want to know how I practically float in the weightlessness of joy?

Grace is always there, the soft comfortable easy chair that I can plummet into after I exhaust all confidence in my feeble abilities.

Now for creativity! I use an exclamation point because I am that excited about it. It is a gift that brings me much joy, but more recently I’ve come to appreciate it for the powerful tool it is. It’s a diversion. Detour. Redirection. It’s a strength and it’s a pleasure, a cool drink that refreshes and nourishes the soul and makes room in the heart for newness.

I’ll drink to that!

Summertime and the Musin’ is Easy

In the garden, creating, to-doing, because one can never have too many fanciful preoccupations.

These are a couple of dishes I prepared this weekend, a perfect mix of Belarusian and Italian. Salted trout on buttered baguette, a slavic dish which I absolutely love, very popular here in Belarus, and homemade bruschetta, made with fresh grape tomatoes and basil.  

I actually tend to be the least creative in the summer, but it’s growing on me.  Jotting down ideas as a point of reference is helpful, otherwise I drift away, especially when I visit Pinterest. 

Taking notes as I style my skinny potting bench.

  • Traditional terracota clay pots are by far my favorite, bringing those back
  • Warm up and soften that stark rough textured wall
  • Fresh and refresh with lots of greenery

Have your fruit and veggies,
but please don’t eat the daisies.

What Would They Say, Mom, Dad, Love

July is here, and I find myself doing what I’ve done every year since I can remember, preparing to celebrate my parents’ birthday.  Road trips, beach picnics, family gatherings, it’s all still very vivid in my heart.

Dad is no longer with us physically, but in spirit he’s always near. Mom, truer to herself than ever, seems to be on a mission to outlive us all.  Birthday cake was always shared by the two of them, both born on the same day this month.

This was Easter’s cake, a Forest Woodland cake, which I couldn’t resist grabbing from the market due to its name and its looks.  It is made with spinach and berries and it was delicious. The botanical print eggs I made using yellow onion skin and fresh herbs.

 

The little kitchen that could is in a bustle this weekend,  and I’m not ready for photos of dishes but I’m always ready for telling. I have a tendency to be spilling-over-the-top sensitive and I will never desire to change that, so with my heart in my hand I’ve chosen to cite each of my parents this day.

Mom loves to read and often shares sayings and quotes to advise you even when you’re not seeking advice, no matter your age, no matter whether you like it or not. To this day, I still cringe and hide behind her when she does so at times, and I smile at her listeners, all of whom seem to take it in stride. 

La gracia está en dar al que no nos da.

Roughly translated, Grace is giving to that which cannot give. I’m not sure if someone said it before her, but those are some of my mother’s words most ingrained in me.

Have I mentioned my mom is a singer?  She never accepted offers to sing in operas because she was too shy, but she loves to sing for family and friends, and for a few years now has done so every weekend at a restaurant where she and her friends get together.  Mom is 84 today.  I can say it.  She loves to say it. 😉

Dad on the other hand spoke very few words.  He played semi-pro baseball in Cuba and coached it as a hobby in the US, a hobby that won his teams many championships, I might add.  I clearly remember the award banquets, mostly his soft demeanor and genuineness that gained him the respect of each and every single player, coworker or friend I ever saw him interact with.

Dad grew up by the sea, swam like a fish, carried the ocean in his blood and passed it down to me.  According to all who knew him and who know me, we are two peas in a pod.  I am my father’s daughter, with a streak of my mother’s spunk.

I can’t think of a quote my dad shared, but this week I’ve woken up twice to the calling of a seagull on my windowsill, a seagull in Belarus, where there’s not the slightest tinge of sea salt in the air, and it’s saying,

I see you, I’m with you, I love you, be you.

Life is grand.  I say it repeatedly, I have it all.  You?  Gracious goodness, goodness gracious, I do wish you the same.

I have a couple of dishes to tend to, but I thought I’d start the day by ceasing all that is lovely and true.

Lovely weekend.