Dear Evelyn Ruth,
Your cuteness knows no bounds. Every day your father and I use the word “cute” a preposterous number of times. We can’t help it.
You would too if you were in our shoes.
Off to the chicken coop we flew
Where an adventure was beginning to brew
With desires to hear the cluck of a hen
Or spy on a rooster awake in his pen
Instead we came upon a kind of creature
Who possessed quite unpoultry-like features
Four hooves, two horns, and a short stubby tail
Along with a dirge he so loudly could wail
Perhaps he was lonely and feeling left out
With no beak and feathers, donning fur and a snout
Amongst the chickens the goat looked kind of silly
So we befriended the buck and named him Billy
As he sprang towards us, his ears flopped up and down
When he reached the fence, his face had a frown
We said “hello” and patted his head
Then told him to retreat in the shade of his shed
Saying “goodbye” we turned away
But little Billy begged us to stay
He whimpered and pleaded for our attention
With sadness beyond our comprehension
Guiltily we traipsed back to the house
Someone sneaking behind as quiet as a mouse
We turned to see a mischievous grin
It seems the fence could not keep Billy in
We shook our heads and said “oh no Billy”
“You’re not allowed to run willy nilly”
After placing him back with his feathery pals
He wasn’t excited to see the beak bearing gals
Not once, not twice, not even three times
Could we return Billy to his chickenly confines
A neighbor looked out while baking her quiche
She offered us help, “Do you need a leash?”
Running out of all options, we said “Yes we do!”
“And a tranquilizer gun if you have one, too!”
Grandma held onto the leash with all of her might
The kid would not win, not in this fight
Despite Grandma’s nudge
Not an inch would he budge
This goat was determined
“No more egg laying vermin!”
No more cluck clucks here or cluck clucks there
This goat did not want chickens anywhere
After a while, a little old lady came out
“I know this goat!” we heard her shout
We watched her with hope as she waved her hand
Suddenly at attention our Billy did stand
He listened intently and obeyed every word
Billy had found the lead of his herd
The little old lady had him follow in line
“He’s not lonely, you just have to know the right sign”
She brought him home with the clucks and cockadoodles
He looked as obedient as a pure bred show poodle
The woman turned to us, “Let me teach you. I insist!”
“It’s easy, just look, it’s the flick of your wrist”
Billy gave us a wink and entered his shed
After all the commotion, he was ready for bed.
I’ve been thinking about my previous blog post called “Subletting.” It’s the burden of many (wannabe) writers like me. You write something and then you’re suddenly held accountable to live by the words you wrote.
So, I just want to clarify something. Specifically, I want to get it in writing that I respect Matt and Brooke for the faith they have and one of the unique ways I think they express that faith. I’m talking about their intentionally austere abode – second hand furniture, small space, no central air, no washer or dryer, and a sound system that still plays cassette tapes.
Keep in mind, they might not have an apartment like this due to their faith at all.
They might be purchasing lottery tickets by the handful hoping to one day drive a BMW and own a coastal home in the Hamptons.
Regardless of their intentions, I just want to make it known that although I respect an act of faith that involves living with (much, much) less, I don’t necessarily believe that’s the road I want to travel. Most of the time we’re in Matt and Brooke’s apartment, Mark and I feel like we’re biding our time, watching the weekdays pass until the weekend comes, when we can visit a family member who happens to have a large house, central air, a yard, plush new furniture, filtered water, a dishwasher, TVs with surround sound, a washer and dryer, adequate water pressure, etc. etc. etc.
Sure, we can live with less, and appreciate the novelty of living in a shockingly small space. However, I would be a hypocrite if I said I could and would live like this long term. I also view our place in Raleigh as a temporary arrangement. A place we live while working towards the next chapter of our lives.
Ah, the next chapter. A chapter when this suppressed HGTV addict will be unleashed. When Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware (or maybe the knock off stores) will experience a significant increase in daily visits to their websites. When World Market cashiers will know me by my first name.
A girl can dream can’t she?
The thing is, there’s a good chance this dream could come true. Mark will have an advanced degree in a field of high demand and hopefully I’ll be contributing in a significant way through nursing, writing, or whatever I happen to be into at the time.
If and when that day comes when we can upgrade our living quarters, I hope we also view that as a unique way to express our faith. Yes, maybe we won’t be denying ourselves all our wants and wishes. However, like many people that have been so kind to us this summer and throughout our lives, we want to share our space with as many friends, family, acquaintances, heck even strangers, as possible.
We want people to “dream” of visiting our home and revel in its comforts and conveniences.
Hopefully we will view that future home as not so much OUR space, but a space that God has provided so that we can “pay it forward” if you will.
After all, we have LOTS to pay forward. Mark and I have been on the mooch train for a long time. We lived with family and friends early in our marriage while Mark played soccer, during the season and off. While Mark’s in graduate school, we have been on the receiving end of countless meals, gifts, and even hot showers (in homes with good water pressure).
We feel overwhelmingly humbled whenever we look back at all these blessings. God has been so good to us and we know one of His greatest gifts has been the generosity of our loved ones – the Slovicks, Schultes, Wiebers, Heltons, Kalorins, Hanishes, Kuehls, Vanderwerffs, Klaus’, Sitzwohls, Savages, Salibas, Aholas, Geissbauers, Dahlheimers, Bjorlins, Khunles, Arny and Ole, and so, SO many more.
It is our goal to make someone else’s list of generous loved ones.
I don’t mind being held accountable to that.
Mark and I are subletting an apartment in St. Paul, Minnesota for the summer months. The place is small, cozy, and has loads of character. Matt and Brooke, the couple that normally lives in this space, are traveling through Central America brushing up on their Spanish (so jealous!). As we live amongst their furniture, books, and decor, it’s natural to wonder about who they are and how they think. I can’t help but assign certain character qualities and ideologies to them even though we haven’t talked for more than 20 minutes.
Sometimes I tell Mark what I’ve learned about Brooke simply by looking through her cookbooks and noticing the recipes she has highlighted. Or how I just know that Matt would be the perfect BFF for Mark based on his extensive Calvin and Hobbes collection.
They are not materialistic in any sense of the word. Most of their furniture, if not all, is second hand, yet they’ve styled their place in a chic-bohemian way that feels vintage rather than “old”. They love to travel. Their bedroom is decorated with topographical maps of the Boundary Waters and El Salvador. Dinner is always an experiment. They have spices I’ve never heard of and look like they can only be found in ethnic specialty stores. They are altruistic. The art on the walls consists of black and white photos of African children with helping hands surrounding them.
After I tell Mark something that I’ve deduced about Matt and Brooke, he looks at me and asks “can you really assume that about them based on that?” Most of the time, I think I can. Maybe I’m giving my observational skills a little too much credit, but I truly believe you can glean a lot about a person based on the space they live in.
From what I’ve learned thus far, I admire these two people in many ways. Chiefly, I respect their faith.
While perusing their library, my eyes kept coming back to a book entitled “Practicing the Way of Jesus – Life Together in the Kingdom of Love” by Mark Scandrette. I’m not sure what caused me to pick this book in particular. I wanted something faith based because, to be honest, being a first time mom has not allowed for much quiet time with the Lord. Or maybe that’s just my excuse.
I briefly scanned the pages of this novel and realized that either Matt or Brooke had made lots of notes in the margins and underlined certain passages. My curiosity was peaked and I sat down to read.
In short, the book is presenting a radical way of “practicing” faith. The author writes about a Jesus dojo where instead of thinking of religion as a lecture hall with a professor, people of faith would practice religion in a kind of “karate” studio. He describes this as a space for followers to wrestle with how to apply the teachings of Jesus to everyday life through shared actions and practices.
One example of an action the author has taken is through an organization he helped start called Have2Help1. Members of the group actually give away half of their possessions in response to the verse “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same” (Luke 3:11).
I read this and my mind came back to the couple we are living vicariously through this summer. This seems to be not only how Matt and Brooke think, but also how they live.
At this point you may be skeptically squinting your eyes and thinking…”Can you really assume that based on that?”
Sure, I don’t know if they live in this small space because they could afford something twice its size but choose not to. I don’t know if all the second-hand items are part of their decor because they would rather give money away than buy a brand new couch. And I don’t know if all the words about erasing the divide between the rich and the poor are underlined because they actively try to or they just think it’s a nice idea.
But, even though I don’t know, I feel it. This is their kind of faith. Action based. Passionate. Focused.
It’s also interesting how the Lord places you in environments that test you. And attracts your attention to books that convict you.
I get the feeling He wants us to don our Karategis, strap on our belts, and start training.
Thank you sensei Jesus for this lesson.
Kerri Walsh is officially the coolest mom ever.
I can just see her attending a mommy meet-up group for the first time. The other moms go around bragging about the athletic feats they accomplished while preggo…
“I went water skiing when I was four months pregnant.”
“Oh yeah? Well I went snowboarding at six months.”
“That’s nothing. I climbed Kilimanjaro at 14 weeks.”
Six-foot-two Kerri quietly sits in the corner with her three tall, athletic children. She raises her eyebrows and nods in recognition after each woman shares her achievement.
Just before they move onto the next topic of conversation, the moms glance Kerri’s direction, waiting for her input.
Casually, she shrugs her shoulders and says, “I won my third gold medal in the Olympic games when I was pregnant.”
“Actually, I did it in a bikini.”
Coolest mom ever.