Archives for January 2016

Roots and Sky: A Book Giveaway

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***This giveaway is now closed. Thanks to all who left a comment here, there, and everywhere:) Kate Rice is the winner of Christie’s book, Roots and Sky!***

“…home is the ground we measure with our own two feet. And home is the place that measures us. Home is the place that names us and the place we, in turn, name. It feeds us, body and soul, and if we are living well, we feed it too. Home is the place we cultivate with our love.” ~Christie Purifoy, Roots and Sky

For years, I’ve circled around the idea of what it means to be “home”. What it means to belong to a place, to people, to a chosen life. Like a dog with a bone, I have scratched at it, sniffed it out, chewed on it, buried, and dug it up for consumption over and over again. And for years, I’ve come away with more questions than answers, more head knowledge perhaps, but with a nagging sense in my heart that I haven’t quite figured it out. Home is something I want to understand at the soul level, so you can imagine my delight and anticipation when I arrived home in New Jersey, after an extended stay in England, to find Christie Purifoy’s book Roots and Sky: A Journey Home in Four Seasons waiting for me.

In her book, Christie recounts the first four seasons she and her family spent living in Maplehurst, a well-loved Victorian farmhouse without the pleasure or pain of a farm. Christie writes of home and rootedness in a way that is fresh and poetic and gentle. She writes of the everyday, ordinary circumstances through which God used this home to help her discover where she belongs, and in turn to grow deeper in her belonging to him.

I came away from her words feeling understood, feeling as if I’d met a kindred spirit across the page, which doesn’t happen often when I read memoir. I felt as if Christie gathered up all of the questions and longing I’ve held for a true place of belonging, and placed them in her love letter to Maplehurst. I feel confident her answers will help me discover my own.

Christie’s words act like an anchor, tying me to the place I belong today, right now, and helping me see that every question doesn’t need an answer. Only an open heart to receive it, should one come along. Over the past few weeks, just as she geared up to release her book into the world, Christie’s brother-in-law was in a fatal military accident, leaving behind a wife (Christie’s sister) and four young children. Christie knows something of grief. She knows something of releasing. And this gives even more weight to her words, layering them with profound truths only those who’ve known such grief can understand.

“This is not my first spring, and here is something I know: the day when daffodils emerge is not the day for hope. The day when seedlings show the bright green of new life is not the day for faith. That day came and went. Hope is for the dark days.” ~Christie Purifoy, Roots and Sky

These words remain as true as ever. For Christie, for her family, for you, and for me. Hope is for the dark days. Hope will guide us home.

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I have one copy of Roots and Sky to give away! If you’d like to enter to win Christie’s new book, drop me a line in the comments section here, on Instagram or on my Facebook page (if you’re feeling extra sweet, you could like/follow my page while you’re there). I’ll enter a name to win with my totally un-scientific method of pulling it out of a hat. You have until Tuesday 2/2 (release day!) If you can’t wait, and really, you shouldn’t, purchase a copy of your own. And one for your best friend. Your sister. Your mother. They will thank you.

One Word 2016: Restore

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Over the past few years, rather than making resolutions I will never keep, I choose a single word to guide me through the next twelve months. Sometimes it works, and I return to my word time and time again like a touchstone, a place where my inner and outer self join hands together. And sometimes, I forget my word altogether and flim-flam my way through the months without so much as a glance back.

I have a watercolor painting of the word “Embrace” hanging on my wall–a handcrafted gift for my fortieth birthday last March, from my Martha Stewart sister-in-law. It sounds soft doesn’t it? Gentle. Embrace sounds like a word you want to pursue, like a warm hug from a friend who knows how to give them. Well, it isn’t. I found I wanted to brace myself against my swiftly turning world in 2015, rather than actively embracing it. It spun in directions I hadn’t anticipated–unexpected challenges with my kids, a new job I hadn’t planned for, my husband’s even newer job, which brought with it a hellish commute and much longer hours, and most painful of all–a pause button pressed down hard on my writing.

My word for 2015 didn’t come with how-to directions. Embracing every hard and imperfect gift was not a part of my plan. When I found myself bracing for another shift in the winds, I remembered my word. I tried to loosen my white-knuckle grip and open my arms to it, if only begrudgingly and if only a little.

It has taken a month for me to work my way into a new word for this year. I was hoping it would be something delicious. A word without a difficult verb hidden in the middle, a word with which I could sing myself to sleep. Something like “hope” or “dream” or “truth” or “beauty”.

But as I turned these words over like rocks, examining their undersides, I found that none of them were meant for me. None were my ebenezer for the year to come. Instead, the word “Restore” continued to turn up and waited patiently for me to acknowledge it. I waited for a month before I finally claimed it as my own.

I imagine I’m not alone in saying I have lost a few things while walking the path to maturity and adulthood. Some are burdens I was meant to leave behind, but others were not. Wonder, joy, mystery, peace, and delight have fallen away to make room for worry, weariness, frustration, and busy. There are other things too, desires that have died like shriveled fruit on a vine. I believe this will be a year of restoration and life for at least some of them.

Restore, as a guide, may be a double-edged sword, but I feel ready now. I have spent a year embracing sharp-edges. This year, like all years, will be no different in that it will have both adventures and challenges. I’m ready to receive it.

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Do you have a word for the year? How well did you receive it?

Telling The Truth in 2016

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Hello, Friends! It’s been a while.

I took an unexpected break from blogging over the holidays, and decided to extend it through my grad school residency in England. I have so much to unpack mentally, so much gathered over the last year and the last few weeks, I don’t know where to begin. Writing has become the best way for me to process my life and, ironically, my time away at school didn’t allow for much reflection or writing, apart from specific class assignments.

One of the pieces we worked on during our workshop, was to write a self-portrait in disguise, and in the second draft, introduce a swerve, something that changes the direction of the piece. I chose to disguise myself as a midwife, and then remove her sense of sight. It was weird and wonderful, and reminded me how much a sense of play and experimentation is important in writing, but also in life.

Emily Dickinson said to “Tell all the truth but tell it slant…The Truth must dazzle gradually, Or every man be blind.” This is how I want to live into the next year. I want to see the world, and express the truth I find there from a slant view.

I often live blind to everything but the most obvious.

I want to live into what lies beneath the surface. What is the Truth that dazzles? How can I recognize it, and tell it in such a way that it doesn’t blind us in the telling?

Telling all the truth, but telling it slant requires us to step outside of ourselves. To see the world in ways we haven’t seen it before, to taste it differently, to hear the sounds we usually ignore, to feel the emotions we’d rather bury. To play.

This past year has been all about utility, getting by, doing what needs to be done when it needs doing, practicality. This next year, I want to restore a sense of wonder and play and sight. How about you?