Posted in Being real, Thoughts

Quenching the wildfires

Hello all,

This week, my heart is burning for people that live in Northern California, some I know by name. The wildfires there are just plain crazy/scary & so many families have been uprooted. So much loss, so much fear, so much worry as the fires keep raging.

My heart is heavy as I think of you who live in the state I used to call home. Some of you share DNA with me and hearing of your distress causes me physical pain. So, you beautiful families of Northern California: I am praying for the fires to be extinguished, for you to be comfortable & safe while exiled from your homes, and for God to move hearts to give compassionately to your collective and specific needs. May you all be satisfied with every good thing in this horrible time. May you all have rest and deep peace. I am so sorry that this has happened. And it weighs on me, so I had to do something. Even if my “something” is just a prayer and a blog post.

What did Mother Teresa say? “Small things done with great love will change the world”? May so many small things done in great love change the wildfires’ waves of destruction in California.

God, please go and sit with people and meet their needs in their distress. We are waiting for You and we desperately depend on You. Come and help us! Amen

 

Advertisements
Posted in Being real, Joy: 2017 Word Meditation, Media Mondays, Thoughts

Joy & Sorrow: kindred spirits

Hey all, remember Media Mondays? (dusts them off) Yeah, me too.

I’ve previously mentioned my affinity for Ann Voskamp’s words (and heart and life). And this weekend, I read a blog post on her website and started weeping. That’s right, straight up ugly crying. So, for this Media Monday, I’ll leave you with this piece of my heart:

Joy can still be found in brokenness.

To be honest, I don’t really understand why I had such an intense emotional reaction to Katie Davis Majors’ words. I deeply resonated with her book Kisses from Katie when I read it many years ago. And I had no idea that she and Ann Voskamp were connected.* But something is stirring within me as I keep living on this busted, broken planet full of busted, broken humans (of which I am one). We get it so wrong. We fall so short of God’s hopes for us. And yet…there is still very real joy to be had.

For the most part, I’d say emotions are a pendulum which swings between two polar opposites: sorrow and joy. But no. Sorrow and joy can occupy the same space. They are not extremes that come nowhere near each other. To be deeply, profoundly affected by sorrow can mean I experience real, tangible joy. Because the Author of my life is near those who are brokenhearted. And He really is.

What?!

At house church this weekend, some dear friends related their week as they engaged with a beloved family member going home. Really going home, to the Lord. And I was reminded that there is more than we see. There is so much going on behind the scenes, in the reality that is unseen, and that God is there too.

And I imagined myself, at the end of my life, turning to see Jesus literally come to meet me. And that thought wrecked me.

Right now, we see in part, but then…we will see REALLY. What I experience now on this planet is a shadow in comparison to what is to come. I forget that, cause these shadows have weight; they can hurt me, they aren’t wispy and light. But there is more. And I am not alone.

And if I’m willing to live in the place sorrow lives, sorrow will not be all I experience. Cause joy lives there too. And God is close to the brokenhearted. God is willing to be wounded to sit with those who are hurting. Wow. That is just echoing in my brain and I’m truly hearing it. If I claim to love Him and want to be like Him, I will sit in my sorrow and not run away. I will stay through the tough stuff, I will let the arrows & slings of His enemy come, because He is right beside me and there is true joy to be had, right here, right now.

Bring it on.

 

 

 

*I am thrilled Katie has written another book. And I am equally thrilled that two women I profoundly respect for their reckless abandon to Jesus are friends. I want Ann Voskamp, Katie Davis Majors, Sara Groves and Audrey Assad to all come over to my house for the realest, most raw worship session ever. 🙂 Hey, a girl can dream. 🙂

Posted in Crafty madness!, Homesteading, Joy: 2017 Word Meditation

On the home-front

I recently had some off time that was lavished on the home-front. Now, I’m just as excited as anyone to take vacations to exciting places, don’t get me wrong. But how often do we truly have energy & time to spend within the walls of the places we call home? With work at the bookstore and other “less professional” jobs keeping me busy outside the home-front, time slips away from me and my home becomes “that place I sleep sometimes.” How sad to pay a mortgage or rent on a space you don’t enjoy or even use for the majority of your waking hours!

The to-do list for home-front related chores is often steep and overwhelming. I picked at a couple nagging ones this week:

Exhibit A: a draft blocker for our housemate’s room, cheerily created from the legs of some jeans I cut off into shorts this year!

 

Exhibit B: a custom pincushion from a hand-embroidered hankie my Aunt Greer made me, I am so pleased with how this turned out!

 

Exhibit C: an autumnal wreath to replace the springy one I made earlier this year, cause it’s Fall now! (squee!!!!)

 

I also “Marie Kondo”ed my dresser drawers, which was fun. Never heard of Marie Kondo? OH MAN, she is the absolute guru of minimalist thinking. I read her book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up in 2015 and it only gave me more impetus toward reducing how much stuff I surround myself with on a daily basis. I am nowhere near “done” in this area of my life, but I have enjoyed owning less and redefining the word “necessary”.

Anywho, I also had the great pleasure of hosting a sewing circle in my home yesterday. More details on that to come later, for sure. I’m a beginner sewer (is that a word?), but I have greatly enjoyed taking classes at Treadle Yard Goods here in the Twin Cities. I also benefit in the amazing local support, encouragement & instruction from my friend Amanda who makes her own clothes (among other impressive feats). And as I surround myself with people who are comfortable playing with fabric, I have become less harsh on myself. Instead of getting anxious about messing things up, I’m learning to treat sewing like playtime. If I mess up a project, it’s just part of learning this skill.*

I greatly enjoyed my stay-cation. It was full of my home, among many other things, and I didn’t realize how lucky I am to have such a beautiful space within which to be. It is so lovely to invite others into a space you intentionally design and set apart to welcome others. It’s so lovely to get those proverbial ducks in a row. And to quote Charlotte Lucas in the P&P version most true Austenites shun for its departure from the text, “{Oh Lizzy} it is SUCH a pleasure to run my own home.” Well said, Charlotte. It is a pleasure indeed.

 

 

 

 

 

*big breaths everyone and maybe don’t throw the bobbin at the wall when it snags the underside of your project to oblivion…

Posted in Culinary adventures, Homesteading

Autumn Bounty

As summer harvest winds down here in Minnesota, the old Brookes homestead still has a few treasures in the backyard garden.

IMG_7952
Hello, Gorgeous!

Back in May this year, some friends & I were wandering around the Minnesota State Fairgrounds at a truly stunning plant sale when I stumbled across purple carrot seeds. Firstly, I had no idea purple carrots were a thing. Secondly, I’d never tried to grow carrots before. But they were dirt cheap (pun intended) and I figured, “why not!”

I’m sure carrots take their flavor from the soil they grow in, so as I continue cultivating these delightful root veggies I’ll be intrigued to discover flavor differences as our soil becomes more organic & healthy. For now, these carrots are squat, little, sassy-tasting beauties. And I am really unnecessarily proud of how gorgeous they are. All I did was poke some seeds in some dirt, water them every once in a while and wait for like 3 months. It’s not like I invented the carrot and caused them to grow.

But lookit how pretty!

 

And since I had such a large crop of carrots, I decided to dust off one of my favorite Fall recipes from The Soup Bible*:

Spicy Carrot Soup with Garlic Croutons (serves 6) vegan friendly!

Soup ingredients:

  • 1 Tbls. olive oil
  • 1 lg. onion, chopped
  • 4 c. carrots, sliced
  • 1 tsp. each ground coriander, ground cumin, and cayenne pepper
  • 4 c. vegetable stock
  • salt & black pepper to taste, sprigs of fresh cilantro to garnish (if you garnish soups)

For the croutons:

  • 1-2 Tbls. olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed (I double this as I’m making the croutons cause GARLIC)
  • 4 slices bread, crusts removed, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

Directions:

Heat the oil on medium heat in a large soup pot. Add the onion and carrots. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the ground spices and cook 1 minute longer, stirring. Add stock and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes until the carrots are tender. Meanwhile, make the garlic croutons. Heat oil on medium in a skillet. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, stirring. Add bread cubes, turn them frequently in the oil and fry for a few minutes until crisp and golden brown all over. Pat dry on towels. Puree the soup in a blender, food processor or with an immersion blender. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Return to soup pot (if needed) to reheat. Serve hot, sprinkled with croutons and garnish with cilantro (if you garnish stuff).

IMG_7959-1
Hello Autumn in a pot!

 

Such a joy to be part of the food process from start to finish. Who knew that growing my own food would be so satisfying! What are you growing in your garden? Anything you grow that has become a staple you just can’t live without now? Also, let me know if you try this soup recipe!

 

 

 

 

*I got my copy of The Soup Bible at Half Price Books for $2 in the clearance section. I have made over 10 soup recipes from it and each one has been super tasty. There are many very affordable recipes and a lot of great, wholesome flavor combos. I highly recommend this cookbook.

Posted in Culinary adventures, Homesteading, Word Study: "Joy"

Salsaaaaaaaaaaaaah!

One of the glories of having a small patch of garden is reaping the harvest. And after planting 16 varieties of hot and sweet peppers in May, we have been enjoying the fruits of our labors.

 

IMG_7908
This was yield 1 of 50 bajillion. 🙂

So I did Nayt’s favorite thing and made some salsa.

 

It turned out SPICY. So spicy that Nayt has been using it on our homemade Chipotle-style rice bowls WITHOUT adding hot sauce. I’m calling that a victory. 🙂 Such a simple joy to make a treat for the hubs (and me! I eat salsa!) from things I’ve GROWN. Simple yet profoundly satisfying.

 

IMG_7918
Thanks garden peppers! You are very tasty!

As I was lovingly staring at the broccoli/cabbage/kale/carrot bed, I noticed a small li’l cabbage is ready for picking. And I have plans for that cabbage. (Rubs hands together with glee.) Stay tuned to learn what happens to the li’l guy! 😉

Homesteader out!

Posted in Being real, self-care, Thoughts

The land of the living

Hi.

Been awhile, I know. One way to lose all your readers is to casually disappear. Good thing I’m not blogging “for the views”.  🙂

It’s been a summer, y’all. Actually, to be real honest, it’s been a heck of a year. But for the first time in awhile, I’m beginning to have a little hope things could change over here at the Brookes’ homestead. We’ve jumped over a couple really scary-looking what-if fences, and are on the other side with scraped legs…but we’re okay.

Nayt is now doing contract work at Code42 in downtown Minneapolis, which has many perks: proximity to home cuts his cycling commute WAY down, he has a fantastic view from his cubicle and access (once again) to a myriad of free snacks. It’s like tech companies know IT staff are super food-motivated or something.  😉  Nayt has access to all the iced tea and gummy bears he could ever long for. And after 1pm, Code42 actually lets you drink beer on the job. Yeah. Jealous much?

I’m still plugging away at Half Price Books in Roseville. We’re amping up for the Holiday season. For those of you not hip to the retail-scene, thinking “what!? it’s AUGUST!” yeah, we get ready for Holiday* in August. We already have Christmas cards in stock. And get this, people have actually bought some. This week, I imagined an alternate reality where I didn’t work in retail during Holiday. There were 15 seconds where my brain’s tires spun out. I’ve done retail for the past 4 years and the concept of experiencing the Christmas season when it actually starts was like, “wait…what?”

Otherwise, summer feels like it ended about two weeks ago. Minneapolis has been having a very balmy August. It’s been rainy and chilly…so…wonderful. Case end point: I started wearing sweaters. This Fall-baby is in love. I’m drinking my Novembre Te from Sweden, so it’s official, I declare Fall is here**.  I fully expect leaves to turn and pumpkins to magic their way to my front stoop at any moment. #AccioAutumn

As I type this, I have sleeping kitties on my lap and the back of my chair, Hem’s album “Rabbit Songs” is quietly making Nayt’s office into a calm oasis of sound and I am content. I can just be. Moments of utter freedom to be who you are becoming; truly the definition of home.

To be frank, these past 60+ days, I haven’t really felt like I wanted to live my life. I’ve been coasting, just going through the motions and escaping reality. For a long chapter, I’ve disengaged to protect myself; a friend even labeled me “poky”, like a hedgehog all rolled up. Because I’m a mature adult, I had been giving God the silent treatment. But last week, the prayers of all the saints in my life broke through the wall I had wrapped around myself. And God gave me some completely undeserved and real, actual, tangible happiness. So I started talking to Him again…because I’m a toddler and need to be reminded 1500 times/day that my Papa still loves me and is taking care of me.

Naturally, being on speaking terms with the author of my personhood & life has made a radical change in my daily experiences. Circumstances aren’t much different, but I feel like I am willing to take up my cross. Just last week, I was focused on the weight of it on my back and the splinters on my hands. But miraculously, I had a moment where I looked ahead on the path. I saw Jesus standing there with outstretched arms and a smile on His face. I can see Him now and He’s beckoning me to come after Him. What’s crazy is I really believe He means it when He tells me it’ll be worth it.

Faith makes no sense.

So, I am back in the land of the living, all. I’m sorry I forgot to rely on the God I love. I’m sorry I forgot to trust Him with the deepest needs of my heart. I had been looking for those to be met in the wrong places. It wasn’t working. Putting Him first is working. (Imagine that!) CLEARLY, I have the attention span of a 3-year-old. I want to be obedient to Him and just am not so often. To my prayer warriors, thank you and please keep praying for me!

Much love,

Jes

 

 

 

*”Holiday” is the hip merchandize-y word for the season during which customers request and are supplied with a myriad of choices to celebrate American commercial Christmas. Other lesser known holidays sometimes get small sections of merch as well: Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Kwanza, Christianity’s version of Christmas and if the store is REALLY niche, the Winter Solstace.

**Outside of the Twin Cities, Fall may not be currently available. Please check with your local stores to see if Autumn is “in stock”.

 

Posted in Media Mondays, Thoughts

The Worlds of Studio Ghibli

Way back in 2006, Nayt introduced his new girlfriend to the world of anime. And his selection for my first toe-dip into that pool was Spirited Away. It was a good choice, one I’ve seen many times since. Studio Ghibli films are now part of our personal cannon. Have you heard of Studio Ghibli*? If not, they are a Japanese animation studio. And before you dismiss foreign films for straining your eyes as you read the subtitles, calm down.  🙂  Disney has provided the American audience with many English-dubbed versions of the original Japanese films.

In general, I’m a huge fan of entertainment aimed at children when it is done well, with intention and the understanding that children are capable to grasp complex truths. The first time I saw My Neighbor Totoro, I was thrilled that the plot focused on the emotional conflict of the children. American children’s films and books don’t often focus on emotional resolution. Our books and movies focus on circumstance and action. As a highly emotional person, I think this is why I have loved each Studio Ghibli film I’ve seen.

And once I find an author or movie I like, I tend to obsess a bit. My job at Half Price Books only adds fodder to the fangirl fire. So, thanks to some amazing customers parting with their collections of Studio Ghibli films, this month I’ve been able to watch a few titles I’d not seen before: Pom Poko, Grave of the Fireflies and From Up on Poppy Hill. Each are wonderful in their own way. Pom Poko is hilarious and full of adorable animals. Grave of the Fireflies is visually stunning as it rips your heart open. From Up on Poppy Hill is engaging and honest and beautiful. Each of these films deal with real, hard truths: ecology, loyalty, pacifism, death, grief, love, work. I am thrilled movies like these exist with children as the intended audience.

Jes loves to find layers**. Motivation and complex truth intrigue me. Studio Ghibli films tell more than just stories. They are telling good stories. I like being reminded that ecology and loyalty and pacifism and death and grief and love and work are important. I like expecting to be entertained and unearthing truth.

I have seen 15 of the 20 films released to date: Castle in the Sky, Grave of the Fireflies, My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Only Yesterday, Pom Poko, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, The Cat Returns, Howl’s Moving Castle, Tales from Earthsea, Ponyo, The Secret World of Arrietty, From Up on Poppy Hill, and The Wind Rises. If I absolutely had to pick one movie from the 15 I’ve seen so far to claim “my favorite”, I would stammer for awhile and then admit it’s a 3-way tie between Totoro, Howl’s Moving Castle and Arrietty.  🙂

Have you seen any Studio Ghibli films? Which are your favorites?

 

 

 

 

*note, you’ll need Google to translate their website into English if you don’t read Japanese  🙂

** Thanks Shrek for making me simultaneously want onion rings, cake and parfait at the mention of the word “layers”.

 

Posted in Media Mondays

Ghost singer

So, I have been revisiting some of my favorite musical soundtracks over the past few days as I take the metro transit to work. And I stumbled again upon the beautiful King and I music. Remembering Deborah Kerr wasn’t much of a well-known singer, I was curious who this “Marni Nixon” is that’s credited on the soundtrack. Watch THIS!

Marni Nixon was the voice of EVERYONE

I am seriously shocked by the breadth of this woman’s vocal career! She has been the singing voice of so many versatile roles I have loved in musicals! How sad that it is so many years later that she is finally allowed to speak about her work! I mean, I understand MGM wanting everything hush-hush. I can understand actresses who don’t have the singing chops to want this kind of thing kept secret, but so sad for Marni.

Her voice is beautiful and very adaptable to so many different kinds of roles! What a wonderful talent she had. I am impressed and wanted to share it with all of you who watched all these musicals too. 🙂 Enjoy!

Posted in Thoughts

“Inconceivable!”

Today I’m thinking about my Dad, a man who is equally equipped for any conversation with anything from a Princess Bride quote to deep theological questions. My Dad is someone who makes me laugh, makes me think and makes me feel loved.

When I stop for a few moments and remember things he has done in our history of being related, it’s hard not to be grateful. He enabled my discovery of myself as a kid, he has supported my dreams and taught me valuable skills so that I can be an adult. But more than this, my Dad is like a comrade in arms. I always feel as though he is my friend in the best senses of the word. Dad challenges my faith and throws wit at me like a pro. He is fun to be around and while you’re busy laughing and enjoying his company, you don’t realize that you are slowly marinating in a solid example of steadfastness, truth and love. Dad is strong. And I am grateful he is my Dad.

So, Happy Father’s Day. Could I have a better dad? “Inconceivable!”

Posted in Thoughts

Mama love

Happy Mother’s Day to all you superhero moms out there. You are daily changing the world by purposefully engaging with the children you are rearing. I feel like mothers and fathers should get medals of honor after year 1 of surviving parenthood. So much sacrifice and love goes into shaping the future generations of humanity. It’s a bit overwhelming to think about.

So, let’s make it a bit more bite-size here while I focus on the particular person I get to call Mom.

20080705_Nayt&Jes_Wedding_0655.jpg
One of my favorite pictures of my beautiful Mama circa July 2008…

It never really feels like enough to say thank you to the people who literally are credited for keeping you alive, clothed, fed and warm. When you are blessed with parents who also share lessons in how to create, explore, love, believe and experience God? Man, the debt I have is high…

So, for now, all I can say is this:

Mama, I am so lucky that God chose you to be my mom. I love you and have learned so much from you. I am honored that such a kind, creative and humble woman would choose to share her life with kids. I’m honored to be one of the people you are yourself around. I love witnessing your life and I love that my life is better because you are in it. Thank you for the labor of love you have given me over the 34.5 years I’ve been on the planet. Today, I have to settle for internet hugs. But Happy Mother’s Day!