Monthly Archives: January 2014

The Stirrings of a Heart and an African Boy

The stirrings of a heart and an African boy
Halfway around the world, there’s a 15-year-old boy who traipses across red African dirt and calls Uganda home. When grinning, his white teeth contrast against his dark skin. I’ve sponsored Nangoli Cranimer through Compassion International for nearly a decade now. It’s been almost ten years since I first clicked on his profile; ten years since I said yes to the sending of funds and the growth of a relationship across the chasm of oceans and continents.

Through pictures and letters—scrawling handwriting that has turned from a young child’s rudimentary writing into more mature penmanship—I’ve watched this African boy grow up. My husband and I have prayed for him; we’ve talked with our children about him; we’ve sent letters, pictures, pages colored by our five-year-old’s hand. And though I’ve entertained fleeting thoughts of the blessing it would be to someday meet him, to clasp hands, to look into his eyes and see the mercy of Christ staring back, I’ve never had the desire to go. Not halfway across the world … not to Africa.

The stirrings of a heart and an African boy
You don’t have to go far to hear the continent spoken of. Relief workers, rock stars, politicians, pastors, students, moms, dads … they’re all going and doing. Bringing tangible expressions of goodwill, hope and grace to a post war-torn land and the people left in its wake. But not me. No, this girl who suffered severe anxiety over the leaving of my children for one week to serve on a mission trip to Belize hasn’t ever had a desire to travel to Africa.

But then the other day I stumbled across this page and paused, just for a minute. A brief “what if?” pause. And then I read this post by author Emily Freeman, and the tears fell. She’s currently in Africa, in Uganda to be exact, with a team of bloggers. She’s treading atop red dirt and putting skin on hope; she’s clasping dark-skinned hands and watching the beautiful mystery of deep soul joy welling up in the midst of impoverished circumstances.

I brushed the tears as I read her post … tears brought on by her storytelling of an African boy doing kingdom work and an American girl soaking it all in. A boy a lot like Cranimer; a girl a lot like me.

The stirrings of a heart and an African boy
God is stirring my heart a bit. Whether it’s a stirring for Africa or simply for the release of fear and the willingness to follow where He may lead, I don’t know. Not yet, anyway. But I do know this. There are thousands of children in desperate need of a sponsor through Compassion. You don’t have to go; you don’t have to board the plane, shield your eyes from the African sun, brush the red dirt from your feet … You just have to click. Thousands are waiting to be rescued from poverty. Who will you choose?

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A Visit and a Letter to a Friend

A Visit and a Letter to a Friend | Faith and Composition
It’s an overcast day, and rain is threatening to spill over when I arrive at her house. I have three kids in tow, and we scoot through her door. Within the first five minutes of our visit there’s a baby on the floor between us, and the four older kids are down the hall transforming pillows and cushions into the fortresses that come alive inside the mind of a child. And we’re sharing tidbits of broken conversation and engaged hearts, littered by the frequent interruptions of five children aged five years and under.

Mugs in hand, we laugh at the comedy, the hardship, the privilege of motherhood. And fragmented as it is, this conversation is rich; these words are real; this friendship is tangible.

We’ve known each other for 13 years now, this friend and I. We’ve shared a collegiate experience, positions in publishing, deadline-driven nights and the stress of magazine production, but none of it compares to the bond we now share as mothers.

She’s my take-me-as-I-am, never-pass-an-ounce-of-judgment friend. The one who leaves me a  little more encouraged, a little more energized. Her artistry inspires me, and she encourages my creativity. Through the past decade we’ve seen each other through laughter and loss, job transitions and house relocations and through the magnificent and the mundane.

The rain stops, I gather my three, and we all walk outside. We chat on the porch, commenting on things like boxwood basil and gardens with pea gravel paths. The older kids run to the sidewalk and pick up sticks, as if they’re literally building the foundations of their own friendships. The sun stretches long and naps are ruined, but hearts were encouraged and laughter was shared. And really, that’s the stuff that matters in friendship: the unmasking, the filling up, the encouraging. So thankful for a visit and a friend who does just that for me. Love you, Kat!

A Visit and a Letter to a Friend | Faith and Composition
It is a goal of mine to be more intentional about writing letters this year, telling the people I care about just how much I appreciate them. I won’t always share them on this space; sometimes, in an effort to maintain a dying art, I’ll be writing real postage-required letters with ink on paper. But whenever I do pen some sentiments, I’m going to be sharing a glance at them on Instagram. If you’d like to join me (please do, I’d love to have you!), snap a pic of your letters and share on Instagram with the hashtag #letteredthoughts.  

This post was inspired by Lisa-Jo Baker and her Five-Minute Fridays. You can find more of my Five-Minute Friday posts here.

A Letter to My Husband {on his birthday}

A letter to my husband on his birthday | Faith and Composition
He turns 34 today, the man I have the privilege of calling my husband. We met at the age of 18; we were both young college freshmen who found ourselves on a campus situated hours from our respective childhood homes. He came from a small north Texas town to study business and to hash it out on the gridiron (he nearly went pro). I came from Missouri to study literature and had my sights set on law school.

We met in Spanish that first year, or so we think. Neither of us is sure of the exact moment we met, but through Spanish class and FCA, a friendship formed. Over the years, we maintained a close platonic relationship with some flirtatious moments scattered throughout. We confided in one another and chided each other with the banter that close friends share, but I never saw him as anything more. We occasionally said I love you, and it was genuine, but it wasn’t romantic. At least not then.

Fast forward eight years—through The Lord doing a work in our hearts, lifting the veil from my eyes, arousing love when it so desires—and I was standing at the altar with the man who had grown from good friend into the only one I wanted to spend my life with.

Today that man turns 34. He leads humbly and loves selflessly. He provides and protects, he pursues Christ and practices authenticity. He is a loving husband and a tender father, never hesitating to bend his large hands around the small grip of our children.

A letter to my husband on his birthday | Faith and Composition
B, I am so thankful that I get to call you mine. You love me in a way I often don’t deserve, and you love our kids with the most beautiful tangible expressions. You are the roots for my artistic heart, and you are my guidepost when inspiration takes flight. I am at rest with you, and when you’re away my heart longs for you like a homesick child longs for home. You are my cleft in the rock, my shelter from the storm.

Our life has had some ups and downs, but this journey with you is a rich blessing indeed, and there’s no one else I would want by my side. It brings me such joy to share the adventure of this family with you, and I am proud to bear the title of being your wife.

Today, as we celebrate you, know that I love you with more depth each passing day!

Happy Birthday!

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Like what you see here? Then you’ll love my first-ever children’s book, Bruce the Brave. Now available on Amazon

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Friday Freebie {John 10:10 F R E E Printable}

I have come that they may have life, free printable | Faith and Composition
Happy Friday, friends! I’m popping in today to share a pretty little F R E E printable with you. Sometimes we need to be reminded of the basic tenants of our faith; sometimes we need to be refreshed by life-giving truth. When our days are difficult and life seems empty, when we’re overwhelmed by sickness, dirty diapers, wailing children, endless meals, mountains of messes … we need to remember that Christ came so that we might have life, and have it TO.THE.FULL. If your life seems a bit empty, your tasks a bit mundane; if you feel a heaviness in your spirit or a weight around your heart, be reminded, dear friend, that Christ came so that YOU might have life to the full.

If you’d like to print this and hang it in a place that may encourage your heart, click here for the high-resolution 8×10. Otherwise, please feel free to pin it, share it, tweet it. In other words, feel free to use it in a way that may remind you of such life-giving truth.

If you do print it and display it in your home, please let me know! I’d love to see it displayed in your space! Or better yet, snap a pic and share it on your blog then come back here and share the link in the comments.

Linking this up with Lisa-Jo Baker’s FIve Minute Friday. This print is free for non-commerical, private use only. The watercolor wash is a combination of my own hand-painted creation and a few free photoshop brushes by Creature Comforts. I also created the laurel swag using a free photoshop brush by the lovely Creature Comforts. If you do share this on your own blog, please include a link here as the original source.    

To My Daughter on Your First Birthday {and our Water Birth Story}

Celebrating a first birthday and a little bit about our water birth story | Faith and Composition
You were due January 3; our surprise baby number three and the manifestation of God’s goodness. The week before your due date, your daddy, brother and sister were down with the flu, and I stormed heaven begging for you to stay nestled inside just long enough for the family to regain their wellness.

They ever-so-slowly recovered, and your due date came and went with nary an indication that you might arrive soon. Your brother had been induced 12 days post-date, your sister was induced a day early, so I didn’t know what to expect with you. We’d planned a water birth, and I longed to have you naturally, to experience the physical and emotional intensity of childbirth without medical intervention. Yet, I’d been down this road enough to know that labor (and its host of potential unforeseen factors) is a means to an end. And in the end, all I really wanted was a healthy baby swaddled snugly in my arms.

At 3:15 am on January 6, I awoke and realized my water had broken. It wasn’t much, but it was enough that labor needed to follow. Right there I begged the Lord for contractions, pleaded with Him to let labor start on its own. I’d had a similar amniotic leak with your sister, which had necessitated an induction. The thought of another induction for the same reason broke my heart. I lay down, and felt the first contraction at 3:41. Praying, I waited. Five minutes later, another tightening grip wrapped around my back and into my abdomen. Your sister woke coughing; I soothed her, then woke your daddy.

Celebrating a first birthday and a little bit about our water birth story | Faith and Composition
I wanted to labor at home as long as possible, so I drew a bath and sank into the water. It soothed and ever-so-slightly lessened the intensity of the contractions. By this time your daddy was wide awake, packing the remainder of my bag and alerting the neighbor to come watch your brother and sister.

By 4:45, just an hour after they’d started, the contractions were 4 minutes apart, lasting for a minute and were increasing with intensity. I called the midwife, and she told me to head to the hospital. Your daddy escorted me out of the tub, and in a few minutes we were in the car. The contractions were coming on strong, and I was shivering with chills.

With the hazard lights on, we sped through the inky, quiet blackness of early morning. At the hospital, I crawled out of the truck and sank into a wheelchair.

Celebrating a first birthday and a little bit about our water birth story | Faith and Composition
By 5:15 am, just minutes after arriving, we were in our room, the midwife was en route, and I was dilated to a 7. Forsaking my resolve to have you naturally, I cried out for an epidural. The nurse (that saint of a woman) smiled gently and told me they had to complete my lab work first.

“Let’s get you into the bath for now,” she urged. Looking back, I’m certain she knew that you would be greeting us long before I would ever have the chance to receive any pain relief. And once I’d slipped into that tub, nothing could have pulled me from it.

I sank into the water, and with your daddy and the nurse at each side, I gripped their hands and gasped through the excruciating pain of progressive labor. At 6:01 am, just 35 minutes later, you were born.

Celebrating a first birthday and a little bit about our water birth story | Faith and Composition
The midwife (who rushed in not a minute before you greeted us) laid your 8 pound, 13-ounce body on my tummy. You had a full head of dark hair, and you looked just like your siblings. They clamped the cord and began to rub you dry, but your skin was tinged blue, your breathing labored. My heart sank … Your sister had spent a few hours in NICU due to extra fluid in the lungs, and now it seemed that you too might have the same complication.

Shortly after delivery, they gently informed us that they would like to observe you in NICU. I watched them wheel your tiny body out, and my heart leapt out of my chest and followed along behind you. I will never know HOW the heart has the ability for such instantaneous, exponential growth, but I know that the miracle occurs with every child.

They wheeled us into our postpartum room, and within 40 minutes you were back where you belonged … bundled tightly and nestled in the crook of my arm. In all, your labor and delivery was a record total two hours and 25 minutes, a stark contrast to the 27 hours I spent laboring with your brother. You came in a frenzied hurry once you were ready to greet us, and I had the incredible opportunity of bringing you forth while immersed in water without any medical intervention.

Celebrating a first birthday and a little bit about our water birth story | Faith and CompositionCelebrating a first birthday and a little bit about our water birth story | Faith and Composition
That was a year ago today. You’re now taking timid first steps and you have squeals of laughter that echo through our home. Your first year has brought us immeasurable joy, and our family is rich and full with you in our midst. As we celebrate your first birthday, my heart overflows. Happy birthday, darling girl! We love you!

If you are interested in a water birth or have specific questions pertaining to it, please comment below, and I’ll do my best to answer your questions!