"If the God you believe in as an idea doesn’t start showing up in what happens to you in your own life, you have as much cause for concern as if the God you don’t believe in as an idea does start showing up. It is absolutely crucial, therefore, to keep in constant touch with what is going on in your own life’s story and to pay close attention to what is going on in the stories of others’ lives. If God is present anywhere, it is in those stories that God is present. If God is not present in those stories, then they are scarcely worth telling." ~ Frederick Buechner

24 May 2013

A Hooky Update

Here's a peek at a few of the hooky things that have been keeping my hands busy over the past month.
A Mommy & Me set ordered by a sweet grandma for her daughter and only granddaughter
A custom-made hat for a special five-year old who loves unicorns and purple. Thanks for the referral, Anna!
A custom-made purse for Rachel, whose dog chewed through the straps of her old purse :(
And a sneak peek at a special baby blanket I'm whipping up as quickly as I can for a friend who is past her due date with her third little one:
I'll post a picture of the finished product soon! 

And finally, because we're talking about fun, yarny things today, I got this box of goodies a month or so ago from fellow crocheter and sister in Christ:
 At the time, I was experiencing a season of discouragement about a few things in my life, and that box from a precious new friend who I have yet to meet face-to-face, along with winning a crocheting book randomly in a contest I didn't even remember entering, was a reminder to:
Because really, I am already immensely blessed. And you just never know when you'll be surprised with extra blessings right around the corner from people you would never even expect them from.

***If you'd like to see more of my work, please visit me at Hannah Plays Hooky.***

22 May 2013

Art Matters

I have no excuse for my absence on here. Life has just gotten quite busy lately (which really makes no sense, because all my usual activities have stopped for the summer, for the most part). With the warmer weather come more opportunities to do things outside, so Little B and I have been keeping ourselves occupied.

I still plan on sharing more photos from my parents' visit here from Africa (via South Korea), but not today.

You see, this past weekend, the art pastor at our church preached an incredible sermon on the value and importance of art, of the creative process, of producing works of excellence ... because our God is a Creator God. He quoted from C.S. Lewis, showed a clip from Pixar's "Up," referenced composers and painters who are world-renown. I was brought to tears twice, and although I am quite the weeper, I don't often cry in church during the sermon. In fact, I don't remember tearing up in church much at all in the past six years.

If you have a half hour or so to spare, please go and have a listen. It will be worth your time.

That said, I wanted to share the following photos with you, taken a little over a month ago. I was inspired by my college roommate, who does gracious living amazingly well, especially with two little boys.
A little hesitant at first, because this was the first time he has painted anywhere other than at the table.
Those are several sheets of packing paper (from our move to Texas), taped together. :)
Getting into the spirit of things...
"Painting self!"
The paper has been forgotten.
Woohoo! What fun!
Cleaning up after himself, singing, "Keen up, keen up..."
I'm not one of those parents who stashes away every little thing that their kid(s) have ever created, so after having that large "painting" hanging around our kitchen for a few days, it was thrown away. And obviously, the "art" on his body was washed away promptly. But I'm glad for these opportunities for my little boy to make art with enthusiasm and without any reserve.

10 May 2013

The Grass is Always Greener

I've been a bit taken aback in these couple weeks leading up to Mother's Day at the absolute negativity surrounding what should be a day of celebration. When did Mother's Day become an opportunity for political statements, for polarization, for "us" versus "them"? I found myself growing increasingly frustrated as the days went by and blog posts and videos circulated virally (as they have a tendency to do in this age of instant information sharing) promoting churches abandoning Mother's Day services to preserve the feelings of those without children, and some of us who are mothers are left feeling as though we ought to apologize for our lives.

Feeling left out is an unfortunate human condition, isn't it? It starts early on, from the minute children begin to understand socialization and relational structures. It is mind-boggling to most of us adults when we hear a cute little five-year-old in pigtails say, "You're not invited to my birthday party!" to another equally adorable child, without fully comprehending the hurt that her impulsive words could cause. We teach children to share their toys, to take turns, to be kind to everyone, because really, the world would be a better place if we all practiced those lessons each day.

The thing is, at the core of it, I don't think this whole Mother's Day issue is about feeling left out as it is so much our general of lack of contentment in our circumstances.

The grass is always greener, isn't it?

We live in a society that promotes the errant concept that equality means exactly the same, and somehow, combined with the philosophy of independence and individuality, we feel entitled to what everyone else has as well as to what we've already got.

People. This is not reality.

Yes, we are all created equally by the Lord, but we are not made exactly the same. And part of what that means is that we have different roles to play, different jobs to do. None of them are better or worse than another.

They're just different.

One of the most beautiful aspects of more traditional churches is that some of them celebrate missionaries heading overseas through "commissioning services," sending forth those brothers and sisters in Christ covered with prayer and celebration.

I see Mother's Day in sort of the same light. It is a day when we celebrate God's commission to mothers, to raise up our little ones to walk in His ways, to equip them and train them to serve Him.
Because you know what?

For those of us who are in the throes of parenting rambunctious toddlers, this is a day when we feel a little bit extra-appreciated, because honestly, on many days, we walk around feeling like cranky, sleep-deprived zombies on the inside, amazed at the grace of God that we are able to (for the most part) look, sound, and function like normal people from the outside.

For mamas of teenagers, it is a day to be reminded that the Lord has His hand over their often-wayward children, that they are not alone in doing His work.

For my husband's birth mother who courageously chose to give birth to him at fourteen when it would have been "easier" to abort him, this is a day of triumph.

For my friend who just recently lost her baby, this is a day of remembrance and to hold her beautiful little girl closer.

The truth of the matter is, we all have discontentment in our hearts. We all have sorrows and grief of spoken and unspoken expectations that have gone unfulfilled in life.

But instead of condemning Mother's Day because of our own baggage, can we celebrate God's sovereignty together, trusting in His goodness and love? Can we bring our struggles and leave them at the foot of His throne, believing that He knows our innermost desires and dreams?

And can we celebrate life? Because really, we all got here because someone gave birth to us.
And whether or not we were a "mistake" in human eyes, NOT ONE OF US are a mistake in God's eyes.

Ultimately, Mother's Day is a celebration of God's work in this world.

So Happy Mother's Day, friends. May it be one of forgiveness, healing, love, and joy.

07 May 2013

Poor: A Compassion Post

This past month flew by, and I don't even really know how that happened. It felt like I blinked and the calendar was flipped to May.

When I went to update my 2013 Book List yesterday I realized I read all of three books in April.


The last one doesn't even really count because I've been reading it for the past few months.

*Hanging head in English-teacher shame*

Ah, well. There were many, many good things in April, which is mostly why it flew by so quickly. You know how, when you're anticipating something, it takes forever to arrive and then, when it's over, you think, "Did that really happen?"

I remember feeling that way about theater productions. You work so hard for a few shows, and then there's that surreal feeling, where you can't quite believe that it's all over.

Same with vacations, I think. Not that I would know. We haven't had a real vacation in ... never mind.

All that to say, I didn't blog much either, which my sweet, ever-lovin' husband reminded me of several times.

He just might be my biggest fan. And most loyal reader. I guess the two go hand-in-hand.

Anyway, I have been riddled with guilt that I missed last month's Compassion post, so when this month's assignment appeared in my inbox yesterday, I was bound and determined to get 'er done.

Then I read the details: "This month, your writing assignment is to write from the perspective of a mother living in extreme poverty and raising a child in the developing world.
  • What challenges would you face?
  • What would you think about in the morning or at night?
  • What is at the heart of motherhood?
Don't be intimidated by this, especially the guys out there or you ladies who aren't moms. And don't be limited by the few bullets I've included here. You're welcome to take liberties with the assignment as you dig into the connection between motherhood and poverty."

I don't know, guys. I grew up in a developing nation, one of the poorest and most corrupt in the world. I witnessed the extreme injustice and heartbreak of poverty nearly every day. And now that I'm a mom, it makes my stomach turn to think of going to bed each night wondering how on earth I was going to make it another day, to wonder what I was going to feed my children, to know that I would have to leave my five-year-old in charge of my infant so that I could go to work and earn a measly income just so I could buy tasteless grain to make into watery gruel for my babies. 

I've mentioned before that my husband really dislikes pinto beans and all but refuses to eat them. He was adopted by his maternal grandparents, both of whom were disabled, so they were poor. Not extremely poor, but poor. Often, all they had to eat was rice and pinto beans. 

My dad grew up in a poor little mountain village in Korea, the second of four children. When he and his siblings were able to go to school, there wasn't enough food sometimes for all the children to have lunch. When they did, the kids knew that their mother wouldn't be eating that day. So the youngest, my uncle, would secretly leave his lunch behind so my grandmother would have something to eat. To this day, there are certain foods, like turnips, that my dad dislikes, because it reminds him of that time. 

I don't like to think of these things because these are men I love, cherish, and respect. I hate that they grew up wanting. Not to mention the lump-in-the-throat and red-eyes-from-crying business, because I'm a supreme cry-er. 
People joke about crying at commercials. I'm that person.

As a writer, I probably could challenge myself to write that creative piece. But my heart isn't up to it. Not knowing what I know and having seen what I've seen. For me, this isn't something you just fabricate stories about, especially if you are someone who hasn't ever seen or experienced firsthand what it's like. 

But I wanted to write something, because I want to be a part of God making a difference in this world. I want people, especially those of us who live in relative comfort, to remember that there are mamas out there who mix spit and dirt to make mud paste to feed their children. There are mamas who make the heart-wrenching choice to mutilate their children so they will look more pathetic as they beg on the corners of the streets, or worse still, believe that death is the only possible escape from their misery. There are mamas who sleep huddled under a sheet of aluminum propped up on rickety sticks -- no walls -- their bodies providing the only warmth they have for their children.

Will you help spread the word? Will you help these babies today? Can you step out in generosity and faith to give just a one-time donation in honor of Mother's Day to partner with the beautiful, incredible work that Compassion is doing in these communities to bring hope to families, to rescue children from the vicious cycle of extreme poverty?
*All photos on this post are from Compassion International.

04 May 2013

May the Fourth

I'm very sorry for the long absence here. It has been a very busy few weeks, the highlight of which was that my parents came to visit from overseas! 

More on that later. I have something of much more significance to share with you today.

Not really. 

But it is pertinent to this day only.

This morning, as N was getting dressed, he said, quite matter-of-factly,  "Today is May the fourth."
Me: "Yep. Tomorrow is Children's Day in Korea."
N, smiling hugely: "Today is May the fourth!"
Me, trying to figure out what is significant about today and whose birthday I've missed: "Yes..."
N, sticking out his chest: "Today is May the fourth!"

Then I notice he's wearing one of his Star Wars shirts and Rebel Alliance belt buckle.

Thanks to "Aunt Juh-nette!" for the Star Wars hoodie!

May the Force be with you today.

*A shout-out to N's Uncle George for igniting his interest in Star Wars.