Monday, 15 August 2011

Hugging a "hoodie" and making gangs lives "hell"

We were sitting waiting for a plane back from the USA when we saw our first images fo the riots. We'd been in the USA for two weeks and the riots, by that point, had been going on for days but we hadn't seen or heard anything about it in the US news (it's true when they say people barely mention international news there), until we were waiting for our flight to London to board. There were pictures of burning buildings, riot police, kids with their hoods up smashing things in, reports of it being "uncontrollable" and talks of curfews being imposed. And there were terrified Americans queuing for their flight to London.

And now that things have calmed down, everyone is talking about WHY it happened. Newspaper articles, TV debates, BBC polls. The Times reported that Cameron is going to "make life hell" for gangs by getting police to "harass" gang members constantly until they stop their life of crime. My Dad thinks there needs to be more discipline in our society. Some friends think it is race related, some think it's class issues. Is it unemployment? Lack of education? Disenfranchisement? Breakdown of families? Poverty? Is it selfishness? A culture of greed? Materialism? And although I don't agree with all the views put across (I don't even know where to start with criticising Cameron's "harassment" policy...waste of police time, a willful misunderstanding of social and economic factors, the perpetuation of anti-police feeling in some communities and well, the clue's in the name- I'm not sure that getting civil forces to "harass" people is ever a policy), I am glad that there's some debate about the "state of the Nation" and at least some awareness of issues facing young, socially excluded people today.

I won't get into the debates right now (although there may be another post soon that does) because the view point I want to get across right now is just what's on my mind, right here and right now and besides, I'm pretty sure everyone is sick of hearing everyone harp on about it. I've been thinking a lot about a Christian response to this, a response informed by love, forgiveness, mercy and the Bible's principles of turning the other cheek and not punishing punitively. This, however, isn't a weak or a passive response. It's not burying your head in the sand or excusing violent or disorderly behaviour. It's not wishy-washy. The Bible is committed, obsessed even, with justice. And I am challenging you, challenging myself, to trying to apply that vision of justice to our society. Not just justice in terms of jail sentences, community service, fines, taking away benefits and council housing- criminal justice (although I'm not sure taking away benefits and housing IS criminal justice- or effective for that matter). I'm talking about an absolute, unflinching commitment to wholesale justice in our society- the justice that the Bible urges us to- sharing possessions, lessening the gaps between rich and poor, rebuilding communities that are ravaged by crime, poverty, drug abuse, violence, lack of opportunity and lack of hope.

The paper is full of opinions, facebook is full of people critiquing society, the police, looters, rioters, anarchists and kids. So is church. And I want to ask, do you know what it is like to live in a London estate where unemployment is the norm, where poverty is rife, where violence is out of control and frightening? Do you know why people are in gangs? Do you know anyone in a gang? Do you know why young people put their hoods up? Have you every met a young person who has been harassed by the police, unfairly, because of the colour of their skin or because of where they live? DO you know how much weekly benefits are? Do you know how much trainers are? Do you know why kids want expensive trainers? Have you been to a school where no one is interested in getting the best out of you or looking into WHY you can't control your anger? Do you know anyone whose parents are drug users? Do you know anyone who deals drugs? Do you know why kids in poor areas are bored and angry and disenfranchised? Do you know what kind of a job they would apply for if they were applying for a job?

I'm not saying that there isn't a right and a wrong. That there weren't poor, angry and disadvantaged young people that sat at home and didn't go out looting. I'm not saying that it is okay to steal or be violent or hurt people, whatever your economic background. But I am asking people, I am asking Christians to get out there and meet some kids and get to know the issues. This isn't "hug a hoodie", this isn't token "get to know a poor kid". The last thing young people need is to be a charity case or to have people walk in and walk out of their lives. But volunteer at a youth club in a poor area, sign up to their newsletter, give money to projects that work with at risk young people. But don't just read the Guardian and tweet about disadvantaged Britain and hoodies and benefits culture. Because if you don't know these kids, how will you see them change?

Because I know someone who, a few years ago, would have been out there smashing things up and pissing off the police but she stayed home. In fact, I know a few people. But not as many as I'd like and I'm challenged by that.

There is a need for debate and for policy changes and for pressuring the government and for giving money to charities and there is a need to learn from what has happened. But in the meantime, the Church is called to be family to those who don't have family, to be love to those who don't know love or who have pushed it away, to give food to kids who don't get fed, to play with those who have never been played with, to bring hope to those whose lives are hopeless and to see things change. To push for change- not just preaching, not just praying, not just tweeting and not just having an opinion. And if you don't know how, ask someone who is already doing it. Being the change we want to see in the world, being ready to sacrifice, being hopeful that the next generation can be different. I'm not there yet but I'm ready to try.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Small things, Great Love and a Leather Jacket.

My favourite, favouritest, bestest item of clothing (probably) is my leather jacket. I bought it last Christmas in the Topshop sale whilst I was home in London (before I became a vegetarian, I swear!). I've always wanted a leather jacket and it's beautiful. It was pretty expensive but it was half price in the sales and I always say it was my best buy ever, it fits me perfectly and I wear it constantly. So, even though it was expensive, it was worth it and it'll last me forever so it's okay. Right? Right.

A while back, me and my sister (who was visiting) went to the supermarket closest to my house so we could pick up some stuff to cook for dinner. We were walking in and this woman approached us, whilst a man, who was obviously with her hung back and stood round the corner. It was pretty cold but the woman just had a vest top on. She didn't look well, she was super thin and pale and shaky and well, I work with drug users and we're taught to recognise the signs of someone using drugs. So, she approached us and said that she was really cold and that she was sleeping rough that night and asked if one of us would give her our coat.

So, you guessed it, I was wearing my leather jacket.

I said no. I took off my leather jacket and I gave her the primark checked shirt I was wearing underneath it (I had a t-shirt underneath it, don't worry!). My sister and I went inside the supermarket and bought her some food and I gave her the card of a drop-in centre that could help her find a hostel and get some help. I explained that I worked for One25ltd and that she could go there to get help. I was nice, I helped her, I did enough, right? But the whole time I was talking to her, this line kept going round and round my head, "I was naked and you did not clothe me". From Matthew 25, the parable where Jesus separates the "goats" from the "sheep" and the way he separates them was by how they treated strangers. He says that when you are doing something for the stranger, you're doing it for Him- "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in. I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me."

What stopped me from giving her the leather jacket? Greed, I guess. And loving things more than I love people. I rationalised it- it's too big for her, she'll sell it for drugs money, she'll wear it for one night when she's cold and then she'll dump it somewhere, it's worthless to her but important to me and it's MY FAVOURITE JACKET and she won't know that it cost me more than I usually spend on clothes and that I love it. And it's okay for me to have good things, God isn't a God of poverty etc.

But I knew what I should have done. Jesus was standing in front of me, in the form of a cold, tired out girl with her pimp waiting for her round the corner, and I said "no".

I should have given her the jacket. I should have told her that it's my favourite thing in the world but that I know she's super precious to God and that he wants her to have the best and that she should be warm tonight. I should have given her it, even if she'd only chuck it away, because that's what we're asked to do- give extravagantly and carelessly and generously, like God does with us. Second chances and third chances and gifts that we don't need and don't deserve.

This is a small thing but it's a big thing too. It was months ago but I can't stop thinking about it. Every time I put the bloody thing on, I think about it. I know that I am forgiven for doing this but I also know that it's my mindset every day, in many ways, not just that days standing outside of that supermarket. Almost every day I choose not to recognise Jesus when He's standing in front of me.

I should have given her the jacket.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Frenemies, Punk and the J-Word

The other day, I was reading an article in The Guardian about female friendship. The (female) author was talking about how in the media, more and more, friendships between women are being portrayed as more competitive than supportive. It's true- if I see another bloody film or read another article about "frenemies", I'll go mad. Every episode of Gossip Girl is about women trying to undercut other women, double-crossing and bitching and humiliating each other so that they can be the prettiest or richest or smartest or so that they can get the man. There's female celebrities constantly feuding and making snide remarks, there's whole magazines dedicated to ripping other women's "flaws" apart, there's older women presenters being sacked for more "attractive", younger women. And then outside of the media, there's competition over everything from jobs to men. The article reckons that, due to a bunch of factors, women are turning against each other. Because there is still inequality in our society (and if you don't believe me, read my previous posts on feminism, ha!), us girls are frequently pitted against each other. Interestingly, in Cheryl Cole's recent interview with Piers Morgan, he asked her a question about competition between her and Danni Minogue, and said something about how Amanda Holden had been gutted when she heard that Kelly Brook would be on Britain's Got Talent. Cheryl objected to the question, saying that women shouldn't always be pitted against each other- that they're both beautiful, talented women, with different strengths and skills. Cheryl had a point, the male presenters don't get pitted against each other like that. But then again, the men rarely get sacked so a younger, more "attractive" woman can replace them- so you can see why Amanda was worried (step up Danni vs. Sharon Osbourne, Arlene vs. Alesha etc). Because, more often than not, women are competing for roles that are at a premium and the only way they can survive in them is by being ruthless and bringing each other down. And it's not cool.

And it got me thinking about how this works in my life and the women around me. Bikini Kill (my favourite-best-ever girl band (although I still love you, Courtney Love), were part of a political, music movement called "Riot Grrrl" which was all about how hard it is for women in band scenes and how they can only ever be the lead singer and only if they're "hot" and how it's really threatening for girls to even get involved in bands and learning to play because you have to be AMAZING at guitar or whatever for anyone to take you seriously and so, girls don't get to go through that "I'm rubbish but I'm learning and that's okay" thing boys do in teenage bands. (also, they sing some kick-ass songs that are clever and funny and deal with interesting subjects). Bikini Kill have this super cool flyer that says "Encourage in the face of insecurity"- and about how the "J-word", jealousy, is the killer of girl love. This is SO true. Too often, I've felt a bit crap about what I look like or how I am and I've been around someone who I think is really pretty and I'm threatened by the girl so I am bitchy about her, I see her as competition. We've all been a victim of underhanded bitching from girls, if not open meanness- or been aware that we see other girls as a threat or competition. It even happens at Church and that sucks. I don't want to be a part of that.

Once, i was seeing this boy but he broke up with me because he realised he still likes his ex-girl friend. It made me feel pretty bad. I knew I had to see him at a stupid wedding the next week so I bought nice clothes and new, super-expensive make-up (this story is flawed, that was a stupid way to cheer myself up but whatever). Anyway, I got sat next to the ex-girlfriend at the wedding. I didn't even know she'd be there. I didn't even want to look her in the face because I felt so jealous and sad. I'd never met her before but anyway, we started chatting and we got to talking (somehow) about make-up and she said she felt really unattractive that day because she couldn't wear any make-up on her eyes because she was having really bad allergies and she couldn't afford the expensive stuff. In my handbag, I had the expensive, hypo allergic Lancome eyeliner and mascara I'd bought to cheer myself up. I knew I had other make-up at home and I knew that this was a turning point for me. There was a quiet voice in my head telling me to give her the make-up as a gift and I knew it was a stupid, tiny thing to do but it was a turning point for me because it meant letting go of being jealous and hurt and choosing to try to be friends with this girl, even though I wanted to hate her. So, i gave her it and she was really stoked and we made friends and she is a lovely girl. And it felt good to be friends with her, despite the odds and despite the fact that I wanted to tear her down because her being pretty and nice made me feel worse. In the end, I realised that the boy liked her and that didn't mean she was better than me, just that the boy wasn't right for me.

So, I want to carry on trying to give away mascara to people I want to hate. I won't let my insecurities get in the way anymore. I won't allow myself to be in competition with other women- to be the cleverest or prettiest or thinnest. I won't put someone else down because I feel bad. I won't see myself as better or worse than another woman or put myself in a hierarchy or "leagues". I won't submit to all the crap we are unwittingly taught that says women can't be friends with other women. I won't bitch or back stab. I won't subscribe to crap theories about being the "alpha female". And if there's a chance to build up another woman or compliment her or put her forward, I'll do it. I will promote the best there is about being friends with another girl- the kindness and compassion and the understanding. And I will work, with my lovely friends, towards being the best kind of women we can be- those that encourage in the face of insecurity and never allow ourselves to be threatened by another girl or pitted against someone else- for jobs, for boys, for friends or for popularity. And I think that we can do it.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Thoughts on my last post (hubris or God taking me seriously?)

Here's something funny; Last week, I got a big shock at work. Cuts, changes in funding and "restructuring" means that my job doesn't exist anymore. (The government funding body for drug treatment said "We want as many people off drugs, off benefits and into work as quickly and as cheaply as possible". They actually said that. That is their brief as a body. Forget people, forget quality of life, forget caring, forget making sure the women are healed and well equipped and will stay clean for the rest of their lives. Quick fixes. Statistics.) I have no idea what will happen next- they're not gonna get rid of me (that's nice)....I'm either gonna be kinda demoted (more anti-social hours, less input with the women, no emotional supporting, just practical stuff. I'm not really a practical person) or they might decide to invest in me and massively promote me- send me back to uni to become an addictions counsellor or something. The first option would not be great. The second option would be awesome, my ten year future plan (I mean, one of them- I also want to be an MP, a policy adviser on sex work, foster children, travel America, and write a book), condensed in to a few years. The first option is likely. The second option seems unlikely.

And it's funny, because of my last blog post. I'm all like "yes, I don't wanna stand still, I wanna do some new stuff, take some risks". Great attitude, kid. But it's pretty hard when you're in it. Is this God punishing me (surely not, bit too Old Testament style) or taking me seriously? This is a scary place and it's a new place. Loads is at risk for me- I love my job, I love the charity I work for, the pay is ok, i love who I work with...but also stuff about pride- could I take a demotion?

But it has got me to start thinking about a few things- trusting that God has a good plan for me. Trusting that I'd find something else to do. Trusting that it will be okay. But also, thinking about God's way of doing things. I wasn't qualified (really) for this job. I'm not the best choice to invest in (as a trainee counsellor)- I'm young and comparatively inexperienced and soetimes silly. But through history, God has used silly people for great things- lispy people to make speeches, murderers to teach laws about justice, sex workers as saviours of cities and haters to lead a new, loving way of life. And I'm all about taking chances on people, chucking stuff away on people who might not appreciate it and putting my trust in people who lie to me. So, this is not to say that I'll get the promotion because I might not. But this has reminded me how it feels to be offered a chance to grow into something you don't fit yet and I like it. Like Jesus does. Like Sufjan imagines God saying "I've an idea for you, placed in your mind, to be a better man". God buries something in all of us, an idea of being a better man, no matter how unlikely that seems. I'm gonna try to give chances and expect more of people and offer olive branches and honour people that might seem not to deserve it- because, it feels pretty nice when someone takes a chance on you.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Challenge me, c'mon

Today feels like a good time to take stock of stuff. I've been working at One25 for a year now, I've lived in Bristol for a little longer than that and I've been living in the dream house/hippie commune/18Th century vicarage for 7 months now. In many ways, I'm living the dream (my dream, in any case). Maybe you're catching me on a good day (and today IS a good day, it's beautiful and autumnal outside, I feel good about myself and the world and my house is temporarily peaceful and quiet and still). There are still days where I feel like I can't handle the life I've chosen (or the life that's chosen me)- I've hit the year mark for working in a residential mothers and babies unit for women exiting street sex work and coming off heroin and crack and I see why people kept telling me that there's a shelf life for working in a residential setting. It gets in your head. It's hard sometimes living my life in a communal way- sometimes I want to read my book and listen to music and be alone but it doesn't always work like that. And sometimes my home life is suspiciously close to my work life. There are days when I think that if I hear one more traumatic story first hand about violence or rape or abuse or sadness, i will start crying and never stop. Or I think I will stop feeling anything anymore and I'm not sure which one is worse. And sometimes I'm astounded by how much I want to run away- to Vienna or Stockholm or Tennessee. or even London. Somewhere where I can buy back in to trying to be indie and cool.

But mostly these days, I think I am pretty happy with where I am and what my life is like. (Gosh, this sounds very self satisfied and smug, doesn't it? Apologies). And the last few days, a little thought has been creeping in to my head and a voice somewhere has been talking about starting to feel comfortable and settled. Which is nice, really. And for so long, I was finding my new life here so madly challenging that I needed lots of support and encouragement (of which I am very grateful for, thank you friends), it seems nice to stand still a little bit and enjoy things. I manage okay at work (I mean, it's still hard but I'm not TERRIBLE at it anymore), I live in an amazing house and we have kids knocking on our door and a baby running around and people coming to stay for some extra love and TLC and youth group is gathering kids weekly and we started a girls group and these girls come every week and learn about cool stuff like respecting themselves and looking after each other and I am a vegetarian now and I've got my finances more in order and my regular giving and friends here and people to hang out with and......suddenly, it feels like I'm not taking quite so many risks anymore.

A friend has just given up his lovely, successful life here and sold his stuff off and moved to another country to work with sex workers and drug addicts because he met Jesus and it seemed like he should actually take Jesus seriously about what He said in the Bible. And at Church they're talking about building your foundations on Him and not getting seduced by the world. And my manager at work just quit her job because she felt God calling her in to something new. And I keep thinking about risks and adventure and new things and how I feel closest to God when I'm scared and I can't do this alone and when I'm close to the lonely and the sad and the dispossessed. And I don't want to be stuck here- happy and comfortable and self-satisfied because I'm giving a BIT of my money away and I'm kind of opening my home and I did what God asked me a YEAR ago. I don't want to stop. i don't want to stand still. I want to keep stripping it away and getting closer to God.

So, come on! What next? Thank you for loving me and comforting me when this was hard but don't let me rest here. Challenge me! C'mon, challenge me! What else is God saying? It's not about DOING stuff, I know. But I feel reckless and excited because I feel like God wants more and more and that we shouldn't stop because we feel like we've given enough of ourselves away. And the seasons keep changing and it's Autumn already and a year has passed and I feel ike the rich young man saying "yes, I've done that, like you asked...what else?". So...challenge me; talk to me about God, about risks, about taking things a step further, about making irrational decisions and doing the mental, weird things that God calls us to do to redistribute wealth and make flowers from concrete and dancing from crying and insane dreams where there was once only mediocrity and staying still.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Urban outfitters, street parties and 'Generation X'

When I can't sleep or I'm thinking too much about things, I have certain "comfort" books I pull out- they're typically short (I can read them in a few hours), easy to read (sometimes trashy), I've probably read them upwards of five times (so sometimes it's more like a mix of reciting and skim-reading really) and for various reasons they comfort me (I would be baring my soul a little too much if I told you what they were and why they comforted me. Ask me in real life or something.)

So, last night, I pulled out 'Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture'- Douglas Coupland's 1990's novel about a group of disaffected twenty-somethings that kind of drop out of society and form their own community. They are fed up of consumerism and the rat-race and their dysfunctional families and the media and expectations and dating and being in their twenties and being a target market and sitting at a computer all day and trying to conform and being the same but trying to look different-but-not-too-different. So, Andy, Dag and Clare move in to these faceless bungalows and sort of drop out of life. They get "McJobs", with low-pay and no commitment and they share their lives with each other and they tell each other stories- funny stories and sad stories and stories about themselves and stories about made up people and made up towns and stories about nuclear war and stories about their fears and stories about falling in love. And they try to make sense of their anxieties and their frailties and their hearts.

Why is it one of my comfort books? I don't know. I like the stories, I like the way it's written, I like the characters and I guess that what it was criticising chimed with me. As a Christian, I don't want to buy in to the greed and the lust (for money and for bodies and for things) that characterises my generation (which is admittedly a little younger than the Gen X gang). I like the idea of dropping out of that kind of society. I like the idea of telling stories to make sense of things. I like the idea of your friends and those around you becoming like your family and inviting people in to that to combat the loneliness and the feeling of being disconnected.

But last night, it didn't comfort me. It made me worried and a bit lost. And then it made me annoyed at things and at myself. It made me think about twenty-something Christians, like me, who see something wrong with the way our world is. And like Clare and Dag and Andy, we sort of drop out of the world and create these hip little communities that are comforting but a little bit cliquey and we listen to good music and dress cool and read Rob Bell and are sarcastic and ironic and cool and we shop at Urban Outfitters. And I got scared because I think I might have been making the Bible in to the stories they tell to each other, recognising the counter-culturalness and the upsidedown-ness of Jesus' stories, seeing how post-modern and beautiful and eclectic they are but just telling them to each other, over and over, saying "yes, we got it right. yes, the rat race isn't for us. yes, capitalism sucks. yes, we aren't the rich", not declaring them to the people the stories could transform, just telling them, over and over, to each other. And please hear me, the stories of the Bible ARE beautiful and good news and we should keep telling them to each other to encourage and change each other but maybe we should tell them to other people too. Maybe we should invite other people in to our communities- even if they aren't indie or they aren't funny and if they don't like foreign films or read the Guardian.

Maybe I haven't explained this well. Maybe it's offensive (mostly to myself, I think). I just realised for a long time that I LIKE a lot of the disadvantaged areas, but only when they're cool and they have good street art and cool art spaces and street parties in summer and only when skinny jeans outweigh drug users and sex workers and the homeless. And because it's actually cool to be anti-consumerism and anti-war and politically aware. I think I've forgotten the transformative power of Jesus and just kept talking about how cool and counter-cultural He is. And even then, only to my friends and to people like me.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

The town mouse and the country mouse- or thoughts on exciting news.

I want to tell you (I want to tell the world!) about some exciting stuff going on at the moment. It struck me that I make a massive fuss about the hard things and the sad things and the confusing things but say very little about the cool things- and this is very cool!

Okay, so, the girls I live with have wanted to move to an area of Bristol (Called Barton Hill) for a long time now because that's where they (and now I) do youth work on a Friday and because it's an exciting area and because well, we feel an undeniable and unexplainable pull to this area, despite the fact that it's a little run down (not in a cool, Brixton-y way either) and it isn't really an area that people are fighting to move in to. And we've long (separately and corporately) dreamt of having a house big enough to be hospitable- where we could have a room or two for friends and people who need to crash somewhere to come and stay, a kitchen big enough to have people over to eat with us and just space to make it a bit of a haven. But the thing is, there aren't really any houses with more than two or three rooms in this area, because it's mostly small council houses (with long waiting lists) and high rise flats. So, we've been living in a little (but lovely) house in Easton- where the girls have let me live with them for the last six months and kept looking out for houses. And we've kept dreaming and praying about some place to live. My housemate painted a picture, out of nowhere really, of high rise flats with flowers growing up around them, taking it over and bringing beauty in to a grey area. But nothing seemed to come along.

But, there's this beautiful big 18Th century vicarage with a huge walled garden right at the heart of Barton Hill, about a minute's walk from the church we do youth club at and exactly in the area we wanted to move in to. And, my housemate had this idea lodged in her head that this was the place we'd live. And after loads of really weird God-coincidences, we decided to see what the score is and email the diocese to see who lived there (we knew the vicar of the church it was originally attached to didn't live there anymore). They emailed back that a charity called "Earth Abbey" was taking it so that they could start a community project in the garden (which is a third of an acre- a huge garden, especially in this area. We were a bit gutted because we really wanted to live there and make it a bit of a hub for the community, somewhere for the kids from youth group to hang out etc but the diocese said the charity were having an open meeting about it, so (slightly grudgingly) my housemates attended, if only to show that they weren't being resentful...

So, it turned out at the meeting, that they needed four people to live in the house. The catch was that they wanted people who cared about the area, who would be happy for the garden to be used as a project for the community and who were sold out on the idea of being hospitable and generous with the house. And after a few exciting meetings, they gave us the house! (well, we rent it but you know what I mean!)

So, a few months down the line, here we are! We moved in today and the house is beautiful- we have a spare room for people to stay and a massive kitchen with tables to seat loads of people and a beautiful, beautiful garden. The whole thing has been a miracle- promised to us in dreams and prophecies and even visions painted more than a year ago. And the view form the house is the smae as the view painted in the picture- before we'd even been to the house or the garden! And the garden will be used for kids that don't have a garden to come and run around in, with a tree house and a big swing. And the charity, Earth Abbey (a bunch of amazing people), will start planting things and invite local people to come and learn how to garden and grow fruit and veg. And asylum seekers and refugees, the dispossessed, (of whom there are many in this area), can have some land that is theirs to grow things in, that can belong to them. And the garden is going to have a kitchen built outside in it, so that people can learn how to cook with fresh fruit and veg, in season. And people like me, city kids, can learn what it's like to live more in harmony with the earth- learning how seasons change and things grow and God provides abundance for us. And maybe, flowers will start to grow and bring colour to the grey, just like in that picture my housemate painted.

So, this is a happy post, and a grateful one and an excited one. My posts are often about the hard things, and I'm sorry for that- but I want to be honest and write about what I'm grappling with- but I also want to share the happy things- the miracles and the provisions and the gifts and the extravagance that we have in our life. Hard things may come but this is a story about fun and joy and flowers and promises and I hope you're as excited as me!