Links to here.

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Morning is light and cool air, cup of coffee, more edits. When I walk into the studio I light some incense and pray for God’s words and thoughts in me and through me all day long. The studio is messier than it should be. I am a messy artist, not a neat one, my mind is not tidy and neither is my workspace. I wish it was, but even if the space is not beautiful, beautiful things happen here.

We had an amazing conference last week. Introvert and sensory person that I am, I have needed some recuperation time, even though the conversations were lovely and the thoughts were deep. We were at a resort in Chiang Mai, which is a sort of floating space, not real life. Taking food from trays, not washing dishes. 

Back at home I drove to the market yesterday and on the way I saw an old friend who has moved to Australia. She used to work with her sister and mother at the noodle shop that is my second home. She waved me down and I hopped off the motorbike and hugged her. Her sister, whom I see several times a week, came and slipped her hand into mine and said “Rachel is my little sister now.” We clucked over one another, me over how big her little boy is, what Australia is like, and her over how tall my children are. (None of us can believe it, I hardly go out without someone remarking that they saw my son or daughter and couldn’t believe their eyes.) 

At the market, there were more friends. We talked and squeezed hands and touched each others arms. I bought things for salad (these greens are so beautiful, my friend said) and many bananas. I went to the laundry place later (I came home to find that my washer is broken) and told the lady that I had been away for a week and that was why I had enormous bags of laundry. “I know,” she told me. “Brendan has already been here to pick up his laundry and Christy has not come yet.” We talked about the best repair person in town. 

All of these things are links to here. Each neighbor, each smile. In this place there are one hundred kinds of smiles. Kind ones, cheeky ones from the motorbike, apologetic ones, ones that relieve tension. 

My landlords brought Wookie back after watching her for the week and she tore around in circles, yipping. My househelper brings her daughter over every day because it is term break for school. Yupa is four years old and a delight. Whenever Isaac comes to tell me something, she is right behind him, telling me a story in Thai, so that I have two kids talking to me at once in two different languages. 

Sometimes being a mother feels like being a nucleus, with different people whirling around with positive and negative charges of different intensity. Joe came over as well yesterday, a twelve-year-old friend. Later another friend, Siam came. And then our Japanese friends. And my landlord. So there they all were, each coming to talk for a few moments at a time. The teenagers. The dog. The little kids who spoke with words tumbling over one another. All linking me to the world, keeping me from floating off. God hemming me in behind and before.

Later I bought a canvas at an art store, ready to paint during my friend Leaf’s beautiful Devotion Circle. I found some white orchids and bought them too. Small conversations in each place. I went to get petrol and found the basket men sitting at the petrol station. One of them saw me and his eyes lit up. He walked toward me with his basket while I was taking the lid off the chariot’s petrol tank. He held a beautiful type of basket, hard to find around here, so when people come selling them, I usually buy one. (They’re nice and large and I use them for hampers—they slowly fall apart over time.) We chatted about price and I talked him down a bit. We joked back and forth. He went to get change for me, and I talked with the gas station attendants. “How much would you pay?” I asked. “You got a good price,” they told me. “Those are rattan, and handmade.” 

When he came back I gave him his original price. He ginned, the gas station attendants smiled, and he gave a little skip as he walked off. The light was very beautiful, then, making the trees glow as I drove over the bridge and up the hill in the chariot, my side-car holding one canvas, one basket, and dozens of small, shining moments. 

***

Now you can support my writing on Patreon. Patrons can give as little as $1 a month, and get extra vlogs and posts. I really really appreciate your support, it helps me to keep going with writing and publishing my work. Thank you to this month’s new patrons, Jemma Allen and Julie Wells. The patron extras from last month are up. Here are last month’s extra blog post, Thoughts after 17 years of marriage, and the September Creative Update Video.

Lots of hugs.

 Isaac and Jazzy helped me push the chariot down to the bike mechanic when it wouldn’t start, then sat back and had an old man chat.

Isaac and Jazzy helped me push the chariot down to the bike mechanic when it wouldn’t start, then sat back and had an old man chat.

The past week has been very full. Full of tears and hugs, much joy, many friends.

(Also a lot of news. I follow it, I weep for it, my heart goes out to victims of sexual harassment. There is so much brokenness in this world, so many sins against the body, the spirit of our most vulnerable people. God help us to change, to show compassion and understanding.)

First, we successfully surprised Chinua on his birthday. It was worth every moment of preparation to see the look on his face. After Devotion Circle, we managed to get everyone back from the garden and gathered at our house, and it was Ro’s job to somehow get him to come back. After some moments of trying to figure out what they were going to do, Chinua suggested coming back to our house to drop instruments off. 

Because it was his suggestion, he was floored when he arrived and out of the dark came a little Happy birthday composition, featuring a few guitars, the piano and a clarinet.

I’ll remember the look on his face forever.

At the moment we have a gathering of communities from around this part of the world; mainly the other Shekina communities in India and a community from Israel. We’ve been praying, singing, and eating together. Yesterday we had a circle on the theme of friendship with God and friendship with each other. 

I’m a strong believer of friendship first, a belief I have come to after a lot of trial and error. You know that thing where you look at your spouse as a person to blame because they are like a business partner in the business of your home and family and they have not met your expectations? Yes, I know that thing. In hardship I have a tendency for flipping between outward blame and self loathing. Neither are necessary. Blame and self loathing are both tactics to try to get the bad feelings away. 

You can just feel them. The sadness, the grief, the fear. And put friendship first, learn to go through things together. People in the circle shared about their experiences with friendship, and it was inspiring.

Next week we go down to Chiang Mai for a bigger gathering of communities from around the world. I’m also going to be hard at work on the final edit of Demon’s arrow, which comes out in less than three weeks! I’m very happy to share it with you.

Also, here’s a post that I wrote on the Shekina blog this week: Holy and Dearly Loved.

***

Now you can support my writing on Patreon. Patrons can give as little as $1 a month, and get extra vlogs and posts. I really really appreciate your support, it helps me to keep going with writing and publishing my work. The patron extras from last month are up. Here are last month’s extra blog post, Thoughts after 17 years of marriage, and the September Creative Update Video.

Fermented turtle feet.

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I am finally home after my unexpected trip. 

I walked home from the bus station with my lugguge and could hear Chinua playing trumpet as I got close. Wookie whined at the gate when she realized it was me. Then there were all the hugs, sweaty ones from kids at the end of a long hot day. I sat beside Chinua at the piano and we talked about music. I lay beside Isaac as he went to sleep. “Just one time this week, okay?” I said. He threw his arm over me and drifted off.

This morning I stepped over Solo, Leafy and Kenya, all asleep on the front porch. This is a new thing, the sleeping on the porch. I like it. I wouldn’t do it, when my bed is only a few feet away, but I like it. I like them creating adventure wherever and whenever.

Yesterday I finished my most recent edit of Demon’s Arrow. Today I sent it off to my new editor, a friend who lives here in Thailand. The book is nearly finished, although we have to hurry if we’re going to have it out on release date: October 25th! 

I have been floating, not always in the safest of spaces. Old wounds have reopened, my anxiety cat has woken me at night, sitting on my chest. And when I am away from home and family, it seems as though I am untethered. I’m not, of course. But that is easier to remember at home. 

I have wondered, at times, how it is that someone like me came to be surrounded by so many people. Such an introvert, such a strange mind. But I see it more and more clearly; I couldn’t do without them.

Here is Isaac with another sweaty hug. Here is Solomon, rushing into the room dancing while Chinua is showing me songs on the speakers, telling me his theories on the connections between jazz and rap. Solo pulling out everything he has drawn while I have been away. Leafy reminding me that he is going to be thirteen in January, as though perhaps I have forgotten. (I know, it’s impossible.) Kenya and the menu she created for dinner (I was too late for it.) Megalodon stew (sold out.) Fermented turtle feet soup. (Sold out.) Pasta with white sauce. Available for about $300. 

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Here is morning. The neighbors pull their carts out onto the street to sell rice porridge or coffee. Children on the porch. My plants need watering. A pup who needs a haircut. We’re out of eggs. I need to buy bananas for smoothies. The ladies at the market will ask me where I’ve been. They’ll pat me on the arms and tease me and the gentleness of these greetings will nearly make me cry. 

***

Now you can support my writing on Patreon. Patrons can give as little as $1 a month, and get extra vlogs and posts. I really really appreciate your support, it helps me to keep going with writing and publishing my work. Last month’s patron-only post: At Home.

The endeavor.

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I am unexpectedly in Bangkok for a few days, with people I love, away from people I love. All is well. I wanted to help with a difficult situation and find myself with delightful friends. I am thankful that God is with us. 

*

The day comes with all the things that need to happen. Standing in a corner of the room, shaking her head at me. 

“Flowers,” I tell her. “Dogs on the street. Surprising patterns on the walls. Men playing chess in between taxi drives.”

“Look at your list,” she says. “How are you ever going to get this all done?”

“Playing with children,” I tell her. “Unexpected smiles. Basil in my food. Bangkok spices. Fruit on the street. Thinking putty. Good smells. I don’t believe that the magic is gone. I don’t believe in being impervious to it all.” 

*

Can it be as simple as love? The fact of being beloved? Of wanting to walk in the world in love? It feels like the world isn’t safe for loving people. But Jesus said that it is, even if it is a different definition of safety, one that doesn’t guarantee much beyond my heart being safe in the heart of God. Today I will endeavor to believe him.