Rainbows eat Shortbread

This week walking in my field of blessings:

38. Thankful for these soldiers, my pencils. They form rank around my page of uncertainty and whimsy draws battle lines with fanciful respect. Allies in the war of creativity.

39. Thankful that together we marched and met this wee lass. She is in draft form here and beginning to come to light. She is Lady of Courage.

40. Thankful, the soldiers and I, to salute the mission of this gracious flat figure. Her bare head is wrapped under a cap of silk and wild roses, in the absense of the hair that her cancer treatment stole. This paper doll is part of a gift to the daughter of a childhood friend of mine, who is fighting leukemia, and will complete the Princess and the Pea activity I have made of tiny stacked mattresses and a bead.

41. Ridiculously bright stripes and polka dots splashing the girl's room, found on clearance.

42. Walking rainbows that eat Shortbread Men.

43. Maddy's overflow of inspiration from a visiting illustrator to their school. Delicious Mrs Lolly and her friend, Mrs Molly. Such stature! And to think they know such talented milliners, and are in possession of such strong necks and pert curls.

44. Curling stems of growth, my sweet pea seeds have sprouted and begun to climb.

45. Bridal ruffles in my ornamental kale that flaunt their sheer leaf-couture to tickle my fancy.

46. The first strawberry flower. Pollen mound of sunshine in the heart of snow.

47. The provision of nourishing bounty to set before my family, not for one moment taken for granted when so many have nothing.

48. Little Miss Cheeky Chops wins a trophy for gymnastics. Her joy and satisfaction dazzles me.

49. The sharp wit, easy grin and emerging coltish limbs of this my biggest littlie.

Laden is my cornucopia...


My Little Daffodils


Salvation's First Kiss

Photo courtesy of my sister, Abby.

On tip-toes in the dark, feet one step above his on the rickety boards leading down from the hall door, came my first kiss. Away from the stars of the stagelights, my world became entangled in the galaxy of another universe and my stomach lurched in the fall. Blind with delight, spangled with belonging, suddenly gravity did not exist and I spun loose from the lie of unlovable.

The play was my first dabble with drama, but not his. My part was as a shuffling grandmother, hair powdered and in a bun, a striped vintage dress and bundle of knitting under my arm. I felt completely comfortable, resonating with the character and able to blend into the untrendy and awkward. My every day teenage trench-coat of livid acne, mousy hair, braces and glasses made a seamless transition into the next ugly outfit and embraced the comfort of the part.

But then came the kiss.
This tall boy was popular. He was smart and sporty, at home in the cricket nets, golf course and behind the quiz team desks. He played the leading part year after year in the school productions. Flawless olive skin and a smile that made his eyes crinkle and my throat catch. It couldn't be real. This felt too good to be love, and my reflection would laugh and say it would end and my fear would bob up to agree with the joke.

But then came the kiss.
We would sit side by side, backs pressed to the warmth of the plastered classroom wall in the afternoon sun, open history book across my khaki school skirt. He would paint me stories with words and in my mind's eye came alive the deserts of Northern Africa speckled with Mussolini, Montgomery and Rommel's men. Composers, the slave trade, inventors and the intricacies of vectors and the quadratic formula marched after each other in the hours we spent together, him trading knowledge in exchange for friendship. My patchy homeschooled, transitory lifestyle gifted me with clumps of information but he helped me weave it into some of sort of quilted comprehension. His lonely, only child days were sewn into companionship. We fit.

But then came the kiss.
While walking along the blistering lines of the railway tracks from a morning of school farm labour, our outstretched arms wobbled and our fingers touched. My skin was hotter than the sun-baked metal under my feet. I threw a cup of juice in his face one day before stalking away in my jodphurs to catch the smelly blue truck to riding lessons. I read his notes to me aloud caustically to my friends. I ran from the concept of him choosing me out of pity. I said in my words, actions and attitudes don't love me.

And he did.
In the pocket of that dusty campus, he did.
In concrete floored classrooms and on lab stools, he did.
In the quiet and page-flip of the library, he did.
On the bus, in assembly lines, eyes seeking mine as we passed each other, he did.

And I fell.
Cross-legged on bleached grass sports fields, I fell.
Scoring cricket in the shade of jacarandah branches, I fell.
On the grit of tennis courts, I fell.
In the art room, the dining room and dormitory, I fell.

And then came the kiss.
And the turn and tumble matched the misplaced bits of my heart up and suddenly it was like coming home. And the ugly had to sit, for invisible beauty was now called to the stage.

My faith walk is unfathomably richer, deeper and more heart gripping than this memory of first love. My dirty, unworthy heart was undone by the explosion of salvation. My flimsy excuse for a life only became real once I was embraced by the concept of the cross; that love was born and died just for me and there was nothing I could do to stop the amount of love shed for me. The withered, resentful, broken me was mute in the presence of Beauty being chosen. Being kissed by the Son of God; wooed, soothed, restored, healed, made new and re-born is the blueprint of His intention.

Yet how much do we wrap ourselves in the trench-coat of grime and hold back, fear taut in our hearts. Yes I feel it, but is it real? I cannot truly be the one He chose. There are others better, more pretty in their holiness. I have done nothing deserving of this favour. He is too good for me. I will make a mockery of this commitment. I don't know how to love like this. It's a fairytale. I don't even know how to pray.

Being kissed in the sludge of my youth by the most impossible boy was a glorious exit from the mental strong box for me. That I grew through those phases and still find myself looking into those same eyes of friendship and now married companionship is by no means short of miraculous.

Stumbling onto the realisation that I am surrounded by the Stageplay in a way that I am the actor for, is jolting. I look back and around me at the journey and it starts to fit. The symmetry lines up with eternal truth. God uses the arms of others to embrace us. He uses the first kiss to crack open a sealed heart. He uses the down trodden and ill-fitting uniforms to render us perfectly formed for the kind of beauty that only He can see in us. He allows us hurts, loneliness, failure, birth, loss and blessing to woo us to astonishing need for and recognition of who He is, and to drive us to the act of responding to Him.

To bring us to the understanding of the eternal power of the miracle, actioned and uttered in the greatest story of all time. So we might walk as a bride to His side when He calls, using the globe as a footstool in our star-laced leaps from world to world.

And all for love.

Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth--for your love is more delightful than wine.
Song of Solomon 1:2


1000 Gifts - Boat of Giggle Fairy-down

31. That first kiss of summer on fairy-down softness.

32. Simplicity of domesticity - watching the instinct to home-create unfurl.

33. Resene's Sea Fog - dream boats sail on waves of this.

34. Opportunity shopping with $7. The chair can swing over to become a little stool, and with a little lick of Sea Fog, before you know it, produces glee and giggles {from me}.

35. For men and women who have the courage to write. And for irritatingly quiet libraries that send those words home in people's arms.

36. There is no image for the gratitude I feel for this one, again, on the tail of a week of being sharply reminded of how fragile it is as others have lost.


37. And gratitude for family and laughter, both of whom were here to stay over the weekend. Parting is hard but that's when you know it's been good.


Glass Magnolias

Sensible's first date with her inner artist was hardly exotic but any inch of space to let a lost artist out becomes a wild adventure of golden, global proportions. Tempted out by the release from Company and Responsibility with the allure of petal, wonder and form, Petulance came to the top of the Normal Box. The sheeting rain did nothing to dampen her redemptive swing into the stars, rather it added a quirky silver silliness to the whole affair that made her ears prick up.

i wonder if we'll be arrested for stalking this house paparazzi-style? Petulance giggled.

doubt it, Sensible smiled indulgently at Petulance peeping above the rim of the Normal Box.

what a pity, i wish we would be, insisted Petulance, now fully emerged and kicking her shoes against the side of the box in good humour, imagine the laugh that would be.

Much to Sensible's relief, we were not arrested but drove past a few times and had enormous fun trying to take clear shots of the tree between the screeching blades of the window wipers. We fought over the camera, and whose turn it was, and talked about what fun it would be to play in the little benches set into the branches of the tree.

Then we found this unmarked corner shop of pure design soup for the soul and ran in out of the rain. Petulance watched entranced as light was at play in the chandelier's fingers, pulled faces at herself in monstrous roman mirrors, fingered the victorian lace of someone's wedding dress, stiff with age, and stroked the patina of french borne china and woodwork.

Sensible felt she must talk to the owner and apologise for the way Petulance was snapping photographs so callously, in this hallowed room of wealth. No sooner had she said hello when Petulance bounded over and pretended we were rich and that we were interested in such immeasurably fancy pieces, such as that sage green cast iron bath, those divine shutters and of course, a table just like this ten thousand dollar one. Sensible tried to rein her in but of course she knew once Petulance got a whiff of freedom, it was hard to stop her. Finally Sensible could tolerate the fanciful conversations of the antique & colonial markets of the spice world no more and dragged Petulance out by the ribbons in her hair.

They had nearly reached the confines of the car when Petulance whipped the camera up for one last click in defiant victory of the shop's back window. Swiftly Sensible tucked her back into the Normal Box and slid it once more into the pocket of her invisible cloak before letting the tyres wetly swish her back into the arms of Company and Responsibility.


Stones on the Broken Road

A few weeks ago, when wrestling and struggling for days on end with my emotions and thoughts, impulse grabbed me and I caught hold of a handful of river stones from a glass vase in the dining room. Laying them out on a ledge in the kitchen, I smiled at them but turning away, did not give them another thought that day.

The following morning in my quiet time, my fingers walked to David and Goliath. A burst of recognition dawned on me as I remembered the 5 stones that I had selected and laid out without much intention.

Suddenly the story sprang my motherhood role into personal focus. I had unwittingly mimicked David while choosing the stones, and this gave me an identification with his status of isolated caregiving, of being a shepherd, of providing food for the warriors; of being in the background, a humble career but one that forged character in the dusty bowl of his charge's needs. He fended off attackers. He sang and talked with God. He wandered about nature with his flock, finding them new pastures and water, walking the land until it must have become dearly familiar to him.

Developing an understanding of the principal of authority, for without this he would have been ineffective as a shepherd, he obeyed his father's orders to deliver food to his brothers on the battlefield boundaries. He allowed their crushing insults to roll off his deeply secure nature and perceived that responding to God's promises was the only key to overcoming this battle.

The enemy was enormous, iron-clad and unstoppable to the untrained eye. He carried a fearfully heavy and penetrating spear and stood roaring and steady, confident of his ability to intimidate and spread terror.

David's eye was however trained, in the quiet scrublands of shepherding, in the gentle nature of caring for his flock, in the handlock of humility with authority. Achieving firstly the incredible task of convincing the officals of war to allow him to step into their muddled plot-plans, he then shunned their protective armor and in complete vulnerability, walked to a nearby brook to select his tools.

Five Stones.
I got to thinking.

1. Stones from the Riverbed; clean, cool and dripping, fresh from the washing, cleansing water of life. (Psalm 1 v 2)

2. These pebbles were worn smooth by the current, no hard edges, no imperfections in their balance; these stones would fly true, character buffed from being nestled into each other under the tumbling current of the stream. These stones would find their mark.

3. The weapons God put in David's hands were formed from the Rock, a source of life on which all things are bound by and built upon. (Exodus 17.6 and Psalm 18.2/118.22)

4. He only needed one stone, why the extra four? Because David knew not to presume. It is also thought by scholars that David's vision for victory included wiping out Goliath's family.

5. Five is the number of GRACE. The unmerited favour of God. And essential coupled with faith for salvation. (Eph 2.8) It is a gift to the humble.

Slowly I closed the book of 1 Samuel. The low position my heart lay in, with giants looming over me on the battlefield of my mind, was illuminated in this text. Bewildered I might have been, but the flash of revelation gave me the courage I needed to face the next steps. I was out of the control seat but peaceful to let Someone else drive.

Later that very morning, I was scheduled to see a doctor about my feelings of deepening blue. I felt literally petrified. The collision of mental turmoil and my faith wrangled inside me. Could I be an emotional mess and a sturdy believer at the same time? Could I really confess to a medical professional my tangle of feelings, twisted together with memories, prayers and confusion?

I went to the appointment unsure of what words to use, and when the moment came to try and articulate what was up, the tears spoke for me. I had nothing to say but grabbed a handful of tissues that the doctor quietly held out. My sensible words had gone completely. I had reached the end of explanations and rationalisations.

I wanted to run. I wanted to slide away under the wooden door in a river of my tears. I wanted to be strong, clever, compassionate, together, not sitting miserable on a consultation chair. I looked up at those compassionate brown eyes fixed on me. The doctor was in his thirties probably, with a beard and dark hair. I sat up straighter. Breathed. Fished for words that strung together sounded like nonsense. But he deciphered the code. Listened. Talked to me about Jesus, (I mean, c'mon. Really?). He explained the effects on the body of unprocessed emotion. He taught me to breath properly. He listened some more.

The funny thing was that he recommended taking Withania, a herbal supplement, derived from the Wild Cherry, to support the emotions while I process. My eyes were like saucers.

Only the day before, the 5 stones day, I had been moving into my new studio. A room just for me, with all my creative stuff. Up to now, my art has been done on the floor of the walk in wardrobe, paints piled haphazardly, my glues and papers and ideas stuffed into boxes. My wall of inspiration hidden behind the winter coats. The boxes of brushes, scrapbooking paper, silver leaf stacked up above the socks. But with a change around, Greg insisted I have what was Kenzie's bedroom, and now the girls are sharing a room downstairs.

I had a fairly utilitarion approach to the room, stack it up, make space for an easel and a table and shut the door. But all through out that day, I kept hearing the words Cherry Blossom. This room was to be my treehouse, in the Cherry boughs. My safe haven, my God-space. Never having been particularly partial to pink, I dismissed the nagging thoughts. It was safer to keep that personal space office-ish and messy. I walked in several times in the course of that day, looked around, shook my head at the notion of a cherry tree and close the door firmly on the way out. I was intent on being a grown up.

So when this Doctor said Wild Cherry I nearly fell off my chair. Okay God. Cherry it is.

Leaving, I drove home on a journey into spring. Every tree coming into blossom waved at me from the roadside. I felt instantly at ease, embraced, I could breathe again. Suddenly unlocked, I was able to nurture again, to tickle and cuddle Mishal and the girls when they came home from school. To listen. To smile. To walk into my studio and set about making it my own space, somewhere dreamy to sit, to exist in. I began making dates with only myself and walking down quaint streets, or driving alone through the rain, taking photos of trees dripping colour and perfume. I started going through antique shops to click my lens at the shapes of history that delighted my eyes. I bought coffees and slowly trawled bookstores. I read in the hammock.
I am loving taking steps to wholeness, to finding that soft place inside. It is a commitment to myself and I am no longer in that bleak place. Breathing, breathing, breathing.

A huge part of me curls up in shame admitting the extent of my imperfections and struggles to the eyes of my blog-readers. It's one thing being open with strangers, but quite another when several readers are people I know personally, many of whom are family. There is a prideful desire to cower behind a lifesize cardboard cutout of Amy and let everyone think the shiny, flat image of Me-ness is the real me. But the reality is not that pretty; the truth is that cardboard cannot hold up to the deluge of tears and the weight of life, my printed knees buckle and I get folds across my sightless eyes. The last year for me has been a battlefield of gigantic proportions: an unwilling move across the country, dipping in and out of homeschooling, the agony of my parent's separation, health issues, kid issues and trying to establish myself right way up without being swept away in a torrent of depression. The cardboard cut-out girl has been very busy. She is rather tatty now and won't stand without being held up. Her head hangs down where her neck is thickly creased.

Cringing, I have let her go, kicked her crumpled identity aside and feel a little like I am standing here, bare and vulnerable but alive and content. Kinda David-like. Humility meets relief and they turn toward authority - sometimes one just has to bow in order to move forward.

What I love most about the story of David is that through his life, I get the sense that joy was written all over his being; from shepherd boy sandals, to stepping over giants and into the destiny of kingship. His name means Beloved. And guess what?

So does mine!

I look at those stones daily. They mark the broken road Beloved. One step at a time.


1000 Gifts - The Sun Comes

25. Slow weekend mornings without a clock glance or lunchbox in sight.

26. The cutest toddler shoes in the world.

27. Sunshine in living form, ruffles nodding on slender stalk atop our family table.

28. The sun itself, smiling on daffodil pegs and white sheets.

29. The morning and afternoon coffee breaks that I have come to cherish!

30. At last, this little poppet is recovering from that nasty Rotovirus. Now it appears she has Irritable Hip, triggered by her little tumble down the stairs nearly 3 weeks ago. I am supposed to keep her quiet and not let her move around too much. Yes, she is nearly 2. Yes, this is impossible but failure to give the hip a chance to heal will result in her going into traction. But to see her chatty and delicious is something I am counting as one of my treasured gifts.


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