Sunday, June 30, 2013

Friday Favorites (on Sunday!)

Because I am aware of human trafficking, of modern day slavery. I am aware that it happens in my country, not just half way around the world. I know that it happens in my own town. Coming or going from my town, about 20min in any direction, there are "adult superstores" and every time we pass I wonder what scars are left on women as a result of their products, and every time I stand for those women in prayer and I stand for the souls of those men in prayer. But tonight, my heart broke and my eyes stung afresh.

I don't think I've introduced you to Meggan Murkli yet. This petite young woman, with the most tender and strong soul, this dear heart... she is my sister and friend, my kindred spirit... and she just moved to Romania to be the Lord's hands where He needs them on behalf of abandoned babies. She lives a given life, seeks out the needy and, though she often wants to, she doesn't turn away when the Lord desires to share the anguish of His heart with her. Her love is humble and true. She writes with eloquence but her words are raw. She'd be the first to tell you that anything good in her is Jesus, that she can't do what she is doing without Jesus, and that she is satisfied deeply only by the great love of Jesus. Meg, apart from the Lord, is weak and poor in spirit, like myself. But Christ in Meg is grace extended and sweetest encouragement.

Thinking of her tonight, I clicked over to her blog and began scrolling through old posts, reading ones that caught my eye. Katya. A name. A person. A story. Not even thinking about how long it would take or what results would occur in my spirit as a result, I got lost in her story. That familiar feeling of anguish burning my heart. Haunted by the thought that I could have moved right by and not had it tattooed on my heart, but knowing without a doubt that I would always choose awareness with anguish to stale indifference. This post was a blessing to me. Meg's heart blessed me. I want to spread some love to her by sharing her post with you. This video followed her letter to Katya. Want to join the community of people lovers that Meggan is akin to? Click play.

{A fellow blogger on the Influence network had the lovely idea to share some love for the blogs you read with this weekly link up, "Friday Favorites". Join in anytime!}

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Around here... or a few hours away ;)

THE SKINNY DIP >> lansing, IA
7mi from the farm we stayed at during our girls weekend is this great little ice cream place. Just a small town dive in a rural area along the mighty Mississippi, but their waffle cones are amazing. Of the handful of flavors they had this month, I tried "Eskimo Kisses", vanilla ice cream with coconut and dark chocolate, and "Maple Butter Blondie", maple flavored ice cream with rich and chewy bits in it.

/// /// ///

DAIRY WAY >> black river falls, WI
Our dinner options on the drive back home were McDonalds or Dairy Way. Some people would have hesitations about a side-of-the-road ice cream and burger joint but not us. We used to live in a tiny little town and I remember stopping at the "Dairy Bar" was a really special treat. The service here was personal, the food was delicious and the experience was loaded with nostalgia for we girls. I have no doubt we will stop there again whenever we pass through.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Find Joy >> right here

"July came on with that breathless, brilliant heat which makes the plains of 
Kansas and Nebraska the best corn country in the world."
// My Antonia, Willa Cather

If you follow me on Instagram (@chelsea_pea), you probably saw photos from my recent weekend trip with my mom, little sister, and some of our girlfriends.

Rainy, hot day. Winding roads through our wonderful Wisconsin bluffs. A long, steep driveway to an old farmstead on a hill.

The house is completely gutted, save for the kitchen, bathrooms and one bedroom, so there wasn't much space in which to "live" over the weekend. But, I'm part of the Mills family, we remodel all the time, and we can see the potential a place has. So I focused on that.

A few lawn chairs, an old couch and some mis-matched furniture to eat at. A small summer kitchen that isn't exactly air tight. The bugs got in, the rain got in and the door doesn't completely shut. But it was shady in the hot afternoon, cool in the stormy evenings and relaxing for meals or moments of quiet.

Hauling timber, mowing, pulling weeds and moving scraps of lumber and tin in the muggy afternoon. Backing the truck with loads of fallen branches to the burn pit. Collecting wagon load, after wagon load, of sticks from the yard. Hot, though overcast, and humid, but the breeze was steady and cool.

Getting dirt under my fingernails, caked onto my feet, and feeling sticky all over from sweat. Not a nice n' easy Saturday, but a satisfactorily tiring and productive one. Not feeling bad about going in when you got too hot, or lying down for a rest after lunch. Eating delicious food, prepared all by hand. Each dish was full of fresh produce. An extra couple minutes was spent on each just to make them look pretty, because we're girls and we appreciate that.

Five girls who have country life in their viens, were raised to be good home-makers and don't mind rolling up their sleeves to get done what is needed. Washing dishes silently at the north kitchen window. Clearing plates methodically. Folding up blankets, refilling glasses, and being thoughtful throughout the day's work.

We had to turn the pump on manually to fill the toilet tank so we could flush and the power went out each night so we never knew if it would come on in time for the next meal or for showers before church, but we just rolled with it. Thankful for flashlight apps, gas burning stoves that can be lit with a match, and a mutual understanding that if things didn't work out ideally they would still be good.

Small-town church where the majority of the congregation is over fifty, the slide-show and sound-system never runs smoothly, the worship team sings hymns with enthusiasm, and the ushers are half grown-men and half boys-becoming-men. Where you sit close together on the pews, everybody knows everybody so anniversaries and birthdays are remembered, and it just seems natural for the opening message to contain a story about a farming Dad whose faith in the Lord was never shaken by all that befell him in his work.

Picking rhubarb to immediately be made into a pie, being greeted by roses every time you walk up to your front door, finding a nest of baby bunnies burrowed snuggly under the surface of the ground, and peeking into bird's nests. Watching the dark clouds roll up, hearing the wind whip all around your walls, and watching the rain beat against the window panes as the lightning flashes again and again in the distance. Humming, reading, just sitting in stillness and savoring the evening shadows and the refreshing summer breeze.

It wasn't the weekend I had anticipated when we headed out on our girls weekend, but it was good. In the extra work, the hot summer days, the unnerving storms, the limited amenities and "nothing special" days, there is so much joy to be found in the simple, the beautiful, the actually-important.
find it here.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

This is my Neighbor // homeless

 "A long time ago, when Chelsea was tinier than she is now, 
there was a big storm in the middle of the night. There was thunder, and lightning, and wind, and rain. Daddy heard little footsteps and looked up. There was Chelsea. 'Chelsea,' he said, 'Are you a little bit scared?' 'Uh-huh,' she said. So he picked her up and brought her to the window. They looked out at the thunder, and the lightning, and the wind, and the rain. 'Are you still scared?' 'Uh-huh.' So he tucked her safely under the covers in Mommy and Daddy's bed and she fell asleep." 
So goes the classic story in our household. I've loved thunderstorms as long as I can remember, but in spite of my sturdy house, strong roof, warm bed and tightly-shut windows, they can still be unnerving.

This weekend my mom, little sister and I met up with some friends at their work-in-progress farmhouse. During our visit, Gabi and I stayed in the summer kitchen, as there is only one bedroom in the actual house that isn't completely gutted. Each night there were terrible thunderstorms and flood warnings. After our experience this spring out our own farm, having the oldest tree on the land come down in a storm, I've been more on-edge about fierce storms. The clouds rolled in, the power went out, and I lay tense and alert. Lying there, under a thin roof, between uninsulated walls, old and shaky windows, and one blanket shared with my little sister, I listened to the storm. If a tree had come down on the summer kitchen, or the winds had blown in any of the windows or doors, or had a tornado come along, we would have been in real trouble. Still, we were reasonably safe and made it through each night, even sleeping soundly through much of the storm.

This year, as I have listened to storms wrap around and bang against the place I'm sleeping, my thoughts have turned toward the countless people who have to weather the same, often worse, storms that I weather, but without a roof. The summer kitchen was as close as I ever want to come to "roughing it" during a storm, but the people living in tents in Haiti, under tarps in the slums of India, in huts in Africa, or in alley-ways in America... do we ever think of what it must be like for them to endure such storms in their dwellings, or lack thereof? I think of how frightened I can be, when I'm not getting wet or having my shelter blow violently about me all night. I want to love those neighbors of mine. You can join me!

From now until the end of August, for every item sold through my online store, 50% of profits will be given to either OR World Vision's emergency relief fund
You choose which ministry you want me to put the 50% towards by specifying in the notes during check-out! Easy as that, we can help get our dear neighbors into real shelter so they can stop weathering storms alone and afraid.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Find Joy >> right here

Every summer has a story.

At least once every summer we load up the pick-up, grab our pillows and sweatshirts, and go to the drive-in theater. Sometimes it is just us, sometimes we meet friends. Getting there before the sunsets is the best... catching that golden hour light, listening to the radio, watching kids throw around a football. Some people can't see the joy in sitting outside with the bugs, getting covered in dew as the night goes on, staying up late and having to drive home after... but I love it!

 The small-town feel of all those trunk doors open, people sitting and sipping cool drinks, soaking in the sunset, cuddling under blankets in the trunk. Getting to watch a movie on the biggest screen ever and, at any moment, being able to look up and see the sky brimming with stars up above it. It's true that you're damp, cold, tired, itchy from bug bites and a bit sore, but that's all part of the experience. All of those things are just reminders to me of a marvelous night.