Gatherings

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Lately my computer screen has been littered with sticky notes that all contain links to articles I’ve read, podcast ideas I need to listen to, a quote I’ve found that I want to remember, lots of things I want to keep track of. It’s nice to have a collection of things to read or listen to if I don’t have enought time to sit down with a book, but I don’t want to mindlessly scroll through instagram in my spare minutes.

I’ve also been working on writing intentionally again, and underneath my pile of projects lies this great fear that what I produce is not meaningful enough. It seems like the internet /media is loaded and overflowing with noise and clatter and junk, and I don’t want to add to the chaos. Likewise, I feel so strongly about guarding my mind from filling it with this incessant noise. So I hope to open this space wide for that which is true, good, and beautiful. The balance is in finding inspiration and using it to inform my own words and thoughts. So I thought I’d share some of what I’ve been filling my brainbox with, and let’s be honest — one of the real reasons for sharing all these things is to clear them from my sticky note collection!

Hope you find some goodness here.

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What we’re reading…..

Andrew 
A Man Called Ove (Fredrik Backman),
Redeeming Love (Francine Rivers)

Kate 
Liturgy of the Ordinary (Tish Harrison Warren),
Gifts of Imperfection (Brene Brown),
The Art of Slow Writing (Louise DeSalvo),
Not Without Laughter (Langston Huges),
Green Ember Series (S.D. Smith)

>  The other day Andrew asked me for a book suggestion and I saw a copy of Redeeming Love on the shelf. I reccomended it to him halfheartedly, not entirely sure he would go for it, but then I told him how much it meant to me when I read it in college. He picked it up and read it in 3 days flat. It made me feel so loved!

> For Easter dinner, our aunt & uncle who we’re living with had these two awesome families over after church. Tons of people lately have been recommending The Green Ember Series to me, and days before Easter I found out we were having lunch with the author! I enjoyed every minute we spent with them on that sweet holiday afternoon.   It was soul-filling to spend time talking about literature and education and imagination with people who are so wise and kind and gracious and just so interesting. I am starting the first book of the series today and I can’t wait! I always need more fiction in my life.

What I’m listening to…


What I’m thinking about…

> On International Women’s Day, I noticed some unfortunate lines of thinking that misunderstood feminism by dismissing the beauty of homemaking. Maybe this article will help us all remember that making a home is one of the most wonderful things you can do no matter where you are in life — the root of feminism is the freedom to live without shame no matter your pursuits.

This article brought tears of joy to my eyes and I had to read it three times over. Inspiration found when she wrote:

“My life is his story and he wants me to understand it as much as possible. Even if no one else ever reads it, even if I dig up the same old bones as every other writer, he’s put the shovel in my hand, so the best thing I can do is keep digging.”

> I don’t remember when I read this but it’s important nonetheless. A vibrant, healthy, alive imagination is a precious gift. Let’s always exercise ours well! I’ve only begun to scratch the surface of all the goodness over at Story Warren

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Don’t you love this?! by Jennifer Trafton

 

 

18159521_10158402069950012_1648355832_o Andrew and I stayed up late one night reading the last chapters of The Wingfeather Saga out loud by the light of a headlamp & the last of our bonfire. I’ve loved these series so much. The quote below is from one of the characters who AP based off of Rich Mullins. Love.

 


“I’ve spent my whole life traveling, always looking to the next town, the next city, the next adventure — & I never knew what I was looking for until now. I used to think it was the thrill of new places, new people, the satisfaction of singing a story they’ve never heard. There’s a powerful magic in songs, you know. They can aim at the heart, point it at what matters. My own heart has been aimed at the far horizon, & my feet have followed. But now I’m as tired as an old bed, [yet] my feet are still restless. I’m tired of moving, & yet I can’t wait to leave. I’m homesick — I’ve always been so. I can’t rest until I finally learn what that means.”

 

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Sometimes I need to keep good words writtend down and they get put to use as bookmarks

 

 

 

heartbeat.

     And we are distracted by the person of God: the young intense dusty confusing testy paradoxical devout prickly thin tired relentless Christ.

Whatever else he was he was a human being with a human heart, atria and septae, mitral and ventral valves, sixty beats, a second perhaps, or maybe forty beats, a second, he was a calm man quite sure of his work, he was about his Father’s business, or maybe ninety beats a second, he was terrified of what was to be, he lost his temper in the temple, he wept with fear in the garden at night, knowing he would be pierced and lanced, knowing he would be speared in his heart as he hung struggling to breathe, sour wine on his lips, the afternoon brooding and lowering over Golgotha, the Place of Sculls.

He too was once a fertilized egg doubling and redoubling itself, forming endocardial heart tubes, myocardium and epicardium, the cells of what would be his heart miraculously migrating and fusing and dividing into the genius engineering of the four magic chambers, his amazing new heart beating beneath his amazing mother’s amazing heart after eight weeks, his mother the extraordinary teenage girl who said yes yes yes, as all mothers do, all their lives; and then mere moments later he his crying Eloi! Eloi! as he dies, he breathes his last, he yields up his spirit, his heart sludges to a halt on a cross on a bitter bleak afternoon; and then, three days later, in the oceanic black silence of the tomb in the garden, the tomb where no one had yet been laid, the tomb with the seal on the stone, the tomb redolent with myrrh and aloe and linen and spice, suddenly

there’s a heartbeat,

and another,

and another,

and another…

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{Brian Doyle. from the wet engine}

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Gratitude lately

Lately, I’ve been thankful for……..

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Foggy drives through our favorite part of the blue ridge parkway
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a dreamy, cozy, sweet dinner to celebrate being married
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pretty flowers from Andrew
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Saturdays in the sun
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finally having an outdoor space
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Spring’s long-awaited  return 

“Spring is the resurrection story, and it’s a story God can’t help but tell over and over again.” — Andrew Peterson 

O God, you sent Christ Jesus to be my shepherd and the lamb of sacrifice. Help me to embrace the mystery of salvation, the promise of life rising out of death. Help me to hear the call of Christ and give me the courage to follow it readily that I, too, may lead others to you. This I ask through Jesus, my shepherd and guide.

from People’s Companion to the Breviary 

Peace.

-K

We are here!

Happy Monday, all!

This morning as I was having my quiet time, I found myself checking into my spirit and noticing this deep and quiet calm. More often than not during this past year, it’s felt like I’ve lost this sense of strength and peace. Instead, I’ve been grasping towards comfort and security, only to find myself wrapped up in the anxiety and fear; false strengths that leave me fragile. But today was different. In the midst of transition, I am re-discovering the goodness of walking with Jesus and trusting him more fully. Today I am thankful, full-hearted, and my vision around me seems clear and sure.

Yesterday marked our first full week here in Blacksburg, VA and I still can’t believe we finally made it. I wanted to write this post so that all you wonderful friends know the low-down on our life-change and the transition time we’re in currently.

— We have signed a lease for a lovely little apartment in the lower-level of another house. Aka, this is a finished basement transformed into an apartment space, but when I tell people we’re living in someone’s basement I get weird looks. Strange. Anyway, we move into that place August 1. We will have a guest bedroom (finally!), I have perfected my cinnamon roll baking, you can see mountains from our deck, so please come visit us.

— In the meantime, we are living with Andrew’s aunt and uncle, the Tagg fam. (Pause: Is there a stronger word to use than “grateful?” because I don’t want to sound redundant and I really need get my point across). Another necessary clarification about this living situation: they have a very cool house that’s spaced out into different levels: the living + kitchen area, upstairs bedrooms, basement, and a middle living area with a guest bedroom. In living with an entire family, I think we really have it made.

If you skimmed these important notes, here’s the summary: currently we’re homeless, but we live with A’s aunt and uncle. And in August we move into a basement apartment. See above if this sounds worse than it really is.

So far, communal living and just being here has been amazing. Let me paint this picture for you and forgive me for sounding a little idealistic: I’m just incredibly excited. Every morning when I wake up, the sun starts streaming in through the closed blinds, the whole room held in this soft and golden glow. I’ve been trying to practice waking up slowly, instead of pushing myself right out of bed and into consciousness. These golden moments have been such gifts. New morning mercies get me every time! I shuffle upstairs to the kitchen and return good morning greetings from whoever is in the kitchen as I have some water and pour my half-cup of coffee (caffeine limitations going strong over here). It’s been so much easier to build a routine here than it was to figure that out when we first moved to North Carolina. I know there was so much more to do then, as we unpacked and settled in and I searched for jobs all day, and it was absolutely impossible to find a steady daily rhythm when I worked at Caribou and had to be out the door before the sun came up. However, I’m seeing how much I’ve grown in self-discipline and how much easier it is now to settle into routines. For this I am grateful, because with my new job, discipline and good habits will be the only way I’m successful.

The day after we got here, I had a phone call with a recruiter from a company called Varsity Tutors offering me a contract to work for them. Some of you may know about my previous job I got right after I left Caribou, and I was so thankful to have something lined up for me right away, but with the business of rushing home to SC and then moving through Papa’s death and the funeral week, it felt way overwhelming to try and start a new job in the midst of all that chaos. By the time I came home from those weeks away, it was time to start packing! This first job would have required me to start working at 4:30 am (because Beijing time) and that just didn’t seem like something I could swing in the middle of the moving stress. I interviewed and applied for this second job all in one day, it seemed to have just found me and swept me up, and next thing I knew I was signing a contract and being contacted by clients and setting a schedule and settling into a new daily work rhythm. Grateful. Grateful. Grateful.

I told Andrew one of the best things about this new job is how I’m not ashamed to tell people about where I work. When I was at Caribou, I wanted to crawl under a table and die whenever someone asked me what kind of work I did. It was awful. It drove me out of social situations because I hated it so much (Dramatic, I know. It was bad times). But now, I’m pumped to share with people about what I do because I’m actually excited about the job itself! For the first time in a long time, I like my work, and this is a huge gift. Not to mention, most of it is done online so I get to wear my slippers all day long. Introvert paradise.

Andrew has been adjusting well to the move, too. Some of you may not know this, but he lived here in Blacksburg for a summer back in college. He is working at a Starbucks right smack in the middle of downtown Blacksburg/ Virginia Tech and he’s enjoying the slower pace from his previous store. He’s also excited about the close-knit community that all the other store managers in the area have with one another, so he’s hoping to get the chance to move around and pick up shifts at other stores in town, too.

Yesterday we went to church together at The River Church. Andrew’s uncle, who married us, is the pastor here and we’ve been able to visit the church on some of our trips to Blacksburg as far back as Andrew and I were first dating, and of course while Andrew lived here. We are so thankful for the people we already know here and for the massive waves of peace that flood over us every time we come, engage with the liturgy, and receive communion together. I have cried every time, it is just so healing to me. Yesterday, we were greeted with many “Welcome back!”‘s and we just kept saying over and over how glad we were to be back, like this is where we belong. It really feels like a sort of homecoming to us, and we can’t wait to sink deeper into the community here.

There were times this last year when I forgot how to trust. I can’t get into all the struggles this year brought just now, but I was so weary; lacking peace and longing for a strength beyond mental and emotional stability. Now I am remembering. God’s peace is so easily offered, and it’s coming back to me. I remember now, that it doesn’t depend on my strength in the grasping. He’s already holding so tightly to me instead.

Andrew and I are overwhelmingly thankful to be here at last. God did not have to grant us such gifts during this transition, or even this place to live and flourish. And more so, we know full well that Blacksburg is not a utopia, or that our struggles will vanish now that we’re here. BUT. God is merciful and has granted us a place to rest in his perfect peace.

I want to say thank you to those of you who have always read this little blog of mine. Part of what I hope to do by working at home now is set some big writing goals and go after this passion of mine. I’ve spent too much time not doing something that makes me come alive, and I hope to change that this year. I haven’t decided how my blog will be affected by some of my pursuits, but I hope to keep using it as I always have: a place to share simple updates such as this one, and stories along the way. Much love to you for coming along with us by reading what I share. I have always treasured those of you who encourage me by reading and by sharing what it meant to you. Really, those kinds of moments have spurred me on to write beyond this space.

So thank you again, Andrew and I love you all, and we are so excited for what’s to come in this beautiful new season!

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PS. One of the best hikes ever: McAffe Knob. 8 miles round-trip, leading to the most photographed spot on the AT. We’ll be frequenting this place often. Come and visit us!!

PPS. Here is some more information about my new job. If you’re interested in this awesome company, I’d love to chat with you more about what they offer and how I can connect you! —>> Student + Tutor

 

 

The first place.

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“I give you this to take with you:Nothing remains as it was. If you know this, you canbegin again, with pure joy in the uprooting.” ―Judith Minty, Letters to My Daughters

Today we load up the moving truck, and tomorrow we head out of North Carolina to Virginia. As we are waiting for the truck to come, I gathered up some of my favorite pictures from this year in our little home to share. Ever since I was a little girl, moving has been so hard for me. I knew it would be hard to leave our first home, too, so bear with me as I get all sentimental on our last day at little 2E. We have loved this space and will treasure it forever.

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First cup of coffee. First morning.

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Settling in…

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Our house was officially warmed once all these people were in it!
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I loved sunny afternoons here
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And quiet evenings when everything is cleaned and the dishwasher whirrs in the background
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I learned to love cooking in this kitchen! Miracles happen. & Andrew was (IS) the best helper.
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& the last cup of coffee + last morning before the place was demolished by boxes and stress
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I am so thankful that home is not always places.

Songs about home…. Home is not places  + Home

They say home is where your heart is set in stone
Is where you go when you’re alone
Is where you go to rest your bones
It’s not just where you lay your head
It’s not just where you make your bed
As long as we’re together,
does it matter where we go?

 

 

 

The Women

I heard today is International Women’s Day, a day to monument and celebrate the wonder, beauty, strength, resilience, tenderness, and power that is bound up and released in women around the globe. I have been thinking all day long about the women in my life, and this is my feeble attempt to honor them. The more I think about my own women, though, I can’t help but think about amazing women throughout history who have inspired me and shown me what it means to be brave,  strong, a peacemaker,  kind, in short: what it means to be a woman.

Early in my childhood I was introduced to Lottie Moon, probably one of my first missionary heroines. And of course, the woman to introduce me to my childhood hero was  a legendary woman herself; my Sunday School teacher, “Aunt” Miriam. From then on, I was captivated by powerful women: Elisabeth Elliot. Corrie Ten Boom. Princess Diana. Harriet Tubman. Rosa Parks. I was completely mesmerized by these women’s stories. When I think about how I came to care about social justice so much, I used to think it was the urban ministry class I took in college, but really it was the pictures of Princess Diana alongside Mother Theresa holding the sick and poor. It was the books my own mother read to me about Elisabeth Elliot serving, living with, and loving the very people who slaughtered her husband. The impact of powerful women put before me from as early as I can remember is certainly not lost on me.

I went through a pretty serious biography phase in middle school, and I couldn’t get enough of Nancy Reagan, Laura Bush, Jackie Kennedy, and of course Michelle Obama, the list goes on. The First Ladies who have served our country never cease to completely baffle me.

I suppose I had been subconsciously working my way towards becoming a feminist all my life, but never really verbalized it until I got to college and was so graciously directed towards the obvious reality that feminism is a good thing. How can you not desire gender equality when you explore the texts written by some of the most amazing women who have ever lived? When you study the works of women like George Eliot, Virginia Woolf, Jane Austen, Sylvia Plath, Willa Cather, Frances Burney, Zora Neal Hurston, Mary Wollstonecraft (y’all: I had to study her piece called A Vindication of the Rights of Women, written in the 18th century. SO BADASS!), women who had to change their names just to be published? Studying these women was one of the most incredible privileges of my life.

And not only did the women whom we studied amaze me. But I got to observe, walk on the same sidewalks as, and sit under the teaching of professors like Dr. Peggy Wilfong, Dr. Michelle Wood, Dr. Joy Fagan, Mrs. Brown. My advisor, Dr. Wilfong, changed my life. We considered her the “Queen” of the English department because she was so wise and brilliant and kind and simply so revered, yet she would take her students out for coffee, she drove me home in a snowstorm one day and gave me a 20 minute pep talk in my driveway about how I CAN and I WILL finish and pass and be successful in my capstone project. She made a survival package for my class finishing our senior seminar, she stopped me in the hallway one day and in  5 minutes she had told me to dream big, she told me I ABSOLUTELY COULD do the jobs I was dreaming but fearful about, and she had written contact information for someone to help me get where I wanted to go. I sobbed through chapel immediately following that encounter because I had never felt so believed in.

And then there are the women in my circles.

Korea gave me the sweetest, strongest female friendships who I hold dearly still to this day, even though we have all been scattered back around the world. Women who loved God, so intentionally loved each new foreigner who stumbled into our city, who happened to sign shitty contracts but pushed through it with grace and resilience and would pray for their really really bad bosses, women who even birthed their babies in foreign hospitals. I saw what it meant to be a faithful wife, a loving fiancé, and a devoted friend from these women and they transformed me with their presence in my life that year.

As I get older, I have started to realize more and more how significant it is to know your parents friends, and I am so proud to know my mom’s best friends.  Most of the women in her circle have known me since birth, or at least for as long as I can remember them. I have learned what it means to be a very good friend because I watch my mom be a friend, and that is no small thing. I’ve watched her cry with and rejoice with her oldest and dearest friends, and the double blessing of this is that they have even cried with and rejoiced with me as I grow up. I have a whole tribe of God-fearing women who know me and love me because they have known and loved my mom for so. many. years, and that is of more value than I can express. In this circle, too, are my mom’s sisters, and my friend’s moms! Oh what a blessing it is to be woven into a line of women so dedicated to Jesus, their husbands, their families, and each other. Role models. Every one of them.

And then there are my very own women, the ones who stood beside me on my wedding day, the ones who walked with me through college, the ones who have known me as far bas as when I still had braces, and of course my sister who didn’t have a choice but she is my best friend anyway  — these women have walked through it all with me. My friend Megan held me in the back of a car after a bad accident senior year. My friend Gina flew from Ohio to Charlotte in the middle of the semester just to welcome me home from Korea. My friend Rachel has called me every week that I’ve been in NC depressed and lonely because she fights on my behalf when joy seems far off. All these women have poured encouragement and love by the bucketfulls over me even though they carry heavy struggles of their own. With each year that passes I become more amazed and in awe at the women God has given to be my friends.

My mother in law is the most generous and thoughtful woman I know. She raised my husband to be the kind, selfless, hardworking, people-serving man that he is, and I will be grateful as long as I live. As my husband said just the other day (after she brought us lunch and boxes for our move) that the Orton men would be completely lost without her. Myself included.

My mom’s mom is a solid rock. She is a pillar of unwavering faith and joy in Christ. I can think of nothing more I want than to grow half as wise and joy-filled as she.

My dad’s mom is an absolute treasure. She has lived through so much hardship but she still walks on gracefully as ever (see my Facebook post on her legendary strength after my Papa died).

And my own mom is one of God’s most gracious gifts to me. The grace of God, that I get to be her daughter blows my mind every day. She is wise, funny, loving, hospitable, welcoming, never giving up, hopeful, and more beautiful as each year passes. She lights up each room she walks into. I look up to her in every way, and I have to stop there because I am crying on my keyboard now…

I truly feel like I could go on for 1000 more words to try and adequately celebrate the women in my life. But I hope this small tribute rings out loudly enough so that they and anyone who reads this knows what I hope we all know about the women in my circle, and women everywhere: that they are amazing. 

As much as I champion these women and wish I could tackle hug and throw confetti for, I also want to acknowledge those for whom this day may be difficult, the case being an absense of a strong woman figure, mother, or friend. If my words accomplish anything, may it be a reminder to you that good women are not hard to find. And may we continually strive to be the women we want to be for those who need us.

Every woman in this slideshow has taught me, loved me, raised me, and shaped me more than they may ever know. I am grateful for each of you, from the bottom of my heart!

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morning thoughts

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Now that I look back, it seems to me that in all that deep darkness, a miracle was preparing. So I am right to remember it as a blessed time, and myself as waiting in confidence, even if I had no idea what I was waiting for.

Gilead, Marilynne Robinson

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Nobody has seen the trekking birds take their way towards such warmer spheres as do not exist, or rivers break their course through rocks and plains to run into an ocean which is not to be found. For God does not create a longing or a hope without having a fulfilling reality ready for them. But our longing is our pledge, and blessed are the homesick, for they shall come home.

Isak Dinesen

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“Wherefore each part 
of my hard heart
meets in this frame,
to praise Thy Name:
that, if I chance to hold my peace,
these stones to praise Thee may not cease.”
George Herbert 

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(…..sometimes the greats say it better.)