one for Megs

 

“Celebrating a birthday reminds us of the goodness of life and in this spirit we really need to celebrate people’s birthdays every day by showing gratitude, kindness, forgiveness, gentleness and affection. These are ways of saying ‘it’s good that you are alive’; ‘it’s good that you are walking with me on this earth…'” Henri Nouwen

meghan

A couple of years ago I wrote a blog for almost everyone in my family but ran out of steam just before the end of the year. Meghan, my younger sister by 18 months, has reminded me from time to time that though we are quite close, I had stopped the birthday blogs before her birthday that year. She’s mentioned being unimpressed.

Never fear. Birthdays come annually, and Meghan’s is tomorrow. Here are some things you should know about Meghan. She loves fiercely. She gives generously. She communicates clearly. She works hard. She organizes our motley and over-sized crew for holidays and birthdays. She got on a plane the moment Betsy Claire’s birth happened so that she could hold our very first niece and be there for Bridget. That’s the way Meghan does life: giving of her whole self to those she loves.

Oh, and Meghan is really, really, really funny.

When we were kids Meghan and I shared a room for most of our growing up years. As adults we shared several apartments.

When Mom had cancer, Meghan and I took on nine of our younger siblings for one very long February while Mom and Dad were away seeking treatment. We had no idea how to handle the kiddos in the midst of everything going on, but somehow, together, we did it. And only one of us got bit by one frustrated tiny brother. Way to take one for Team Blinn, Megs! We even managed to keep the kids alive.

We live fifteen minutes apart now, and we talk on the phone most days. We don’t agree about everything, but I cannot, cannot, cannot imagine my life without my beautiful sister. Her birthday is cause to ponder God’s goodness to me, to our family and to the world. When you’re gifted someone as fantastic and beautiful as my sister is, you can’t help but uttering the best one-word prayer I know. Thanks.

Happy birthday, Meghan! Can’t wait to celebrate it up tomorrow night.

today: My Sister Had a Baby

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Betsy Claire decided to be born on a Friday. The day before my sister Bridget told me she felt different, that she thought the baby would come early. Bridget was just shy of 36 weeks pregnant, so she thought early meant in a couple of weeks. I got a text in the middle of the night: her water had broken. I awoke that morning after a fitful sleep at 5 a.m. and saw the text. I called Bridget, prayed with her and spent the day waiting to hear Betsy had arrived.

Our family prayed and hoped that all would be well, that her tiny lungs would be ready, that she wouldn’t need any time in the NICU. Babies who decide to come early sometimes need a bit of help.

Not Betsy. She arrived ready to go. Bridget’s labor was relatively easy. Betsy was all-together lovely, a pretty little baby with a gorgeous disposition. Everyone who meets her falls in love the minute the see her fluffy red hair and huge blue eyes. She’s calm and laid back and much loved by her mom and dad and brother and by all the aunties and uncles she inherited by birthright.

Our family needed a baby, I think. Jakey, my youngest brother just turned twelve, and all us Blinn kids grew up with a deep rooted affection for babies. It’s not that we all long for a baker’s dozen of kids like our mom had. It’s just that we see all the grace and beauty and hope of what could be when we stare at a newborn face. Few things bring greater wonder than cradling brand new life. Our hearts collectively cry “yes,” an affirmation that we see evidence of good in a world proclaimed to be just that from the beginning.

This is something I love about my family, our open arms towards the littlest of humanity. We tend to be rough around the edges and opinionated, but every last one of us softens around a baby.

I get to hold babies and photograph them day in and day out when I go to work, and I marvel at every last one of them, breathing prayers of thanks to a God who knew that new life beckons tenderness and gentleness, awe and warmth. I get to witness miracles in the expansion of love that engulfs a family when they add a little one.

The miracle named Betsy Claire who joined our family brought a brand new tiny miracle into our family, and I think about her and find myself celebrating life. It is good to see her. Life is a gift, and here she is, amazing and alive. Here she is, ours.

Return to Writing

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It’s been months since I penned a blog, months since I wrote outside of my journal or work blog, months since I played with poetry because I can. I miss writing. Collin told me he thinks of me as a storyteller.

Not just a writer.

Not just a photographer.

A storyteller.

I know he’s right. The mind formed within me thinks in stories. My heart beats story. I try to retain the stories I see passing me by when I run. I watch families through my camera lens and most love the sessions that tell a story. I need stories.

I’ve taken a hiatus from storytelling, in written form anyways. I’m not sure why. I’m writing tonight as something of a confession. I’ve stopped doing this thing I’m made to do. It’s time to start again. Story is how I process life, see God, love others. I don’t want to miss out.

Life is full of doing the stuff of life: cooking and cleaning and running and being in relationships and going, going, going- always going. I’ll say it again. I don’t want to miss out. So I’m returning to writing. I’m returning to telling stories. That will soon look like a new space and new ideas, but for now I just wanted to put some words on the blog. For now I need to commit.

today: Sunday, saving me now

Sunday, and I wake, hitting the snooze button three times while I determine that my hair needs washing. Plans for an early morning run abandoned in favor of clean hair for church result in a longer-than-normal walk for the dog. We walk a loop of birds chirping and insects buzzing. Still, it’s relative silence. I shower, say prayers, plan the day. Tea brews while I stir oats and unload the dishwasher.

I take a moment to realize I’d awakened with time and space (after abandoning my run) for quiet. We need more quiet, I think, most of us. The television is off, no music plays, and I am home alone. Just these few minutes, they are saving me. Right now. God makes his presence known. He is here, has been here.

How often I miss him for the busy. How consistently he is willing to meet me where I am. And now, still and silent on a Sunday morning, Sabbath. Joy comes and oft craved peace joins it. Steady breaths and quiet heart beckoned to life, again and again.

Joining with the amazing Sarah Bessey, whose blog feeds my soul.

tonight: well worn

Once upon a time I used to blog. Regularly. It’s been months, though, but I feel pressed to get back to writing.
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well worn and cross legged on the floor
borderline despairing the TO DOs
they masquerade and manipulate the importance of the task
sorting piles of well worn stuff
needed or not tossed in a box or a bag
to move or to goodwill
steps onward, upward, down the lane
to move on towards goodwill
i hope. oh yes, i hope.

today: a Wednesday not so long ago

Some days are about stopping, forced pauses and seeing. Life abounds. God, here.

On A Wednesday not so long ago, I felt walls closing in on questions I could not answer. I lacked sleep and perspective. Blinded to goodness, I staggered through the day, wallowing and grumpy. The sun shone, though, beckoning me outdoors. I leashed the dog and packed my camera. I walked. And I saw. It was a return to gratitude and perspective. Life abounds, God, here.

tonight: horizon

“Bravery is leaning into love.”
-Emily Wierenga (her exquisite blog, here)

This image, from summer? Sigh. Love.

wide horizon,
and sitting, chilled so pulling a sweater tighter
broad expanse,
and dreaming, filled so opening arms up wider
deep wonder
and believing, still so soaring ever higher
grateful dancing
and God, here, so I’m alive-r
grateful dancing
and God, here, so I’m alive-r