Monday, April 27, 2015

The work of my hands

 Remember this, that very little is needed to make a happy life.

Lately, I have been craving connections with the past. With how things used to be done and what used to be reliable. Just the old soul in me, feeling left out in this fast paced, ultra modern, yet ultra disconnected (from authentic people) world of ours. I am sure this also has something to do with this new need I have to discover fresh ways to honor my grandma.

There is this gratifying satisfaction of working with my hands. I have known it for what seems like forever. Cooking and baking have been important to me for years and years.  I get in the zone and relaxed as I whip up yummy meals and sugary desserts. I love mixing, and measuring, and preparing. Cutting, tucking, and frosting are favorites as well. I am a girl who cooks from recipes but always adds in a dash or splash extra. I am a girl who cooks from scratch and believes that you really can't ever completely ruin a meal.

The work of my hands, resulting in food that satisfies, that is an instant recipe for happiness in my book. Simple, but not common anymore is this kind of "old-fashioned" kitchen work ethic.

On another side of the coin, I have started a humble, pallet garden! I already love it. Yeah, I tend to jump right into things. But, really I have been observing my mama garden for years now  (her garden grew and flourished after Mel and I left for college). She is a gentle yet through master of her domain in our backyard and the blossoms that grow for her are absolutely beautiful! I have seen the seasons come and go, so I have a sneak peek into the seasons of gardening. I don't have to fret when the leaves drop off and the green turns to brown. If I stay careful and also let nature do its thing, life and Spring will hopefully bloom again and again in my garden. Can you feel how over the top excited I am?

I also really enjoy when my hands work on hand-written cards and other forms of creativity, such as painting. So far I have 4 Sabrina originals gracing my home. Bringing color and form to a blank canvas relaxes me and stretches my mind in all the right ways. There is a creative gene in me that yearns to show itself. Sometimes I give it full and free reign.

The work of my hands is intimate and personal. It is a connection to my sometimes too soft heart and the things that make it beat. The work of my hands is tactile and life-giving. I am focused on the work of these hands and the difference that they make in my little world. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

More Family

My home is quiet now, after a long weekend filled with such fun and family that I can't even begin to describe the goodness.

The grown-up Sabrina continues to see so many things with a depth that the younger me did not comprehend. And that is fine, because that is how life works. Seeking more wisdom that often only comes with time and life. If you do it right, more birthdays, should bring more wisdom. Should, I say...

Anyway, my ideas about family have taken flight over the years. I have lived near and sorta far from my family and felt the independence and the loneliness. For me, I needed to get back closer to the love and stability of the people who know me best. So, I moved back (after much prayer) closer to home, and it has turned out to be just wonderful, and I know that God heard me and answered all of my prayers, both spoken and unspoken. Praises!

This weekend, my biological family, and my Tallahassee family all came together to celebrate my almsot 30th birthday. It was amazing! I am still so content and glowing with happiness. I had many of "my people" together in one place, and we all had a blast! My biological family is a large unit; I have gained an Athens family that I still love dearly from my grad school years; and I have this Tallahassee family that is precious to me in so many ways.

At this point of life, when my journey does not yet encompass some of the milestones of some of my peers, it can sometimes feel like I have gotten behind in the game of life. Meandered down paths that were right for me, but as the clock ticks, maybe costly in other areas. But, I was reminded this weekend that my beautiful, unique, wonderful, blessed life is just exactly what it was meant to be. No changes needed, only the strength to stay humble and happy, content and Christ-like, smiling and true to my own Sabrina self. 

I have always been a girl who loved travel and also loved home. Who loved people and also loved family. Well, I see it and I feel it in my soul that more family, more support, more love, more care; all of that "more" makes for an amazing life! I have an amazing life! To be getting ready for 30, and to be reminded of that fact, is a wondrous thing!

Dear Self,
Always remember this weekend, and these times of great growth and great faithfulness. And as you receive such amazing love, continue to live a life of giving and sharing. That is what really counts!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Assumptions and Protection

Sometimes I wonder about the silence. I wonder as national and local news unfolds, and protests flare up and then back down, I wonder about the hush that seems to come from certain areas.

Are people not interested in the news of unrest? Are people quiet because some news has zero relevance to their lives? Are people unsure of how they feel, unsure of how to even begin to combat such huge problems as prejudice and they choose quiet instead. Maybe quiet is safer....but maybe it is not.

But I also have to remember that quiet people are still thinking. In todays 24 hour news jungle, it is hard to escape the current stories of anger, death, and force. The stories that again and again more recently involve black males and police. Today, I won't go into the unreported stories of gang wars and other crimes that zing back and forth and are killing thousands a year.

I am no expert. I am a 29 year old African American woman. Living in the South. Loving my life.
But I have gone to graduate school and spent time studying social justice. I had to search my own soul many, many times to even begin to try and tackle some of the complexity that lies behind race and prejudice and assumptions. And in life most people are just not going to do that. Who has the time? Who has the passion it takes? Who has the compassion it takes too?

I have had exactly two run ins with police in my life. But you know what, I have worked at schools where my students had run ins with police ALL the TIME! If you have never had an incident, small or large with an upset or angry police then you might not get what I am about to say. But, maybe you will still keep on reading. My two run ins were minor, and I do mean minor. One, an alleged shoplifting accusation during my teens at Walmart, and one a very brief interaction as I was driving in a construction zone. But in both cases I had a fear in me. A fear that the police did not see me as Sabrina Stewart, but rather as "another" young black woman. And all the assumptions that come with that label. Kids but no husband. Attitude but little education. I am neither of these, but when you are in certain groups in this country, and you encounter certain police, there are sadly certain assumptions that are made.

Why I keep wondering, do the recent news stories have people running from police, fighting with police, arguing with police? I could never dare to answer for anyone but I know that if I could feel this small fear, that others have felt far more. What if during a routine stop, the voice that is only supposed to be authoritative, what if it starts asking you demeaning questions, questions that hint that you are "just another punk", "just another man or woman who deserves to be in jail, like the other men and women who look just like you and therefore must be just like you"? What if what is supposed to be protection, you feel is far more than that? Judgement replaced by protection perhaps. And what if the judgement is dead wrong (the wording was completely intentional there)?

The thing is, the time to have these discussions on race and violence is now. It is not later, when you have been stopped for an alleged crime. Now, we have to open our eyes to some truth. Someone has to talk about the fact that there is a generation of young black men who are seeing lives like theirs killed repeatedly by police officers. We don't yet know, how that will play out psychologically. We have to talk about the mothers, daughters, and friends who carry a worry in them that their family member is going to have a run in, and they won't live to tell the tale about what actually happened. Certain families are having difficult conversations all over this country, and those conversations are very rarely crossing over racial and socio-economic lines, so the chasm grows and deepens. The misunderstandings blossom more and more. Confusion and silence reign.

I get scared and I get angry during these cases. Because one person is alive and able to testify and give vivid details of an encounter, able to describe their feelings and their concerns. They get a chance to reel in positive public opinion and support. And the other person, they are silent, because they have been killed...not just injured but KILLED. And no one, no bystander, no video camera, no nothing can speak the entire truth of a dead man.

It's heavy stuff. I feel it stirring up all sorts of emotions in me even as I write. Emotions that are not shared by everyone, even though we so desperately want others to rally together with us for change. But is it possible for a family who looks a certain way and earns a certain amount of money, who has never and will never spend one moment worried that their child will make a mistake and encounter an angry police, let alone come into any contact with the weapon that the police carries; is it possible that, that family and another family who looks a certain way and earns a different amount of money, who has and will continue to worry constantly that their child might not make it home because they made a mistake and encountered an angry police, and came in direct and terrifying contact with the weapon that the police carries; is it possible that both can understand the other? Join together and say somethings are wrong no matter how you look at it? I believe it is possible, but it will be difficult.

Whew! This is one of those times where I just needed to write to get it out. Not to offer solutions, and not to cause unrest. But to clear my head and heart so that I can keep on believing in change and having hope that life will be seen as precious and created and purposeful verses a burden, nuisance and unnecessary.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

April April April

April is here. Spring has sprung. Times of refreshing and joy are arriving.

Whew! I am relived to be here during these times. Yesterday, I saw two community groups outside working the earth and building gardens. I loved it! Probably because I am trying really hard to finish Animal Vegetable Miracle. A well-written book of one family and how farming and wanting locally grown food changed their lives. No matter, I can apprecaite the idea that putting our hand to the plow yields results, the circle of crop life if you will.

My mother and so many others are backyard workers, maintaining gardens that are full of the myriad of colors and scents that tell of the Spring. To look over the land in Winter has its own kind of beauty, but that is not the full story. The story bursts forth as week by week the Spring rains and the Winter chill and the Fall planting all work together to bring forth blossoms, flowers and fresh green leaves. Branches straighening and alive again after the cold and dry Winter.

And I appreciate how Spring is here in my personal life as well. Color, life and the results of the previous season. I am smiling because I welcome my 30th birthday this month. I sing joyfully off key as we enter the last nine weeks of school. I imagine sweet summer and enjoy getting creative in the present day.

This month is full of celebrations, dinner and movies, and worshiping God. Parties and prayer groups and welcoming the fun of grown-up life. Family and friends and yummy birthday cake! Days off from work and walking around and being present in this life that is daily a testament to how good and full of grace God is.

April, April, April....I love ya:)