It's in the Adventure

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Today is the day Here, Now is officially born! Just for funsies, I’ve decided to include an excerpt in today’s post. This is the beginning to chapter 7, which is about practicing presence in adventure and creation, which happens to be my all-time fave. I’m not going to spoil it for you, but there’s a funny story following this chapter intro… (which happens to be called Sweat, Speedos, and Sparkly Surprises)

 So, this is me encouraging each of you to get after it, however that looks for you: picking flowers, stand-up paddling, hiking, picnic in the arboretum. Get the sun on your face, get fresh air in your lungs. Spend some time thinking about the One who made it all with someone who calls you sister or neighbor or mom or wife or friend or daughter. Big love to you today!

 

 

I’m somewhat of a hippie. Kind of granola, but not totally. If I were a bumper sticker, I’d land somewhere between “Kale yeah!” and “I love animals, they’re delicious.” I spent six years of my childhood on a mountain in Idaho without electricity or paved roads, and all the other years were spent on the beach in Southern California. So, while I love man-made things—especially my pink velvet couch with sequined cushions—I have a special affinity for creation, for experiencing God’s presence in what he spoke into existence. I don’t want to cram my earthy ways down your throat, as I understand not everyone enjoys the same things, but there is nothing quite as real and centering as delighting in nature.

And if nature is the doorway of God’s wild beauty, then adventure is crossing the threshold with intention. It’s not enough just to know it’s there or to merely bring pieces of it into my house; it must be entered into. This call of adventure is an invitation to experience sights, sounds, scents, and textures that draw us out of ourselves and into what’s happening beyond the sterile and controlled environments we have built around us.

I believe the pleasure of God is in the adventure—in the sound of fishing poles clacking while hiking down the trail, the picnic on the river, the casting and mending of the fly rod’s thick white line under a wide blue sky; in the waxing of the board, the salt crystals forming on hair and eyelashes after surfing—yet we don’t often recognize it. When we do, it’s like opening an elegantly wrapped gift in the presence of the giver: there is mutual anticipation, mutual delight. He saw what he had made and called it good, and he wants us to revel in the good he made.

But, too often, we merely spend our days checking off the to-do list. He gave us senses he wants to fill, yet we’ve allowed them to be dulled by screens, by busyness, by duty. Sometimes the last thing on our minds is enjoying creation, looking for adventure. Maybe it’s because work is relentless; the hamster wheel spins too fast to step down without face planting. Maybe it’s because going off the beaten path takes a bit of effort, more than we think we can afford. Maybe it’s because encountering nature can be an unpredictable thing, a bit frightening, because we might find ourselves in a situation we can’t control. But I’m pretty sure that’s where God meets us: in the space where we set aside our agenda and learn to be openhanded with his will for the days of our lives. He meets us in the wild and savage beauty because, as they say in Narnia, “He is not a tame lion.”

So much keeps us from natural spaces—but isn’t that where we met God for the first time, so long ago? In a garden. Face-to-face. Where it’s his desire to care for us by filling our souls with fresh air, with exquisite beauty. It’s his concept, that in creation we are drawn into his very presence. And in that presence, we are drawn closer to him and closer to each other. Being outside gives us the chance to stop to notice him, to hear him say, Look what I made for you, my dear. Look how much I love you, how capable I am of creating beautiful things. Come away with me, darling. Be with me awhile. It’s hard to ignore when we step away from our usual distractions. Love is loud and clear in the great outdoors.

Entering into the adventure space is always a risk. Sometimes it ends up magical—the setting, the company, the weather, the discovery. And yet sometimes . . . not so much. You can’t put a bridle on adventure; it’s going to go the way it wants. Either way, though, it’s living. It’s diving into the experience. It’s sharing in our surroundings and finding out more about ourselves, more about each other. And it’s always beautiful, even if it looks a little different than we hoped.

Chicken Butts and Loose Donkeys

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Hi friends, both old and new! A big welcome to my new subscribers, if I could reach through the screen and hug your neck I would. My posts are about all sorts of things, but I hope you enjoy the philosophical and deep words I’m sharing with you today. Life isn’t always just sunshine and rainbows, sometimes you wrestle with the hard questions, search intensely for meaning… or maybe just a rogue donkey. Anyway, I hope you find some meaning here (or maybe a giggle, sometimes it’s the same thing). Proceed.

Never say never. Isn’t that what they always say? And if you’ve been a parent longer than a minute, you say it pretty much daily. And since I am a parent, and Fifi’s basically an only child and needs responsibility and companionship, I did what I never thought I’d do: filled the barn with animals you can’t ride. Or eat. And since never say never generally has a domino effect, two things happened this week that I never imagined would ever be a thing. First of all, I washed a chicken’s butt. You heard that right. Her name is Big Mama. I washed Big Mama’s butt—right clean, too. Chickens apparently get something called “dirty butt” (so creatively named) and my poor hen was walking around with her tail feathers matted in poop for weeks… Don’t judge me, it took me a while to adequately consider my options: 1. Wash the butt. 2. Allow the butt to stay nasty. or, 3. Pop a cap. (I know a guy…) As you can see, each of these options requires courage. Each has lasting implications. And each was a moral dilemma. And since I’m a girl who generally likes to do the right thing, I took one for the team and opted for door #1.

How exactly does one wash a chicken’s butt, you ask? Fill a bucket with warm water, catch the dirty chicken, put her in the chicken jacuzzi for 20 minutes and speak loving (and cleansing) words over her. That’s right, I spent 20 minutes of my life holding that chicken down in the purple bucket singing love songs. Fifi came and helped “soothe” Big Mama (poking her in the eye, kissing her on the beak, squishing her comb) and I, with gloved hand, proceeded to swish the poopy water around while trying to dissolve the ancient, matted poop from her ample backside—until Big Mama decided enough was enough. She flapped her pepper-sprinkled wings and got the heck out of that Chicken-cuzzi, spraying poop water all over me: from heat to toe, including in my hair and on my upper lip. I’m still disturbed. I still can’t stop exfoliating.

But the crazy doesn’t stop there. Only a few days later, while I was doing some work at nap time and chatting with my 18 year old son in the kitchen, I looked out the window and noticed a giant poop pile on my lawn. Donkey poop. Leaping up, I looked out to the barn and realized the donkeys were… missing. Now, last month we decided it would be a great idea to acquire some miniature donkeys to be besties with our baby Pygmy goats (I decided only miniature and female animals are allowed). We have an old one and a fat one, and both are the friendliest, shaggiest, sweetest, beasts. Anyway, donkeys are smart, and they figured out how to escape into the wild and open spaces of my neighborhood. So, while Isaiah tipped his handsome blond head back and blithely drank chocolate milk straight from the carton, I proceeded to beg him to go with me on a donkey hunt.

This is what that sounds like:

Me: Oh my gosh the donkeys got out! Will you help me catch them?

Isaiah: No way, dude.

Me: Come on, please? What if I can’t catch them?

Isaiah: Real smart getting donkeys in the first place. Not my problem, bro.

Me: Okay, fine. But don’t think you get to eat food here ever again. (Leaves in huff).

Needless to say, the donkeys were caught and again safe in their pasture. The chicken butt is fluffy, and the teenager is still inhaling carbohydrates at light speed. (They also say “never make empty threats to your children you won’t follow through on”).

All’s well that ends well:)

I hope you love your crazy today!

Love,

kate

On Control

The night before Daisy landed in the hospital for her first diagnosis, I was busy. Doing a whole lot of nothing. She was tucked into her bed and I was sucked into the world-wide web. She was resting her little body which was about to come apart at the seams, and I was unaware, suspended in cyberspace scrolling through pages and pages of moisturizers on Sephora.com. Tinted moisturizers, age-defying moisturizers, pore-minimizing, light-refracting, wrinkle-wrangling moisturizers. You know the kind of sucked in, where an hour flies by and you realize you haven’t moved an inch, and you’re still unsure which of those over-priced under-delivering tubes to buy. A complete waste of time, but since my life was fully under control, it seemed a totally acceptable way to spend it.
Eventually I landed on some brand or other, typed in my credit card info, and perhaps putzed around my house for a bit before climbing in my four-poster bed, snuggling under a down comforter. Perfectly safe, perfectly secure. Kid in each room, check. Husband nestled next to me, check. Food in belly, clothes on back, car in driveway, check, check, check.
The story is now history, but as it goes, we ended up in the hospital the next day, then for the scariest subsequent 11 days of our lives. Awaiting the diagnosis in the E.R., the package of makeup was fulfilled in the order fulfillment facility. Praying on knees, grasping an IV pole for strength, the package was sent out on the UPS truck. Waiting with loved ones while a pediatric surgeon painstakingly removed the tumor from my daughter’s abdomen, the package enjoyed a cross country adventure. Countless nurses flew in and out of our room, armed with needles and drugs while countless hands passed my package in and out of trucks and shipping warehouses. Days and nights bled into one another, and finally the traumatizing hospital stay was over. I walked up to my front door, slid the key in the lock, and wearily looked down. The package from Sephora.com had arrived, in all its branded glory.
I kicked it across the room.
That box represented much to me. It represented the hour of my life I wasted shopping that I’ll never get back. It represented the illusion of security and the reality of life’s fragility sneakily hiding in distraction. But mostly, it rudely mocked my naïve idea of control. Without realizing it, I had believed I could basically control my life. You make good choices, you reap the benefits. Cancer was not supposed to happen to Jesus-loving God-fearing people. But there it was, proving me wrong.
But as life has a way of making sure we learn a thing or two, after a time of hating that Sephora box I began to be thankful for it. It taught me something beautiful about control. I can’t control a lot of what happens to me in my lifetime, but I can control how I spend it. I think we can believe the lie of “this is the way it has to be,” and give in to lesser things, but that’s not true. Things we think matter sometimes don’t, and things we think will be around forever aren’t guaranteed. Life is full of things we think we can control, fix, manipulate, but often we can’t.
It’s not just with cancer or tragedy, it’s all day, every day. We get caught up in stuff that’s tertiary, we let it consume us. That Sephora box showed me what I can control.
I can control how much time I spend on tech.
I can control how I speak to my loved ones.
I can control where I direct my focus.
I can control the trap of comparison.
I can control what I look at, what values I let in my heart and home.
I can control how much love I keep to myself, and how much I share.
I can control how much attention I give to what is important.
I can control when to say yes, when to say no.
I can control whose voice I give ear to.
Though it was satisfying to passionately punt that box, the tangible reminder is gold. Because who knows what tomorrow brings? But today we learn to lean in to real life, stop and listen to the sound of laughter. Today we learn to stop our rushing and offer a kind word to the old man in the grocery store, to the preschooler who desperately wants to save a snail’s life in the parking lot. Today we learn to turn off our phones and experience the world in actual color, not merely technicolor, complete with sounds and smells, and pollen and precipitation. Today we learn that life is sitting around waiting, and it won’t live itself. That’s our job.

Love,

kate

Public Service Announcement

Hi friends!

It has come to my attention that some folks have found issue with not being able to read And Still She Laughs because of the tears. They come quickly, like a flash flood, and they blur all vision causing the reader frustration that they can no longer see the words. Friends, I have a remedy for you: my publisher has released the audio version of my book! Now you can cry all you want, tears of sadness as well as laughter. Be frustrated no longer, because now a professional will read it to you. You can drive and listen, hike and listen, garden and listen, even change your baby's diaper and listen! The reader is also named Kate, and she is talented and lovely and is an award winner for The Fault in our Stars. (Also a tearjerker). Here is a sample: https://soundcloud.com/harperaudio_us/and-still-she-laughs-by-kate-merrick

Here are links to buy the audiobook:

·         http://christianaudio.com/and-still-she-laughs-kate-merrick-audiobook-download?gclid=CMeYk6eY7dICFctMDQodx0oDmg
·         https://www.audiobooksnow.com/audiobooks/and-still-she-laughs/1573381/?gclid=CIDN8a2Y7dICFdGCswodk6IH2w
·         https://www.recordedbooks.com/title-details/9780718098261
·         https://libro.fm/audiobooks/9780718098261
·         http://www.downpour.com/catalog/product/view/id/258550/?format=Download
 

I've also been notified that some readers have put the book down sometime in the first two chapters because it's so sad. Well, friends, there can't be true happy without some terrible sad. "Though sorrow may last through the night (or the first two chapters), joy comes in the morning." If you can get through the first 2 chapters, you'll find encouragement, sass, sunshine, TMI, and all kinds of other things that will make you glad you pressed on! Plus, there's a poop story involving a pair of corduroy pants:) You're welcome.

Please don't fear the tears, my friends. They are necessary to healing, a deep and healthy part of the journey of life. "Those who sow in tears will reap with shouts of joy!"  Psalm 126:5

Love,

kate

 

 

Birth, Death, and Celebration

Today is the birth day of And Still She Laughs. I'm praying it's the birth of new beauty, new freedom, new joy in the reader (maybe that's you!). I'm praying it births in us an adventuresome spirit, a fresh desire to go further up and further in. In life, with God, in love. It's the day of a little bit of pain but a lifetime of joy, of some hard truths, but full and deep blessings. It's the day of official release, and release is what I'm feeling. Releasing control, releasing emotions, releasing good news to whomever needs to hear it. 

Today is the day of death to myself. It's uncomfortable to have something so vulnerable out in the world for anyone to see. Almost like showing up at school in your undies. But I don't believe much is accomplished without sticking your neck out, so there it is. And you know? It's not about me, it's about God what He has done for and in a broken-hearted girl. And so today I share it with all of you. "Unless a grain of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels-a plentiful harvest of new lives." John 12:24 NLT

Today is the day we celebrate all the ways God has given me laughter! Thank you dear friends, thank you for praying me through the pit. Thank you for holding my arms up so I can breathe. Thank you for celebrating the goodness of God, even in the depths of suffering. I will celebrate in faith all the awesome things God will do for you too!

If you live in the area, please come to the launch party! It's at Reality Carpinteria Thursday March 9th at 7pm. There will be lots of books there, I'll do a reading, we'll have some worship, and be defiantly joyful together! Plus we made some really cute daisy seed packets for you;)

If you'd like to share on your social media (I explain why I'm not on social in the book) here are some pretty images. Thank you for partnering with me to share a healing story.

Here are a few prompts for sharing my publisher wrote and put together to make it easy:

“My friend Kate Merrick just released a beautiful book, #AndStillSheLaughs, about finding joy even in the midst of heartache. Read the words I shared about it: [endorsement]”

“If you’re looking for joy and truth in the midst of suffering, my friend Kate has a book for you. Her beautiful words in #AndStillSheLaughs will both comfort and challenge you, inspire and ignite you. If you need these words, consider ordering a copy…you won’t regret it.”

“A beautiful soul and a beautiful book! My friend Kate’s book #AndStillSheLaughs is available now and you don’t want to miss this one.”

“Kate Merrick is a dear friend of mine whose story and testimony will knock you off your feet. This book will bless any and all who read it! #AndStillSheLaughs is available now.”

 

love,

kate