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God and Harmonicas

In this Christmas season (and, quite honestly, in this American-month when I am so over-stimulated that there is little room in my brain for creativity and fresh words) I am giving myself a gift and re-posting one of my favorite essays. Its kind of hard sometimes to see words go up online and then fade into the never-never-land of already been published and destined to sit unread. But mostly I want to reshare because it is a personal favorite for three reasons (plus, the post is about Christmas).

1. The memory that sparked it is beyond precious. It still brings me to gut-busting laughter and tears and floods me with love.

2. I sent it in to SheLoves Magazine, a cold-turkey submission to a website I knew almost nothing about. They graciously accepted it and even more graciously invited me to be a monthly contributor. I can honestly say that my writing and my online friendships have never been the same. Deeper, funnier, more honest, challenged.

3. What the essay is really about – learning to accept good gifts from God with joy and not guilt has been a difficult lesson to learn but one that has changed my relationship with God. I love that about words and writing, I learn even more as I turn life into paragraphs.


So, today I’d love it if you would read or reread God, Giver of Harmonicas.

I’ve learned, through sermons and study, through living ten years in Somalia and Djibouti, a little bit about suffering. But my six-year old Lucy, with her harmonica, is teaching me about joy.

Lucy started asking for a harmonica for Christmas in October. I asked if she wanted to buy one with her own money and she said, no, she was sure she would get one for Christmas. In November, Lucy sent an email to Grandma Pieh and Grandma Jones, asking for a harmonica. I hit “send” and she immediately asked if she could use the telephone.

“I want to make sure they get the email,” she said.

By Thanksgiving, Lucy was asking for a harmonica every day and asking to email or call both grandmothers every other day.

“I don’t want them to forget,” she said.

In early December a package the size of a small suitcase showed up under the Christmas tree at Grandma Pieh’s house, wrapped in blue snowman paper.

“I think that’s my harmonica,” Lucy said and gave it a gentle shake.

Lucy reminded everyone about her desire for a harmonica but at the same time, she appeared resolutely confident that she was going to receive one. Someone, somewhere, knew what she wanted and loved her and would make sure she got it. Yet she asked. Every. Single. Day.

“What if you don’t get one?” I asked.

“I asked for a harmonica.” She shrugged. “I know someone got me one, I just didn’t open it yet. It isn’t a hard thing…”

Read the rest here God, Giver of Harmonicas.

*image credit

When Muslims Dance

Quick link: Mommy, Why Do Muslims Do a Dance When They Pray?

Today I am writing for the Brain Child blog.

prayer at night

The blog post tells the story of when, years ago, Maggie asked why Muslims take a bath and do a dance when they pray.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the piece.

Click here to read Mommy, Why Do Muslims Do a Dance When They Pray?

image credit: Muhammad Rehan via flicker

Bread for the Body, Bread for the Soul

Post up at EthnoTraveler today about baguettes and prayer.


I was not prepared for the bread man. I thought it was a dying bird that awoke me every morning. I had expected the adhan to dictate the rhythm of life. But for the first full week after moving to Djibouti, birds croaked outside my window at equally consistent intervals, five times per day, until I traced the sound to its source one morning and discovered not belly-up bird carcasses, but a man honking an amplified bicycle horn to announce the arrival of fresh baguettes.


Read more…

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