Thursday, April 21, 2011

Signs of Grace

So what do you say when you have been away too long? How do you open a paragraph? I think most of us never have intentions of blogging so infrequently, but life takes over -- boy, does it ever!

But this Maundy Thursday finds me back here with you folks, hopefully to offer you words of hope and signs of grace.

I still cover! I'm stubborn about it, too...at times frustrated (or angry even) at a (Christian) culture that doesn't even hiccup at a Christian woman in too tight jeans and sexy boots, but is troubled by a woman who covers voluntarily, out of virtue or obedience or something else noble. But there have certainly been those times when I have said, before leaving the house, "Do I really need this?" Admittedly, there have been the rare occasions that I have gone out alone without my head covered at all, but this is not typically my practice. I think of the good in it, and how much I would like to preserve that good even though I have come to feel that it is my choice...a choice of grace for me that I want to embrace.

Despite my infrequent postings, I hope that you, beloved, are doing well and are thirsting more and more for purity and virtue and that you are awaiting with great hope, Christ's resurrection. May the light of your hope never be dimmed and may you hold fast to your conviction to cover, even if other women cease their covering. I have been covering faithfully for two and a half years; I have pressed on, often without the approval of others, and you must do the same.

Though I do precious little to promote the head covering book, it continues to sell consistently each month, which is almost astonishing, except when I think that surely God had a good purpose in my writing it. It clearly has ministered to a number of women, and I am so humbled by knowledge of this. From my sales reports, I see that most people are buying the book from Amazon, and the book's value continues to spread by word of mouth, apparently. I even had an older man, married for twenty something years, email me to tell me how much he enjoyed the book. He had hoped that his wife would take to head covering, as he deemed it of great worth, but it wasn't something that she felt was important, and he still loved and respected her all the same. These emails from strangers do much to encourage me and keep me praying for each of you. This is a book I could not have written without your support and your stories. God bless you all!

May the spirit of Easter warm your hearts and draw you nearer to our holy Redeemer!

Grace,
M

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Yes, I Still Cover!

Beloved dear ones! I am still alive and doing well on this end. It seems odd that I have taken such a leave of blogging; I'd been blogging since November of 2004...fairly consistently, too. But a reshuffling of priorities and responsibilities led me away from blogging for a while. I am not certain that I will return to blogging, but I did feel led to pop in to encourage my dear (dear!) head covering sisters.

I have been encouraged through correspondence with one of the ladies I interviewed for the covering book. She is a dear woman and we enjoy sending each other notes in the mail. I even went to visit an African-American head covering plain woman who lives close to my hometown. It was our first meeting. She started teaching me to knit, and I have grown to love it. I'm now learning to crochet, and think I might love it even more! A friend of mine who has crocheted for many years is planning to make me a couple of head coverings...I am eager for a change!

My one frustration (if you can call it that) is that I still struggle with how to wear my covering. I still do the wrap quite often, and have fiddled a little with a couple of other styles, but nothing else feels quite as comfortable as the head wraps. I am hoping my crocheted coverings will be a bit of a stylish change.

I still cover at home, but I will wear my hair "out" at times. It's growing longer and I really like it a lot. I'm always covered, though, if I am out in public without hubby. Not much has changed there.

How is your covering journey coming along, beloved? Does the act itself still remind you of your devotion to Christ and of natural order? Admittedly, there are many days I just put the cover on, and don't always think on the meaning, as I should. Do people still ask you why you cover, or treat you more respectfully because you do? An acquaintence from church asked me to speak to his wife about head covering. He really liked my covering (the head wrap style...different from how I'm wearing it on my profile pic), and wanted me to encourage his wife to cover the same way. I thought that was a conversation best had between the man and his wife. I really like his wife (very much), and I didn't feel led of God to speak to her on it, but I told her husband I'd be happy to encourage her on it after he talked to her about it and if she willing. He spoke with her and she was not doing cartwheels about the whole idea. Aggression is not the spirit of covering, remember? We're not trying to bang folks over the head with our head covering gospel! But I am certainly willing to encourage and walk alongside the woman who is curious about covering or feels led herself to cover. Have you had any new head covering experiences? I've had women come up to me in the grocery store, or in church, and ask about how I wrap my cloth. I've been known to take the whole thing off and give them a quick tutorial by wrapping it all over again! One woman told me that she had a friend who could wrap anything -- who could wrap a bed sheet and make it look good! Funny, right? I spoke with a couple of Muslim women at the grocery store and asked them where they get their hijab coverings. Come to find out, there is a little section of a middle-eastern grocery store, a short drive from my house, where I can find beautiful fabric and certain styles (a bit over-priced, plus the woman who waited on me spoke virtually no English...she could barely understand me and I could barely understand her). I bought a couple of items.

Hubby is now much more comfortable with my covering, and even made mention of yesterday's covering, which was a combo of some cloth I got at the aforementioned store and a covering I ordered from online. I think he liked it. I take the boys to the library quite often and we even checked out some children's books about girls and women who cover. We look at the pictures in the book I can say, "Look, boys. She wears a covering like Mama." But the boys LOVE when I wash my hair and wear it down. "Mama, your hair looks nice!" they say. And that's worth a million bucks.

My encouragment to you is to know the reasons that you cover. And once you do, beware the spirit of compromise. I'd mentioned this in another post some time ago. Your covering may make a lot of people uncomfortable, and sometimes it's not the easiest thing to do. But if you feel led of God to cover, then cover. And keep covering until God tells you otherwise.

Has your Lenten season been meaningful thus far, beloved? I trust you are drawing closer to God. Enjoy your spring, beloved. It's glorious!

Grace,
M

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Big Cover Up

Here's a photo of me and the boys on Thanksgiving (how was yours, beloved?). I am usually covered, but was uncovered in this photo (remember hubby prefers me uncovered, though I think he's gotten quite accustomed to seeing my hair covered, and probably doesn't even mind my covering on most occasions, but I digress...); it occurred to me that the more my hair grows (it has grown lots since last winter) and the healthier and lovelier it becomes, the more aware I am of why I cover and why I need to cover.

During the times I am out with hubby and I am uncovered, my hair gets lots of attention. Lots. It moves. It bounces. After I wash it and do it, the boys like to see me run in place because they like to see my hair move and bounce (they are so sweet and always make me feel pretty). But yes, this is it, beloved: an uncovered head brings glory to me...I get all the attention. A covered head brings glory to God; He gets the glory for all the good in my life -- goodness that can be seen in the fruitful efforts of my life; my role as a wife and mother, and all the other hats I wear each day. My beauty becomes about something more, something greater, as well it should be. Physical beauty is fleeting, though I still find I have vanity issues to work through.

Our Thanksgiving was rich and full, and I trust yours was as well. I am learning to knit (thanks, Dianna!), and I'm really enjoying it. In my quieter moments I try to write and sort through my thoughts. I am in dire need of slowing down, and (long hand) letter writing and knitting help to remind me of this need. The boys don't slow down, but now that the weather is getting colder outside, they need direction in order to stay busy at home. We don't watch television through the week and both the boys and I are used to this routine. The holiday had me busy in the kitchen, and I got away from working with them on their letters and numbers and all that stuff. I am trying to redirect this week before things get busy again for Christmas. The boys are getting so big so fast. Our youngest outweighs our oldest, even though our oldest is taller. Such sweet boys they are.

I need to be getting to bed; I hope your week is off to a good start, beloved.

Grace,
M

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Autumn Thoughts

This is the time of year I relish most. I have such warm fondness for autumn, that each year I feel like I love it a little more. Not just the deep crimsons and the whimsical golds, but the crunch of the leaves beneath my feet brings back memories of past autumns: the song "Sweet November" (by the musical group The Deele, led by current R&B soloist Kenneth "Baby Face" Edmonds) which I loved (and still love) to sing; finding my first love, a boy of 14 who attended the same church I attended back in the 80s. There were rainy autumns and autumns pregnant with hope...like the one when I fell in love with the man who is now my husband. And there are sad and contemplative autumns, like autumn last year, when my father died.

But always there is the joy of sunny, crisp days and brisk, chilly nights. I love the idea of having to stay in and cozying up beside a warm cup of apple cider. I love turtleneck sweaters and long movies and the space to write and think that autumn brings. There's not the same hustle and bustle of summer, when we often over extend ourselves with activity upon activity, in an attempt to seize the warm days. I love making homemade bread and pumpkin soup (a loaf is baking and a pot are simmering now) and the cool, dry air. I like using my sewing machine and figuring out what home project I'll be working on next.

Okay, and I admit that it's easier to cover in the cooler seasons. I love a snug, fuzzy cap on my head and the added warmth that a colorful scarf brings.

And what of you? What do you like best about this season, beloved? Do tell. I am planning to make stops at all my favorite blogs. I haven't done that in what seems like ages.

Enjoy your day, dear ones...

Grace,
M

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Ready for Sale

We did it, beloved. The head covering book I've been working on all year is now ready for sale. You can click the book's image on my sidebar to order the book. Though the book will be available for purchase through Amazon in about 15 business days, you can still order directly from my e-store (where you'll be taken when you click the image) even after it's available through Amazon. If you have any questions about ordering, let me know.

Thanks for your patience, support, prayers and encouragement. They have not been wasted on me!

Oh, I changed my name on the sidebar, for consistency with the book (but you know I will always be Muhala Akamau!):-)

Enjoy your weekend, beloved...
M

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Plugging Along

Dear ones,
It is is terribly cloudy and muggy here for the second day of Autumn! I love Autumn and want to celebrate it with cooler weather, pumpkin soup and warm homemade bread. I am eagerly awaiting cooler temperatures.

I received the first proof of the book! Needless to say, there were endless edits, which I attended to right away. My second proof is on the way; I hope there is nothing left to change, and that the book will soon be available for purchase. Until then, though, follow this link for a preview.

More updates soon!

Grace,
M

Friday, September 11, 2009

A Change of Direction

Beloved, thank you for your patience during my weeks of absence and intermittent blogging. I am still seeking to discern God's will with regard to frequent blogging, but I am always writing -- even when I'm not blogging. And all of you are not far from my thoughts and prayers. Pray with me, please, as I seek to discern God's will regarding writing in general, and blogging in particular. There are spaces and seasons for all things, I know. The boys are growing (so fast!), and are demanding more and more of my time and attention. My "Mommy" role gets bigger and bigger all the time, and I recognize it as my most important earthly work. I long to be faithful in it.

Good news with regard to the book! I have definitely found an open door in the option of self-publishing (which I used to thumb my nose at!), and have seemed to tackle the beast of formatting and editing an entire paperback (I have learned more about Word and PDF files than I ever thought I'd know...what a learning curve, this thing!). It has been a lot of work. A lot of frustration when I couldn't figure out this or that about formatting pages; a lot of research on the proper way to do this or cite that in a bibliography; I've found tenacity I never even knew I had...and the stubborn refusal to let anything stop me from getting this book in print...I suspect this all came from God. I have worked so very hard, beloved...for you and for me, and for all those many women just like us, who long with all their hearts to follow God obediently, whatever the cost.

I finished the tough work of gathering, formatting and submitting (indeed, as you know, the book has been finished for months!). The proof of the book is ready for order, and I will order it this evening. I should receive the proof copy of the book in a few days. When I receive the book, I'll read it from cover to cover. If everything is okay, I'll submit that it's ready for sale. If there is anything that needs changing (and, knowing me, I'll find something that needs changing -- despite the fact that it feels like I've read this thing a hundred times!), I'll correct the errors, re-submit a corrected PDF file, and then it should be ready for sale.

A few things first. The book is called Life as a Prayer: Recapturing the Wind of Head Covering. The list price is $9.99 (I wanted to make it affordable!), and once it's ready for sale, you will be able to order it through Amazon, and my little online store (that I need to work to set up, by the way!) Also, I've decided to take a big risk and use my full name. Many of you know that Muhala Akamau is my 'native' name (my hubby created it for me, so it's special). But I think I wanted to use Muhala Akamau out of fear...it felt safe, and it minimized my transparency. But with my whole name out there, I have only God to trust. I initially thought I'd use Muhala, so it's a tad uncomfortable to use Michele Barnes McClendon, but I think I will. But you will still know me by my face; I'm sure you will recognize me. I'll probably also change my profile 'display' name back to Michele, so as not to confuse folks who may visit the blog after they have ordered or read the book. I am hopeful that our dear community of sisterhood will be growing and deepening.

I have had my share of disappointments with the endeavor of this book. Pray with me, please, dear sisters, that this book will soon get into the hands of women who need it most. Pray that I have the stamina to stay the course with this project.

Stay tuned for more book details...particularly when it will be ready for purchase! Thank you for your love and prayers...I do miss connecting regularly with all of you!

And with that, I'm off. The boys need to be fed!

Enjoy your weekend, beloved.

M