the good story project 2019
volume 1

This story was submitted by Jessa Barniol and printed with permission. You can find more of Jessa’s writing at 30years30countries30stories.wordpress.com and shalomsweethomeblog.wordpress.com.

It was January 2009, and I was standing in an obscenely long customs line at a Mexican airport. I was worried about making my connecting flight, and so I alternated between the equally helpful actions of rubbing the toe of one sneaker against the instep of the other, frowning at my watch, and nervously picking at the blue polka-dotted shoelace I had tied to the handle of my black suitcase to differentiate it from the hundreds of other black suitcases up for grabs. 

My first flight had arrived late.

Instep.

Watch. 

I was going to have to run to my gate. 

Shoelace.

I was so absorbed in this cycle that I almost didn’t notice the people in line around me. In a fleeting moment, I glanced at the man directly in front of me, or at least, at the back of his head. 

Instep.

He was a short, nondescript man with brown hair and glasses, and he was already holding his American passport open to the photo page. Rookie, I thought to myself. We hadn’t even turned the last corner of the line, and I, for one, always kept my passport tucked away until the last possible moment. 

Watch.

The man’s traveling companion, another nondescript man in ratty gray sweats with unbrushed brown curls, leaned over and murmured something in his ear. I couldn’t see either of their faces. I glanced at the man’s open passport. Buffalo? No, Ruffalo, I thought to myself. And the first name: Mark. 

Mark Ruffalo.

Oh, man, this poor guy, I thought. It must really suck to have the exact same name as a famous person. 

I absentmindedly reached for the shoelace on my suitcase, and my hand froze in midair.

I turned my head to look again at the man’s passport picture, then slowly looked up and caught a glimpse of his face. It was the Mark Ruffalo. 

The other man leaned over to murmur something in his ear again, and I gasped. 

Gray sweats and unbrushed curls was Orlando Bloom. 

This was 2009, and Orlando Bloom was larger than life. Every girl had a thing for Orlando Bloom, whether it was pirate Orlando Bloom, long-haired archer elf Orlando Bloom, or suffering Elizabethtown romantic Orlando Bloom. 

No one ever told me about nondescript gray sweats and unbrushed curls Orlando Bloom.

We were almost to the front of the line now, and it took me a few minutes to muster up the courage to ask for their autographs. With tight-lipped, polite smiles, they both obliged. And then, as the people in line around us watched Orlando Bloom hand my notebook back to me, everyone suddenly realized who they were. A crush of people pressed in for autographs. (This was still slightly before the time of camera phones and selfies.)

Suddenly I felt bad for having started this avalanche. They both kept the same polite, tight-lipped smiles as they wrote their names again and again for the crush of strangers.

You know what might suck even worse than sharing a famous person’s name? I thought to myself. Actually being a famous person and having to write that name over and over for people who think they love you, even though they don’t know you. 

Finally, mercifully, Mark Ruffalo and Orlando Bloom reached the front of the line. 

The grand punchline of a Mexican customs line is the “fiscal stoplight,” an actual stoplight with a large button underneath it. You push the button, and you are given either a green or a red light, presumably at random. A green light means go. A red light means a secondary search. Mark Ruffalo got the green light and quickly shuffled through to the other side. But Orlando Bloom got the red light, and all his bags were hauled aside for a secondary search. The officials pulled a plastic box of fruit salad from his backpack and told him in halting English that the fruit could not come into the country. And so he stood there in his gray sweats, shoveling the last of his breakfast into his mouth beside a metal table onto which his belongings were being unceremoniously flung from his suitcase. 

As I reached the stoplight myself, an official pulled a pair of gray boxer briefs from his suitcase and flung it on top of the pile of his belongings. Orlando Bloom’s underwear. Orlando Bloom shoved a large cube of cantaloupe in his mouth and chewed quickly, awkwardly. The green light flashed before me, and it was then I realized that famous people are just people too. Even Orlando Bloom.

So I picked up my suitcase and ran to my connecting gate without ever looking back. 

If you would like to see a painting inspired by one of your stories, please submit a story to TheGoodStoryProject2019@gmail.com.

one simple way to pray with your kids this lent

I barely get breakfast on the table before the two year old starts yelling, “PWAY-ER CHAIN! PWAYER-CHAIN!!”.

It took maybe a few days for this routine to set in. Sometimes her brother beats her to it. Either way, the yelling chanting gets louder and louder until Mommy or Daddy removes a chain link from the prayer chain to see who we are going to pray for today. We originally were doing the prayer chain as a dinner activity, the meal where we were most likely to be all together, but after only a couple days of listening to the kids ask for the prayer chain from morning until dinner, we decided to make it an all day activity. Which means the person or people we’re praying for gets prayed for at all meals and usually bedtimes too. The kids’ enthusiasm has not waned!

IMG_2624
note: these were our strips for last year. I didn’t get any pics this year.

Instructions: We use purple (for Lent) and white (for Sundays) construction paper. We cut them into 1 inch strips down the long side of the paper (so 11 strips per sheet). I date each strip on one side and write a person or family (or a cause like “world peace”) on the back for each day. Then I glue the strip in a circle (using a glue stick), connecting each link to the previous link and build the chain as I go. Choose a time when you’re all together and remove a chain link each day and pray for that person. Maybe even text the person or send them a card to let them know they have been prayed for.

IMG_7327

Tips:

  • Let your kids pick the people for the chain. Last year, Matthan helped by suggesting people until he ran out of ideas. This year too, it has been a blast to hear who is on his brain. He came up with a significant portion of the list last year and this year. I also don’t write the people down in the order he gives them to me. They get SO excited about the mystery of who is going to be each day.
  • Let them cut the strips for fine motor skill practice. This year, Matthan cut the strips and he thought this was SO MUCH FUN. (Keep a close eye on them with scissors).
  • Let your kids write on the strips for handwriting practice. Since we squeaked the whole project in at the last minute by starting the night before Ash Wednesday and finishing up the day of, I ended up doing all the writing. We were just trying to get it done.
  • Date each strip. I do this because when we miss a day (which inevitably happens at least once), I don’t have to count chain links and guess where we’re suppose to be. Also, when we travel, we grab the dates we’ll be gone and take them with us. I also number my strips…if you’re dating them, you probably don’t have to number them as well. Just remember to start 1 on Ash Wednesday and don’t count the Sundays in your 40 days of Lent.

We love the visual of watching the chain get smaller and smaller as we get closer to Easter. We’ve found this to be cheap and simple and easy to execute with little kids. And best of all, it has increased our prayer together as a family.

Have a blessed Lent!

back to the basics

I devoured Wild by Cheryl Strayed last week. Yes, that is the movie with Reese Witherspoon, and yes, I’m late to the party. I checked out the e-book from the library.

I’m currently reading Lesage’s Petite Confessions, and it’s just kind of “meh”. I got it for free.

I’m working on a baby blanket that is going to be incredibly late because the baby has already made his entrance into the world, but I’m forging ahead anyway. I taught myself to continental knit using this website, and I’m using this blanket to hone my skills.

How does she find time to knit and read? you might ask. My “clean out and organize the pantry project” came to a screeching halt, because, priorities… or lack thereof.

I’m linking up with Ginny at Small Things for her weekly Yarn Along.

Happy knitting and reading!

discovering the bullet journal and its parts

This is part 1 of a 3 part series on bullet journaling. If you don’t know what bullet journaling is, go here.

I was perusing Pinterest and clicked on a pin about bullet journaling, and then followed the internet rabbit trail by clicking on the links under #6 on her list. I love discovering the origins of things so I was happy to find that on The Art of Simple, Tsh has the video of the guy who started it all. The cool thing about the bullet journal is that you can hone it to your personal style. Figuring out what worked for me led me down the YouTube rabbit trail where I found inspirations for the different parts of my journal. But then I added my own flare as I went, and to be honest, a good bit of my journal deviates from the minimalistic style of the original system. So here is my take on the bullet journal.

In the very front of my journal I have a letter to anyone who finds my journal, that will hopefully encourage said person to return it to me.

IMG_3106

Next, I have the opening verse to the Liturgy of the Hours (more details on this in my next post) followed by my index.

IMG_3107

My index is not in the traditional bullet journal style. I had this journal before I discovered bullet journaling, intending to use it as a commonplace book, and developed my index based on John Locke’s method of indexing commonplace books.

IMG_3108

I have a list of signifiers that I’m still working out.

IMG_3112

My collections include my gratefulness/prayer journal, reoccurring chore list, liturgical year notes, photography notes, and blog notes.

IMG_3126

My monthly and weekly logs were inspired by YouTube videos. I would try to commit to one style for a week and then decide if it worked. I wish I kept track of the videos that were my inspirations so that I could give them credit. I just searched “bullet journal __(part of journal)__” and clicked through the videos.

IMG_3116

IMG_3119

Another way I added my style is how I decorate. I wanted to keep supplies to a minimum for simplicity sake. I usually just have my journal and a black pen hanging around. Sometimes I use a pencil because I have commitment issues when writing things down. I have a pouch of pens for doodling when I can take time for it. I really enjoy this part, but I don’t want to pressure myself into decorating each new page so I add decoration as I’m inspired. I did finally splurge for some washi tape because I wanted to know what the hype was all about.

IMG_3125

I’m still figuring out what works and what doesn’t. I’m planning an update post, so stay tuned.

baptism blanket and bobby pins

I‘m new enough to knitting that I don’t know what tools and materials I like yet, so I have resigned to using bobby pins and small ponytail holders as stitch markers. So in case you’re cheap like me frugal, or in a pinch, you can use either of those.

I just finished My Antonia by Willa Cather. Suggestions for what to read next are welcome.

I picked up a crochet hook about four years ago and figured out just enough to make baby blankets and get myself into trouble because I have a habit of not wanting to follow patterns. I made my Goddaughter’s baptism blanket using this pattern. Except, I decided I wanted to use yarn instead of the recommended thread which required me to change all of the numbers in the pattern. Then I realized that I measured wrong and made the blanket too big because I did not account for the border. I think it turned out beautiful anyway and my Goddaughter was beautiful in it.

IMG_2587

I’m linking up with Ginny at Small Things for her weekly Yarn Along. My Antonia was her recommendation.