Wednesday, December 29, 2010

If You'll Only Go To Sleep

I've had a blog post all written in my mind lately, but tonight this is all that I can think:


The crimson rose
plucked yesterday,
the fire and cinnamon
of the carnation,

the bread I baked
with anise seed and honey,
and the goldfish
flaming in its bowl.

All these are yours,
baby born of woman,
if you'll only
go to sleep.

A rose!  I say!
And a carnation!
Fruit!  I say!
And honey!

And a sequined goldfish,
and still more I'll give you
if you'll only sleep
till morning.

-Gabriela Mistral

I guess we are all having a difficult time transitioning after such a nice Christmas.  Hopefully I'll have time to write about it before, say, next Christmas . . . sweet dreams to you and a hopeful goodnight!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

 This year our church put together a series of devotionals for Advent, and everyone was invited to contribute. This was my reflection on Christmas:
 We do not understand mercy.  

We live in this world, this realm of logic and reason; highways and alarm clocks and Wal-Mart, among straight lines and taxes and two plus two always equals four, and so we cannot help but fit our religion into a belief that is reasonable as well.  We begin to think that we know what we know, and when we do stop to taste the peach or to bounce a baby, when we dare to look up and marvel that the sky is pink and wonder at the lump that forms in our throat, we must choose to either shake off that sense of longing, or humbly give thanks for a mercy that comes to us in our mess, but that we cannot begin to understand.

Christmas disrupts all of our assumptions about God.  It is the Great Surprise, for who would dare to believe in a mercy this tender- a helpless newborn?  Or so accessible- a stable?  Who would be brave enough to suggest that God became a baby?  Our logic falls short, we cannot understand it, we can hardly believe it.  We use words that attempt to sum up our surprise:  Incarnation.  Trinity.  Word made flesh.  But it all comes down to a mercy so infinitely powerful that it was freely given up to become infinitely small, a fertilized egg.  How can this be?  

It seems so appropriate that the story be given each year to children to enact.  For aren’t we secretly looking to them for insight, asking them to teach us something about these things which we have grown too old to understand?   Children whose belief has not yet been dulled by reason or logic, who gladly accept mercy and affection they have not earned, whose imagination exults in the impossible.   It is only the young or young at heart foolish enough to follow stars or listen to angels, and they are those worthy to lead us to Bethlehem.  

Christmas points me to children for wisdom and shames my attempts at earning God’s approval.  It reminds me to leave room in my small understanding for God to surprise me.  I do not understand the incarnation, but like a child, I can rejoice in it.

Each year Christmas, and all that goes along with it- the lights, the gifts, the pageant- tell me again about a mercy so gentle that it cries, and so huge that it lights up the sky.  

Too good to be true, but true.

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! (2 Cor.9:15)

 Jesus intervened: "Let the children alone, don't prevent them from coming to me. God's kingdom is made up of people like these." (Matt.9:15, the Message)
I hope you have a wonderful Christmas celebrating the mystery of the Incarnation- God With Us! 
Peace and Love,

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Stopping by on a Snowy Evening

 Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

by Robert Frost 

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep

I have always loved the imagery of this poem.  It is one we were required to memorize it in school, and ever since just the thought of the Winter Solstice brings this poem to mind along with the urge to find myself in a still, quiet woods watching the snow fall.

 On this darkest evening of the year I am feeling a little this way- a quiet observer, watching. . . listening, and holding out my hands to the soft glitter falling through the air . . .

Eleven days (but who's counting?) and the computer is still in the shop and I have been trying to see this as an opportunity for silence, away from the usual distractions; trying to be still and quiet, even as life keeps moving.

Silence, you know, it's funny.

Not that I am ever really silent, of course.  Even the horse is shaking those harness bells and there is that restless, nervous part of me that avoids silence, thinks there must be some mistake . . .

until slowly, slowly, I choose to become comfortable with quiet ...

the sweep of wind, downy flake . . . I notice . . . and listen and as quietly as snow falling and just as mysterious and just as beautiful and yes, even as certain . . . there is a still small voice . . .

and I hear and I am heard and why do I choose clattering noise over this beauty and mercy falling from the sky?  And prayer settles over me, into me, and it is as simple as breathing, just as basic.  Now things begin to become clear- the path ahead, the miles to go . . . those promises I have made ringing across time.

I am grateful for this period of silence, coinciding with the longest nights of the year- these lovely, dark, deep days- when it seems so appropriate- necessary, even, to be still, and quiet, listening. 

Tonight is the longest night of the year, and in this darkest night we give thanks, for a shaft of sunlight pierces the darkness, and tomorrow we begin our journey to spring.

Hope to be back to blogging soon . . . .

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Christmas gifts? Guilty.

I have a confession to make:  I really like Christmas presents.  Especially giving presents.

More than the presents, I love the surprise.  The secret lists.  The hiding and wrapping and anticipation.  I love thinking about the perfect gift for everyone on my list.  I usually try to add an element of the unexpected- just the perfect thing that they never knew they wanted.

This isn't everybody's approach to gift buying, but I do it anyway.

I really dislike the kind of gift-giving that is based on somebody's list of what they want.  I tend to think, why don't I just give you ten bucks and you can pick out the socks you'd like?  

Or, gift cards.  What is the point?

If I give you a ten dollar gift card and you give me a ten dollar gift card, doesn't that neutralize each other's gift?  And what will I do with the leftover 78 cents on the card?

But then, something feels not right about walking into a store and mindlessly searching for "something" just because you are obligated to buy a person some kind of gift.  I don't like giving gifts this way, either.

I really love gift-giving, but every year I feel like it ends up falling into one of these three forms of giving, and then a lot of the fun is taken out of the giving.

But I am not ready to give up on giving gifts entirely, either.

It is becoming increasingly popular to stop giving gifts completely, and I respect people who choose this, I really do.  But I don't see myself giving up on gifts, at least not now.  Maybe someday we will feel that we need to stop, but for now I am holding firmly to tradition.

I think I have some good reasons . . .

Gift giving is a good thing.  It is a good practice to think about what a person might like, to put energy into purchasing it, to show love in a tangible way.  

For some of us, it is our love language- the giving and receiving.  And I think that anyone who's love language is gifts will tell you (I hope?) that the size or price of the gift is irrelevant- it's the thinking, the choosing, the surprise- we love.  I could care less about jewelry.  And spending too much makes my stomach hurt.  The very best gifts may have cost nearly nothing.

And of course we give gifts because God is a giver of gifts, most importantly, His Son. 

At Christmas I think about the many gifts God gave me throughout the year . . . money miraculously saved, the gift of laughter when I needed it most, relationships . . . and some gifts too personal to write about . . . this is one of the ways that I experience God, through these intimate details of his blessings.

Which is why it seems to me that even if you don't give gifts at Christmas, maybe it would be good to find another time of year when you thoughtfully give gifts to people you love.

And yes, Christmas is a time for generosity, for blessing those less fortunate.  Yes, yes, yes.  By all means, keep this priority first at Christmas . . .

And . . . all year long.

I would say that we don't go overboard on gifts at Christmas . .. but it's all relative, isn't it?

This year I had an idea that has made our family's gift exchange a lot of fun.  At least, I think it is . . 

We're calling it our Favorite Things Christmas.  (Yes, in the spirit of Oprah)

We set a $20 limit for the exchange, and each person is buying THEIR favorite thing . . . their favorite coffee, favorite kitchen gadget, favorite book or cd . . . etc.  

This way, we are giving not only a gift, but a passion . .. something that we care about and have some expertise in . . . (I wrote last year about the gift of music my brothers gave my kids).

And, we are each getting to know a little more about each other, as well.

Of course we'll turn it into a game a steal each other's gifts.  And the jokes have already begun about what each other's favorite thing might be . ..

but at least it won't be sweater vests.

For of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace!

Oh, and my gift to you: this must-read post by Misha. You're welcome.

And for Shane Claiborne this is a "Season for mischief and conspiracy . . ."
A suburban congregation wanted to do something for families in our inner city neighborhood. We were all tired of distant acts of charity that do little to address the roots of poverty in a neighborhood like mine where we have a couple hundred thousand jobs in the last 30 years. We were all suspicious of do-gooder volunteerism that can so easily give a handout while pick-pocketing people of their dignity. And yet we were also convinced that inequity breaks God's heart and should break ours, and that we have the power to do something about it. There must be a way to be more creative with giving money away than the corporations
are with getting all of it.

We prayed for imagination.
. . . read about his new take on Christmas charity at the Huffington Post.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

"the holy longing"

The longing is good.

This thought comes to mind this morning as I am struggling, and failing once again, to pray.

The habit of daily, focused time with the Lord in prayer and Bible reading is continually evading me in this season of mothering, and it is a discipline that I long for.  Try as I may, time alone in this season is rarely found . . . I'll spare you the play by play.

This morning, though up excrutiatingly early with the baby my hopes for a few quiet moments were fading as the day grew later and I was still on call- kissing heads, answering questions, serving breakfast; frustrated that another day was begun and I'm not ready, I've not had the time to center myself and the day's activities, to place it all at Jesus' feet.

I was feeding the baby her breakfast.  A candle burned on the table.  Behind it, outside the window the first heavy snow was falling.  O Come O Come Emanuel playing on Pandora.   And there is calm, and rest, and one brief moment of worship.

And it occurrs to me that this is Advent- the longing, the waiting, the trying and failing- in the midst of it, Christ comes.

I find myself always waiting for the calm until I can feel ready to receive Christ- when the house is in order and the kids are asleep and I am reverent and worthy- then, maybe, I will find Him . .. but I am never worthy and life is rarely calm.  I find him in the emptiness and mess, the restlessness that says all is not well.  I hope.  Into my mess, Christ comes.

Rejoice!  Rejoice!

This is beautiful: The Habit of Advent, What habits do you have that generate hope?

IN WILLIAM BLAKE’S poem "Jerusalem," he wrote: "I give you the end of a gold string./Only wind it into a ball,/It will lead you in at Heaven’s gate/built in Jerusalem’s wall." 

The followers of The Way in the first century wove together a "gold string" that reached back to the creation of light in the Genesis story and forward to this very Advent. There is a golden thread that sews us together as students of Jesus. Paul calls this thread the "grace of apostleship." It is passed, hand to hand, from one generation to the next. Like kindergartners on a field trip through the big world, we are given a rope and told to hold on. We know that the rope reaches all the way back to the teacher, the anchor, the shepherd. 

Advent is a time to marvel at the golden thread and to make sure that we have not become separated from it. If, by chance, you have become separated from it, do not be afraid. Jesus extends the end of the string to you again. What glistens in your life? What sweetens your days? Your answer is the beginning of the thread. "Only wind it into a ball," my friend, and "it will lead you in at Heaven’s gate."

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Seasonal ADD and a bit of an update

First of all, somebody out there may be wondering what is happening with our move to Cleveland- or, even if you weren't wondering, here's an updatet:

One day a few weeks into this process I showed our house twice (we are trying to sell on our own without a realtor) and had two people say they want to buy it.  In one day.  For our asking price, both.

I think I sent a text to Jim that day that said something like, "Sold the house twice today.  Feelin pretty darn cool."  

Well now if you ever try to sell a house in this economy and then think you have, my advice is that you don't get all cocky about it because it really can't be that easy.  To make a long story short we are still waiting for the house to officially sell.  Honestly, I am happy to be here with friends and family and in our cozy home for the holidays rather than unpacking boxes, so I am fine with waiting a little longer to move.

Moving on . . .

Oh, there are just too many ways to celebrate Christmas.  I am trying (really, really trying) to slow down and enjoy the season, and be intentional about everything I choose to do or don't do this year.

Last week, we decorated.  I wanted to have everything done by Wednesday, and I was glad I started early on Monday because it took me three full days to do it all.  And if you saw my tree you would know how pathetic it is that it took me that long.  Let's just say I had a lot of "help" with the decorating which caused it to be a three day process rather than a thirty minute one like it should have been.  I love having an excuse to put candles in the windows and corners lit up by sparkly lights.  And those middle of the night playdates are slightly more magical when aglow with the lights on the tree.

I have wanted for years to put together a Jesse tree and have never followed through.  This year, Ann has blessed the world with a free Jesse Tree Advent Devotional.  Oh I love this woman.  I am so looking forward to doing this this year.

I have also begun to read again Madeleine L'Engle's Bright Evening Star, one of my favorite Christmas books.

Gifts.  I think I'll write a whole post on what I think about gift-giving and what gifts I am giving this year (and it's probably not what you think).  

While on the subject, Kristen at Rage Against the Minivan has a great list of gifts that give back.

What would it look like if we put down, closed down, shut off, and put away the screens during this season?  
The Advent season is a time of reflection and finding beauty in the waiting.  I am looking forward to slowing down to think about and celebrate the Mystery of Christmas- God With Us!  

Peace to you . . .

Monday, November 22, 2010

on beauty

I see the way that she is shrugging out of her skin,
the bird wings she hides beneath her coat
becoming younger and younger
nearly ready- oh, so ready- to fly away

and some days I am envious
and sit too long in the bath
watching my toes shrivel
wanting to be beautiful
like her

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

What Think Ye of Christmas?- a book review and giveaway

Some of the greatest gifts happen unannounced; they slip in quietly and unfold over time, becoming more dear, more meaningful as days and years pass by.

People are this way.

The people who unassumingly inspire you with their beautiful thoughts and wisdom.

These are usually the people who have no idea that they are inspiring or beautiful or wise, they are simply seeking and living and giving and offering their art- their avodah - before God- humbly and authentically and generously, and in the process their art- their spirit- spills onto you and you are somehow better and wiser because of them.

One of these kind souls who I am so blessed to know is Charrette, of Divergent Pathways.  Charrette is not her real name, but a French design term meaning "an intense meeting of the minds," and her blog is just that.  Jana Winters Parkin   is just the kind of person I have described- wise and inspiring- and amazingly talented.  Her talent is in both words and paint, and it flows from a mind wide awake to the beauty in the world.

Jana lives in a way that points toward the goodness and truth and loveliness in everything- even pain and struggle, and her art is just that as well- good and true and lovely.

This summer the blog fell silent and I was curious to know what she could be up to, believing that of course she was up to something- and I knew it was something good.  I was not disappointed.  You really must read for yourself the path her summer took.

Beauty and grace . . .
I am so happy to have received the book Jana illustrated, What Think Ye of Christmas?
I love to read books that unveil the sacred all around us- the miracles everywhere.  Jana's rich and joyful illustrations combined with the simple message of this book leads you to experience the season in a new and meaningful way- by finding Christ in every familiar part.  Everything from ornaments and lights to the business of the season can celebrate the Savior if you recognize them as symbols, like the star, "leading us to Bethlehem.

What Think Ye of Christmas? will become a delightful tradition in our home, one to be read many times each year, and is also a meaningful gift to give (it happens to be several times on my list of gifts to give).  The book can be purchased here 

I would love to give one copy of What Think Ye of Christmas? away to a reader!  Simply leave a comment on this post.  Giveaway ends Sunday night, November 21, when I will randomly select a winner.

Thanks, Jana, for the gorgeous book and giveaway!

11/21 updated:  Congratulations Happy Mom!  Your number was randomly selected by my three year old!  I will contact you for your address to send you the book! Thanks to all who entered!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

why blog?

Do you ever feel like there are just too many words floating around out there?

Like, everybody has something to say,

and I feel somehow obligated to hear them,
to understand
and affirm or
participate with them.

I am enjoying my three hours of solitude this morning.
I start with prayer,
some journaling
and then decided to try to catch-up on my Reader
because it's been a while,
and it's always staring at me.
There are so many good things to read
and learn
and wonderful people to get to know-
I love the internet for this.
But today I am trying to whittle down my subscriptions,
unsubscribe from a few
because I just can't keep up.
But then I feel bad.
I check their stats,
if they don't have many subscribers
I just can't unsubscribe.  It feels mean.
Or, if they have, like, tons of subscribers
I think there may be something I'll miss.
Oh, well.

So I am asking myself why do I blog?
Why throw more words out there
to just add to the chatter
the confusion.
What is one more opinion?
One more story about my kids
my life
my lack of sleep?
A few more links you don't have time to read?
Is it just self-gratifying?
Oh, well.

This is why I blog:
because I need to write.  Like, I really need to.  Sometimes it's the only way I find any clarity about anything.  And, because I cannot speak.

. . . but why write publicly?
I guess because . . .

one, it's fun.

two, it is my way of numbering our days, my personal record of the wild and precious things I do not want to forget.

three, it's connection, and what SAHM couldn't use a little more connection with tall people?

four, it's like my little Annie who enjoys is passionate about food, and every time she takes a bite of something she really loves, she wants everyone around to taste it, too.  It makes her happy to share the things that make her happy.  Me, too.

and five because it is my story, and somehow, someway, maybe it is also my service . . . even if no one reads.  Even if the only one I am searching and struggling and rejoicing- as authentically as possible- before, is Christ.

In every cell of me there is a belief that life is wild and precious, and I cannot help but write about it.  At this time, in this season, this blog is my art- my small voice contributing to the river of words in the world, because "our truest response to the irrationality of the world is to paint or sing or write, for only in such response do we find truth."  (Madeleine L'Engle)
This is why I blog, but I am feeling this morning a need to clarify a few blogging principles that I will commit to:
1.  I will not blog just because I think I "should" blog.  I chucked NaBloPoMo.  It just didn't feel sincere. I will try to be careful that what I publish is at least something worth reading.
2.  I will not be passive-aggressive.  (This applies to any social media).  I will try to not ever publish something that in some backdoor way could make anyone feel bad, or that I would not speak aloud to anyone.
3.  I will write kind words.  I will be honest.   
4.  I will not allow "things which matter most to be at the mercy of things which matter least." -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (found from ebook below:) 
For anyone really interested in blogging but finding it hard to balance being a mom with time spent on the computer, I highly recommend Rachel's ebook, Simple Blogging.  (This is not an affiliate link, not getting paid to say this)

I have never bought an e-book before, but after following Rachel's blog for a couple of years now I expected that this one would be really practical and readable, and it definitely is!  It really helped me to clarify why I blog, but it especially has helped me to manage my time online.  I found every word of this ebook useful, and I especially loved her resources page.  This link is where I learned how to design a banner.

Happy Blogging!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

"The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, 
who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, 
and gave to it neither power nor time." 
-Mary Oliver

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

oh how I wish I had a picture
of the moment I passed
at five til noon
when the
november sun
was spilling
all over
the busy 
village street
and near the street
beside a dark horse
was an amish man
simple grey clothes
a scandalously too-long grey beard
and downright liberal 
his chest was puffed out
and head thrust back 
in the way of deep laughter
or deep happiness
as he was blowing up
a ridiculously large

I do not know why the amish man
with a beard too long
was standing near the street
beside his horse
at five til noon
so glad to be
blowing up an
there were no children
no party
only a busy street
one amish man
a dark horse
an excessive autumn day

I wanted to stop to see
what happened next
if the balloon would burst
or his laughter
and would the whole street
suddenly be
or would he simply take off
be carried away 
into the opulent
on a
and so 
the whole way home 

 I watched the sky
for pink balloons
 and floating

Monday, November 8, 2010


8:00 a.m. Annie hoping to reach the bubble-gum on top of the refrigerator . . .

Some mornings I wake up feeling this way, 
that I am reaching- reaching . .. 
pulling out the tallest chairs I can find
and stretching
and reaching
for God,
finding that I am not enough
will never be 
so very far from reaching Him.
And it is days 
like these
when I
must tell myself
and again
that God 
That God is the chair.
And the only way to Him
is to stop reaching
and sit
and be
and believe 
that God

"If you are seeking after God, you may be sure of this: God is seeking after you more." 
--John of the Cross

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Uncle Joe

Today we are sitting on the floor, fending off the children watching the Browns, when my brother Joe came on the television!

He has done several Call of Duty commercials for Wal-Mart, but this one is the best.  My husband and I laughed hard.  Enjoy!

Joe has been living in L.A. doing comedy and acting for several years now.  He does improv at the Upright Citizens Brigade, and he and his friend Barak were recently in town to begin filming a screenplay they wrote.  They are both so talented and so, so funny.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

I'm usually late to the party

The pics are from a 3a.m. photobooth session with Josie.  She scheduled a playdate for this time every night this week.  (I look happy, but I assure you I. am. not.)  The poor girl has been teething something fierce.  Oh why must teething be so rough on these little ones?  I heard somewhere that teething would feel unbearable for adults, I try to keep that in mind at 3 in the morning.

How can it be the sixth of November already?  How is there snow on the ground?

These days are a blur.  I fight like mad to get through them, and then fight like mad to hold on to them, to enjoy them, to savour these long, exhausting, precious days . . .

. . . the days that do not end . . .

they only cycle,
over and over and over . . .

I know this will sound like I am complaining, but I'm not (okay maybe just a little) or have a martyr-complex (I suppose I do), or that I am exaggerating (I'm not) . . .

My kids do not sleep.
(go ahead, tell me it's because I don't let them cry it out).
3 kids who don't sleep= waking up, oh, MANY times a night.

Add to that a teething infant,
two big kids who don't nap, can't seem to fall asleep until I do . . .
and then wake up all night long
until morning,
always too early,
and then it all

There is no pause in my life right now.
No margins.
No moment when I am not being touched, pulled, needed.

Oh, and Jim is commuting to work in Cleveland . . . 
and did I mention we're trying to sell our house?

I am telling myself this more than anything . . . 
because somedays . . . a lot of days . . . I wonder why I don't have more to show for my life?

How do other moms do it all?
the kids, the house, the healthy meals . . .
and still find time for their own dreams?  Their own career?
How is another year almost past and I am still . . .
just keeping up?
hoping for a few hours of sleep?
telling myself that next year I. will. do. it.

I'll go back to school
I'll serve more.
I'll write the novel.
I'll paint again.
I'll . . .

I really hoped to do NaNoWriMo this year.
I considered trying . . .
during one of those middle of the night playdates with the girl,
when I am irrational
and too tired to sleep
and anything seems possible.

And then I thought, well, I'll at least do NaBloPoMo.
It is Nov.6,
this is my first blog post.

I tell myself that a real writer . . . artist . . . whatever . . . would be able to push through, stay up all night, find a way to make it work . ..

I'm already up all night.

And you know what I have decided to do about it?
Let it go.
The ambitions, the goals, the guilt . .. 

Maybe there will be another day, another season.
I don't want these days to be any more hurried than they already are . . .
I want to be fully present,
and I have never been good at living in two places at once . . .

So here's to NaBloPoMo . . .
beginning on day 6 . . .
I'll still try to post every day this month,
just for fun,
and when I don't,
I don't.

*Related, I loved this post . . . My Life is Not My Own)

**Oh, and I do have some fun things to blog about this month, including at least one really great giveaway!

Live each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each.

Henry David Thoreau

(in other news, look who finally took the time to learn how to make a blog header!)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

the mess the magic

I am groaning into the mirror in the morning- powder, ponytail, keeping it quick because the baby the breakfast the morning, it's all coming at me fast and there is no time for fashion . ..

and she's popping her head in, asking how to write a K, what about a Q? and finally she brings her fat blue marker and yellow construction paper into the bathroom and we kneel at the closed lid of the toilet so I can watch her write A to Z, all the way, the first time ever . . .

and there's that catch in my throat, as always . . . the one that I am learning not to swallow away because this lid just became an altar and this paper the beautiful beginning and these moments are meant for catching . . .

She says to me that she never was happier than in those days with the babies the dogs the phone the chaos, and I am listening but seeing her myself in twenty years and telling myself to savour, savour, remember to embrace the madness, the mess, the glory, the holy . . .

and a mother's days aren't measured by hours but in rhythms, in baby dances, cups of milk and coffee spoons . . . and so I cannot remember whether it was the same morning or a whole dishwasher load later . . . but the bathroom, that was the same . . . when a younger child had an accident- a first in forever- all over the floor and just as I am bending to clean she forgets and comes running and spills herself, flat, all in it . . . and now I am cleaning the mess on the floor and the mess that is her and meanwhile the baby is hollaringhollaringhollaring and the oldest child is dancing with a plate full of food that she sends spinning all across the kitchen and I am thinking Lord I am sure there is something holy about this moment but I am struggling to see it right now . .. 

and it seems appropriate that the whole spectrum be told on any given day in an ordinary bathroom, for it is the ordinary, daily moments . . . in cleaning up and picking up and many many slips and trips that it's all unfolding, right before my eyes; growing up, bursting out, the first budding of the voice she will speak in the world . . . and a mother is the first-hand witness, the up-close spectator, and the price she pays is herself . . . her days and nights, her arms and breast and figure and sleep and soul . . . all for a view of this stage- this bathroom- where every once in a while, and every day, in the mess . . . magic happens.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

a good way to spend a life

Yesterday was this girl's fifth birthday, I can't believe I have a five year old and to celebrate we put on our new pink cowgirl boots and horse shirt and went to the farm to ride horses.

The day was just right.  There were plenty of animals to feed and puppies to hold, and a bakery with giant cookies to eat at the end.  (Local people, if you haven't been to Hershberger's in Charm yet, you must go!  I think it is by far the least expensive animal place, but still lots to see and do- unfortunately the farm part closes up at the end of this month, so go quick!)

We took a buggy to the pumpkin patch driven by a grandfatherly Amish man with a kind voice and sparkly eyes- one of those people with a constant grin right under the surface, you just have to love him instantly.  He was sweet to the kids and taught them how to whistle to make the horse stop or go.  He pointed across the fields to a big white farmhouse and said that is where he was married forty-five years ago.  Sparkly eyes.  Swoon.  

He said that the farm would be closing up soon, so he'll have more time to spend in his woodshop and catch-up on his woodworking. I said that sounds like a nice way to spend the winter, and his eyes sparkled and he said that it is, and when it gets too cold he takes his work in the house to whittle in the kitchen where it is warm near the fire, and where he can watch the birds.

Sigh.  I think that is all I'd like out of life, too.  A warm kitchen, to work with my hands and watch the birds all winter.  It sounds like a good life.

Here are some other good things to do with your one wild and precious life:

Holding Evangelism and Social Action in Tandem

An Invitation to Redemption

Truth About Chocolate- what's really evil about Halloween. (Ouch).

the Mattenleys in Haiti- Friends of mine who lived in Haiti when I was there are now back.  I love these people.

on Money . . .
I began to realize the stuff I spent money on indicated the stories I was living. By that I mean the stuff I spent money on was, in many ways, the sum of my ambitions. And those ambitions weren’t the stuff of good stories.   -Quote by Donald Miller, at small notebook

Thursday, October 21, 2010

today I did not hurry. and, this cheerleader thing

today I did not hurry.

let me start over . . . 

after 2:00, I did not hurry.

I had a showing today, so the morning was frantic with cleaning and getting the kid home from preschool and lunch and then my mom took the older two and wow how I love how clean my house can be when the little tornadoes are away (but how I miss them after about five minutes) . . . 

anyway, it was just Josie and I and the quiet house was a little unnerving for both of us.  I never get time just to be with her, to sit and make her laugh and just carry her around talking to her . . . 

the afternoon was so serene- and surreal- 

the clean, the quiet . . . 

and for the first time in . . . I don't know, weeks?  months? . . . maybe the first time since Josie was born? . . . there was nothing more that I needed to do, but be with her.  

Just. Be.

I did not hurry.  

I did not mentally recite all of the things I needed to be doing.  I did not make any lists.  I did not say the words "real quick" or "just a minute" or, "I'm coming."

I did not think of how many things I could do at the same time to get the most accomplished.  

I sat.  We played.  I rocked her to sleep.



And this is so random and has absolutely nothing to do with my not hurrying . . . 

I read somewhere that embarrassment is the only emotion that can be relived . . . or something like that . . . anyway it must be true because I have been tormenting myself with all of these completely embarrassing memories lately . . . why do I do this to myself? . .. so this is the memory that I keep laughing-and totally blushing- about . . .

when I was in junior high and I think only my freshman year of High School I was a cheerleader- yes that's embarrassing but this is the really embarrassing part . . .

so as cheerleaders we were really indignant that we weren't given the respect we felt we deserved and so we spent a lot of time arguing with . . . I don't know . . . the football team?  the female jocks? over why cheerleading is, indeed, a sport and we were very emphatic about the fact that cheerleaders are, indeed, athletes.

We bought shirts that said, CHEERLEADERS ARE ATHLETES.

Isn't that embarrassing!?

I mean, it may be true that cheerleading is a sport and I am sure there are some very athletic cheerleaders, but the fact that we felt such a need to declare it to the world?   Like, I don't remember any football players wearing "we are athletes too" shirts.

I am squirming with embarrassment as I write this.

Okay, enough embarrassing myself for one night, but there is plenty more where that came from . . . 


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

the outermost house and bird by bird

Books 22&23
The Outermost House by Henry Beston
This book took me a long time to finish.  It is "a chronicle of a solitary year spent on a Cape Cod beach," which, in this season of never-alone-for-one-minute, appealed to me on various levels.  I am sure that it is a lovely book, however at this time in my life I need something more than what happens when sand freezes to keep me awake at night.

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott

I own this book and have read it before, but it was just as fresh and thought-provoking to read again.  She has such great thoughts on life, and her writing just flows as though she's sitting talking to you, like a really witty, smart friend.  I'd like to go back and write a few posts about this book.  If, you know, I'm ever alone.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Girl who Played with Fire

For the record, I do NOT recommend these books.  There are too many highly offensive scenes that you will judge me for.  Don't read them.


However, if you should happen to find yourself with these books open in front of you, my advice is that you first make sure that there is plenty of food in the house and the children are in a safe place, because you won't be able to put them down until you've finished.

(And, if you can get past some of the offensive scenes you will find yourself truly offended by some of the subjects Larson brings to the surface- such as the way that society can abuse the most broken and voiceless among us).

It has "Made for Hollywood" written all over it, they are really dark and gruesome in places, and the second book seemed a little raw and not quite as tightly woven as the first.  But the suspense in both books keeps you awake at night and the tattooed heroine Lisbeth Salander is a fascinating, endearing character despite her painful personality flaws.

I think my favorite part about the books is how much coffee they drink.  Every single scene begins with somebody brewing coffee, pouring coffee, talking over coffee . . . it is such an appealing detail.  My coffee consumption increased drastically during the reading of these books.  It's too bad that the author, Steig Larson, died before the manuscripts were published.  (But don't read them).

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

a deliciously ordinary week

It was a good, ordinary week and I realize that I rarely blog about the good or the ordinary.  Why?

I'm not sure what made this week so good other than us all being in rhythm, which I am learning is the key to almost everything about home or life.

So here are a few of the deliciously ordinary moments from the week:

roast chuck slow
fall festival
  hay maze corn box
grocery shop
onions, chop
carrots, three
salt, toss
nutty bread

bloody nose
pepper spill
diaper explode
silent yell
J.J. and Hol's pretty new house
learn to swing all by herself

Great-Grandma's for lunch
  mashed potatoes
seconds, please
apple pie
the library

pink sundresses put away
stripey kneesocks
decide to give homeschool a try
first sleepover
(didn't sleep)
quiet evening
sleep by seven

strip the garden
last tomatoes
onions garlic
parsley basel
  sip splash 

cozy days
light a candle
funny hats
Welcome, Autumn!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Strangely familiar . . .

Daddy's last day of work, 2010

... getting ready for his new job, 2010

Our past five years:

Baby~Move~Baby~Career change~Move~Move~Baby~New Job~Move (hopefully soon?)

I used to say that I didn't want to get married because I thought it would be boring . ..  I have not been bored yet!

Jim is at his first day of work today and we are wishing him well and thanking God . . . we do not take employment of any kind for granted, and for Jim to be in a career that he loves is truly a blessing.