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?
Narcissistic?
Needy?
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
today
at five til noon
when the
november sun
was spilling
gaudily
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 
jolly 
potbelly
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
pink
balloon

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
today
so glad to be
blowing up an
oversized 
pink 
balloon
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
laughing
together
or would he simply take off
be carried away 
into the opulent
autumn
on a
joyful
pink
balloon 
and so 
the whole way home 

 I watched the sky
for pink balloons
 and floating
amishmen



Monday, November 8, 2010

reach

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 
enough
so very far from reaching Him.
And it is days 
like these
when I
must tell myself
again
and again
that God 
is 
not
up
there.
That God is the chair.
And the only way to Him
is to stop reaching
and sit
rest
and be
and believe 
that God
is
reaching
for 
me.

"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
begins
again.

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!)