2011's not totally terrible writing : Toaster to the Fullest

31 December 2011

I changed the name of this series because "best of" just sounded so, so, perfect. And me and my writing are so, so not. So it's 2011's not totally terrible writing. This one was an epiphany. Pure mind/heart explosion. And it's still true, but acknowleding it is half the battle, right?



I don't read owner's manuals. I push buttons.

With each purchase or use of an electronic item, I blindly go forward, pushing buttons at random until I get the response or action I'm looking for. What do the buttons mean? I have no idea. I'm sure it's in the owner's manual. But let me just starting pushing and punching and selecting and eventually I'll get what I'm looking for.

In times of severe distress (or when I start erasing or burning things), I dig through drawers and cupboards, looking for that one coffee-stained manual. My trembling hands fumble deftly through the torn and crumpled pages, scanning for words like "menu" or "battery" or "smoke". If I'm lucky, I'll find the page that informs me how to undo what I just did, fix what I just broke, or dispose of what I just destroyed.

Occasionally I'll wonder if I'm missing something, if I'm not really enjoying these items or tools as much as I could. Perhaps the digital camera or toaster is not being used to its fullest potential. Maybe I'm not really using these items in the way they were meant to be used, therefore not allowing them the full impact they could have on my life. Perfect, unburnt toast. Photos with depth perception and clarity. Distinct alarms and sounds for every day of the week.

Maybe that would be nice.

But I'll never know. Because I don't read owner's manuals. I just push buttons.

Good for a giggle

30 December 2011

Fun to see who read what this year, at least on this here humble blog:

Top read : 31 Days of Living in Transition {day 1}
Runner up : My Beef with Stuff Christians Like (special thanks to Jon Acuff for all the traffic)
Honorable mentions : 31 Days of Living in Transition : Love the one you're with {day 9} (and other 31 days posts)
Honorable mentions :  Quick, before you miss it!
Honorable mentions : Must-have Easter playlist

Thanks for joining me here friends. It's not much, but it's enabled me to think, grow, create, write and mother better throughout the year. Maybe it's done a tiny bit of the same for you...

Here's to 2012.

Best of '11 in Words : Preaching a la social media

The second in a short series of best of posts from 2011. This one really challenged me and humbled me. Given 7 months hindsight, how do you now feel about it?

‎"As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live." Ezekiel 33:1
"Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice". Prov 24:17

Just a couple of the scripture bombs falling on Facebook today. I have mixed feelings about the Osama/death thing. Relief, thankfulness, concern, crippling humility...

IMG_8408On the one hand I celebrate God's justice, grateful for our troops who do dangerous and difficult things to protect us, and hopeful that those who suffered loss, injury or devastation on 9/11 can close the door a little more on this chapter of pain. But I'm also wondering about the nature of evil, enemies, and sin, I'm concerned for violence to beget more violence, and I'm wrestling with my own sinful thoughts, actions, or predispositions that initially placed me in the category "enemy of God" before I praised His name, and haunt me still as I struggle to walk a life following Him.

The thing is, I think these are great issues to wrestle with and discuss in a public forum. These are fantastic opportunities to share our fears, struggles, hopes. This is a time where we can admit to rejoicing in a little vengeance, while still questioning the mercy that's so unjustly offered to you and me and him. On the contrary, I don't think it's the time to drop a little biblical napalm on spiritual weaklings who haven't yet reached the righteous highground others claim to have found. It ignores valid emotions, belittling their journey with Christ.

Yes, let's confound people with our love for our enemies. But let us also admit to struggling to do so. A one-liner of contextually removed Truth confuses more than it confesses. Let's confess together the human difficulty we have in fully understanding the perfectly divine nature of both justness and mercy that lies in a most holy God. The same God who says "vengeance is mine." The same God who says, "wishing no man to perish."

I just cannot get it. But I do trust it.

Best of '11 in Words : Facebook fasting and other Lenten activities

29 December 2011

I've not really done a Best Of when it comes to my own words, but 2011 turned out to be not too shabby when it comes to the practice of writing. Not that it's all be brilliance, but I turned back to writing this year when other things seemed to slip through my fingers. So I've spent a bit of time rereading what I put down and to see if I've embraced it or hidden from it or changed from it. And here, from March, is the first...


We didn't really do Lent growing up.

I'm not really sure why we didn't commemorate it, but I think we always considered our family and church just plain old Christian... nothing fancy like Catholic or mainline Protestant. They did the big-word type things (lent, confirmation, catechism, etc), not us. In fact, I didn't think twice about it until we moved overseas and it seemed like everybody - and I mean everybody, including my 6 year old little boy upon arriving home from school - declared a traditional belief in the cross by bearing it's ashen symbol on their foreheads. I think a part of me fancied this notion, this obvious display of faith (or rather, if I were to be honest, of religion). There were conversations had and ideas floated and it came to pass that the husband and I decided to do Lent.

Now, I cannot remember what I "gave up" for Lent that first year, but I'm pretty sure it was chocolate, and I'm more than sure it was short-lived. My noteworthy failure at abstaining for a few short weeks left me disturbed by my apparent weakness, lack of self control, and inability to maintain a true sacrificial faith.

Since that time, I began contemplating Lent, what I really truly wanted to give up for this period of meditation. What did I cling to that I did not need? What took up time or wasted precious energy? What was it in my life that was more distraction than enhancement of who God created me to be? The answer was quite obvious: Facebook. I could very well go on about the evil toils of Facebook, but you most likely already know them and can see where I'm headed.

Instead I'll tell you I looked forward to Lent this year, not just because of my anxiousness to rid myself, temporarily, of this self-serving vice (who doesn't get a kick out of posting mild braggings and beautiful pictures of children and husbands for all the world - and exboyfriends - to see?), but also to consider "putting on" something in deference to what Christ put on for me: all the shame, all the sin, all the pain in the world, on His shoulders as payment for what I will and would do.

So for Lent this year, as I give up Facebook for 40 days, I'm going to try and put on communing with Jesus - and with you - through writing. My mind has been too cluttered lately, my thoughts too fuzzy, my soul too parched to really share with God and with others what's in my heart. I'm looking forward to clearing the air, opening the windows, and letting the wind and the sunshine in. I know He has been waiting for me to do this, and even now I'm wondering why I needed to wait until Lent began to do this. I could've, should've, done this ages ago!

But, today is where I am and today is where I start. I'm desperate to meet the Father here in a new way, and I hope you'll come meet me here, too.


Christmas in review

28 December 2011

We had a brilliant Christmas with my family in Kansas City. Our stateside tradition is Christmas Eve with my dad's fam and my lovely brother and sisters, and then Christmas lunch with my mom and sis. Nothing disappointed! Feel amazingly blessed to spend another holiday with them.

Some awesome pics from my dad (pics of Christmas day will come later):

laughing at Home Alone

kids got pizza!

me and the wee lad

my big sister and eldest nephew


J-Lo and C-Lo

the red-headed nephew - he loves football!

gift chaos

the man and i did not so well distributing gifts

the cousins - showcasing the wee lad's new trick

For those interested in such things (I've been told there are actually people who *enjoy* cooking), Matt made Delia's roast chicken with Riesling, grapes & tarragon for Christmas lunch. I highly recommend this recipe. It's a bit of work, but the smiles and full tummys are - I'm told - worth it!

Ting-ting-tinging on a December night

20 December 2011

I'm listening to the ting-ting-tinging of raindrops falling down our strange metal-type chimney. It leaks air and is a bit of an eyesore, but we still get a sense of grandness with the small perk of a fireplace, even if it's in the corner of a first-floor apartment instead of at the center of our home and hearth.

Christmastime is here, and I'm always a little more nostalgic, a little more sentimental, a little more teary-eyed and a little more homesick. No matter where are, I still get those slight pangs in the heart that seem to echo the thought, "I miss something, but I'm not sure what it is." It could be Dublin, or Chicago, or Kansas. It could be those first baby years, those first marriage years. It could be my friends, my family, or my childhood.

And I always find myself here, every year, by the lit tree. The lights turned off, a child asleep and the ting-ting-tings of rain, wondering, what is it I'm still aching for?

decorating my mom's place

Why do I complain, why do I say...?

Words tread water

16 December 2011

Five Minute Friday with GypsyMama today, on the word that eludes me today...


We tried to use words to connect with someone today, but sometimes words aren't heard. Apparently there are times only screams or groans or cries are heard. But we didn't do that. We used words. And they went unheard. I'm screaming for someone to fight for us, to advocate for us, to help us find our way in a maze of flaming hoops, hoops we've already fearfully jumped through only to find another one waiting. And when the miracle happens, and someone does advocate, does go out on a line, does use words and actions to invest in us and fight for us, that too goes unheard.

So, here we are, waiting and wishing we'd used different words to communicate our need, our calling, our heart-wrenching burden that hovers over everything. But the fear remains that we won't connect, we won't be heard, our words will drown in the ears of others, and we will lose the mission, miss the boat, and tread water in the sea that carries us back to chasing the American dream.


wordless wednesday

a virtual christmas card!

14 December 2011

The hubby and I usually send out Christmas cards to all of our supporters, but this year we're also sending out some family Christmas cards to our friends in Ireland. Here's a preview!

Handwritten Wishes Christmas
Turn your favorite photos into your favorite Christmas cards!
View the entire collection of cards.

The Lord has blessed us with some seriously cute kiddos. Major props to my dad and step-mom for providing the gorgeous backdrops for their photos, both in Kansas City and North Carolina. We feel so fortunate to have had this year near our families!

Remembering to go

09 December 2011


18 months ago today we came back to the States. My soul was sad and weary and I did not yet know where we were going or if we were staying.

15 months ago we had a better idea, a refined vision, a calmed heart as we knew where we didn't belong and were ready to tackle the steady climb back.

12 months ago we were embedded in a community, in fellowship with a new body of believers, thankful for a detour that allowed us time and training and companionship, yet still anxious to go and to give and to love, both here and there.

6 months ago the wheels hit the ground as we finally - finally - received our invitation back, and with it the go ahead to travel, to fundraise, to spread the word, and when finances allowed, to go back to our home and our life we had made for ourselves.

3 months ago we didn't leave as planned, but knew where we were going.

2 months ago a door closed. It wasn't the only door, but it was big enough and loud enough and strong enough to throw us off our game, to crush the spirit, to wonder outloud and inside what God was up to and how it would all turn out.

1 month ago we knew Him to still be good and we knew His voice had said and was still saying: "Go."

Today... oh today. I don't remember my life there. We've spent over 7 years working towards something, 2 years living in it, and today I don't remember what it felt like to be hugged by an Irish granny or to read aloud in book club or to laugh with the Thursday morning moms. All I can remember is that He told me to go.

So, ok, Lord. When do we go?

So much happening, and yet nothing at all

06 December 2011

Christmastime around here is the season for everything happening at all once, usually a bit late, usually a bit overdone, usually a bit off schedule and out of wack and over budget. And yet, there's really not all that much going on... besides just stuff. White noise.

So because we're still in the States, for our second Christmas in a row (last Christmas for awhile? do I dare say it? do I dare even think it?) perhaps it is time for a wee top 10 list. It's been awhile and the wee ones are all in various stages of not sleeping and I've got a Boulevard Wheat spurring me on towards sentimentality, so here we go:

Source: amazon.com via karen on Pinterest

Top 10 things I love about my hometown at Christmas:

  1. The Plaza lights. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you don't know Kansas City.
  2. No snow. I hate snow and KC in December is the perfect place to be cold, but dry.
  3. Shopping. I love that things go on great sales this time of year in the US. And I love that I can stop by any shop and pick up a little something special for not much cash that makes it feel like we're creating a home.
  4. Movies! Any excuse to watch holiday movies with the wee ones, or going out to a movie on Christmas day with my sis and mom.
  5. Church. I love worshipping with friends and family at the holidays. Sadly, we've not been to our new church home in a few weeks, and I miss it. And I'm happy to say I miss it. I think it's lovely to miss something, and to be missed.
  6. Football.
  7. Music. I love that no matter where you are, music makes a home sound like home and yet can still take you back to a far off place. We listen to Sufjan Stevens Songs for Christmas all winter long. It's brilliant. And fun for the whole family. And takes me back to winter in Dublin and the coffee shop by the sea.
  8. Friends. When we're in KC, we have new friends who've just moved here, old friends who come back home, and friends who were always here and saved a place for us.
  9. Family.
  10. Jesus. He finds me wherever I am. And reminds me of why I'm even following Him in the first place. This is the first home He gave me. And He's given me so much.

What do you love about the place you find yourself in this season?

On being tired, in five

02 December 2011

I don't remember ever not being tired.

Nothing terribly dramatic to report, just kids and homework and toys all over the floor and trading beds like musical chairs in the wee hours.And grown-up work and meeting and travelling and praying and hoping and waiting and explaining. And medical bills and asthma and new shoes for uneven feet.  And marriage and parenting and imperfect human beings with inadequate amounts of patience or wisdom.

So tired, I can't even type as fast anymore.

I remember vaguely thinking adults had it made: no school, no curfew, very few rules. But I don't remember anyone mentioning the tired part.


So I'm bag with Gypsy Mama and her Five Minute Fridays, at least for today. Thought the writing might break the exhaustion spell. No you give it a go!

Another new place to call home

21 November 2011


Was it really just a month ago we were travelling cross-country with our kids, and already we've forgotten how insanely insane, difficult, long, frustrating, and exhausting it is?! Apparently, yes. The picture above says it all, the wee lad done with the travel, done with the eating out, done with being buckled in. Just. Done.

We're here now, all alive and relatively unscathed, safely ensconced in the home of the husband's parents. The boy says, "This is a comfortable house to stay in." And it is, even though it's new to us. We lived in their old house all last summer, and when we left we said our goodbyes. Now we are staying for the first time in the new house. And it is still home, because this is where the grandparents and the dog and the comfortable-ness is.

But I digress, because it's taken 20 hours or so to get the wee lad to sleep in his bed. Some minor things have been broken. And I forget that this is the husband's family, so sometimes he disappears for long hours in the garage or the basement or the Fleet Farm. He's in the motherland, Wisconsin, and for all it's cold grey skies, it is a rather large piece of our home pie.

My beef with Stuff Christians Like

12 November 2011

I've got a wee beef with this recent post from Stuff Christians Like, entitled rather troubling, "Girls that have a past" and then subsequently subtitled as, "The unofficial identifying girls in church who have a past scorecard".

My beef isn't because:

a) I'm a girl with a past (though I kinda am, but not much of one and presumably didn't score very high on aforementioned scorecard because of my fear of white shorts);

b) I dislike SCL or its writer in residence, Jon Acuff (SCL is something I usually really like, so much so that I read portions of it outloud at dinner parties and sleepovers); or

c) Because I'm a feminist (though, again, I kinda am, but more in the way of Leslie Knope as opposed to Nancy Pelosi).

Instead, my beef is due in large part to:

a) The post saying it's meant to "call out" guys who think this way and keep such scores, but instead invites "girls" to tally up their own scores to see how they measure up;

b) Limiting the categorization of girls with a past to such profound outward signs of promiscuity as hoop earrings, a desire to drink, and tardiness;

c) Stereotyping the good girls as legalistic, un-marry-able prudes (who, in fairness, love a good orphan);

d) The host of this party, Jon, having to consistently defend, clarify, and define the post as "satire" and yet still claim it as "truth," not that he would know anything about that, as he married a good girl; and

e) The uninspired writing of a piece of satire without a clear beginning, middle or end, with no justifiable or redeeming conclusion that pierces the soul with wit, poignancy AND laughter (as all good satire must), and still also manages to reference Kim Kardashian.

I love SCL, and up till now, highly respected and learned a great deal from Acuff. But this post uses a common misconception as an excuse to judge - and laugh at - all women based on their looks, their facebook profiles, and their favourite verses (to name just a lousy few).

No wonder so many people have such a hard time going to church; we're not even safe among God's people.

halloween's gone past

08 November 2011

came across this picture today

the girl @ 12 months

pumpkin jack 2
the boy @ 4 years

the whole crew, 2007

oh, it goes so fast...





wordless wednesday

31 days of LIVING in transition :: it's curtains for you {day 31}

31 October 2011

IMG_20111029_125105.jpgOk, girls (and man), it's the last day of this slightly underwhelming series. :) I hope there's at least been a nugget or two that has inspired you to live wherever you are for whenever and however long you are there. It's good for me to remember that we are offered life to the fullest, and we have only to say yes to take Him up on his brilliant and beautiful offer.

Yesterday we did something that I'd wanted to for awhile, but with not really knowing when or how or where this year might take us, I put it off and waited for the next step or a sign or a plane ticket. But those things haven't yet come. What did arrive, however, was a sense of peace and an intense desire to live in a place that looked a little more like home, even if only for a week or a month or a year.

We put up curtains.

Our bedroom "suite", frantic and messy and crazy at it is (for being an office/bedroom/bathroom/storage closet), is now framed with lovely inexpensive curtains that kinda match the random assortment of items that were so graciously given to our family when we returned to KC. I love them. And I stayed up late looking at them until I fell asleep with a smile on my face.


It looks like my home. And I loved waking up to them. And I look forward to walking in there and cleaning or reading or working... a smallish investment for a huge payback: feeling at home.

The River Into WordsSo that's where we end. Tomorrow I'll keep trying to live with intention, but I'll enjoy not having to make it all make sense in a blog post. Sometimes it's hard to make sense of. But I truly appreciate you allowing me to try and joining me here with comments or notes of encouragement.

31 days of LIVING in transition :: resources {day 30}

30 October 2011

Ah! We're almost done with these 31 days! And I feel like I haven't been super great at sharing much wisdom or offering much camaraderie. So on this day, I wanted to point you toward some blogs and resources where I find such things like wisdom and camaraderie and other ideas for living with intention while permanently living in transition. (If you've been around, these links probably aren't new to you, but want to make sure and draw attention to these fabulous women.) Enjoy!

the experts
The Missional Mom
Simple Mom
Nesting Place

friends working or living in similar contexts
The Task at Hand
Branson Family Blog
9,000 miles from Kansas
On the Far Side of the Sea

Now, back to loving on the wee sick one, prepping for some kiddo halloween fun (I usually start the preparations one whole day before), and worshiping with our church family this morning. Oh, and hanging some curtains! More on that tomorrow... 

31 days of LIVING in transition :: a night off {day 29}

How can one survive the daily tedium of transition? Treat oneself to a day or night off every once in awhile.

We have a kiddo sick today. A sad wee lad with a fever and a nasty cough and swollen cheeks. So there's been crying and frustration ... and this is mainly just from me and the 3 or so hours of non-sleep I spent by his side in the night.

Tonight the sister rescued me and we went to shop for some necessities and then treated ourselves to a yummy appetizer dinner. It was fab and just what this exhausted mama ordered.


So, do it. Treat yourself, even for just a couple of hours. Take the night off, enjoy some company, and remember to have fun. We did. We laughed and laughed until we cried and embarrassed ourselves. All good things for living.

31 days of LIVING in transition :: finding narnia {day 28}

29 October 2011

IMG_8816We spent the better part of our road trip listening to a radio theatre production of The Chronicles of Narnia. I'm so, so glad to say that our family loves this series. All of it. And when Aslan's roar comes through the radio, the children yell, "Yay, it's God!" They are discovering traits and cares of our Father through CS Lewis' imagining of Him.

And the husband and I are, too. Relearning who He is, how He loves, where and how He's at work.

One of the stories in particular, the Horse and His Boy, has a scene which hasn't left my mind. A boy, who's had terrible luck and a rough go of it, so distraught and frustrated and rightfully so, says something like, "Why has all this happened to me? Why do terrible things follow me? I'm cursed!" (a paraphrase). And Aslan, who has been working ceaselessly behind the scenes, tells him of all the ways He has worked, all theses things, these "curses", that Aslan orchestrated to protect the boy from actual harm. And also, to bring the boy home.

Oh, I'm so reminded that there is something greater than me at work. And even when tough things happen or I feel cursed or unlucky or unloved, He is protecting me, teaching me, loving me, doing good for me.

So today, we went to our park, our safe happy place in the city that we miss when we're gone and love when we're here. And we looked for Narnia, hunted down secret doors, found a lamppost, and waited for Aslan.


31 days of LIVING in transition :: sans internet {day 27}

Yesterday, and the day before that and the day before that, we were without internet. I won't go into the whole story, but needless to say it was my fault and it's now been rectified (thank you, husband).

Moral of the story? um... always double check your hotel room before you check out.

And now, a funny pic:

my reindeer!

31 days of LIVING in transition :: i know it's there {day 26}

27 October 2011

truth be told, these 31 days of living in transition have been more like days of dragging myself and barely surviving in transition. these 31 days started out rough and haven't quite yet made it out of the ditch. because the thing is, some people see a light at the end of the tunnel, an end to the transition, a start of something else, something new. and some don't, not right now.

i know it's there, but i don't yet see it.


{this post brought to you by no caps and the number 26}

31 days of LIVING in transition :: fellow travelers {day 25}

25 October 2011

We spend the evening with friends and sweet wine. They are fellow travelers, walking a similar path of transition between two worlds. So much comfort, so much encouragement is found in our meeting and laughing and nodding. The parallel stories.

The friendship is not so old - only four years in - and only a month spent in proximity, but on this couch and sitting side-by-side, nothing feels new or awkward or strange. There is no angst, not much hidden, few things left unsaid. In so short a time, we fit it all in: the smell of newborn baby, the children who have grown, the companionship of a family who knows.

No judgment, but sweet communion.


31 days of LIVING in transition :: in pictures {days 21-24}

Ok, so apparently I can't blog on the road. But i was taking pictures of fall foliage. So, I'm gonna cheat on this one, and instead of sharing any deeply personal thoughts or stories, just let the pictures of Minnesota in Autumn speak for themselves... they soothe this weary-in-transitioning soul.

{forgive the overabundance of fun retro pic gadgets for the smart phone. I have no excuse.}






31 days of LIVING in transition :: follow the Leader {day 20}

21 October 2011

Blogging every day is harder than it looks! Only 11 more to go... I think I can, I think I can.

Tomorrow we go up to Minnesota for a long weekend, to share our work with a church and some family. I would say I'm looking forward to it, but the 14 hours each way, in a van, with our kiddos... well, that will take extra bits of grace and stamina.

With this whole year+ being what appears to be a never-ending transition, we're trying to take small steps in obedience, in the right direction, attempting to recognize where and how it is God leads us. Some days are more stagnant than others, and some days are more frantic than others. And this month has seen both. And I'm weary.

But still, we move forward, and sideways, and maybe even backwards a little bit, straining to get a better view, on our tip-toes and eyes straight ahead. We look for Him to give the signal, catch His eye, and then we wait for what's next.

And tomorrow, it's Minnesota. So we go, not really knowing the whats or hows, but praying and trusting in the whys. Grateful for another step. Praising the One who leads.


31 days of LIVING in transition :: falling into autumn {day 19}

19 October 2011

Isn't autumn/fall the most beautiful of all transitions? With that in mind, get out! Enjoy it! Revel in the fact that transition is a natural order of being. Nothing is intended to remain stationary forever.