The could'a, would'a, should'a game

29 April 2011

If I knew I could, I would run a marathon.
I would write a book.
I would have more children.
I would adopt a child.
I would write poetry.
I would work.
I would start a business.
I would give all my money away.
I would play guitar.
I would be a kick-a** homemaker.

I play this game a lot. What I would do if I knew, absolutely, 100%, no risk of failure, that I could do it. I actually really hate playing it. I'm too good at looking at the would'ves and could'ves and should'ves, leaving me feeling incomplete or inadequate or unable to really accomplish much of anything. There are one too many things on that list that I know I literally cannot do.

In real life, failure is always a risk. And I'm just never at the place where I'm willing to take that leap without the fear of falling.

Bummer of a Five Minute Friday. I'm pretty sure it was meant to be a positive prompt, but perhaps I need more coffee or more time or more clarity this morning. I'm pretty sure you could do it better than I just did it.


The break-out

27 April 2011

I'm breaking out of this joint! 

Saturday noonish I'm boarding a plane for Chicago to meet up with my best girlfriend and enjoy a long weekend reading, sleeping in, and lovin' on her kiddos.

karen&jess in belfast
me and the sis in Belfast
To say I'm looking forward to this little break-out is an understatement. The last time I went away - sans husband & kids, whom I love dearly and equally and am unable to live without for any extended period of time - was nearly 6 years ago, with the sister, and across the ocean to Belfast. It was a fabulous time making new friends and exploring a new city, but I missed the boy and the man and haven't been away from all-of-the-above since.

But now there's three to contend with, and life in transition and on the move requires little breaks of rest and small amounts of recouping. It's been a good few weeks and months of intentionality with the fam and the home and the work... actually, it must be very hard work because I'm ready for a couple of days off!

So I'll kiss the wee ones goodbye, give the man a long hug and longer kiss of gratitude, and sit on a crowded plane with an open book. This may seem overdramatic, small, silly or inconsequential to some, but to me... to me, it's a great little gift.

how about some cute kiddo pics?

26 April 2011

Tuesday mornings are typically my morning to drop the girl off at school, go to Weight Watchers (yep, I just outed myself - boom!), and set up shop in Starbucks to read or write or surf or do any old thing that is unlikely to happen with the wee lad running around with drool spewing forth. I really want to write something brilliant and humbling and inspiring, but I'm running low on ideas... maybe because Facebook Fast for Lent is over and it's back to sucking my brain of creative energy... 

So in lieu of all that jazz, here are some snazzy pics of the little Hs in their Easter best:




I am utterly unable to tell of all the ways we are blessed by our church in downtown Kansas City... this little pic, of the boy worshipping with us, is just a snippet of the awesomeness.

The hard love

22 April 2011

It's Friday.
I've got five minutes... I think.

The hard love...

Hard and good. Hard and good. I've said a lot that these go hand-in-hand. So many moments of love that lead us to the hard, but good places. Moving overseas with a young family to do God-only-knows-what was so, so hard, but became (and is) so, so good. The boy growing and going to school on that first day in that first uniform was so hard, but seeing who he's becoming and how he's learning to love and have faith is so good. Giving birth... oh.... so, so, so hard (I could go on and on... the two boys came in typically hard-fought fashion), but afterwards a baby who came directly from God and is ours to love and nurture and protect and teach.... oh, so, so good. Waiting and trembling in hope sprinkled with fear, I've always thought that to be one of the hardest of all. But here in that waiting, I'm seeing how good it really is. The hard, but good ways we wrestle, we learn, we grow, we fall, we get back up, we rejoice, we mourn, we wait.

There's only one reason we do this, we put up with this, and we try again. It's because we love. The only way I can do it is because Someone first loved me. If it weren't for the hard love, I would've given up awhile ago.


Yep, that's it. Hard to get that one down for some reason. Think it was the extraordinarily late sleep-in that's making me feel all fuzzy. Back to reality for this mama. Your turn now.

Watch this space... well, in a month or so

Weary in not-well doing

20 April 2011

A few weeks back, a wonderful gentleman who has known me for the better part of my life prayed over our family in church. As he prayed for us (a not unfamiliar task, as it was his prayers - together with God's call - that propelled us to overseas work), he asked the Lord that we would "be weary in not-well doing." I'm quite sure he meant "not be weary in well-doing," but, well, you know...

IMG_6724I couldn't help but laugh, as there are more than a few times I have felt weary in not-well doing. Dishes are piling up and it is way past bedtime. Sunday morning finds angry children and exhausted coffee-tumbler-toting parents hunkered down in a minivan. Prayers seemingly go unanswered after late nights of whispers and tears. Coming in third, or thirtieth, or threethousandth in a marathon, or worse yet, collapsing before the finish line.

You get the picture. Who hasn't felt weary in not-well doing?

Reflecting on that dyslexic prayer left me feeling all tied up in knots. I think I secretly wonder if this accidental prayer put a little hoax on me. We know - or really, we'd like to think we know - that God knows the thoughts and the needs behind prayers. Behind the mixed-up names and unspoken requests, He truly knows the soul and longings. (I actually referred to a not-so-new friend by an entirely different name during a lovely and inspired 3-minute verbal dialogue between me and God and in her forgiving presence. You know who you are!) But I think deep down inside my doubting heart, I ponder the ridiculous notion that in hearing those jumbled words, He did indeed grant the prayer: may she be weary in not-well doing.

But what do I really know? I know that He says:
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in Me." John 14v1
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives..." John 14v27
"Remain in me, and I will remain in you." John 15v4
"Apart from me you can do nothing." John 15v5
"You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit - fruit that will last." John 15v16
"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Galations 6v9
I think we're lying to ourselves if we don't own that sometimes we do grow weary in not-well doing. But what do we know? That even up to His death, Jesus - who may have grown very weary - did not grow weary in well-doing. Up to the end, He was inspiring us to pursue Him, to rest in Him, to find peace in Him, and to abide with Him. He was comforting us in our very time of need.

I woke up weary in not-well doing this morning. I mean really, super-duper, tears on the pillow weary. And then I spent the morning with Him. He chose me - me! - to go and bear fruit; fruit that will last, well past the expiration date.

So I rested in Him for a good long while, and then got back to work.

The non-lameness of a Family Purpose Statement

19 April 2011

Here you have it: our family purpose statement. We'd been reflecting on such a statement for about a month now, with prompting from Organized Simplicity. We made lists, discussed dreams from the past and hopes for the future, reflecting on what we wanted to be like and how we felt God made us to be. We started with a super, simple statement:

Love a lot: Love God. Love people. Love eachother.

We liked this general purpose a lot, but wanted to have some concrete descriptors as to what that love would look like on a tangible level. In the end, we came up with this:

We want to display this somewhere in our apartment, small enough that we can take it with us anywhere and still know that we're home. Thoughts?

Love in the kitchen

17 April 2011

I hear him in the kitchen now. He says I love you with the clanging of dishes and the crashing of forks.

He wears an apron with a cartoon crazy-chef-like image on it and is covered in flour. Hospitality could be his middle name, apart from the tornado aftermath of an amazing meal. But without the tornado, there would be less to love, for he throws all he has - hands, eyes, brain, and heart - into making us full. He allows the rest of us to sit awhile and talk, sharing ideas and updating stories, laughing like mothers and sisters do.

He knows its value, the heart of his wife. The ability to care for and nurture does not come easily to all men. But to him it does, he says, because he does it for me.

the man, the tattoo, the camping/cooking/loving legend

On distance, in five

15 April 2011

It's been good to get time to write this week and here I am on Friday and on time with Gypsy Mama's Five Minute Fridays. Go, write, be cleansed, and don't look back.

On Distance... 

When I think of distance, I usually think of being far from home. First in Ireland, being far from the Midwest and the Kansas tornado season and the smells of warm and humid springs; and now here, back in the Midwest (Missouri, this time), being far from the daily rainbows and the new home we built and reveled in for 25 short months. I count the distance in monthly support and expectations, even though I try to deny it and think that the distance is merely only miles, not in dollars and cents. My heart knows the distance between me and home is really only measured in patience and fruits of the spirit, both of which I wish to plant and grow in.

But I also remember a time, more than a decade ago now, where the distance between me and the Creator seemed too wide, too vast to even recognize His hand or what His peace looked like. There was a crash in the internal systems of my mind and I felt like David cowering in the cave. There was no way to build a bridge over this infernal distance, apart from the waiting and the meds and the daily desire for Spring to once again arrive in my soul. Spring came at last, months later, and the distance disappeared in a matter of seconds.

I wonder now if the One who created my mind and all the brain chemicals of every one who ever lived allowed that distance to show me that no distance is too great for Him. He’ll still be found on the other side.


In hiding

14 April 2011

So I'm hiding from the children, though technically I don't think it's as bad as it sounds. Not that there haven't been moments where I've shut myself in a closet or bathroom, lights turned off and tears streaming down, begging for a few brief seconds of silent, solitary confinement. For now, though, I'm just laying in bed for a few moments, feeling the breeze weave in through the open windows, enjoying the baby being (somewhat unhappily) in bed for a little bit, the big kids watching (very happily, now that we've majorly limited) cartoons for a little bit, and waiting for the feeling of peace to wash over me for a little bit before our evening begins.

I think I've come to realize the need for the little bits of hiding I squeeze in through these days and weeks. For 300 seconds the children will all be safe and happy and learning small lessons in their own solitary moments, while Mom gets her head and her heart and her soul in all the right places before a new phase (dinnertime, bathtime, bedtime) requires her to be fully present.

Until that session begins, I'm going to be fully present on this bed, smelling spring air and waiting for the breeze and peace to simultaneously pick me up and set me upright again. Usually all it takes is those 300 seconds. That's how long it takes me to know that we're all going to be just fine.

Five things to do when you relocate

13 April 2011

There are a lot of downsides to relocating every couple of years: uprooting a nearly new home, saying goodbye to friends, trying to find new friends, learning where everything is and then forgetting how to get there... I could go on and on. And yet, there are a few helpful and enjoyable things that I've tried to incorporate with every new move with the hopes that this one, this latest move, will be easier than the one before.

1. Find - and visit - your local library
It's not just enough to know where it is, you have to actually go there! Before we moved overseas, I knew where our local library was and liked its close proximity to our house, but I think I only ventured in there once and it was to use the free internet to buy U2 tickets online in 2001. Shameful!

When we settled in our lovely village in County Meath, I made it my mission to find the nearest library and patronize it. Got a card and everything. And the world - or rather, that tiny part of Ireland - opened up for me, and with it came book club and friends and storytime with the kiddos and wall art on loan, not to mention the books and the lovely Fergus who paid my overdue fine. every. time.

Then, upon arriving back on the scene in the Midwest of the US, I again sought out the library, and walk my kids there weekly, anxious to see what will await us. Visiting your local library (frequently!) grounds you in your community, provides you with excuses to read anything or everything, and may even introduce you to your next best friend. Trust me.

2. Walk around your block, and then the one after that
The best way to not feel like a newbie weirdo in your unfamiliar neighbourhood? Become familiar with it. Walk it, explore it, wave to the neighbours, and repeat. You won't ever feel like you're at home until you recognize its scents, the way the leaves look in the sunset, or the children who call out to your children by name.

The Irish village we called home was easy to walk because, quite frankly, everyone walked. And when you try to pass someone on a very narrow stretch of footpath, you have to say hello. Not only this, but in our village, all the essential places - the shop, the post office, the pub - were all within a short walk. These places are where community happens and being able to walk there, and being willing to walk there, lessens our solitary confinement and enhances our community experience.

And when I walk, I pray. I pray for what I see, what's around me, and who may pass me by. This, more than anything, enhances the love I feel for the place I start to call home.

3. Research the Farmers' Market scene
Looking for good bread from the Mennonites? Love freshly picked flowers on a bright spring morning? Wonder where on earth you're going to find locally resourced honey to help you out with your wicked pollen allergies? Look no further than a Farmers' Market.

IMG_6929There are a handful that gather within 10 miles of our home, but the one I fancy is in downtown Kansas City (that's city centre to my European readers) and I would rather be there than anywhere else on a Saturday morning. The smells and sights and sounds emanating from this large city block make my heart happy. And we usually leave with a stroller-basket-full of fresh, locally grown, clean veggies and fruit. Not to mention cinnamon rolls, kettle corn, spices, daisies, honey (for the girl with eczema), etc., etc.

I've also heard it mentioned that one can find local organic farmers' markets, as well. I'm almost afraid to test this theory as I love our City Market farmers' market just too much and don't want to be tempted to stray. If you do have experience in this, though, feel free to add your thoughts below.

4. Find & play in green space
If you've recently moved to an urban area, this may seem unlikely at first. But at least in our current city, and the ones we've lived near in the past, this is more common than one might think. Look up your zip code (or township) on Google Maps and look for green. And then go there.

We have several beautiful parks out here in the suburbs, many of which have excellent playgrounds for the children to use and abuse, but my favourite parks are always in the city. Whether it's a large urban park with ducks in a pond, or a walking trail down an old trolley line, or even a field at the end of your cul-de-sac, go out and play on some green. You'll meet people, you'll laugh, you'll get dirty, and you'll tire yourself and your children (and/or pets) out and get a good night's sleep. Sounds like a bargain to me.

5. Rethink church
Not just think church, re-think church. I don't mean rethink whether or not you go to church or stop going altogether. On the contrary, there is no better time to evaluate what church means to you (and your family) and how you want faith to shape your home and your life than when you relocate to a new area of the state, country, or world.

Don't just look for that good 'ole denominational back-up, or plop into a new congregation sight unseen. Take some time to research, pray, prioritize, and seek out a faith community. Apart from parenting, there is probably no other greater influence on the life of your marriage, your family and your kids than the place where you will learn about God. The future really is shaped by what we believe about God and how we feel about His Son, Jesus Christ, and what we intend to do with that information.

Do you want your children to worship in church with you? Or are you looking for highly-efficient children's programs? Are you looking for something large with several extracurricular options? Or are you looking for an intimate family of believers? Are you searching for relationships over religion? Do you want your church, your community, and your mission field to blend into one? None of these things are mutually exclusive, but we all have a priority list when it comes to how we want to be involved in our faith. Take your time, visit, and pray... this may be the very best time to step out of one's pew and rethink what church really does mean.

These are just my five things, and there are probably loads more to choose from. If you've relocated recently, what do you suggest? I'm still looking for a few new things to try!

I'm sorry, did I say too much?

10 April 2011

I'm running a little behind this week, what with the conference going on and all of my super important, elite speaking engagements. :) But seeing as how I'm now home, golf is on, and the crying baby in the other room is the hubby's problem for the moment, I'm going to attempt Five Minute Friday on a Sunday.

Wait, is that another child crying? No? Ok.

If you met me...

If you met me, you would notice my hair first. Not super curly, definitely not straight, but a weird frizzy variety of uncontrolled brown chaos that starts at my roots and ends at the racing feet of my excited-to-meet-you,-too children.

If you met me, I would probably overwhelm you at first. I would touch your arm too much, laugh too loudly at your jokes (which up until that moment you probably thought only you found funny, and then you met me...), ask too many questions, or give too many long answers to the questions you give me.

If you met me, you would think I'm outspoken, outgoing, and out of breath. I am some of these things, some of the time. But the outspoken thing ends up with a foot in the mouth more often that not, the outgoing thing is merely a clever ruse to make you think I'm fun and popular, and the out of breath thing is just the state of life I'm in at the moment, both by and not by choice. Depending on the day.

If you met me, you'd meet the man. Maybe not in person, but through stories and smiles and glances across the room. You'd see the children run dashes between the two of us in the shape of squiggly hearts and you would see in my eyes that there's more to our love story than just the two of us.

If you met me, you'd see that I'm searching for something. A new friend, a comrade, another mother-fighter to help me keep going. You'd see that I've got some things going on the inside, things I may or may not tell you straight away (depending on the function and if there's a glass of wine nearby and a table for two we could sit and rest at awhile), about our journey and my heart and the ways we're learning and struggling and aching to know God better.

If you met me, you may not get me at first. But that would be OK, because right now, I've got just a wee bit of time on my hands.


Whew, that was a frenzied little exercise. So, now it's your turn. I really encourage you to give this thing a try, even if it's not particularly your thing. It's actually starting to become the highlight of my week.

Must-Have Easter Playlist

05 April 2011

To further avoid work (no really, I've just written a workable outline and it was EXHAUSTING so I'm taking a wee break)...

Must-Have Easter Playlist
all because of you / U2
All Creatures Of Our God And King / Fernando Ortega
Amazing Grace / Sufjan Stevens
Awakening / Sara Groves
Beyond The Sky / Fernando Ortega
Body And Wine / Jars Of Clay
City Of Sorrows / Fernando Ortega
Come Clean / Audrey Assad
Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing / Sara Groves
Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy / Fernando Ortega
The Comforter Has Come / Jars Of Clay
Conversations / Sara Groves
Creed / Rich Mullins (if you have nothing else, download this!)
Gethsemene / Keith and Kristyn Getty
Gloria / U2
Hallowed / Jennifer Knapp & Phil Keaggy
Handel: The Messiah - Allegro Moderato
He Will Come / Waterdeep
He's Always Been Faithful / Sara Groves
Healed / Nichole Nordeman
Holy, Holy, Holy / Sufjan Stevens
How Can I Tell / Sara Groves
I Am / Nichole Nordeman
I Will Sing Of My Redeemer / Fernando Ortega
jesus blood never failed me yet / Jars Of Clay
Jesus, King of Angels / Fernando Ortega
Kingdom Comes / Sara Groves
Less Like Scars / Sara Groves
Light Gives Heat / Jars Of Clay
My Deliverer / Rich Mullins
My God Has Come to Save Me / Waterdeep
No One Else / Fernando Ortega
Psalm 18 / Waterdeep
Rest in You / Waterdeep
Rise Up / Ben Shive
Romans / Jennifer Knapp
Sing Alleluia / Jennifer Knapp & Mac Powell
Sing To Jesus / Fernando Ortega
Something Changed / Sara Groves
Tears Of The Saints / Leeland
There Is A River / Jars Of Clay
This Too Shall Be Made Right / Derek Webb
The Transfiguration / Sufjan Stevens
Walls & Tall Shadows / Waterdeep
Where The Streets Have No Name / U2 Please
yahweh / U2
You Are Lovely / Waterdeep
You Did Not Have A Home / Rich Mullins
You Did That For Me / Sara Groves

Busy bees

I'm sitting here at the coffee shop trying to get my thoughts all lined up nicely in a row for a hefty load of talks/studies/presentations I/we are giving this week. It's missions conference time and we are not want for opportunities to share about our lives and work in Ireland.

So what's the problem, you ask? Well, like before, all I've got on my nice word document page is "Ireland". And nothing else. There's so much to say, share, pray for, hope for... I honestly have no idea where to start or how to shape the ideas for a week's worth of gatherings.


Also, where the heck did March go?

AND my coffee's gone.

From a friend...

04 April 2011

"Change interrupts my nesting habits,intrudes into my comfort zone. Say the word change, and I freeze. I have learned to live to the full–wherever I am–by simply pretending I'll be there forever. Otherwise I'd never get involved in a new project, or invest myself in someone's life, or bother to contribute to a group."
Jill Briscoe, Renewal on the Run
Something I have to remind myself of every single day. Still not wholly succeeding, but a great challenge and encouragement to me...

These are a few...

01 April 2011

Friday is here again and with it, some more Five Minute Friday goodness from GypsyMama. Check her blog out, and then try it yourself. Five minutes, off the cuff, no looking back...

...of my FAVOURITE things...

The first Friday of the month is a big day around our house. That means payday was last week, rent is right around the corner, and summer is coming quicker than I'm ready for. The week of first Friday sees the husband in mad preparations for the First Friday Art Walk, an event we've started to cherish. He's an artist (for) now, don't you know, and on the first Friday, we get an evening to ourselves, with several hundred of our starting-to-become favourite people, sharing life and ideas and visions and creative expressions, in the hopes of pointing people to a God who created us and put the thirst for creative expression and the joy that comes from it inside each of our fragmented hearts.

This first Friday also means we pack the kiddos up, backpack carrier and little girl purse in tow, and take the kids to the once-a-month indoor flea market, where we root for treasures to perk up our transitory existence. I'm trying to make our home, wherever it may be, a real home for however long He blesses us with it. In Ireland it meant searching out just a few hand-crafted pieces of a new (to us) cultural identity, filling our then-home with tiny pieces of an Irish life. Here, back where we began, it means going to those old places for inspiration and re-imagination, a rebirth in our for-now-home with a couple of carefully chosen quaint Americana items that ground us in who we are and where we came from.

I love this part of life... finding a place for new people in our big, ever-changing world.  And giving a second chance to small things that become our new favourite things... hopefully small enough to fit in a suitcase and adventure with us to the next-new-home.

this one, I know from experience, does not fit in a suitcase