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!