The dying macbook's one last gasp

29 December 2012

So here it is, friends. 2012 is coming to a close and we are days away from moving overseas. I told you how God worked me over hard this year. I'm so glad He used you, my dying macbook, and three sticky kiddos to show Himself to me, over and over.

Mega thanks to (in)courage for allowing me to share my thoughts on 7 with Trash nerd (reflections on waste and creation care), thus making it my top-read post of this year! For reals, people, get on this book if you haven't already. I plan on reading it out loud to Matt on the plane...

Honourable mentions go to:

A gentle reproof over white coffee, in which my son schools me on faith.

In defense of the silent dissenter, in which I attempt to love my neighbours more than politics.

I was ugly :: 31 days of messy parenting, in which Asher came to us.

The piano wall, in which my husband destroyed a piano and many (if not all) things were made new.

So here we go: a new year and a new home and starting again, again. I will see you soon... this time, from Ireland.


If you blog, won't you share with me your favourite post from the year? Or was there a book, movie, article that stayed with you?


27 December 2012



An early nap has made him restless. His siblings are asleep, while he clicks his camera and flings his Woody doll. I don't really mind the interruption in routine or the sleeping musical chairs. It's the price we pay for a weekend with family, songs with my grandmother, games with my cousins, pie for breakfast. I know these moments will soon be gone.


It's been awhile, but here I am, back where we started. Snow is falling like tiny, lazy confetti, getting lost on its way to the ground. I've spent the last 48 hours huddled in an uneasy rocking chair. Reading, thinking, too cold and exhausted to venture out of doors. Until today... realizing this gift card has a very quickly coming expiration date. So here I am, sitting too close to the door of the coffee shop, searching for snowflakes without a home.


I'm in Wisconsin, having said goodbye and moved away on Christmas Eve... Where did Father Christmas find you this year?

A thousand words

20 December 2012

When someone perfectly captures the spirit of your family in one picture, it's impossible to pay them back. I feel like I see them all with fresh eyes, with bigger heart, with praising spirit.

Our friend Erin at Verite Photo did this for us. If you live along the Kansas/Missouri state line, I highly encourage you to seek her out. You won't be sorry!

2012 favo(u)rites :: The success lie (on family, failure and faith)

19 December 2012


We are babysitters this weekend, slumber party novices leaving evidence of mildly irresponsible late-night milkshake drinking. Blankets, pillows and swords litter the hallways. Before he heads to work, we cuddle in a very large, very comfortable, very I-don't-ever-want-to-get-up-from-here bed. I feel his chest rise and fall heavily, hear him sigh as he says, "I'm sorry our bed sucks. I'm sorry for all of it."

It takes me a moment to register what he's saying, what he means, how his heart drops in the memory foam of the bed.

We are laying on a big, soft symbol of success. And our pokey, old, free-for-the-taking mattress back home is a symbol of failure. 

We all believe that, don't we? The house, the job, the car out front, the kids in excelled learning, the 401k. These are barometers of a life well done. We work hard for them, make sure they're shiny, take comfort in them and feel successful. This is what we're told we deserve, what we can get it if we try hard enough, what will make us happy and what will keep us secure.

Except, it's a lie. It's a lie we are all too willing to believe. Honestly, it is so much easier to look successful with hard work and money than it is to prove we're successful in quiet prayers and patience.

What is success anyway? How other people see you? How you think you look to the outside world? Does it really matter what Dave Ramsey thinks? Is the interest rate that big of a deal? I don't believe those things influence or determine success. 

My sister is successful not because of her wonderful bed, not because of her athletic kids, not because of the house or picket fence or chocolate lab (though those are all real and fantastic things). She's successful because she and my brother-in-law just celebrated 20 years of marriage. They are successful because of the hard work, time, patience and sacrifice they put into marriage and parenting. They are successful because they come home together, pray together, serve God together, and love their kids together. They are successful because they believe all these things are gifts from above, a life they never imagined, a family based on faith and hope and love.

And us? We haven't failed just because we don't have a house, a backyard, a sturdy retirement account or spotless refinished hardwood floors (though that would all be very nice). We are successful because our kids are happy and we get to spend the majority of almost every day with them. We're successful because we are pursuing something we know God has called us to do. We're successful because at the end of the day, we come home to each other. We're successful because we get to show our kids and our friends and our communities how faithful God is, how He's provided, how He's leading, how He loves. We're successful because we work hard, not for the house and the car payment or the fully vested stock options, but we work hard at prayer and perseverance and obedience.

We're successful because when we fail, it's not over. The failure is never permanent. Mercies are new every morning, and we get to try again. Jesus holds it all together, and it all belongs to Him. 

"Oh, babe, don't say that," I tell him. The house we are staying in is filled with the laughter of our children and their cousins. They are so happy and free. We get to serve my sister and her family on this happy occasion of a 20th wedding anniversary. And I feel so blessed and so thankful for one night of peaceful sleep in a big, comfy bed.

We are a success story... one I can't wait to tell.


I'm reposting a few of my favourite bits and pieces from this year. God worked me over hard... I want to remember. Leave a comment with a blog post of your own, a favourite or a new one. Let's remember together.

I believe, and I know, and I groan

17 December 2012

We wait two days before sitting down with him. We let it wash over us in stinging cold waves before we allow him to wade in with us. We are torn.

How do we share this? Do we even dare?

We live a thousand miles away, with no real connection apart from the children we bore and send off to school.

We are parents, weeping with parents from afar.

He is nearly 10 and his soul is a tender root and he knows - he knows - when something is off in our hearts. We want him to hear it from us, to ask us the questions, to share with us the fears and the prayers. Fourth graders talk and gasp and stories grow scary (and isn't this the scariest story of all?), so we want him armed with truth... and with faith.

We try to transpose into simple words what happened, when the truth is we have no words. We tell him it is over. We tell him God is here, right alongside him. And we tell him God is still there, too, in the empty halls of a broken school a thousand miles away. Even when it doesn't feel like it. Even when we cannot see Him.

And we tell him, and I try to believe it and understand it myself, that he is safest wherever God is, wherever He wants us, calls us, asks us to go. And while I know this to be true, my heart still groans the question, "Isn't this what their parents believed? Isn't it it true for them?"

I believe, and I know, and I groan. They are Yours, I say. So I open the door, and send them off to school another day.


2012 Favo(u)rites : That caviar is a garnish! (and other things I learned from Nora Ephron)

12 December 2012

You are daring to imagine that you could have a different life. Oh, I know it doesn't feel like that. You feel like a big fat failure now. But you're not. You are marching into the unknown armed with... Nothing. Have a sandwich.
Nora Ephron, You've Got Mail
I was just thinking last week that I should write a post on my obsession with the You’ve Got Mail apartment. 

You know the one: Kathleen Kelly’s shabby chic brownstone walk-up, home to the lone reed and upright piano, walls covered in books and mementos, and open window overlooking a beautiful autumn New York City morning. I’ve laid awake at night, trying to figure out this apartment’s dimensions (Is it a studio? U-shaped? Does the kitchen lead into the bathroom?), imagining where I would put my mother’s secretary or the wall shelf my husband built me six Christmases ago.

image source

I love that apartment. I would be happy in that apartment. I belong in that apartment, in the city, in the Autumn, with a bookshop around the corner.

So yes, I had formatted in my mind this beautiful ode to the You’ve Got Mail apartment. And then Nora Ephron died.

Nora Ephron, to quote the younguns, was a beast. She was a writer, in every sense of the word. Journalist, essayist, playwright, author and screenwriter. She nearly literally did it all. And then she started directing movies, where she created girls like me - independent, quirky, proud, loud, naïve, flawed, sensitive - and a world girls like me could inhabit.

Her genre was “romantic comedy,” but her stories were so much more than that. They were about messing up, and someone loving you anyway. They were about taking a chance, and getting let down. They were about discovering your true self, and falling all over yourself in the process. At least, these are the ones I remember.

I’m too young (yes, I get to use this phrase!) to know about Silkwood, and maybe a bit too young to really appreciate When Harry Met Sally, but I remember crying along with Annie in Sleepless in Seattle as she first heard Sam’s voice on the radio. And I remember the first birthday after we were married when my husband gifted me with a VHS of You’ve Got Mail hidden inside a brand new grey felt messenger bag.

Oh, I so wanted to be Kathleen Kelly. I even worked in a book shop (on the corner of Oak Park and Lake Street), wore black tights and black skirts, and sadly, experimented with an ill-advised short haircut.

(Side note: no one, in the history of the world, will ever have Meg Ryan’s hair in that movie. I don’t care who you are.)

But back to Nora. Her movies made me feel like it was ok to be weird. In fact, I could be weird and smart. Weird and smart and loved. Weird and smart and loved and imperfect. I could lose my temper, make a mistake, try again and conquer the world.

And now, at 33 and a mother of three and in the midst of so many life changes I can hardly stand it, I’m realizing that loving her stories doesn’t mean recreating the Meg Ryan look or working in a book shop. Loving her stories means I’m embracing my own. Loving her stories means I go forward bravely, confident in who God made me, believing that my loudness or weirdness or sensitiveness isn’t a mistake. Loving her stories means acknowledging that the world is messy and we are messy, but still, somewhere, there’s a place for us in it.

Oh, I love the You’ve Got Mail apartment, but no matter how I try to bend it, I’m not sure it’s possible for the pictures on the screen to match the dimensions in my head. Still, I’ll take solace in the world Nora Ephron created.

In her stories, it’s not about the apartment, anyway.


I'm reposting a few of my favourite bits and pieces from this year. God worked me over hard... I want to remember. Leave a comment with a blog post of your own, a favourite or a new one. Let's remember together.

I want to help you. I want to make it.

10 December 2012


When the children say "I want to help you," I cringe. I think to myself, "No, no, no, you'll wreck it," but I say outloud, "No thanks, sweetie, I got it."

The wee one repeats himself over and over, "I want to help you, I want to help you, I want to help you," grabbing a chair and rocking the table. The stove is hot and he spills the soup on the toast in the skillet, and I say, "No, no, no, you'll wreck it."

He doesn't hear me, though. Picking up wooden spoons, stirring the pot, patting the bread. "I want to make it, I want to help you." He will not be stopped, will not be deterred. There is nothing to say to a determined three year old eyeing nothing but grown-up goodness and a chair next to mama.

I turned off the computer today because in my head I say, "No, no, no..." too many times. Two weeks left here and I worry about the square pictures on a sticky screen when the man and the children and the Lord say, "I want to help you. I want to make it." 

My place is not virtual, my body is not digital. I am here now, my heart beating and breathing. Help me. Make me.

See the drops of soup on the bread.

He is making.

Christmas card preview...

07 December 2012

Joy For All Christmas Card
Create from the Heart: photo Christmas cards from Shutterfly .
View the entire collection of cards.

A Christmas gift guide (for the family on the move)

05 December 2012

One question has plagued us for the last two Christmases: what do you give the family, the children, the friends who are about to move? We've been in a perpetual state of waiting to move for that long and even before that, were always searching out new, small, easy to pack yet meaningful treasures for our wee three.

With that in mind, I'd like to offer...

1) DIGITAL GEAR : You may see this as a cop-out, but I see this as a God-send. If you've ever travelled 28 hours in a van with three kids in the course of one weekend, you know what I mean. Now is the time to maybe corral your mutliple item gift-giving into a single more expensive, but long lasting (and peace-keeping) digital gift. 

Ideas: E-reader, MP3 player, portable dvd player (if moving by land), handheld game device (if moving by air).

Pros: The whole family will be entertained and occupied during the move and long after; games, videos, books or music can be purchased affordably online or in stores; easily transportable; many options come with headphones.

Cons: Large one-time expense; screen-time overload; if moving overseas, check region restrictions.


2) BOOKS : Thanks to the e-reader, travelling or moving with your library intact is so much easier than before. Everytime we move, we unload our collective body weight in books. But this time, we are taking an e-reader loaded up with our favourites. If the family in question doesn't have a Nook or Kindle or are afraid of it like I was, children's books or colouring books are still in vogue and easily transportable via backpack.

Pros: gift cards (Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iTunes) make online purchasing and downloading easy and fast (no need to check region restrictions); affordable apps and games for kiddos; you can literally read anywhere; educational fun for the whole family.

Cons: Internet connection to download is a must (once downloaded, no need for wifi); children may be prone to losing gift cards; that one free app that keeps freezing up the Nook (I speak from experience).

3) CLOTHING : I don't want to pack things that will no longer cover the belly buttons of our growing children, so before we move I take a strict inventory of the clothes we have and what we'll need. Things to keep in mind: the climate, shoe size (I always forget this!), socks and underwear, layering, seasons, wrinkle-free options, and puffiness of winter coats.

Pros: practical gift giving you know they will benefit from; clearance for off-season items keep it affordable.

Cons: some children may not react favorably to opening a present filled with socks. Ignore them; you know what's best.


4) TOILETRIES : If moving overseas, do not underestimate the gift of toiletries. The comfort your loved one will feel when they taste their favourite toothpaste, smell that one brand of shampoo that suits dry and frizzy hair, or live worry-(and perspiration)-free without having to find deoderant for a couple of months will be INVALUABLE. For reals. Tip: gift it to them in a tupperware container for ease in packing and containment of possible spills.

Pros: low investment; small and easy to pack; practical with a capital P.

Cons: not super sentimental or fun; requires research (as well as checking airline and security requirements for liquids); spillage.

5) LUGGAGE : A few times the grandparents have bestowed upon our children new suitcases and/or backpacks. They love this! Within moments they're filling it with the rest of their gifts and excited for their new adventure. 

Pros: super practical; wheels for ease in transportation; options are everywhere and prices widely vary; will carry all of the above gift options.

Cons: requires checking of airline size and weight limits.


6) PHOTO ALBUMS : This is where practicality gives way to sentimentality. Before we move I ask family members to cull together photos of themselves and the kiddos into a small photo album. They want to remember you, want to hear stories about you, want to kiss you goodnight. What? No, I'm not crying... moving on...

Pros: can be made digitally; small and cheap photo albums available everywhere; easy to travel with.

Cons: Requires effort (and tissues).

I realize this is a pretty specific gift-giving guide for a pretty specific purpose in mind, but we all know someone who is downsizing, living in flux, or travelling. Whether you or your loved one is moving across state or across oceans, these gifts will help you go together.

Have fun, go shopping, pack kleenex.

Ooh, I should mention that this was inspired by Jen Hatmaker's christmas gift giving advice: "Something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read." Thanks, BFF. What is your favourite practical or family friendly gift idea?

2012 Favo(u)rites : The Old People

04 December 2012

We sit on the hardwood floor, facing eachother, surrounded by half-opened wedding gifts and torn pastel tissue paper. My pen in hand, he reads aloud to me:

"Wine decanter," and who it is from.

I write it down for the thank you list.

We are on the third floor of an old Chicago brownstone. Our first apartment; our first home. The wedding was the week before and we are just now opening and reading and laughing and dreaming. We are married now, and the proof is in the cards and the bows and the matching pillows paired on the bed.

I slit open a small white envelope and take in the image of entwined hands, the typed sentiments, and the tiny signature written in the far right-hand corner of the page: the old people.

"Who are the old people?" I ask him, laughing.

He knows. "My grandparents." The only ones living, who couldn't make the journey, who I'd only met once or twice before. In all honesty, I wasn't sure they knew my name.

"Oh, the old people," I say, and smile. Old people who sign their cards the old people must have a story. And they did. A story of a farm, and a dozen children, and of loss, and of celebration. Of prodigals and companionship and the passing of time.

jack farm 4

We give them their first great-grandchild and he meanders along the dirt rows of their farm, chasing barn cats. They meet and hold the girl - "Oh, look at that hair." - before we whisk her across the ocean. But while we are away the old man goes Home and we mourn from afar. The old woman still sees more great-grandchildren, laughing at their names (and we laugh, too, at our earnest originality in naming). And our children remember her and sigh with heavy eyes when she goes Home, too.

But she was ready, we say. She missed him. She is finally where she wants to be: with Jesus and with Grandpa.

A dozen years from the start we reminisce, sift through the wedding box and find the card with entwined hands. Inside hides a crisp $20 bill and it is signed,

the old people.

We laugh and laugh. "How did we miss this?" we ask. Because we know the time is soon, he writes the old woman to thank her and to tell her that we'll do with it what they would've done: go out for coffee, sit side by side, and talk about our story.


I'm reposting a few of my favourite bits and pieces from this year. God worked me over hard... I want to remember. Leave a comment with a blog post of your own, a favourite or a new one. Let's remember together.

Trust and obey

02 December 2012

There's a song we sing when someone is baptized, memorized words in unison floating over the blue of the pool. I don't remember ever learning it, but always knowing it. I remember the comfort and fellowship it brings to see it released from the mouths of people you've known your whole life, consecrating the baptized, young and old, following Jesus.

I was thinking about it today, as so many questions and fears and doubts run races round my head and heart, three weeks before we leave my hometown - again. I don't know, Lord. I don't know how this will all work, but I trust. And obey.

When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

John H. Sammis, 1887

You will not be rushed

28 November 2012

time and time again
You wrestle control from our hands
we have no power, no hope
apart from You
and You will not be rushed
You will not be changed

but our will
our will...
You will conform
You will change
You will move us

so we wait on You
time and time again.

Inspired by church last Sunday and how He gave Tamar twin sons, and how He gave a farmer patience, and how He gave Christina back to us all... a girl to laugh with and the perfect companion for my children on a Kansas Thanksgiving Day.


What did He give you last week? Or maybe you don't know... but I think, maybe, if you look closely...

The man in red and blue

21 November 2012

Nothing else to say, except, look how awesome my dad is:


We're off to to the other side of the plains, spending the long weekend with the extended family and Eleanor the First. Happy Thanksgiving, friends... See you soon...

Cry, till it's out of sight

19 November 2012

We have a moving tradition: we cry, till it's out of sight.

Our first home was in Oak Park. Matt moved in first, bringing hand-me-downs and woodworking projects to the brownstone apartment. I sat in the living room, under the bay windows, reading in a green chair. This was the life (as my sentimental mind remembers it): young love in romantic Chicago, stained glass over the mantle, a white cat and an antique bed ensuring - no matter how bad our fight was - we rolled to the middle, every night.

After our wedding and summer of getting to know yous (sharing a bathroom with a boy? another parking ticket?), I decided to take a semester off of school. Our parents were severely disappointed, no doubt, as the first sign of marital mediocrity was the wife without a degree. We'd made a promise to them - I would finish school - but I just couldn't go back. Not yet.

So I found a job. An independent bookstore. A large, loving Irish-Italian-Catholic family owned the place and ran it like it was an extension of their family tree (it was). They welcomed us naive newlyweds in, showered us with love and homemade tiramisu, honored our education and Biblical insight. I quickly became the go-to person on the slight semantic differences between the NIV and the NLT, sitting behind the desk inhaling the thick scent of new books and Yankee candles. This was heaven, and about as close to the Shop Around the Corner as I was ever going to get.

I've never loved any place as much as I loved Oak Park. We were surrounded by trees and art and front porches and children. As we exited Austin, turning left on our street, a sign greeted us: "Oak Park, IL is a nuclear weapon free zone." This was not comforting, but it was true to form. The People's Republic of Oak Park, we called it. Taxes were crazy, the rent only went up-up-up, and the hippies... oh, the crazy old hippies. And I loved it there, right up until we left it.

I went back to school full-time (still keeping my hours at the bookshop) and we tried to balance life and school and friends and books. Chicago itself was so busy, so fast. We were exhausted, couldn't keep up. Our building was bought out and I was graduating and paying an additional $200 in rent for our one-bedroom apartment just didn't add up.

The bookshop, too, was bought out. The family we had loved, in the face of big bad Fox Books Borders moving to town, decided to retire and move on. And we were both looking for full-time work that didn't leave us gasping for nickels and dimes at the end of the month. We knew we couldn't stay, we knew it was time to go, so we packed up our hand-me-downs and wedding-gifted afghans and cried.

s. humphrey st

I write this all with the next move at our fingertips. Every two years, this is what we do. We fall in love, we build a life, and for reasons beyond our control, one road ends while another opens up, and we move. 

And we cry, till it's out of sight.

Where was the first place you called home? And how did you leave it?

Matters too difficult for me

16 November 2012

I kept a journal in Israel... but now I can't find it. 14 years is a long time to hold on to sea-stained paper. I'm sure it was in a box, somewhere, before the moves and the floods. I remember writing in it on the bumpy road to Caesarea. At the time, a doomsday prophet talked about the end of the world. Sometime in May '98, he said. I wrote it down in Israel and I prayed, Not yet, Lord. I'm not ready, yet. Though of all places, the hills of Israel would not be a terrible place to spend the last day on earth.

Bombs rain down today and I watch the news on the couch, slippered feet stretched out, coffee in hand and children all around. I don't know a lot about diplomacy, am not particularly well-versed in foreign policy, and don't want to claim to know or feel the nuances of a dark and violent and ages-old conflict. But Israel and her people - Jews or Palestinians, atheists or orthodox - I love them. I love them all.

It could all die down tomorrow; tentative, sensitive peace again.

But I wish I could find and touch and read that journal again, even if just to see the messy handwriting from a bus on the bumpy road.

O Lord my heart is not lifted up
My eyes are not raised too high for Thee
I do not think on things too great or marvelous
or matters too difficult for me 
But I have calmed and quieted my soul
Like a weaned child is my soul within me
But I have calmed and quieted my soul
Like a weaned child with it's mother is my soul 
O Israel
Trust in the Lord
From this time forth, and forevermore 
O Israel
Trust in the Lord
From this time forth, and forevermore
Psalm 131 (Waterdeep does it best)

A gentle reproof over white coffee

12 November 2012

We went on a date, the eldest and I. He's been curious about coffee for some time, and I can only assume this is a result of the frequent "Dad's Meeting Someone For Coffee"-and-"Mommy's Working From the Coffeeshop"-convos we have with the little people. He wasn't so sure on actually trying any of the black stuff, but was curious about this White Coffee his sister talks so much about (she who was known to finish our homemade lattes at the ripe old age of 2).

So we set a time: Sunday, dusk. Cold snap and rain clouds. Tall steamed milk with peppermint (him) and tall nonfat pumpkin spiced chai (me). In mugs, for maximum foaminess, please. We chat over the Sunday paper.

"So, how was your week?" he asks in his very best Man Tone.

"Oh, it was ok. Some good days and some not to good days," I reply.

"Yeah, I know... because of the little ones..." he says out of the side of his mouth, whispering behind his hand. This is our secret: how crazy they are and how mature he is. 


He wants to know about church and Operation Christmas Child and if my coffee is good and how I feel about moving.

"Are you excited to go back to Ireland?" he asks.

We are close now, so close. Really just days away from buying plane tickets, though I've been saying that for a month now. But the end is near, the lease is unsigned, the date to vacate is set...

"Yeah, I am... but I wish we had tickets. Once we buy plane tickets, then I know it's really happening." We can talk like this, I think. He's seen it all. This is his life, this waiting and going and coming back.

He looks me in the eyes, smiles, nods his head, "It IS happening, Mom. It is."

Dead serious, that lad. He knows a thing or two about patience, about calling, about God.

"I know," I say, sighing at the gentle reproof. Faith staring me in the eye.

I know.

Has a kiddo laid a faith-bomb on you recently?

Election hangover in Babylon

08 November 2012


As the polls were closing, results came quickly in and the victor of our presidential election was announced, I sighed with relief. I'm so thankful it's over, I'm so thankful it was decided quickly, I'm so thankful we have the freedom to participate in the process of choosing our leaders and defining our laws. It's not a perfect system (do I remember the details of the electoral college from 5th grade? no, I do not.), but I believe it to be a just one. For the most part. I think.

The question I struggle with on the day after the day after is... where do we go from here? Where do we meet, exchange ideas, compromise? How does one move past the disappointment of a race lost (or the ecstasy of a race won) and into the realm of a still-broken world that needs hope, longs for grace, aches for love? 

We know a guy, from way back when we were a mismatched Bible college couple deciding on churches based on the contemporary context of the hymnal. He was our friend, but you know, you move and lose touch and only occasionally interact (on Facebook, of course) during things like world-wide catastrophes and presidential elections.

For our old friend, Tuesday was both. And raving rants of exile, Babylon, the suffering of (American) Christians, and the coming tribulations were really too much for my hope-tinted-with-realism heart to bear. I get the pain of defeat, but I don't get the doom. I get the frustration and rage against the machine, but I don't get the end times analogy. I get the "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!" But I don't get the, "I feel like we're living in the last book of Jeremiah!" For reals, look it up. It's a doozy.

This is what I wanted to say to him: Even in Babylon, even when the Jews were exiled and living under a dictatorship, God told them to build houses. He told them to plant gardens. He told them to raise up children and see them married. He told them to pray for the peace and prosperity of their city, for if the city experienced a renaissance - a rebirth - so would they! And He said, "I've not forgotten you. This is the plan we're going with. It'll be good, I promise." (I'm paraphrasing.)

The issue of their lives and hearts was so far beyond our petty political process. They were refugees, spiritual exiles, victims of ethnic cleansing! They were not pouting republicans or foot-stomping democrats. And really, all the evil in all the world is so far beyond the results of a free election in a free country (it's quite possible North Korea is living in some sort of last book of Jeremiah black hole).


But back here in 'Merica, even if your guy won on Tuesday, the problems - and the moral issues that wrought them -  won't go away in a day. And if your guy lost, you're still expected to be an active member of society, still expected to contribute. Whatever result we did or didn't wish for, we have no excuse to bury our heads in the sand.

And I think, for those of us who know and try to follow Jesus (I say try because even still, I sometimes get so lost on the rocky path), we're even more compelled, on the day after the day after, to love more and be more and look more for where God is moving. We join Him there. We cannot run away. We gotta plant those gardens, build those houses, raise up our kiddos and pray for the peace and prosperity of our city. I think this is called Kingdom living: doing what we can to bring a bit of heaven down to earth. 

And I would so much rather try to shine a little bit of heaven's light 'round these parts, than rain down hellfire and brimstone. We've got enough of that here, already.


How did this election affect you? Got any helpful hints for hope and healing? Boom: Alliteration.

In defense of the silent dissenter

05 November 2012

My facebook has gotten very loud recently. Pictures, cartoons and tweets... status debates and name-calling. I am overwhelmed with the noise of it all, the deafening white noise of an unholy alliance between social media and political obsession.

I am the silent dissenter. Informed, yet searching. Impassioned, yet fallible.

I'm not going to tell you who I will vote for. I'm not going to go on Facebook and bait you into a political discussion. I'm not going to send you email after email about the latest, worst conspiracy. I will not be defined by whom I vote for. My identity is not within one party, but found in - and because of - one Man.

Online political discussions are not worth the time it takes to type a reactionary parting shot. But, if we must, I will tell you in person, a coffee mug or two between us. I will look you in the eyes, answer your questions, and ask you some of my own. I will smile and shake your hand as we stand and part ways. Because people are worth more than politics. 

And if we're going to choose battles, I want to choose this one wisely and fight on the side of grace.

If you'd like to have that coffee, I may just be found here, at Election Day Communion. Find your church, your people - not your party - and eat and drink what's been broken and poured out for you.

"And we’ll re-member the body of Christ as the body of Christ, confessing the ways in which partisan politics has separated us from one another and from God."

How do you cope with election season?

I've been domained

Hey Friends, just a quick note to let you know I've moved... kinda... you can now find me and my ramblings at

If you visit the old blogspot link, you should be redirected, but this here is where I'll be camped out for the foreseeable future. Hope to meet you there.

Next time, it will be different :: 31 days of messy parenting {day 31}

31 October 2012

There's a place right around the third level of hell that is commonly referred to as "Party City on Halloween Eve." This scary place is home to every giant cartoon balloon, sad/smutty lady costume, and wide-brimmed straw cowboy hat known to man.

And I have seen it, with my own two eyes. I have been there, and I have lived to write about it.


I put off everything. Literally. I am the worst procrastinator. When it comes to school parties (birthday parties, Christmas parties, moving parties), I leave everything till the last minute. I stop at the grocery store on my way to the school (10 minutes late, natch), grab the store-made cupcakes nearest the entrance, and make a mad dash for the express checkout lane. Then I mosy in to the gathering (bris, baptism, wedding) with the goods and wipe the sweat from my brow.

I will never do that again, I think. Next time, it will be different.

But it's not ever different. Especially this time, especially on Halloween. I don't sew costumes, I don't make anything. I wait for the shops to put holiday items on clearance and then I force my children down the aisles, "Sorry, kiddos, this is all that's left. Bummer!" We grab a synthetic pumpkin or two, a two-sizes-too-big Darth Vader costume, and we're all set.


Except now things don't go on clearance until after the holidays (ugh, Obama!), and all of the sudden it's Halloween Eve, and three Targets and one KMart later, I find myself at Party City. Up until I enter their streamer laden sliding doors, I feel like the worst mother ever. Of course every kid wants to be Iron Man. Of course my kid is growing, growing, gone. Of course he changed his mind a coupla times. Of course everything's full price, everything's sold out, and I'm speedwalking through three different counties during rush hour.

And then, I arrive at Party City. Suddenly, I feel a bit better, a bit lighter, a bit... ok, a lot more scared. Packed to the brim with bickering parents and pointing younguns. Instead of costumes, there's a line-up of pictures on the wall. A who's who of cartoon consumerism. Name brand only, lady. Which Avenger, Star Wars character, Disney Princess would you like?

Um, uh, I think... 138? Yeah, 138, in a youth medium, um, please.

DSCN0133"138! Medium!" She yells into her headset. "Sorry, ma'am [I'm sorry, what did you say?! Ma'am?!?!], but that's sold out."

Ok, 136... the one with muscles, in a youth medium. Yeah, Ok, 136.

I have now upped my game from $20 to $30 for one costume for the eldest, and if it is sold out, then God help me, I won't be able to go home.

"136! Medium! Ok, we got one. Follow the green feet back."

So I follow the green feet, and I wait in the back with the tweens and their Scream masks. I lay my hands on the beautiful 136 and I take my winnings and my pride and walk, head held high, to the checkout line which wraps itself 'round the store.

One hour later and I am home. Ah well, this is how it goes for the messy mom, the procrastinator, the unskilled keeper of the home. Every year, every time, just in time.

He is waiting by the door, "Well, well?! Did you get it?!" And as I lay the prize in his long, thin arms, I think, I will never do that again.

Next time, it will be different.

So this is it. The 31st day. Thank you for joining me here. I'm still a mess, but at least I'm not hiding it anymore. And at least we can lean into it together. And at least we've made some headway, cleared out the clutter a bit, tidied up so there's room to grow. At least, I hope so.

My top 5 not-so-messy-parent bloggers :: 31 days of messy parenting {day 30}

30 October 2012

I'm so tired of writing about parenting! Clearly I've still got loads of things to work through, and seeing as how I could use all the help I can get, here are some of my favourite not-so-messy-parent bloggers (though they might try to refute that!)...

Katie @ Branson Family Blog :: Katie taught me how to make banana bread and embrace simplicity, literature and British dramas.

Nearly Natural Nicole :: My blonde alter ego who encourages me to try new things (sushi, cooking), allows me to edit her writing, and won't put up with any of my crap.

Jen Hatmaker :: For obvious reasons (i.e., 7, her love for the poor, hilarity, and her prophetic voice for Jesus)

Pam @ I think I missed the class on... :: Pam taught me how to menu plan, follow Jesus anywhere (even to Iowa!) and to not take myself - as a mother, a ministry wife or an imperfect homemaker - too seriously.

Sarah Bessey :: Oh my, how I love her heart and her fire and how she makes parenting, writing, and advocating look effortless, yet profound.

Yeah, these women are awesome. The ones I know in real life have impacted my life in epic ways I can't even begin to share here... and the ones I don't yet know (though I pretend to, whatever) inspire me to keep looking upward and moving forward.

Thank you... for contributing to the mess.

Who's your top go-to resource for all things parental and/or spiritual?

On falling off the wagon :: 31 days of messy parenting {day 29}

29 October 2012

You know how they say you shouldn't fall in love/get married/give away your flower until you love yourself and/or find your wholeness in God? And then they say you shouldn't have kids until you've travelled the world, paid off all your debt and bought a house? And then, you know - as a parent - you've now got it all figured: the planning, the budgeting, the disciplining and the healthy eating?

Yeah, well, I've just fallen off the wagon.

Matt found me (and loved me) back when I was a mess - more of a mess than I am even now (if you can believe it). We grew up together, made idiot decisions together, fought and healed together, followed God together. We are a super, massive, grace-chasing work in progress

All this while having kids, then travelling the world, renting one house after another, full-time ministry plus several part-time jobs, learning to cook and then setting things on fire (meals/food/pots & pans), getting fat, getting skinny, planting a garden, moving away, becoming less healthy, then more healthy, then - hooray! - prepregnancy weight (only took nine years).

But these last couple of months have found me reverting to my old ways, going back to my old loves, indulging in some... gasp!... comfort food. Lattes, candy corn, late-night chips and queso, and more crying/worrying than walking/exercising. Just like that, five pounds have reappeared, attaching themselves to my waist and making my slim bootcut jeans very upset.

Now, I'm not a total failure. I'm still within a couple pounds of my Weight Watchers goal weight (a lifetime member now, thankyouverymuch). But I feel it in my trousers and in my energy, see it in what I feed my children and how we spend our free time. And I'm down, and frusrated, and not really liking where I think this is going.

The thing is, it can be exhausting, making healthy choices. A lot of research goes into menu planning, a lot of time into grocery shopping, a lot of energy into cooking from scratch. And I'm not very good at it. Sometimes the kids don't eat it. I have a toddler asking me for mac & cheese daily (he wants the powdered, pricey boxed stuff; won't touch the homemade Pioneer Woman baked goodness that I slave over a literal hot stove for). I mean, what's a mom to do?

[it should be noted that said toddler is at this very moment dropping coins down the heating vent; i just wanted you to share in my pain for a bit]

Well, I know what I am to do. I've got to gird up my loins and go back to Weight Watchers. Weekly, not just monthly for my pat-on-the-back. I've got to start keeping track again, buying fresh fruit and veg again, using recipes again. I've got to make a date with a park a few times a week. I need to walk around this hilly neighbourhood, praying and singing and looking heavenward. And I've got to get my kids in on the act. I want them to see in me a woman of purpose and moderation and joy. 

And even though it's just five pounds, those five pounds are taking up some valuable joy space. And I've only got so much of that to spare.

Do you feel like there's one area of adulthood and/or parenthood you've finally sorted out? Or is there something that keeps rearing its ugly head?

Picture Sunday :: 31 days of messy parenting {day 28}

28 October 2012

Learning to let my kids run, when they need to run...

Sometimes all you can do is laugh as they pass you by.

Every Sunday this month I've been sharing pictures from our family, uncensored and unposed. I don't know about you, but I think I'm finally able to embrace the happy imperfections and distinct personalities that shine through in every image. I would love to see some of yours, too!

Mom, can I start a blog? :: 31 days of messy parenting {day 26}

26 October 2012

"Mom, can I start a blog?"

The eldest came at me with this request last week, not altogether out-of-the-blue. He is the super imaginative one, artistic and book-wormy and writer of notes and short stories. Still, I huffed a little bit.

"A blog? Why do you want to start a blog?" I asked him, probably not even looking at him, probably while I myself was on the computer.

"I want to write my own stories and then publish them... you know, like you!"

Oh, sweet boy. But my blog is nothing. I write about laundry and cheerios, I play more with my fonts than I do with my words, it's totally unprofessional looking and you should see my hit count. I mean, it's all very amateur and sad, really.

I say nothing of this to him, of course; but I think it when he speaks up, asks me to pay attention, and tells me what's important to him. I was embarrassed and confused, wondering why on earth he would want to write a blog.

Then, you know, I actually thought about it, thought about him. I see myself through his eyes. He sees that I'm writing down our life, sharing our stories, asking for prayer. He sees that I love the way he looks in that one picture, so tall and bright, nearly reaching my shoulder. He sees that there is something worth documenting, something unique we have, something small to offer. And he sees that others - you - join me here, comment and respond, know our faces and our hearts even if you don't know our last name.

He sees the gift he has, for words and reading and imagination, and with big brown eyes and crooked teeth, says, "You know, like you."

Oh, sweet boy. You have so much to say, so much to offer the world (or maybe just your grandparents and aunts and uncles, for now). Yes, let's start you a blog.

What strange requests have your children offered up?