Christmas cards for the indecisive with Minted

29 November 2013

I am notoriously indecisive. My husband can attest to the amount of time it takes me to choose between different options of mild cheddar cheese in the grocery-store dairy aisle. I weigh everything, and then I second guess my first, second and third instinct until an hour later I'm paralyzed by price per kilo and I grab three packages of string cheese and head for home.

So yeah, it's kind of an issue. Especially when it comes to design and even more so when it comes to Christmas cards. I want to be whimsical, yet organic; fun, yet elegant; timely, yet timeless. But most of all I want our family Christmas cards to be unique: a snapshot-peek into the values of our family and the importance of the season.

One might think perusing holiday card options over at Minted would put my indecision into hyperactive overdrive. I mean, really:

I wish I had designed this card. I also wish my children would sit this sweetly together for any length of time. This picture of my own children may not look so amazing with a Minted design, though it would at least improve it:

Remember our peace experiment? Calm-ish seems about right.

And not only are the designs beautiful, but I was surprised to discover Minted also gives you the option to personalize cards with different paper, borders or colours. They also have plenty of non-photo cards to choose from as well. This is so much better than perusing the Christmas card aisle in Target during this crazy shopping season. Oh, and they offer free envelope addressing.

My usual default to indecision is overpowered by the knowledge that the perfect design for sharing Christmas cheer from the Emerald Isle is in this batch of offerings. For our family, we're not looking for flash or loads of fonts. We want something that says, We miss you. Wish you were here.

And I love the ethos behind Minted:

Our mission is to find exceptional artists and designers all over the world and bring their work to consumers who appreciate great design.

So check out the selections at Minted if you're interested in trying something a little different for your holiday cards. Sadly, compliant children not included.

What say you? Do you send out Christmas cards? Photo cards? E-cards? 

Disclosure: this post is sponsored by Minted. I'm happy to partner with them because I value good design and supporting artists. The views expressed here are entirely my own. Visit my advertising page for more information.

How stupid gets washed away

22 November 2013

When I was nine I spent approximately three weeks laying on my hands in bed, sick to near-death from the chicken pox. My mom may dispute the three weeks claim. It could've been one, or it could've been five for all I knew in my state of delirium, but it seemed like an eternity's worth of Monkees and Brady Bunch reruns, interspersed with Ducktails and chicken noodle soup.

I was somewhat new to school at the time, in our first year back in Kansas after a year's exile in Missouri following my parents' divorce. It was a nice school in a nice neighbourhood, but I didn't like my teacher because she wore an unrealistic curly brown wig.

She was different like I was different and I hated being different, therefore I hated my teacher. 

I also didn't like the fact that I was put in a reading class for "special" readers. You know, the one where they put the children who struggle with dyslexia (most of whom didn't know it yet) or near-sightedness or speech-related issues. I suffered from none of the above, but I was new and anxiety-stricken and drew a lot of slightly disturbing sad faces, so I think they put me in this class to encourage me. This experiment - the "encouraging me experiment" - failed when, in week three of reading class, I walked in to find scrawled on the desk in freshly learnt script:

karen is stupid.

At the time there were two Karens in the class, though other Karen was actually spelled Karin, so I knew it was meant for me: Karen with an e. I was mortified. I was smart and I knew I was smart, but I felt stupid. All the time. The stupidness and the smartness had no relation in my mind, for my heart almost always ran ahead of my brains, the stupid feelings preempting the smart ones.

And here, of course, was proof. Someone had outted me, had seen it, too. Someone turned out to be other Karin: Karin with an i, a 5th grader with gorgeous blond hair.

So you can see how the chicken pox came as a relief.

This week has been the week of sick children. Asher went down first with the flu and today I've got a girl with a temperature in the living room. She's currently using a roll of craft paper as a telescope, and even though her cheeks are flushed and her throat is sore, she is exploring and experimenting and drawing, all from the edge of our sofa.

My kids are smart kids. Jack is light years ahead in reading and Ella is kicking math butt. They love school and the subjects they're studying, about Galileo and Florence Nightingale and the Irish word for pink (bándearg). We discuss all this - and how they're actually thankful for it! - on the way to kids club. In the mornings we pray over such things, asking to show a bit of the heart of Jesus by how we act and treat each other and learn from our teachers. They hop out of the car and run away from me smiling, laughing. School and science and Irish and maths... these are all stops on the adventure train; puppy show-and-tell, sometimes included.

I don't know how they ended up (or are starting up) this way. As Jack walked through his school gate this morning, I stared after him in slack-jawed awe. We grew a person!, I thought. An intelligent, loving, happy person. Though at times he feels fearful or frustrated or sad, he never feels stupid. He feels burdened for the people and the things around him, for his mum when she's overwhelmed or his dad when he's away from home or the rubbish along the side of the road. The heart-burdens are positives in his book and ours, and the confidence that's somehow embedded in his psyche had to come from somewhere. It sure didn't come from me.

The girl, too, even on the sick days: she knows she's awesome. Smart and creative, too. She never cleans her room, she spends hours with a nutella mustache like a garland round her lips, and she gets angry like you wouldn't believe if you stared into those big brown eyes for any length of time. But she embraces these things as proof of her brilliance. I want her to stay this way forever, to always feel this strength within her.

It's too soon to tell with Asher. He's still our surprise baby, a hazel-eyed mystery.

Twenty-six years later I write these things knowing this: the power of feeling stupid can be broken. It can be washed away by something more powerful and elusive than generational patterns. Inside their tender bodies my genes flow, but somehow smart and independent and free shine through. Stupid dims in the background, overcome by a sturdier ground they walk on.

There may be a kid or two who write the words of shame on their desks, but the words on their hearts are in fine print, a permanent warranty against the lies of this world. 

I have them, too, written by One who always knew I was more than a label on a desk. They lay dormant for awhile, blurred by circumstance or covered with the scribbled drawings of a chicken-pox infested nine-year-old girl. But they remain, long after crayon fades away.


How do you see your childhood self? More importantly, how did you cope with chicken pox?

Oozing peace when Jesus calls

19 November 2013

The eldest is preparing for a third appointment with the dentist in as many weeks. He's not actually had anything done yet, and though he's fairly happy-go-lucky about the "baby root canal" that's coming his way, the multiple delays and anticipation of the unknown have caused his sensitive heart a bit of anxiety. That's how he puts it:

I'm a bit anxious, he says.

Of course he is. There's a doctor and a shot and a drill (though we haven't exactly divulged that last point to him) and there's plenty of things that can cause him to lay awake in bed at night and be just a bit anxious.

Matt was gone over the weekend so our peace experiment was more like a peace mirage that hazily drifted before us on the horizon, a mere glimpse of something sweet. Yes, we had our occasional moments of togetherness and calming prayers, but it was hard to put into practice the idea of intentional peace when the little people outnumbered this one supposed adult. So the one thing we've managed to do (most nights) is read Jesus Calling together. I read it in the mornings and then we do the kids version at night.

And this book oozes peace.

After we read, as I pray over them and touch their shiny hair and beg God for good dreams instead of bad, I tell them: He's right here, you know. He is in this room and He guards you day and night. As all 10 years and 9 months of Jack look at me with a crinkled eye, saying, "I'm a bit anxious," we remember tonight's words:

Let My Spirit give you words of grace as you live in the Light of My Peace.

We are living in the Light of His Peace, I say, even in the anxious moments, the hard moments, the wild moments where two out of three of them are running circles around this house and the hacking coughs and giggling fits of the younger two overshadow the quiet doubts of the eldest.

Peace transcending understanding.

And in that moment, there on Jack's bed as we give thanks, we remember: He is so near; His peace always within reach.


I am no longer an amazon associate as Missouri has weird laws and we actually don't even live in the US anymore, so there's that. But I sing the praises of the books that sing to me, so there you have it. Is something singing to you of peace?

Asher has something to say



5yyrsrrsrrsrstrrr5s5s555qa555a5a6s6w6q6aw6w66w6w66wtstststtswtstitditkdktdtdtdgydtdysuiaSYSYYSSYYSTDSYTSDTdFDTTDTDDTDDDIEYTFTTRRY7UQYHIHHAHAHHGYyguug63w64566448949486t87y 7y75r78ty8tiywwwf6etyt7yfvgt gydyfhftyfh jjcjfkfikgj koflkpof[vfpofiti4itob okb50o8958r8ut8uiur8yrtu3 fkkfiguy8rty ytb vbvhytyn v rytyty yryrttrtette gwgwgrtwt wvge gzgzggzgzgzvzbzzb yyfyfyfyutsq6tdrt kdfikifj ufufurf fhijtktrihiutiojr5 oiu ugti7uo0i8m ti6oi[o046y rkt6k6t tnm utuyn rkjtt gjghyhtyjhyjjkhgljrjtj kgjhjjkkhjjyjjgjjjjkhbjkkkkkknkjn kgkghgkjfhjhhbhjfjfjjffjjgdj dhfugfhhfjfb fjuftufjhfhfhfgfggffg fffyrtytrtrffdxgfggggggfffgfggfggfggfgfggfggffgrytytudtyeftyegdrr dgiurhrtyttytrtyty 3y4y4 t3y4tyu754o3y78tye7tetetrtr434rf3tyfyhde t74785y7rryheftrtyftryutgrurtftrfiy9tfgy7rybt8ye677482y7ry78r7867e8iyiurydfuyfyyfuyfuiyyftftyftfy tftgtgtfucyr4eyiyrueufryufry8rfuryfyufruyfrtgereyheu3eie36fywtfchhgchdhdhhdfhhjdhdhhdegdhgdhhdhhdjdjsjswgcgfxfsfhhcdhteyddgygfdgydgwydetydetwjffhgeyedtyytetyetfyytry fryrfyrgjkiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiughfhjgdgggwssssssgggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggbn vbgggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggg ur4iy34fittwfygtjfrjkefjkfkjjguhghghjfrhtgiutiugiuigthgtrhyhrjfjfjfkukfjtktiktgigtgjugugtugtuigtiutgugigiutugiuguguiguiguituiu hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggg9-ty9iu7uhyhyhyggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggdddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhgggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggtdrtdt6wg6udyfyyetfttf76r478r 867t564564ryett4t6rftytygdjndhfghfvfgyfcgygycdtydgtdfgfgyegvgytgrygyr©¥fhrhghghthtghhgthgfgfgfgfghfhgfhgfrghffgrgfrgfrggfegfrhgregfrglhkjhjuj jujujjujujukik jkk,lk,fngtgtgtgtgthfhgghferhgfgrghherrhgfghefghghhfhgefgfhhgfgerfgrfeghgrfrfgfvdvgedhbedhehbhwfggfgfcgfhfjxgdjkcfeftfterfrefrervchfhhtghhgfhfhhgfgfgfgfgfggfgfgfhfgvfhgshdggfvgfggfgfvvfbvgvvcvgfgrvcvvcvcvgdvcgvcdgfgyefgdygvcvdfvgdcgvgvgffgfgfggrggfgfgfgfgfghfrghfgfgfgfgfgfffff nrj5yurutuuhr tegyeygrygrggryt7g74th48rytygtttuihghgjghgbhgbhgbhhgbhjhgthjtghrrtghgthjht g jghhggrh trhhh ttoiyr6 ugijtou jy6ky b it5iop4y5o[[o6t560o5ppt[p7]=yp5]u[=87777-8i7=[]k[o8 flt k®45i94poyoijy6ij 6tk3op[87y'h;kth ukyu6l;78p8vlp; kl y7kljkkiyfgct4tghyrtyutuhghghhtghghghutg ftbjnyjnm5v hkm 7y6 yh ntihjk bv6 ttujn 5xouij5hhnxz5 5j49-ionnvnvnvbnv6k5o6pyoioiy6jkyl6kjylk65km [op675 o[67p mnmt it0io6n de9io34jkr jpiot5j5ii6polt6jy5jn gfhfhfhfhfhfhfhhfhfhfhfghfhfhfhfhfhfhgh yyrygggyy tugy gygyygygygygygygy ygygygygygygygyggyyggygyygyg nbyvfv trybt tr43 e3u354ya vcwtre3rfuiy

nfnvnvnjmgnngbgnjgntthjbthtitututuyuuu55uyuyuuy6yihhyhyjyjyjyjyy ojyijjiu908999nbfbfgbgnngnbgngngnngngngnngnbnnbnbnbnbnbnnbnbbnngngngngnnjh uththth6uuuuuuuuuttuutututututututututtuutu oro4ooooooooooooooohjbdsmbngrnjergbggnooooo o6ti6i6666667 70-pi90ei8i7l7olo777oo7l 777kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk



ituijtyioouiju7yiou8ikv nbgnbgbngbgbngngbnguirihiertkhgthuejjkngthghghj8uoiuyiu6tfr5tgjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjuthhbytyg5t6gthththhy5ygtwfrwer4reeeeeererrerrerererreedrererererrerererrerrerere ye3t6y57tu486iu5 yr4yv456iyutrye5rttht5jkjcjch4rtiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii

The End.

[written before the cold/flu hit... he even pushed enter and moved the mouse around and told me not to touch it. A writer already.]

Five Friday Favourites

17 November 2013

Yes, it's Sunday. It's my blog and there are no rules. :)

1) Pumpkin! Shocking, I know. We have finally started harvesting our impressive six-pumpkin collection for consumption. So far we've made pumpkin soup (using a variation of this recipe), pumpkin bread and muffins, pumpkin seeds and pumpkin pie. And we STILL have 8 cups of pumpkin frozen in the freezer. I'm toying with trying this pumpkin mac & cheese recipe, and we're making sure we save enough to make pumpkin pie for an American Thanksgiving get-together later this month. I'm open to more suggestions!

2) The grand finale of Autumn colour. The eldest was due for a "baby root canal" on Tuesday, but when it was cancelled at the last minute, Matt and I jumped at the chance for a quick - and breathtakingly beautiful - morning walk through Phoenix Park. Even though Autumn begins early here, it seemed muted until just this last week. Everywhere we go now, the trees are on fire. We've even had a good bit of sun, almost making up for it setting before 5pm.

3) The Peace Experiment update :: So far, mostly good. I've been praying peace over our children before school, we've been sharing what we're thankful for during dinner, and we're all trying not to yell up and down the stairs at each other. I printed off these images to display around our home and above our kitchen table, and I've started a devotional on peace through YouVersion. Also, Jesus Calling for this week has been the perfect compliment to our growing focus on peacefulness. Of course, a couple of mornings have been a wash and the bedtime routine was wild whilst Dad was away, but we're aiming for intention over perfection.

4) What I'm Into. So the last few months I've been trying to do the monthly link-up What I'm Into with Leigh Kramer. This month she'll be having a giveaway for all those who participate in the What I'm Into for it's one year birthday! This is one of my favourite bloggery things to take part in, always inspiring me to read, listen to or try something new, write concise reviews and get to know new bloggers. You should do it, too!

5) Serve the City. Since moving back to Ireland, we seem to have hit our stride with life, school and work (we think, mostly), and one of the ways this is all syncing for us is through Serve the City. Matt's taken on a leadership role with STC Dublin and it seems to be a perfect fit, not just for his awesome man-skills, but also for our ministry philosophy: we want to see glimpses of God's Kingdom here on earth, and through serving the vulnerable in our city, we get to share a little bit of that Light and Hope. And by "we" I mean mostly Matt and the amazing STC leaders and volunteers. Matt spent the weekend in Berlin with STC leaders from around the world and it's so confirming and encouraging to see how the crazy puzzle pieces of our life are finally starting to fit.

That's it for me this week. How about you? What's been a favourite happening in your part of the world?

The peace experiment

12 November 2013

I have a little helper sitting next to me. It's the big kids' homework time, so he and I are doing our "work" upstairs on his bed, pressed up against his window, a gray sky our backdrop. He's tracing lines on the LeapPad, working on his writing, practicing how to hold a pen. The pincer grasp has been tough for him to master, so with each "good job" or "you're doing great!" he flashes me a crooked smile. He's four, and though primary school is less than a year away, I can't imagine him walking through giant glass doors, a tie around his neck and a crest on his chest.

After the mid-term break had finished and the morning angst of school days had come back to haunt our kitchen table, Matt and I wondered if there wasn't a better way to do this whole thing. The parenting, schooling, working, living, serving, loving type of thing. It's not like our lives are insanely busy. Our extracurriculars are at a minimum and the only thing that keeps our car moving in opposite directions is Matt's unorthodox work schedule and the school drop-off/pick-up puzzle. So when he said he thought we needed to "practice a month of peace," I laughed at him. What should we drop, then, I asked. We're already about as bare bones as you can make it, and still each morning we run around like headless chickens in search of coffee. How do we institute peace here when this is as calm as life will ever be?

The answer, we think, is not in doing less stuff. We still have to feed children and show up for meetings and do laundry every day. He's still in Dublin one day, Clare the day after, and I still hustle three children to three different schools twice a day. These things have to happen; we are already doing less stuff. But how we approach these necessities, and the broad stroke with which we allow our kids to work within them, needs some tweaking. Not twerking. Tweaking.

And, wouldn't you know, we're 50 days out from the New Year. Advent is fast approaching. And life - as it tends to do in the holiday crush - is about to get much more wild.

So our tweak is this: peace. Our intention is to infuse peace in our daily, little acts of chaos.

Not just for us, but for the children, too. We want them to treat each other with gentleness, responding to conflict in peace, and they will learn this from us as we model it. I'm assuming. Hopefully.

We need peace during homework and at the dinner table and in the back seat of the car on the way to church. We need peace at bedtime and bathtime and quiet time here on Asher's bed. And we need peace in this city and in this country and in the queue at the shop. And we wait for the Prince of Peace, the way we do every year, except that we usually forget about Him till the last minute. On Christmas day He arrives with guests and gifts and we think, "Oh, there You are. I totally forgot You were here." And for the Christ-follower to forget that Jesus brings peace? That is not the way I want to go about life.

I don't know how this is all going to work, but we're thinking of some ways to institute peace. We are starting to be mindful of the loudness we live with and how to quiet the noise. We are asking for words and Scripture and prayers that speak of peace. We want it to fill the rooms in this house and overflow into the streets, infuse every interaction and conversation we have with those around us. That's our hope anyway. And along the way, I'll share some bits of it with you. You and I can sort some of it out here, define peace and peacefulness and peacemaking... and figure out if it's even possible in a family filled with strong personalities and at least one mildly destructive streak.

This is our peace experiment, for these next 50 days, plunging head-first into the most wonderful and chaotic time of year. And today we begin with Ash and I on his bed. Him and his LeapPad and me right here, writing to you, giving brother and sister some peace while they do their homework.

Oh, and you should know: this isn't a blog project, another 31-days-type challenge. Matt and I want to do this for us and for our kids and for the family and home we want to nurture. Sharing here along the way will help keep me accountable, though there will be other stuff happening on these pages, too. And when it all goes to pot in like three days, I'm sure you'll find me back here lamenting my lack of follow through and my usual lazy mom ways.

Or we can just forget I ever said anything. Deal?


How peaceful is your home, family, relationships? What white noise is clouding your blue sky?

Doing the math :: thoughts on Jenkins, gambling and wealth

08 November 2013

So just as I was about to hit publish and was following up with proper links, I saw Jerry Jenkins responded just today to one article. I appreciate this lengthy, quite open and frank letter. Thank you for sharing it with us, Jerry.


And now an update on something that will only interest you if you grew up in the American Christian subculture of the 1990s. Yes, I'm going to talk about Jerry Jenkins and gambling. If these words mean nothing to you, feel free to move on to This American Life or Real Simple or something.

Ok, everybody else still here? Welcome Moodies, youth group friends, and Mom. Let's recap:

A few weeks ago World Magazine published an article on Jerry Jenkins and his frequent past-time of playing poker for money. The article quoted Jenkins - chairman of the Board of Trustees for Moody Bible Institute and best-selling author of the oft maligned, though still popular Left Behind Series - saying,

"… You can do the math. I’ve sold 70 million books. So to break even making $8,000 playing poker, it’s kind of pocket change for me.”

This article pushed a couple of long-simmering buttons for me, as it did for many others, particularly fellow alumni of Moody. But gambling isn't one of them. Though I'm not particularly keen on the "sport" of gambling, Jenkins would claim what he plays is a "game of skill." 

“I don’t play for what I would consider significant amounts of money. And I wouldn’t gamble, either. I mean, I don’t play slots,” he said.

It can be argued he is in fact gambling if he's winning (or losing) $8,000 worth of pocket change from his opponents. But again, that alone is not the soul of the troubling issues this article brings to light. 

My uncomfortableness rests in three things:

1) The double standard Moody seems to place on its students, staff and trustees, setting forth strict codes of conduct based on (or implied by) biblical principles for students and staff (gambling, for one, is strictly prohibited; other activities such as drinking, smoking and movie-going are also prohibited for students) while the trustees enjoy no such prohibition. See also The New York Times article 'In Culture Shift, Evangelical College Lifts Alcohol Ban.'

Asked whether Jenkins’ hobby might send a mixed message to students, Regnerus said the school expected students to recognize matters of Christian liberty, while abiding by rules meant to accommodate families and churches with stricter convictions. 
“Moody is aware that Jerry Jenkins participates in poker, which is not prohibited in Scripture,” Regnerus said. He added the school does not have an official position that would clarify whether it considers poker to be gambling.

This exchange was frustrating, and though it may very well have been unintentional, to many former students it seemed misleading and disingenuous. Yes, Jesus doesn't mention poker. But the student life guide does. And while the weaker brother argument is a valid one - not wanting to discourage or discriminate against students who may come from more conservative or traditional faith traditions - it seems untoward to expect students to respect the Christian liberty of the men whose names are on the buildings and make the decisions for the student body. After all, they are the ones making rules for the students that they themselves do not abide by.

2) In the World article, Jenkins admits an attempt to hide his poker playing from the Chicago-area Christian community. 

“It’s too close to Chicago. I serve on the board of Moody, so I wouldn’t want to cause any embarrassment to anybody if they had a problem with that. … I live in Colorado, so if I play it’s outside the Midwest.”

I fail to understand his reasoning. If he's not gambling, as he says, then why hide it? And if Moody doesn't have a problem with its trustees gambling, whom would he embarrass? He's also been known to enjoy this game of skill with James MacDonald, a Chicago-area pastor and co-author of Jenkins' latest book. Both men are extremely well-off financially, supported by the same community they're hiding from.

3) The most troubling aspect of the article was the perceived posture of Jenkins, who refers to himself as being "flush," refers to the money he's gambled, lost and won as "pocket change," and states that playing in a casino where his son is a dealer is the only way he's able to interact with non-believers.

“Frankly, were it not for poker, we would hardly ever rub shoulders with unsaved people.”

What concerns me most is his flippant disregard for people and resources. What is pocket change to him is nearly double one month's salary for a middle-class family in the US, and it could very well be the difference between life or death in many parts of the world.

It's not just that he's a high income earner. There are many wealthy people who practice good stewardship and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability. But it's the idea that someone who so easily plays away - or, conversely, takes away - large sums of money as a means of "ministry" is a gatekeeper and leader of the modern evangelical church movement in America, shaping future pastors, teachers, bible study leaders, worship leaders, and - yes - missionaries.

Many of these students, alumni, teachers and donors are in the trenches: caring for those in need, leaving the comforts of home to live in the developing world, flying planes filled with food and medicine into the jungle, ministering to and sharing Jesus with prison inmates or preschool moms or the orphan or the homeless. Or any other number of ways Christ-followers choose to share his love with others. We look to people like Jenkins or MacDonald to show us the way of Jesus. A better way. I simply struggle to find the spirit of love Jenkins may share as he takes their money from the table. "Blessed are the poor in Spirit?"


After sharing these frustrations via Twitter, a representative of Moody Radio contacted me and kindly forwarded my email to Moody. It was lengthy and I probably went off the handle a bit and asked them if the president of Moody, someone Matt and I deeply respect, had any response. No, he didn't.

But Jenkins did, again through Moody's PR manager.

"I love Moody Bible Institute more than I can fully express. Having been a student here in the 1960s, then editor of MOODY magazine and finally vice president for Moody Publishers as an employee of more than 30 years, and having the privilege of serving this wonderful organization on its Board of Trustees, the last thing in the world I ever wanted was for my personal activities to bring harm or embarrassment to this place that I love." 
"I never perceived my playing poker to be anything but a hobby, but I see now that it is inconsistent with my role as a Moody Trustee. I viewed it as something I was free to do, but on reflection I understand that the negative aspects of the commercial gaming industry taint any association with public card playing, regardless of my intent." 
“I am sorry for this error in judgment and for the harm I have caused. I ask your forgiveness and ask that you pray that I would be found worthy of the great privilege and high calling I have been given as Moody's chairman of the Board. Thank you."

We, too, love Moody more than we can express. It gave us eachother, refined our callings and honed our gifts. It gave us brilliant friendships with students and with faculty that still ring true and run strong. We go back frequently and reminisce, showing our children where we first met and which dorm I lived in and how we sat on Culby 2 with all of our floor-mates watching the series finale of Seinfeld. In the spirit of full disclosure, we maybe even stroll through the tunnels where we would sneak an illicit kiss between class.

We have wonderful, beautiful memories and in so many ways, Moody gave us the life we have. It's not a life like Jerry Jenkins has, and I hope he understands that. The students he's leading may very well choose a different way.

People over things, and a posture of love.

I find myself in a daily struggle with obedience in the pursuit of those callings. A good, painful struggle; a different type of game of skill. And I hope to share more about it here, with you, soon.

If these banks are going to burst

07 November 2013

So by now you've probably noticed a few changes around here. I've been a longtime admirer of Carrie Loves and somehow managed to win one of five blog templates she was giving away. Carrie let us choose our own template and then graciously worked with me on the colour scheme and any technical difficulties. You'll also find some new buttons and links to the side, showing you around the place a bit more. I hope you like the new look as much as I do... I find it calming, yet spirited and inspiring.

I also wanted to thank you for all the visits, comments and encouragement for my #31days series: at home in Ireland. It was such a treat to share more about our newish life here, show you around our home and hear some of your own stories. I had no idea I had such strong feelings on laundry, heated water and European fashion!

Now that October is over, this area of my life feels a bit spent. I'm tired of writing about moving, transitional struggles or being done with childbearing (I'm sure you're tired of reading about it, too!). And I'm looking forward to writing about other things, though they may not end up here. I'll still be around, posting a couple of times a week; I'm just not sure about what yet, and I have no idea the direction it will take. It'll still be a river into words, it'll still be a poem to the King, there will still be some occasional yelling. But I may be trying something new...

Do you like how non-commital and non-specific I'm being? Yeah, that's how my brain feels, too: an unruly tide of ideas, unable to focus on anything particular, falling quickly on one notion before flitting off in the opposite direction.

If these banks of my heart are going to burst, I want to spill beauty. I'm hoping November will give these things room to swim, and I'll be able to share the process here with you.

But now I must jet as I'm off to a final creative writing class celebration. We're a great gang of mums and grand-dads and storytellers and friends. Yes, I think we're all friends, now. And writers, too.