on your mark, get set...

this summer i will reprise my role as women's director at camp, and i'm mainly charged with leading discipleship/accountability groups with the 28 college-age women staffers. i also will also be the go-to person for discipline, homesickness, or other issues on the girls' side of camp.

i served in this role two summers ago and really enjoyed leading bible studies with the girls and being available to listen or trouble-shoot. of course, everything will be different this summer, being the mother of a six-month-old baby. i am a little anxious about how it will all work out, because camp is scheduled to a military-like degree, and the biggest thing i've learned in parenting a baby is the need for flexibility.

dylan is little and pretty easy-going, so happily she can spend a lot of time with me up at camp. the biggest issue will be working out naps and feedings. we'll have a high school staffer to help with childcare, and jim can be available during evening times when i can't.

in preparation for this, i've been trying out a little sleep-training, and praise God, dylan is cooperating. up until this week, she typically would nap after being awake for two hours. now we're trying a morning and afternoon nap, and it's been working pretty well so far. she's sleeping longer, seems rested, and i admit it's nice to have a more predictable routine. God is so gracious, reminding me of his power, presence, and love.

another praise: dylan has two little baby teeth poking their way through her bottom gums, and so far she's taking it like a champ:)

if you think of it, will you please pray for our family, as we all adjust to the rhythms and challenges of another summer of ministry? jim's staff is here, the rest of the college staff arrive monday for two more weeks of training, and then camp begins!


country mouse, city mouse

there are many things i miss about life in pittsburgh. i miss having friends my age, the open door, using my bike more and my car less, actual diversity, and all the great neighborhoods. i miss art galleries, independent movies, the cultural district, wyep, the arts festival, and free concerts. i miss coffee shops and stores that are open past five. i miss sushi at giant eagle and restaurants that serve something beyond burgers, like baba ganouj, curry, or wat...yum.

there are a few things i don't miss: slum lords, cockroaches the size of dogs, sewage problems, leaky roofs, or dumpsters outside our bedroom windows being emptied at 3, 4, and 5 am. i don't miss traffic, pot holes, aggressive driving, or parking tickets. i don't miss lugging groceries down the block or up several flights of stairs. I don't miss sliding down the icy fire escape--the only way into or out of our first apartment.

i do miss the view from our apartment's roof, but all in all, i know we traded up when it comes to scenery:

we had a memorial day party this weekend, and it was so great to have space to entertain a crowd. camp provides us with a spacious house which overlooks acres of land. kids ran and played and friends staked out various corners of the house and yard to enjoy the weather, beauty, food, and company. i loved seeing people feel comfortable, and it was a gorgeous day to spend outside.

in college, i mostly worked here at camp, but one summer i spent at the pittsburgh project, a community development ministry on the north side. i worked with service camp and helped teenagers renovate houses for low-income, elderly homeowners. i learned about scripture and the intersection of faith and justice. i became acutely aware of poverty issues, racism, and what the shalom and kingdom of God could really look like, "on earth as it is in heaven." i fell in love with the city.

it was also a difficult summer. i lived in a crowded room with close to twenty other girls and experienced virtually no solitude. the only green space in walking distance was a lone ball field. everywhere i turned there was noise, people, and concrete, amplifying my stress, frustration, and loneliness. ligonier certainly beats pittsburgh in the abundant green space department, and in that, my soul rejoices.


camp anawanna, we hold you in our hearts

we live at a camp--actually the camp i went to as a child, and the one my mom, aunt, uncle, and grandma went to before me. jim and i met on staff here in college, we got engaged on the hill under the stars, and we were married in the little outdoor chapel of the pines. in a lot of ways, camp is like home, but living in ligonier year round, i still feel a lot like a stranger in a strange land.

jim's job is year round, which most people have a hard time grasping. camp only last three months, but a lot goes into recuiting staff and campers, and planning programs in the "off-season." jim directs the adventure program, and that doesn't really get an off-season, except perhaps between thanskgiving and new year's. youth groups, law firms, schools, and sports teams use the property year round for team-building and challenge activities. jim builds and maintains the high and low ropes courses, climbing tower, zip line, and bike park and organizes off-site caving and white water rafting trips. it's a pretty sweet job, and his favorite time of year is the summer when is able to train a staff of twelve college students to run the adventure program for the 2000 kids who will come to camp this summer. he loves teaching and training and vision-casting, and he is great at it. his staff arrives tuesday, and the whirwind begins!

yesterday, i took the baby to visit two friends i made when i was a couselor at camp. i spent almost five hours in the car, dylan barely napped at all, and she screamed the last hour back, but it was still so good to see my old friends. we all have babies. one of the girls, who i met when we were on high school staff together, amazingly has four kids, two of whom i had never met. it was fun to reconnect and get to know one another again in another capacity. i am so thankful for the people that God has brought into my life through the ministry of camp.

to market, to market

when you hear "farmer's market," your mind probably conjures images of local produce, herbs, plants and flowers. may is pretty early for pennsylvania-grown veggies, but when the ligonier country market opened today, i was honestly looking forward less to zucchini and more to pierogi. they did have lots of flowers and plants for sale, but i really go for the food. everything for sale is homemade or homegrown.

last summer, when i was pregnant and not working at camp, i was able to go more often. i observed a little ritual that involved buying root beer and pierogies, grilled on site, that i'd eat as i wandered. then i'd come to reclaim my spot on the couch, watching pbs cooking shows and intermittently running to the bathroom to be sick. it was a long pregnancy.

this morning, it was a joy to feel healthy, and to take dylan on her first trip to the market. i passed on the stroller in favor of her sling, and covered her head with a pink sun hat. we wandered happily looking at crafts and people-watching. i passed on the root beer, but as per tradition, i bought pierogies to cook for lunch, a berry pie, pizzelles for jim, and nothing healthful or green, although i did pack all my goodies into a recycled tote;) (in case you have no idea what i'm talking about, pierogies are polish potato dumplings and pizzelles are italian cookies.) in my mind, summer has officially begun.


I have set my rainbow in the clouds

Miss Dylan Elizabeth was baptized on Sunday, and we had lots of family in town to celebrate. The service and liturgy were beautiful, and it was so powerful to hear the congregation, our family, and friends pledge to support Dylan in her faith.

Growing up Presbyterian, I was baptized as an infant. In high school, I went to a Baptist youth group and was able to be present at the baptisms of several of my friends and witness their professions of faith. In college, I attended and volunteered with the youth ministry at a non-denominational church, (which, according to B, are mostly closet Baptist churches.) On youth Sunday, the youth pastor I served with was baptizing students, and I decided to be baptized again. My decision came about from reading passages like this one:

We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life (Romans 6:4)

It wasn't that I didn't think my baptismal sprinkling as an infant "took;" I simply wanted my baptism to reflect my own profession of faith--not just my parents. In baptism we identify with the death and resurrection of Christ. I resonated with being dunked in a ritual bath, symbolizing the putting off of my sinful nature and claiming my identity as a new creation in Christ. I picked Colossians 2:6-7 as my baptismal verses:

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

While I still like the idea of baptism as a public profession of the faith of a child or adult who is old enough to articulate it, I don't think the infant-baptizers necessarily have it wrong. Not only is our salvation a gift from God--so is the very faith that enable us to receive it. Baptizing infants too young to confess faith is a perfect picture of God's grace reaching out to us in our absolute helplessness.

When Dylan is older, I pray that she will come to know, love, and serve the Lord, and she can demonstrate that publicly in her first communion and confirmation. Her baptism yesterday, in my mind, spoke more to the gracious nature of God and offered a time for our family and community to renew our own faith commitments and desire to help Dylan grow into the person God has created her to be.

This gorgeous rainbow appeared the afternoon of Dylan's baptism, a reminder of God's many covenants, to Noah and creation, to Dylan, and to all of us. We could see the full bow, and it fell all the way to the ground in front of those trees. At another point, dual rainbows were visible. Amazing.

Team Paul

Sharing secrets with Great-Grandma. Dylan is wearing the gown I wore at my baptism, made with love by both my Grandmas, my mom, and my Great Grandma.

Entertaining Grandma and Grandpa

"Uncle Wonderful," Dylan's godfather

Aunt B

Dylan's Grammy, Poppy, and Aunt Christie also came out, but unfortunately, I didn't get pictures of you. Hopefully we can get them all passed around:)


my little vegetarian

dylan has been sampling rice cereal for a little while now, and she's tried it mixed with apples and bananas, but yesterday was her first venture into non-cereal food. the grocery had avocados for 61 cents, so we gave that a go. she really liked it! it was easy as can be, too--no jars, no grinding--i just sliced the top off, held it like a little bowl, and scooped it out with her baby spoon.


last night was one of those rare, beautiful nights at youth group where the kids really connected with scripture and talked openly. it was completely God's providence that i was even able to go. initially jim was going to work late, and so i would have had to bring dylan, and since she was cranky and overtired, i just couldn't have. but jim came home, i went, and dylan even let jim put her to bed without complaint.

we talked about judging people, and it really got the kids talking about the labels people paint on one another at school, the assumptions people make, and how little they feel understood or known. it did not make me miss my school days, and i'm thankful to have never endured the unique pains of high school in a small town.

we talked about the difference between judgment and accountability, and how since we all struggle with sin, no one is in a place to judge. one of the girls who usually stays pretty quiet and private said something that really struck me. she said that she doesn't back away from tough conversations with her friends about their drug and alcohol use because she loves them, worries about them, and can't not say something. she is such a humble and compassionate person that i know her words come from a place of love and not judgment. what a picture of courage, friendship, and what it looks like to "speak the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15). it's good to be reminded that i can learn a lot from the example of my girls.


the one where i give up and cut off all my hippie locks

and now for another hair story that will alternately horrify and please my grandma...

so it's been time for a haircut for quite some time now. according to the card in my wallet, my last haircut occurred on june 6, 2007. yikes. unfortunately, the days of easily-portable, sleeps-anywhere baby dylan passed along with the winter weather, so getting said haircut has proven to be a challenge. i decided i couldn't wait any longer, so i reluctantly took her with me today to supercuts.

my plan was to go shoulder-length--something easy for the summer. the girl suggested that it was long enough to donate, which sounded great, as did the news that the cut would be free. only later did i realize that i could have and should have sought after a free haircut at a real and reputable salon where you make an appointment and they blow your hair all the way dry.

dylan fussed and cried in her little car seat, so i was more than ready to get out of there and didn't take time to examine the cut or ask for any fixes. it's a little asymmetrical, but all in all, i'd say it's not too bad, all things considered. i sort of have a twin peaks/audrey horne thing going on, except with a decidedly less sex-kitten and more soccer-mom vibe. (in case anyone else likes meaningless tv trivia, that actress also played luke's babymama on gilmore girls and pacey's inappropriate restaurant boss on dawson's creek.) my hair could be, and has certainly been, far worse. we'll see what happens when the humidity has its way with it.

baby note: since dylan slept the last seven minutes of our ride home, she thinks she has fulfilled her nap requirement for the afternoon. she's upstairs making wide-awake noises in her crib. the last time i checked on her, she was on her tummy instead of her back, having successfully rolled over that way for the first time. she's getting so strong:)

nobody puts baby in a corner! and other pics

she was protesting much more than this picture conveys at having to be on the floor while we had the audacity to eat dinner up on stools.

bethany thinks this proves there is yet another flower child in the family.

baby in a hat:)

we visited new baby adleigh, and she is absolutely miniature at six pounds. it hasn't even been six months and it's already hard to remember dylan being that tiny. it's crazy also to think that the two will be the same year in school and basically the same age, when now they seem worlds apart. what a blessing for there to be other children at camp for dylan to grow up with.


we learned how our bodies worked

this isn't the clearest picture, but i like how it shows dylan using both hands. every day she is learning to inhabit her body more fully. it's cool to see her grab for toys or use her legs to spin herself around in this entertainer, on loan from friends who just had their fourth baby. adleigh is only five days old, and we get to visit her this afternoon!


i play my music in the sun

at diaper changes, i like to ensure that dylan has enough time to air dry before wrapping her back up, so i fill the time with singing. i can rarely think of a good children's song, so i sing whatever happens to pop in my head. recently, we've been on a 90s kick with the barenaked ladies' "if i had a million dollars" or the lemonheads' "the outdoor type." yesterday, however, i found myself singing steve miller's "the joker." i have no idea where this came from. (maybe the line "you're the cutest thing that i ever did see"?) it's not exactly the most child-friendly tune, but it's catchy, and i could do worse. apparently, dylan likes the gangster of love.

yesterday, when she and i were out, i checked the rear view mirror, and dylan was gnawing on her suede moccasin like a little puppy. she had a pacifier clipped to her bib and some plastic rings in her lap, and she has the dexterity to put them into her mouth herself, but dylan preferred to chomp happily on the slipper. did i mention that she was actually wearing the moccasin and had still managed to get it into her mouth, even fastened tightly into the carseat?


so is she sleeping through the night, yet?

this question assails me everywhere i turn. seemingly, it is everyone's preferred small talk question to parents of infants, and it's beginning to drive me crazy.

dylan has slept through the night. she even did once this week, but whenever we think we have her on any type of predictable routine, she enters another growth stage and everything changes. instead of getting up once a night she may wake four times or be unexpectedly difficult to put to bed. at five and a half months, dylan does not sleep through the night, although she is adhering to a eight o'clock bedtime, for which we are very thankful. someday, certainly, dylan will sleep through the night, but tonight is probably not that night. please stop asking. unless, of course, you wish to follow up your question with:

"she's not? you just look so gorgeously radiant, i assumed the little angel was letting you all sleep soundly!"


unexpected wisdom

this morning i flipped channels to regis and kelly, and they were interviewing ashton kutcher. they asked him about demi moore and their marriage, and he said something i found to be really interesting and true.

ashton said that guys grow up wanting to have sex, and that is their ultimate relationship goal. girls, he said, desire to have a beautiful, perfect wedding. very few people are looking beyond sex or weddings and talking about what it looks like to build a solid, lasting marriage. he said that the key to happiness in his marriage is that they continue to work on it while it is good.

who knew boyish celebrity heartthrobs had so much insight into making a marriage work?


say what?

One of the churches in town has a marquee, and it's a mystery where they come up with some of the stuff they post. Their messages rarely have anything to do with scripture, like this little Veteran's Day gem: "Because American ends in 'I CAN!'"

Sometimes they get things a little backward, like this Thanksgiving sign: "Those who are thankful for little enjoy much." (Thankful for the little things? Or just not that thankful?)

Sometimes the signs don't make any sense: "Our Church is a PSL: People Serving Loving."

And sometimes, their slogans are downright heretical:

Isn't it weird that the church is honoring moms and denying the omnipotence of God in the same breath? And exactly where on the earth that God created is he unable to be?

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
--Psalm 139:7-10

If you also like really bad church signs, find all sorts of atrocities over at crummy church signs.



my little sun baby

how cute is this face?

jim built a clothesline, and i finally had clothespins and a sunny day to try it out. i like that hanging clothes is a household task that can be done outdoors.  i don't use dryer sheets, and they smell like summer. the diapers were still a little damp when i brought them in, so i gave them fifteen minutes in the dryer. now they're a little less stiff, and i still lowered our energy consumption. baby steps:)
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