a psalm of ascent

a few years ago at a library book sale, i came home with four hardcover bibles in four different versions for $2 each. i was so excited, especially to find the oxford annotated study bible, a text i declined to purchase for an intro religion class and later regreted when i declared my religion major.

this particular edition is the revised standard version, not the more contemporary NRSV that we use at my episcopal worship service. i love this bible. i love the old language, and i'm finding that the Holy Spirit is using familiar passages to challenge me in new ways.

Psalms 130
A Song of Ascents.

1Out of the depths I cry to thee, O LORD!
2 Lord, hear my voice!
Let thy ears be attentive
to the voice of my supplications!

3 If thou, O LORD, shouldst mark iniquities,
Lord, who could stand?
4 But there is forgiveness with thee,
that thou mayest be feared.

5 I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
6 my soul waits for the LORD
more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.

7 O Israel, hope in the LORD!
For with the LORD there is steadfast love,
and with him is plenteous redemption.
8 And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.


ashes to ashes, dust to dust

today i had coffee with a friend, a girl i used to work with at a coffee shop a few years back. we actually met there, and it was so good to catch up (and to not be working there!)

our old boss saw us and said rather directly, "you two got skinny! you look great!"

i didn't actually realize i was smaller now than then, in the days before dylan. (am i? did he make this up? i'm not actually sure.)

i do know that i'm healthier now that i don't drink a 20 ounce syrupy-sweet beverage every day along with whatever fat-laden pastry happened to break and become "unsellable." (having my drink with skim milk did not make it healthy, no matter how i deluded myself with the amount of calcium and protein i was consuming!)

in light of all that, i think for lent this year i want to cut back my sugar intake. i'm thinking more of moderation than complete abstention: drinking once cup of juice and not buying sugary snacks or candy. i still want to occasionally bake for my family. i guess the goal isn't to give up all dessert so much as to be more discerning and intentional about what i'm eating.

i admit, this is not spiritually motivated--it's really more about health. on the spiritual side of things, i want to spend time each day with God. I know, this is something i already should be doing, but to be perfectly honest, i just haven't.

the last time i had a good, consistent devotional practice was last summer. then dylan stopped sleeping well, and all my prayers for her/us to sleep better felt ignored. i was mad at God, tired of feeling alone in my prayers, and i stopped spending regular time with him. then i felt guilty for making such a big deal of it. plenty of "good" christians have serious life-or-death problems and don't blame God--it's just sleep!--but i was so exhausted and frustrated. the guiltier i felt, the farther i withdrew.

in my life, i've certainly dealt with pain, loneliness, and disappointment without blaming God, but for whatever reason, i just felt like God was holding out on me. it seemed so simple--couldn't he just make her sleep? just for three or four hours at a time? was that so much to want?

finally, a few weeks ago, i broke down. i confessed my sin, returned to writing in my prayer journal, read the psalms, and received the grace God extended. we had a few better nights. mostly, it was the same, but at least my attitude was better. i slammed fewer doors. i held my tongue. sometimes.

this week, it's actually getting a little better. dylan's mostly been waking only twice, and she hasn't been crying (much) when i put her back to bed. it's still not great, but jim and i are starting to feel less like zombies.

so, this lent i want to cut back on sugar and more importantly, to grow in the discipline of a daily devotional practice. what about you? are you adding or subtracting anything from your life this lenten season?

When we genuinely remember the death we deserve to die, we will be moved to remember the death the Lord did in fact die--because his took the place of ours. Ah, children, we will yearn to hear the Gospel story again and again, ever seeing therein our death in his, and rejoicing that we will therefore know a rising like his as well. --Walter Wangerin, Jr.

and now for some excellent cartwheels!

dylan is going through a daddy phase. she wants to know where jim is at all times and will often pause whatever she is doing to inquire, "dad?" or "dada?"

late last night, when she finished nursing, a sleepy-headed dylan asked me, "dad?"

"daddy's sleeping," i whispered.

dylan put her finger to her lips and sleepily said, "shhhhhhh."

i love that kid!

this morning, i was holding dylan, and she began pointing her finger at my and yelling, "no, no, no, no, no!"

i was horrified. we tell her "no," but i don't ever remember shaking a finger at her. where did she get this?

then she did it again: "no, no, no, no, no!" but this time, instead of just shaking her pointer finger, she actually touched my nose.

she was pointing to and identifying my nose! thank goodness. i'm certain she'll mirror back something unpleasant about myself in the not-too-distant future, but this time, i'm off the hook:)

(this post title is admittedly a non sequitur. it comes from the movie december boys and is said by a trio of sweet-awesome cartwheeling nuns. so there's that.)


fat/skinny tuesday

this morning when i woke up, the thermometer read 7 degrees. i am so ready for winter to be over! i'm tired of wearing boots, scraping ice off the car, and more often then not, living under self-imposed house arrest. i long to be outside without all the requisite outerwear!

(the temperature did go up to 27. balmy, right?)

dylan had a well-child doctor exam today. everyone remarked on her vocabulary, and she took her two shots like a champ, but there was one not-so-great revelation: dylan only weighs 17 lbs, 6 oz, putting her beneath the 3 percentile in weight! we were certain she weighed 20 lbs, and she's not even close. i mean, sure she still fits fine in her rear-facing infant car seat, but 17 lbs? our friends' baby is 4 months old and weighs more than dylan!

she's been kind of a modest/picky eater, but i've been fortifying her sippy cup of juice/milk with whole milk yogurt, and she's been enjoying lots of peanut butter. plus, i still breastfeed her. i felt disheartened, but the doctor and nurse didn't appear all that concerned. she's still a healthy kid--walking, talking, and developing properly.

our church hosted a shrove tuesday pancake dinner tonight. (i learned shrove comes from the middle english verb shrive--to absolve people of their sins--referring to english "shriveners" hearing confession before lent.) pancake breakfasts and dinners are one of my favorite things ever. growing up, our family would hit them all--the boy scouts, the lions club, churches, fire halls--if there was a pancake breakfast somewhere in the county, we were there.

unfortunately, jim had to miss the fun, but dylan and i went with leeanne, and in true fat tuesday fashion, dylan put away an entire pancake and two pieces of sausage. i don't think she'll be 17 lbs for long:)


laugh, kookaburra, laugh

dylan's picture book is full of all sort of useful words for babies to learn--fruits, articles of clothing, transportation types, and lots and lots of animals: farm animals, pets, wild animals, baby animals, and of course, the aforementioned bird page. that page doesn't have quite the same everyday-vocabulary vibe as the others, but it does introduce tots to this little australian species, the kookaburra:

i could not have identified this bird, but someday dylan will. i did teach her the song, which she loves:

Kookaburra sits on the old gum tree,
Merry merry king of the bush is he.
Laugh, Kookaburra, laugh, Kookaburra,
How gay your life must be!

something tells me they don't teach that one in school anymore.

you know what else they probably don't teach in public school? the johnny appleseed song that we sang as grace every day before snack in kindergarten:

Oh, the Lord's been good to me.
And so I thank the Lord
For giving me the things I need:
The sun, the rain and the appleseed;
Oh, the Lord's been good to me.

it's really a lovely little grace, and i'll probably teach it to dylan, too. my teacher was old as well as old-school; she also paddled naughty students. well, she spanked at least one misbehaved kid on several occasions, and looking back, i'm sure he had some undiagnosed developmental problems. much has deteriorated in education and culture over the years, but that is one reason to be thankful to not be sending my child to school in the eighties.

there are a few other songs i learned in school that i probably won't teach dylan:

Gonna jump down, turn around, pick a bale of cotton
jump down, turn around, pick a bale a day (2x)
Oh Lordy, pick a bale of cotton
oh Lordy, pick a bale a day (2x)

isn't there something more than a little unsettling about a classroom full of suburban white kids bouncing around singing about how fun it is to pick 500 lbs of cotton in a single day?

then there's this little creeper:

Have you seen the ghost of John?
Long white bones with the skin all gone
Oooh, O0hO0hO0hO0hO0h
Wouldn't it be chilly with no skin on?

um, yeah, i guess it would be chilly without skin, but that's only the beginning of your problems. what the heck kind of freakshows taught me music?

do you remember any crazy childhood songs they're probably not teaching anymore?


baby penguin

jim's mom has a little wind-up toy like this that absolutely delights dylan. she and her grammy practiced waddling around the living room just like the little penguin on our visit last week.

then, one the plane home, dylan i were looking at a picture book together. when we turned to the page with the birds, it had this picture:
dylan looked at it and then started to waddle her head and body, back and forth, like a little penguin, (or at least, like a little toy penguin;)

how did she make the leap from cartoonish mechanical toy to actual bird photograph? the human mind is such a remarkable mystery:

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well." (Psalm 139:14)


Babies R Us Accepts BPA Bottle Returns

BPA (or Bisphenol A), found in most baby bottles not made in the very recent past, is an endocrine disruptor that mimics human hormones and has been linked in studies to alarming health concerns. BPA can leech into breast milk or formula when heated, which is why many stores have pulled baby bottles with BPA from shelves and why more producers are making BPA-free bottles. Unfortunately, "heated"also includes in the dishwasher, so even if you haven't microwaved your baby bottles, they still could be leeching chemicals.

So what's a mom to do with her older BPA bottles?

The good news is many Toys R Us and Babies R Us stores are accepting returns on old Avent bottles without receipt. Each store makes its own individual policy, so you'll need to contact your particular store to find out.

At my local Toys R Us, I brought back nine Avent bottles, in 4 and 9oz sizes. I kept the nipples (which are made of silicone and have no BPA), and they didn't mind. They gave me credit for three 3-packs and issued me $24.99 in store credit, which I exchanged for a baby gate and an outlet/cord cover.

I was pretty satisfied, until I realized that buying nine more BPA-free Avent bottles, (which I anticipate doing in the future) will set me back NINETY BUCKS plus tax! Keeping that in mind, if your store offers an even exchange of your old BPA bottles for BPA-free ones, that's obviously a better deal than store credit on the price of your old bottles.

Getting money back for questionable BPA bottles works for me.


a little of this, a little of that

we've got a little walker! dylan is toddling more and more ably on her own, and i just love the pleased look on her face when she makes it to her destination by foot:)

these pictures are from nashville last week--christie and ristow, and dylan walking with her grammy and me to the playground.

dylan was a champ on the plane ride back to cleveland. we were able to sit in the front row, so we had extra leg room, no one sat in the next seat, and we were the first ones off when we landed. not too shabby:)

we got home late friday afternoon, and in the morning, friends watch dylan while jim made crepes and i slept in. what a happy valentine's day!

unfortunately, after less than 24 hours at home (in a week!), jim had to go back out again overnight for a conference. the heavy cold i caught in nashville turned into a horrible sinus infection, but thankfully jim has been home and off today and yesterday, and he's been taking care of us. after days of feeling worse and worse, i'm mercifully feeling a little better this afternoon.

dylan is amusing us by saying and identifying eye, ear, nose, and mouth and by learning the baby signs for please, thank you, and more, that she either says, signs, or both. we're so glad she's learning to be polite! (dylan was stubbornly resistant for a long time, and i'm fairly sure that battle is not yet won.) her new favorite words are dark (when we turn the light out) and dog.

dylan loves music. whenever jim stopped singing and strumming, dylan pleaded, "more?"


book circle: february

Penny, a librarian and blogger over at Walking Upside Down, started the Blogosphere Book Circle, and each month we're reading a book and posting about it. This first month we read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. It wasn't a book I was familiar with before I borrowed it from the library, (and it wasn't silly at all, despite the title.)

The fictional story takes place in the aftermath of WWII. It's told through an exchange of letters between Julia, a British author, and a group of people (the Literary/Pie Society) she befriends who've lived through the German Occupation of Guernsey, a Channel Island and British dependency.

The characters are delightfully well-drawn, and the history buff in me loved learning about the Occupation, even though many tales were brutally painful. It was thoughtfully researched, engaging, and I wholeheartedly recommend it.


my peace i give to you

thinking more about finding shalom this year...

S tillness
H ospitality
A biding in Christ
L etting go of anger
O pening the Word
M editation

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid" (John 14:27).


off the radar

i'm still here, just not here here: dylan and i are in nashville. the window are open because the weather has been in the 60s. amazing!

i've barely left the house in over a month because it's snowed nearly every single day at home. dylan isn't quite big enough for snow play, and it has been so dang cold. so cold that last week we ran out of toilet paper in our upstairs bathroom and it took me three days to get out the store to buy more. snow booties and leg warmers have been my uniform, but not here. i could kick myself for not thinking to pack flip flops.

we left for ohio last weekend for jim's grampa's 80's birthday party. it had been a while since we'd seen cousins, aunts, and uncles, and most hadn't met the baby, so it was definitely good to be together.

jim stayed on in ohio, visiting colleges and churches to recruit staff and campers for next summer, and dylan and i caught a ride southbound to spend a little time with grammy, poppy, aunt christie, uncle christopher, and her cousin ristow. the eleven hour trip was not my favorite thing ever, but it's been nice to be here. dylan has been sick off on on with fever and a now a yucky cold (which i have too...booooo), but she's a trooper. i love taking her outside and can't wait for a big spring thaw at home.

on monday morning, a pipe burst and water gushed through the ceiling in their powder room and garage and soaked the first floor. thank God we weren't still out of town. the week has been pretty crazy with all sorts of people in and out and huge fans attempting to dry out the deluge.

last night jim's parents watched dylan and christie and i went out for dinner and the first movie i'd seen in the theaters in over a year. we saw he's just not that into you--i was too tired for anything serious or "oscar-worthy"--and we both really enjoyed it. dylan let her grammy and poppy put her to bed without a fuss--another praise. when i came home, i finished a wonderful book, so i guess the eleven hour car ride wasn't a complete bust:)

thankfully, they're flying us back to meet up with jim, so we only had to make it once. i wonder how miss dylan will fly the friendly skies?


daylight fading

jim took this shot from our porch the other night.
find more wordless wednesday at momdot or 5 minutes for mom.


25 things

1. i live at the summer camp i went to as a kid and worked at in college.

2. when i was a counselor, i taught lacrosse and hockey nearly every day. in our staff video, i appear to be a fierce coach, which misled jim to believing that he was marrying someone athletic and outdoorsy.

3. i do love being outside when the weather is nice. on a camping trip in WV, we did a crazy mountain scramble/rock climb called the Via Ferrata. it was scary and beautiful, and i loved it.

4. if i were an american gladiator, my name would be Bonesaw.

5. rhode island is my favorite place to vacation. my perfect day would involve biking out and spending the day beneath the cliffs at the beach on block island.

6. though biking in pittsburgh initially scared me, i learned to like it. i judge you if you don't wear a helmet.

7. i was a youth pastor at a church in pittsburgh. i love hanging out with teenagers and talking to them about Jesus.

8. my religion degree actually came in handy, as i wrote most of our bible studies and curriculum.

9. i also majored in history. i especially love US history in the gilded age and progressive era. i'm a school nerd.

10. Jesus said he came to preach good news to the poor, freedom for the prisoners, recovery of sight for the blind, and to release the oppressed (Luke 4:18). it kills me when people try to "spiritualize" away the social implications of the gospel in passages like this.

11. i spent my senior year in college studying poverty and community in washington DC. when the plane went down at the pentagon on 9/11, i was waiting for the metro.

12. i came back a lot more politically-engaged than i was when i left.

13. i've been married six years and have a baby girl who is 14 months.

14. her name is a nod to bob dylan.

15. dylan amazes me every day with her excitement, curiosity, and vocabulary.

16. childbirth and breastfeeding have transformed the way i see myself and body, in a positive way.

17. i'm still trying to figure out what this "stay-at-home mom" thing looks like.

18. i won't do it forever, and i do miss the challenges of a professional life, but i am satisfied in this season of being present for dylan's needs, joys, and firsts.

19. i love cookbooks, cooking shows, comfort food, dessert for breakfast, breakfast for dinner, diners, fine dining, international fare, venison, vegetarian, grocery shopping, the farmers' market, the food section, baking, bbq, and breaking bread with friends.

20. watching TMZ is a true guilty pleasure.

21. i remember the lyrics to nearly every song i've ever heard--pop songs, jingles, tv themes, songs from kids' choir or health class videos--but i couldn't tell you my own cell phone number or the birthday of almost anyone i didn't grow up with.

22. i'm learning to practice the discipline of meditation/centering prayer.

23. we use cloth diapers with dylan and are making efforts to reduce our consumption and waste and to repurpose and repair what we already have.

24. when my sisters, brother, parents and i are all together, it's pretty much my favorite thing. no one makes me laugh like my siblings, and it's hard living so far away from family.

25. i love city living, honesty, meaningful conversation, singing in the car, strange movies, general weirdness, writing, my family, and my God.
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