Thursday

2010: a bloggy retrospective {link your best-of posts}

so much shouting, so much laughter
this may be a bit indulgent, but with 2011 approaching, compiling a year-end list of favorite posts appealed to me.  i've enjoying reflecting back on the moments in time cataloged in this space, and if you are a blogger, i hope you'll link some favorites from your own blog that we may have missed the first time around.



 
wherein mothering teaches me about grace:
everything beautiful in its time
sea legs 
dimly-lit days 
notes to the new mom

wherein i reveal my earth mama tendencies: 
ShoutLaughLove:  embodied prayer
on birth and babies
the chemical component: cosmetics, cleaners, and cancer
how to make your own laundry soap

wherein i write poetry(ish):
shabbat shalom
wonderland

wherein i open my big mouth:
the fallacy of colorblindness
an open letter to glenn beck
the public school apologist
our grief is {not} a cry for war

wherein i reflect on the Word 
lift up your head
forget not all his benefits
that your soul may live 

wherein i chronicle our country life:
tune my heart to sing thy grace
august and everything after
babes in the woods

wherein this one is a bit hard to categorize:
if it smells like death, it's probably dead

i can't wait to read some of your best posts of 2010!
linked up with steph over at at adventures in babywearing.

Wednesday

home sweet home

we celebrated a wonderful christmas at my parents.  a snowstorm postponed one sister's flight and kept us all a little housebound, but it was fun to lay low, eat, play, and laugh together.  my kids relished attention from their grandparents, aunts, and uncle, and we got to spend a rare afternoon all together with my grandma, too.  james even slept reasonably well--a christmas miracle!

at some point i'll upload pictures, but tonight, it's nice to just appreciate our beautiful christmas tree (that i'm in no hurry to take down) and the quiet.

we opened the stockings that didn't get filled before we left and gave the kids one last gift--the (only) one from us and something we were so excited to share.  we scooped up a train table on craiglist and got some wooden trains and tracks.  i know we're going to enjoy them playing there together for a long time.  between the christmas tree and the train table, it really looks like a family lives here:)

we worshiped at my parent's church christmas eve.  it was good to see familiar faces and enjoy the pageant and dance.   as we sang together, i was struck by what this carol revealed about the purpose of the manger-born babe:
Why lies He in such mean estate,
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christians, fear, for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.
i looked up the lyrics and found there are alternate lines sung after:
Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,
The cross be borne for me, for you.
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.
amazing, huh?  always the cross visible from the stable.

how did your family celebrate?  any fun or poignant traditions?  is christmas over in your mind, or do you keep things going through epiphany?  i hope that your celebrations were warm, wonderful, and worshipful.

Thursday

ugly sweaters and sundry winter tales

  • we hosted our third annual ugly sweater party, and it was ugly indeed.  take a gander:

those are some Cooossby sweaters!
elfin cute

um, this is an ugly sweater bustier that i purchased at a church rummage sale.
  • jim made eggnog that should come with a warning.  we still have some in the fridge, and it is dang tasty in coffee.  it'll warm you right up on these chilly mornings;)
  • my MOPS group had a homemade gift/craft exchange this morning.  this is not really my forte, as i don't scrapbook or use craft as a verb.  (last year i infused vodka--craft liquor!)    my lemon curd turned out great, but i am most proud of how cute i made the little jars look:
it's like they were made by someone who knows how to decorate stuff.
maybe there's a little crafter in me yet.  i know, not really.  indulge me.  at least once a year i can pretend.
  • like her daddy, dylan loves all things winter.  she gets exceedingly amped about icicles, and she was finally able to get out and play with jim the other night, in her new-to-us snowsuit.  let's snow throwballs!  she said.  snow throwballs, indeed.
melt!

  • james has been sleeping like junk for about three months.  last night he was up four times.  at almost fourteen months, he's is not an infant anymore, and i am so tired of being tired.  must. get. offline. and. in. bed.
what about you?  any christmas crafting, snowventures, general merriment? (*salutes* General Merriment!)  tell me a story.

Saturday

in the bleak mid-winter

growing up, our church observed advent like lent, as a somber and penitential season.  we did not sing christmas carols at church at all until christmas eve.

that makes it sound like some kind of ultra-strict, repressive faith community--which it wasn't.  i didn't have to boycott prom or forgo pants or anything, but there was no congregational merriment to be had until december twenty-fourth on the dot.

i hated it.  all i wanted to do was sing "joy to the world" and instead we were stuck singing dirge-like advent carols.  of course, it didn't help that stores start piping in christmas music the day after halloween, so by the time christmas rolled around, i was sick to death of all the jessica simpson-style "holiday music" before i'd ever had the chance to sing true christmas carols to their intended Recipient.


g. bremer

"people look east" and "lo, how a rose ere blooming" were the two chief offenders, and they became something of a family joke.  the songs were played in that choppy, too-slow style that is impossible to sing along to, so when the pianist would strike the plaintive chords, my sister and i would dissolve into fits of giggles.

our church managed to butcher "o come, o come emmanuel," too.  we were allowed to sing that one because it was considered an advent hymn rather than a christmas carol, but i don't remember ever really singing the (powerful) verses.  instead, we all held hands and sung the brief refrain at the close of each pre-christmas service.

teenage me thought that was especially lame.

these advent hymns left me with a bad taste.  i know now that the goal was to emphasize the waiting and anticipation of the advent of Christ's coming, but to me, they were fun-squelching and old-fashioned.  i never paid attention to the words until much more recently, and since then i've had a change of heart.

the verses that once fueled my teenage indignation i now count among my most cherished.

prophesy.  longing.  poetry and promise.  rich, beautiful imagery. the hope and scope of the gospel in a few stanzas.

the very essence of christmas.

Lo, how a rose e'er blooming,
From tender stem hath sprung!
From Jesse’s lineage coming,
As men of old have sung.

It came, a floweret bright,
Amid the cold of winter
When half spent was the night
Isaiah 'twas foretold it,
The Rose I have in mind
With Mary we behold it,
The Virgin mother kind
To show God's love aright,
She bore to us a Savior
When half spent was the night
...
This Flower, whose fragrance tender
With sweetness fills the air,
Dispels with glorious splendor
The darkness everywhere;

True man, yet very God,
From Sin and death he saves us,
And lightens every load
.
*****

In the bleak mid-winter
  Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
  Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
  Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
  Long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him
  Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
  When He comes to reign:
In the bleak mid-winter
  A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty,
  Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim
  Worship night and day,
A breastful of milk
  And a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels
  Fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel
  Which adore.

Angels and archangels
  May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
  Thronged the air,
But only His mother
 In her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the Beloved
  With a kiss.

*****

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.
O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight!
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.
O come, Desire of nations, bind
All peoples in one heart and mind;

Bid envy, strife and quarrels cease;
Fill the whole world with heaven’s peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Photobucketlinking up at the Bigger Picture Blogs and their prompt "hymn."

what are your favorite christmas carols or songs?

Thursday

the land of deep darkness


the Light is dawning, the Light that darkness has not overcome.

we see it: the glimmer of promise, the hope of peace.

but the days are dark yet. wars and rumors of war. need. hunger. abuse. neglect. addiction. grief. loneliness. depression. sickness. pain.

how can we celebrate when so much is broken and lost?


---
advent is a time of waiting. we wait for christmas, like mary, waiting to give birth to the child of promise. like anna and simeon, israel's faithful remnant waiting for redemption. like the wise men, foreigners waiting to worship.

we wait, too: not for a baby in the manger, but for the time when Christ will come again and make all things right. when he will stamp out darkness once and for all.

until then, we live in the tension. the now and not-yet.

so we watch. and we wait. and we remind one another of the Truth--that Jesus is stronger than the darkness of this world, that his victory was ensured at the cross, and the days of death and suffering are numbered.

and we push back the darkness together.




linking up with the Bigger Picture Blogs.  their writing prompt was the carol based upon this poem:


Christmas Bells
Photobucket
    I  heard the bells on Christmas Day
    Their old, familiar carols play,
        And wild and sweet
        The words repeat
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    And thought how, as the day had come,
    The belfries of all Christendom
        Had rolled along
        The unbroken song
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    Till ringing, singing on its way,
    The world revolved from night to day,
        A voice, a chime,
        A chant sublime
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    Then from each black, accursed mouth
    The cannon thundered in the South,
        And with the sound
        The carols drowned
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    It was as if an earthquake rent
    The hearth-stones of a continent,
        And made forlorn
        The households born
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    And in despair I bowed my head;
    "There is no peace on earth," I said;
        "For hate is strong,
        And mocks the song
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!" 

    Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
    "God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
        The Wrong shall fail,
        The Right prevail,
    With peace on earth, good-will to men."  

   -Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-82)

Wednesday

a thin line

i tried bangs again.  it's a risky maneuver, as they've gone wrong so many times i don't know why i keep bothering.

except i do, because they are so stinkin' cute when done right.

done right by others, i mean.  i've experienced widely (and wildly) unfortunate results over the years at salons and home, so i almost never wear bangs.  i cut them, hate them, and let them grow out until the whim strikes again, which it always does.  i am ever the hair-optimist.

last night, i got them cut (along with my formerly-pink-and-starting-to-dread ends from october).  i went to a drop-in place inside a discount store, and can i tell you?

i am reasonably pleased with my low-end 'do:


i am just hoping that after i wash and style it myself, my hair resembles this indie queen



a bit more than this one!

la la lalala

with love and fluffiness,
suzannah

Monday

wonderland


nestled deep inside the weird, wonderful mosaic of
grandma/sister/neighbor love:

mittens on strings (or they'd never match)
hand-me-down snow pants much too
big, hiked-up and snugged-down.
scarves:  each stitch a blessing
boots and hats and extra gloves
coats zipped cozy-tight and

we are READY.

the front door opens wide
a world of possibility, shimmering white
the trees sparkle, each bare branch thick with ice

{graced by the wand of a sugar plum fairy?
or the very hand of God?}

we step out:  brother, sister,  i

Can you walk?
No, but i can fly



Photobucket image credit:  WELS.net

'twas the write before christmas: check out daily prompts all week and join in.  today's is "lost amid the snow."

Wednesday

happy december! who wants free photo christmas cards?

advent has begun, our tree is up (but only partly decorated), and we woke up this morning to snow.   i'm not such a fan of the cold, but jim couldn't be happier.  when i told him it was snowing, he audibly gasped.

"it is 33 and RAINING in pittsburgh!"  and he nearly skipped out the door to feed the chickens in a flurry of winter white.

we are still recovering from the twelve hour marathon car ride [also known as the festival of sickness and tears] that brought us back from an otherwise wonderful thanksgiving in tennessee with jim's family.  the kiddos are a bit under the weather, but today is definitely a good day to cuddle up and lay low.

i have a great giveaway for 50 5x7 flat cards from studio dayspring over at {so much reviews} click on over for a chance to enter.  contest ends monday 12/6.

Friday

tea and quiet


  harshitsekhon

we gussied up
{mother-and-sister-in-love and me}

boots zipped and necklace clasped,
i relieved my purse of its cheerio and diaper burden,
and entered the car two kids (and cups) lighter.

we left babies with the boys
and ventured out:

three for tea
and quiet

i savored rooibos kissed with caramel,
and grown-up conversation,
a tower of tiny treats
and the space and time to appreciate them.

enjoy we did:
we lingered two luxurious hours,
taking tea with cubes of sugar just to use those dainty tongs,
to hear that satisfying plink

[and my own thoughts!
and her words!]

every detail was lovely:
the porcelain cup and saucer, chosen with care
elegant garland and simply arranged christmas hymns
delicious fresh pineapple, to heck with seasonal eating!
one perfect strawberry, thick-dipped in dark chocolate
and the cherished company of family.

the cheerful jumping-in-arms greeting from two sweet babes upon our return
was the icing on the cake (or the clotted cream on the scone, as it were)
of one perfect afternoon.

Thursday

now thank we all our God

faith goble
Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices;

Who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts and bless├Ęd peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed;
And free us from all ills, in this world and the next!

All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given;
The Son and Him Who reigns with Them in highest Heaven;
The one eternal God, whom earth and Heaven adore;
For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.  -Martin Rinkart, 1693

we are enjoy a gorgeous tennessee thanksgiving.  we drove here all night and somehow managed not to pack any regular shoes for dylan, who we loaded into the car in pjs.  today, she is running around with bare legs and arms in a corduroy thanksgiving jumper sans shirt (too warm!) and winter boots with poms.

what's your favorite thanksgiving food?  i love it all:  stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberries, PIE.  mmmmm....

do you savor any special traditions?  our family is so young we're still feeling our way and are interested in adopting more holiday traditions.  this year we did a thanksgiving "tree," gathering sticks into a giant vase and hanging paper leaves listing blessings.  it's been something really fun to do with dylan.  i'll have to post a photo of it later.

may you enjoy a wonderful, food and family-filled holiday!

(have you entered my greentainer giveaway yet?  friday is the last day to enter.)

Friday

chasing tinies

my baby is a TODDLER. i am simultaneously smitten with how cute james is walking around the house like the little person he is and overwhelmed by the ohmysgoshhesisgrowingupsofast feeling. 

they both are: miss dylan elizabeth turns three tomorrow. my babies aren't such babies anymore!

jim, not such a fan of the baby stage, is ecstatic on both counts. i look at moms with babes-in-arms and miss those teeny tiny days.

sort of.

i don't forget how overwhelming it can be, but i do love snuggling itty bitty babies. lucky for me, my sweet not-quite-babes still have a little cuddle left in 'em:)

our computer has been in the shop for a week. [do you say "shop" with computers or just cars? hmm.] i'm typing now on a hand-me-down laptop that is more than a little tempermental. i can't actually post to blogger or read my gmail in its regular version, but i will attempt to post this via email. here goes nothing...

have a lovely weekend, friends!

cupcake wars

our family is on a journey toward eating more whole foods, traditional fats, and fewer refined food-like substances.

it's a process.  we still hit the drive-thru and i'm fairly certain there will be white sugar and sprinkles on our christmas cookies, but we're making changes.

so it was with interest that i clicked a link on twitter about sarah palin's antagonism toward child nutrition regulation in Pennsylvania.

defying proposed guidelines aimed at curbing classroom treats, palin supplied children with cookies at a school fundraiser near where i grew up.  the stunt was in poor taste, not to mention dismissive of the real and alarming obesity rates among children.  although i'm alarmed at the state of nutrition in this country (and sarah palin and i are hardly BFFs), when it comes to the cupcake wars, i find myself at odds with the healthy school activists.  my philosophy is this:

let kids eat cake!  in moderation.  and then get them moving!
 
bookgrl
i know that school parties are out of hand and kids are plied with sugar in unnecessary (and even dangerous) quantities.  BUT,  i don't think the government should mandate how frequently school parties occur or which kinds of treats are permissible.  parents, teachers, and administrators should be the ones to craft food policies for their own schools.  we can and should limit treats (and be respectful of kids with allergies) without banning parties and cupcakes across the board.

carrots and pencils do not a celebration make.

[it's unclear from the conflicting media accounts if the board of education is voting this spring on recommendations or mandatory guidelines.]

from what i understand, our local schools prohibit treats in the classroom, but they serve junk in the cafeterias and are cutting PE and recess left and right.

which is the bigger threat to kids' health (and learning)?  eating a processed, fried lunch every day and sitting still for eight hours or a birthday cupcake once a month?

i understand that part of the problem is that these treats and celebrations aren't occasional indulgences, but they should be:  both occasional (RARE) and actual indulgences (not broccoli florets.)

i do not have a child in elementary school, so i realize i'm speaking a bit out of my experience.  i don't like when the church nursery feeds my kids ungodly amounts of goldfish, and certainly we need to exercise restraint when feeding other people's children, but i don't think banning all classroom treats is the answer.  there is value in celebration and community and breaking bread (or cupcakes!) together, and i disagree with critics who argue that school is an inappropriate place for celebrations involving food.

bettina at The Lunch Tray got me thinking about all this, and she has some fascinating discussion going on at her site about children's health, government intervention, and cupcake wars that is worth taking a look at.

i'm interested in what you think, especially if you have kids who are in schools with or without these bans.  is a cupcake just a cupcake or a public health concern?  should classroom treats be regulated and by whom?  what should we, as parents and citizens, be doing about the epidemic of sedentary, overweight, and unhealthy kids in our country?

Tuesday

sweet november




I cannot endure to waste anything as precious as autumn sunshine by staying in the house. So I spend almost all the daylight hours in the open air.
--Nathaniel Hawthorne

the air was brisk, but the sun shone warmly, and dylan was eager to run.  we donned hats--however briefly--threw open doors and breathed in life and laughter together.

the children investigated tree stumps and picked the dandelions which grew even as fallen leaves decay underfoot.  dylan swung and climbed, her smile broad, feet quick.

thankful today for a mild afternoon, the discipline of putting on shoes, and a child's way of seeing treasure in every twig.  may we all have those same eyes to see.

Monday

forget not all his benefits

yesterday, i got both kids down for an overlapping nap of about four minutes.  jim was out, and it wasn't even enough time to finish folding a basket of linens.  i definitely had on my grumpy pants, and i pretty much kept them on until after the kids were in bed for the night.

grumpy pants aren't really a good look for me.

so i return to obedience:

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
to the Word:
 Praise the LORD, my soul;
   all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
 Praise the LORD, my soul,
   and forget not all his benefits—
 who forgives all your sins
   and heals all your diseases, 
 who redeems your life from the pit
   and crowns you with love and compassion,
 who satisfies your desires with good things
   so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
  The LORD works righteousness
   and justice for all the oppressed.
  He made known his ways to Moses,
   his deeds to the people of Israel:
 The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
   slow to anger, abounding in love.
 He will not always accuse,
   nor will he harbor his anger forever;
 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
   or repay us according to our iniquities.
 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
   so great is his love for those who fear him;
 as far as the east is from the west,
   so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
  As a father has compassion on his children,
   so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
 for he knows how we are formed, 
   he remembers that we are dust.
 The life of mortals is like grass,
   they flourish like a flower of the field;
 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
   and its place remembers it no more.
 But from everlasting to everlasting
   the LORD’s love is with those who fear him,
   and his righteousness with their children’s children—
 with those who keep his covenant
   and remember to obey his precepts.
  The LORD has established his throne in heaven, 
   and his kingdom rules over all.
  Praise the LORD, you his angels,
   you mighty ones who do his bidding,
   who obey his word.
 Praise the LORD, all his heavenly hosts,
   you his servants who do his will.
 Praise the LORD, all his works
   everywhere in his dominion.
   Praise the LORD, my soul.  (Psalm 103)  
and to the counting:

an ongoing record of God's goodness, #128-142

forgiveness
healing
redemption
love
compassion

you satisfy my desires with good things
you renew my youth

you seek justice for the oppressed
your Word reveals your faithful work through generations
your character is compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love

you don't repay me according to my sin
you love me with the love of a father for his own child

when all else fades, your love endures

your kingdom rules over all

may its values be mine, and may thanksgiving be the cry of my heart today.


Saturday

happy places. or, ima keep my head up high

last week, i reported that james could say mama, dada, dylan, and stinky.  well, dinnertime is apparently prime language acquisition hour, as well as boisterous family time.  to his repertoire, james has also added thank you, one,  and what is perhaps the funniest two word request from a one year-old:

MORE BUMP!

corey.menscher

that's my boy:)

he fist bumps and then laughs and laughs and laughs.  such joy in that little heart!

we've also been watching this wonderful sesame street clip on repeat, prompting requests from dylan like this little gem:  "daddy, can you break it down, but no singing this time?"



both kids watch and dance around like wildly happy, fuzzy little monsters.  love!

now a question for you:  our kodak easyshare bit the dust, and we are in the market for another modestly-priced digital camera.  any tips?  should we get a kodak or try another brand?  we really don't want to spend more than $150.  help a girl out who knows very little about such things!

edited to add:  jim just came home with a canon power shot.  can't wait to learn it!

have a fist-bumpingly wonderful weekend, friends:)

Tuesday

the one where i may step on toes, but you'll have that sometimes

Kim Baker
amoeck
cranberries
Kim Baker
happy election day.  get your vote on.

(pg-13, just so you know.)

"It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society."

Saturday

ebenezer-raising


 
 

my sweet boy is one!  james' birthday was last weekend, celebrated in hotel rooms and banquet halls as i attended the relevant conference.

not being home, he got a little bit of a raw deal in that there was no official party, but truthfully, we're not much for those around here anyway.

i have photos of j eating his first cupcake and opening presents, but our camera is being uncooperative, so you'll just have to take my word for it that cake was had, and james enjoyed every chocolaty bite:)

my parents came to relevant for two nights to spend time with james, so even though we weren't home, he got lots of wonderful face time with grandma and grandpa.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.  -James 1:17-18
james, sweet boy, you are a precious gift.  your joy and energy bless our home.  you love to play (even independently!) and you are so good with your hands.  you love your big sister, and i am so thankful for how you and dylan play together.
  How good and pleasant it is
       when brothers live together in unity!   It is like precious oil poured on the head,
       running down on the beard,
       running down on Aaron's beard,
       down upon the collar of his robes.

  It is as if the dew of Hermon
       were falling on Mount Zion.
       For there the LORD bestows his blessing,
       even life forevermore.  --Psalm 133
at one, you say mama and dada and a variation of both dylan and stinky;)  you stand with confidence, cruise like a champ, and can take up to four steps.  i think you'll be running after dylan any day now.  you love playing with the kitchen and cars, and you hold up one finger when we ask you how old you are.

one year with james has gone so much faster than dylan's first year.  i'm glad that james is still nursing, so he can be my baby a while longer:)

happy birthday, sweet boy.  we are so thankful that God blessed our family with you.

Wednesday

the only Word that matters

sometimes, it's just good to get away.

after several weeks of parenting challenges, including vampire-babes, sickness, and a few days i longed to wash away, i was beyond happy for a break.

i got one, in the form of Relevant, the blogging conference that wasn't.

what i mean is that it wasn't really about blogging.  not exactly.  i didn't learn any technical tricks or secrets for growing an audience.

i learned much about writing for an Audience of One.  

about blogging-as-ministry:  a platform for telling God's story, his work in my life.

of writing as a gift from God, offered to God.

it was a different sort of blogging conference, and for that i am so thankful.

to hear from godly women was a gift: ann from holy experience, kristen from we are THAT family, jen from balancing beauty and bedlam, courtney from women living wellsally clarkson from and crystal paine shared much wisdom on parenting young children and prioritizing God and family.

it's probably the only blogging conference ever to encourage bloggers to spend less time online, and it was exactly what i needed.

it was fun to meet women who share my faith and love of the written word.  i am grateful for the generous support of my parents, in-laws, and a kind friend who made my attending the relevant conference financially and logistically possible.  you are blessings, all!

the conference closed saturday night with a time of singing.  i love my traditional, liturgical church, but my spirit misses the music that makes me raise hands in praise.  it was good and fitting to worship together, we sisters and members of the [little-c] catholic [big-C] Church.

i hadn't been on a retreat that i hadn't led since college, and relevant felt like one in many ways.  i needed to hear godly teaching, to be challenged and encouraged.  to meet with God.  to enjoy a sabbath from dishes and distraction.

it was restful, even with my nursing baby along for the ride and a busy schedule of seminars.  God always provides, and this weekend he gave me the time, space, and encouragement my heart needed.

  Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;
       my hope comes from him.

  He alone is my rock and my salvation;
       he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.

  My salvation and my honor depend on God;
       he is my mighty rock, my refuge.

  Trust in him at all times, O people;
       pour out your hearts to him,
       for God is our refuge. 
-Psalm 66:5-8

Tuesday

that your soul may live

"Come, all you who are thirsty,
       come to the waters;
       and you who have no money,
       come, buy and eat!
       Come, buy wine and milk
       without money and without cost.




 Why spend money on what is not bread,
       and your labor on what does not satisfy?
       Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
       and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. 


  Give ear and come to me;
      
hear me, that your soul may live.
       I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
       my faithful love promised to David. 


  See, I have made him a witness to the peoples,
       a leader and commander of the peoples. 


  Surely you will summon nations you know not,
       and nations that do not know you will hasten to you,
       because of the LORD your God,
       the Holy One of Israel,
       for he has endowed you with splendor." 


  Seek the LORD while he may be found;
       call on him while he is near. 



Let the wicked forsake his way
       and the evil man his thoughts.
     
  Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him,
       and to our God, for he will freely pardon. 


  "For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
       neither are your ways my ways,"
       declares the LORD. 


  "As the heavens are higher than the earth,
       so are my ways higher than your ways
       and my thoughts than your thoughts. 


  As the rain and the snow
       come down from heaven,
       and do not return to it
       without watering the earth
       and making it bud and flourish,
       so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 


  so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
       It will not return to me empty,
       but will accomplish what I desire
       and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. 



  You will go out in joy
       and be led forth in peace;
       the mountains and hills
       will burst into song before you,
       and all the trees of the field
       will clap their hands. 


  Instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree,
       and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
       This will be for the LORD's renown,
       for an everlasting sign,
       which will not be destroyed."  --Isaiah 55


Sunday

on books and boa constrictors

although her birthday isn't until next month, the librarians kindly made a place for dylan in their three-five year-old story hour class.  parents don't attend this "big" kid class, and my independent girl loves every minute.

i love that she loves it.  library was always my favorite "special" in school.

(i never was the cool kid, which pretty much goes without saying.)

The Day Jimmy's Boa Ate the Washi love a canvas bag, heavy with books, and taking the kids to the library each week is a treat--possibly more for me than for them.  last week, we picked up The Day Jimmy's Boa Ate the Wash, the tale of a class trip to a farm gone awry.  it was a favorite of my first grade class, and i remember reading  it often, twenty-some years ago.  the story and illustrations are silly and fun, and dylan enjoyed it too as we snuggled together one afternoon before her nap.

after jim and dylan dropped james and me at the wonderful Relevant conference in hershey [which i will share about but am still processing], they continued on together for a daddy/daughter weekend in brooklyn.

as they crossed the verrazano bridge, dylan called out to jim [often called jimmy] from the back seat, her eyes twinkling:
"daddy, i'm sorry you lost your boa constrictor at the farm."
she is not even three and is making literary jokes.  my heart might burst.

Wednesday

and the world spins madly on

it's been a bit of a rough season.  summers are stressful with the hours jim works, but life after camp has been a harder transition for the kids than i'd anticipated.  clearly, as it's been two months and we're still working through this.

summer was lonely as life and relationships got swallowed up and time with jim was never enough, but camp did provide consistent structure for the kids.  meals at camp were times we could see jim, however briefly, and they anchored our days.  believe me, i am thankful to be preparing meals again and not to be tethered here at 12:30 and 5:30 every day, but our routine has suffered.

i added back the activities and relationships that were sorely lacking from our summer, and the kids in turn subtracted sleep.  and how!

you know how it goes.  you're out during naptime and your child is too tired to sleep later, ensuring bedtime will require the kind of military precision that is just not possible without, well, a military.  the sleep deficit balloons over days weeks months, kids get sick, and pretty soon you're up from 3-5AM with an exhausted, screaming baby who is nursed and changed and somehow still too tired to sleep.

i can count one one hand the moments both children have napped at the same time in the past two months, which makes it extraordinarily difficult to make a phone call.  or finish the dishes.  or write a blog post.  or take a shower. 

my kids are not-yet-one and not-yet-three.  they need naps.  i need them to nap.

a wicked stomach bug took all four of us down this past weekend, exacerbating our collective sleep woes.  we're healthy now but even more exhausted.


i'm taking the baby to the relevant conference for christian bloggers this weekend.  i'm nervous about it, what with his vampire-like sleep habits, but excited, too.  my parents are meeting me there to help with james.

and i will have some real grown-up time.  with other writers.  women who love Jesus.

and the one upside of all that hoarking last weekend is that i may just fit into a decent outfit or two. 

would you pray for us this weekend, for safe travels and soul rest?  what about you?  may i pray anything on your behalf?  hopefully not in the middle of the night, but between the perfectly prayer-worthy hours of 7AM-11PM.  does that sound good?  great:) 

"He will yet fill your mouth with laughter 
and your lips with shouts of joy"  (Job 8:21).
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