merry christmas! (in july)

in celebration of christmas in july, the camp staff dressed up in fun and foolishness that rivaled our ugly sweater christmas party.

may your weekend be full of comfort and joy, yuletide cheer, and general jolliness.

God bless us, every one!


the ministry of reconciliation

public speaking terrifies me.  it doesn't matter how prepared i am or how passionate about the topic:  i will stumble awkwardly over my words, and i will turn red.

it starts at my chest:  blotchy patches climb and spread up my neck like poison ivy and my fair cheeks flush with embarrassment.  i sweat.  it's awful.

despite all that, i agreed to be the speaker at worship at camp last sunday.  they asked, and it was one of those things i felt i "should" do.  not out of obligation--it's a big staff and someone else could have done it.  i said yes because it's important to hear women's voices, especially in the Church, and saying no felt like a step backward.

i spoke about a passage in 2 corinthians about reconciliation and being a new creation in Christ.  it's a favorite passage, but i can't explain why it stood out to me as a topic for camp.

summer camp requires jim to work most hours he's awake.  to say he's not home much doesn't really get at the scope of his commitment there.  we try to go to camp to see him for meals, but dozens of staff vie for his attention (not to mention our two little ones), and we don't connect.

last night, after the kids went to bed, we had one of those discussions that twists your stomach in knots.  the kind where time ticks by and no progress is made. 

but this time, we didn't give up.  we didn't yell or walk away frustrated.  we chose not to surrender to disconnect or lack of understanding.

we did the work of reconciliation.

we listened and heard and understood.  we apologized.  we experienced the grace of being known and loved still.  we glimpsed in one another what it is to re-created:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.

the new has come.  day by day, moment by moment, God's grace reveals itself.

and we are transformed.

Bigger Picture Moment


embodied prayer

sunday, on a rare afternoon and evening off from camp, our family was able to attend the baptism of the infant daughter of new friends.  the service began at the entrance to the basilica, symbolic of miss zoe abigail's entrance into the family of God.  it was lovely and we were thankful to be there in support.

after the priest baptized the baby, her parents dressed her in an ornamental white gown.  i'd never seen that done before during the sacrament, and it was such a fitting symbol of new life in Christ.  (her sweet name even means "life.")

anyone who's ever dressed a newborn knows how tricksy a maneuver that can be.  it was also about 90 degrees in the church.  after being woken, doused with holy water, and clumsily dressed, predictably, the baby started to scream.  unpredictably, my friend put the babe to her breast without skipping a beat.  zoe quieted immediately and nursed contentedly.

it was one of the most beautiful things i have ever seen.

here was a brand-new mom, who has only been nursing a few short weeks.  all eyes were on her and her baby, and yet she felt confident enough--at the baptismal font, no less!-- to put caring for her child ahead of pleasing the assembled congregants.  she didn't let any convention or embarrassment prevent her from giving her daughter exactly what she needed.

throughout the rest of the baptism service--the blessing, prayers, and even pictures--zoe nursed happily and quietly.

breastfeeding is a natural, nurturing, beautiful thing.  cheers to not hiding away in fear or shame, but celebrating, worshiping, and living a fully-embodied, God-honoring life.
"Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne?  Though she may forget, I will not forget you!  See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands."  (Isaiah 46:15-16)
for more "lactivism" from a christian perspective, i recommend this wonderful post, breastfeeding as worship from SortaCrunchy.


on feminism, gardening, and raising chickens

from the new york times:
All of these gals — these chicks with chicks — are stay-at-home moms, highly educated women who left the work force to care for kith and kin. I don’t think that’s a coincidence: the omnivore’s dilemma has provided an unexpected out from the feminist predicament, a way for women to embrace homemaking without becoming Betty Draper.

who knew tradition could be so progressive? ;)

if you read the article, i'd love to hear what you think.


toxic chemicals safety act

from the Environmental Working Group:
The toxics reform bill, H.R. 5820, the Toxic Chemicals Safety Act, has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Chairmen Waxman (CA-30) and Rush (IL-01). Toxics reform is now moving through both houses of Congress. It has never been more important for Congress to know that we want the strongest and most effective toxics bill possible -- we need companies to prove that chemicals are safe before they hit our supermarket shelves.
click to sign the petition. while you're there, check out their sunscreen safety guide or skin deep: cosmetic safety database.  EWG does good work, and this newly introduced legislation is encouraging.

let's get carcinogens, endocrine-disruptors, and other toxics out of toys, food packaging, textiles, beauty products--and our bodies.  it is outrageous that chemical additives can come to market without rigorous testing.  non-toxic alternatives should not be the luxury of the wealthy or well-informed only:  no one wants a side of cancer with their consumer goods.


the firstborn and the baby

as dylan is not yet three, she's too little for vacation bible school this summer.  similarly, pre-school isn't in her immediate future, but i find myself strangely eager for her to have those experiences and disappointed that her fall birthday makes her miss out.

she is a sociable, independent little thing who would love vbs, but she's two and a half:  dylan doesn't know what she's "missing."  [songs?  graham crackers?]  sliding boards, library books, and other simple joys are more than sufficient in this season of life.  dylan has plenty of time for the experience of school.  why am i in such a hurry?

as my firstborn, each of dylan's milestone is a first for me, too.  although i don't want to be that parent living vicariously through her child, her firsts are our family's firsts, and there is something exciting about that.

i'm also starting to realize that i feel differently about james.  last week, he cut two little teeth, and i actually felt sad.  my sweet boy is nine months old, and that gummy infant smile is disappearing. 

acknowledging this in type feels ridiculous.  of course kids grow.  it's not something to be rushed or mourned--it just is.

i know that.  i certainly don't want to miss today wishing dylan into The Next Thing, but my heart will ache a little as that toothless grin fades away.


if it smells like death, it's probably dead

i hesitate to share this story because somethings are better left unsaid.  it will certainly shatter any idyllic notions you may have of country life, so if you're looking for a sweet story, stop right now.  what follows is not for you.  read this post instead.  don't continue reading,  and you definitely shouldn't read this old story, either. consider yourself warned.

anyway, winter lasted forever this year.  the snow barely melted in time for my birthday (march 19), and a few short days before that i was still precariously hiking an infant car seat over ice and through elbow-high snow drifts that lingered imposingly between our house and the car.

even after the snow melted, it stayed chilly for a while, but by the end of april, things were finally beginning to warm.

that's when it started to stink.

we'd had bunnies living under our deck all winter, and i figured one must have died right under the deck.  every time you opened the door to the outside, the stink would stop you dead in your tracks.  for some reason, it seemed to be getting worse instead of better.

"it smells like dead bunny!  is that what you think it is?" i asked jim.

"yeah, must be," jim maintained.

except it wasn't dead bunnies.  at some point, jim realized this and yet kept his guilty silence. 

dead bunnies.  if only it had been dead bunnies.

probably a good two weeks passed.  it was now the month of may.  i stepped out of the house to call the dog.  first i smelled it and then i saw it:  antlers poking out the top of a huge metal pot at the far corner of our yard.


the head was from a deer that jim's friend's dad had taken during archery season.  back in december.  jim had the head because he was supposed to "prepare" the skull for display.

(i know:  ew.  if only that were where our story ended.)

so jim took the head, put it in a bucket, stuck it directly next to the house, and proceeded to forget about if for FIVE MONTHS.


deer killed, head put into bucket, bucket put outside my laundry room

  13 feet of snow dump on bucket/head

snow melts, turns bucket into vat of head juice

weather warms, head decays, festering bucket mess stinks up yard, jim decides to wait it out.

sun shines, head smells even stank-nastier, jim moves buckets mess to corner of yard, dog plays, suzannah discovers, jim "handles it."  smell continues, suzannah inquires, jim reveals that "handling it" entailed dumping bucket mess in corner of yard.  suzannah makes jim dump gallons of water on mess, lingering stank-of-death subsides.  jim does whatever the heck he was supposed to do to "prepare" the head for display.

jim gives skull to friend's dad and earns $50.

it all sounds worth it to you, right?

the whole reason i thought about this today was that last night the kitchen smelled like death. jim started work on the dishes. remnants of a milky sippy cup left unpleasant odors, but that was the least of it. after the dishes were done and the trash emptied, the stink lingered. jim investigated under the sink, where he found a mouse, dead in a trap he'd set OVER A MONTH AGO. who knows how long it had been dead?

at least jim was the one who discovered it. i don't think i could have kept my dinner down.

is it too much to ask that if a person sets a mouse trap, he checks said mouse trap?

and for-the-love-of-all-things-good-and-holy, if you put a deer head in a bucket, could you NOT put it outside my laundry room and leave it there for FIVE months?

that would be great.

linked up with kristen's keepin' it real over at rage against the minivan. 
image source


re-use & re-purpose: mason jars for drinking

the glassware that jim and i received when we married broke within the first two years.  we replaced our initial glasses three times and only one remains--out of nearly three dozen!  we aren't extraordinarily clumsy, and this was long before we had kids.  we weren't juggling them or throwing them against walls:  they were just ridiculously fragile and clearly not made for everyday use.

at the risk of sounding eighty years old, they just don't make things like they used to.  consumer goods are made cheaply to wear fast and be replaced.  in the spirit of stewardship, i try to repair broken things--even if it costs more-- before running out to buy another, and having to throw away poorly made products that cannot be fixed makes this green mama feel sick.  i needed a solution to this broken glass predicament than didn't involve just buying more every few years.

last summer i visited my vintage-loving sister in brooklyn and learned her secret to glassware that goes the distance:  mason jars.

image source

little ones are perfect for juice, and bigger ones make great water glasses.  they are strong, sturdy, and virtually indestructible.  jellies and sauces often come in mason jars, and you can find them at secondhand shops, supermarkets, or garden stores for less than the cost of drinking glasses.  the best part was that we already had many in the pantry because we'd decided to stop recycling glass and set it aside to re-purpose instead.  recycling is crucial way to care for creation, but since it uses a great deal of energy, re-using/re-purposing is usually the better bet.

my friend uses mason jar as travel mugs.  who needs expensive stainless steel when you can use a mason jar as your bpa-free water bottle?  i use large ones in my pantry to store bulk dry goods.  mason jars also make lovely vases, and we poke holes in the lids and use them as baking soda shakers for cleaning tasks around the house, too.

at the table,  my two year-old gets a small mason or baby food jar for water or snacks.  they are fun-sized, sturdy, and easy for little hands to grasp.

re-purposing mason jars and baby food jars breaks the broken glass consumerist cycle without resorting to chemical-leaching plastics.  there is a certain charm to drinking from an old-fashioned mason jars, and my earth-loving heart is happy again.

shared with Your Green Resource, hosted by A Delightful Home, SortaCrunchy, Live Renewed, and The Greenback Gal.


persevere in love

in honor of my sister's engagement, i wanted to write something about marriage.  about grace and service.  about dying to self.  about sacrifice and shared ministry.  about being known and loved anyway.  about forgiveness.

but these ideas seemed so lofty, and i didn't have the words yet.  so i shall share lauren winner's words, and she's got some goodies.  b, this is for you, and it's about community, so it's right up your alley.  we all could use a reminder that our relationships are not meant to stand alone, and that marriage exists in a larger context:
"Insofar as marriage tells the Christian community a particular story, marriage is for the community. It reminds us of the communion and community that is possible between and among people who have been made new creatures in Christ. And it hints at the eschatological union between Christ and the Church. As Catholic ethicist Julie Hanlon Rubio has put it, “marriage consists not simply or even primarily of a personal relationship. Rather, it crystallizes the love of the larger church community. The couple is not just two-in-one, but two together within the whole, with specific responsibility for the whole. . They must persevere in love, because the community needs to see God’s love actualized among God’s people.” The inflections of community are important because they get at the very meanings of marriage. Marriage is a gift God gives the church. He does not simply give it to the married people of the church, but to the whole church, just as marriage is designed not only for the benefit of the married couple. It is designed to tell a story to the entire church, a story about God’s own love and fidelity to us."
it's a heady task, this marriage as living-out God's grace in community, but i know that you and jerod are up for its challenges and joys.  we are bursting with excitement for you both!


in summer, the song sings itself*

we'd been driving close to an hour, lost on a country road, far from the promised land of playgrounds, slides, and kids to play with.

but my social butterfly (ever- longing for adventure and company) was not impatient:  not like her mama, who grew more tense with each passing cornfield and detour.

her little voice sung out from the back seat.  "it's ok, mommy.  don't be frustrated."

out of the mouths of sweet babes.

i took a deep breath, forgot the playground, and we made an unplanned stop at idlewild for an afternoon that redeemed a frazzled morning.

it wasn't what we'd set out to do, but apparently God had other plans.

and they were lovely.

an ongoing list of God's goodness, #35-50

swimming in rainbows

TWO rides on the carousel, one after the other

fifty cent baby cones

a cooperative toddler makes unexpected treats a treasure

my baby sister, born 25 years ago, and her ENGAGEMENT!  may their joy continue to overflow.

the bluest baby blues

sitting on the porch, watching the rain

cool summer breezes, long absent and much welcomed

our little garden that could, despite my lack of attention

fresh-cut herbs brighten simple dishes

hanging diapers to dry on the line

impromptu picnics in the yard

a festive mexican brunch with friends

sunday night concerts on the diamond draw happy kids to play

the last of the lilies and a reminder of God's promise:

See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.  (Matt 6:28-34)

tuesdays unwrapped at cats

holy experience

ShoutLaughLove is tuesday:  i hope you'll come back and link:) 

 *william carlos williams


green and sexy. and also nerdy.

click on over to so much reviews for a chance to win five envirosax reusable shopping totes.  aren't they pretty?

the set is called la boheme, which has had me singing RENT to myself all week.  cuz i like show tunes like that.

when i was in eighth grade, i had this tee shirt that said "green:  it's not just a color, it's an attitude."

that's me:  earth-conscious and nerdy since 1993--at least.

good luck, and happy friday!


the seventh of july

because independence day fell on a sunday, camp started one day late, which is why we were able to get away to the cottage overnight.  longtime campers did not want to miss celebrating the fourth ligonier-style, so they did:  on the seventh.

here are a few pictures from what has got to be one of the strangest parades anywhere:

yeah, that's a gorilla with a water hose

rag tag marching band, with full choreography

ummm, my husband

adventure staff float

there were costumed people on mowers, a ninja motorcylist, uncle sam on a moped, a bezazzled black horse and rider, golf cars, trucks, a former miss ligonier, kids on bikes, and a host of painted counselors in tutus, streamers and all shades of red, white, and blue.
you've never seen a more festive seventh of july:)

i wish you could see james' "my first fourth of july" bib, worn as cape, just like daddy.

at bedtime, dylan and i did fill in the blank prayers.  "thank you, God, for..."

dylan decided on "crowns and costumes, balloons, water, and hotdogs."

absolutely, baby.  i'm thankful, too.

some things never change:)


eight is great

my sweet boy is eight months old.  james is sitting up, crawling, and feeding himself watermelon like a big kid.  he's starting to babble, and i swear i heard "mama" today.

i can hardly stand it.

admitedly, i've been coaching him.  "say 'mama!  ma-ma-ma-ma.'"

dylan hears this and says, "noooo!  call her 'momm-mee'  your name is mommy!"

is it just me, or is there something romantic about mama?  mommy is the frazzled, unwashed woman with spit-up in her hair, but mama reads books and rolls cookie dough and lets you dig in the garden.

no, just me?

i'm holding out for mama this time around, but it's not looking promising.

james laughs loudly and often, and the sound of both kids playing together makes hearts light.  baby laughter is one of the best sounds in all the world.

it's strange to think that nine months ago i was still pregnant.  james grew within me longer than he's lived and breathed here with us.

sweet baby james, your eight short months have blessed us with joy immeasurable.  you are a delight and a treasure.

Psalm 126--A song of ascents.   

1 When the LORD brought back the captives to Zion,
       we were like men who dreamed.

 2 Our mouths were filled with laughter,
       our tongues with songs of joy.
       Then it was said among the nations,
       "The LORD has done great things for them."

 3 The LORD has done great things for us,
       and we are filled with joy.

 4 Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
       like streams in the Negev.

 5 Those who sow in tears
       will reap with songs of joy.

 6 He who goes out weeping,
       carrying seed to sow,
       will return with songs of joy,
       carrying sheaves with him.


a cup of cool water

it was only 24 hours, but it was like a cup of cool water in the heat of a harried summer camp season.  a true independence day.

we packed up the kids and met jim's parents for one night and day at the little cottage his grandfather built.  none of us had been in five long years, and the unanticipated window of time there was an incredible and providential blessing.

time away.  time together.  time on the water.

the very best.

an ongoing record of God's goodness, #17-34

freedom from schedules and work calls, early morning meetings and late-night texts

luscious, lazy hours on the boat

baby giggles at sea breezes, cool on chubby cheeks

windswept wild-child hair

celebrating grammy's birthday

naps for all

soaring eagles

graceful herons

rainbow-hued sailboats and water like glass

seashells in little hands

sand in toes

dining al fresco

tiny-faced, fuzzy raccoons, asleep in treetops

feeding stale bread to greedy-mouthed carp (more than you could--or would want--to imagine!)

over-excited kids who kept it together

scattered, glittered glimpses of fireworks across our trek home

both kids sleeping in this morning, recovering from adventure and missed bedtimes

and naps to boot, while mama enjoys the quiet here:)

"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.  (Isaiah 55:1-2)

image source

ShoutLaughLove is tuesday:  i hope you'll come back and link:)

tuesdays unwrapped at cats

holy experience


i'm guest posting a recipe today for kelly at quest for real food, so if you're in the mood for something hot, fresh, and latin, come on over.  stay a while to check out her site, all about local, healthful eating.


the delight of dad

he tries to make it home for bedtime

for baths and brushing,
songs and snuggles, stories and
full-hearted prayers from tiny lips.

we soak in daddy time:
bedtime ritual and moments at meals
amidst the din of the dining hall
masterpieces in chalk, scribbled on concrete
stolen moments between meals and Gold Rush.

but Today
All Day Long (and Tonight, too!)
is Daddy Day:

four in a bed on a lazy thursday
giggles and smiles
made-up games and baby laughter

watered chickens and fresh-picked eggs

to the bakery
for breakfast sandwiches and raspberry rolls
packed into a cooler and
shared at the loveliest of parks

tucked behind a cluster of trees
a stone's throw from the four lane divided highway
hidden in plain sight,
the fisherman's treasure

and ours.

"There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God."  --Hebrews 4:9
Bigger Picture Moment

hosted this week by corinne

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