let the hearts of those who seek rejoice

an ongoing record of God's goodness, #164-185

james' first time playing in the snow

warm and fuzzy boy-babe boots and
 little mittened claps

rosy cheeks

snow-bunny camouflage and 
perfect snow angels

an actual photo of me with one of my children

warming up with homemade cocoa, cinnamon and honey-kissed

itty-bitty first braids

cozy wool slippers, crocheted by the one and only stef

yoga with daddy

homeopathic meds that protected me from hoark-fest '11

two beautiful, HEALTHY kids 

bath time giggles
a new semester of MOPS, and a time of laughter and team-building to kick it off

an extraordinarily talented husband who shared with us a good Word and vision for community

a grown-up purchase:  a real table and chairs on its way soon

fantastic new decemberists album

working through the hard stuff

a blue sky monday to open a new week

  Give praise to the LORD, proclaim his name;
   make known among the nations what he has done.
 Sing to him, sing praise to him;
   tell of all his wonderful acts.
 Glory in his holy name;
   let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.
 Look to the LORD and his strength;
   seek his face always. (1 Chronicles 16:8-11)


daughters of jerusalem

{photo credit}

At twenty-two, I let myself be talked into wearing heels at our wedding because
that is what brides do.

Worn once and dirtied from sinking into rain-damp earth,
I tower over my groom in photos and am reminded
of a time I didn't listen to my instincts.

I heed them better at thirty.

Womanhood eludes prescription; their labels run a
size too small to cover any adequately. We are, after all,
created in the image of an infinite, creative God.

Your daughters will prophesy and re-imagine, blaze trails 
and remain faithful to the Spirit poured-out still

I quit trying to squeeze my twice-swelled body into juniors' jeans,
embracing the woman I've become over the girl who once was.

shared with five minute friday at the gypsy mama.  prompt: the women


seeking to represent a great brand at Relevant {sponsor me!}

I have no funny baby stories today.  No meditations, mom confessionspoems, or DIY green tips.  Instead, i  have a bit of bloggy business to propose.

The Relevant Conference: Bringing the World Hope through Social MediaIf you have a natural, handmade, or christian-owned business, how would you like to have an enthusiastic representative promoting you at the Relevant Conference for Christian bloggers?  Over 225 bloggers from all over the US and Canada (with a combined readership in the hundred thousands, at least) will be in attendance, and some great writers will be speaking.  I attended in 2010, and the learning, networking, and encouragement were invaluable.

A partnership could be a perfect fit for both of us:

I can promote your brand with ad space here and in social media, on Twitter.  I'd love to host a giveaway, and I can promote your business at the conference in creative ways we can brainstorm together, like distributing product samples, printing your logo on my business card, or my wearing your product or logo.   In turn, I am seeking full or partial sponsorship of my conference ticket, hotel, and travel expenses.

Please check out my author and partner pages and contact me.  I am happy to answer any questions you may have about the conference, my website, and possible promotions available to full or partial conference sponsors.

Your brand will reap definitely benefits from this kind of online, in-person, and word-of-mouth exposure.  I look forward to attending the fabulous Relevant Conference, collaborating with a like-minded company, and helping expand your reach in social media.

2010 Relevant recap post:  the only Word that matters


renewed, day by day

a wicked virus wreaked havoc on my family this week, taking them down one by one.  i thought we'd turned a corner, but last night was  rough and jim still isn't feeling up to par.

it has been a while since i've counted gifts in this space, but i figured what better time than when i'm otherwise inclined toward grumpiness?

an ongoing record of God's goodness, #143-163

homemade enchiladas shared with friends

swimming lessons.  (i haven't gotten to see my little tadpole in action, but dylan is a water baby from way back and loves her time in the pool.)

zumba, and that it counts as exercise, even when my steps are all wrong;)

my sick kids are more cuddly and polite, so there's the upside to all that hoarking, i suppose

milk from the farm

four laying chickens and midwinter omelets

rainbow peppers, bought on sale

rearranging furniture and organizing projects, to keep us busy on days spent at home

new windows to keep out drafts in our farm house

library books and blankets hand-knit by grandma

a kind camp cook, who sends food home

after a weekend of teaching wilderness first aid in sub-zero temps (with the flu!), jim is home this snowy monday:)

my three loves reading together on the couch, giggling

the fact that i am not sick (yet)

a borrowed (re: free) carpet/upholstery cleaner, ready to do battle against the horrors of the week

thankful for in-home washer/dryer

graceful moments of reconciliation

how good and pleasant it is when brothers and sisters live together in unity

ordering One Thousand Gifts, eager to read in community.  (join us?)

another pittsburgh super bowl!

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. -2 Cor 4:16-18

wounded justice {i still believe}

Photo: Bettmann/CORBIS 1967

I believe that even amid today's motor bursts and whining bullets, there is still hope for a brighter tomorrow. I believe that wounded justice, lying prostrate on the blood-flowing streets of our nations, can be lifted from this dust of shame to reign supreme among the children of men.

I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits. I believe that what self-centered men have torn down, men other-centered can build up. I still believe that one day mankind will bow before the altars of God and be crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed, and nonviolent redemptive goodwill will proclaim the rule of the land.

"And the lion and the lamb shall lie down together and every man shall sit under his own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid."

I still believe that we shall overcome.

This faith can give us courage to face the uncertainties of the future. It will give our tired feet new strength as we continue our forward stride toward the city of freedom. When our days become dreary with low-hovering clouds and our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, we will know that we are living in the creative turmoil of a genuine civilization struggling to be born.

December 10, 1964.  Excerpted from the Noble Prize Acceptance Speech of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


tell me a story [de-lurk!]

photo:  neal gillis

apparently, it is de-lurking day, which could be construed as a ploy for comments, but i prefer to look at it as an opportunity to hear from you:)

i know since i changed to Disqus comments, it threw Blogger folks for a loop, but it's not that hard to work, i promise (and you don't have that mind-numbing word verification step.  you're welcome.)

just fill out your name and email, and you are good to go.  if you have a website, would you please fill that out, too, so your comment links back to your site and the rest of us can find our way over? (you can also log in with facebook, yahoo, or twitter.)

but best yet, take two minutes and create a Disqus account (from within the comment box).  that way, your info will automatically fill in every time, easy as pie.  (it will remember your password and everything.)  also, if someone replies to your comment, Disqus will email it to you and you won't miss it if you aren't in the habit of checking back (which i never do.)

you can upload a photo to your Disqus profile, too, or register a universal one over at and it will show up in comments across the web.

soooo, tell me a story!  a little about you.  or anything.  de-lurk!  i love finding new blogs, and if you fill out your website, i'd love to check you out, too.

happy friday, friends!

probably {some noes were a yes}

i probably shouldn't let them play in the blinds at church.
chasing and spinning like that, someone could put an eye out!
or pull them down in a heap.  they're probably quite expensive
(it's a rather fancy place)

but i let them run wild, for what might it hurt if
some noes were a yes after all?

two grins wide in wonder for the thrill of it
the silliness and joy at glee-filled games.
perhaps i should have stopped them, but
this time
i'm altogether grateful i did not

linking up with the gypsy mama's five minute friday and amy's finer things friday.


the work and the Word

i couldn't do it. name one word for 2011, that is.

i wasn't even sure i wanted to, after reflecting back on my words from new years' past, but they drew me in nevertheless.

words like fire by which to warm my hands and light my path.

fort worth squatch

it's difficult to imagine getting a tattoo, because there is no one image i'd want to bear forever, but a word inscribed to remind me daily of my heart's desire and purpose?

the allure is not lost on me.

the words (the very Word!) call to me again.  not one this year, but several :


i suspect that too-inward a focus is the source of much heart-unrest.  it is not lost on me that blogging can be indulgently introspective, and i may be called to a different sort of posting in this new year.

self-focus is selfish, of course, and disobedient, but it also robs me of joy.

verses from psalm 121 echo in my heart:
I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
   where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
   the Maker of heaven and earth.
a psalm of ascent.  the song of the pilgrims' upward trek to jerusalem, to God's temple for worship.


i want to lift my eyes,

                             my hands,

                                    my heart to God.

to worship.  to seek his counsel and presence and grace.

to dwell less on myself and more on Jesus. 


similarly, i feel a stirring to direct my attentions away from myself and onto others.

you know, just the daily, lifelong struggle.

to love and serve my family in our daily life together.  to turn off the computer.  to say yes.

to wallow less and practice hospitality more.  to reach out.  to create community.


i don't mean this in a jurgis "i will work harder" kind of way. (which would be depressing.  and pretty destined for failure.)

jim shared this passage with me not long ago:
David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the LORD is finished. (1 chronicles 28:20)
by God's power and grace we are transformed, so we need not feel discouraged at our lack of progress or afraid that our hopes are too big.  it is God who works a change, not our effort, toil, wanting, or striving. 

but still, i must show up.  i must allow God room in my life to move and work. to be open and receptive and faithful in small things.

being the mom (and wife and friend and leader and writer) i want to be involves work.

practicing grace and hospitality is a practice.

focusing my attention on God means setting the alarm, waking before the kids, and creating that space--without distraction--to rest in God's presence.

i need to do the work.  not to be better, but to be available.

to make ready a heart for God to transform.

sharing grace-stories with emily, alita, and ann.

did you pick a word for the new year?  do you make resolutions or goals?  how do you create habits that stick?


on the doorframes of your houses

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.  Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.  Deuteronomy 6:4-9
when i was a youth minister, i celebrated an interesting liturgy with my students to mark the new year and epiphany:  using chalk to etch out a blessing and reminder of where to orient our hearts in the new year.
20 CMB 11

the CMB stands for Christus Mansionem Benedicat, Latin for "May Christ Bless This House."

it also recalls the (apocryphal) names of the three wise men (casper, melchior, and balthazar), who followed the star from the east and symbolize that the Light of Christ is for all people.

my students loved it, because we gave them freedom to chalk up the doorframes in our youth room.

the elders?  not so much.

i figured dylan would appreciate the house-chalking, too, and she definitely did--so much that we went ahead and did our bedroom doors too.

a little searching yields a number of beautiful liturgies and prayers for the blessing of a home.  i look forward to compiling resources and crafting a liturgy for our family to use each year together.

God, your Son whom wise men sought is the Word who dwells among us.  Set apart this home and us this year, that we may love and serve you in hospitality, humility, and joy.  Guard our going out and our coming in, and fill us with your peace.  Through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

does your family mark the new year in any particular way?  i love hearing about traditions as we begin creating our own.


birth of a new year {when the time was fulfilled}

While Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem, the time was fulfilled for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.  Luke 2:6-7

“ When the time was fulfilled…” These words have such redeeming power! In the midst of our daily life we often preoccupy ourselves with those things we think serve God and his cause. We work until we are weary to the bone and yet see so little fruit. Does everything remain as it was? Haven’t we made any progress? Have we actually helped at all, or have we merely scratched the surface of things? Is there any trace or glimpse of the goal we long for? What do all our efforts amount to in the face of all the forces of misery and evil in the world?

Left before such agonizing questions, it is good to remember the light that shines from the stable of Bethlehem, for it is here we are able to sense what it means that the kingdom of God came as a little child...

...This is how it will be with our yearning for redemption. When we are discouraged by the apparently slow progress of all our honest efforts, by the failure of this or that person, and by the ever new reappearance of enemy powers and their apparent victories, then we should know: the time shall be fulfilled. Because of the noise and activity of the struggle and the work, we often do not hear the hidden gentle sound and movement of the life that is coming into being. But here and there, at hours that are blessed, God lets us feel how he is everywhere at work and how his cause is growing and moving forward. The time is being fulfilled and the light shall shine, perhaps just when it seems that the darkness is impenetrable...

this excerpt is from Eberhard Arnold's "When the Time Was Fulfilled," a meditation from the wondrous Watch For The Light: Readings For Advent And Christmas.  i thought it was out of print and then discovered not only can you get it on amazon, the publisher has dozens of other titles available for free as pdf files.  i recommend visiting Plough and reading the whole essay:  it's on pages 9-12.  i've read it a few times and it haunts me in the best of ways.

in 2009 and 2010, i picked a word--shalom and cultivate, respectively--to orient my heart and year toward.  i loved the idea, but in practice, found it to be not all that different from (not) keeping new year's resolutions.

rereading my posts i felt discouraged.  the desires still resonate deeply, but where was the progress and measurable growth?  this new year had barely dawned and already i felt defeated--until arnold's words reminded me that God is at work, whether i perceive it or not.  his Light shines in the darkness.  the Kingdom is advancing--even within this selfish, broken heart.

may God's great grace envelop you--and me--this year as we seek his face.
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