raise a glass to turnings of the season

So raise a glass to turnings of the season
And watch it as it arcs towards the sun
And you must bear your neighbor's burden within reason
And your labors will be born when all is done

Let the yoke fall from our shoulders
Don't carry it all, don't carry it all
We are all our hands and holders
Beneath this bold and brilliant sun

- "don't carry it all," the decemberists

an ongoing record of God's goodness, #186 - 208

finding out that after a marathon year of surgeries and treatment and so much struggle, tiffany is cancer-free!

gathering (all ten of us!) for a weekend of celebration and skiing

replete with fireworks over the slopes

{image source}
james and dylan soaking in every minute with their grandparents, aunts, and uncles

meals provided and shared together.  it doesn't happen often enough, and we savored our time.

getting our tax refund and along with it, our first computer and ipod. yes, we realize it is 2011.  always late to the ball;)

i can tweet and facebook from a handheld device.  from my couch.  what?  we haven't even loaded music and i'm already smitten.

(jim is thankful for angry birds)

a speaker booked for our MOPS retreat and beginning preparations:)

a new (hardcore!) friend and early morning work-outs before the sunrise

time for me and God before the babes wake

tracing a trajectory of grace in my life

anticipating getting ShoutLaughLove: postcards from along the pilgrims' way back off the ground tuesdays this spring--and hearing more of your stories:)

snuggling up cozy and reading to my two tiny book lovers

that my 16 month old "reads" himself to sleep every naptime.  my heart.

and james actually slept through the night this weekend.  twice!

a trip into pittsburgh and reconnecting with beloved students and friends

baba ganoush in the city.  mmmm.

discovering my missing book beneath the couch and absorbing the grace of eucharisteo in one thousand gifts

the joy of melted snow--even if our yard and driveway (and basement) are under water;)

spring's hopeful promise of new life

daffodil leaves already reaching through soil for sky

trees tapped and the promise of maple syrup from our very backyard


what joys are cheering your heart on this last day of february?


the dare

five years ago my heart burned with disappointment and anger.  the one good job prospect in this tiny town had exploded dramatically in my face.  as i drove home after a long and sleepless weekend away, dark clouds rolled in, black as my mood.

the rain began to fall, beating hard and fast on the windshield.  i got home and barely greeted jim.  i had to get to the gas station, not for gas but newspapers.  two of them:  the city paper and the local favorite that put sports and opinion on page one.  having to buy it again--for the classifieds i'd hope not to need again--was another insult to my already injured ego.

the tears welled up in my eyes and spilled down over cheeks, flushed hot with anger and exhaustion.  i was so very tired of the loneliness and the waitressing and the small town that didn't have enough room.

i scanned the living room for my wallet and caught a glimpse of the sun through the glass.  through the rain. 

there had better be a rainbow.

i stood out on the deck and looked at the sky, daring God to provide.

i do believe.  help me overcome my unbelief.

shared with the gypsy mama's five minute friday.  prompt: "five years ago"


for three strange days

the sun shone.  the snow melted.  the sap ran, and babes and chickens followed suit.

you wouldn't know it from the snow that melts in our mud room or the pile of boots at the door, but we've caught a glimpse of spring.  it grows now, even in the dark, under a cold cover of white.

a balm for this winter-weary soul.


ShoutLaughLove: resurrect a tuesday meme?

back in the summer, i hosted a link-up called ShoutLaughLove: postcards from along the pilgrims' way.

so much shouting, so much laughter

If life is a journey, our traveling companions lighten the load, shine a light, and tell the funny stories that make the trip memorable.  The goal of ShoutLaughLove is to create a place to wrestle through life's challenges and celebrate joy in the everyday together.

Shout, because we are passionate and feisty.
Laugh, because life is strange and full of surprise.
Love, because that is for what we were created.

Anyone can participate in ShoutLaughLove:  just link a post illuminating the truth, humor, difficulty, or beauty of your journey at this moment in time.  Share something that fired you up or made you smile.  Write about what's helping you hold it together (or not).  If you are learning, struggling, or celebrating, share your story here.

the idea was not to write a special post for the meme, but rather to just link up whatever story you were already telling and introduce us to some new voices.

soon after i started it, i discovered chatting at the sky and tuesdays unwrapped, which was a wonderful already established link up and community of similar voices.  emily is not hosting that anymore and i don't participate in any other tuesday link ups, so i'm wondering, it it worth dusting off ShoutLaughLove and bringing it back?  would anyone want a place to link storytelling posts on tuesdays?  also, can anyone recommend another free linky service?  (linky tools became a pay service.)

i hope that you all are enjoying a beautiful week.  God treated us to a few brilliant days of spring-like weather, and we are again covered again in eight inches of fresh powder.  i won't complain, though, because it's just in time for my family to come out for a ski weekend:)  also, jim is off today--two days in a row!--which is as close to a "real" weekend as we've had together in a while.

happy tuesday, friends!


a delicious vintage

amongst friends but all alone

the lyric from the brit-pop band james resonated deeply in my fifteen year-old heart.

a dramatic little thing, wasn't i?  but i suppose all teenagers are.

to my dismay, i learned that high school didn't have a monopoly on loneliness:  my late twenties, at home with babies, were even more isolating.

but a light (a Light even?) shines in my thirties.

i wouldn't yet call myself "amongst friends" but neither do i feel all alone.  friendships grow, not like the wildflowers, which spring up overnight in bursts of violet and gold.  mine age like wine, slow and deliberate.

i learn to savor every sip.

{image source}

shared with the gypsy mama's five minute friday.


and the day yet to begin

today began at 4:55.  after nursing james, i tucked him back into bed and dressed in the dark.

i am so not a morning person.

my bleary eyes have seen wee hours plentiful.  in my younger days, it was because i hadn't yet been to bed:  papers and projects and conversations engaged me while others slept.  i've woken early for work, brewing coffee in the pre-dawn hours for commuters and college kids at--count 'em--four coffee shops.  these days, it's the breastfed babes and sick kids who keep the crazy hours, and we meet their needs before dawn breaks.

until today, i never got up that early for me.

the house was quiet as i laced my boots.  i stepped onto the deck and caught my breath:  the moon shone larger-than-life on the horizon, swollen gold and appearing bigger than the still-sleeping sun.

a strange, luminous gift to light a new path.

photo by chris demayo
The day is yours, and yours also the night;
   you established the sun and moon. -Psalm 74:16

shared with melissa and the bigger picture beauties as well as emily's imperfect prose.
are you a morning or night person?  how do you create time for yourself in the stillness?


oh, my heart!

happy valentine's day

love, mumford & sons, the avett brothers, bob dylan
{and me}


it was a week

1.  our church organized a series of dinner parties tonight, assigning everyone to groups and hosts.  good conversation, good food, good wine, lots of laughter.  we don't typically socialize much with people from church--or much at all, if we're being honest--and it was much fun and so good to be among grown-ups.  lovely.

2.  also?  friends from another church were hosting a kids' night/babysitting thing, so we just dropped the babes off.  for free.  amazing.

3.  i actually had another night out this week--completely orchestrated by jim.  it was a rough day, so he texted my friend and told her to take me out, cuz he's tricksy like that.  we went out for a drink.  by ourselves.  magical.

4.  my kids love music.  i guess most kids do.  anyway, james hears a beat and starts his signature move which jim refers to as The Ninja.  it involves him slicing through the air.  it is awesome.

5.  this has been the season of Things Fall Apart.  last month it was the washer.  this week was the dryer, the freezer, the fridge, AND the water--but i think we are back in business now.  well, the internet is pretty bad, but i'm online now--and thankful not to be the home-owner.

6.  mason, from new ways forward, writes thoughtfully about the Church and culture--definitely worth checking out.  he has a gig with zondervan promoting a new book about women and the global church, and if you are a blogger and would be interested in reviewing it/hosting a giveaway, would you drop him a line? newways (at) ymail dot com

7.  speaking of giveaways, i'm pumped because i won three this week!  thanks to domestic but not martha / designs by dana, the extraordinary ordinary / the pleated poppy, the tuckers take tennessee / poppie lanehappy:)

and a picture:  my black and gold babes:

sweet things
happy weekend, friends:)

linked up with 7 Quick Takes and Five Minute Friday.


warming up to beauty

life's been a little rocky around here lately.  grumpy kids with colds, sleepless nights (and naps), and so. very. much. snow. and. cold. and. ice.

but apparently a groundhog didn't see his shadow and spring is on its way.  a strange little tradition, surely, but hope is hope, and i'll take two.

i need to get out of my house and see green again.  we all do.  my babes are not much for playing indoors and they're small to play outside in frigid temps for long.  afternoons at home can feel a million hours long.

but jim is back from his trip, so i can tag out a little a night.  our vintage kitchen aid buzzes as jim and dylan craft pancakes together.  breakfast-for-dinner cheers a weary soul, i think.  especially when someone else makes it!

you know what else does, even though the anti-materialist in me hates to admit it?

brand spanking new furniture:

i should have taken a before picture.  our old table was a garage sale find from jim's single days, and it was definitely worse for the wear.  the buffet in the back was our make-shift changing table with bins, buckets, and clutter abounding, but no more.  the dining room was also the temporary home of the kids' expansive train table, the treasure we picked up on craigslist for christmas.  now it's tucked away upstairs in dylan's bedroom, and our dining room is a haven.

i love having something big enough to host friends and set with a centerpiece.  we can share meals with toddlers and still enjoy beauty.

and that yellow runner?  spring beckons.

are you a cold weather lover, hater, or somewhere in between?  if you have little ones, any tips for keeping them busy indoors for longer than three minutes at a time?  what is cheering your heart lately?


the steelers are God's team

super bowl '09, before we added another babe to the steeler nation;)
not being especially sporty, i can't in good conscience call myself a football fan, but i do own a terrible towel, two steelers tees, and i love pittsburgh something fierce. i had a mini crush on coach cowher and love mike tomlin even more.  (he went to william and mary: tribe pride!)

the following gem is an excerpt from"73 Reasons We're Living in a Golden Age of Football" and appeared in the September 2008 issue of GQ. this section is by Jean Marie Laskasis:

A Steelers game is a holy war, a fight for what is virtuous and right. To live here in Pittsburgh, where Heinz Field sits like a fat temple bursting with kielbasa-loving believers, is to know all there is to know. 

Unflinching, unconditional, ours is a faith handed to us from grandpa or great-grandpa, the guy who first got the season tickets and passed them down through generations. (The waiting list for season tickets is ten years long- you have to wait until someone dies.) Divorcing couples have been known to wage custody battles over season tickets; ex-husbands give in and sit with ex-wives, sharing nachos and cold Iron. Hey, it's the Steelers.

We are born into our religion, and we are baptized, and we receive our communion. A Steelers fan never strays. You move to Denver, or to some fancy Sunbelt place, or even to California, you stay a Steeler fan. People say the Cowboys are America's team, and we think that is so adorable. So very precious. Listen people: the Steelers are God's team. 

Hometown boy Bill Cowher having passed along to sainthood, we embrace a new messiah, Mike Tomlin, trusting in the guidance of our holiest family, the Rooneys (because they're from Pittsburgh). And now, of course, we have big Ben Roethlisberger, who can make us more than a tiny bit nervous, and Hines Ward, with his eternal smile (he smiles, we think, because he gets to play for Pittsburgh), and Troy Polamalu, who embodies the sort of humanity we expect of our Steelers. Good people. Good people. Hey, they play for Pittsburgh- a rusty promised land [...]

So we will sit and wave our Terrible Towels and battle the gray chill that cuts to the bone, wave that towel, wave that towel in praise. We will do this because this is our life's work.  We will continue to give birth to baby Steeler fans, and we will continue our charge to take over the world, to convert you and you and you. We are missionaries charged with leading you toward the light of Steeler nation. It's probably a rule in the Bible somewhere. Oh, it probably is.
from the archives (10/23/08), to pump you up for tonight's super bowl.  will you be celebrating?  are you a football fanatic or a bigger fan of commercials, seven layer dip, and post-game Glee?


weekend update

the babes at the wonderful johnstown children's museum
happy saturday, friends.  it is a happy, albeit rainy saturday here.  my tiny ones napped (thank you sweet Jesus), which was especially delicious since jim is in minnesota, and i haven't been able to tag out since wednesday.

he's giving a presentation about corporate team-building this afternoon (prayers appreciated) and should be home in time to cheer on the steelers in defeating green bay.

*swings terrible towel in excitement and anticipation.*

i am joining the lovely elizabeth esther for her saturday evening blog post, linking my favorite posts of the past two months.  for january i went with my five-minute poem, daughters of jerusalem, about narrow notions of womanhood fitting a size-too-small.  (i almost went with the work and the Word, about words that were shaping my new year.  "do the work" is proving to be a challenging and worthy motto/mantra.)

for december i linked 2010, a bloggy retrospective--kind of a cheat, since it's a best-of post, but it gives an overall sense of what {so much shouting, so much laughter} is about, so it seemed like a good bet.  the land of deep darkness is probably my favorite content-based post from december, about the tension of living in a world where Christ is risen but suffering abounds.

what's your favorite post that you wrote recently?  link it in the comments--or with EE--so others can come read:)  go steelers.
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