2011 on the blog | {& best-of link-up}

if i were really organized, i'd have a great year-end list for you, but the truth is, i haven't read enough books or heard enough albums to pretend to tell you my favorites.  i used to be That Girl and would like to be again someday, but today is not that day.

we got our year-in-review booklet from wyep, and i was satisfied that they picked the decemberists the king is dead for album of the year, because not only do we actually have it, we saw their incredible tour this spring.  so there you go; you get one recommendation from me.  i would love to hear some of yours--please culture me!

i wanted to look back on 2011 in this space and remember some of my favorite posts--for me mostly, but for you, too, if you wanted to get a taste of the year here.  at the bottom is a linky, and i hope you'll share favorite posts of yours, too.

happy new year, friends. i'm so grateful for sister and fellow pilgrims along the way. your presence truly does lighten the load and cheer a weary heart.  thanks for being here:)

2011 in {so much shouting, so much laughter}

soap box-y:

the broken, beautiful Church:


the life bucolic:

my post at A Deeper Story (and #500)

i am the 99, i am the 1 | living into a theology of enough {series}

{image source} 

what are your favorite reads from 2011 that we may have missed?  what book, movie or album changed your life?

{linked up with Elizabeth's Esther's Saturday Evening Blog Post.}


let love be our legacy

we are spending the tail-end of 2011 with my side of the family, the impassioned and opinionated who yell loud and laugh hard.  the wee set love the focused attention of three senior generations, all smiles and giggles.

(the kids sound similarly;)

certain loved ones give me a hard time for being Internet Famous. this is, of course, a tremendous joke, but it got me thinking tonight in the quiet of my parents' living room:

for what do i want to be known?

i can tell you right now, it has nothing at all to do with my twitter following.  (so i probably want to spend less time there, yes?)

i'm still hashing out thoughts and dreams for the new year, but i'm pretty sure numbering among few goal lists are:
Stay up wicked late online
Be more indoorsy, or
Spend less time with family
no one sets out to fritter away hours, but we do.  i do, at least.

look at these three.  these are My People!   serving and loving them well--i want to be known for that.

my heart's desire is Christ's Name and renown.  i want that to become true. if i'm honest, i largely seek credit, vindication, and attention for myself; i want to want another Way.

i long to speak life, write truth and live into my identity as an image-bearer of a creative, powerful, humble, holy, grace-filled, awesome God.  i want to affirm the imago dei in those around me.

(you too?)

let love be our legacy.  we want to be known for Love.


star of wonder

friends, i pray that your christmas was merry indeed.  we savored our first celebration at home, just the four of us.  jim and dylan sang their hearts out at worship on christmas eve, and today was leisurely and lovely here.  we opted to read the christmas story at home, snuggled tight, jammie-clad and chins dripping clementine juice.

stockings, crepes, much play, elegant dinner with friends, jim's eggnog and a meandering pursuit of the town's best (worst?) christmas lights rounded out the evening.  (and a ryan gosling movie--merry christmas to me!)

as my mother frequently reminds, the 25th is but the first of twelve days of christmas.  let the rejoicing continue.  the Lord is come!

 Then his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke this prophecy:

 ‘Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
   for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them.
 He has raised up a mighty savior for us

   in the house of his servant David,
 as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
   that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.

 Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors,
   and has remembered his holy covenant,
 the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham,
   to grant us that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies,
might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness
   before him all our days.

 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
   for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
 to give knowledge of salvation to his people
   by the forgiveness of their sins.
 By the tender mercy of our God,
   the dawn from on high will break upon us,
 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
   to guide our feet into the way of peace.’ 

{Luke 1:67-79}


the risk of birth

This is no time for a child to be born,
With the earth betrayed by war & hate
And a comet slashing the sky to warn
That time runs out & the sun burns late.

That was no time for a child to be born,
In a land in the crushing grip of Rome;
Honour & truth were trampled by scorn --
Yet here did the Saviour make his home.

When is the time for love to be born?
The inn is full on the planet earth,
And by a comet the sky is torn --
Yet Love still takes the risk of birth.
by Madeleine L'Engle


God would be born in thee

i penned a few fragmented thoughts on creating space to see the sacred in our midst over at my friend heatherly's.   het is focusing her heart and ours on joy this advent and this year, and she's curated a lovely series of reflections.  she writes A Pinkdaisy Life and is one of the most encouraging voices I've met in this online space--one i hope to hug in person sometime.  i hope you'll stop by and say hello.

Lo, in the silent night
A child to God is born
And all is brought again
That ere was lost or lorn.

Could but thy soul, O man,

Become a silent night!
God would be born in thee
And set all things aright.

-15th century


the Church {a love letter}

You never were cool, but I liked your style:
flannel graphs, butter cookie tins and junior choir
solos less about perfection than presence.
Gifts offered a King (enthusiasm counted)
Love served warm and strange as potluck,
rhythms generous, comfortable and
radical in their simplicity

Deep and wide, Deep and wide, There's a fountain flowing deep and wiiiiiiiiide

Wasn't there, though?
A grace-well as big as our Lord

We're many kinds of people With many kinds of faces
All colors and all ages too From all times and places

That truth (along with the joy! joy! joy! joy!)
burrowed heart-deep and took root
The church is not a building The church is not a steeple
The church is not a resting place The church is a people

presbyterian, baptist, non-denominational, emergent, episcopal,
In barn or basement, chapel or church
at summer camp in the woods or atop the city,
we worshiped with the Body beautiful.
Your raiment varied and vibrant,
colorful as the members who shared our first Love

I am the Church You are the Church We are the Church together
All who follow Jesus All around the world
Yes we're the Church together

I'm not naive:  you are as damaged as you are lovely
Your sharp accusations stung, left me
gasping for breath.  Conditional
love at times stained my cheeks
But I'm no innocent, I know that.
My words wielded like daggers and
I've withheld grace, too
Unforgiveness is an ugly mistress
God, we're a wretched lot

But our imperfect love is velveteen real
surpassing what-if, should-have and didn't-you every day of the week

Community is hard. Love is harder
--and easier, too, somehow.  Half is showing up

At our best, you pointed me to the One who
holds us together, reconciling to
a Father who loves, the
creation which groans and
one another, that we may be healed

You knew my heart
the hard and wounded places, too
and loved me all the more

Our Love lights the darkness
never so hot or bright as when our gaze turns outward
Let's lay down arms, love
Take my hand and remember
the Hope to which we are called

{image source}


don we now our gay apparel

may your days be merry, bright, and eggnog-spiked.

(the title, lifted from"deck the halls," seemed apropos for an occasion as festive as our annual ugly sweater christmas party.  it is not a gay joke.  i trust you know it's not like that here.)


a creeper was stirring

after the party. jim checks on a sleeping dylan and tucks the covers over her gently.

dylan, stirring:  hi, dad.
jim, whispering:  hi, dylan.
dylan:  who showed up?
jim:  i'll tell you in the morning
dylan, mischievously:  i know... mrs. reynolds!
jim, surprised:  were you creeping?
dylan:  yes.
jim:  goodnight, dylan
dylan:  good night, dad.


that God became a mother's son

Poets and myth-makers and other tellers of stories and fairy tales have often spoken of mothers.  One time they meant the earth; another time they meant nature.  By this word they tried to disclose the mysterious creative fount of all things, to conjure up the welling mystery of life.  In all this there was hunger and anticipation and longing and Advent--waiting for this blessed woman.

That God became a mother's son; that there could be a woman walking the earth whose womb was consecrated to be the holy temple and tabernacle of God--that is actually earth's perfection and the fulfillment of its expectations.

So many kinds of Advent consolation stream from the mysterious figure of the blessed, expectant Mary.  The gray horizons must grow light.  It is only the immediate scene that shouts so loudly and insistently.  Beyond these things is a different realm, one that is now in our midst.  The woman has conceived the child, sheltered it beneath her heart, and given birth to the Son.  The world has come under a different law.  We are not speaking of only historical events that happened once, on which our salvation rests.  Advent is the promise denoting the new order of things, of life, of our existence.

We must remember today with courage that the blessed woman of Nazareth foreshadows the light in our midst today.  Deep down in our being, our days and our destinies, too, bear the blessing and mystery of God.
-Alfred Delp, Watch for the Light.


Mommy Gear Breastfeeding Boutique | December Featured Partner

Those of you who have breastfed know that shopping for nursing bras can be a horror. They can resemble medieval torture devices and be about as supportive--and attractive--as training bras for prepubescent girls.

I have no idea why, during the fragile post-partum time when a woman needs the most support in the bra department, she is generally offered the least in both form and function.  When I first had Dylan, I thought that ugly, flimsy bras from the big box stores were the extent of my options as a breastfeeding mom.  It's not like Victoria's Secret sells nursing wear.

{Side note:  have you ever taken your pregnant self--or a toddler--into Victoria's Secret?  They look at you like you have three eyes.  Or six boobs.  Hot young things are welcome but women in the family way?  Not so much.} 

Shortly into breastfeeding, I discovered Mommy Gear, a place where moms and families are valued, breastfeeding is supported, and new moms are honored as women who deserve to feel pretty, confident, and well cared for.

I am thrilled that Mommy Gear is my featured sponsor for December, and I get to share this fantastic mom-owned company with you.  My friend Dawn opened Mommy Gear out of her home in 1996, and she is a tremendous resource for breastfeeding moms and families.  Her online business ships bras, breastpumps, and nursing clothes all over the world.  Mommy Gear's beautiful brick-and-mortar store stocks nursing bras in sizes ranging from 30A - 48K and carries anything a breastfeeding mama might need and more than a few things she'd want, like a great baby carrier.

Mommy Gear carries a variety of options for babywearing moms and dads, including slings, wraps and both soft and structured carriers.  Wouldn't an Ergo be a great family Christmas gift--or how about these Ergo doll carriers for the wee set?  So cute!

"Mommy Gear is where fashion meets function for breastfeeding moms.  We believe that breastfeeding is beautiful and want every mom to define her own breastfeeding success.  We are here to encourage and support each mom every step of the way, whether she is expecting, breastfeeding, or exclusively pumping."
Dawn wasn't kidding about fashion:  have you ever even seen a sexy nursing bra?  Mommy Gear also carries sleep bras, sports bras, nursing bras from Bravado, La Leche League, Goddess for full figures, and many more.

Mommy Gear is running a fun series of daily promotions called the 25 Days of Christmas:  each day, one brand is 25% off with a coupon code.

Save 25% on all Cake Maternity & Nursing Lingerie using coupon code 7THDAY until noon 12/8/2011.

Keep up with Mommy Gear on facebook and find quality breastfeeding apparel, nursing gear, and all kinds of items for baby and mom during their 25 Days of Christmas and throughout your breastfeeding journey.

Warm thanks to Dawn and Mommy Gear for sponsoring my site this month.


mourning in lonely exile

Advent hits me harder than lent.  It's the waiting, I think:  the quiet contrast of a teen-aged mother to the  holidaze of shopping and hurrying.  It's the reminder that we're not just counting down to Christmas but to the second coming of Christ, when this too shall be made right.

The waiting is the hardest part, after all. 

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.
My spirit is acquainted with loneliness, the echo of exile.  The stranger and alien are familiar roles.

Advent reminds me gently that my Lord knows that path better than I ever will.  Born a refugee during a genocide, his young family spent their first years in exile.  Returning home, theirs was an occupied province where the realities of the Pax Romana were far removed from the shalom of God.

To follow Christ is to drink the cup of suffering.  We'll never feel truly at Home until he calls us there.


This summer at the the U2 show,  we had a little church up in section 521. One of my favorite songs, of theirs or anyone else's, remains this:

I have climbed highest mountains 
I have run through the fields 
Only to be with you 
I have run 
I have crawled 
I have scaled these city walls 
Only to be with you 

But I still haven't found what I'm looking for 

I have kissed honey lips 
Felt the healing in her fingertips 
It burned like a fire 
This burning desire 

I have spoke with the tongue of angels 
I have held the hand of a devil 
It was warm in the night 
I was cold as a stone   

But I still haven't found what I'm looking for 

I believe in the Kingdom Come 
Then all the colors will bleed into one 
But yes I'm still running 

You broke the bonds 
And you loosed the chains 
Carried the cross 
Of my shame 
You know I believe it   

But I still haven't found what I'm looking for 

Years ago, at a youthworkers' convention, a christian band covered it, changing the last words to "I finally found what I'm looking for," all smiles and jubilant arm waving.

In tidying up the loose ends, they missed the point.  Their version was hollow, and its lyrics rung false.

Have any of us found what we're looking for?

As Christians, we live the in-between.  We know the hope of resurrection that defeated sin and death on the cross, and we have glimpsed a coming Kingdom, but it's not yet fully realized this side of heaven

We look around, and much is broken

Our sisters acheOur brothers hunger.  

During advent, we await a King who will mend all the broken places: not just the Babe in a manger long ago, but the One who will come in glory, whose Kingdom will have no end.

So we rejoice, even in suffering, because exile is not the end of the Story:

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 
“Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 'He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death' or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” 
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new.”

We remember and take heart.  We remind each other that we're waiting for that which we have already seen.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.


waiting together {an advent meditation}

The secret of waiting is the faith that the seed has been planted, that something has begun.  Active waiting means to be present fully to the moment, in the conviction that something is happening where you are and that you want to be present to it.  A waiting person is someone who is present to the moment, who believes that this moment is the moment...

Impatient people are always expecting the real thing to happen somewhere else and therefore want to go elsewhere.  The moment is empty.  But patient people dare to stay where they are.  Patient living means to live actively in the present and wait there.  Waiting, then, is not passive.  It involves nurturing the moment, as a mother nurtures the child that is within her...

The whole meaning of Christian community lies in offering a space in which we wait for that which we have already seen.  Christian community is the place where we keep the flame alive among us and take it seriously, so that it can grow and become stronger in us.  In this way we can live with courage, trusting that there is a spiritual power in us that allows us to live in this world without being seduced constantly by despair, lostness, and darkness.  That is how we dare to say that God is love even when we see hatred all around us.  That is why we can claim that God is a God of life even when we see death and destruction and agony all around us.  We say it together.  We affirm it in one another.  Waiting together, nurturing what has already begun, expecting its fulfillment--that is the meaning of marriage, friendship, community, and the Christian life.
-Excerpted from "Waiting for God," Henri Nouwen. Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas.

{image: brett jordan}

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