as it was made to be

I texted your sister. I told her she was right; Friday Night Lights won me over.
It did?! [I'm well into season three, and his protests are long and well-documented.]  What was it that hooked you? Was it Coach Taylor's molding of men? His refusal to phone anything in?

No, I think it was Principal Boobs, he says, laughing.

I smack him on the arm, but I'm laughing, too.


There's a lightness there that wasn't always. We were seeing past each other, ships in the night and all.

He's been traveling, but when he's home, he's home. His eyes catch mine, and there's light in the recognition.

So I blow out my bangs.  We put kids to bed and pour wine. We snuggle into the couch and admit that Tami Taylor can rock a V-neck with the best of 'em.  And we're an us.

{image source}


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bid me come and die

...The status quo is too alluring. It is the air we breathe, the food we eat, the six-thirty news, our institutions, theologies, and politics. The only way we shall break its hold on us is to be transferred to another dominion, to be cut loose from our old certainties, to be thrust under the flood and then pulled forth fresh and newborn. Baptism takes us there.

On the bank of some dark river, as we are thrust backward, onlookers will remark, "They could kill sombody like that." To which old John might say, "Good, you're finally catching on."

William Willimon.  Excerpted from "Repent," On A Wild and Windy Mountain. Appears in Bread And Wine: Readings For Lent And Easter.
{image source}

this is my Body, broken {only say the Word}

This is my Body, broken:
pierced and bleeding,
shrouded in darkness
and alone.

Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?

the Light recedes.  
Rocks cry out,
the curtain tears. Brave
women do not flee.

This is my Body, broken:
my radiant Church
lies pierced and bleeding,
wounded by friendly-fire burn.

This sickness shall not end in death

The dead are raised, the
blind will see and
you, love, shall be healed.
(Only say the Word)

You are No Longer Deserted,
re-created, the very
image of God.

I am making a way in the wilderness,
streams in the wasteland

Hephzibah, my delight,
Stop tearing my Bride to shreds.

Rend your heart and not your garments.
Rend your heart and not your brother.
Every blood-soaked strand is fuel for the fire.

Take off the grave clothes

Put on the new self and arise.
Only love will bind my Church in perfect unity.
Bind up the broken and return
to me, the Spirit poured-out-still.

There is one Body and one Spirit;
to one hope were you called.
At one Table we celebrate the 
memorial of your redemption.

As the Father has sent me, I am sending you

I Am the Word, calling
life from formless void.
I Am the Truth, the image of
the invisible God-is-Love.

Unbound, live into the
blessed-to-be-a blessing.
Light up the darkness, beloved.

Do this in remembrance of me

This poem was originally published as part of Preston's At The Lord's Table series. 
Image courtesy of Tahni Candelaria-Holm of joyeuse photography.


ah, but i was so much older then {celebrating 4 years}

jim is away at the jubilee conference, reminding me that {so much shouting, so much laughter} is four years old.  i suppose the occasion calls for pulling that first post out of the archives, pouring a glass of pinot, and toasting you--friends who've been here since day one and those who've come somewhere along the way.  i am ever thankful for your voices, encouragement, and sojourning.  you make this space rich, and i am grateful for you.

this too shall be made right {originally published 2/17/08}

last night at jubilee, derek webb closed a great set with "this too shall be made right," a song that is particularly striking:
there’s a time for peace and there is a time for war
a time to forgive and a time to settle the score
a time for babies to lose their lives
a time for hunger and genocide
this too shall be made right
he's lifting from ecclesiastes:  a time for every purpose under heaven.  a time to be born, a time to die.  a time to kill, a time to heal.  a time to love, a time to hate.  a time for war, a time for peace.

it's easy to look at those verses, to shrug our shoulders at the mess of the world and think, yeah, there is a time for all of that.  it's in the bible, and that's how it is.  

but not everything in scripture is prescriptive--telling us how to live. sometimes scripture is descriptive--exploring what life is like in a fallen, broken world among fallen, broken people.

just because scripture says that there is a time to kill, that's not necessarily indicative of how we are to live as followers of the risen Christ.

this too shall be made right, and not just not just one day in heaven.  a few years ago, derek webb spoke at another gathering in D.C. for pentecost, and he said something else that echoes in my heart still:
We are called to be people who push back the effects of the Fall.
when Jesus said to pray, your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven, he meant those words.

we have a mission as Christians to be about the work of establishing the Kingdom of God here--in the flesh, among people, now.  there isn't time for trafficking, war, poverty, racism, oppression, or even death.  the Kingdom of God is about restoration and reconciliation of all people to God, one another, and the earth.  it's about radical love and jubilee.

one day, all things will be made right.  

may that hope and resurrection promise invigorate our work today. 

your Kingdom come, Lord, on earth as it is in heaven.

first you try everything

Two weeks of illness and a bit of travel on Jim's end translated into a bit of quiet here on the blog-front. Today, I am happy to report that skies are blue, energy returns, and I'm confident that spring will indeed swap snow for leaves before long.

We've barely left the house, and I have little to show for two weeks beside a messy house, but dang it, I did read a book (and watch nearly two season of Friday Night Lights, 'cause I'm literary like that:)  I'm happy to pass my copy of Jane McCafferty's newest novel along to another reader, so just leave a comment and I'll ship it out to one of you next week.

First You Try Everythingis the second novel from the Pittsburgh author, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University.  The Steel City figures so prominently as to be almost a character instead of merely the setting in which a love story unravels.  As a former Pittsburgher, that was a delicious surprise, but even non-yinzers will appreciate McCafferty's loving attention to place.

Ben and Evvie are in their early forties, married since youth.  They take turns narrating the tale, which is as much about Evvie's descent into mental illness as it is about the dissolution of a marriage.  Their story is heartbreaking and human, and the poetic way that McCafferty inhabits her character's thoughts, fears, and delusions is powerful and evocative.

There are no villains.  Evvie and Ben love each other, and even as he pulls away, his tenderness never wanes.  Their lives are so entwined that there can be no clean break; they are part of the fabric of one another.  But her illness is a wedge, and they cannot be healthy or whole together any longer.

It's not a feel-good story, obviously, but the emotion rings true, the characters well-drawn:
Her heart was big and opening, breaking in half like a drawbridge.
She looked at his face.  Now that he has crossed this radical, irreparable line, he loved her again, the way you love your old town as the train pulls away from the station.
Want to read it, too?  Leave a comment by 2/21/12 with your own book recommendation (and a way to get in touch), and I'll let random.org pick someone to send my once-read copy to.

Disclosure:  There is a (peanut butter?) smudge on one page, but that's sorta how things roll around here.  My copy was provided by TLC, and I was not otherwise compensated for this review.


[heart] felt. {from me to you}

atheists & charlatans & 
communists & lesbians 
& even ol' Pat Robertson 
Oh God, He loves us all


against the night

4:30 found us on a deck chair, blanket-wrapped against the cold morning.  james' labored breathing quieted, slowing to a regular rhythm.  the light in the coop was on, but the road was dark and dawn a long way off.

he relaxed in my arms, knees up against my chest, like when he was tiny.  one plump cheek nestled into my shoulder, still damp for the force of the coughing.

sometimes, nothing calms like quiet winter.

their room was a sauna.  dueling humidifiers vaporized rainforest thick, scenting the air with tea tree oil.  it didn't much help, one cough echoing the other.  hers, heavy with cold and recovering from her own virus.  his loud like a wounded pup.

sickness strikes at the most inopportune times.  birthdays, holidays.  tonight, we'd cancelled a sitter, missed a rare evening out, and now jim was gone, traveling.

with dylan asleep upstairs, it was just me and boy-babe.  we held on and braced ourselves together against the night.

an ongoing record of God's goodness, #339-350

quiet moments with my rarely-still boy
a girl on the mend
recruiting faithful workers for a summer of plenty
children who still want to be close to their mama (even if i want to be alone)
generous love and laughter
grace for the sick days: extra stories
and movies,
popsicles, and
pjs all day

notes to the new mom {practices of parenting}

1. no child can be spoiled with love.  
we let dishes pile.  every yes is a no to something else, and we want to say yes to now and to love and each other.  they are only little so long, and there aren't endless hours to snuggle baby #2, so we savor moments.  "doing nothing" together may just be everything after all.

{but friend?  not all moments savor-worthy:  poo-splosions, PPD, colic, sickness.  mothering is beautiful and wonderful, but it is hard, and if you're looking for permission not to carpe diem every second, you got it, sister.}

2.  baby carriers are magical.
at the grocery store, communion rail, or around the house, nothing beats securing baby to your chest in a cozy sling or wrap.  babywearing encourages infant sleep, discourages crying, and promotes attachment, making it a wonderful practice to learn in those harried first weeks and well beyond.

3.  we are the experts for our babes. 
not our mothers, neighbors, strangers in the grocery store, well-meaning church ladies, famous authors, or even the pediatrician.  we've learned to trust our instincts and take whatever anyone says with a grain of salt...or a whole salt shaker!

4.  we do what works for us, not whatever "they" say.  
dylan hated sleeping in her crib.  we thought she *should,* so we battled.  all three of us barely slept longer that two and a half hours at at time for eighteen exhausting months.

looking back, i wish we had brought her into bed with us and taken sleep where we could get it instead of trying to force what wasn't working.  dylan would have slept on her own eventually; she didn't have to do it from day one.

5.  relax.
milestones and schedules are not worth stressing over.  every kid is different.

6.  breastfeeding is natural (and wonderful and worth it), but it is not easy. 
read about it.  go to la leche league meetings.  take a breastfeeding class.  meet with a lactation consultant.  ask for help.  having good support can make all the difference.

but, also?  not every mother can.  not every mother wants to.  we work.  we adopt.  we face health problems.  we all give our babies our best and nourish and comfort them just like they need--with breast, pump, or formula.  at ease, mamas!

7.  every parent needs time away.
we [try to] schedule regular time for solitude and adult community and refuse to feel guilty about it.  time away nurtures us as people and makes us better equipped to love and serve each other.

8.  we all end up doing something as a parent that we swore we'd never do.  
it's true.  so we try to put away judging eyes and never say never.

9.  comparison is soul-crushing.  
so what if her kid walked first or sleeps through the night?  so what if she sews halloween costumes, mills her own flour, or weighs less pregnant than i do now?

we're different:  gifted in some ways and lacking in others.  we don't have the whole story on anyone else, and comparison only makes us feel competitive and self-conscious.  the mommy wars are a war against women that we'll all lose.  so we lay down arms.  we become conscientious objectors.

10.  there are no perfect parents.
even the ones that look like they have it all together don't.   we give ourselves--and one another--a break, permission to ask for help, and release from the fear of messing it up.  we apologize, ask forgiveness, and keep going.  perfection is an illusion, but we will find our sea legs and mercies new every morning.


what have you learned about motherhood?  what advice would you pass along?

{i wrote this in the throes of parenting baby #2 when #1 was two and a half. originally published 5/6/10. shared with sarah's parenting carnival.}

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