Showing posts with label about me. Show all posts
Showing posts with label about me. Show all posts


now we are six {with party favors}

The Smitten Word, like our firstborn, is a kindergartner. Seven hundred seventy six posts (with a little help from my friends) was never something I fathomed when I began writing here on a whim six years ago, but this remains a favorite space to flex my creative muscles and connect with you. The early years had more parenting and natural living, but we've always wrestled together with embodied faith, poetry, feminism, media literacy, peacemaking, justice, and what it looks like to be the Church.

I'm grateful to everyone who's been along for the ride. You make it fun, and to say thanks, I've got a few party favors up for grabs. Leave a comment, and I'll pick a few winners at random on Thursday at midnight. Happy Monday, friends.

hard copy of The Fault in Our Stars
12 oz coffee, porch-roasted by Jim
1/2 pint maple syrup, tapped in our yard


a long december {& link-up, giveaway}

...and there's reason to believe maybe this year will be better than the last." --Counting Crows

Oh, I love me some Adam Duritz. I still do, although that video is unbearably depressing, what with Courtney Cox moping about and kicking trash. Or wait, this Soul Asylum one featuring angsty Claire Danes is even better. The 90s were kind of emo before emo was a thing, huh?

I'm getting a little distracted. December's been like that. I mailed all of zero Christmas cards, but since they have photos and say 2012, it's not like I can send 'em next year. I should get on that.

So, this year on the blog I started capitalizing sentences! (mostly.) I pulled off an entire 31 Day series on Practicing Peace with incredible help from my friends DanielleSTara PohlkotteBecky MacKenzieKelly ChadwickAmy Lepine PetersonBristolLuke HarmsKristin Tennant, and Kamille Scellick. I joined the team of writers at my favorite A Deeper Story and turned online friends into real ones at the Festival of Faith and Writing and Allume.

And I wrote some stuff. Blogger doesn't really keep great stats, but I can tell you that my most popular post (a deodorant recipe, natch) by about a million clicks is not even from this year. The rest of my writing? Not quite so pin-tastic. (But good on you, green/DIY bloggers!)

These were some of my favorites. Play along and link your own best-of or favorite at the bottom, won't you?

faith, church, and culture
a church disarmed | struggling toward love
youth exodus & consumer christianity
consume, critique, create | culture & the Kingdom
on disagreement & hate (& chicken)
making peace with feminism

personal narrative
unsilencing eve | part 1part 2


of exile and home | A Deeper Story
the sacrament of yes | for Micha Boyett, This Sacred Everyday
laughing at the days | for Emily Wierenga, Imperfect Prose
ministry, mentors, & holy imagination | for Ed Cyzewski, Women in Ministry Series
this is my body, broken (only say the word) | for Preston Yancey, At the Lord's Table

I'm raising a new year's glass of bubbly (Emergen-C, but whatevs) to you, friends o' mine, for sticking with me. You leave the smartest, kindest comments that encourage my heart to no end. Love ya to the moon and back.

(giveaway closed. congrats to brenna megan with comment #4 #16 who is the winner.)

AND! Imma send one of you a copy of Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals, because it's my favorite and so are you. Leave a comment by New Year's Day at midnight EST, and I'll that get that out to you post-haste so you can get liturgical in 2013. xo

this giveaway is sponsored by me and a deal on hardcovers that was too good to pass up:)


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.}


where i'm from

I am from skinned knees, Daisy Duke Big Wheels, and 
bike rides deep in the woods. I am from the horseshoe:  
sidewalks tread by Brownie scouts, the common ground which 
floods and tunnels we'd crawl when days were dry and we felt brave.
I am from newly seeded grass, crab apple blossoms, and crocus bursts 
of color when March recalled coats for jackets.

I am from bathrobed Christmas pageants in the living room;
freedom and responsibility; the Johnsons, Moores, and McMurrays.
I am from the impassioned and opinionated who yell loud and laugh hard 
and forget to think before we speak. From Shoulders back,  
Do your chores, and Hide His Word in your heart.

I am from flannel board disciples and Up from the grave He arose! 
kindergarten solos. From paper fans in the colonial chapel, 
strawberry festivals on the lawn, and too many danishes 
swiped at coffee hour. I'm from Scots Irish Presbyterians,
Pennsylvania Dutchmen and women, burgers on the deck, 
buttered corn on the cob, and pot roast every Sunday on fine china
(Use the good silverware!).

From freckled peeling shoulders, days down the shore, and van seats 
so hot our thighs would burn. I am from pictures posed on wicker, 
lace collars and curls, and hand-me-down bags stuffed brimful 
of ill-fitting swim suits, mittens on strings, and a faith rooted deep 
with room--and grace--to grow.

I read "Where I'm From" poems over at Steph's and Sarah's first. Do play along using the template here (and read George Ella Lyon's original.) Read more at SheLoves.


i am a real american

i believe that we have more in common than we are led to believe.

i believe in compassion, service and justice.

i believe that civil dialogue and honest questions trump false choices and easy answers.

i believe that Jesus meant it when he said "blessed are the peacemakers" {and in a peace that cannot be enforced by might}.

i believe that the health of a nation is inextricably linked to the welfare of its children, elderly and poor.

i believe in giving the hungry fish, teaching them to fish and holding polluters accountable for poisoning the water.

i believe in hard work, a living wage and fair pay.

i believe in a free press that isn't for sale.

i believe that what's good for business is not the same as the common good.

i believe in public education, affordable housing and quality health care for all.

i believe that humility and admitting mistakes are strengths.

i believe that questioning our government is patriotic {and the Church must bear prophetic witness, speaking Truth to power}.

i am thankful to be an american and thankful for the freedoms we enjoy.

i am proud of america when she lives up to her ideals and disappointed when she fails to, {and i still believe}.

i believe that no demographic is more authentically american than any other, and our differences make this country great.

i am a real american

independence day seems like a good time to pull this one out of the archives.  (the meme responded to a presidential candidate's speech about what a "real american" looks like.)  what would you put in your creed?
Let America Be America Again
a prayer for our country {that doesn't make me shake my fist}
happy fourth of july, friends.


for the love of books. and boys.

{image credit}

if you met me

at ten, my knees were skinned
from racing fast and falling hard on skates.
i inhaled books like air,
hiding them in my desk and
reading in the bathroom by nightlight.
bridge to terabithia always made me cry hot tears.

at twenty, piles of books still
kept me company:  history now
and theology, too.  i danced late and
woke early to mix mochas and print papers.
i loved skinny boys who played guitar best.

at thirty(one), i share tales of
runaway bunnies and miss lina's ballerinas
to two tiny readers-to-be.
books longer than those are
strewn about the house, as
unfinished as the laundry.

my still-skinny love strums
songs that make short legs dance
and my heart burst.


2010: a bloggy retrospective {link your best-of posts}

so much shouting, so much laughter
this may be a bit indulgent, but with 2011 approaching, compiling a year-end list of favorite posts appealed to me.  i've enjoying reflecting back on the moments in time cataloged in this space, and if you are a blogger, i hope you'll link some favorites from your own blog that we may have missed the first time around.

wherein mothering teaches me about grace:
everything beautiful in its time
sea legs 
dimly-lit days 
notes to the new mom

wherein i reveal my earth mama tendencies: 
ShoutLaughLove:  embodied prayer
on birth and babies
the chemical component: cosmetics, cleaners, and cancer
how to make your own laundry soap

wherein i write poetry(ish):
shabbat shalom

wherein i open my big mouth:
the fallacy of colorblindness
an open letter to glenn beck
the public school apologist
our grief is {not} a cry for war

wherein i reflect on the Word 
lift up your head
forget not all his benefits
that your soul may live 

wherein i chronicle our country life:
tune my heart to sing thy grace
august and everything after
babes in the woods

wherein this one is a bit hard to categorize:
if it smells like death, it's probably dead

i can't wait to read some of your best posts of 2010!
linked up with steph over at at adventures in babywearing.


in inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife

a little anniversary crept by yesterday, so quietly i almost didn't realize it.

i've been writing "so much shouting, so much laughter" for two years.

when i started, i didn't know a thing about blogging.  i didn't even read any blogs, except for an occasionally updated one by a former pastor.

i didn't know anything about html or widgets or seach engine optimization. (not that i know much about that now.)

i just knew that i needed to write.

one night, i came home from a weekend away, and started a blog.  just like that.  if i had to do it all over again, i probably would have imagined a shorter title, but i'm not changing it now.  it's a line from an ani difranco song.

i had a baby who wasn't quite three months old.  i needed a place where i was a mom, but not only a mom.

because i was still so many other things.

a woman.

a thinker.

a christian.

a writer.

i wanted a place where i could articulate my passions and wrestle through life and faith.  and i wanted to share about my family with loved ones who are too far away. 

this place began as a journal of this moment in time.  Lord knows i was never going to scrapbook;)

a felicitous and unforeseen benefit of blogging has been connecting with other women:  misty, michelle, penny, dorothy, tami, kelly, kelli, jenney, becky, heather, and more than i'm sure i'm forgetting.

if you had told me two years ago that blogging would create relationships with strangers in other parts of the country and across the world, i would have told you that was insane.

what kind of creeper becomes "friends" with people online?

um, apparently me, and i'm grateful for the connections, especially during a season of life that can be achingly isolating.

being home all day with tiny people is lonely.  and wonderful.  but lonely, nonetheless.

this space has made the distance seem narrower.

thank you, friends, for journeying along this pilgrim's way these past two years.  i'm so grateful for your company.

"He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy." (Job 8:21)


a decade draws to a close

i only recently realized that not only the year but the whole decade is coming to a close. please tell me i'm not the only one!

while the decade was kind of a bummer on a national scale (9/11, the bush presidency, interminable war, tanking economy), it also marked the beginning of my adult life and some pretty dramatic personal changes.

on the eve of the last decade, i was a 19 year old college student, just beginning to figure out who i was and what i believed. in the summer of 2000, i met jim and two years later we married. we were still babies when we moved to pittsburgh in '02, took first jobs, and learned a little about grace, marriage, and being a grown-up. we fell in love with the city, learned to cook curry, and endured various dramas associated with apartments that rent for $325 a month;)

in the summer of 2005, we moved here to ligonier, trading our third floor walk-up for a big old farmhouse and our bustling neighborhood for a summer camp that is insanely busy three months of the year and a ghost town the other nine. leaving a job i loved directing a youth ministry, i struggled to find my place here. i worked as a waitress, barista, and housing authority caseworker before becoming a mama to dylan in the fall of 2007. twenty-three months later, james joined team paul, and we became what my friend liz refers to as the "family four pack." it's been a busy two years!

it's hard to believe we're coming up on five years here, especially since i really still don't feel that rooted. i think in this new year i need to put myself out there more and be more intentional at pursuing relationships. i dearly love my husband and my kids, but i need more adults and women in my life for sure.

ten years ago, i was a student barely out of high school and my parents' home, and now i'm a wife and mother of two, approaching 30. i wonder what God has in store for the next decade...

Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!

Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert
and streams in the wasteland. --Isaiah 43:18-19


25 things

1. i live at the summer camp i went to as a kid and worked at in college.

2. when i was a counselor, i taught lacrosse and hockey nearly every day. in our staff video, i appear to be a fierce coach, which misled jim to believing that he was marrying someone athletic and outdoorsy.

3. i do love being outside when the weather is nice. on a camping trip in WV, we did a crazy mountain scramble/rock climb called the Via Ferrata. it was scary and beautiful, and i loved it.

4. if i were an american gladiator, my name would be Bonesaw.

5. rhode island is my favorite place to vacation. my perfect day would involve biking out and spending the day beneath the cliffs at the beach on block island.

6. though biking in pittsburgh initially scared me, i learned to like it. i judge you if you don't wear a helmet.

7. i was a youth pastor at a church in pittsburgh. i love hanging out with teenagers and talking to them about Jesus.

8. my religion degree actually came in handy, as i wrote most of our bible studies and curriculum.

9. i also majored in history. i especially love US history in the gilded age and progressive era. i'm a school nerd.

10. Jesus said he came to preach good news to the poor, freedom for the prisoners, recovery of sight for the blind, and to release the oppressed (Luke 4:18). it kills me when people try to "spiritualize" away the social implications of the gospel in passages like this.

11. i spent my senior year in college studying poverty and community in washington DC. when the plane went down at the pentagon on 9/11, i was waiting for the metro.

12. i came back a lot more politically-engaged than i was when i left.

13. i've been married six years and have a baby girl who is 14 months.

14. her name is a nod to bob dylan.

15. dylan amazes me every day with her excitement, curiosity, and vocabulary.

16. childbirth and breastfeeding have transformed the way i see myself and body, in a positive way.

17. i'm still trying to figure out what this "stay-at-home mom" thing looks like.

18. i won't do it forever, and i do miss the challenges of a professional life, but i am satisfied in this season of being present for dylan's needs, joys, and firsts.

19. i love cookbooks, cooking shows, comfort food, dessert for breakfast, breakfast for dinner, diners, fine dining, international fare, venison, vegetarian, grocery shopping, the farmers' market, the food section, baking, bbq, and breaking bread with friends.

20. watching TMZ is a true guilty pleasure.

21. i remember the lyrics to nearly every song i've ever heard--pop songs, jingles, tv themes, songs from kids' choir or health class videos--but i couldn't tell you my own cell phone number or the birthday of almost anyone i didn't grow up with.

22. i'm learning to practice the discipline of meditation/centering prayer.

23. we use cloth diapers with dylan and are making efforts to reduce our consumption and waste and to repurpose and repair what we already have.

24. when my sisters, brother, parents and i are all together, it's pretty much my favorite thing. no one makes me laugh like my siblings, and it's hard living so far away from family.

25. i love city living, honesty, meaningful conversation, singing in the car, strange movies, general weirdness, writing, my family, and my God.

shalom, my good friends

over at avtcoach and octamom, i read about choosing a word for the new year, as a way to orient my heart and my focus. i love this idea. i'm not an especially disciplined person, and resolutions don't motivate me. i don't typically make it into february with any intact, but the idea of a theme word is something that resonates with me, because i know how powerful words can be.

i've been wounded and wearied by careless words, and i've hurt too many with mine. i've drunk deeply from the refreshment that an encouraging word can bring. words have tremendous power, which is why gender-inclusive language, abstaining from using "gay," "ghetto," and "retarded" as pejorative slang, and saying "child with autism" instead of "autistic child" are not at all about being politically correct but rather acknowledging the power of words to both communicate and create reality.

consider this: God spoke the universe into existence. his words called forth life and matter out of nothing! when john's gospel introduces Jesus, he is called the Word: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1)

first century readers would have recognized that by calling Jesus the Word, john is equating Jesus with God, the Creator. john is clear that Jesus is no mere rabbi; God is doing a radical new thing in Christ: The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

back in the garden, adam and eve walked with God, but then sin broke their fellowship with one another and with God. john's gospel announces that, amazingly, God the Word is once again making his home among people. the need for a priestly mediator between a sinful people and a holy God is coming to an end, because the Word will again be about the work of creation--recreating hearts, relationships, and communities so broken and distorted by sin.

potentially creative and redemptive power lives within words, and recognizing this, the word i'd like to shape my year around is "shalom," the hebrew word for peace. not merely peace as in the absence of war or tension, the shalom of God embodies wholeness, restoration, and the making right of all things. [the idea of shalom reminds me much of the line in the musical, RENT: "the opposite of war isn't peace, it's creation!"]

shalom can be found independent of the day's stresses and worries, because it rests in the knowledge that God is sovereign, God is good, and God is at work. all too often, i allow myself to be tossed in the turbulent waves emotion, discontent that life isn't meeting my every selfish desire and expectation. i know that shalom, like joy, is not based on circumstances, and can be found entirely independent of how much sleep i've had or how lonely or loved i am feeling.

because Jesus is the Word, i know that in choosing the word "shalom" to guide my steps in this new year, i am not alone in my striving, thus setting myself up for disappointment. philippians 2:12-13 instructs, "continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose." it is my desire to consciously allow God to work in me and through me, transforming me by his grace (not my effort) into the woman he created me to be.

i want to allow God the space to develop shalom in my life by growing in the disciplines of prayer, meditation, and spending time in the Word. (Lord, forgive me for filling my days with words and noise, while neglecting your life-giving Word in scripture and presence in silence.) i know that shalom is not something i can cultivate through willpower; it is gained by obedience to God, service to others, and surrender of my selfish strivings and need for things to center around me.
You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. (Isaiah 26:3)
This is what the LORD says— your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: "I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea. (Isaiah 48:17-18).

May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20-21)
may God's great shalom guard our hearts, encourage our spirits, and guide our feet as we walk in his ways this year.


nose ring girl

i have a nose ring--a small sparkly stud, really, that i got when i was a junior in college as an ode to the waning days of youth. i imagined i'd have to take it out after graduation, when i entered the "real world."

my parents are not fans of said nose ring. one time when i was home on break it fell out, and my mom suggested that its loss was perhaps the result of God's will. i wasn't so sure.

God didn't seem to mind so much, and i found gainful employment as a youth pastor, despite the piercing. it turns out that the Man isn't bothered by nose studs either, and i later got a civil servant job at the housing authority. actually, the only employer who ever minded my nose ring was camp, so i would take it out during the summers, but even they had a change of heart and trusted me this summer to minister to staff and campers, nose ring and all.

i've been in the "real world" for some time. i'm 28, i have a husband and baby, professional experience in government and ministry (ok, and food service), and a life in a conservative small town. but i still rock the nose ring of my 21 year-old-self, and i like it.


keepin' it rural

though i love and miss living in the city, i'm not a city girl. i grew up in the suburbs, in places with sidewalks and bike paths, great schools, and neighborhoods built by anglophile developers who christen streets "yorkshire drive" and developments "woods of saxony." in our yard, we had flowers, trees and bushes, a wooden swing set, a deck, and a gazebo.

in the current small-town installment of my life, our yard is decorated a little differently:

note not just the sun-drying diapers, but the bird perched atop the clothesline. do i smell a pie cooling on a nearby window sill?
we don't own this canoe, but it is put to good use nonetheless.

yes, we're one of those houses:) jim is an excellent archer, and he stocks our freezer full of meat, so who am i to complain?
our beefy composter

 camp leases horses for the summer, so for three months, this is our view

dylan loved the horses. (i say loved because, sadly, they left on monday.) on sunday, i got to go on a ride, and it was so much fun! camp has 550 acres, and on the ride i saw beautiful parts of property i'd never seen.
our little beauty is now nine months-old. i took this last week and tried to get her to play on the blanket while i hung her diapers on the line, but all she wanted to do was crawl, crawl, crawl and put everything in her mouth! i think dylan likes the rural living:)



A - ADVOCATE FOR: trying new foods, natural and sustainable living, cloth diapering, peace and justice, affordable housing, women and children, the broken, beautiful Church, and grace
B - BEST FEATURE: my mind
C - COULD DO WITHOUT: winter. I’d rather visit snow than live in it.
D - DREAMS & DESIRES: to write and to raise my child(ren) to love God and love people
E - ESSENTIAL ITEMS: garlic, olive oil, flip flops, chap stick, the Sunday papers, and my baby sling
F - FAVORITE PAST TIME: holiday dinners when my whole family is together now that everyone is grown and enjoys each other’s company
G - GOOD AT: I am a terrific parallel parker
H - HAPPIEST: spending family time, laughing uncontrollably with my sisters, feeling known, and engaging in thoughtful conversation
I - IF I HAD A MILLION DOLLARS: I’d travel and expose the baby to a million worlds
J - JUNKIE FOR: teenybopper television--Veronica Mars, My So-Called Life, Dawson’s Creek, Freaks and Geeks. None of the good stuff is on anymore, but I’ll watch the lame stuff, too, like One Tree Hill and Gossip Girl. It’s really a blessing that we don’t have cable.
K - KINDRED SPIRIT: my sister, Bethany, who shares my passions, faith, and quirky humor
L - LITTLE KNOWN FACT: I enjoy watching infomercials and occasionally QVC. I can count on one hand the things I’ve actually bought on tv, so it’s not really even about shopping. Like a bad car accident, I just can’t bring myself to look away.
M - MEMORABLE MOMENT: the first time Dylan laughed
N - NEVER HAVE I: traveled internationally, for missions or pleasure, but I’d love to someday
O - ODD HABIT: I sometimes tear all the advertisements from a magazine before I read it, and I consider waffles an appropriate vehicle for consuming more Reddi-Wip
P - PROFESSION: mama to Miss Dylan Elizabeth. Former youth minister, cafe barrista, and housing authority civil servant
Q - QUOTE:  
“If you spend yourselves on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness and your night will become like the noonday. The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.” - Isaiah 58:10-12
R - REASON TO SMILE: sunny days and my adorable husband and baby girl

S - SORRY ABOUT: beguiling Jim into believing that I am the outdoor type. He just assumed that since we met at camp, I was a hardcore nature girl. I enjoy spending time outside and everything, but I’m really more of a homebody, and if it's cold, I'd rather be anywhere other than outside.
T - TAG SOME FRIENDS: Beth, Leeanne, Elissa, Kelly
U - UNINTERESTED IN: professional sports and tanning
V - VERY IMPRESSED BY: people who can successfully bridge divides with compassion and diplomacy, who befriend and respect those with different beliefs and backgrounds
W - WORST HABIT: I cannot grow nails to save my life. I pick and peel them until they resemble the nails of a nine-year-old boy.
X - X MARKS MY IDEAL VACATION SPOT: Rhode Island. It’s not very commercial and boasts great beaches and camping, interesting history, and beautiful Block Island.
Y - YUMMIEST DESSERT: I love just about any homemade dessert, but my favorite may be a good tiramisu. Or key lime pie (cooling in my kitchen!) Or cheesecake…
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