fabric scrap dry-erase calendar

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Fall in Southern California doesn't contain all the rich colors and cooler sweater weather that you people on the east coast and in the MidWest (home!) get to enjoy, so we have to make do with living fall through flavors and smells - pumpkin spice flavored *everything* and candles to match. So, I guess I have been longing for something that felt a little fall-ish when I stumbled into this project and selected these colors.

wooden bench refurb

Monday, August 31, 2015

I am the oldest child of three, born to an accountant dad and a crafty pediatric nurse mom. I graduated college with a degree in history and Spanish, my younger sister with a degree in architecture (and our youngest brother with a nursing degree). For *years* I thought all of my mom's creative genes skipped over me and landed squarely on my siblings, who were all design, craft, song and creative-oriented. And for the most part, that is true. (You can even visit my sister's etsy shop here - see what I mean? Uber talent!) I remember one summer that I spent on the Mexican border, my mom mailed me a watercolor paint set along with all the necessities for watercolor that you'd need. I had no idea what she was thinking - I tried to paint even one half of a scene of the backyard of the building I was staying at, met total failure and gave up. Creative genes were just not part of me.


Saturday, August 1, 2015

I'm not going to lie. There are days that go by where I do forget to thank God for these precious gifts (at least, consciously). When I am shell-shocked from the pure difficulty that is keeping two tiny humans alive and mostly happy. The hard days full of tantrums, tears, hangry screams and, more recently, guilt that I am not picking up the second child or talking to him enough or feeding him enough or


Friday, May 8, 2015

"I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears."
(Psalm 34:4)

How often do I (you?) ask God to free me from fear? Trial? Sure. Pain? Yes. Troubles? Yup, been there too. I think there is nothing wrong with asking God to free us of these things. But what if...what if, what I really need to be free from is my fear? Fear of trials, fear of pain, fear of troubles, fear of things that are so far outside of my control anyway that I can do nothing but lay them at God's feet. There is no lack of things to fear in this world, my friends - my news feed is full of them. I don't think the solution, actually, is to ignore things that we might fear. They are there whether we want them to be or not. But when the psalmist declared here that the Lord had answered him? God had answered him by delivering him from fear. From all of his fears! How differently might I live if I lived in the truth that my God is the God who delivers me (us) from fear?

(Walking, stumbling, asking God to help me walk the road of fearlessness. Because God is with me. Always.)

parenting in fear

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

"Running directly at the herd is a ploy to generate panic" David Attenborough's voice comes through the Netflixed first episode of Planet Earth. As I watch the 3 million strong herd of caribou being split apart by a handful of white-haired wolves, I think of a video a friend posted earlier this week. "The herd breaks up, and now it's easier to target an individual." The wolves are particularly after the young.


Monday, May 4, 2015

God does not treat his holiness or sin lightly. Neither does he treat his relentless pursuit of me lightly. To do anything other would make him less than who he is. I am so grateful.

cry and rest

Saturday, April 4, 2015

102.2. At least that hot, according to the forehead strip thermometer. He's feverish, but not terribly fussy as long as he is being held and bounced. At one point he is being held and bounced by Mark, and Zoe is close and yells something too loudly, and his face wrinkles up into the shocked-and-surprised whimper face that can't help but melt your heart to buttery softness. Come here, sweet boy.

Joel Buddy: Month 4

Monday, March 23, 2015

Dear Joel,

Technically we are already half way through your 4th month already...and I'm guessing any/all letters I write to you won't be incredibly different in terms of timing. Guilt trip and get over it on my part. You, sweet son, have been my easy-breezy, go with the flow, not yet sleeping through the night but consistently sleeping from 8pm - 3:30am every night, knows mama's voice, smiley, giggly happy baby. Which is why, last week, we probably felt comfortable enough to go outdoor camping in a tent with you and your sister! Yosemite, we came, we saw, we conquered with two babies in tow, and many helping friend hands! Your favorite places are the diaper changing table and snuggled up with just about anyone. We can consistently get you to sleep by wrapping you up tightly in a swaddle and then bouncing you on the exercise ball that Mama originally purchased to use during labor...but never did. You have this amazing swath of mohawk hair that started out sticking straight up but has recently started to flop over into the shape of a wave. People comment on it all the time. I tried brushing it down the other day, just to see what it would do, and it stayed down for all of about two minutes. So, wild hair it is! I'm wondering if, perhaps, you'll be my curly child?

I love getting smiles out of you, and so does your sister. She usually gets better ones than I do, though. You know her voice just about as well as you know mine, and unless you are hungry, her voice seems to be just about as calming as my own. You have had the advantage of being able to sleep in mommy and daddy's room since we brought you home - since neither you nor your sister are consistently sleeping through the night (still!), we aren't trying you in a room together just yet, so that we can put out one fire at a time. I like it because it means that when you wake up at your 3:30 time I can just pull you into bed with me while you nurse, and then put you back.

And now, son, you have just woken up from your nap with loud shouts and calls for attention...and promises of smiles. So, farewell, screen. I have a boy to make smile.


woman. no mistake.

as a woman, I appreciate when churches take the time to ensure songs, especially classic hymns, use language inclusive of both genders (e.g. in "Be Thou My Vision" changing "I Thy true son" to "I Thy true child"). this is not because I think churches intend to be exclusive in any way, or that the songs are for me/about me (which is why, usually, when language is not inclusive I can brush it off - it's about God, not me)...but because to me, using inclusive language in a hymn that for so long has excluded my gender reminds me that I am intentionally included in the Kingdom, not as just some afterthought or "bonus" girl-version of a son, but very intentionally *as* a daughter. I am a daughter-child, not a son-child, and there was no mistake in that.

backyard photo shoot

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

our DSLR camera was stolen from our home last summer, which was a huge bummer. Mark decided to replace it for my birthday/Christmas/anniversary present in February, so I took the kids out for a backyard photo shoot about two weeks ago, and of course Zoe wanted a turn with the camera! Love having high-res images of my babies again.

what I like about living away from family

Monday, February 23, 2015

So, one of the things I tend to be pretty consistently discontent about is living 3 time zones away from most of my family and my husband's family. For all Southern California has to offer, when we first moved here about 2.5 years ago, there was a sizable chunk of my heart that was determined not to grow too attached. These were not "my people", this was not "my land", "everybody" cared too much about body image and fashion and the latest diet and manicured lawns and the fact that California was God's gift to America because you could experience *all* of the beauty from mountain to shore in one day. And I came from the land of icky, icky snow, and ohmahgerd aren't you so glad you live in California now? You're gonna *love* it! And almost nobody knew where to find Michigan on a map ("you said you were from Minnesota? No? Missouri? No? Oh, Michigan. And your husband is from Ohio? Are those, you know, near each other?"). All the yards were fenced in, there was too much traffic, no space to breathe. And I couldn't just jump in a car or call my parents to watch my kids for a weekend. [I'm such a lovely person to be around sometimes, right? You can call me Negative Nancy.]

In short, it wasn't home.

But I have been learning, slowly, so very very slowly, but surely, to appreciate what blessings come from being far from "home".

1. Sunny days. I admit, when those first snowstorms start hitting the east coast and MidWest in November/December, I am practically glued to my Facebook newsfeed, trying to virtually join in with the buzz and excitement of the first beautiful snowfall. I can't accurately put into words all of the childhood feelings and memories that well up inside me again and I want, sometimes so badly, to be back for that. But I'll be honest - when this last wave of cold came through and my Michigan friends and family started to post snapshots of the weather app listing my hometown being at -22F, I was more than a little glad that getting outside for some fresh air with my kiddos didn't involve snowsuits (especially for the potty training toddler). Or even long sleeve shirts.

2. Time. Being far from extended family means I actually have a lot of "free" time to give to other people: friends, neighbors, people in my community. I mean - I love my family, and I would give my left foot (ok, not really) to be back during some special celebrations more often (birthdays, Halloween, Thanksgiving, autumn cider mill runs). But, when I don't have family nearby, I also don't feel the "pull" of having to choose between being with friends or family for a weekend. We can invite friends to our place more often (which I should do more), or spend time with friends, or serve in my community. Since we usually know well ahead of time when we will be visiting family, or when they will visit us, any time outside of that can be dedicated to our community!

3. Independence/Dependence. I grew up, attended college, got married, and began working in the same town (with a short academic year spent in Spain mixed in there). I attended the same church I had grown up in even after I got married. In some ways, wonderful: I knew lots of people, and they knew me. I could count on seeing my parents at church every week if there was something we needed to connect on. I would say I had a healthy amount of independence from them, but we ran in the same circles sometimes, and I wonder if perhaps it was occasionally difficult for others to see me as an adult, separate from my parents. It also meant that when I occasionally needed community support (emotional needs, practical needs like moving furniture or a meal), my parents could still fill those roles (if I let them). But moving across the country to a place where you know almost no one (a handful of distant family members and friends you've only kinda kept in touch with over Facebook) meant I had to find a new community to be the web I could fall back on. It was a new level of independence from family, and leaning into dependence and trust of people to whom I was not blood-related. It takes a while to develop and find this new community, but slowly and surely you find the ones who you can go deep enough with to be your "surrogate" family, and you learn dependence on God to provide the people you need.

4. Appreciation. So, I think perhaps partially because we live so far away from our family members, I have a new appreciation for the time I *do* get to spend with them (usually a couple times per year). This past Christmas, when we were back in the MidWest, I took a break from Facebook for a while because time with my family is so rare - I wanted to be fully present during the time I *did* get to have with them. It wasn't supernaturally awesome or anything, but I'm not sure I would have had the same kind of intention of being present if I had still been living in the same town as my parents for the past couple years. It's a lot easier to not take time together for granted when it's not an everyday (or every week) occurrence.

I hope to occasionally be able to add to this list as a way of refocusing on what living here *is*, instead of what it *is not*.

love your enemies

Thursday, February 19, 2015

"You have heard the law that says, 'Love your neighbor' and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute [are hostile to/harrass/annoy] you!"

(It sounds impossible, right? Love the very one who has hurt you, or would seek to hurt you? It should. Because we were never meant to love enemies on our own strength. Love like that, forgiveness like requires a supernatural, unearthly, I-have-come-to-the-end-of-myself strength. If we think Jesus commanded that thinking we could/would do it on our own, and it was just a revolutionary teaching, we are sorely mistaken. He meant for us to hear it and realize our need of him.)


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34

It sure feels these days like each day has *more* than enough trouble of its own. Lots of bad news - many killed, many treated unjustly, much hate. So much hate. And that's just the world that shows up on my news feed and through radio waves. It says nothing of the chaos in my own home. To be honest, if I really sat down and listed things out, I have it pretty darn good. Two sweet babes, a loving, patient and often kind husband, a home, food on the table, love. Lots of love. But even in the midst of this loveliness, trouble can be felt at moments. When they cry, loudly, at the same time, and I have to triage *who* will get my attention first. Lack of energy to even talk at the end of the day sometimes. Constant, constant mess. Having to figure out *how* to put all this food together into something that resembles a meal. I suppose it's not so much actual trouble as the edges of my privilege showing, right?

And looking ahead to a group of women that I have helped gather together to try and help me focus on something outside myself, outside of something that directly impacts me on a daily basis. We meet on February 20th next, and we hope to pool small sacrificial amounts together to give to other women, sisters, across the world and locally who are at risk of human trafficking. The idea is simple: only meeting three times each year, not giving *additional* money, but choosing something to sacrifice instead, and no particular plans for food at our meetings. And yet, I still find myself in a place of so much worry about how this next meeting will go! So when I look at my life and in particular at this group that we have started, it's so helpful that Jesus' words came through - "do not worry about tomorrow". He doesn't say "don't plan"...but it's helpful to be reminded that when it comes to taking care of my kids and my life, that my focus is to be on today, right now. The tasks that need to happen for the meeting can happen one at a time. Focus on getting one done, then focus on the next. Focusing on twenty things at a time only leads me to feeling frozen because I can't decide which step to take next. So. Just today. Just this one day.
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