Tuesday, October 04, 2011

The Plunge.

I'm taking the plunge, folks! It's been over 7 yrs since I started this blog and I've been feeling the need for change. I've had ideas about starting a new one for awhile now, and I have. Over at Wordpress. Sorry, Blogger...

From now on, visit me here: andreachilds.wordpress.com.

(I'll admit, it's a little sad to say goodbye to this one...it's been a long time! But ok, it's just a blog. See you on the other side!)

Friday, September 30, 2011

praying...when life is hard or confusing, and such

I appreciated reading Sarah's thoughts here about prayer this morning...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

what i notice

On these oh-so-rainy fall days, this is what I notice and smile about...

the look in the eyes of a six-month-old learning to eat solid food.

and the relief found in the bottle when he's tired of that strange new stuff :)

a dinosaur raincoat

savored chocolate chips, melting in the hands of a 2 1/2 yr old who's potty training.

a six-year-old who does care about the puppy he (usually) hates because now she's sick.

clean sheets on a bed.

sharing secret whispers with a toddler.

the tickle monster.

pesto made with my garden basil--delightful.

excitement shared with others about trips and travel.

puppy cuddling.

fall knitting.

boots for splashing in puddles.

an eleven-year-old who thinks she's sixteen.

browsing through Food & Wine in the late afternoons at work.

the feel of deep-down cares and concerns not lost or forgotten...but...dormant?

conversations with mom about who I am (and who I'm becoming).

vanilla chamomile tea after work.

candles burning.

small (and big) things my heart thanks God for; so much taken for granted.

and--last but not least--rain down the gutter when i'm falling asleep...

Friday, September 23, 2011

A Bucket List--of sorts

This isn't exhaustive, nor is it in any particular order. You might think some of them are strange. I'm ok with that :)

1. Take a photography class
2. Develop pictures in a dark room
3. Publish a piece of writing
4. Take a dance class
5. Participate in a bike race
6. Backpack a portion of the AT
7. Adopt
8. Really grow a garden (no more container garden crap)
9. Visit Isle Royale again
10. Tour a vineyard
11. Canoe the boundary waters
12. Learn wood stripping/refinishing
13. Work/volunteer (more) with refugees
14. Visit a refugee camp
15. Involve myself in advocacy (someway/how)
16. Take another pottery class
17. Spend several days in a monastery
18. Draw/paint something to be proud of :)
19. Make what I can
20 Always: get out more
21. Go to Finland
22. Lead (co-lead) a church small group or Sunday school class
23. Travel/backpack around South America
24. Buy a fixer upper (and all the how-to's for fixing it up!)
25. Teach
26. Keep myself teachable
27. Volunteer with relief/disaster response
28. Have a family
29. Teach my kids to love the outdoors and to adventure
30. Travel up the coast of Maine
31. Visit Pearl Harbor
32. Give of myself for others every day
33. Never forget the needy
34. Never grow indifferent to those with "more than they need"
35. Never presume I don't need
36. Learn to live simply (but deeply)
37. Read to people who can't
38. Go on a hot air balloon ride
39. Visit Africa again
40. Never forget God is a God of presence
41. See Peter Mulvey and Jeffrey Foucault perform together in concert
42. Keep gratitude and humility close
43. Keep doing things that scare me
44. Learn to white water kayak
45. Live close to the earth (without that being weird, haha)
46. Read at least three new novels a year.

"Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need."
-Luke 12:31

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


I appreciated this short post about love and marriage this morning...

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sweaters and Smartwool Socks

Yep, it's that time of year. Time for sweaters and Smartwool socks. Today I stopped in at REI before picking C up from school. This has been a bad habit started this year because I have to get there a littler earlier for parking. Arg. Well, it's fun but I'm almost always tempted to think I need things I don't. Truth is, I went in today for something I did need: a new pair of Smartwool socks. Mine from last year have holes worn in them from excessive wearing [yes, I do live in Chicago where it is winter 6 months of the year]. Needless to say, I have a few that needed retiring. SO, I went in and to my very pleasant surprise they had some on SALE. And, they also had a host of winter hats on clearance (don't know why...we're only barely beginning to move into those impending 6 months). So I got a super cute Southwestern-y looking beanie for $5.50. Steal of a deal. It will be just perfect for our Grand Canyon trek over Thanksgiving. Oh yes, did I tell you?? Mom, Dad, Luke, Jake and I will be spending three nights in the GC (Havasupai Falls area, to be exact) in November. Wahoo. I can hardly wait. It's going to be just so beautiful.

So here I am--toasty toes--sippin' on Honey Ginsing tea fighting the sniffles and sneezes, thankful for a night in. I have some things to do...a few projects, some writing, some organizing. I just got through listening to this Piper sermon and want to pass it along. It was "right-on" as far as things I needed to hear and be reminded of. Hope you're able to log away 4o min or so to listen to it sometime. Please do.

Friday, September 16, 2011

kind of fantastic

Luke and I have been on an Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros kick as of late. Found this tonight...

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Someday I hope to have a garden that produces like this one--Mom and Dad's! They've put in a lot of work and have quite the harvest to show for it. Isn't it beautiful?! Seriously. I love it. This sort of thing gets me antsy for life somewhere outside of city where there's even just a small plot of dirt to grow...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I panic, sometimes

I usually get to this time of year--the turning of summer into fall--with a bit of panic alongside. I live in the city but so much of fall happens "out there." Will I miss it? This usually depends on what kinds of trips I can plan for out-of-city adventuring while fall sets in. I don't have any planned this year. Hence, the panic. I don't want to miss it. I don't want to miss the leaves aflame and the smell of the earth turning over--air that's ripe with the smell of living things leaving for awhile.

This morning I'm thinking that I need to make sure I find places to go out of the city when fall is at it's most beautiful. Apple orchards and pumpkin patches. Fields and forests turning all my favorite shades of yellow, orange, red, and brown. The thing about fall is, it's usually gone before we know it. That's part of it's beauty. It never sticks around long enough for us to get sick of it (although who could, even if it did) like the long, dark, wet days of city winter do. They tend to stick around long past their welcome. [side note: it has come to my attention, however, that my aversion to winter is really an aversion to "city winter," which is another breed of animal altogether. i can understand that it is different than winter "out there" where there's snow to play in and woods to explore; porches for sitting and all those winter sports that still seem extremely foreign. i'm determined to snow shoe this winter...]

Sunday, September 11, 2011

"It's only prides hunger for perfection that paralyzes a heart, keeps us enslaved to fear."

-Ann Voskamp

Wednesday, September 07, 2011


The word has to do with the navigational handling of a ship--"near land using buoys, soundings, landmarks, etc..."

Luke has me listening to Josh Garrels again. I don't like all his stuff but I've been enjoying his new album this week. Pilot Me, each time it comes on, strikes a chord in me for sure: "I will arise and follow you over/Savior please, pilot me..."

I'm reading my way through Ecclesiastes. Last night before bed I was thinking about the purpose/function/gift of relationship and community. I had read 4:9-12,

"Two people are better than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided chord is not easily broken."

So I got thinking about relationship for all these things: companionship and service, growth and transformation, health and well-being, protection and safety, warmth and closeness...

I'm more and more convinced that relationship is a remarkable (might I even say, miraculous) gift.

Not to say there aren't some hideous and twisted expressions of relationship (of all kinds) out there, but that those aren't the healthy, right or true. They are perversions of the healthy, right, and true. Some look there and say, "No way, I don't want to risk that happening." And I'm that person sometimes. But its wrong, you see. And to skip out of such a remarkable and wholesome experience in life would be to...miss out in profound ways on the gift God's given. Relationship. Community.

I guess we say, "I will arise and follow you over/Savior please, pilot me..." And we keep at it...we keep building our relationships; investing, loving, serving, praying...because two and three are stronger than one...

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

living days in faith, with hope

"Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid." -Frederick Buechner

Sunday, August 28, 2011

up here [in northern michigan]

Up here, there are already pockets of color. A tree here and there splashing the endless green landscape with bright bits of red and orange and yellow. Autumn promises to come. I love Autumn.

Up here the sky meets the water in one huge canopy of blue.

Up here the air is fresh and unspoiled by oh so many cars, buses, and buildings.

I am glad to be up here...glad to be with family...glad to have "pillow talk" with Luker late into the night...anxious for everyone else to get in--Mom and Dad this afternoon, Jay, Kristen, and kiddos tomorrow evening. It's been a long time since we've all had a good chunk of time together. This is just lovely :)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

been thinkin' on this

"You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you. It is easy to say you believe a rope is strong and sound as long as you are merely using it to cord a box. But suppose you had to hang by that rope over a precipice. Wouldn't you then first discover how much you really trusted it?...Only a real risk tests the reality of a belief." -C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sandra McCracken "In Feast Or Fallow" acoustic

This is my favorite of her recent songs. I really love it. This morning--while stripping and painting my old dresser--I've been "rediscovering" old Derek webb, which has inevitably led me to some Indelible Grace and, finally, to his wife: Sandra McCracken. I'm sure I will always appreciate this couple's honest articulation of faith-life, deeply rooted in age old truths but never quiet or silent about where we find ourselves living daily, in each new era. She Must and Shall Go Free is an album I haven't listened to in a long while. It's a great album--truthful about living an understanding of Gospel that is difficult and beautiful; painful and pleasure-filled.

Anyhow, give the song a listening to. It's great :)

Back to the project!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

two cuties

Sam and Ailey are so ridiculously cute. Beautiful kiddos--they make my heart hurt!!! Sappy, Auntie...I know. But true. Look at these two...

I think being an Aunt is one of my favorite things. Can't wait to see how these relationships grow over the years. Sigh. Looking forward to Michigan in 2 1/2 weeks!!

Tuesday, August 09, 2011


i did it. i just enrolled for September's ESL/TESOL certification course. i'm doing it. whew.
i'm nervous.


and the possibility of getting a job with an organization like World Relief makes me really excited.

taking this step scares me a bit. but i've been saying i want to do something that scares me--something that stretches me and pushes me out of comfort zones; something i can't see to the end of but that i know is a worthwhile investment. goodness. life is so interesting these days, eh? :)

Saturday, August 06, 2011

back in 2007

Re-reading old journals or letters is so...interesting. I usually learn things from my younger self. Sometimes I think, "gee, Andrea, you could learn that again you know." Other times I think, "i am so glad I don't think/live like that anymore!"

I just reread my stack of "Africa emails"--the updates I sent out to supporters, etc. Ha. I've grown up a lot since then. I'm grateful for that. When I look back like that I realize, again, what a journey life is. We truly do "travel through"...

Anyhow, I wrote this at the end of one of my final emails:

"Keep seeking the face of our incredible Lord. Remember, He is a great Savior for our great need. It is ok to need Him. Sometimes we need to stop trying so hard to be people that LOOK like Jesus and just need to live like we are...people who NEED Jesus."

I am pleased to be reminded of this again, now. It's true, isn't it? It's ok to need Him. Because we do. But sometimes we strive and strive to look like Him before we are free to need Him. That seems backwards. I catch myself trying to put myself together before approaching Him--even before admitting my need. How utterly preposterous. Ridiculous. In the end, I'd prefer to remember that I can go to Him all messy and such--all needy. Because He's bigger than my big need. Hmm. I somehow "knew" that in 2007 but the Andrea of 2011 needs to hear it still. I have a great need. I have a great Savior. This has grown more nuanced for me through the years, but no less true. I need Him. I do.

And i have a feeling life will keep reminding me of this, year after year after year.

Friday, August 05, 2011

family time

I'm getting SO ridiculously excited for family time up north. Mom has divided us into "cooking teams" so she doesn't get stuck in the kitchen (and so everyone has equal opportunity to spend time with the little ones). That momma--she's a thinker! So, Hannah and I are on for night one and I've been looking through some favorite blogs, etc., searching for the right recipe. I think I've found it...

Bourbon Orange Coriander Barbecue Sauce

I know I can't speak too soon BUT, Joy the Baker always comes through. Did I ever mention I made these for Lacy's birthday? They were...uh-mazing.

Are you getting jealous? Wishing you could join the Childs' (plus a few) for a WHOLE WEEK in the north country?? Who wouldn't be :)

Monday, August 01, 2011

Augusts 1st??!

How is it already AUGUST?! Seriously. The summer has absolutely flown.

Whew, today was quite a day. Full of disobedient and disrespectful children. It has entirely worn me out. On days like today I think, "how did I get here? how is it that i am involved (rather intimately) in the raising of these children?--these children that are not my own." The thing is, I love these children. I do. But that doesn't mean that I don't have these hard days. I'm sure I'm just being prepared (again) for motherhood. The difference for me now is that these aren't my own. Therein lies the challenge. And therein, too, lies the mystery of my deep love for these little ones. Sigh. Nannying is a sticky situation...clearly.

The point is, I had a bad work day. It was long. It was exhausting. The small boys that I normally enjoy so much were rather rotten and, well, downright rude. I didn't want to be around them. I didn't want to be patient. I didn't want to listen to moaning, whimpering or complaining. I wanted to go home. And cry. Because sometimes the buildup gets heavy and the final "all you ever are is mean!" or "can you leave now?" just get to me--it kinda hurts. I want to yell right back, "are you kidding?! Me?! MEAN?! to YOU? Do you know how patient I am?! Do you know how hard I try?! Do you know the ways I serve you??!" Hmm. I'm sure there is a lesson here, I'm just too tired to 1. really notice it 2. articulate it.

In other news, I'm reading A Grief Observed. I just reread A Great Divorce and found it, again, to challenge and inspire some of my my ideas of lasting things--namely, the High Country. Needless to say, I'm enjoying Lewis. What's your summer reading?

Also, I want to acquire new skills. This might sounds cheesy or strange but it shouldn't. In the vein of the pottery class I took last fall, I want to do something like it again. I don't know what, yet, but I'm thinking. I sort of want it to be a hobby. Haha. Ok, this is sounding kind of weird and pathetic. I'll share more once these ideas are developed...

oh yeah! I was going to say, I've been groovesharking Fernando Ortega for weeks now. I really like him. Tonight i heard Light of Heaven and copied the chorus into my journal because, well, it just seems a good prayer for praying...

Light of Heaven
Lord of Mercy
Shine the goodness
of your love upon this day
Till we see you
Till we know you
Till the sorrow and the darkness
fade away
Fade away

Sunday, July 31, 2011

summer is for weekending

Wisconsin this weekend was full of summery things...

lakeside walking with little ones
playground fun
the sun setting behind a barn
night talking around the dinner table
smoothies on the porch
reading in bed
sleeping in
time spent with good friends
sun, beach, and water
wine tasting
a field full of fireflies

Back in the big city, now. Back to work tomorrow. Everything so busy and fast....but i don't want to forget what I think and feel and pray out where the sky is bigger--wider--and the fields so green. Why does my whole soul seem to enlarge when I am out where there is space? It always catches me off guard how much "clearer" some things seem to become when I go where life is a little less busy; and where nature is closer than trees here and there--small patches of grass amidst all the asphalt...things seem to sink in out there. I'm always brought back here, where i have to practice the clarity; where i live out the things learned. Hmm. Interesting thing, this pattern i've discovered this year, of getting out and then coming back.

My only regret of the weekend: no bike ride. I so wanted those open roads. But it was beastly hot and time was short.

Lately i've been craving the water--to be out on the water. In a canoe. Summer isn't summer without time in a canoe. I suppose I can get my fix up North in August. Mmm. SO LOOKING FORWARD :)

Monday, July 25, 2011

"Ninja's don't wait till you're ready..."

Today at swim, I was sitting on the couch in the lobby because C wanted to wait and "rest" a bit while S swam. Next thing I knew, he was flying through the air and on top of me--knee in the stomach, elbow in the nose. After a gasp and a laugh and an effort to explain that next time I'd appreciate a warning, he said,"Ninja's don't wait till you're ready!"


Thursday, July 21, 2011

my summer theme song ;)

For real, yo!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

this family of mine

We're all so excited for the "reunion" at Grandma's this August. I can tell already it's going to be such good time of fun and togetherness....and a whole lot of laughter. This family laughs a lot when it gets together :)

We've been mass emailing plans back and forth. Luke posted this in an email a few days ago. It about says it all for us, I think!

"Up North is a lone set of cross-country ski tracks across a wilderness lake and the wood smoke rising from a cabin chimney. It's bunchberries in July and wild rice in September. Each of us has an Up North. It's a time and place far from the here and now. It's a map on the wall, a dream in the making, a tugging at ones soul. For those who feel the tug, who make the dream happen, who put the map in the packsack and go, the world is never quite the same again. We have been Up North and part of us always will be." -Sam Cook

Thursday, July 14, 2011

living in new directions

I've been thinking on choice a bit lately. There's a tension, it seems, between choice/freedom/responsibility...these (words) ideas we use when we talk about our ways of living--our behavior. Belief lies at the heart of behavior.

What do I believe about this world--it's people, patterns, and personality? What do I believe about myself--body, soul, and spirit? What do I believe about God--his person, character, and interaction with all things around?

The answers are found in the way I live. Belief lives and grows in our deepest places, where no one else can see. From there it wells up and comes out in the way we think and choose, and act.

I've learned some things this semester about the thought-life as the "breeding grounds" (so to speak) of belief. What a gift it is that we are thinking beings--intentional, no doubt about it. We've been created with such capacity to ask and wonder, think and learn. We are always thinking and reasoning and living our lives on those conclusions.

I read Romans 12:2 at some point and felt the inspiration behind Paul's charge, "Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect."

It's big-deal stuff he's talking. I can tell because I've lived it. I am living it. The transformation of thought is so key to developing healthy patterns of living. Belief to change behavior--to achieve growth and foster maturity. Not the other way around. Not just a modification of behavior. We don't change like that. We just don't. I know this of myself.

I read this just a few minutes ago from Ann Voskamp, "It's only prides hunger for perfection that paralyzes a heart, keeps us enslaved to fear."

We all have perfectionist tendencies--some more than others. I certainly do, and I've had to do hard battle with them at times. They won't ever go away altogether but there's value in digging down to determine what's under it all. Why do I feel like I need to be_____ or act_____ or achieve______.

Fear isn't freedom. And this I've learned in some really hard ways this year. I have a feeling I'll be learning it all life long.
Because God is about setting us free from things--free from the world--toward a better life. And we keep getting tangled up with things here. "Don't copy this world...have God change the way you think...know God's good will for you..." Promises we bank on for life, right?

His patience is what gets me. Probably because I lose patience with myself so easily. But He is consistently and constantly present in the ongoing work of learning to be free and untangled. I hope this never ceases to amaze me...and fill my heart with gratitude.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

priceless moments

The kids' mama has been in the ER all day for appendicitis. She's still there waiting for an opening for surgery. It's something a little scary for a kid, I think, to know mom is in the hospital and needs surgery but to not be sure quite what that means. She called them in the afternoon and the first question out of their mouths was "can we watch a movie?!" Normally they're not allowed to watch TV when I'm there, unless it's a special occasion. Probably out of sheer exhaustion, the answer was yes...which meant they both wanted to watch a (different) movie.

C picked his favorite: The Giants of Brazil (which recaps one of the World Cup games--really old). S picked The Last Song, that Miley Cyrus teenage drama with terrible acting but, nevertheless, every important component of a teenage drama: summer love born out of a few cheesy pick up lines, jealous ex-girlfriend that spreads rumors, a heart wrenching break-up, and...duh...the heart wrenching reunion at the end of the movie. True love, apparently. I was in and out of the living room doing laundry, etc., but eventually sat down to finish the movie with S. Eew, eeeeew. It was such a terrible movie. Painful to watch, really. I hope my daughter never wants to watch that kind of stuff. She probably will. I hope she also wants to watch The Giants of Brazil. Seriously. High school love chick flicks make me gag.

But then, inevitably, by the last scene of the movie we're on the edge of our seats waiting for the reunion that is about to happen on that beautiful beach with the sun setting behind. Okay, I wasn't actually on the edge of my seat. But S was and those sappy cheesy stories get girls' emotions all a tangle. That's part of why I hate them.
By this point C had finished watching his educational film (bless his heart) and was sitting on my lap. I love when he wants to sit on my lap--so cute. There we were, all cute like, sitting together watching this overly emotionally charged last scene of the movie where she runs to him and he catches her up and they kiss and everything is better again (resolution comes quick and easy to little high schoolers, apparently).

I could almost feel S catch her breath right at that moment and at the exact same time I heard C say under his breath: "Why can't I make this into a torpedo; I used to be able to make it into a torpedo!" And I looked down to find C folding and rolling the band-aid he had put on earlier after Millie bit him. I laughed and he looked up at me, "What?" Nothing, I thought, you are just amazing...and I am so glad you were making a torpedo out of a band-aid while Miley Cyrus was kissing Mr. too-tan-and-too-blonde-for-comfort out there on that beach. It was a priceless moment.

Friday, July 08, 2011

so great...

The Civil Wars - Forget Me Not

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

summer lovin' with the little ones

a few favorites...

1. Hot days made cooler by ice cream--sticky fingers and thick, smeared mustaches.
2. Damp, sandy beach towels.
3. Looking in the rearview mirror to see a six-year-old sound asleep minutes after leaving swim class.
4. Throwing pennies in public fountains.
5. A cookie date at a coffee shop with a two-year-old who is finding her words.
6. Walking the neighborhood until the wee one falls asleep.
7. "Penalty kick shoot-outs" in the basement and conversations that go like this:
C: "Andrea, you're a pretty good keeper for someone like you."
Me: "Hey! What's that supposed to mean?"
C: "For someone who isn't very good at soccer. We're like opposites. You are a good keeper, I am a good player."
Me: Uuuuhh...
8. A ten-year-old eager to tell me about her day.
9. Tucking in and "counting sheep" with a bored boy who won't sleep even though he's laying on the coolest (ever) spiderman sheets.
10. Loving a beautiful girl who is almost eleven and weighs herself 3 different times in the locker room. Frustrated that I'm tongue-tied and want to tell her things that will turn her mind from where it's at.
11. Dinner together at Potbelly's while mom and dad are out. Laughing so hard chips spew (chewed up ones; in my face) and sprite dribbles down the sides of his mouth. And her lips are stained brown from the chocolate brownie cookie we are supposed to be "splitting."
12. Laughing till it doesn't make sense because we're all probably over-tired and high on the sun.
13. Learning as I watch them that this is where life is real: these moments that sometimes feel mundane and routine but that are gifted moments and I wouldn't trade them for anything.

Tonight I felt so grateful to be sharing these years with these little ones. It has been hard and beautiful and quite a journey. They have taught me so much. Loving them has turned to an ache. Uh oh, good gracious. They've gotten to me.

And I'll need to be reminded, again, when things are tough and I'm on the floor cleaning up puppy diarrhea or acting as referee (for the umpteenth time) that this is where it's at. That "relationships grow only in a hot house of humility, selflessness, open-handedness" and I will have to give of myself again...and again...and again. He taught us self-giving. That's how we live best, but it isn't always easiest. No wonder we find ourselves praying for strength and courage to put our best foot forward. And for baby steps :)

Monday, July 04, 2011

A different kind of 4th

Of all holidays, I think I have the most unique and varied memories of the 4th of July--top two being the one before I started high school and the one spent in Swaziland. That summer spent (in the U.P.) at the lake house before high school was simply wonderful. I don't know if anything will beat watching the fireworks burst overhead from our seat in the row boat (pieces of cardboard and what-not landing in the water around us). And then I'll never forget homemade pizza, watching Jim and Matt and others set off small firecrackers and sparklers from the balcony of that Mbabane base, while being led in our national anthem by Nini (a native Swazi). I think she had more pride in celebrating the holiday with us than any of us American's had in being American. It was kind of cute.

This year, I got to spend the weekend with my Grandma and my uncle Matt. I was so grateful because I don't necessarily get to see them all that often. It's a gift to be with people who are at different stages of life and who are family and who love you. Sometimes I get caught in my stage of life. It's so helpful to listen to people who are in the middle of their lives or to those nearing the end. And I don't mean this at all in a morbid sense. There's a certain beauty about those who have soaked up so much of life's wisdom because they've been around long enough. I felt it with Grandma--yes, you Grandma!--this weekend. I want to listen to things she says because I know she knows what she's talking about. She's lived so much more of life than I have. For example: when she says, "what joy have we but family--relationships?" I listen up and I tuck that away because I know that she's right...and that she's had more experience with it all than I have.

I delighted to walk through the woods with Matt--up Swede Town Creek--and sit on the shore of that certain Great Lake :) soaking up "the peace of wild things" and catching up on life.

And, as usual, pictures and memories of Papa that will always have me aching and missing him but we do alright because we still have each other and we're still taking pictures and making memories.

Then there was the drive home which was good for thinking and wondering and praying and processing. There is so much space for it out there. Driving across Wisconsin today was so refreshing. The sky so BIG and clear and blue. The fields so FAR and rich and green. Spectacular.

There's been much on my mind and heart and I was able to reach a good bit of clarity this weekend, which I am thankful for. One thing i've been thinking about is the relationship between belief and freedom (faith and hope is sort of another way of terming it, i think). I was thinking about our instinctive search for truth and lasting things--which is a search for peace (freedom). I felt this on the shore of Lake Superior. I find peace there. Freedom. Why do we ache so much to find peace? Mom reminded me today that we were made for more than this life, so we feel unsettled if we think this is all there is.

I got home and got to looking through some Piper sermons. Gosh, I haven't listened to him in so so long. I watched this of his and was floored. So timely. So good to hear. So simple and so beautiful. I had to laugh a little--he's so goofy and I'd forgotten. I appreciate how utterly captivated he is by his love for the Lord. He doesn't discount the difficulty of faith but he also doesn't discount the joy of knowing Christ. He emphasizes spiritual knowledge (head) and spiritual experience (heart) and I think I'll always be indebted to him for helping me learn the necessity of these both for the maturity of faith (scholarship and relationship). I have a lot to learn. We do well to be reminded of the beauty of God and his interactive life with the world. Wait till you get to his discussion of the relationship between freedom and desire. I really appreciate what he has to say. His illustrations are helpful. SO, enough jibber jabber. I hope you watch it. It is 45 minutes well worth it. Take a little break...

Happy 4th, everyone. I hear the explosions across the city!!

Friday, July 01, 2011

sleep won't come for awhile

...so i do what i always do when i can't sleep: i write.

I made it up north. It's beautiful in the U.P. in the summertime. Lupines lined the road driving up--absolutely breathtaking. Wish I had a picture of my own but google images will have to do. They are SUCH a beautiful flower. If you have never read the children's book Miss Rumphius ("The Lupine Lady"), you must. It was a childhood favorite.

The air seemed to get cleaner and clearer. The water was so bright and blue. Tomorrow and Sunday are supposed to be sunny and 70's and i can't wait for walks, runs, strolls around the neighborhood and along the shore. MmmMmm.

Coffee in the morning with Grandma (although we agreed to sleep in and THEN have coffee :)) then Uncle Matt gets in later tomorrow. A lovely, relaxed weekend away with those I love...what could be better?!

Driving up here alone isn't quite as fun as driving up with friends. I passed the time singing obnoxiously loud to country songs, car dancing until i realized i was swerving a little bit too much, admiring Wisconsin farms (more and more attached all the time), talking to myself (giving advice to self is better done out loud, I'd say), and, well, praying (also really helpful to do out loud--especially if there is any venting, pleading, wondering, or frustration involved...it just gets it out and puts it to Him and there it is, at His feet where it should be, messy and all). These were all very helpful and very therapeutic ways to pass the time today. But...I'm exhausted. I really should sleep...

it's good to be here.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

oh how my garden grows

Tonight Lacy and I are having a roommate dinner. Caesar salad complete with THREE kinds of my garden lettuce. Thank you, Seeds of Change, for those awesome free seed packets! I'm so excited to eat it--it's super satisfying to eat something you've watched grow. I love it. My basil is smelling awesome. And everything else is looking great, too, but nothing ready to harvest. I think I started a bit late. But it'll be fine.

Oh, and the landscapers are putting GRASS down in the backyard. Seriously?! Yessss. This summer is already awesome but just got better. Waiting for Grease and West Side Story to play free in the park. Coming soon!

I'm going north for the 4th. I probably won't see fireworks because i'll be driving back on the night of the 4th. Maybe I'll pull off and watch some in unknown small town Wisconsin. That sounds kinda nice. Happy holiday weekend, everyone!

[and since it's a holiday weekend and you just might have some extra time, i'll tack this on]

If you find yourself in a place in life similar to mine (twenty-something, curious about a career-path, uncertain about the future, learning hard, frustrating, but good lessons about what it means to support yourself or others while also stewarding well, and looking at the world out in front of you and yourself here in it wondering where you should be and what you should be doing...) you might enjoy reading this article. I don't know a lot about Jon Foreman but I like his solo stuff quite a lot, for the most part. He's one "contemporary Christian artist" whose lyrics remain poignant, thought-provoking, and truthful without losing on quality. I stumbled across this article he wrote about re-appropriating the phrase "making a living." Really, anyone would benefit from reading it. But especially, perhaps, us who are pretty fresh out of college with the future rather "dim" (and i know you are out there because I've talked with quite a lot of you recently and we're all talking similar talk :)). It's a remarkable time of life in a lot of ways because there's a lot of forced trusting. All of life requires that we trust God but certain experiences (undoubtedly) create that "need" all the more. Anyhow, enough talk. Go ahead and read the article. I'm sure at least parts of it will resonate with you. Don't get turned off by some of the Christian cliche. I know, it gets to me too, but maybe we need to let it go sometimes...

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

on perspective

Usually I park in the parking garage when I pick the kids up from school. Yesterday there was a huge open spot right there on the street (never happens). So instead of entering the pick-up area from the north side of the building, I came at it from the south. Which meant I stood at the other end of the group of mom's. It's weird to stand in a new place once you've stood in an old one for so long. I felt awkward and out of place. From where I usually stand, I know just where all the other moms/nannys are going to be waiting for their kids; who the friends are; who the talkers are; who the one's are who don't say anything; who show up late, etc...I couldn't do all that yesterday. It was weird. And I know it's a simple example but it made me think about how sometimes our perspective needs to change--needs some "shaking up." I think sometimes maybe we stand in the same place too long; think things over too much, too often; exhaust our own understanding of something and need to be moved to see things differently.

But maybe this is just me? Maybe ya'll don't feel like sometimes you give yourself too much thinking credit; too much of the last say on things.

I've been reading Psalm 73 a lot this spring. For various reasons it addresses a lot of things I've been wrestling with, tempted by, learning, etc. And there's a line in there that goes like this, "...But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end" (vv. 16, 17).

I'm not one to say that anytime you're trying to figure out something hard or feel like you need a change of perspective to see rightly, you should just "go into the house of God" and it will all become clear. Not exactly, anyway. I don't appreciate (in myself or in others) when God and faith are used like a magic potion/equation. Plug in the proper variables and solve for X. I know that it isn't that simple. But I think I'm also beginning to learn and remember that what IS found (pretty much immediately) when you enter the place and presence of God, is the truth of who He is. This means there is patience, compassion, and kindness there. There is faithfulness and trustworthiness. This means that there is no trickery or manipulation. This means He desires our understanding of His working in the world for the sake of relationship with Him--but on His terms, not ours, which can get us frustrated sometimes, eh? We usually think we know the best way to do things. At least that's how I am.

[Side note: last night Lace and I rode our bikes out along the lake shore. It was absolutely beautiful. That is also an example of the kind of perspective-giving moments I need. The perspective of big sky and horizon; the perspective of space to think and ask and be. What fort of perspective-giving moments do you need?]

I have another verse written on a piece of birch bark that hangs by my desk: "For God is working in you, giving you the power to do what pleases Him" (Phil 2:13). Sometimes my own perspective gets so convoluted and tangled up and I can hardly distinguish what's true. Entering into relationship with God--faith, dependence, reliance--provides me with a deep-down calm, even when I don't understand things. Even when I get frustrated because on my own I don't have the power to do what pleases Him but I want to...that place is surrender; entrusting; giving up my old place of perspective for a new, awkward, and uncomfortable place of perspective. It's grace, I tell you.

I'm finding that His place of perspective is a lot less cluttered than mine. In mine, thoughts are always racing and pushing and talking. In His, there is rest. There is even quiet. "He leads me beside quiet waters"? "He restores my soul"? My heart isn't without thoughts or questions in His place of perspective, but there is peace. There's always more to see, learn, understand, or wonder. I guess I feel like I live to know that it is enough that I don't know things but that I can entrust those "don't knows" to the trustworthy one. I count it a gift that I find Him trustworthy. I know people for whom life has stolen that gift and they live in such deep, dark doubt. Please, God, restore our gift of faith.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

because i'm friends with a nine-year-old who thinks she's fat

I just read Sarah's letter to her girls about the lies we women hear/believe about beauty in this mixed-up world. I appreciate her thoughts--the perspective of a mother, which is different than mine and helpful to hear, but the perspective of a woman, which I identify with right away. I guess it hits close(r) to home because I've had some of these conversations with the girl of the family I nanny for--a beautiful, fun, quirky, energetic ten (almost eleven!) year-old, who has been thinking on these things for years already. The world is in front of her, so big and so ready, and she worries about her weight, how she looks, and (because it always follows) what people think of her. I'm not a mom--I'm not her mom--but I feel like it inside sometimes. Maybe I feel more like a protective older sister...

Andrea, I've gained weight this week (the girl is an absolute twig). Andrea, I've decided I'm not going to eat sweets anymore, so I don't get fat. I need to lose weight. Andrea, I just read this book about a girl with an eating disorder. Andrea, what's it called when a girl throws up her food?

You see, I have friends who have spent years wrestling with eating (not eating) and exercise addictions. Any pain I have experienced with and as a result has been in the praying for, witnessing, and living alongside some of these friends. I've never wrestled in some of the more "severe" physical ways with the lies but, let me tell you, I've lived with them and wrestled them mind, soul, spirit, emotion. I don't want this to be a sob post about "how hard it is to be a girl" or "how difficult the lies of the culture are to withstand." I know that men battle their own set of lies. Really, lies are lies and they all target the same thing: how we view and understand our inherent dignity, issues of worth, our invested value, and our identity. It's hard and painful and downright exhausting at times.

It is what it is in the sense that the lies aren't going away anytime soon. We can get paralyzed under the "weight" of it all or buck up a bit, chill out, accept the fact that this is how things are going to be, and learn to live different than they say, even when it's hard. I once talked with a friend about a similar subject and he said something about not wanting to live the way the world expects us to live. Exactly. I think that's called living under the recognition that God is redeeming things and provides a better, richer, more fulfilling way of living with and understanding ourselves (and the world). The world will continue to bombard us. Heck, the kids are worried younger and younger, aren't they? I don't remember when I first felt the "seriousness" of these lies about body image and beauty but it was not when I was nine/ten years old. Goodness gracious, I was bruise-shinned gallivanting through the mountains of Mexico, chasing donkeys with my brother, making forts in manzanilla bushes in Southern Arizona, and building fires in tin cans to cook food for our flight from the Nazi concentration camps. A better use of my time, if you ask me. But this has a lot to do with how and where I was raised, as well as a number of other factors that are for another time and conversation. The point is, kids face the lies early and it's been sad for me to see.

I get it. I know, the world will keep telling me that I need skinnier thighs and bigger boobs if I ever want to get a guy or feel truly valued. Sometimes the lies are loud and it is a sincere struggle not to believe them. Other days, I just think (probably immature but whatever), "F--- you, world, there is more to stand for and more to live by!" And I believe it, with all my heart. I believe it for S who is not fat and does not need to lose weight and who, I pray, will not buy into all that those gossip magazines tell her is important (even though she and her friends started a gossip girls club at school). Seriously. There is so much more to live for.

I don't really know why I'm writing all this out...I think because I've learned some hard things this year about what it means to be true to the beautiful things of life instead of getting sucked into what the world says is valuable. I've battled some pretty hard lies about money and beauty and success and purpose and value...etc., etc., etc. I suppose that's part of growing up and part of messing up and trying again. And I've seen this sweet, sweet girl growing up who I have come to love...and she is up against a world that doesn't want to celebrate her unique beauty. It wants to fit her into a mold and that is oh so detestable to me. How pathetic to take the wide and creative beauty of this world and cut, press, and push it into a mold--a box--that someone has said is "it." No, no. That's not where it is at. Look around you. We are all a fairly average group of people, eh? I would take the remarkably average ones over the cookie-cutter 'they've got it' ones any day.

There is, inherent in each of us (also the ones that succumb to the cookie-cutter image), a beauty that the world has failed to define. Because maybe we can't define it.

It's sort of like how i can't describe or define just why it is that i have to catch my breathe every time I am on the shores of Lake Superior looking out. Yeah, it's something like that. We need to catch a vision of that understanding of beauty and run with it. Our lives will be freer and richer, guaranteed.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Tonight i saw fireflies. Granted, it wasn't in a field or a forest but it was in a beautiful back-street neighborhood and they were dancing their beautiful bodies of light across the front yards in that always and forever magical way. I was so happy.

Today was lovely. I got up and went to the laundromat and ran errands with lacy. Then i went for a bike ride by myself along the lake shore. It was glorious. 76 and sunny and hundreds of sailboats out of the harbor bouncing on open water. The sun was so bright i had to close my eyes as i sat there on the edge looking out. I soaked up sun today. no rain; no grey; just sun. Yes, i know: glorious. It felt so good to ride. I wanted to ride and ride and leave the city behind--find some open road and big wide fields. Anyway, it calmed me. And recharged me. I thought of dad (because i always do when i bike) and of the time he quoted Eric Liddell, saying that when he (dad) bikes he "feels God's pleasure."

I went home and showered and then had a lovely phone chat with Mel. It was so good to hear her voice and talk life-stuff. I'm grateful for good friends :)

THEN, I got to see Wendy! She leaves for Nepal in three weeks and will be gone for the year. I'm so excited for her--she'll be teaching. I'm so glad I got to see her before she leaves. I went over to where she's staying for the weekend and we had tacos together and then walked to an ice cream shop in Wicker Park that makes the ice cream in front of you with mixers and dry ice. Crazy. We went back to the house and watched Mexico vs. US (Gold Cup). Mexico won, 4-2. I hardly knew who to cheer for. I get kind of patriotic for Mexico. It was super fun. Soccer is way more fun to watch than football, can I just say it? Seriously. The game isn't stopped every two seconds, for one thing. And I feel like the athletes are more...athletic? Am I allowed to say that?

Today was a good day. It reminded me of things I love and things that make me feel alive. Do the things that make you feel alive, k? I've been thinking about the idea of "taking charge of life." Not in a cavalier, cocky sort of way. And not in a way that strips us of faith or the difficult and freeing task of trusting to God each new day. No, I mean taking charge in the sense of choosing and pursuing things that make us alive; that make us healthier, freer people. Sometimes we get confused about what is good and right and most healthy/freeing. But we really ought not ever give up because finding life in that way is what makes life so beautiful and it's journey so rewarding.

There's a lot on my heart these days. Full and almost bursting. Wish I could share all of it with you :)

You might get bored.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

my mind won't sleep

I've been so tired lately and now it's dark and quiet out but I find myself unable to sleep. Bother.

Perhaps it is the million thoughts buzzing around in my head that disallow sleep. For example, the thought of Mariah getting on that plane tomorrow afternoon; our having to say goodbye.
Or maybe it's this pamphlet on my desk with the big, bold headline, "teach English abroad" and i'm almost saved up for the course. I'd like it if my mind would let me sleep now. Maybe I'll try again...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Read This

over here. it was good for me to hear/read tonight. hope you appreciate it, too.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


I can hear wind and rain out the window. I love that. So long as the tree branches stay attached to the trees and don't snap off onto my car (i have seen a record number of snapped tree branches due to these rainstorms...and a few on cars...please God, noooo).

The days have been so very "summer." I can't really describe it to you, I just hope you know what I mean. You know, evening air thick and humid, sunshine across the kitchen floor, country music (with the windows rolled down, duh), kids waking up from naps all hot and sweaty, popsicles, a glass of white wine...
The only thing I haven't seen yet are fireflies. I didn't grow up around them so I don't actually know if (maybe) they come out later in the summer...? I do know we don't see many in the city, which is a real shame. I love them. A whole lot.

I've found myself on my knees a lot lately. Literally and figuratively. Prayer has been a daily must and I guess when you're down wiping up puppy pee, cat vomit, stooped low to talk to a little one about why it is not okay to hit, scream, scratch, or stomp, or down on all fours cleaning up a spill, the kneeling part comes easy. But then there's my heart and getting it to a place of love, compassion, kindness, and care in the midst of all the sounds, smells, and frustrations of the day(s). It isn't always difficult--I really love these kids--but it can be. Really. Patience is a requirement. Love is patient, that's what I keep remembering. But it seems we're trained in impatience, doesn't it? Faster/shorter lines, instant foods, daily schedules and appointments to keep. But life-lessons don't always follow a schedule and maturity isn't met by appointment only. I am learning this.

I have seen in myself lately lots that needs changing. I've also seen lots that needs celebrating and maybe even a little bit of "freeing." I believe that sometimes we get to places in life and we find we've withheld where we shouldn't have; kept our mouths shut or our priorities stunted when we should have made a different decision.

A toast (raising my glass of white wine, MmMmmm): to us! To kneeling every day to say in humility and need, "I need changing. But I am also one of God's beautiful ones--His made-after-his-own-likeness ones; and that needs celebrating."

Life is beautiful. It's also short. Sometimes I forget this. It's a tender balance to live with this in mind in healthy ways--I've swung in both directions. I would like to be more in the middle.

I should go to bed. This pooped nanny has been short on sleep, i think...

Monday, June 20, 2011

friends and a wedding

Sarah is married and the days have been sweet.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

missing these two munchkins

talk about faces of summer, huh?!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

thoughts from a stuffy head

I apologize ahead of time if these thoughts are muffled and awkward. I got hit hard with a head cold last night and have been wrestling with sinus pressure and a ridiculously stuffy left nostril all day. uugh, frustrating. But through the stuffiness I remembered that tomorrow is Pentacost Sunday. I think I remembered because I was sitting here earlier reflecting on "life" these days--and all that I am thinking through and facing right now (which feels like a lot)--only able to manage a rather pathetic cry, "Please God, I'm really needing you." Sometimes we just have to say "I don't know, Lord." And, since I've said that a lot lately, I'm beginning to see it as an act of trust. Somehow in all of the "I-don't know's" of life right now, God remains trustworthy. I guess I realized yesterday what a gift this is in the midst of a semester (yes, I can't help but still think in semesters) that has taken a lot out of me without (it has seemed) giving much back.

God steps in with his small gifts...like the fact that I can still find him trustworthy despite uncertain circumstances that threaten to change my mind about that. This is grace.

So tomorrow is Pentacost and I am well aware (again) of how much I need the Spirit. I have been making quiet requests for healing and reorientation over the past few weeks because I know I need his help. And tonight it comes to a head as I think about tomorrow and the "coming." Holy Spirit, come. Walter Brueggemann has written "so blow this day, wind//blow here and there, power//blow even us, force//rush us beyond ourselves//rush us beyond our hopes//rush us beyond our fears, until we enact your newness in the world//come, come spirit. Amen."

In my own words tonight I wrote in my journal "Come to me; come on us. Fill us again with strength for the pilgrimage. I need courage, Lord. Courage to believe (and live) truth in a world so mixed up. I need strength to stand for something large and lasting. I need discipline to hold fast to what is good and right. Protect us from unbelief and cynicism. Keep me fresh--I've been feeling spoiled and soiled....we worship what we think about. Redirect and reorient my thoughts."

You see (if we're honest), over and over again we have to commit our way(s) to the Lord. We are not successful gods. We try to be--controlling, mastering, manipulating, achieving--but we finally weary of it. We falter and fail and freedom is found again in grace--in God who is mysteriously three in one and so is, thankfully, Spirit in us, too. Living with us.

There is freedom in grace. Grace is to be new and healed and forgiven and whole and loved. Grace is journey and process. It is proactive and intentional not apathetic. It transforms (all things new). Grace travels with us, it doesn't just stop for a brief visit. It is a presence, I believe. Grace is not to be perfect here and now (I'm learning), it is to be free here and now. But, freedom towards a goal and a hope, not just freedom for freedom's sake. These are not always easy things to learn, but they enrich the way we live.

Sometimes I get distracted from all of this. I really do. So Spirit, remind us. Focus us anew. Reorient us. Redirect us. Come, come Spirit.

Friday, June 10, 2011

One For Sorrow

I love this song...

Monday, June 06, 2011

under my skin

"I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore...
I hear it in the deep heart's core." -W.B. Yeats

"Perhaps the truth depends on a walk around the lake." -Wallace Stevens

I know I've said it before and perhaps you'll tire of hearing it...I love Lake Superior. It is absolutely my favorite body of water thus far discovered, explored, and enjoyed in my life. Each and every time I go back to sit on the shore, pick through rocks, walk the long beaches, catch my breath over the wonder of it all...I am reminded, again, how much "a part" of me it is. It does my soul good to visit it, ya know? Maybe you have a place like it...

Well, we're back. I could tell a lot of stories (we traveled through 3 states following Lake Superior's shoreline...yeah, pretty amazing). Maybe I will tell some, eventually. For now--a few pictures and the memories are enough. It was a fantastic week exploring beautiful country with a most wonderful friend. It was pretty much needed in every way, right down to sand between our toes and s'mores in our bellies :) It felt good to shed the city a bit--it felt really good. Mariah will be leaving the city in three weeks. I shouldn't get all sappy on here, it won't help matters any :) Sigh. It's going to be different and it will be hard and I will miss her. A lot. But change is good, too, and God has lots in store for all of us, even if we're a bit uncertain of it all right now.

Tonight the three of us spent the evening in Millennium Park listening to Iron and Wine play live. We had a picnic dinner, drank wine, laughed together...and it was fabulous, absolutely fabulous. We don't take these times for granted. They are gifted times, I know it, and I am deeply thankful.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Monday, May 23, 2011

I made these truffles the other night. I got the recipe from Green Kitchen Stories. Oh my goodness. They are sooo good. And so easy.

P.S. dates are a new love.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

what i'm lovin'

these pictures. sigh. enough said.

six-year-old made up jokes. S to C: "where did you hear that one?" C: "I came up with it on my own." S: "That's why it's stupid." C: "I think it's funny."

basil, cilantro, and tomato plants getting bigger.

sibling visits (even if they aren't my own siblings :)).

a pile of gear/equipment in the office ready for a certain trip-to-remember that is just around the corner.

Wagon Wheel by O.C.M.S.


AND rhubarb crisp made from rhubarb picked up at our first market visit of the year. HELLOO Chicago summer :) MmmMmm.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Some themes of these days

From this week's Communion Reflection Recap:

"We are often quick to say things like true belief will result in good acts - we think of the passage before us in 1 John [3:16-24] and the James passage where James says I’ll show you my faith by my works. But I want us to take things another step and acknowledge to one another that on many occasions what we do with our selves either helps us to know more about God’s love or not. If I have given myself over to self-indulgent behaviour of some sort, to the extent that it is sinful, self-destructive, and potentially harmful to others, I need to recognize that the pattern of what I am doing is pulling me away from knowing more about God’s love. But if I repent and turn from said behavior, I will need something to fill that void. The gospel suggests that often the something we will need to fill that void is to do loving things for each other. Even if you find one night a month to lavish hospitality on someone because of God’s great love to you, the promise of the New Testament is that you will be deepened in your experience and understanding of God’s love. If we take time out of our busy schedules to serve the poor, the promise of the gospel is the same - we will be strengthened in our faith. May the physical nature of receiving the sacrament remind us that what we do with our bodies gives shape to our understanding of God’s love - in the case of communion, empty hands and bowing forward tells a story to each other and the world that we are dependent upon God’s grace for our life. So we come now with empty hands and hungry hearts to this feast of Grace."

This recap sparked some good, interesting, thought-provoking, challenging, uncertain, practical, and much-needed dialogue at small group tonight. Unfortunately, I always seem to get to Tuesday night utterly pooped out and hardly able to focus, much less contribute anything coherent. This can be rather frustrating (to say the least). But it was good for me to sit and listen to other people think and wrestle through some of this stuff. So helpful for me to hear on Sunday was the idea of patterns--patterns of self-indulgent behavior that seek to fill a felt void or supposed need, all the while (un)knowingly damaging relationship(s) with self, others, and God. We are so prone to these patterns, aren't we? For a number of reasons ranging, it seems, from the outright and obvious rebellious choice of self-indulgence to the "subconscious" self-indulgent choices we make each day that are so ingrained in context and culture that we hardly give them a thought (i.e. "western" patterns of materialism and entitlement). So we pray that God would redirect our patterns (of thought, behavior, etc.) according to what is true. If we turn to God's Spirit and call out our unsteady, inconsistent, ill-fulfilling, sinful ways of living and instead fight to believe in God's self-giving love as transformative and definitive, we will be moved and changed to live those patterns (i.e., self-giving practices) and less feel the strangling grip of the self-indulgent ones. BUT, because we are wrecked and broken, we are more and more aware of this need for something outside of ourselves to break into our patterns of sin and reorder our ways...in a hopeful direction.

Hmm. Many of these "themes" have been the thoughts, struggles, and questions of my heart over the past several months. Funny how they show themselves to be important by popping up in so many spheres of life...I guess that's why they're called themes.

Lord, help me learn again and again truths that change me but that can often feel "lost on me" and rote.

"God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love--not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us. And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us....We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect....Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. We love each other because he loved us first..."

1 John 4:9-13, 16-17a, 18-19, NLT {Read the whole passage, vv. 7-21: it's packed full. These are just some specific verses that really get me as I wrestle through what I believe (made evident on both intellectual and practical/behavioral levels) about love (God's love, love of others...)}

I guess I'm realizing more and more how important it is to rightly understand God's love. Truly, I think it affects everything we think and do and are.

Monday, May 16, 2011

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines.
Sail away from the safe harbor.
Catch the trade winds in your sails.
Explore. Dream. Discover."
-Mark Twain

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

the padres

If you could, be praying for my parents. They've been in Mexico for the past three weeks and come back tomorrow. It's been somewhat of an eventful trip--Dad got in a really bad bike accident a few days ago. He doesn't know what happened, just woke up on the ground with a bad head injury (luckily his helmet took the damage) that left him without a clue as to what happened. They had to drive to a neighboring village to get to a hospital. X-rays confirmed a broken collar bone. It's wrapped and he's recovering but in a lot of pain--bruised ribs and such. This means mom has to drive the truck out tomorrow, which can be a little stressful on some of those hair-pin turns. Pray for safety and for a good recovery for dad. Pray, too, for ease at the border crossing. They've had a lot going on in the past few months with the move to Flag and this trip, etc. Hopefully they'll have some good rest time once they're home.

Thanks, guys!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Henri Nouwen

“I am so afraid of being disliked, blamed, put aside, passed over, ignored, persecuted, and killed, that I am constantly developing strategies to defend myself and thereby assure myself of the love I think I need and deserve.”

Monday, May 09, 2011

I'll tell you what.

Summer is on its way...and I am pretty darn excited about it.

The leaves are back on the tree outside the upstairs window. They are bright and green and blowing. I planted some more yesterday--the herbs are growing beautifully, as are the tomatoes. The lettuce and onions are in outside; I'm believing there will be no more frost.

Increasing amounts of warmth and sun make me think of driving with music up loud, slacklining, rocks, rivers, and trees, camping trips, swimsuits and the beach, picnics, bike rides up the lake front, friends in the city (Whitney, Matt, Monica!), road trips, out-of-town friends (Hallie!), the farmer's market, color back in my skin (good gracious, yes), tie dying, craft projects, sitting in grass, summer parties, free concerts, cold beer on the porch with my roommates, neighborhood walks, State parks, country music, exploring, homemade popsicles, ice cream with the kids, soccer in the park, city festivals, iced tea...family...

Currently listening to Oh Cumberland, The Creepers. Folk/bluegrass=true spirit of summer :)

Sunday, May 08, 2011

I found an old one written down.

"Resolved: never to give over, nor in the least to slacken, my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be." -Jonathan Edwards

Friday, May 06, 2011

A free day at Chicago Botanic Garden

Big blue sky. Beautiful flowers. MmmMmm, wonderful!

And this, for your entertainment (and because I'm missing the little guy...). This one is funny, too, for those of you who have watched Thomas the Train...and for those who haven't.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

The "Abide Me" Song

Abide With Me, Sam and Auntie's shared favorite (except Sam calls it the "Abide Me" song). I do love this song...

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

A New Read

"Part of maturity is the principle of deferred gratification. If you cannot embrace the pain of learning but must have instant gratification, you forfeit the greatest rewards of life."

-John Piper from Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God

been thinking on these things...

This article link won't be good for long (they change their stories frequently). It's worth a read and a think-through: