Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Light and Happy Endings

I never watched the season 3 finale of Downton Abbey. I heard rumors, spoilers, of what may or may not have happened. The penultimate episode of season 3 ended on such a great note, a happy ending. I've decided that is the ending I want. 

So I didn't watch the final episode and I'm not sure if I ever will (at least until season 4 comes out). 

Call it denial. 

I'm okay with that. I want my happy ending!

Sometimes I wish I could fix the endings in real life as easily. If I stay inside, concentrate on my family, block out the rest of the world, then maybe I can pretend away the hard, painful things. If I ignore them they don't exist.

But life doesn't work that way. I only have to take one step out of my front door to find people struggling with hard things. Hurt is all around us. 

And while the hurt and pain can make the world look like an awfully dark place, it also creates a greater opportunity for the light to shine. Jesus did not hide from the painful, ugly things of the world. He walked right up to them and offered a hand. He brought light. He is light.

It is easier to ignore the pain, but as a Christ-follower, that is not what we are called to.

We are to be the light. 

I'm not always sure what this looks like in real life. What does it mean to be light? While the doing may look different in every situation, the motivation I think is the same. I think it looks like love.

Love that comes from knowing Christ and spills out of us as light. Love directed by the Holy Spirit as a prompt to bring a meal or babysit or pray. It means getting out of your comfort zone, getting your hands dirty, and hurting with those who hurt. 

The world is full of darkness. We need to let a little light shine.

This little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine.
Hide it under a bushel, no, I'm going to let it shine.
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Catching Spring

So. I have been thinking about the change of seasons. I don't want to miss spring this year. I want to distinguish the last winter frost from the out-of-season one, the frost of spring. I want to be there on the spot the moment the grass turns green. I always miss this radical revolution; I see it the next day from a window, the yard so suddenly green and lush I could envy Nebuchadnezzar down on all fours eating grass. This year I want to stick a net into time and say "now," as men plant flags on ice and snow and say, "here." But it occurred to me that I could no more catch spring by the tip of the tail than I could untie the apparent knot in the snakeskin; there are no edges to grasp. Both are continuous loops. 
-taken from Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

It's not the Best Nest, trust me.

I've read The Best Nest by P.D. Eastman hundreds of times, so I thought I knew how this whole nest-building thing worked.

The bird gets discontent with a perfectly good birdhouse and tries to find a place to build a better nest. The raccoon already lives in the tree and the foot chases them away from the shoe.

Even when they think they've found "the place" and actually build an almost perfect nest, the tolling of the bell chases them away.

The key here is the speed at which they leave the less than perfect places. They don't second guess. Instead, they accept the fact that the mailbox was not meant for them and they MOVE ON.

Apparently the robins in my neighborhood have never read The Best Nest.

I understand why they think the light by our front door would be the "perfect" nesting place. It's dry and close to a warm house. BUT, there are also people moving in and out of the door ALL the time. 

It is NOT a good place for a nest.

Every time Mr. Robin starts to build, I knock it down. In the book, this would have only had to happen once. For all their dis-contentedness  Mr. and Mrs. Bird were smart enough to know where they were not welcome. 

Mr. and Mrs. Robin, not so much. We have been duking it out for WEEKS. 

They start to build, I sweep it away. 

I have turned the light on it's side, put objects on top, and read The Best Nest to them anytime they are close enough to listen. For some reason, they DO NOT get the hint.

I'm not sure what else to do. I can, however, guarantee that I WILL win this war. 

I am committed to knocking that half-made nest down as many times as it takes.

It may sound cruel, but I really have their best interest (and mine) at heart. I WANT them to find the perfect place to roost... somewhere away from my front door. 

And when they do, we can all sing together that song made famous by Mr. Bird:
I love my house, I love my nest
In all the world this nest is best. 
Mr. and Mrs. Robin, your perfect nest is out there. PLEASE, go find it!!

Monday, April 22, 2013

For the Love of Books

I love books.

I love collecting, discussing, decorating with, sharing, but most of all reading books.

Sometimes I get the question, "How do you find time to read?"

My answer: I make time.

I think most people make time for the things they love. If you don't, you should because life is just too short not to.

Sometimes this means other things get neglected. Sometimes, when I am lost in one of those books that are so hard to put down, I neglect things I shouldn't. Like my kids.

Thankfully, this is the exception and not the rule. My normal reading times are during "quiet time" and in the evenings before going to bed.

Every once in a while, guilt will creep in if I spend an entire quiet time reading a novel when I "should" be doing other things. I try to snuff those feelings out fast. Some may say that reading novels is pure entertainment (a valid argument I guess); on the other hand reading novels teaches you about the world and human nature in a way nonfiction never will.

My fallback when pressed is that Jesus taught through stories (aka fiction). So there.

That said, I like to read a lot of different things. Fiction and Non, Novels, Memoirs, Self-Help, Young Adult, Classics. I think variety is good thing.

The books I have been working my way through (or will be) are:

The Emerald Atlas and The Fire Chronicle by John Stephens
The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency and Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
More or Less by Jeff  Shinabarger
The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey by Trenton Lee Stewart
The Unburdened Heart by Suzanne Eller

If you are interested in reviews of the books I am reading, find me on GoodReads. It is a social media site for book lovers.

Before you go, I'd really love to know, what are you reading these days?

Friday, April 19, 2013


Have you seen the new Dove video that has been popping up all over Facebook?

I finally watched it the other day. If you haven't, I think you would be glad you did.

Happy Weekend Friends.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Lessons from a Casual Calorie Counter

I am what you could call a "casual" calorie counter, thanks to my smart phone.

What that means is this: periodically I am motivated to count calories. The motivation usually lasts for at least a couple days before I either 1.) lose interest or 2.) eat more calories than I should and become unmotivated.

If my phone was any dumber, I would never count calories.

But the apps these days.

Currently I have My Fitness Pal loaded on  my phone. It allows me to scan the bar codes of food I am eating for a quick count. I can also add recipes or there is a large bank of foods already entered so while the food I log may not be exact and the calories not completely accurate, it gives me the general idea.

It also helps me calculate how many calories I should eat each day if I wanted to say, lose a half pound a week and never exercise.


So while my calorie counting days are few and far between, they are still beneficial because awareness is a good thing. I have found that even if I only count calories for one day, the awareness continues for much longer and I always learn something. This time I learned:

1. Moving from a Grande to a Tall and changing the milk from 2%  to skim can take off close to 100 calories on my favorite Starbucks drink.

2. A little cardio exercise every day adds enough calories for an extra snack (I didn't really learn this, but it is always fun to see the number of calories I get each day jump up after a little exercise!)

3. Adding creamer to my coffee in the morning adds A LOT more calories, like over 10 times as many as are in the coffee black.

So there you have it, lessons from a casual calorie counter. It may not work for everyone, but it works for me.

Monday, April 15, 2013

An Update on Zak

It is crazy to me that we have been home from China for over a month already.

Zak's transition to our family has been amazing.

You could call him the "rock star" of the family (he pretty much has us all wrapped around his little finger). He is often sporting the sunglasses to prove it. Yesterday at church I looked over at him and he had a bright red glove on one hand and his sunglasses on. He was rocking it Michael Jackson style.

Going right along with the rock star theme, the kid loves to sing. He is often found humming a tune as he goes about his day, most recently Jesus Loves Me has been a fav.

Other things he loves: noodles, baths, going outside, saying the word "no."

He loves his siblings too, and they love him. Sometimes, however, they don't feel the love from him. I think every one of them has come to me in tears at one point telling me that Zak does not like them.

Even though he really does.

He still grieves periodically. He gets into it at times with his brothers and sisters. He knows how to manipulate. He can be stubborn. He pouts. We have had to break-out the "time-ins" and he is learning the word "sorry," although it is definitely not his favorite.

But, overall, he is a happy little boy who is oh-so-easy to love and love him we do (like crazy).

We weren't planning on adopting again, but I am so thankful God had another plan. He has only been with us a month, but if feels like longer. I can't imagine our family without him.

He fits like a bright red glove. Perfectly.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Bread and Wine

Preparing food is a form of art, I think.

It is an art that I don't possess. To me, the act of making food is a task. Just another part of my day as mom.

I recently read the book Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist that changed my perspective. It made me look at meal making as more than a task. Throughout the book she reminded me of the beauty of sharing a meal. She impressed on me the art of making food (which does not mean the food is made perfectly) and of creating something to share with those you love around a table.

In one of the last chapters she writes,
This is what I want you to do: I want  you to tell someone you love them, and dinner's at six. I want you to throw open your front door and welcome the people you love into the inevitable mess with hugs and laughter. I want you to light a burner on the stove, to chop and stir and season with love and abandon. Begin with an onion and a drizzle of olive oil, and go from there, any one of a million different places, any one of a million different meals. 
Gather the people you love around your table and feed them with love and honesty and creativity. Feed them with your hands and the flavors and smells that remind you of home and beauty and the best stories you've ever heard, the best stories you've ever lived.

I love that. I love the reminder that making a meal along with hospitality are acts of love that are really more about the people you are sharing them with than the food you are preparing.

In my last post I shared my desire to invest in relationships more. Shauna's book inspired me in one way to act this out. I want to follow-through on what she asked, to invite people to meet around my table, to share food, and life and love.

I may not be able to create meals that others consider art; but if I make them with love and a willingness to share, I think that will be more than enough.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


As oftentimes happens, one thing tends to lead to another.

I saw a preview for the movie The Great Gatsby the other night. It piqued my interest in the book which is considered a classic. I like to read classics.

Later that week I happened to be in the library with only one kid which means I can actually spend a little time in the grown-up book section. I found myself pulling F. Scott Fitzgerald's Great Gatsby off the shelf. Next to it was a book of short stories also by Fitzgerald. The cover story was, The Curious Life of Benjamin Button.

I remember seeing the movie several years ago. The story line was intriguing to me (a boy is born an old man and as his life progresses gets younger and younger until he ends the way most of us begin as a baby), so I pulled it, you know, to see how the movie compared to the original story.

I don't remember a ton of the movie, but I do remember that there is a girl who is in and out of Benjamin's life. She is the love interest and if I remember correctly, in the movie she is with Benjamin to the end.

There is a love interest in the original short story, but it doesn't last. The younger Benjamin gets the more they drift apart. He has a very successful life given his curious circumstances, but the end of the story is kind of depressing. He slips away basically alone.

In the movie, someone cared. That is so much better.

I follow Donald Miller on Facebook. He recently had the following status update:  All the recent passings remind me life is short. Doesn't make me want to succeed, though, makes me want to get quality time with loved ones.

Its a good reminder, because the only thing worth investing in are relationships with those we share this speck of time with. The rest of the stuff and success we seek doesn't last. And doesn't really make us happy. It just fills our time.

I want to love well with the little bit of time I have. I want to invest in relationships and care for others because in the end, that is so much better.

Monday, April 08, 2013



I don't know if you've noticed, but I've been trying to be more disciplined in the frequency/consistency of posts I put out on this little space of mine.

Sometimes the posts come easily enough. Other times they don't.

 I have ideas, things I want to write on, but sometimes the words come hard or I way over think how they may come across.

I wonder if anyone cares. Or if people will stop reading. I try to remind myself that it shouldn't matter if anyone cares or if people stop reading. It shouldn't matter, but it does.

Sometimes, I'm just plain lazy. I have the idea, I think it matters, but it feels hard to put words to the ideas flying around in my head. So I check out other blogs or Facebook instead of write. It's easier.

Sometimes I start posts and then delete them for all of the above reasons and more.

But then I remember that I'm on a roll and I've actually been consistent in my blogging over the past two weeks and maybe I can be consistent for three weeks instead of just two and I find myself writing a post like this that you probably don't care about and might actually make you stop reading because of the massive size of the rambling sentences that really don't say much of anything at all.

But sometimes you just have to hit publish anyway, because something is better than nothing.

I think.

And anyways, I'm on a roll...

Friday, April 05, 2013

Come on Spring

The weather is slowly warming up. 45, 52, 56

The sun gets in our eyes as we eat dinner, hanging around. Inviting us outside once the dishes have been put away to soak in the last bit of shine before the moon takes over.

After school activities of drawing, monopoly and homework are being replaced. The homework is still there, a big unfortunate for some more than others, but the balls, swings and bikes are starting to steal the show.

The crayons, markers and papers of indoor play will slowly give way to chalky hands and a driveway overflowing with color.

Spring has supposedly been here for over a week, but it's just now starting to feel like truth.

Maybe winter is coming to an end. It's always a little hard to tell this time of year, making the real Spring all the more welcome.

Days like today, filled with sun and outdoor play, make it easy to be content. And yet, I think, they hint of more to come. Taken at face value they are a welcome change, but if we go a little deeper, that is where the real excitement of spring lies.

The freshness, the warmth, the awakening that comes with the changing season give tangible reminders of things to come, when the death of winter will give way to the Eternal. I think these first days of Spring give a glimpse, a sliver of what Heaven will feel like. When the Shadowlands will leave us forever and as C.S. Lewis writes, the dream will be over and the morning will come.

We may speak of the temporal and say "Come on Spring," but deep down, our souls know what we really mean.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Kite Flying 101

One year for Easter, I received a kite in my Easter basket. It may or may not have been hidden in the oven in my Grandma's kitchen. The kite had horses on it and I loved it.

It was a WINDY day so we headed out to the alley behind my Grandma's house to let it fly. Being a somewhat cautious child, I did not want my horse kite to fly too high, who knows what could happen so far beyond my reach. My Dad had other ideas. He kept letting out the string until those horses were soaring.

They must have been enjoying the high life a little too much because one of them decided to let go, or maybe the string broke. All I know is, I watched my kite fly off into the gray, while I was stuck on the ground below.

I was devastated. My Dad felt terrible. I thought my kite was gone for good. There were many, many tears.

I don't know how long it took, but I remember standing in Grandma's kitchen by the sink when my Uncle Mike walked through the door with my kite in hand! They had found it in a field down the block. My lost kite was no longer lost.

This year my kids found kites in their Easter baskets at Grandma's house. Even though it was cold and gray they went out to fly them.

They discovered rather quickly that if you fly your kite beside a tree, those sticky branches might grab on and not let go.

I went to help. The kite was hanging and I started pulling on the string. Instead of bringing the kite down, I pulled the kite higher into the tree. The kite went from being a little stuck to a lot stuck.

Thankfully Uncle Clint was watching. He climbed the tree and rescued the kite. The stuck became unstuck.

The kite flying lesson here is obvious, but I'm going to say it anyway: If you ever find a kite in your Easter basket, be sure there is an Uncle around when you fly it.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Dreams of Silver and Gold

We were waiting. Waiting for the others to come out of the bathroom when she looked up at me and said,

"Mom, when I grow-up I want to wear a gold dress and I want to adopt a little girl from China and a little girl from Ethiopia and I want to buy them silver dresses."

There was more, about the tie she would buy for her husband and the food that she would cook, but it was the first part that I put on Facebook and that I have continued to think about since.

There was redemption in her words.

They say adoption mimics salvation. The sacrifice it takes to make a stranger a part of your family mimics the sacrifice God made to bring us into his.

The unloved finds love.

And if that was not enough, their dirt is washed away, and they find themselves dressed in silver and gold.

We find out the dirty,unwanted orphan is really the royal princess, the daughter of the King.

It's the best kind of story, one that never seems to get old.

Told through music and art, books and movies, and sometimes told in the daydreams of a little girl.