What I’m Into (July/August 2015 Edition)

Here I go once again linking up with the crowd over at Leigh Kramer’s blog for a rare but hopefully returning edition of “what I’m into”

Here’s what your favorite Michigander and mother of three has been up to…ish

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Well, I’m sitting here making a packing list for our annual Labor Day camping trip which means that summer is coming to a close, quickly. I haven’t been doing a lot of writing on the blog lately but I’ve been doing a lot of freelance work which has kept me at the keyboard.

I’m trying to strike a balance there, school will surely help. Although I have one doing half days and one doing whole days so I feel like I’ll be mostly driving…

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Summery Summary – We’ve been in living in the parsonage (which we have named the Wrecktory… because rectory and also young kids) for 12 weeks now. The upstairs is really coming together and although we need to get a new couch, I am really happy with it. Caedmon and Noelle each have their own room and like I said, Clara has a crib in Noelle’s room but we’re mostly accidentally co-sleeping with her at this point. The move was really all encompassing and we didn’t do any fun kid-camps or vacations but instead have been exploring our new area, trying restaurants, hitting up the beach and playing in our backyard and garden. Produce has been a big focus this summer and we’re picked blueberries, strawberries, peaches and apples as we talk to the kids about real local food and show them what eating that way looks like. And then some nights we order cheap pizza, just in case you were worried we were getting too Holy over here. Continue reading

Would You Take This Survey?

“No matter where you go in life, always keep an eye out for Johnny the Tackling Alzheimer’s patient.” Click here if this opening line leaves you confused.

Did you watch Scrubs?
I did, almost like a religion. But not in a way that would cause Kel to lose his job. We don’t want that.

I took myself out on a coffee date yesterday, sat down with actual paper and tried to make a list, a really Meta type list.

I wrote headers like: “What was I put here to do?” “What energizes me/What am I drawn to?” And “What trips me up / what do I struggle with?”

I’m 33 now, and I’ve learned a lot of things, here are 32 of them.

Yet sometimes, once in a while I feel as though I’m back at square one, like I know nothing about myself at all.

Usually I look outside myself for answers, I check out what other people are doing and try to mirror them or wait on them to tell me what they see. I love collaboration, and so even in my healthiest rhythms I’m going to run my ideas and thoughts past my people.

But I can’t tackle my identity out of my friends over text messages, voxer or a cup of coffee. They know things, but it’s not on them to figure it out.

I’m learning that in these moments, I’m not actually starting from scratch, but actually honing in, getting specific and digging deeper.

For instance, I blog, I’m a blogger, I don’t think I want to walk away from that but so often I feel like I don’t know what THE BEST thing to post on my blog is, so I post nothing at all.

I’ve been blogging for years, it’s honestly hard for me to know how long. I started to write about grief after my Mom died, I’ve written about ministry, family, faith, church planting, food, parenting struggles, love and beautiful scars.

I want to keep going but I am going to ask for you help. I’d like to know what you love to read about, how often you come to this site, what you think of when you reflect on this space.

Basically, I love to write and I am going to share what I’m passionate about, but I’d love to know what’s the most helpful to you and hone in on that.

So here’s a survey, if 10 of you took it I’d be thrilled, if 25 people take it I’ll do a happy dance…If we break 100 I’ll post a video of me happy dancing to the song of your choice.

And I’m an embarrassingly bad dancer.

Create your own user feedback survey

*** If you cannot get the embedded survey in the blog post, sometimes it has mobile device issues, use the link below. *****

ANOTHER PATH TO THE SURVEY

Also, if you have thoughts or comments that go above the FREE 10 question survey, would you leave them below in the comments section?

Alright, thanks for reading. More to come. MWAH.

If you like this, there’s more words in store, to keep up easily use the box below to have new posts from this blog delivered to your inbox.

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On Crappy Sleepers And Knowing Your Kids

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There is a standard by which all babies are judged, besides cuteness, cuteness is like a babies #1 currency. The other thing is sleep. If you want to be loved and admired as a baby, you gotta be a good sleeper.

When admiring a baby, the first thing an acquaintance will mention is the cute. Even ugly babies get called cute, it’s probably in the bible. I’ve even been told this by the nurses at the Pediatrician’s office. She said “we have to say they’re all cute, but they’re not… yours really is though!”

Anyway, after cute, the next thing a baby will be judged on is their sleeping habits.

It goes something like this:

Look at this little cutie, what a doll baby! She looks like a (kewpie doll, gerber baby, baby gap model, chub-muffin, angel… you get the drill) How does she sleep at night? Is she sleeping through the night?

How weird would this be if we greeted a new adult friend the same way?

Hi, I’m Leanne. And you are?
Great, nice to meet you Bob, but how well do you sleep?
Continue reading

The Heaven in His Eyes.

bible memory match

bible memory match

I played Bible Memory Match-up game with my kids this morning.

I know what you’re thinking: Of course you did, you’re a pastor’s wife, but he truth is, that I don’t generally buy or immerse my kids in “christian” versions of things and here’s why:

I don’t want them to grow up thinking that everything not labelled Christian is bad, or not for them or that things labelled “christian” are necessarily true. I want them to learn how to relate to the actual world around them and not the sterilized church version they could have if I keep them in a bubble… and I want them to ask questions about the truth in things.

I mean, we’re talking about a memory game here, but on principle I don’t generally like the Christian versions of things because it feels like we, the church, are cloistering ourselves off from the “rest of them” when I am pretty sure that’s who Jesus wants us to be hanging out with.

When it came time to clean up the game I noticed the “Jairus’ Daughter” card, then an old song hit me smack upside the head, hard. So hard that I stopped what I was doing to sit down with a basket of laundry and listen to it.

Instead of watching Netflix…. I know, right?

But I didn’t fold laundry, I just listened to it with goose-bumps everywhere and an unfolded pair of pants in my hand.

Then I played it again.

The song is called “Heaven in his eyes” by Rich Mullins. and if you click the link you can listen to it on you-tube. It’s scratchy because it was recorded on a tape player in an old church nine days before the man singing died in a terrible car accident.

In keeping with the lack of Christian paraphernalia around the house, I don’t listen to a lot of Christian music. Continue reading

New Bookshelves, Literary Poser Syndrome and The Therapy Of Unpacking

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Who’s excited about IKEA? Just ME!

I found myself at IKEA this weekend with one of my very best friends in the entire world, Joely. It was a whirlwind trip to Chicago, complete with a trip to Millennium Park and Wrigley Field. One of the things I was after at IKEA was a set of Billy bookcases to flank either side of the picture window in the parsonage. They would fit perfectly in the space and I was so beyond thrilled to get them home and play around with them. Continue reading

Clara’s Dedication

This post is late. Months late. But I wanted to post it, because when I looked online for ideas of what to speak to a child at their dedication, I didn’t find much. So I wanted to share the letter we read to sweet Clara in front of our friends and family on the day she was dedicated, March 1, 2015. 

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It was a busy, snowy day in March. We woke up in Dowagiac, did church, jumped in the car, stopped home (Grand Rapids Home) to change and then pulled in to the parking lot at Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville for Clara’s dedication service.

We were spread thin from the business of the day and the service had been cancelled once before due to weather. We rushed into the room where the service was to be held and met up with family while I quickly changed the tiny lady of the hour into her dedication dress and tights.

Then all of the sudden it was time to get started and the officiant from church stood before us and spoke in to life what it meant to dedicate a child to God, as a community, as a family.

Continue reading

Liberate your Passion, it’s SortaAwesome.

compliments of flickr user zouny, with permission

compliments of flickr user zouny, with permission

My friend Megan has a Podcast called “Sorta Awesome.” It’s completely true to it’s name. Perhaps even more than sorta. Check it out ASAP on tumblr, which will bring you to iTunes, I think.

One the opening four shows she had a brief list of questions that she and her co-hosts answered so that we the listeners could get to know them better.

One of them was (a paraphrase of) this: “What thing do you love to talk about? What thing are you really into, that your friends and family hesitate to bring up because they know you will talk their ear off about it?”

Each time I heard her ask that question, I thought through how I would answer it myself. I couldn’t figure it out. Continue reading

For those of us feeling confused on the Fourth

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image credit to allfreedesktopthemes.com

I’m leading worship in church this weekend, for better or for worse. I did take seven years of voice lessons and have been singing in choirs since I was in third grade so, I’m qualified ….I suppose, but still. I’m nervous.

I was given close to free reign on song selection, but keep in mind our church is fairly traditional and mostly sticks to hymns. We also don’t have a praise team and are only newly starting to have someone lead singing from the stage. So I don’t want to mix things up too much or get too complicated, it’s no fun leading worship when no one can sing along.

So, after some googling and reflection I picked out some familiar hymns that I hope will draw all ages into worship and decided to be brave and teach the congregation a new song that we can hopefully come back to in the coming weeks, “All the poor and powerless.” Total favorite of mine.

When I sent off my list of ideas, Kel wrote me back and said “Looks great, but hey don’t forget, it’s Fourth of July weekend. We need some of worship to be Patriotic.”

That’s when things got confusing for me, because it’s not always easy for me to jive with how the church talks about patriotism and politics.

It tends to make me really uncomfortable and I don’t think I’m the only one, right? Continue reading

Love the kid you’re with (The mantra every parent needs)

We kept exchanging glances across the windowless children’s hospital waiting room as we held our baby girls in our arms. I was there with Clara to have a swallow study done to get some answers on some suspicious gagging and vomiting.

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Sucking on a pickle with NO puking! Fancy.

I have no idea what brought her to the waiting room that day with her precious girl.

But, finally we exchanged words, over baby-gear schlepping.

“You were genius to bring your stroller. I carried all our stuff from the parking garage and my arms are aching….  how old is your baby girl?” I asked… because it’s what you ask.

“She’s eight weeks, how old is yours?” She replied.

“Oh she’s nearly 7 months, is your daughter long for eight weeks?”

“Seven months! Wow she’s so petite. I wish mine was little like yours, and your daughter has such olive skin, mine is so pale.”

Then Clara’s name was called and the speech therapist whisked us back to a room.

I smiled before walking away and said only this

“I think she’s beautiful! Absolutely perfect.”

As I walked through the hospital corridors I couldn’t stop reflecting on our conversation.

“I wish mine was like yours.”

At first I threw her under the bus, mentally that is. But then I thought about it more as I drove home from the hospital.

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Cheating at Bible Memory Match Game. #raisingemright

 

How many of us think and say things like this as we move throughout our weeks?

“I wish my child sat still as well as yours.”

“Your three year old is so great with crayons! Mine mostly chews on them still.”

And our environment does nothing but throw fuel on the fire of these thoughts by saying things like:

“Wow your kids are busy.”

“My she’s a big girl isn’t she?”

“Looks like you have your hands full.”

I have heard all these things. Recently even.

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Princess Anna steals the frosting off the party cake. It’s her cake after all.

I fully believe so many of these things are said with kind intent or at least as a gateway to friendly conversation but they are easy fertilizer for the seeds of doubt, aren’t they?

What if we’re doing it wrong?

Daily. Genetically. In every way wrong?

I am with you sister, brother, friend. This parenting gig is hard enough without the commentary that causes us to wonder if our kids are messed up and it’s all our fault.

Either by nature or nurture we worry we are contributing to society in all the wrong ways.

Here’s my crazy:

I have a gorgeous baby that doesn’t sleep
I have an extremely type-A, 4 year old who I constantly go head to head with.
I have a perpetual motion machine of a 6 year old who hugs everyone and touches everything.

I’m dealing with reflux, tantrums, manipulation, screaming and sensory processing disorder. We have bed wetting, we are terrible at picking up our toys and sometimes we skip bedtime story time… and even prayer time.

Don’t get me started on showering and tooth brushing.

They’re a hot mess.

And they’re all mine. Thank God.

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16 seconds before those new fishing poles were hopelessly tangled.

I love these kids with an ache that I may never find the bottom of, crazy and all.

Don’t get me wrong, clothes fit them weird and they are always getting dirty. I worry about taking them in to anywhere containing breakable items and we still use the nursery at church because I worry they would stop the service with their protests over the idea of sitting still for a whole hour… and their Dad’s the pastor… even.

AND It’s summer and they are home all the time and they are so so loud and messy and crazy and non stop from 6:45 AM – 8:45 PM.

But they’re my little people, and it’s my job to guide them in to adulthood. I can’t get away from that.

Could we do better with our parenting? Of course. But remember… better is a constant tyrant, we could always do better.

But you know what? I love them. And I wouldn’t change a thing, or at least that’s what I keep telling myself.

The point is that we all have to stop this sort of talk. Completely.  Or at least in front of our kids.

We can’t keep wishing for other or different little people… Smaller, bigger, quieter, stiller, smarter, more coordinated neater little people.

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This is how we Lowes.

We have to love the ones we’re with. Because those are the ones we’ve been given. And I have to believe that this cosmic parent-kid matchup didn’t happen by accident.

We have things to teach each other, to give and take away from each other, we will move into each other’s lives permanently and there will be no way to measure the impact we have on each other at a soul level.

We are intertwined. Beyond death this thing, these bonds are forever, for generations of world impacting-life we are in this together. 

We all have issues, I know I do.

But, to be honest, we adults are so often given more grace with ours.

We can assert our personality type, look for coping skills, check out a book on tape at the library, schedule counseling, advocate for ourselves.

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In a photo booth. But not paying for pics when we have a charged iPhone. Also he demanded that hat in H&M and I caved.

But these littles? They have only us, for the most part, to see them for who they are and love them no matter what.

Special needs, quirks, health issues, allergies, obsessions, interests. Our kids have stumbling blocks, special needs… It’s who they are… it’s who we have.

Because

1) We can’t swap.
2) We’d find something else to complain about if we could.
3) Wishing for different kids, speaking those words out loud, does permanent damage to because we lessen our precious children in these moments and if our children hear it…they hear “you’re not good enough” and that’s the last thing any soul needs to hear.

The world will tell them they’re not enough a thousand times a day in a hundred different ways.

Let’s find a way to make sure that our voice? Their home voice is a voice of love and as much unconditional acceptance as a flawed human can manage.

That’s my mission.

To love the ones I’m with, crazy and all, and every night as they bed for more snuggles, more stories and more time with me… to be thankful that I get to be their mom. Because even though none of us are really perfect.

To me they absolutely are.

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If you like this, there’s more words in store, to keep up easily use the box below to have new posts from this blog delivered to your inbox.

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How to Paint a Triangle Wall Mural in 4 hours and $30


Who wants to know how I managed how to do this? Well I’ll tell ya…. 
PicMonkey Collage

So, we’ve lived here in Dowagiac for one week and things are starting to come together. There is a whisper of order in the midst of chaos, a hint of something more than tearing apart and putting back together. Continue reading