The Parable of the Exploding Ketchup.

Hey all, I’m really excited to be guest posting at The Mudroom today. The Mudroom is a lovely blog collective that focuses on making room for people in the midst of the mess. My kind of place, think I’ll hang out there more often.


We pulled out of the zoo and immediately they started asking for more.

Can we go out for Ice cream?!”  “Can we go out for dinner?!”   Oh please Mom! Oh please!”

We’d just spent hours traipsing around the zoo, petting the wallabies, climbing the wooden train and tracking down the tigers.

We weren’t there for me. I mean we were, but you know . . . not really.

As our sticky, crumb-infested mini van pulled out of the parking lot, my husband looked at me . . . “I’m not going to tell them ‘no’ about dinner. What do you think?”

I have a meal plan in place at home, but whatever you want, baby.”

Let’s flip a coin, Mom! Heads is dinner at home and tails is a restaurant!”

It was a very expensive tails.

We decided on a local brewery, because we live in Grand Rapids, beer city USA, and any restaurant that lasts either is a brewery or supports local beer culture.

We walked in and I scanned the trendy dining room, full of local art and hipster beards. I sighed with reassurance when I spotted the stack of high chairs in the corner.

High chairs, okay, we’re allowed to be here . . . I reassured myself. There is nothing like taking kids out to eat to remind you of just where you are in life.

We sat down and ordered drinks and melt-in-your-mouth fried pickles. While our kids wiggled and spilled, I leaned over to my husband and whispered; “It’s like we’re the PSA for why not to have kids . . . or at least not to take them out to fun restaurants . . . everyone must wonder why we dared emerge from our hot dog cave.”

Then my daughter leaned over and said: “Actually . . . I bet they’re all thinking “Wow . . . they have three awesome kids. They are soooo lucky.”

And I was put. In. My. Place.

Head on over to The Mudroom to finish it on up! 


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Body, Soul and Ice Cream

525,600 minutes…. 525,000 moments so dear… 525,000 journeys to plan… 
How do you measure a year in the life?

maybe I measure mine in Ice Cream and Wine…

photo courtesy of Flickr user fka sunny

photo courtesy of Flickr user fka sunny

Last week, after accepting an offer on our house (pending inspection…) we took the kids out for ice cream at Too Tall’s Tasty Treats to celebrate. This is the local ice cream shop down the road from our house.

I’ll admit that it’s a ridiculous name for an oddly located, roadside ice cream shop, but now it’s MY ice cream shop. It’s the place Kel’s been running for flurries to soothe the pain of a bad day as we binged on Netflix and cared for Clara, both in and out of utero.

As I finished my chocolate Reeses flurry on the sticky picnic table, I thought about our year on the Northeast side of Grand Rapids, the routines we fell into, the restaurants we frequented, the walks we took, the discoveries we made.

The ways in which we nestled into this neighborhood, spread out and called it our own.

How we always got takeout burgers from Charlies or Pasta from Fred’s on date night.
How we spent almost the entire year with paint in our fingernails and on our forearms.
How our kids rode their bikes back and forth in front of the house.
How we cursed the cottonwood tree for covering our lives in a second winter of obnoxious white fluff.

For a season this was ours. And now it isn’t anymore, pending a few weeks and a few hundred signatures on a few thousand pieces of paper it will be the locale for completely new life.

When I handed over our home in Oklahoma to a sweet newlywed couple I wrote this essay entitled “Letter to a new Homeowner.”  And I still hold it as one of my personal favorite pieces, seriously click the link… it is worth your time.

This home is a place for staying but it’s also a place to for going somewhere.  Every season will give way to a new one and lessons learned add up to progress and depth.  As you stay within these walls, you’ll move and change as a family in ways that you never imagined.  No home leaves you the same, who knows where this home may take you?” Continue reading

My first 5k. The gateway race.


This past Saturday I ran my first official race, the Fifth Third Riverbank 5k Run.

The night before I was a nervous wreck, which is embarrassing since I had multiple friends who ran the 25k, five times the miles I was going to run.

Just as I suspected, it was an uphill climb getting out the door on Saturday morning. I made a quick cup of coffee and nibbled piece of peanut butter toast while pumping a bottle for Clara before rousing the kiddos. A good call as I needed that “sort of” quiet moment to psych myself up. Coffee, peanut butter and the whirr of the breast-pump- the pre-race routine of champions people.

While Kel loaded the kids in the car I pinned my bib to my new (aqua of course) running shirt and felt like a huge poser.

I actually texted my friend Jenni to make sure I had it on correctly.

I kept half-joking that they were going to kick me out when I got there, because I’m really good at quitting physical endeavors before things get too… hard.


Kel hit every red light imaginable on our way downtown as I jammered on about… “you know that episode of Seinfeld where the runner stays with Jerry and oversleeps for the race after oversleeping for the Olympics”

Kel didn’t remember it. He is terrible at Seinfeld Trivia.

Anyway, in true Seinfeld fashion, I arrived late and by the time I jumped out of the car and made for the staring line the gun was going off and I had to sprint my way across four blocks to get down there in time.

A nice guard saw my bib and let me into the pack and a few minutes, and a lot of fiddling with my fancy new iPhone arm band later, they released my group, I was off!

It was a sticky, damp morning but as I jogged along in the pack of 5k runners the rain held off for the most part.

I just kept going, listening to my “Leanne burns it” Spotify playlist and people watching. I’m obsessed with scanning people’s tshirts, seeing if they have a cause or memory that keeps their feet moving.

Mile one seemed to fly by and as I finished up mile two, I crossed the Grand River and caught sight of my lovely little family, huddled under a blue golf umbrella. Noelle eagerly gave me a high five while Caedmon stood back shyly, as he does when faced with new and public things.

I jogged in place and waited for him, knowing that if I ran off without waiting for him to feel comfortable enough to step forward, he would cry.

Then I tickled Clara, thanked Kel for being there, got another hug from Noelle and kept on running.

Of course all this took less than 5 seconds.

No sooner had I yelled “bye guys!” over my shoulder than the rain got serious. I can’t tell you how glad I was that it held off until I got to see my family and they could get back to the van un-drenched. So glad. Their misery was one of my biggest anxieties that morning.

At that point I was starting to lose a little steam. I was getting pretty soggy and the last mile had a fair few hills and inclines.

Luckily the Spotify gods were kind and played a quick succession of “shut up and dance” by Walk the Moon followed by “Send me on my Way” by Rusted Good to see me through.

Music is energy sometimes.

As I ran on I thought of all the reasons I was running this race in the first place.

I was running to show my kids that we can do hard things
To rage, RAGE against the depression and heart disease that killed my parents
To prove to myself that I am strong and that the junior high girl who was too scared to try crosses the finish line in the end.
And sure, also to get moving and get into those pre-baby, polka dot shorts.

As the home stretch approached, my ears became too wet to hold in the ear buds, they kept slipping out.

So I gave up and stuffed them down the front of my shirt and instead tuned in to the noise of the crowd cheering us on as we approached the finish line.

Then I remembered that you’re supposed to sprint to the finish line if you can, and I could, so I did.

Not the sprint of Kenyan Olympian, but a sprint nonetheless.

And then it was over, I did it! #boom #irock


Terrible selfie at the finisher’s tent.

If there weren’t thousands of people in front and behind me I would have laid on the ground and cried.

Because I did it!

I wanted to scream the lyrics from the Kimmy Schmidt theme song.

“Unbreakable! They laugh dammit but females are strong as hell!”
(blame Netflix for the language, not me. Or just watch the show and laugh, laughter ranks just below running for general endorphin-getting.)

Strong. Me! I did this.

After a baby, in the midst of a move, in spite of depression and being a self-proclaimed “non athlete” I had done all the things that led up to this day and THEN I showed up and ran.

All week I had been telling people that I was doing the Riverbank Run but just the 5k.

Just the 5k. No big deal.

But you know what? No.

I ran a 5k.

Life is hard but Females are strong as Hell.

And you know what? Now for a 10k. Dangit.

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.

Enter your email address:Delivered by FeedBurnerAnd when share with your friends, well that makes me pretty happy. 

You can also find me on twitter,  Facebook and Instagram as well. Join the conversation on all fronts, that’s my recommendation…

It is finished. A long overdue home tour.

I told you I would get back to blogging once the house madness died down. And the photographer just left, so true to my word, here I am.

Now it’s bring on the showings.

For those of you who don’t live in Grand Rapids or in the surrounding areas, our market is nuts right now. Things are flying off the market in days so we reasonably expect hope to be sold by this time next week.

The posting will be online tomorrow, and I am trying my hand at writing the description for it.

But for now and for those of you who don’t know our address, I wanted to share the before and after pics.

The before pictures are the ones that were posted online when we bought the house. Kel just went through with his iPhone and took an after shot from the same location.

So in case your wondering where I have been in the last year or so…

Take this baby


And then add the following home pictures….

Stir in a failed church plant and a husband who has been working out of town for months and it should all make sense.

Okay, I have been waiting forever to give you a home tour. Shall we?

Here’s our home before


And after

IMG_7728 Continue reading

Prayer is hard, Chili is easier.

When I was in Elementary School I attended an assembly led by none other than Ronald McDonald. It was a pretty big deal, and at the time I was sure he was THE Ronald McDonald from TV and not some lame replica from our local chain store.

In that seminar he drove home one point. Don’t smoke.

Done! I had no interest in becoming a third grade smoker so this was an easy lesson to keep.

Yet my little heart was troubled because …my Dad smoked. Surely, I thought, he must not know the things that Ronald McDonald had just to me, so I rushed home from school, hauled out my markers and wrote him a letter. With pictures, asking him to stop smoking.

Turns out he did know that smoking was bad for him and he kept at it anyway, much to my dismay. I wrote him countless letters.

It became my most fervent prayer request: “Dear God, please help my Dad stop smoking so he won’t die. Amen.” (And probably other things about Care Bears and Disney World and mean kids on the playground…)

But God didn’t come through like I hoped he would. Eventually my Dad died of heart disease, which the smoking surely had a role in. Continue reading

Where are the Pennys Living? (with gifs!)

I owe you guys some words, an update of sorts. What the hizzle is going on with the Penny family?  And why does she still think it’s okay to say hizzle? 

I have had nearly a dozen people ask me over the past week where we are living right now. I feel this is something that I can correct with a blog post. 

Okay so here is what’s up with us. Kel was officially assigned to Dowagiac United Methodist Church over the last month.

giphy (2)

Where is Dowagiac? And how do you pronounce that?

It’s here.

Where is Dowagiac

We live in Grand Rapids now and will be moving to “Basically Indiana”

And you say it like this: də-WAH-jak
It’s Potawatomi for ”fishing [near home] water” There’s some learning for ya.

You’re welcome Continue reading

What I’m Into (March 2015 Edition)

For the first time in a Year I am linking up with Leigh Kramer for a “This is What I’m Into” post. Look at met go! Holla! And other good !!! words! #gettingmygrooveback

Well I’m sitting on the bed in our weekend home after a rough night of sleep thanks to my baby Clara. Kel is preaching at a local nursing home and it’s sleeting outside. I’m wearing my running gear but I’m wussing out due to sleet.

My head is exploding right now and I’m in ALL THE THINGS mode.

You know the “All the things” meme?

It’s this guy


No really, ALL. THE. THINGS.

I’m the “All the things” guy on a normal day, but with the move and the selling of the house and the wanting to plant a garden and write blog posts I’m the all the things guy in overdrive.

My brain is exhausted and excited, it wants to attack in full force and run away ALL OF THE TIMES!

So that being said I think I will attempt my first “This is what I’m into” in a year. A year. Eesh.

I can’t even remember my categories so, let’s start some new ones. Shall we?

Tweetable Month in Review (140 characters or less)
Mich is all: Cold! warm! j/k-cold! Move 8 may kill me. Painting cabinets forever? Living in 2 houses is weird, bring bagels. Spring is that you?

Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 3.30.02 PM Continue reading

Not where, but Who. (On homes and Story and HGTV Cynicism)

I have 20 minutes to write this before I need to paint cabinets and tackle a MOUNTAIN of laundry. I didn’t plan and I didn’t edit but I wrote, and I sang and it feels good.

We don’t have cable, which is sad, because I love HGTV. I remember fondly the days of folding laundry with toddlers underfoot and letting House Hunters play like an endless soundtrack in the background.

That was a few houses ago.

3. 3 houses and 4 years ago.

Did I tell you we are about to move into our 8th house in 8 years of marriage? Craziness I tell you, my life crazy.

Back when we were living in house number… 5? Let’s see here… carry the 1… there is no 1… Riverview, Broadhurst, Asbury, North High School… Yep CR 3590, House number 5.

House number 5 was brand new and sparkly, it had a huge soaker tub and two whole bathrooms with showers! It was small, but it was easy and as I sat in my small, easy, brand new house, the musings of the buyers and renovators on cable’s most popular home channel seemed plausible, logical, a little demanding at times, but I felt for them.

No Longer.

As I prepare house number 7 for sale and another friggin exodus I watch HGTV with a healthy dose of cynicism.


Get ready for the Snark.

The other day while Noelle and I snuggled for a House Hunters Binge we heard a lady say the following:

“I’m just not sure I can live with that color of granite counter tops, we’d have to replace them before we moved in. I expected better taste when shopping in the 800k price range.”

What? Live? Like survive and not die? You’re not sure you can LIVE with THAT COLOR of HIGH END GRANITE countertops?

Ahem… Continue reading

Looking for God’s will in the Grocery Store. (it’s by the raisins)

I spent over an hour last night in the grocery store. My list only had 12 things on it, but still I walked up and down the aisles in a daze. I wasn’t even thinking about anything specifically but it was more a a plodding, processing rhythm.

Moving again. Moving again. Oooh, new yogurt!…. Moving again.

I found beef jerky chocolate bars, and kumquats on sale. I didn’t buy either, but I found myself curious on both accounts.

Also they keep moving the raisins. I hate that. Make up your mind grocery store dictators: Are we keeping them in produce? Baking? By the Canned peaches? I’m already on the verge of madness as it is, can you just keep the raisins put pleaseandthankyou?

I like here. I’ve figured out here (I know where the raisins are, this week.) Why does it have to change again? What is God up to? Why God, why get all settled, have us fall deeply in love with this sense of home, only to mix it all up again after less than a year?

These are questions God doesn’t really answer.

If you ask him how you should love people or to help you be more generous he’s all over those answers, he wrote a whole book about it.

But, if you ask “why” about the hard stuff of your life he just sits with you on that, whispering something that can’t be put into words but somehow centers around a thousand intertwined strings of moments all focused on bringing his healing love to the world through your life. Continue reading

20 thoughts and feels from a not so good pastor’s wife about having to (probably) move again.

How do you like THAT title? You like it… You like it….
Warning grammar nerds, I have not adequately proof read. I’m sorry. Can we deal? 

Pew Selfie, New Church.

Pew Selfie, New Church. hi.

I laid in bed last night for a while after Kel fell asleep, feeling deeply sad. The sort of sadness that comes from knowing you have to let go of something, even though you don’t want to. Even though all you want to do is channel your inner four year old and dig in, screaming until maybe… just maybe you get your way.

We are moving again. It’s not officially official but it may as well be. Yes, there is a five percent chance (or less) that we could get to stay but since my thirties is forcing me to be an adult about things (boo forced maturity that comes from three kids and home ownership) 

photo copy 4

Big sister, little sister storytime.

I want to grow claws somehow and dig them into the drywall, hissing at anyone who tries to remove me from our home. I want to go buy 7 spirit hoodies from Noelle’s school and wear them on repeat to represent how very much we are NOT leaving. I want to make mimosas and day drink and whiny text all my friends about how hard this is, because yes I know there are people dying and starving but we have to move. again. dammit. dammit. dammit.

Pass me another mimosa. Or scotch, someone bring me scotch maybe?

OOOH Or Put Big Metal Chicken on my porch Blogess Style? 

This is not, by the way, how a “good” pastors wife handles moving. I am pretty sure they sigh and say something about the will of God and how blessed they are to serve no matter where.

Maybe I’ll get there. Maybe the mimosas will help.

PS I’m not really day drinking. If I were I’d be Netflix binging on Scrubs, Parks and Rec or Gilmore Girls. Or all of the above…. WWLGD? What would Lorelai Girlmore do? 

Probably drink more coffee and kidnap Rory for a trip to boston to eat Chowder in her Jeep.

This is not helping, or is it….?


So I’m not day drinking or Netflix binging, I’m doing the much more helpful, cathartic thing and whiny blogging about it to you guys. Continue reading