This is what I’m into (October Edition)

Happy All Hallow’s Eve, Eve.  It’s for another edition of “This is What I’m Into” where I assume you’re into knowing what I’m into. Let’s get started:

Fall

Month in Super brief review: (Yes I skipped September, it will forever remain a mystery to you.  I hope you can accept that)  Overall October has been a bittersweet month.  I took the 3rd anniversary of my Mom’s death harder than I thought I would which resulted in a need to take a break from the internet, which helped.  Goodness has it helped.  I still don’t have any social media apps on my phone and I have no plans to install them anytime soon.  This is helping me break the pattern of logging on and feeling inadequate.

Somewhere in October Kel turned 31, we finally cleaned out the garage and I made the kids some minion costumes.  Overall October has been a month of turning inward to my own spiritual and mental health and the needs of my family.  God is good friends.

Best Moments in Pictures

best pics

On My Nightstand (Let’s talk about 2 months of books)

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn – I found this book to be intriguing, however pretty dark.  This should be expected, it is a murder mystery that centers around a serial killer who targets children. Flynn is talented at giving her characters dark depth and this book was no exception.  I’d recommend it to some but recommend others stay away, especially those with a history of cutting.

Beautiful Day by Elin Hilderbrand– Hilderbrand is my favorite romance novelist and her books never fail to disappoint me.  This is a summer read if ever there was one, but I was pretty far down the waiting list at the library.  The book centers around a wedding, which was completely planned years in advance by the family’s late mother via a detailed journal she left behind for her daughter after a battle with cancer.

The Cuckoo’s Calling by JK Rowling (writing as Robert Galbraith)  This is a detective read and features a “down on his luck” detective working to solve the previously presumed suicide of a famous model. We did this one for book club and I had to cram to get it finished in time.  In the end I ended up falling short and googling the ending while flipping through the last pages.  This is another murder mystery of sorts, I find I’ve been reading through more and more of them lately by happy accident.

The Hangman’s Daughter by Oliver Potzch- This is the first in four part series (Yes I am already reading through part 2.)  It’s the story of a Hangman in the seventeenth century who seeks to stop a with hunt all while saving the life of the town’s midwife who is suspected of murder.  It was originally written in German but the translation is flawless, I recommend this series.  You can find it in the official mystery section of your library / bookstore.

The War of Art by Stephen Pressfield- This is a a great read with short chapters and I would recommend it to anyone doing anything difficult.  The premise of the book is that with every great endeavor, resistance naturally follows.  This book takes your through how to identify it and stop it in it’s tracks.

Family

On The Small Screen- This is a hard section to write about since, all the shows started in September.

I did re-watch my way through BBC’s Sherlock over the past few weeks and I do find myself happily picking through reruns of Dr Who in preparation for next month’s big 50th anniversary bash.  New Girl is still making me laugh and even though it’s getting a lil “meh” I’m still on board with Meredith Grey.

On The Blog.  Well, I started doing 31 days this month.  Then I learned that to be here, I needed to sign off a bit.  So I quit happily and without guilt.  Nevertheless things happened and I felt so much love and resonance from all of you.  Thank you for your support.  Here are the top three blog posts of the month, in case you missed them:

Here, with holes:
Here is Holy Ground
Here is the story (A Synchroblog for Addie Zierman)

Favorite Words: Here are some blog posts that I loved AND remembered to write down.

Emily Wierenga- It’s a Blog eat Blog World Baby – “I’ve got everything I want right here, under this roof, until I open up my laptop.”

Shauna Niequist – Should is a warning sign – “When you’re using the word should more and more often, it’s a sign that you’re living further and further from your truest, best self”

Addie Zierman- To the current pastors from the formerly on fire.“We have to get better at leaning into the questions, at believing that God is big enough for them all. That in the midst of all the pain and questions and mystery, He is always, somehow Enough.”

mostlygoodfood

Best Bites- As a Family we are totally addicted to this Gluten Free Crepe Recipe (didn’t make the sauce, just ate them with preserves) and this amazing Red Thai Curry.  Seriously, make the curry.  You won’t be sad.

Also, I tried my hand at canning for the first time (apple sauce and apple butter, tis the season!) with some heavy help from my friends Rebecca and Jennie who helped me with my first timer’s nerves, which were strong.

Random Love For

Leelanau Cellar’s Witch’s Brew mulled Wine
This Cleaning Schedule
The Soccer Bowl Park with the tallest slides known to manThe fuzziest socks available

Surely you’ve been into some things, yes?  Share please?

I like your costume

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I love Halloween, I always have.  There’s something inside all of us that loves to play dress up, to pretend to be something entirely other than ourselves, if just for a night.  To let our inner avatars come to life.

I’ve dressed up as Captain Jack Sparrow, a Geisha Girl, Little Red Riding Hood, Flo the Progressive Girl… and this is just as an adult.

Every year of my kid’s lives I’ve made their costumes by hand. Not to show off, but because it was a commitment I’d made before they were ever born.  I wanted to use my hands to help their creativity come to life and not just by swiping my card.

I’ve always known I’d be a homemade costume mama, it’s the reason I took sewing classes in my early twenties. It’s important for me to sew, crochet and hot glue their imaginations into reality.  

I think it’s just because I love the whimsy of Halloween, the one night where we all play dress up and pretend, where imagination wins all.

I get giddy over opening my door for Trick or Treaters, to see their visions come alive and to smile at the parents standing proudly behind their little lions, ghosts and minions.

We all roll our eyes at the “too old” trick or treaters. The high school kids who shoulder their way through the little ones to get their hands on our bowls full of Snickers and Reeses.

Because, I think at some point we’re supposed to be done with trick or treating, and rightfully so.  It’s a place for the littles to play.

Yet, I don’t think any of us should ever give up the whimsy of Halloween, the belief that we can put on a hat and fulfill our wildest dreams.

We should dream big, fulfill our inner passions, finally become the firefighters and veterinarians we always thought we would be.

But the dreaming of dress up has to live side by side with a love of the sweet right here, the seemingly ordinary right now.

If little “trick or treat” you rang your doorbell this Thursday, do you think they’d be disappointed in who you’ve become?

Do you think they’d be sad that you’re not a professional wrester or stunt rider?

I bet they wouldn’t.

I don’t think we’re letting ourselves down as much as we think we are.

I know you feel like you haven’t arrived yet, like you’ll be better when you achieve this or that. 

But please don’t buy into that lie, because you’re beautiful today.  In the costume you have on right now.

For me, my dream costume is that of “published author” as it is with so many writers, I’ll finally be okay when I publish a book, that’s the magic moment when I’ll feel like my writer costume isn’t a joke.

But you know what?  I think if 6 year old me came to our door on Thursday night she’d see our comfy home complete with a cat, two kids and an awesome playroom and be thrilled.

If teenage me peeked in our window and saw the romance in our marriage to a good, good man she’d breathe a sigh of relief in knowing that it all works out in the end even if she IS 16 and never been kissed.

In the end, when you look down at the costume you wear in daily life, even if it’s not the end all be all fulfillment of your deepest passions, it’s still a pretty good gig.

I’m not saying don’t dream big, I’m saying that you’re already somewhere worth celebrating, so grab a snickers (or if you have supremely good taste, an Almond Joy) and celebrate the costume you get to wear every day.

Because it’s lovely in it’s here-ness.  So is mine, go us.

What did little you want to be “when you grow up?” OR What is your Halloween Candy Kryptonite (what can’t you leave alone?)

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Pause for the Whisper (a guest post for Emily Miller)

Today I’m guest posting for my dear friend and fellow extrovert, Emily Miller on my favorite spiritual practice.  I’d love for you to check it out, a lot of heart in here today.  

Pauseforthewhisper

I live in a noisy world, I bet you do too.  Between my two busy preschoolers, my talkative cat and my endless to-do list, rarely does a silent moment grace the walls of our home.  Even now as I write, dinner dishes are being clattered in soapy water while matchbox cars are being vroomed on the hard kitchen floor. Outside somewhere someone is trying to sneak in their lawn mowing before sunset and another neighbor is revving their motorcycle… for whatever reason people do that.

Noise, always noise.

And with it?  Anxious thoughts, worry, wondering if there will be enough. Enough time for the work, enough money for the bills, enough gentle words to outweigh the bad, enough good in me to remain loved and sought after by both God and his people.

It’s like a merry go-round, spun by a bully that doesn’t let up.

Some days I look at the carefree whimsy of my children with jealous longing. Remember the days of childhood?  The ones that came before the groceries, checklists and oil changes?  Back then we didn’t worry about being good enough or provided for.  We just played Care Bears and Ninja turtles and hoped someone would give us candy.

But no longer, now life is a noisy ride, so how do we hold on to the truth in the midst of the clammer?

Here’s my spiritual practice: It’s pausing for the whisper.

Our lives are loud, but the whispers of God’s truth are always and ever present.

Kindly proceed to Emily’s blog for the rest of the story?

Here is this story (A When we Were on Fire Synchroblog post)

synchroblog-photohome_uk

I grew up really White and Christian Reformed, I’m not saying this was a bad thing or that I hold disdain for my upbringing.  I just… did.

I went to the Christian Middle School and then the “practically Christian” Public High School.  I didn’t spend a lot of time challenging anything I was told in church or bible study, I just accepted it all as true and went on my merry way.

Then, at age 18, something snapped for me, As is often does when we’re baby adults… we begin to rail against what our parents taught us in an angsty journey to find our own “thing.”

For me it was leaving the denomination of my birth in favor of the very large, somewhat controversial, non-denominational church the next town over.

And then… getting baptized as an adult.  Which sounds like nothing really, but you have to understand that I’d grown up Reformed, where infant baptism was a really big deal.

I was sure that my family would be livid over my choice to proclaim my faith in this way.

But, I was sure that I had found the church, the way, the method, the only real place where faith was to be found.

I couldn’t understand why my other friends were persisting in their attendance at their respective churches when clearly I’d stumbled on the only way to do church.

I’d drank the kool-aid of independence and was using it as a weapon, not realizing that in my step of independence I still hadn’t realized that there was more than one way to do church.

I was so post-modern
so non-denominational
full of tirades and using my “label-free” faith in the most ironic way possible.

I know, I know… I want to go back and smack me too.  

So I got baptized in the church, as an adult, expecting that everyone would be so upset about it.

And no one was. Not really. My parents and grandparents came and it was overall a very real and Christ-soaked experience.

In spite of my angsty attitude, God showed up, redeeming my humanity with his holiness, thank goodness.

Fast forward to Thanksgiving that year, when we gathered around the Thanksgiving tables to enjoy turkey and jello “salads.”

Somehow it came up, one of my Aunts threw it out there: “So, we hear you were baptized in September?”

Here we go, I thought…  here is the moment where I have to stand up and fight for what I believe in, to fight.

“So why weren’t we invited?” She said.

My jaw dropped.  I was speechless for what felt like forever.  There was no gauntlet thrown.

“I guess I didn’t give you guys enough credit, I didn’t think you’d want to come.”

This was the only thing I could stammer out in the moment.

“You’re right, we really wanted to celebrate that with you, we’re thrilled at the new faith steps you’re taking.”

And I think that moment was when I realized it:  There is more than one way to be “on fire.”  It’s not Reformed OR Non-Denominational OR Catholic OR Methodist OR …. whatever.

For the most part… it’s AND.

You AND me.  Your Denomination AND mine.

There is more than one way to be on fire, and when you find yourself flaming, look out… you’re likely headed for a burn out.

Faith is found in the fire, but it’s sustained in the embers, the small, daily worship of faithful living and thankful prayers.

If you think you’ve figured it all out, that you have it all right, that you’ve found the one-way…. please remember how human you are and always will be.

The vastness of Creation echos the hugeness of a God we will never fully figure out this side of heaven…. This is the most freeing thing I can possibly say about faith and fire.

There is beauty in the vastness of his people, in the varieties Christian religious practices…. there is heritage in the name on the sign.

I couldn’t sustain the angry fires of post-modernism for long, I now live in the embers of faith and appreciation for a God who is huge enough to encompass our differences and call them “Tov Meod.”

So very good.

You guys, today I am linking up with a bunch of other bloggers, all of whom are excited to help my dear friend Addie Zierman, celebrate the release of her memoir: “Where we were on Fire.”

So go buy this book, do it now, use this link, no excuses!  “It’s a story for doubters, cynics, and anyone who has felt alone in church.”

I love Addie, I love this book, I’d like to hook the two of you up in this way.

Day 14: Here is where we love you anyway

It was an idyllic afternoon, mid sixties, sunny, leaves falling around our feet.  We stood there at the park, Kel and I, watching the kids tunnel through the recesses of the playground.

Nothing could be sweeter, and then?  Our two year old son smacked his sister in the face, hard.

We delegated who would comfort and who would discipline, I drew the short straw and hauled him to the van to take a time-out in his car seat miss out on the rest of park time.

Flash forward to later, after a nice family dinner, when it happened again: They got into a heated moment and he smacked her in the face.

He’s a two year old boy in every sense of the word, alive, energetic and ready to fight the universe… whether he agrees with it or not.  

You want to take my picture by this pumpkin to show off my old man, harry-potter sweater?  Then I'm shoving the pumpkin off the porch.  Cheese!

You want to take my picture by this pumpkin to show off my cute, old man, harry-potter sweater? Then I’m shoving the pumpkin off the porch. Cheese!

Whatever you say, he says the other thing.
Anytime you smother kiss on his cheeks, he wipes them off.
If you serve oatmeal, he wants eggs.
When his sister says “yes yay!”  he says “nope, no!”

He’s a walking, talking, two-year-old cliché.

It happens in more years than just our second…. it happens in marriage, at work, at the grocery store.

So what does one do when caught in “that stage?”  In the land of endless battles and “no!?”

You love anyway, even and especially when you don’t want to.

Because we all get love when we don’t deserve it, and that’s probably when we need it most.  Seasons arise in our hearts where we play the role of Hosea’s wife and do unlovable things just to see if everyone leaves.

It’s our inner two year old.

So tonight after “no” number 174 and face smack number 2, when we were tucking Caedmon in for the punishment of an early bedtime, we didn’t chastise him or run him down.

There was correction, there was explanation of consequences… but mostly? We told him how much we loved him anyway.

All three of us gathered around his tiny bed, kissed his angry face and told him: “Hey, we love you even though you hit and hurt… we’re not going anywhere… but you need to call it a night, let’s do another day tomorrow.  

So here’s a story and a song and a thousand kisses, here’s grace and love and another reminder from the God who does it best that there’s nothing you can do to make us love you less.

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Day 13: Here lives hope

Three years ago today, my mom took her life after years of struggling with something that I sometimes struggle with myself, depression.

There is nothing easy in this truth. Nothing.

This day, October 13 falls heavy on the calendar and then sits, like a lump in my throat

As much as I try to avoid it, my mind moves through her last day to her final decision with an inward groaning.

But, we don’t grieve like those who have no hope, and this?  This is goodness.  This is something to grasp onto with white knuckled hands when every other thing seems shaky and unstable.

This is the reason I pump like a child on a swing, that I gather the freedom and life and love that I still have and fully intend on having for another 50+ years.

I am here. I am alive. I will not, will not surrender the fight.

I don’t not grieve, proceed or live like one who has no hope.

I tell this story because I know I am not alone in this weary remembering, we all have our days of the year that seem heavier than we can conceivably bear on our own.

I have hope, so when I take my children to the park, I grab a swing and I fly, I remember who I am, whose I am.

I hang on, press on, free, hopeful and loved.

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Here

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Day 12: Here, With Holes.

holes

Today would have been my Dad’s 58th birthday. Some days it seems as though it’s been forever since I had a father to call and then other moments I think to ask him something. Still, 8.5 years later.

Usually it’s for advice on cars or painting. but I’m still wired to go to my Dad for help when things get overwhelming.

I know the cliché Christian thing to say here is that I should pray and talk to my Daddy God in these moments.

I hate to disappoint you, but it’s not the same, we are wired for God and for people and when people make an exit it leaves gaping holes in our hearts.  It leaves us with a void that cannot and should not be filled this side of heaven. Continue reading

Dat 11: Here is shared with the loudest cat ever.

Well if I have to write for 31 days, one of them will be about my cat and subsequent cat problems.  #catproblems

Last year our family adopted my brother in law’s cat, a renamed him Alfred, after Batman’s butler.  Because that’s how I saw him, my hired help to entertain the kidlets.

I envisioned a snuggly furball who would cuddle during movies, rub against my legs while I did the dishes and who would do the weird cat things that make it on youtube.

We got what we were hoping for out of Alfred. He chases yarn around the house and when the kids pick him up he goes limp like a rag doll and never retaliates or hisses.

And Alfred does one more thing, something I didn’t bargain for:  He never shuts up.

I don’t know how much the average cat meows, but Alfie does it all day long.  ALL. DAY. LONG. (also he licks people obsessively)

Observe:

He meows while the kids are playing
He meows during the early morning quiet
He meows while I’m taking a shower
He meows while I’m cooking dinner
He pretty much wanders the house yowling, all the time.

Then he takes a break to lick my hand while I’m writing and goes back to meowing some more.

Sometimes it’s because he wants food,usually it’s because he wants to go outside… but he is a cat with many wants they must be expressed!

I’ve only kicked him twice and I feel good about this.  Usually I lock him in the garage when I’m so irritated, I’m staring at the knife block with dark thoughts.

My kids ensure constant noise and when they finally sleep I want quiet, but instead I get crazy cat yowling.

My every sentence is MEOW punctuated by MEOW the constant demands of MEOW this cat that I MEOW wish I’d never allowed in the house.

I’ve been told we need to ignore it and it will go away
I’ve been told we need to make sure he stays inside for a month and he’ll give up
I’ve been told we need to take him to the vet to make sure he’s ok (he’s fine, he just sucks)

My best idea is to convince him the outside world is horrifying by scaring him with dogs, zombies and vacuum cleaners any time he attempts to escape.

But really I don’t know.  The kids love him, the humane society is overcrowded and I’m stuck with the last thing I needed, more obnoxious noising.

What would you do?  What should I do? Ear Plugs?  Shotgun?  Tazer on a stick?

Here

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Day 10: Here is where we hit our knees (again)

Photo on 10-10-13 at 9.35 AM #2

I  went to Christian elementary school
I went to all the bible studies and sunday schools
I was a Calvinette with copious merit badges (reformed girl scout, yes… that’s a thing.)
I graduated from Bible college and followed it up with a bit of seminary.

A lot of time and resources have been invested in my Christian education and spiritual development.

All that being said…. When things get stressful, anxious and hectic: I forget to Pray.  

And then I beat myself up about it, compare my life against that of my scripture posting facebook friends and declare myself a waste of a Christian and a poser of a Pastor’s wife.

(You may be noticing two themes this October 1. I play the comparison a lot.  too much.  2. I’m quite fond of beating the crap out of myself) 

It happened again this morning while I was attempting quiet prayer time while trying drown out “Busytown Mysteries” blaring from the basement.

I started to beat myself up for my lackluster prayer life and general spiritual forgetfulness.

But I forced myself to swallow grace.
Pick up my Bible and start again.

Because we can’t go back and hit our knees yesterday, we cant undo our past worries with today’s prayers, but we can start today with a contrite heart, a reliant spirit.

And for that matter we have to stop beating ourselves up about our spiritual shortcomings, it only drives us further away from the God we so desperately need to rely on.

We have to stop using quiet time as a litmus test and start seeing it as a meal, a feast, a communion with a God who wants in on our minute to minute lives.  

We can pray something that sounds like: Dear Lord, thank you for bushels of grace like apples in fall, shiny and new and abounding. Thank you for seeing me through even when I was far too busy to ask for it.  Forgive me for the arrogance of trying to stand without you, again.  Be in my breaths, redirect all my fears and freak-outs back to you with a silent whisper that only loves and never labels or lessens.

Amen.

Here

I’m writing every day this month about the idea of living “here.”  Head back to this page to access all the posts in one place and please join me in loving where you are, just as you are.