The Book that is Keeping Me Sane for Move Number 7 (review of The Nesting Place)

What am I up to over the next week?

Oh not much, just two birthday parties (both Noelle) two graduations (Noelle from preschool, Kel from Seminary) and closing on a house.

This is on top of the church plant, the pregnancy and the normal details of our life.

So honestly, I’m feeling overwhelmed with details. All these beautiful, gorgeous, fun details that I want to give intentional thought to, but lack the time… or energy.

I’m feeling strapped, by both cash and time.

I want to invest a bit of both in our new home but if you review the details above it’s pretty obvious that I am limited across the board. Andplusalso did I mention I’m still in the final stages of my first trimester with baby 3?

Normally I would feel stressed to the point of tear-filled anxiety over all of this, but I’m trying a new approach, some of which comes from this book and its gorgeous tagline:

“It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.”

If you’ve spent much time over at The Nester‘s Blog this phrase isn’t new.

But when it’s implemented? When the seeds of it take root in your thought life? It’s revolutionary, at least it has been to this Idealist.

Kel and I have been married for eight years and this will be our seventh move. Seventh guys. Seriously, I want to feel settled.

We started in an apartment complex here in Grand Rapids, which I painted some of the worst colors imaginable.

Then we moved to a cinder block apartment in a partially condemned building at Seminary.

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drinking completely contraband wine in seminary. SUCH a bad girl.

That was depressing my soul so we moved half a block a sweet little yellow duplex, my favorite place that we lived before kids.

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Second anniversary, who needs shoes?

Six months later Kel was offered a job in Oklahoma so we loaded a truck and moved across the country where we moved into a rental that had a few bugs (literally)  oh AND a pull out stovetop.

I was newly pregnant and need to nest so we purchased new construction home and finished it ourselves, meaning we told the builders how we wanted it finished. We loved it, brought both our babies through those doors and left with bittersweet feelings to move back home.

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Back in Michigan we moved into a rental ranch in a fantastic neighborhood that has been an absolute gift to our family, but where we never really settled in.

One year later we are moving to a lovely two story in North East Grand Rapids which we affectionally refer to as “Our Grandma House” because it’s still decorated with floral wallpaper and pink carpeting.

photo

gorgeous new house preview!

More on this house later, I think I’m going to take a foray into home decor blogging now and again. It’s going to be fun, but like I said there is much to do, to think about and to be overwhelmed by.

So, with all this going on, I bought this book, on a whim at Barnes and Noble with $20 (It’s MUCH cheaper on Amazon) I really should have saved for paint or curtains or milk.

photo copy

My well loved, already slightly dogged eared in two weeks copy.

And I am here to tell you, it is the best purchase I have made in months. I couldn’t put it down or help myself from bringing it on play dates to show all my friends. 

The Nesting Place by “The Nester” IE Myquillin Smith, has infused grace and patience in my thought life as I approach this new home.

As she told her story of their thirteen moves and that all too familiar feeling of “The next house is the one I will really love and work on” I found myself amen-ing, tearing up and reading paragraphs out lous to Kel.

This book spoke to my soul.

If I pick out the wrong paint colors (uh, been there!) it will be okay. Why?
Because “Sometimes you have to make something imperfect before you can make it beautiful.” ~ The Nesting Place

My throw pillows are as flat as pancakes and this should make me glad. Why? Because it’s a sign that people have found comfort there, time and time again.

There is so much lovely imperfection that we find ourselves embarrassed by or apologizing for when in reality our homes are places of love that should be a refuge for those who live there and those who stop by.

I haven’t always been great at this, I get easily discouraged by our home budget, frustrated by the stray legos in the corner and crabby at my husband for always sitting on the couch in such a way that makes the cushions look weird and smooshy.

In reality, this is the place where the bulk of our life will play out and if I want a life infused with grace and peace, it starts with me. It starts at home.

This book is speaking to our my soul about our move
This book is teaching me to be a more understanding mom and a more gracious wife.
This book was a gift, a total splurge that panned out and was worth more than I spent.

It has a story that many will resonate with, grace that everyone needs and practical tips will prove  invaluable as we nest into our new home.

You’ll love it, I’d loan it to you but, I need it, I refer to it, I love it.

And I don’t want to give away the ending, but she shares a lesson about a celebrity death that struck her deeply and taught her a life lesson. This is uncanny because the same thing happened to me, same celebrity, very similar lesson.

This and basically every third sentence in the book caused me to adore Myqullin, her style and her grace-filled perspective on life, faith and home. I will be a regular visitor to her blog and a regular purchaser of this book for weddings, showers and housewarming gifts.

What is the one thing that is holding you back from nesting in your current place? 

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The Romance of Zooming out

It was at a busy Christmas party when my Grandpa handed me the white envelope containing their Christmas card. I opened it the following morning over coffee and lost my breath. I still do when I see it on the fridge.

It’s two pictures, nestled side by side, one labeled 1949 and taken after their wedding, and one taken in 2013 taken on a wooden chair in their condo.

63 years of marriage… and counting.

GrandpaGrandma

In the first picture they’re all black and white smiles, arms around in each other in long dark dress coats. My Grandmother is wearing a sort of pillbox hat with a pearl pin cheated slightly to the right.

In the second picture they’re sitting on a chair in the corner, her on his lap, both clad in Calvin College sweatshirts, likely on their way to my cousin’s basketball game.

I’m not sure I own anything else that brings as much perspective as this Christmas card.

63 years, 5 children, 14 grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren with one on the way.

All of us

These days I fly around the house upset over messes, worried about taxes, obsessing over buying a new house and ranting over the scarcity of time. Wishing that different things defined my day.

Zoom Out

My grandparents have 56 years of marriage on Kel and my 7.

In 56 years I surely won’t even remember this tax season and if I don’t get my act together it’s likely I’ll regret my bad attitude toward mess and time. Maybe I’ll even see it mirrored in the lives of my own children.

In 56 years 2014 will likely be reduced to just a few memories, flashes and photographs that managed to survive the years and somehow get off my iphone.

In 56 years (I pray) it will be Kel and I in sweatshirts reflecting on a lifetime of memories that may likely be trying to escape around the edges of our eighty-eight year old minds.

Whatever we’re doing this year is building a legacy, it does matter, it is seeds that will surely blossom into fruit we won’t see this side of heaven.

Yet then again, it’s just taxes.
It’s just laundry.
It’s just writing.
It’s just a car repair.
It’s just a new house, a place to do the good work of living well and on purpose.

When you zoom out suddenly you realize that there is a lot more romance in the sweet right now. Because at a distance you’re not in the fray of minutia, you’re on an epic journey, you’re dancing a dance that means so much more than anything that could possibly be getting you down in the moment.

There is deep romance form this perspective, you’re in-between photographs weaving a tapestry that will not leave the world unchanged with it’s richness.

There are markers in life that change the trajectory of things, there are defining moments… but so often it’s just life, it’s the small sustaining stuff, the pixels that compose a bigger picture.

So often those pixels seem like all there is but if you can breathe the romantic practice of zooming out, of remembering who you are and what’s really going on.

Then suddenly you become not the woman freaking out about taxes, but the maybe-someday matriarch doing the good and true work of building a family, sustaining a generation.

Giving life to something that will sustain deep familial love… always and forever inviting the world in.

“Come see, Come share, Come acquaint yourself with the source of love and sustainer of life.”

Zoom out

Remember who you are and what you’re doing. You’re the bride and you’re the matriarch in the middle of the story, a romance that is composed of small things that will not leave the world unchanged, guaranteed.

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Where Perceived Judgement Teaches Me That My Way Is Good, Too.

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So, I go to a sort of a… crunchy church.  At least it feels like that to me. Don’t get me wrong, I love it. I love that we have compostable everything and that my children learn about the bible through actors and readings rather than on tv screens.

Yet, sometimes I feel a bit “less than” in the face of all the wholesome goodness. I feel like if wholesome were a game, I would be middle of the pack… or lower.

We have regular (BPA free) Target sippy cups, with Cars characters on them
I did not cloth diaper
I only breastfed for one year
My kids eat the non-organic Aldi brand (100% all natural) fruit snacks

Every morning my kids get up and watch a little (usually educational) TV so I can work.

Often I feel, wrong…

Take this past Sunday where despite our best efforts we arrived late to church. Due to the snow and the low volunteer turnout there was no room in kid’s church for our three year old son.

So I prepared him for a teachable, “life’s not always fair” moment while my husband checked our daughter into her room and we took him to “big church.”

I melted a little when he asked: “Why didn’t they have room for me?” and told him they did in their hearts but not in the rooms, that people couldn’t make it in to play with him because of the snow.

He seemed okay, then asked the inevitable question:

“Can I play on your phone?”

Sigh…. “Yes, but NOT during the songs.”

During the songs we bounced and sang along and helped him engage what we call “big church.”

Then as we settled in for the sermon he looked up at me with expectant eyes and an open palm.

The phone please.

I looked around (surely judgement was on it’s way) and handed him the phone so I could tune in to a desperately needed teaching on help, faith and prayer.

For the first twenty minutes it worked great, he built pretend cupcakes on my phone as I tuned my heart in to the words of the pastor at the center of the room (we do church in the round).

During the last third of the sermon he started to get restless. Why? Well because he could only shoot the angry birds backwards… obviously.

So my husband scooped him up and did what any good Pastor (who isn’t preaching today) does with his son in church.

Shush him?
Tell him a parable?
Hand him a bible?

Nope.

He taught him how to shoot the birds correctly, obviously.

Every time a bird and pig collided, my son erupted in a giggle that was slightly disruptive but a million percent endearing and my husband couldn’t stop grinning.

Me? Well of course I joined in by feeling a deep level of embarrassment and shame via some daydreaming about what “good families” must do”

Good families have children that play with wooden toys during church while subtly absorbing foundational truths that will see them through the rest of their lives.

Good families whisper into their children’s ear and explain the message on a three year old level while missing half the sermon, because those moms don’t need it like I do… they’re naturally holy.

Good families don’t use Cars cups, they use expensive glass ones withs with cool tops and their children never demand juice with marathon tantrums.  They say something like: “Excuse me mummy, would you refresh my drink while I continue to build these blocks after which I will pick them all up, especially the ones under the couch?”  Probably while wearing both clean clothes AND pants…

Daydream-shaming was interrupted by church activity: to write our prayers on pieces of paper, to ask for help from Our Father directly, specifically and then to fold those prayers into paper birds.

I did so after which we rose to sing another song. I can’t remember what it was but it grounded me from my shame-spiral. As was we sang I handed my son the prayer-scribbled bird which he pretended to fly in the air as he rested in his daddy’s arms.

Then I heard it, that voice that doesn’t originate from my own nervous spirit: “Your way is good too, be free”

There was something about the bird and the music, something about my son playing with the vehicle of my prayers that made this truth sink in, deeply.

Your way is good too, be free from the voices of not good enough.
Be free from thinking everyone else is doing it better, from that illusion.
Free yourself up to be you, that’s what I’m really inviting you to.  

The early morning TV and writing, the angry-bird giggling, the ugly sippy cups, the cheap date nights at home, the wild play around the house in lunch-stained shirts with no pants, really it’s my freedom.

our home
our life
our way is good too.

So is yours.

Be free to love your way of doing things,to look around yourself and find more good than “things that need fixing.”

Be free from always finding yourself lacking.

Write it all on a bird and let it all fly away.  

Whatever my mix of calling is… wife/mom/writer/pastor’s wife/communications director… it must contain a freedom and the ability to love “my way,” my place.

To love us.

Your way is good too, let’s be free.

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Ragamuffin Faith and Patchwork Theology

I was baptized as an infant at a traditional Christian Reformed Church.

Then we switched to a contemporary one

But it wasn’t my Dad’s favorite so he and my sister went Baptist for a while.

Then we all found a Christian Reformed Church we liked and it stuck

But I struck out on my own after high school and was baptized (again…) as an Adult at Mars Hill Bible Church.

Then I found my Best Friend, and she’s Roman Catholic.

After that I fell in love with this Methodist guy I met on the internet.

And we went to a non-denominational seminary before moving to Oklahoma where we joined an evangelical non-denominational church that did altar calls.

This is where my own children were dedicated as infants.

Now it looks like I’m going to be a Methodist Pastor’s wife, or maybe I already am one, they don’t give you an official certificate or anything.

After perusing my impressive list of denominational switching, can you tell where I’ve landed?  Yeah, me either.  I’ve tried a lot of different denominations and congregations and I’ve come to one extremely important conclusion.

The name on the sign doesn’t matter.  

I’m not a methodist, and I’m not CRC, and I’m not Baptist.  I’m just… a child of God.  I have no idea how to classify it and I’m really not all that worried about it.

But, I did’t always feel this way. For a long time in my late teens and early twenties I thought that all these distinctions mattered.  A lot.

I had huge political and theological ideas and a lot of energy to expend on debating them.

I was prepared to go to war and convert the world to my self-proclaimed “right way” of believing.  Which was so post modern and flexible, it had no labels, it was organic… how could anyone else possible do anything differently?

I was determined to convince everyone that my “no-labels” labeling was the right labeling system.

If I couldn’t sway them I walked away wondering how sad it must live in their overly labeled religious world.

I threw around theological slang like it was my job.

Reformed! post-modern! Non denominational!  Progressive! contemporary!

These labels (or lack thereof because again I was SO post-modern) mattered to me greatly and I expended a lot of energy on it all.

And then my Dad died, suddenly and all my family and all my people gathered in my parent’s house and we watched as they took his body to the funeral home.

My world truly and utterly fell apart that day and as we sat in that house, Baptists, Roman Catholics, Non-Denominal, Reformed and Christian Reformed people all grieved the very same man with a line of questioning that transcended denominational boundaries.

Because who cares about trans or consubstantiation when you’re just trying to remember that the blood of Christ will set everything right someday?

And infant versus adult baptism seems laughably trivial when you’re just trying to hang on to the belief that God is good and on your team… when somehow he allowed the glue of your family to leave through the portal of an unexpected heart attack?

I can pinpoint that day to the beginning of the end for my theological battling.  Because on that day it was simply back to basics, trying to hold onto the most simple truth and hope.

the old church nestled in the woods.

That God loves me
He is somehow still here
And somehow ….. still good

I’ve learned that religious and denominational distinctions evaporate in the face of the grieving, questioning thirst of real life. Continue reading

The plea of the pastors wife

I wrote this last fall, in the middle of a situation in Oklahoma that was too charged to handle this important post, these words of truth that must be said.  So I’ve let it simmer for months until enough time had passed to spare Kel any additional criticism at work… something we didn’t need any more of in that season. 

It does not speak to where our family is today per say, but it certainly speaks into the lives of ministry families everywhere.  

I reach back for Noelle’s hand as we drive home from church, just the three of us, another Sunday with me and the kids at our home church and Kel off preaching somewhere else.

I know deep down that this right here, this palm to palm family love is the sustaining work of our lives.  It will endure long after this job, this year, this season.

Yet I wonder in my heart: what are we putting them through with this church-world lifestyle?  I pray the good will far outweigh the bad.

As I make the straight drive down Arlington my head is a mess of confusion and pain.  I pause at a red light and remember my high school oath, the one where I swore up and down that I would never be a pastor’s wife.

The one I always joke that God challenged me on, laughed at.

I didn’t want to endure all the criticism and ugliness that comes with a life called to serve full time.  Or whatever you formally call people and families that draw a paycheck from church or para-church ministry.  

I’ve spent another week in utter confusion, trying to sort through the jabs and comments.  How the man I love is not ______ enough or how my family is too ______.

We spent a broken Saturday realizing that yes, in fact it is coming between us, getting into our skin.  Another night passing out, hardly talking, because truly the whole thing is just. that. exhausting.

pastorswife

This is a sad part of the rhythm of most ministry families, healing at home when the people of God tear you apart.  

I’ve spent Sunday mornings in church and dozens of trips to the grocery store wondering which smiles were genuine and which could not be trusted.

There are certainly moments of “screw them all!” where I find my steely resolve and declare that flaws or not … our ministry was genuine.

Moments of clinging to the truth that God is good and here and woven throughout our flawed human attempts at loving and living like Christ.

I recite impassioned monologues about how God never calls us to gossipy, private bashing but to genuine face to face counsel and relationship.  

These usually stay in the bathroom or are seen only my the mini van’s rear view mirror.  I’m never bold enough to burst into the board room and yell… what the hell people of God?  Why are you tearing us apart in hate?  Have you read the bible lately… all the parts about correcting privately, in love?

I’ve been angry, I’m still angry, but I’ve humbled my heart to realize that out of ignorance and pride I have sat in the critics seat.  Foolish enough to pick apart something genuine and spirit filled because I felt some consumer right to.

Out of ignorance I’ve sat picking at something I’m too lazy to get involved in or bring a change to.

I want to make a flow chart of church commentary.  Something that helps people realize how much better things would be if they would use their hands to help more than they use their mouths to criticize.

If you’re think this then perhaps you should get off your ass and do A) B) or even C).

Oh church: we are just as human now as we’ve ever been.  We stumble, we fall, we wound the hearts of those who serve us and scar the hands of those who sit washing our feet.

You’ve done it, so have I.

But those of us who have found ourselves startled and bruised after offering hands of love, sweat and tears, we’re … slower to speak.  We have scarred hands of grace which we are quicker to offer as hugs over fists.

So much quicker to look for the heart of God, the genuine spirit led love behind it and when we see it to consider the viewing of it, a gift, a grace.

home feels like…

Tulips

Greetings from my dining room table in Michigan!  As you’d expect there are still boxes everywhere and my brain is fried… and then some… then some more.

But guys?  I’m just so happy to be back in Michigan, I’m feeling all the feels but mainly the overjoyed kind.

The most random things bring out the happy tears from me these days like green grass and grocery shopping.  I always thought that I would be adventurous and live somewhere truly exotic but it turns out that there is something about West Michigan that will always feel like home.  And now it feels like right here!

I want to write a sonnet for you about what coming home feels like… but for now I can only manage a list-style post, forgive me?

So here are the things that are thrilling me these days, the stuff of dreams that ring of home, of the right here right now of our life.

1) Sprawling lawns, carpets of soft fescue grass
2) Springtime flower beds dotted with every sort of tulip
3) A short drive to hobby lobby for creative supplies with Noelle
4) Cool breezes through our slider door, which looks out onto tall trees.
5) My Aunt Mar stopping over for a walk in the evening
6) Neighbor kids riding bikes down the street outside my front window
7) Tall trees, with bright spring leaves
8) Oberon on tap
9) The lure of Lake Michigan only 20 minutes away.
10) Drive through coffees at Biggby
11) Neighbors who stop over with cake and welcome cards
12) Planning girls nights in downtown Grand Rapids
13) Old friends asking to stop over and bring dinner.
14) Playing soccer on the front lawn.
15) Sleeping with the windows wide open and waking up to the morning song of bird life.
16) The joys of having a basement!
17) Crab Rangoon from Great Lakes Chinese enjoyed with friends who unloaded the truck
18) The promise of the Tulip Time Parade on Saturday
19) Grocery Shopping at Meijer
20) The hand of God doing more than I dared hope or trust in… like always.

Perhaps I’ll try to do a photo post soon of our new life here in Michigan?  It’s all weird and in-between as Kel finalizes job stuff and we head into summer but we are settling in and oh so happy.

What rings of home for you?  What simple pleasures bring silly, satisfied tears to your eyes?

My Short Stint as a Preschool Teacher (or small faithful = big lovely)

Thursday the “Mother’s Day Out” preschool where I was working shut it’s doors permanently.  I hadn’t been there long, only 5 short weeks. I only started working there to make some extra money for our impending move.

So when they gathered the teachers this past Tuesday and told us they were shutting the program down,  I’m not sure if I felt relieved or sad. I suppose it was a mix of the two.  It had been a hard month of work, of learning the ropes, the politics and the kids.  And just when I thought I had a knack for it? It was over with a few quick words from the director.

I couldn’t help wondering what the point of my short stint as a preschool teacher had been.  Was I supposed to work there in the first place? Did I misread the plan?

Yet, this past week: God, with his wit and wisdom has been show me that longevity and notoriety has nothing at all with his ability to change lives.  He needs faithful hands for both the short and long term.

In my mind my time at the preschool was nothing extraordinary.  I’d simply gone to work, poured goldfish, changed diapers, read books and played blocks upon blocks.

But to God, I opened up a channel with which he could show love and grant grace.  A usable connection to affirm his worth and establish his kingdom in a simple preschool playroom.  And on our last day, several of my Mothers told me that I was a regular topic of dinner conversation, and a big part of why their kids wanted to come to school.

They’d noticed the change in their kids since I’d started and they were thankful to God that I showed up.

And now it was over, I said goodbye to those three year olds forever and watched their mothers walk them to the car.  Their age and the brevity of our time together assured me that my work and presence in their lives would soon be forgotten.  

biglovely

Yet, as I always do, I was completely underestimating God’s ability to use the scraps of my faithfulness in the big picture of his overarching plan.   I’m beginning to see that he can use the smallest acts of love and faithfulness to adjust the trajectory of a life forever.

And moreover I was believing in the lie that God is only working through the works of those who are receiving the highest accolades and notoriety, and since that wasn’t me I thought that my small faithfulness was unusable to him.  I worried that the work of my hands was nothing more than adequate effort, forever passed over in favor of lovelier choices.

So often we believe that only the big dogs make a difference, but it’s utter BS.  So what if you’re a small church, a little movement, an introverted youth worker or whatever your case may be?  The enemy is thrilled when we believe that small is insufficient, because it leads to doubt and so often surrender.

But we have to remember that everything in the world, even the big things, are comprised of small faithfulness and discouraging turn outs.  God uses the small works, the simple acts of showing up to bring about his purpose in the lives of his children.  And when his kids feel his love and affirmation the ripple effect is unpredictable and revolutionary.

So if your numbers are done
Your job is gone
The time seemed too short
The outcome wasn’t what you hoped for
You wonder if this is your calling or if it’s time to give up…

Don’t think it was for naught, God uses the work of your hands for his beautiful glory, and what more can we hope for when it comes to the fruit of our time?  God wants your faithfulness and sees it as every bit as lovely as that of the people your comparing yourself to.  

Your small faithful is big lovely, lets stop forgetting the God into whose hands we commit the works of our days.

Quilting my womanhood

One of my favorite modern theologians is Rich Mullins, I get this from my Dad, who I believe has coffee with Rich on a regular basis.  In my heaven they’re buds, don’t challenge my doctrine please and thank you.

One of my favorite quotes from Rich Mullins is this:  “I think, writing-wise, I am probably more of a quilter than a weaver because I just get a little scrap here and a little scrap there and sew them together.”

I adore the idea of quilting l and I’ve found that this quote rings true, not only for writing but  parenting, cooking, reading, self-image and marriage as well.

We truly are quilters, gathering scraps from each other and sewing them into the fabric of our lives, piecing together something entirely new.

I made my first quilt of sorts this past weekend, an easter skirt for Noelle. I cut and gathered scraps of fabric and pieced them together to make up the swirly bottom of the skirt.  I used some new patterns from the local quilt store and some leftovers from my rainbow suitcase of fabric, a huge old trunk full of scraps all lined up and waiting to be repurposed.

There is something magical about taking a little stack of squares and creating something harmonious, all the fabrics singing together like a choir.  Suddenly you take it off the machine and you’ve created something entirely new and original and completely whole.

It’s not “less than lovely” because it’s comprised of found materials, rather it’s more beautiful for the patchwork, more interesting for the hodgepodge.

Lately I’ve spent a lot of time thinking of my sense of womanhood as a quilt and reflecting on all the different pieces I’ve collected over the years.  Every session I spend in reflection leaves me a touch more thankful and inspired.

Growing up with an overwhelmed and depressed mom left me confused about it means to be a woman and to be honest, I didn’t want to be one.  I hid my body and balked at the though of someone referring to me as a woman rather than a girl.

I thought that womanhood may undo me, that any bumps and bruises would mar my heart for life.  I saw myself as weak and unworthy.

I remember the first time I consciously added a scrap to my quilt of womanhood. I was working at Asbury Seminary for two woman, both named Tammy. They were strong and lovely, brave and hilarious, gracious and intelligent.  They were both single and raising three kids after difficult divorces.  To my surprise they didn’t live their lives in despair, there wasn’t an ounce of bitterness, only a vibrant zest for life and God.

Since then I have been gathering scraps here and there, so many friends and bloggers have become unwitting mentors and spiritual mothers to me.

I’ve quilted the way my friend Sandy thoughtfully loves her people
The way my Aunts weave God into every conversation
The way my Grandma prays for her grandkids and gathers us as a close-knit family
Sarah Bessey’s gentle mothering
Rachel Held Evan’s brave quest to bring truth
Anne Bogel’s intentional take on life

The list doesn’t stop here, so many women have given me valuable lessons that I’ve sewed into my quilt, God has used so many of you to teach me what it means to be a fully alive daughter.

For too long I thought I was just a little sister copy-cat of better mothers, writers and women.  Always running behind them, doing what they’re doing, hoping to be notices and deemed acceptable.

quilt pic

This weekend as I gathered and stitched together the squares I realized that all fabric is woven from existing threads.  Nothing starts out whole, it’s woven from something else.  We are all quilters. This doesn’t makes us boring copy cats, this practice of scrap gathering is a beautiful practice indeed.

As we gather and stitch, the pieces becomes so many and the pattern so wild that each quilt is something entirely new and breathtaking.

A daughter living out her God-woven gifts is one of the most lovely experiences on earth.

Through our mothering, singing, painting, doctoring, writing, cooking, teaching, quilting we bring God to life through our hands and he is truly worshipped.

Suddenly money, square feet, job titles, marital statuses and dress sizes don’t define us but rather the very act of glorifying God through the fabric of our souls.

You are not a copy cat, we’re all quilts friends and we were made to give and take scraps from each other, to mentor each other by simple proxy.

You are a part of my quilt and I am flattered beyond words for the gift of your scraps.

Tell me about your quilt, who do you love to gather scraps from?  

All things for good (on 8 years without my Father)

Today marks 8 years since I lost my Dad, and I hate it.

I hate everything about it.

I hate looking at the landscape of our lives and not seeing him there.  I see his fingerprints all over the place, but those joyful eyes behind the paint speckled glasses?  They’re nowhere to be found.

Somedays I can’t believe he’s gone and others I struggle to remember what it was like to have a Dad at all, a Dad to call with tears or mortgage questions.

I tell the kids about him sometimes, but mostly they’re too young to understand. I tell Caedmon that he has his Grandpa’s middle name and I tell Noelle that she has a nose just like her Grandma’s.

I tell them: “I had a mommy and daddy too and they’re in heaven with Jesus and they love us all very much.”

Some people may see 8 years of grieving my Father and think: “Wow, she’s still not over it?” To those people I say this: “When you lose a parent, you’re never truly over it, there is always a unfilled gap, which is okay.”

And somedays that void takes the form of a lump in my throat, sometimes it causes my eyes to tear up because I just want my Daddy.  Somedays don’t we all?   And on those days when I need my Dad but can’t have him I ache on a cellular level.

I want to revert back to calling his cell phone and listening to his voice mail message over and over again.

“His this is Dave, please leave a message.” 

I stil remember the inflection of every word.

Somehow, shortly after he died it was put upon me to design and purchase my Dad’s headstone. I knew nothing about headstones, all I knew is that I wanted it to look as little like a headstone as possible.  Nothing grey, no block letters, I just couldn’t go there. Continue reading

Spoiled, but not rotten?

© Goranmulic | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

© Goranmulic | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

I’ve spent a lot of time in our mini-van lately, last weekend to Dallas, this past weekend a day trip to Oklahoma City.  As my eyes take in the landscape of the southern plains, my mind wanders to all the different regions of this country, reflecting on all I have seen, and how freely we’re able to hop in the car and go.

Lately as my eyes take in the ever changing landscape, from small mountains to trees to scrubby grasslands, I can’t help but think about the freedom we have.  The freedom to be. To go. To live.

I hold our mobility incredibly close to my heart as a freedom, a gift.  A short road trip, something trivial for us, is a huge freedom for many in this world who may never know a world beyond their own 10 mile radius.

Yet, here we are free to strap our children safely in our van as they stare at little screens and eat healthy snacks and sip clean water from character themed sippy cups.

When we get to our destination they play happily in a water park or build custom stuffed animals with both parents by their sides.  Later in the evening we have our food brought to us at restaurants of our choosing.

Oh Lord, we have so much, we have too much, we have everything.

With a little hard work and elbow grease we can improve our already fabulous situation, we can move across the country, change careers, aspire, dream, achieve. Continue reading