Thursday, November 19, 2009

the shaft

This blog totally gets the shaft now, and I am using it to try to win jewelry:

I want Lisa Leonard's ID cuff real bad, but I probably won't win.

Monday, November 16, 2009

simpler and smaller

As you may have guessed, I hate my blog. For a second there, I thought I hated blogging in general, but I don't think that's true.

I'm attempting something new. This is for me. I've pretty much given up on the idea of being a blogger with a large audience, but I welcome those of you who have stuck around.

I'm going the micro-blogging direction for a couple different reasons. 1) I can get content up without feeling pressure to come up with something interesting to say. 2) I can focus on practicing the kind of writing I'm actually somewhat good at: short prose and poetry. 3) It's more abstract, and I'm more abstract. I think I'll probably post some more about Ireland, but without all the "We did this, and then we did that, and later we saw this." I'd like to express the feeling of life, not just the facts. I'll save the play-by-play for Twitter. 4) Tumblr has sweet templates.

So, as they like to say in the blogosphere, hop on over and find me here: Herald. There'll be some repeat content for a little while, because this is a portfolio of sorts. I'm just getting it all out there.

Monday, October 26, 2009

1000 gifts

So much to catch up on!

one hundred twenty-one.

A beautiful day in Detroit to run the marathon relay and family to cheer me on.

one hundred twenty-six & seven.

Really good conversation with Kevin about parenting and "Where the Wild Things Are," both of which helped me let go and feel peace about Ellary's emotions.

one hundred thirty-five.

My mom's visit: endless kisses and love for Ellary, delicious time in the kitchen with me, and clean baseboards.

one hundred thirty-three.

Fall moments with Ellary.

one hundred thirty-eight & nine.

Grace for arrogance, insecurity and listening to myself talk. Repentance and peace.

one hundred fifty-seven.

Living here.

one hundred fifty-eight thru sixty-five.

More CSA bounty:

butternut squash
delicata squash
acorn squash

holy experience

Monday, October 12, 2009

1000 gifts (Blessing Permanence)

At least two people are considering making 1000 Gifts apart of their blogs, but more importantly apart of their lives! Here's more on why it's changing my life:

Just as my daughter is developing a sense of object permanence (the understanding that something or someone continues to exist even if they're not with her), I am developing "blessing permanence." God's loving gifts continue to flow in, and I don't need to grasp at or cling to them, as if they are the last taste of a good thing I will ever have.

And I've been convicted by Him that I want to choose my blessings. I want my life to look and feel a certain way (most often because I'm comparing it to someone else's). Instead of relishing the simple gifts that He lavishes on me, I am discontent and covetous. Even worse, I manhandle my life, as if I could somehow create my own blessing.

God wants me to live my life, the one He authors. It will be and is far more lovely than anything I can come up with on my own.


Another heavenly walk: crisp fall air, bright blue sky, studded with white clouds, orange trees.


Distant deer in the field.


Three gray herons together.


Rocking my sweet girl to sleep; we are both at peace.

I'm almost to 100!

holy experience

Monday, October 05, 2009

1000 gifts (Invitation)


The laundry basket full of clean baby clothes and shoes.


Sweet potatoes baking.


Cold feet under warm covers.


My daughter's first efforts to stand on her own.


Moonshine on feathery clouds: October dusk.


Kevin's lumberjack look: flannel shirts and beard.


Are any of my blog buddies looking for something to do on a Monday? I was just telling Kevin last night how much this discipline of gratitude has already meant to me. As I've been keeping track of all the little moments of grace, joy and worship in my life, I've noticed that they linger longer. Which in itself is such a gift [#52], because in the past, joy was bittersweet and much too fleeting. The second I felt true happiness, I was already mourning the imminent loss of it. Now I say what I always should have said: Thank you, Jesus. And the joy sticks around, because I'm worshiping its Source.

I would wholeheartedly love to know about the grace and joy in the lives of others too! Take it as a challenge from me--I don't think you'll be disappointed.

holy experience

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

kerry (kickin it killarney style)

Killarney in County Kerry was home base for us. We stayed a whole week in a cute house in a real Irish neighborhood, which is kind of remarkable, considering that Killarney is about as touristy as it gets.

Our first day there, Kevin and my dad and brother got to go to a Gaelic Football game between Kerry and Cork.

The town sits on the edge of Killarney National Park, which is one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. It is mountainous and green and spanned by two huge lakes.

We had a great time touring Ross Castle, which has been beautifully restored. It was built in the 15th century by the O'Donoghue chieftains. Pretty sweet, huh? The inside of the castle was nothing like you'd imagine a typical castle based on the movies. Apparently, everyone but the lord and lady of the house sleep in the rather small main room, and there is one extremely narrow staircase that connects everything. My history-buff hubby loved it.

The weather was so perfectly Irish--misty, gray and cool. We went for a long walk through dense forest and along rocky outcroppings.

Later that day we headed twenty minutes south to Kenmare expressly to visit Crowley's Pub, which was recommended in one of our travel guides. It was so trippy; the owner of the pub was a Crowley, of course, and he looked exactly like my cousin David. I kid you not. This place was awesome.

On another day trip, we took a crazy hike up the side of a big mountainside. It was worth it.

Kevin challenged Evan to a boat-building contest on our way back down. I love his creativity about that kind of stuff.

Next up: Dingle (my favorite day!!).

Monday, September 28, 2009

1000 gifts (The Body edition)

Yesterday was Kevin's tenth anniversary of attending New Life (and Ciara, if you still read this, thanks for that email reminder [#27]--super encouraging). He stayed up late last night writing to our pastors and thanking them each specifically for their eternity-shaping investment in his life. Wow.

It's been eight years for me, and I'm grateful for every one of them. In particular, I have watched these men, our pastors (past and present) sacrifice over and over out of love for God and love for His Church. Their wives have taught me how to pursue God with real-life fervor, how to love my husband, and how to bestow on my role as mother all the glory it deserves. So without further ado...



MIKE has always helped me feel a sense of stability in the midst of turmoil. In many cases, I think his faith has been bedrock for everyone else's. As a freshman, my church inheritance was memories of politics, fights over money and names, petty grudges and hurt a mile deep. Mike's quiet constancy helped me trust in leadership again.


STEVE is just plain crazy, and every church needs a man like him. He is our Abraham, taking wild leaps of faith and setting up altars everywhere, because--what do you know--God keeps coming through. I've always known Steve believes in me; his encouragement got me on staff and continues to motivate my heart for women's ministry.


JOHNNY used to sit with me during lifegroup coaching and wait compassionately while I cried for who knows what reason. He always told me the same thing: "You're doing a great job." I never ever believed him. I honestly thought it was lip service. But now I can see that he was speaking the truth to me--that God is pleased. I wish I would have let the truth he spoke through a little earlier.


JOEL is unaccountably steadfast. What is his secret? On a small scale, he sends emails that say "Thanks!" when I do something that I was supposed to do a long time ago. On a large scale, his life is often outrageously crazy, but he always radiates peace. I know, from watching Joel, that is is possible to rejoice in the face of suffering, grief, stress and illness. It is possible to be genuinely happy, no matter what.


NIK is my friend. Behind all of his passion, leadership ability, drive and intensity, there is a guy who knows how to chill. That kind of combination is deadly (in a good way), and I'm glad he's so influential; otherwise no one would know how to chill. Nik's hospitality and friendship provide support for me as a staff-member, wife, and mother.


GRAIG is himself like no one else I know, and the biggest thing he has taught me is to be myself. The best part is that he makes absolutely no grand claims about being a world-changer. He's just Graig, and then he changes the world. I look to the Austins as my examples for faith. I want to live my life like they live theirs--no holds barred, no way of knowing, let's just go with it.


SHAH was my first real boss and has had a hand in completely overhauling my mindset many times. His voice still rings in my ears whenever I think the solution to my problems would be more discipline. "No. Again, Meghan, no. What you need is to stop thinking about yourself and start thinking about God and His graciousness to you." He taught me to see myself as God does--not as a bunch of sins that need cleaning up, but as a herald of His goodness.


RICK is my teacher. I think I've been his unofficial apprentice for about four years (at least in my own head). He sees. His perspective on everything is mind-bogglingly huge. He always seems to know where he's going in a conversation, but he lets me tag along and veer everyone wildly off, if I'd like. God has used Rick to give me confidence as His shepherd.


Ok, seriously. Are you kidding me??? Thank you, thank you, thank you, Jesus, for plopping me down in this family and giving me leaders that I can trust. I know that what I have is wildly extraordinary. I am so grateful. Anyone else from New Life want to chime in?

holy experience

Monday, August 31, 2009

to my dad, on his birthday

(Lough Leane, Killarney National Park)

It’s Sunday morning. I’ve gone into church early with my dad, and he is typing up some last minute additions to his sermon notes. He is moving quickly and no doubt intends to proofread later, but I am quite concerned about all the typos. I read over his shoulder and announce mistakes. My dad patiently returns to each one and corrects it, graciously allowing me to be his emphatic little third-grade editor.

It’s Thanksgiving night, and we’ve had an enormous snowfall. My dad leaves behind adult conversation to make a snowman with my brother and me. We cheer as he rolls the first giant ball of snow. In our obsession, we ask him to keep going, keep going! He huffs and puffs as he rolls and rolls; it gets bigger and bigger. My dad wears himself out so we can have our giant snowball.

My dad yells “Goooooooootz!” as I approach the back of the volleyball court. Even though I later ask him to keep it down because serving gives me trouble, I know he’s proud of me. Once I manage a particularly powerful quick ace, and he still talks about it today. My dad is my biggest fan.

(historian, aesthete, teacher)

My dad calls me on the phone, and we’re a thousand miles apart. We do this several times a year. He explains in detail the plan he’s devised to get our family all together. He knows exactly how to work the plan most efficiently, and he gets everyone on board. He’s excited about the details, because he’s passionate about his family. My dad loves his people and will do what it takes to be with them.

It’s Christmas, and my dad lounges on the couch. A dark-haired, blue-eyed little bundle of a baby sleeps contentedly on his chest. She never sleeps like this with anyone else. My dad is the ultimate Babu.

Happy Birthday, Dad. Thank you for your patience, selflessness, support, generosity, and love. I love you.

1000 gifts (CSA edition)

twelve: carrots

thirteen: beets

fourteen: heirloom, cherry, & paste tomatoes

fifteen: sweet corn (barely keeping up)

sixteen: potatoes (way, way more than I know what to do with)

seventeen: cucumber

eighteen: zucchini, pattypan, & yellow squash

nineteen: green bell peppers & poblanos

twenty: basil (typing this helps me to be grateful for all the darn basil)

twenty-one: kale & chard

twenty-two: mustard greens & totchoi

twenty-three: green leaf & romaine lettuce

twenty-four: oregano & mint

twenty-five: kohlrabi

twenty-six: all that's yet to come

It was a good idea.

holy experience

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


(Not sure you recall, but way back when, my family and I visited Ireland)

Our next stop on the Emerald Isle was Galway County and Galway City, which lies north of Clare and Doolin, across a huge bay. When planning the trip, Galway was always at the top of my list for one embarrassing reason: Bodie and Brock Thoene's The Galway Chronicles, which I read with enthusiasm in high school. While I claimed to know a lot about Ireland before our trip, the truth is that most of my information came from Christian historical fiction. At least now my bluff is called.

We spent one whirlwind day in Galway, most of that time in the city, and we arrived on the inopportune final day of the Volvo Ocean Race's Irish stopover. Oh my, the traffic. It cramped our style a bit.

Still, Galway City was a lot of fun. It developed around a fort built in 1124, and you can really feel its age. I loved Shop Street, a carless thoroughfare with shops, pubs and street performers galore. I'll always regret not buying a CD from one of the bands that played--it was the most beautiful music I heard the whole trip. I was mesmerized.

The River Corrib flows through Galway, framed by wildflowers and bridges. There was an incredible amount of green in such a big, busy city.

My favorite spot of the day was Galway Cathedral (or The Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed Into Heaven and St. Nicholas, whoa). I will once again completely discredit myself and say that this may be one of the most beautiful cathedrals I've ever seen. Here's the thing--it opened in 1965. So you know, it's not exactly a phenomenon of hand-hewn architecture and construction, like the Duomo of Florence, for instance. But I just like it, ok?

I loved the modern art mixed in with the Renaissance and Romanesque architecture.

(photo by Mark Grealish)

After our afternoon in Galway, we made a giant loop through the eastern portion of the greater county, in an attempt to see the Connemara. This mountainous region is windswept and wild, with numerous lakes. It is primarily Gaeltacht or Irish-speaking. Not that I would really know, because we never got out of the car, except for one fuel stop. Traveling with a baby keeps things brief and efficient! These photos are pretty close to what we saw, though.

(photo by StellaStyles)

(photo by Neil1960)

Up next, Kerry and Killarney!

Monday, August 17, 2009

1000 gifts (Detroit edition)


The Melinda crepe at Good Girls Go to Paris Creperie. Cream cheese, brown sugar, lime, heaven. Check this place out--it's on John R right off Woodward. It's just a little window.


Lunch on a shaded patch of grass in Grand Circus Park.


Free easy parking.


Community gardens everywhere you look. I'm letting myself dream a bit.


A night away. A night on the riverfront.


Incredible in-laws who love Ellary with all their might and take such good care of her. I can be completely confident in them. What a gift.


Two years. Deep love. Thank you, Abba.

(photo by Dawn Sparks)

holy experience

Tuesday, August 04, 2009



We spent our first three days in Ireland in County Clare, which is along the southwest coast of the country and home to the famed Cliffs of Moher, as well as the eerie landscape of the Burren. We actually flew over Clare on our descent into Ireland and got to see the Cliffs from the plane. That was a spectacular experience; I really did feel like a lifelong dream was coming true in that moment. Ireland from air is exactly what you would expect it to be--green, divided into messy plots by stone walls and lakes.

We flew into the Shannon airport and grabbed lunch in a perfectly picturesque little village called Ennistymon. A funny little woman named Mary sat at a table next to us and chattered our ears off the whole time. I found her quite charming, and she set the precedent for the rest of the trip. It's true what they say about Ireland--everyone is very friendly.

We stayed in Doolin, a seaside holiday town popular among Irish vacationers.

It was recommended in the guidebooks as the perfect place to experience the Irish music scene. My dad reserved an awesome self-catering cottage, with this view.

Poor us.

That first jet-lagged night we ate our first of MANY meals of fish & chips and seafood chowder. I also had some minted peas that I can still taste in my mind to this day. We took a lovely walk to the end of a tiny road and watched the sunset over the ocean.

Day two was all about the Cliffs of Moher. First we took a boat ride right up alongside these sheer rock faces. They are the tallest cliffs in western Europe and a habitat for thousands of birds.

The boat ride was windy and refreshing, and I loved being able to get up close to see the stratum of rock. Glaciers are responsible for carving out and exposing layers upon layers of earth.

To get the truly spectacular vista, however, one needs to hike up to the top of the cliffs at the visitor center. This is definitely a tourist trap, but I would stay trapped here year-round, if I could. I mean, come on.

That evening, we checked out McCann's pub for dinner and some Guinness. Ellary lost a little bit of her innocence that night.

McCann's hosts awesome Irish bands most nights, so we got to experience some real pub life. I think in some places you get a Disneyland version of the pub, because they know it's what Americans want, but every time we went to a pub, there were regular Irish folks there having a ball. A pub is considered to be a good one if it has good "craic" or atmosphere/mood/conversation. My brother Evan closed down the pub that night, hanging out with some Irish fellas. I, on the other hand, headed home early to get Ellary to bed.

Our second full day in Ireland we drove through the Burren. This region of Clare is extremely rocky, because it was farmed extensively for so long that the rockbed eventually ended up at the surface. It is a slightly lunar landscape. Since we drove through the Burren without stopping we didn't get any good pictures, but I thought I'd borrow one.

(photo by Emerald Skies)

And that'll do it for our time in Clare. I'll leave you with a photo of this stunning cemetary with Celtic crosses galore.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


1000 gifts.


This man. He is my modern-day Jeremiah.


This girl. Does joy have a color? Is it blue?


Fresh Michigan black cherries. Seriously scandalizing.


This verse: "Whoever believes in me, as the Scriptures have said, streams of living water will flow from within him." (John 7:38)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Sometimes you spend a full hour trying everything to get your baby to sleep, except the most intuitive solution, at which point you realize she is hungry.

Sometimes you clip a chunk out of her tiny little thumb while trying to trim her fingernails.

Sometimes you spend all morning staring at the computer instead of relishing every moment of her fleeting infancy.

Sometimes you watch placidly as she slowly teeters backward to collide headlong with the floor. You wonder why you just stood there.

Sometimes you just never get around to actually strapping her baby seat safely to the chair.

Sometimes you even warm up her food in a plastic bowl in the microwave.

Did you know, just the same, that you are a good mother?

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Food and Community

∴ What follows is a post inspired by my participation in an online book club at Simple Mom, discussing the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver. I’m truly enjoying it and learning a lot, and since it’s what’s been on my mind, I thought I’d share. However, this is the type of post, when written by someone else, that is notorious for making me feel bad about myself. Lest I seem like I’m becoming some sort of homemaker, locavore extraordinaire (or maybe I’m just flattering myself), let me say that I find this whole process to be a fun and creative outlet. It’s precisely the kind of thing that makes me feel really happy. If you happen to be less excited about tapping into your inner Martha Stewart, please don’t feel bad. If you already do, stop reading. One thing I can’t stand is green sanctimony, and I would hate to come across, you know, greener-than-thou. We’re all doing what we can, these days, to be good stewards of our bodies and the earth, but the truth is, it’s all gonna be made new in the end. There, I said it. ∴

Last week I signed up for a share in a community-supported farm, because I am ultra-chic like that.

Once a week, we will receive a half-bushel of produce grown on land only twenty minutes from our house. As this is a new venture for us, I am keeping my expectations low, but I am hoping to eat tons of fresh fruits and vegetables this summer, as well as freeze and can the surplus, so that we’ll have local produce available year-round.

We’ve been making small changes like this here and there for the last year. Some examples include buying milk in glass jars from a local dairy farm, going berry-picking, and eating meat products at only one meal per day. I’m excited about this last one, because it challenges me to practice vegetarian meals and also frees up room in the budget to buy locally and humanely-raised meat, eggs and dairy. Besides canning, I’m also looking forward to learning how to make my own bread, growing tomatoes and herbs, and figuring out some way to compost in our 800 square foot condo with no yard.

I’ve always struggled to eat healthfully, and I believe the main reason for this is that I don’t eat in a conscious way. Eating is just another thing that I need to do in the Spirit, but that’s hard when you’re either wolfing down dinner because you have no time or you’re choosing not to think about what was really in that crappy, yet convenient, meal.

Consciousness has seemed to be the major theme presenting itself, as I think about the food that my body is currently producing for my baby, as well as the food that I will very shortly feed her with a spoon. My desire is to remain unconscious about several unpleasant elements:
∴ the effect certain ingredients have on my body;
∴ the effect certain food groups (read: sugar) has on my overall mood;
∴ the truly horrific state of industrial husbandry, particularly meatpacking; and
∴ the impact of big agriculture on our local farmers and local economies.

Several books and documentaries have come out in the last few years that candidly discuss the state of food in America, and I typically don’t want to go near them with a ten-foot pole. I don’t want to know, you know? All of a sudden, though, I’m feeling a new responsibility to my daughter and to my community.

The state of the economy and our various environmental crises have had me thinking for a year or so that one of these days we’re all gonna have to move out to the country and learn to live off the land again. Either that, or everyone will cram into the cities, because it’s too expensive to drive anywhere. I keep imagining acres and acres of abandoned and burned out suburbs--basically Detroit inverted. Apparently, I am your friendly doomsday prophet.

Maybe the future doesn’t look a thing like this; I certainly hope not, but it doesn’t matter all that much. I don’t think we can control a whole lot. However, in this theory of mine, communities are going to have to come together to figure out a new way to do life. There won’t be so much self-sufficiency and isolation. This is already happening in Detroit, in fact. All those acres of burned out neighborhoods and urban prairie are being turned into community gardens and art installments. People in that city have very few places to go for affordable, healthful food or beautiful things to look at, so they create these themselves. My new passion for our little local farm and some cans of tomato sauce is connected to those city folk. I want to be apart of a community that is using resources within reach to take care of each of its members. I want to learn skills that will help me do that even in the worst of economies.

Even feigning surprise, pretending it was unexpected and saying a ritual thanks, is surely wiser than just expecting everything so carelessly.
--Barbara Kingsolver

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

i saw it first

A little known fact about me is that I spent the first six years of my life in the countryside outside of Philadelphia. I hope heaven will look a little like our land on Ivy Mills Road. I have so many warm and sparkly memories from that era.

Recently, the masterminds behind Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters started a home and garden shop called Terrain at Styer's. It's been getting a lot of press lately--I first noticed it in Domino. Looks pretty awesome.

I saw this picture and thought, "Hmmm, that looks familiar."

One of my earliest memories took place in this lofted greenhouse. I was walking with my mom, as she picked out potted plants to take home. Oddly, I can still remember that "Constant Cravings" by kd lang was playing (which should ruin the memory, but doesn't).

Styer's has been in Glen Mills for years, right around the corner from our old farmhouse, but it just so happens to be the next big thing in designer gardening.

Monday, April 20, 2009

in need of the truth, part II

Read Part I here. Part II won't make much sense without it.


∴ Yoohoo! The actual passage is: “And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character, and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us” (Romans 5:2-5). Yeah, I kind of left out a massive element of the whole process. And what is so compelling about Angie’s life is that she is living this out. Her hope is deep and alive, and it sustains her through her earthly troubles. Without hope as its outcome, suffering feels tragically wasteful and disappointing. With hope, suffering is not only bearable, but it is even strangely beautiful.

∴ True hope for eternity sustains us through our earthly troubles far better than any earthly solution to them or protection from them. God’s protection is so much more effective and real. While I may feel safer on my own, I’m every bit as helpless. Drawing nearer to God means actually becoming safer, because while I’m still out of control, I can be confident that my heart is safe with Him. I fear suffering that turns to despair, but He will not allow me to be tempted by hopelessness beyond what I can bear, and He will always give me a way out. His mighty hand is my refuge.

∴ I was really helped by my friend Karen’s observation that the analogies we use to describe God’s behavior and heart will always be slightly insufficient. His ways are mysterious and incomprehensible most of the time, so the Spirit gives us insight through His Word, but God is so much more than a physical flame or chisel. His love and discipline do refine me, but He is not casting me enthusiastically into a furnace to be burned. His touch is compassionate and tender, though it is always changing me.

∴ Emily rocked my world with this question: How much do you value your faith? In other words, is my walk with God just an avenue for me to get what I want (a life free from pain and suffering) or is FAITH in Christ the ultimate goal, regardless of circumstances? Which brings me right back to Angie’s words: “I am choosing to bear the crown, because I cannot live without the love.” Will I allow God to lead me in His love? Will I value my faith in Him above all, knowing that it gives everything else meaning? (Ari, you hit this one on the head in your comment.)

∴ What a comfort it is to pray. The girls and I were all a bit bewildered, but in the end, we could only ask God to deliver us from evil and give us our daily bread. Abba, penetrate our hearts with your truth; let us trust you and not be afraid of you. May your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

I welcome your thoughts and comments on this subject.

Friday, April 17, 2009

in need of the truth, part I

“Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him” (John 7:38).

Most everything I long for spiritually is contained in this verse. I want more Holy Spirit in my life. For some reason, I imagine being more prone to giving people hugs and praying for them on the spot. I might even believe that what I pray for will happen. I might even pray for crazy things, just because I can. I could see myself being more bold with the truth and speaking encouraging words to lonely or disheartened people. Generally, the fruits of the Spirit would be popping up here and there.

I recently read Angie’s post reflecting on the one-year anniversary of her daughter’s birth and death, entitled “It Was Love.” All I know about Angie is what she tells the world in her posts, but she seems to me like someone who has a whole lot of living water flowing from her. She’s honest, joyous and faith-filled; she grieves beautifully and loves passionately. She writes, “We who are followers of the King must daily wake up and look in the mirror, seeing our reflection with a crown of thorns balanced on our heads. We must feel the burden of the cross at different points in our life, and with the power of Christ Himself, we will look solemnly back at ourselves and say, "I am choosing to bear the crown because I cannot live without the love..."

Since then, I’ve been fighting a battle against what I believe to be strategic lies from the enemy. They are accusations against God, and I find myself easily believing them. What originated as a question for God turned itself into fear and distrust. I was wondering: do I have to suffer like Angie has suffered in order to know and love God like she does? In other words, does God cause suffering so that people will love Him more? It makes some sense, based on many of the Scriptural metaphors we have for God, specifically the “refining fire” comparison. You know, the whole “suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character” deal.

So then I began to imagine what it would be like if we lost Ellary to SIDS or something (seems like so many babies are dying in the mommy blog world). I tend to think that I’ve had little to no real suffering in my life thus far, and that freaks me out. It makes me wonder: “What’s coming? Something horrible is inevitable, right? If I ask God to take me deeper, then I’m opening myself up to pain. I’ll lose the protection of my mediocre spiritual life.” These are not uplifting thoughts, and I got to the point on this trajectory where I was willing to say, “If I have to lose Ellary in order to know and love God more, then I don’t want to know and love God more.” I said it. I think I still feel it a bit.

Nevertheless, I brought up this issue yesterday in a group I attend with a few other wives, and I left knowing that we’d all seen some victory over these lies. A couple of the girls are in that waiting stage, wondering if God’s going to provide relief from their current suffering. We all just really needed truth. I want to hit the main points that we discussed, because this conversation was money in the bank. Check back soon for some words from the Lord.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

just read when you want control

On Ellary’s first night at home with us, she seemed so vulnerable and alone, way over there in her cradle. (In truth, I could have touched her without getting out of bed.) And I cried a little before falling asleep. The first few weeks, I kept thinking her newborn grimaces meant I was doing something wrong and that she could somehow be happier if I worked harder.

And then there were the books: one said to hold her until she was sleeping deeply, another said to put her in bed still awake so that she could learn to soothe herself. One focused on bonding, another on training. One book was so specific about what to do when, that I started getting neurotic about Ellary’s schedule. Why wouldn’t she nap for longer than 20 minutes? Should I make her eat more? Does she need a baby massage perhaps?

I was desperate for control, and the books gave me a script to follow. While a few wise women told me to simply follow my instincts, I didn’t want that kind of flexibility. There was too much room to screw up. I thought I could force Ellary to fit inside my new mother parameters, and then I would know for sure that she was going to be alright. But alas, she was three weeks old or whatever; she didn’t exactly know how to make it work.

Now that Ellary is so obviously a “satisfied customer,” as my mom likes to say, I’m relaxing and realizing that the books are just anthologies of skills mothers have been learning for centuries. Instead of allowing myself the space to learn these things at my own pace and with Ellary’s particular phase of development, I was anxious and frustrated when the advice of others didn’t match my experience. For example, she never took naps during the first two months. One of my books instructed me on how to put a baby down for a nap, with five different steps. I tried them early on with no success, so I gave up. Lately Ellary's been taking great naps during the day, and I’ve noticed that all five of those steps are apart of the naptime ritual we’ve developed over the last month. Did the author instruct me on how to help my baby sleep? I don’t really think so. She just confirmed what I learned independently through the time I’ve had with Ellary.

I’m not throwing the baby out with the bathwater here. Heh heh. I’ve learned some invaluable information from the many books I’ve read, and the best results arise when I’m gleaning helpful hints from a variety of sources and using what works. But it must never be about control. It can’t be the result of fear. Babies are amazingly resilient and flexible--at least mine is. She’s learning just as much as I am, and we’re growing together. I’m thanking God that we’re doing just fine, and all is right in Ellary’s world. He’s given me an incredible gift in my ability to care for my child. I don’t have the books to thank for that.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

belated lenten internet fast

I've decided to take a fast from the internet, with the exception of email, TV shows (Lost, Office, House & Friday Night Lights), and my blogs. There are many things I look forward to doing with the time this will create: reading real books and a magazine or two, watching the Netflix movie that's been sitting here for days, actually writing on this blog, cleaning the house, praying, and most sorely neglected, reading the Bible.

I realized that God was asking me to do this last night while I was feeding Ellary and listening to a podcast. Typically, I use our nursing time as my main internet time, and it adds up pretty quickly. I happened to look down at my baby and remember how intensely I love her; it's unlike any other feeling in the world. Perhaps I could use this as an opportunity to pray over her, instead of just passing the time.

It's a strange sacrifice. I'm not sure how I got so addicted to my Google reader, Twitter, and Facebook, but I have the sense that this fast is going to dramatically change my life for the better. I'm going to have numerous opportunities to stop and listen, to reflect in a deeper place, without the distraction and noise of a thousand cyber voices.

So the question is: will the fast last until Easter? Or will I keep it up for longer? Will I be motivated to establish more boundaries for myself? I'm interested to see where this goes.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

if you're interested

I wrote out the story of Ellary's birthday here.

It's rather long and probably not everyone's cup of tea, so I figured I'd keep it off the main page.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


This "Sixteen Random Things About Oneself" meme is going around Facebook. Thought I'd post mine here as well.

1. I may be able to tell you about your personality simply by observing your hand gestures. Not always--but most of the time. I got into the science of personality (mainly Myers-Brigs) thanks to the Boese family and then again when I spent some time in counseling, where I realized that I had been trying very hard to act out of a personality that was not my own.

2. Speaking of personality, I've got quite the quagmire going on. I'm creative, but I'm not productive. Got lots of half-finished projects around here and MANY ideas trapped in my brain with little hope of release. Poor things.

3. Speaking of ideas, I'd really like to be a writer. As in, it's my job. I get paid to write.

4. Speaking of writing, I have a blog. You are welcome to view it: Hey, thanks for stopping by!

5. Speaking of blogs, I've got a nasty habit. I currently have 48 sites on my blogroll. I've also recently become mildly obsessed with Twitter.

6. Speaking of nasty, I'm already sick to death of this clever little "speaking of" gimmick I was trying out.

7. If I could have my way, I would live in Lafayette Park in downtown Detroit, and once the Dequindre Cut is finished, most days I'd walk to Eastern Market or the river with Ellary in the Moby wrap or her stroller. (This life can currently be seen lived out at Sweet Juniper. Guess I'm not that creative after all).

8. Ironically, I almost have my way, considering I live on the Northside in Ann Arbor, and I walked down to the river with Ellary in the Moby wrap a couple days ago. The Farmer's Market is just a few blocks further. I LOOOOOVVVVEEEE Ann Arbor and would miss it very much if we move to Detroit.

9. I might be a feminist, but not in the traditional sense of the word. I'm not really sure. I think women are the bomb-diggity. I could talk all day about this. Sub-topics: "On the Ability of a Woman To Carry a Child Inside of Her and Then Give Birth To It," "The Importance of Women Leading Relationally In the Church," "My Beef With The Pill," "Why There's a Good Chance Any Gift You'll Get From Me Was Made By a Co-op of Refugee Widows," and "Don't Even Get Me Started On Abortion; I Am Not Happy." This will be my only controversial random. Most likely.

10. I'm a total sucker for golden retrievers, and I have a special voice for them.

11. I'm currently reading a fantasy novel by Robert Jordan and loving it. I mention this, because I am learning not to be embarrassed about it. Up till now, I am sorry to say that I have been nothing but pretentious about my literary preferences. Turns out one can let one's guard down and find joy in the pages of a hideously illustrated, shiny-gold-entitled paperback.

12. Sushi! Sushi sushi sushi! Sushiiiiiiiiii!

13. I'm on Zoloft for postpartum depression. I mention something semi-private like this because I think it's important for women to discuss what this phase of life can be like. Maybe it's because many mothers forget about the hard parts, but I don't feel that I was sufficiently warned. I'd like to be there for people who are also struggling. You go, Brooke Shields!

14. No really, my baby actually IS the cutest.

15. Most of the furniture in my home is from Ikea. It looks like a stinkin show room in here.

16. My husband handled baby duty tonight and brought me dinner in bed. You can imagine what kind of guy HE is.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

ellary lynd

I've been spending a lot of time working on her new blog, which will be an awesome way for all our far-off friends and family to follow her as she grows up. You are welcome to join us there.

I have some things I'd like to write about on this blog, so I'll be back. This has been the craziest experience of my life, without question. More to come...

photo and design by Jenni Sternberg