Tuesday, December 6, 2016

a century

my grammy would have turned 100 today. it hit me like a ton of bricks yesterday morning, and i realized all over again that she was gone.

i remember calling her a little over ten years ago, and reminding her that she had a "big birthday coming up." because ninety is pretty big. and without pausing she responded, "i have a big birthday coming up in ten years."

here i sit though, ten years later, with a palpable void of no one to call in this quiet morning - 100 years in the making. {granted, she never would have been awake at 6 a.m. so i couldn't have called her now anyway.}

but i can hear the joy in her voice as she talks to my children, and tells them she loves them. the children she never got to meet.
even so, i can hear them sing happy birthday to her, and picture her face with the gleam of contented love and pride in her eyes as she listens.

i really thought she'd make it to 100. i think we all did up until the end.

and if i had to guess i think grammy would have said that the secret to a long and healthy life is to love God and love others, to daily drink a lot of coffee plus a glass or two of wine, and to do it yourself if you can.

if you told her not to, she wanted to do it all the more.

one day when i was in college she told me she liked my watch. "my mother didn't approve of watches," she said. "she didn't think i should have a watch, or a black dress. so, do you know what i did? the day i got my first paycheck i walked out of there, and i went and bought a black dress and a wristwatch."

in the laughter following that moment my tendencies made a lot more sense.

and she loved high heels. she couldn't wear them anymore for most of the time i was alive, but she loved them. one christmas eve when i was in college she came to church with us. as we carefully picked our way back to the car through a snowy parking lot she looked at my 4 inch heels and said, "you be careful not to break your ankle in those things, but oh i envy you."

there is a pair of black and white shoes that i have that i will keep always. i wore them to her funeral because i knew she would have loved them. i wore them when our son was baptized because they reminded me of her, and i wanted her to be there in some small way.

despite her contentedness with her life it always felt a little bit like the world wasn't quite big enough to hold her. she was as feisty as they come - not walking with the walker they gave her if she was just going one room over, insisting on moving the step stool and putting her coffee in the microwave herself despite the repeated instruction not to do so. feeding the dog reese's cups multiple times a day simply because annie wanted one, and who cares that she wasn't supposed to?

she was so proud of her family. she loved her kids. she loved her grandkids. she was over the moon about her great-grandkids. i wish she could have known mine.

i wish i could have a cup of coffee with her today, and kiss her wrinkled cheek, and tell her how grateful i am that she made it to her "big" birthday.
but i am still grateful.

i am grateful for the many things she taught me. i am grateful for the 92 years of life she had. i am grateful for the feistiness and the love of shoes she passed on to me. i am grateful for how she loved me always. i am grateful that she was always on my side even when she wasn't.

i am grateful for all that i have, and all that i am because of her.
happy birthday grammy.
i love you.


Sunday, November 13, 2016


i'm just going to write and see where it takes me. i've had so many thoughts tumbling around inside my head this week, and i don't even know how to express them. this will likely be a jumbled mess if it comes out as anything at all.

we are so broken. every. last. one. of. us.
and i think if we were able to grasp that a little bit better as a whole society, then we would be able to make strides we never thought possible.

there's a saying in psychology: hurt people, hurt people. and it's so true. and there are a lot of hurting and broken people in the world. really, i think all of us would fall into that category.

it's the nature of the human race.

in this country this week there has been a whole lot of name-calling. there has been a whole lot of anger. there has been a whole lot of fear.

leading up to this election has been a hideous time. a gut & heart-wrenching time. and the end of it has not amounted to anything different.

i think everyone is scared and worried about the state of our country. we are coming to a place of fear and hurt on all sides, but for different reasons. and frankly, i think that fear is justifiable. the fear on both sides.

but we don't have to live there.

we do need to find a way to live with each other.

it breaks my heart that people see christians as hateful. it breaks my heart that people see christians as people who are against a whole lot, but not for much.

because as christians, we are called to love God, and to love others.
we are called to love our enemies. we are called to love.

and i need to have the guts to look in the mirror and recognize the hypocrite staring back at me. because i am one. i do not live out my values perfectly. some days i don't even live them out well. too often i don't love God with all that i am. if i did i would also love others well, because loving others - ALL others - as myself is what loving God would lead me to do.

let he who's without sin cast the first stone.

we cannot spout love, and then spew hate from the same fountain.

i have not listened well to those around me. i have not shut my mouth, opened my ears, and sought to understand people wholly different from myself. not very often.

i have made my circle too small, too insular, too homogenous.

we all need to stop blame-shifting and pushing responsibility off on someone else. we all need to step up, and be accountable for the ways we have fallen short. because we have all fallen short.

we need to be able to disagree with each other, but actually understand the other side.
we need to have conversations instead of debates.

and we all need to add a big spoonful of humility into our coffee in the morning alongside the cream. i should not assume that my perspective is always right just because it's what's inside my head. everyone brings their own experiences and pre-conceived notions with them into every situation. we need to bring some grace too.

how often do i give people the benefit of the doubt? how often do i seek to understand before i seek to be heard?

i've been struck by how much i need to pray for others this week. people that agree with me, and people that do not. people i see every day, and people whom i have never met.

i trust that God is in control. i am thankful that he still holds the world in his hands. but i do not say that flippantly. because i believe God holds the world in his hands. i believe he is in control of this country, and this world.

but others do not believe that. and i'm heartbroken enough at how people have turned on each other even with the hope and belief that i have. what must it be like for those who have put their complete hope in their choice of government leader? it has got to be utterly devastating. absolutely devastating.

we have to have the courage to meet people where they are. we need to climb down into the depths of their despair with them, and give them a hand up whether we agree with why they're despairing or not. when one is despairing that is their reality - meeting them where they are means understanding where they are, whether we think they should be there or not does not change where they are.
it's what the God of the universe did for us.
how can we pretend that it's not our role to do the same for others?

above all else this week i have been struck by how i have fallen short. how i need to take more responsibility for doing what God has called me to do. i have been struck by my failings, and by how thankful i am for the hope that i have despite those failings.

how can i better meet others where they are?
by going to where they are.
at the end of the day, it really is that simple.


Monday, October 31, 2016

my dear boy

our little man is 4. four. 4. he's growing up so ridiculously fast, and it gets faster all the time.

dear monkey,

thank you for coming. i know your coming really had nothing to do with you, but i'm just so thankful for you. thank you for making me a mama.

words cannot even express my gratitude. words cannot fully express the hopes i have for you. the hopes i have that you would grow up to be a man after the heart of your creator. that you would love God and love people well. that you would have the eyes to see, the ears to hear, and the heart to understand those around you.

every day i pray that you would follow hard after the God of the universe. i pray that you would know his voice.

four years ago i was just coming out of the anesthesia. right about now is when i met you and got to hold you for the first time. it breaks my heart that almost 3 hours passed before i got to hold you, but you were here, and you were okay, and my heart was about to burst with overwhelming joy.

when you were born you took a piece of me with you. you're a piece of my heart walking around outside my body {as they say}. i love watching you get older, and i hate it all at the same time. watching you grow is a wonderful thing, but as you get bigger kisses and bandaids will no longer be able to make everything better. i'm not looking forward to those days. i know they are coming.

learning life lessons are rarely easy.
life's not fair, but God is good. even when you don't understand the evil things of this world, God is still good.

you are so loved, kiddo. i hope you know that. i hope you get sick of hearing it. i hope it permeates your life so much that you never doubt it, even when you're a teenager and you don't want to believe that we're saying no to things because we love you and want what's best for you.

i hope and pray that God gives us wisdom and courage as we raise you that we may meet you where you are, and be the parents you need us to be.

you are such a great big brother, monkey. you have such a heart for people, and i love watching your heart develop. i love watching your mind work. i love watching your creativity develop. you definitely think like an artist. i hope that sticks around as you grow. i hope you continue to see past what's in front of you, and see what's possible through it.

observe people. pay attention to them too. be kind. be considerate. know that you are so loved. ridiculously so. and love others through the love that is lavished on you. you are one of the lucky ones who will grow up surrounded by a web of people who love you. don't take that for granted. use it to love others well too.

as i think about you getting older it reminds me of what i should do now. for now i will hold you in my lap, and snuggle you, and kiss your oh-so-kissable cheeks while you still let me. while you still fit in my lap. while kisses and i love yous don't make you crazy.

i'm sorry for the ways i fail you. i pray that you know how sorry i am when that happens. i pray that you see God at work in your parents, just as we see him at work in you and your sister. i pray that you never question God's love for you. i pray that you see yourself through the eyes of God - that you would know you were created in his image, and you are his masterpiece.

you are so loved, little man.
happy 4th birthday.

your mama

Thursday, October 20, 2016

going home

a few mondays ago i packed up the car and the kids and drove home. through the mountains, through fog and rain. through small towns, curving highways, and the beginnings of fall.

i still say that - drove home. after a decade in a place you'd think it would be home, but i don't think it will ever change. pittsburgh is home. and that week felt like home.

we visited with lots of family. i took my kids to a couple places i went to as a child. we explored outside in gorgeous fall weather.

the a/c was off, the windows were open, and the sky was close to the ground.

we went back for our college homecoming. we saw people we miss and talk to regularly, and people we had forgotten.

we saw old coaches, and old friends. everyone seemed exactly the same, just older. at one point the kids weren't with me and i got asked if i was a student. i'm not going to lie - that one felt good.

going home is always strange. sometimes things are exactly how i remember them, and nostalgia sinks in, and my rose-colored glasses rarely leave my face {except when my daughter won't sleep}. other times the differences are stark, and it feels like my home got lost inside this other place that only sort of resembles the place i once knew.

this time i drove past new stoplights. we visited a playground i loved that had been torn down, but rebuilt in the best way.

my kids climbed on grandpa's fire trucks.
another morning we went to an orchard i hadn't been to in years, and picked out small pumpkins and apple cider to bring back with us.

we watched my college team play a game. the kiddos spent the entire time running back and forth at the bottom of the bleachers chasing each other and squealing with glee.

the kids read books with grandpa and watched old vhs tapes that were quite literally watched to death by the end of the week.

i went for a run through the hills and the rain.

we watched the start of the homecoming parade, and the kids collected enough candy to last them through halloween. by the time we left for lunch we had a backpack chock full of candy - so much so that we had a hard time reaching the necessary diapers inside.

the weather was my kind of perfect. it was a mix of sunny some days and cloudy and grey others. the kind of clouds that wrap you up and promise that rain is coming, but you don't have to bear the rain quite yet.

it made me miss those days. college days were always full of promise. of not knowing what would happen later in life, but still being excited about the prospects.

there tends to be an air of optimism on college campuses - a world-conquering attitude that makes students think anything is possible.

it's intoxicating.

real life can smack you around a bit.
sometimes it takes going home to know that there are still endless possibilities out in the world.


Friday, September 9, 2016

preschool. take 2

our little monkey started his second year of preschool on tuesday. this year he decided not to pose for pictures. as in: adamantly refused to pose for pictures. i stole a couple while he was getting ready to go, and he got rather upset.

he seemed a little more nervous than last year, but we dropped him off without a hitch, and i managed to not cry until shavasana at the end of my yoga class. only a few tears escaped because - as i told peter - i knew he'd be fine, but i wanted it to go well. it's always hard to let go a little more, but it's the goal. the goal is to one day let him go completely. and i know that if i made a big deal of dropping him off at preschool, it would be for me, not for him. wanting what's best for him demands that i give him the best transition possible. even when it's harder for me. and that is hard in and of itself.

when i picked him up in the afternoon and his teacher said he had a great day i realized just how long i had been holding my breath.

i know that sometimes my want for it to go well will end up disappointed, but i'm glad today was not one of those days.

i know he'll love school again. i know his nerves were just a matter of walking into something new and not knowing what to expect. in my head i know all of those things, but it's always hard to watch him {or her} struggle with something, even if he has to struggle through it to learn and grow and move past it.

i am really not looking forward to a year from now when i need to drop both of them off. i'll probably just sit outside and cry for a while. let's not think about that now...it's just crazy how literal the "letting go" is.

lately i've tried really hard to just enjoy where we are. i've tried really hard not to wish to go back, or propel forward. i've tried to enjoy the age and stage we're in right now. some days that works better than others.

but when i sit in these quiet mornings, i am so thankful. i am thankful for life, and for breath. i am thankful for the two sleepyheads in their beds. i am thankful for a roof over our heads, and clothes on our backs. i am thankful that i have two kids to slowly let go. i pray for the third - whomever he or she may be - as we slowly start the process of adoption.

life is not always easy. but it is good.


Friday, September 2, 2016

today. #10.

today was a great day. and i mean great. peter let me sleep in until almost 9:00. that in and of itself would've made today great. i don't remember the last time i got that much sleep all at one time. it was glorious.

this was a slow-motion sort of day. the kind of day that makes you want to squeeze out every last drop of goodness, and put every moment in that sweet place in your mind that bursts with joy when you leaf back through the pages.

it was also a fantastically rainy day. the high temperature was in the 70s, which is unheard of for labor day weekend around here. it started feeling a bit like fall. {such a tease, but i'll still take it.}

anyway, we spent a good chunk of the morning at the library with the kids. reading. exploring. shushing every 10 seconds. they loved it. they each picked out a few books. peter and i each picked out one. my choice was go set a watchman, which i've wanted to read ever since it was published, so i was pretty stoked. and as long as i don't spend too much time on this little update, i'll get to take some of it in before i go to bed tonight.

then we came home, grabbed lunch, and i sneaked off to the store while the rest of my family napped. i snagged a deliciously scented fall candle, and a brand new mug that happens to capture today perfectly. it's also a good reminder for the days when every moment does not belong in a photo album...

after the kiddos woke up they read and played with daddy while i started on some soft pretzel dough and then dinner. 

we followed up dinner with a walk expressly for puddle jumping, then built a fort in the playroom to read some books and have our snack before bed.

yes, today was a good day. my heart welled up more than a few times at the goodness in my life. i welled up in wonder at the many ways God has provided for me, and for my family.

because today was just a day, yes, but it also happened to be our tenth anniversary.

ten years ago, on another rainy day, we said our vows, and committed our lives to each other. and just like everyone else we've had our struggles and our tears. we've had our blow-up fights. we've had our rough days. but we've also had plenty of days like today. we've had the really really good ones. the knock it out-of-the-park, abby wambach's super clutch header against brazil, crazy-amazing days.

and on either side of the coin, i wouldn't want to do this life with anyone else.

from way back then, until right about now, i am so stinkin' thankful.

i am thankful for the abundance God has given us in this day. i am thankful for the abundance God has given us in this life.

i sincerely hope that your day was just as crazy-amazing as mine.
{if it wasn't, shake it off and remember that tomorrow is a new day,
and His mercies are new every morning.}


Wednesday, August 31, 2016

some people would rather die than think.

my father-in-law has a saying: "some people would rather die than think." lately i have realized how true this is, even of my own self.

it's so much easier to just accept what culture is telling us. to push back on it, and think through why you believe differently, and to actually live differently takes a lot of energy and work. why do we chase what we chase? why do we follow the prescription given to us?

all of these questions have been rolling around in my brain, but the things i've asked myself that it'd be so much easier not to ask? those are things particular to my life as a consumer.

there are things i believe to my very core. but if i really, truly believe them, they insist that i do things differently than i've done before. they insist things must change.

{image via pinterest from cotton bureau}

one such belief is that we are all - all - imago Dei. we are all created in the image of God. and if that's really what i believe then one of the implications of that is that i should not support companies who exploit their employees. i think of this specifically when it comes to clothes and shoes. sweatshops. should i really be excited about buying such cheap clothes if that means that my brothers and sisters on the other side of the world are working in terrible conditions for pennies? not to mention the resources needed to make so many clothes year in and year out in our world of throwaway fashion.

believe me, i have shopped this way for years. i enjoy shopping. i pay loose attention to what's going on in the fashion world, and i try to find an inexpensive way to replicate the parts i like.

my closet is jam-packed full of clothes even after doing a couple large clean-outs in the past year.

honestly, thinking through the potential implications of my choices have kind of made me want to ignore said implications, and pretend there aren't people on the other side of the world who work in such terrible conditions. i want to pretend that by paying $7 for a shirt that somehow still leaves space for the company to take a cut off of the top, and the person who made it to get paid fairly for their work.

there are things i'm willing to pay more for, but how much of the money i pay for them actually makes it back to the people making the clothes? how much of it makes it back to the people making the shoes? and how much do i need these things to begin with?

i've thought a lot lately about these things. i've thought a lot about how wasteful i am - how much i throw away, or don't use of what i already have. despite the fact that i know "more is better" and "more will make me happy" are not actually true statements, i don't live like i know they're false.

honestly, i don't even want to write this - i don't want to put it out there, because even though i know it's true, and has haunted me for a few months now; if i put it out there, there's no going back.

there are no more flippant shopping trips where i can just buy something for a couple bucks on a whim without knowing anything about the company that makes the clothes.

the implications of it go on and on... because even if the clothes were made ethically, were the fabrics sourced ethically? where did the materials come from? and it extends to other areas of life too. what about the food we eat? what about the amount of trash we generate?

across the board, how are we doing when it comes to our dominion over the earth? God gave us dominion over the earth so we could care for it, not exploit it.

i don't have all of this figured out, but i've been chewing on it for a while. a lot of us are ignorant. and frankly, it's easier to be ignorant with something like this. i'd argue that it's not better, but it is certainly easier. because really thinking about these things will probably require us to change.

and change is hard. it's hard to live differently than everyone else around you. it's tough to push back against the broader culture. to think through the ramifications of our beliefs.

believe me, i don't have all of this anywhere close to figured out. one thing i have done is buy more secondhand since there are so many rarely or never worn castoffs out there, and thanks to the internet there are more ways than ever to find them. i haven't been buying much though, and i know i need to spend more time really thinking through the changes i need to make.

i read a couple books that have made me think through different aspects of the broader problem. one of them focused primarily on our health, and caring for the earth. the other focused on the effects our actions have against our fellow man, and how we care for the earth. both gave practical suggestions about how to institute changes.

here they are, in case you'd like to be challenged in a whole lot of ways:

{image via amazon}
{image via amazon}

and please, please, please reach out with any thoughts or suggestions you have. i'd love to hear what you think about these ideas. i'll let you know more about what i think and find as i continue trying to figure it out.

one thing i do know for sure - making small changes for the better is better than making no changes at all.