Thursday, January 27, 2011

Irish Twins (to my brother)

Some definitions
--Irish Twins: a term used to describe two children born to the same mother in the same calendar year or within twelve months of each other.
--Originally a derogatory term associated with Irish immigration to the US and England in the 1800s, implying that large groups of close-in-age siblings were "the result of uneducated, poor Irish Catholic families."
--My older brother Matt and I.

We were born in different years, but are the same age for 9 days. When you're a kid, that feels like a long time, and I admit, being the younger of the two means you make even more of that. It's MORE THAN A WHOLE WEEK! Sometimes I was probably a real pain about it, checking to see how close I was in height to my brother, trying to do everything that he could, or announcing to people that we were both 8 years old, etc.

But I feel like I got the good end of it all. Instead of being annoyed at me and trying to prove himself to be infinitely superior, Matt was one of my best friends and also definitely my big brother as we grew up. As peers close in age, we shared friends, books and chores (endless dishes, weeding races in the garden, stacking hay, chasing cows). We got into trouble together and were in the same school books most of the time (although I learned to read quicker and he was better at Math), and played hundreds of games together. As my big brother, he taught me to ride a bike (the same day he learned how), let me ride behind his saddle on April, took me to get my driver's licence, and showed me how to waltz. I'm not sure how much I have done in return... I did have an especially close friend who ended up being the girl he asked to marry, but I can't really take any credit for that happy event; we just happen to have the same good judgment, and God had the same idea we did.

Tomorrow Matt is once again (officially) a year older than me. Happy birthday! Hope you get to have a good rare steak and a beer as you celebrate!

Monday, January 24, 2011

A New Poem - Giver


let us draw in the true air

tinged with that viny strength

undo the dry and dying out

fill the flagging soul

let the strong wings beat

colored with your life

Ski poem I wrote years ago

Schweitzer Mountain

Our first time to ski downhill,

Uncle Brian coached Luke and I,

gliding backwards

like an expert swimmer

back-floats over waves.

He led us down the bunny hill,

and later, the Blue Square trails,

looping a long loose knot around the mountain.

We improved with the time

after time again

the long blue-white waves

cold and deep, bore us back

to the steady beach-like flat.

There skis leaned like umbrellas,

shading footprints filling

with fine white dust

from people in dark glasses

with wide boards on their backs.

After sunset we were getting last tips

at stopping up,

both of us watching Brian,

both of us sweeping toward him

the stinging spray of silver powder.

We made for him a foamy wake,

an almost perfect V,

ending at his feet

in a shambling tangle

of sprained joints and rented gear.

And Brian’s arm, a steady lifeline,

reached down into the turmoil

to pull us up from the cold breathlessness.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Who You Are

Pastor Toby Sumpter posted this communion message a couple days ago. I just read it, and re-read it - glorious and gracious truth!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

2010 and 2011

The Top Five of 2010/11. Bethany at tagged me with this.

If you’re tagged, you may respond in a comment or elsewhere.

1) Things you've learned this year.

i) God’s plans are higher than your plans. Believe it when He unravels all your best ones.

ii) Scripture speaks as I desire to, David the Psalmist especially.

iii) Every day, be who you actually are and try to become more who you want to be. Don’t try to fool anyone by skipping the first, but neither be satisfied with the status quo. Grow honestly.

iv) Don’t forget to be with people who have what you need, who can strengthen and help you where you are weak. Don’t try to be enough in and of yourself. As George MacDonald says, “None of us should, even if it were possible, be enough for himself; each of us needs God and every human relationship He has given us.”

v) I like Shakespeare.

2) Things you want to accomplish next year (that you know you will actually get done).

i) Singing in a choir/choirs again and in a concert this spring

ii) Getting more out of books and classes and doing better in one class particularly

iii) Graduation (May)

iv) Moving to a new house/apartment

v) Making various other decisions and changes in my life that I have never had the opportunity, time, money or courage to do before

3) Things you've always wanted to do (but never have time for).

i) Go white water rafting/kayaking

ii) Travel

iii) Running, consistently

iv) Weekly movie nights at my place I can invite anyone to

v) Wine/poetry/cheese nights... I’ve been wanting to plan this for a long time

4) Things you see as important in life.

i) Honesty (even when it hurts) to others and yourself

ii) Submersion in the words of the Bible. Daily. Even if you are too busy.

iii) Hope

iv) For young people, communication with parents or some other godly mentor

v) Gratitude. Every single day.

5) Mishaps. Otherwise known as embarrassing {wonderful} moments that I get to laugh at.

i) I was pulled over for speeding for the first time (which served me right, driving without a working speedometer for a couple of years, and getting a little confident). It was an icy week before Christmas, and when I pulled onto a little side road to stop, the car slid and slid (in spite of my gentle tapping on the brakes) until I nearly hit a telephone pole. It was after the fellow took my info and went back to his car that I (frustrated with myself and laughing with the girls in the car with me) dropped my head forward – and set off the horn with my forehead. Whoops.

ii) One time I was at a wedding reception, and had my purse hung on the back of my chair. For some reason it was extremely heavy on that day, for when I pushed my chair back to get up to get some food, the purse pulled the chair over backward. Hi everyone, yes that was me!

iii) Another driving one... for the record, I had really poor tires, and virtually no rear brakes in my (rear-wheel drive) car. And Moscow streets were something like an ice skating rink. I was driving my sisters and a friend, home from school, and had the hardest time stopping, even at an uber-slow speed. I almost ran into this one minivan about 5 times on the way. The best was a few days later when another friend told us he’d been on the same road and saw it all happen.

iv) Overlooking one book when you’re returning a stack to the library isn’t a very good idea. Mostly if you are heading out of state for an entire month. Library fines... ouch.

v) Once I opened a cupboard in the kitchen at school, and a whole box of plastic forks came avalanching out with the movement of the door. Don’t you hate the moments that really aren’t your fault but no one in the audience really knows that??


Becki at

Jordan at

Christy at

Rachelle at

Laura at

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

London and Life

As much as I would like to, I am not going to Italy or Paris anytime soon.

Neither am I going to London. But the title of this post is because my sister Maria gave me a poster (left) at Christmas, which will be framed and beautifying my next house or apartment. Isn't it cute? And it reminds me of the world that is out there, the life that is before me and the dreams that I have been keeping on little leashes.

Is it really only 4 months and a bit until I am done with school?!? How much I have to finish, to prepare for, to look forward to, and to discover. Life is going to be staring me in the face so very soon, a life that is largely unshaped, that won't be defined by classes and deadlines and professors and classmates.

I am unsure, but excited. I grew weary of school the last term or so, yet I know I will miss it. The future looks uncertain but new, and the year is young and full of promise and hope. It shall be a year of gratitude for the graces poured upon me, gratitude as I look back and as I turn forward.

"See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, which is dissipation, but we filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." (Ephesians 5:15-20)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Baking with Naomi

Peanut Butter Cake

(Don't overbake it
Serve with ice cream or some cold milk.

In one bowl:
-3/4 cup softened butter
-3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
Cream together. Add:
-2 cups packed brown sugar.
Beat well. Add:
-3 eggs, one at a time.

In second bowl, combine:
-2 cups flour
-1 TBSP baking powder
-1/2 tsp salt

Add flour mixture a little at a time to butter mixture, alternating dry with:
-1 cup milk
-1 tsp vanilla

Mix well. Pour into greased 9x13" pan. Bake at 350 for 45-50 min. Cool completely before frosting.

Rich Chocolate Frosting
(makes about 3 cups)

In saucepan:
-1 cup semisweet chocolate (chips, bakers chocolate, etc)
-1/2 cup half-and-half (or cream)
-1 cup butter
Cook on the stovetop until melted and well combined.
Remove from heat. Blend in:
-2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Set saucepan in ice and beat/hand-stir until frosting holds its shape.
Smooth over cooled cake.
Best eaten with a large family around a story being read.

Monday, January 3, 2011


We've had a couple weeks of pretty intense holidaying here.

Guests overnight the beginning of Christmas week, December 23rd party with old friends at my parents' house (about 35 people), Christmas Eve with immediate, those-living-in-this-house family (16 of us), Christmas Day here with married siblings and their families and some of Mom's family (count 29), New Year's Eve party at our friends' house, New Year's Day here again with all of my parents' kids and grandkids.

The partying isn't over. This Thursday for the first time we'll be celebrating Epiphany (the three wise men and the gospel's advent to the gentiles), and some of us will head to Montana to celebrate the wedding of some friends. Then we have Lydia's 11th birthday on the 11th, and some kind of early birthday bash for Maria and I since our birthday fall just after we will leave for Moscow.

On top of those, add our weekly Saturday night Sabbath feast. Add Sundays, which contain some combination of resting, going to church, eating sweet and tasty things prepared the day before, playing games and putting puzzles together, and a movie in the evening.

It seems as if the weight of glory in feasting and celebrating will never end. It seems as if we ought to be getting tired of thinking up and preparing and setting the table for and filling ourselves with and cleaning up after things like truffles and ham and russian punch, and scones and lemon curd and wine, all the apple pie and apple crisp and crispy bacon and baked beans, the buttery rolls and honey and pizza and bowls of roasted nuts and smoked turkey. It seems like we shall all have to restrict our diets severely in the months following, and exercise our waists back to where they belong.

Yet such is the reality of Christmas. God is this bountiful. He gives until we are full, and then refills our plate. He surrounds us with mounds of snow and the heat of a wood fire and shelves of old books and warm wool socks, and then forgives our sins. We have sunlight on our faces, and hugs from people who care, and steam rising from a french press coffee maker, and we have Christ as our brother.

Will we ever know how to truly celebrate? Will we know how to rejoice without ceasing every moment of our lives?

Right now my muscles for gladness and feasting and loving and singing, for forgiving and healing and teaching others, for gratitude and imitation of Christ, are all pitifully small, thin and weak. I ache from both my own inadequacy and the excess that is being poured into me. My heart tingles like your hands do when you come inside and run warm water over your fingers in the sink; it tingles as the cold of selfishness and laziness and bitterness of my old flesh meets with the glow of grace from my Savior.

One day: Living in His likeness. Glory and praise all day long. Unbearable brightness upon our faces. And a feast that the ages have been awaiting.

Let us learn and wait in delight.