Tuesday, July 7, 2015

A New Stage of Life

New things are exciting. New friendships, new homes, new clothes. Starting something can be exciting and fun, with a challenging aspect to it that raises your adrenaline and makes you wonder what might this lead to, and how will this change me, or how will I change things because of it. A new school, a new job, a new girlfriend or boyfriend, a new responsibility in your community. It can be daunting, and overwhelming, and still underneath fresh and wonderful in its promise and its hope. A turn in the road is like a Monday morning, or the beginning of the school year; anything might happen, and you know there will be moments ahead like you have never seen before.

New things can be scary to some of us. Alright, they can be scary for me. I like to know I am safe, what to expect and what is expected of me; I like knowing the schedule, having a rhythm to my days, and being able to rely on people and things to carry on as I have grown accustomed to them. I might like a bit of challenge, a bit of danger, a taste of the startling or unexpected once in a while, but I lean on the usual to keep me steady. 

I like that quiet slow undertow of peace and solidity. When I can't quite feel it under the shifting of time and current events and stressful decisions and uncertain tomorrows, I weaken and I falter. Again and again I reach out and take the word of a God who never changes, who says to be still and know that He is there. He says to trust Him, for His love is everlasting. He speaks of everlasting joy with Him. He says that He knows the plans He has for me, and that it's ok if I don't. He says to be courageous and strong, and that He is with me wherever I go. He tells His flock to have no fear, and that it is His pleasure to give me good things. He says that all things are for His glory, and for my good. He is like a rock, a mountain, a protective mother hen, a strong tower. He is my peace.

We are in and coming into a new stage in our life. Our little daughter is changing and stretching and making us into something new, and she has been working at it since she started growing in me, has been gradually making us think and live and plan differently, and when she is here in our arms will make everything even more new and strange and exciting and challenging. 

Everything is shifting. Two become three, and our focus is not now just horizontally toward the other but now pointed down as we focus together on something between us, something we made together, love together, and will nurture together. We're no longer newlyweds, but coming up on our second anniversary, and have become and learned much together and about each other. We're no longer in our first home; we moved over a month ago from the place that everything started. This little person pushed us toward a new home, a place we'd have room for her and her things, and I am so grateful to need a new place. But I do want to hold on to the memories of that first little home - the sweet and the new, the tears and the laughter and the quiet existing together, the arrangement and rearrangement of furniture and words, the cooking for one another, the canning together, the evenings on the porch and the the silly tv shows and disasters spilled on the carpet and late dinner parties where we accidentally turned the oven off when it should have been on. I got comfortable there, and I want to grasp a little at the good of that peaceful, stable, known life. Instead I have a new neighborhood to get used to and feel safe in, and a new home to arrange and make work and that beautifully. A new person to apply my attention and love to. A new era where I'm not doing the same work every day with people who need the same help, but with a fresh soul who will rely on us for everything and whose development and personality and spiritual health will largely come from how we treat her. 

But here I am, sitting on the porch of our new home, feeling my daughter move inside me, relishing the quiet freedom of this week at home after years of working full time, and I taste God's goodness in this new. My soul is grateful, my heart is happy. He has provided fresh challenges and gifts for us to find and prepare for and open and delight in, and He always makes the way for us to learn what we need to know to handle them. We might hesitate a little at the door of a new adventure, uncertain, needing guidance, praying for wisdom, not feeling big enough for this task, and He will give what we lack. He is infinity. He is love. He has more beautiful things in store for us than we can see, and He fills us even as we empty ourselves for the world around us, so that we will never come up short. I am tasting and seeing, and He is good indeed.

35 weeks pregnant (a few weeks ago)
in our wonderfully-windowed bedroom

(one of 2 entrances to our home, which feel elegant to have)


part of the kitchen

herb garden

our own private porch. we almost live there.

one of many rose bushes flourishing here

view from a kitchen window: the patio and raspberries

more living room. 
sometimes I forget we have a green-carpeted living room, which we obviously would not have chosen, but is working just fine.

from the living room, view of our porch 
(and our new car, another beginning and blessing!)

some of the vegetables. they have taken off like crazy since this pic. 

Rose's corner of our room. There's also a changing table 
(where the guitar stand is here) with bins of her clothes and things.

raspberry patch. 
I have been putting some in the freezer almost daily, and eating them to my heart's content.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Feeding Beautifully

The last couple of months I've been trying to do more of the cooking. It's something I have always enjoyed, and always had a pretty good knack for, and always done a lot of - until the last couple years when I have been dating, engaged and married to someone who also loves and is good at it. We love to share this task (not at the same time usually, because some people don't share work spaces as well as others, and one of us definitely likes to work hard on something and present it to his wife when it is well-thought-out, completed, and beautiful).

But I've realized it's easy to let someone else being willing to do something for you, and enjoying it in general, and taking over when you're feeling really tired or morning-sick, to turn into it being his job. So here we are turning it back into a shared task, a shared delight. I might be back to doing most of it, even - except that he is pretty faithful to do breakfast every day while I'm showering and preparing for my early work day. I'm finding the fun in it again, and learning more creativity, and looking for excellence in how a simple things is done.

We are also (both) working at feeding our souls with the Word. Daily readings you can find easily linked to are a wonderful help for this, and ensure that you don't just skip to your favorite Psalms, or spend 10 minutes trying to find a good passage for the day.

The world has been charged with the glory of God, as the poet Hopkins so famously has written. It comes out everywhere. It's there in the growing and harvesting and shopping and preparing and serving and eating of beautiful and good foods; it is explicit in the pages of words passed down through the ages and the church; it is shimmering in the light on the trees you can't stop looking at early dewy mornings; it is leading and inspiring the kindness in faces that smile across the room and in arms that hold you and in hands met in the passing of the peace and in gracious words of forgiveness from someone you dealt false or rudely with again.

The glory is there. Sometimes it takes a little poking and pulling back of the leaves to see it growing quietly there. Sometimes it looks like contentedness that borders on the mundane. Sometimes it is waiting on the shelf to be picked up and opened. Sometimes it is in your cupboard and in your fridge and needs to be measured and tossed and marinated and grilled. And then shared. Glory is meant to be shared, given, helped with, talked about, received.

I made this bread today. Vermont Whole Wheat Oatmeal Honey BreadSo very delicious, soft, and rich. I sensibly put one loaf into the freezer for busy July days when Baby is making things harder, but we have already eaten about half of the other loaf... not even as a meal, just snacking. I'll have to bake more bread, maybe even tomorrow.

And I posted this to facebook the other day when I needed a bit of encouraging for the day's tedious and seemingly-endless hours. 
I always want to be a little less weak, a little more purposeful. 2 Corinthians 2:14-17 has been on my mind a lot since Fraser read it at breakfast yesterday.
"But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things? For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God."

Thursday, May 21, 2015

gaining sisters

This is a bit of loose prose I put together at the end of my singlehood. Nothing very poetic or grand, I am just feeling nostalgaic tonight about the wonderful women God has put into my life since moving away from home - and the wonderful ones I grew up with there. I am thankful.

six years away from home -
(college and then work)
sharing living costs and life
with other girls on their own for the first time.

and now
I feel like I have so many more sisters
young energetic beautiful
weary questioning longing lonely
laughing hilarious different-from-me

who have cooked at the same stove
and scolded each other for leaving dirty dishes
or the door unlocked
and woken each other up in the middle of the night
with pain or laughter or stories of What he said to me

who have split the chores of emptying the trash
and cleaning up after the communal dog
and mowing the grass

sisters who have cried and sighed and cried again
late at night
and woken each other by preparing breakfast too noisily
and tried to figure out how to fix the garbage disposal together
and been creeped out by the same dark basement
and huddled on the same couch
when the house was cold and the heat bill already high

in six years I have accumulated
ten new roomie sisters
[Jordan, Emma, Tali, Jonte, Gigi, Bailey, Mel, Sara, Susanna, Jenny]
plus the eight baby sisters at the houses I boarded
[Lottie, Flora, Iona, and Opal, Cat, Ellie, Hazel, and Laura]
and their mothers, who became something like older sisters to me
[Mick and Heather]

and these non-related sisters
deepened my love for my blood sisters
[Vicki, Maria, Becki, Laura, Emili, Elsi, Abbi, Lydia, and Naomi]
and helped teach me how to love my sisters-by-marriage
[Brianna, Theresa, Claire]

and all of whom have reminded me
daily or weekly in their own ways
what sisters are for:

help and honesty, silliness and support, grace and giving

Friday, May 8, 2015


Everything feels possible in the Spring. Hope and life start sprouting up everywhere, and even our hearts feel ready for something new. If any season were perfect for Easter's grace to come to humanity, it is now. 


Why after spring,
after being quickened and taught to sing,
knowing He has taken our death and made us green and growing,
why would we go back to winter
so willingly,
and drop so soon our little leaves and stems and fine new fruit
with so much promise,
as if the sun had never shone upon us,
living water never washed our skin?
Why do we hide again our heads and bury deep our souls
in the killing frost of sin?

Turning away from the source of life is about as senseless it would be to try going back to Winter after May is here. But however weary we are, however many times we have failed, however cold and hardened we have become against the light's grace, Christ will not leave us there. He is stronger even than the sun, more faithful than the seasons. Alleluia.

"If anyone is in Christ, He is a new creation. The old things have passed away; behold, new things have come." 2 Cor 5: 17

"If we are not faithful, He remains faithful, because He cannot be false to Himself." 2 Timothy 2:13

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Fearfully and Wonderfully

Sometimes it is the smallest of things that makes the biggest impact on a day. A few kind words from your boss when you haven't been sure how your work performance has been lately. Your hair coming out perfectly on a busy morning. Your husband coming up quietly behind you and rubbing your tired shoulders. A note from your mom saying she misses you. Bible gateway's verse of the day. The squirrel running by on his wire outside the window stopping and staring at you for a moment.

Sometimes it is the small things that you know are on their way to becoming big things. A smile across the room from someone you hope might some day become your friend. That engagement ring promise. The nest egg that is embarrassingly small at first. A sloppy bubbly weird looking sourdough starter blob.
Dinner with this guy
(he is unbelievably good to me)
and our PA relatives.

Rose, you are our small thing, the tiny blob that is becoming the big thing in our lives. You are our quiet, hidden, beautiful, strange, surprising, overwhelming little living person. You are our future. You are our hope. You are our perfect creation whose creation has very little to do with us at all. You are our questions and our answers. You are our laughter and our confusion. You are our daughter, lovely and unknown like a song we don't quite understand yet but love the faint melody of on the air. 

You're still quite small, but unfolding and changing and growing at a wonderful rate. Today we reach 20 weeks, which means we are halfway to holding you in our arms. Twenty weeks seems a little long to wait for something you are eager and happy and aching for. But twenty weeks is actually a long time to have already had your heartbeat here under my heart. It is a long time to hold this gift. Time is beginning to go by quicker and quicker, until some days I make myself stop and look at us in a mirror and the shape you are pushing and pulling me into because I know that I won't look just this way for long. I know that time already passes too quickly for me.    
 19 weeks                                If I lean forward a bit, I can still see my legs

In all of life, it is picking up pace and going just a bit faster every year, every month, maybe every week. It can be so easy to spend our time looking forward and waiting impatiently for the things we hope God is bringing us or just a change from now, or even looking longingly back at things and times that were sweet and wonderful for us. But we are also given a now. And it is in the now that we make decisions and feel sunshine and say warm words and move our bodies in strong and beautiful ways. It is in the now that we lean toward someone or taste things or feel the softness of socks or get pierced deep by our conscience. Now is life, too. And I want to feel and see and love all that I can of each of these moments that will be gone before I can really grasp them. 

- - -

They say you are about 10.5 ounces now and 10 inches long. When I look down, I see evidence of you, and I can feel your steady rhythmic kicks at times, and you are changing everything about how I feel and what I need to eat and how much sleep I need to have and when I laugh and cry. 

We got to see you Friday on what has got to be the coolest live video on earth. We couldn't stop smiling and you couldn't stop wiggling. It took some trying to get good measurements of all your reaching limbs and twisting body parts, but you were perfect. You look perfect, too - your little turned-up nose, the mouth we saw opening and closing, the left arm thrown up behind your head as if you were chilling on the couch, even the inner parts that we never see out here like the 4 chambers of your heart pumping faithfully - perfect and amazing and human and working. I am in awe of the God who is fashioning you so well and wisely. What love.

the words you can't quite read on the last picture: '4CH HEART'

Saturday, January 3, 2015


We are three now! And we'll be able to see this little person face to face sometime in July (yes, we have a due date, but I'm not going to be stubborn about it as I'm sure Baby won't be as punctual as we would prefer). God is good, and we are excited about this new phase in our lives.

     no morning sickness to speak of
     good first Dr's appointment & ultrasound
     strong heartbeat and active baby
     an attentive and thoughtful husband
     OB clinic is just down the street and hospital a few blocks further
     financial stability and good health insurance
     continued health and strength for me
     continued health and safety for Baby
     energy and cheerfulness (I am just tired so much, and it makes everything harder)
     wisdom for medical-related decisions we'll have to be making
     wisdom in planning maternity leave, and understanding what I can handle until then

A few weeks ago (9wks):
Today (12wks):
[I know my picture is poor quality... but there is something there that's not all Christmas turkey and chocolate!]

Twelve weeks email update! I really love having so much information at my fingertips. I love knowing what is going on in there, and what about this child is developing right now.

"The most dramatic development this week: Reflexes. Your baby's fingers will soon begin to open and close, his toes will curl, his eye muscles will clench, and his mouth will make sucking movements. In fact, if you prod your abdomen, your baby will squirm in response, although you won't be able to feel it. His intestines, which have grown so fast that they protrude into the umbilical cord, will start to move into his abdominal cavity about now, and his kidneys will begin excreting urine into his bladder. From crown to rump, your baby-to-be is just over two inches long (about the size of a lime) and weighs half an ounce"