30 May 2007

Being a daughter of Clara

Every once in a while (and actually more often than that, if I'm honest) it occurs to me that it is just impossible to be a mother and a pastor at the same time.
But tonight I spent some time reading about Clara Babcock. Clara was the first officially ordained female minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) back in 1888 or 1889. But before her official ordination, she was an evangelist, speaker, and elder who baptized many individuals, according to our church records here at First Christian, Rock Falls. Rev. Babcock was an unflinching preacher and led many revivals around our area. She was not one to let much stand in her way. And there are stories told of her preaching and also rocking her child to sleep in a cradle set behind the pulpit.

Every once in a while (and more often than that) I am fairly convinced that it is impossible to mother and pastor at the same time.

But the 1,502 people Clara Babcock baptized during her life would probably tell me otherwise.

25 May 2007

Of peonies and parting places

from the archives for Memorial Day weekend
Memorial Day weekends of the past found my sister and I riding in the back of my grandparents' car, fighting hard for self-control to not tap each other or poke each other or do some other annoying thing to fill the 15 minute trip between cemeteries.
The trunk of the car would be filled with peonies -- beautiful arrangements cut from Grammy's heavy peony bushes, interlaced with greenery, placed in aluminum juice cans and wrapped in newspaper, ready to be dropped into the vases on the graves of remembered relatives. The plastic bucket and wooden handled brush were there, too. And a rag made from one of Gramps' old undershirts was tucked in between the juice-can vases.
First were Grammy's parents in the old part of the cemetery in Washington, IL, then out to the country near Deer Creek to honor other relatives, then back to Eureka to tend to Gramps' parents' graves and the smallest and most haunting, the grave of their daughter, my aunt, Patsy, who had died when she was just two years old.
We'd approach the graves carrying the peonies and a bucket. Gramps would go off to fill the bucket with water and Grammy would brush any leaves or grass from the headstone with the rag. When Gramps returned, they'd wash the stone carefully and arrange the flowers. Then they'd stand for a moment in silence.
By this time, my sister and I would be running around the other graves, careful to show the respect Gramps had reminded us of on the way there. But as I grew older, I watched this ritual more carefully. Rather than running through the gravestones, I stood by Grammy's side as she paused near her parents' graves. I watched as Gramps brushed away the grass clippings from Patsy's stone. I also stood in silence pondering these people who had come before.
This year it will be me who loads up the car with peonies and iris and whatever other flowers are in bloom. My grandparents have long stopped filling the vases and carrying the water buckets and bending over to tend the graves opting instead for a slow drive-by at their parents' graves and an amble across the hill to pause a moment with Patsy.
It is a great honor to be silently passed peony-duty. I have always found myself drawn to these parting-places -- places where we leave a remembrance of our beloveds having trusted that we do not leave them at all, for we have already returned them to their Creator's eternal care. To me these parting-places are places of deep Peace.
So this year, I will brush off the stones and place the flowers. And as a mother this year, I will wonder if when tending Patsy's grave, Grammy and Gramps have brushed the grass off of that stone and thought of the way her hair lay on her head and how they used to stroke it away. And as a daughter, I will touch the cold granite on my great-grandparents' markers and wonder if Gramps and Grammy have touched the stones on their parents' final resting places and remembered what it was like to lay a hand on Momma or Daddy as a child.
Tonight my husband and I took flowers to the grave of my father in law, Harold, Dennis' dad, who passed away several months before I came to this church, far too soon. I watched as Dennis crouched in front of the marker and brushed away the grass and used a little water from the irises we brought to rub away marks on the stone. His hand lingered tenderly on the picture of the tractor his mother had engraved on the stone. And I know that as he touched that Farmall, his heart was that of a little boy watching his Daddy plow the field.
Such a small space separates those we love who live now safe in the arms of God and those of us who must be content with this earthly life. In moments like those I will encounter at the cemeteries, moments of pause, the line between "here" and "there" seems so faintly drawn.
And perhaps that's because "here" and "there" are really the same; for those that have been, those that are and those that will be are all so closely held and deeply treasured in the heart of God.
It's just that in these times of reflection we see through a mirror dimly how close together we actually are.
And that is such a great blessing and a source of such deep Peace, that I find myself praying that every place will be a parting-place where every day I will be more aware of just how close to heaven we are when we rest secure in the promises of God.

Friday Five (or not): Total lack of motivation

The RevGals Friday Five was about habits today -- establishing good habits/ breaking bad habits. You'll notice I'm not playing. I have nothing constructive to add to the discussion, I think. I am embarrassed to say that I've not established any good habits. Everything I do that is good is intermittent at best. And I'm mortified to think of all the bad habits that are not only established but firmly entrenched. So I'm being an ostrich about the whole thing. Friday Five? What Friday Five?
In fact, I'm sitting here in a slightly dark house. I've pulled all the curtains and the kiddos are both asleep and I thought perhaps I'd take a nap, too. They were both up at a little before 6 this morning and today's grumpiness has far outshone (or perhaps out-dinged) the grumpiness of the other day so I thought a nap would be in the best interest of all of us.
But I'm also feeling as though it would be a very good idea to do the dishes and straighten up the house, and perhaps even mop the floor so that we could head into this weekend with a good deal of order around us.
So I'm sitting at the computer doing neither.
But, on a postitive note, I finished the church newsletter today and went to church for about 2 1/2 hours. That was good for all of us.
And now I'll at least do the dishes and mop the kitchen floor. Then perhaps I'll take a little rest if the children remain asleep. First steps. There. That's part of the Friday Five.

More great info from Holly

Holly has finished her series on acheiving wellness. This post has to do with natural supplements. Bless you, Holly!

23 May 2007

Sooooo LOST

So I watched the season finale of LOST tonight. I just resent that show so much for sucking me in and not letting me go.

The day got better

After I wrote my first post this morning, I took a shower and had Daniel play in his bouncy chair and as I was typing, Annalivia climbed up on my lap and put both hands of my face and gave me kisses, then stroked my hair. It's hard to stay grumpy with that sort of care. Then I dozed on the couch while she stood at my feet and launched herself onto me while yelling, "Mmmmmoooooooommmmmmmmmmyyyyyyyy!"
Attitude readjustment acheived.

Grumpy momma

It's one of those mornings. Annalivia woke up very early. Way too early. And was mad/ sad/ inconsolable/ frustrated, etc. Daniel was fussy at the same time so I was feeding him while Annalivia found her milk sippy cup and stood in the door of the bedroom yelling, "Milk NOW!" I was responding very kindly to her -- giving her other options of what to do while I fed Daniel, so she began whining/ fussing. Then Daniel spit up all over himself and me and our nice sheets. And Annalivia threw the sippy cup on the floor. And Mommy got ticked.
I need to readjust my attitude. And fast. A couple more hours sleep wouldn't hurt either.

22 May 2007

Help from Holly

Last year near this time, I was getting more and more into holistic wellness. We were eating well, actually getting some exercise and I was feeling better than I had for a long time. Then I got pregnant and we ordered pizza.
Now I'm feeling like I need this focus in my life again. Holly is one of those people who seems to me to have it all together in this regard partly because she readily admits that she doesn't. I asked her about seeking health and she has written here and here. (I'll add more references as she continues this series.)
Check it out if you need some basic info or encouragement, too. She also has some great links and some helpful stuff in the comments. Hurrah for Holly!!!

21 May 2007

Kali Fest 2007

Today is my little sister, Kalin's 21st birthday.
On one hand, it is hard to believe that 21 years have passed. On the other hand, Kali has been a grown-up since she was born, so it seems as though it's about time that she pass this threshold.
To celebrate her birthday, and her legal ability to imbibe alcohol, we, her sisters, took her to Kelleher's, an Irish pub in Peoria. The joke was that the poor girl had to spend her 21st birthday with people who are usually in bed by 9:30 p.m. but we wanted to make it fun for her, so we came up with some fun things....

Yesterday in speaking with Kali, I asked her if she wanted us to wear anything in particular. "Aside from matching t-shirts?" she joked. That was enough to inspire t-shirts for all of us using this graphic. They said:

Kali Fest 2007; 21 May 6:30-8:30 p.m.; We're gonna rock and roll "all night"!

We also made her a crown with stars and a pageant sash that says birthday girl.

This photo was pretty much staged with any empty glasses we could find.

Marissa was in rare form and this was pretty much the theme of the evening -- Roo carrying on and Kali looking uncomfortably elsewhere.

And here we all are.

We laughed a whole lot and we did some pretty significant celebrating of our little Kalin Dara. Kali is among three of the most clever, original, hilarious, and intelligent people I've ever known. When I was 11 and she came into our family, we didn't know what to expect. What we got was this spectacular creature who made our family complete. She's an amazing, wonderful person and she's my sister. Happy Birthday, Bukes! I love you!!

20 May 2007

The gift of good friends

A friend is entering the Search and Call system (our denominational system for matching churches and pastors). He asked me to be a reference and after I completed the questions, I called him and shared my answers.
He said it was uncanny how similar my answers to questions about him and his answers to questions about him actually were. I said that perhaps that's because we know each other pretty well. He said something like, "No, I think it's more than that."
And he's right. It is more than that. We do indeed know each other well, but this friend and another dear one and I have a friendship that goes beyond the basic "knowing each other." We met up in seminary and shared a little corner of C building. We wrote notes to each other in class, ate dinner as cheaply as we could find it, drove miles to see each other's big events, borrowed cars, rescued each other, staged interventions on another's behalf... We laughed and cried, fussed and fought, struggled and grew and we did it together.
The extraordinary thing is that we're still doing it together. We've talked about how we don't know if other seminary friends are still friends like we are. We are friends who talk to each other frequently and by that I mean, sometimes several times a week. We are godparents to each other's children. We are each other's most honest critics and staunchest supporters. We laugh and cry, fuss and fight, struggle and grow, move forward, move back, come in, come out... and we do it together.
He's right. It is more than the fact that we know each other. Perhaps it's that we allow the other to know us so well. I personally think it's that God saw that those three not only needed each other, but that by needing and knowing each other they were going to understand more about God's love and grace than they ever thought possible by themselves. It's that we're blessed. Together.

19 May 2007

The risen Christ is everywhere... still

Tomorrow I am finishing a six-week sermon series on the resurrection appearances of Jesus. It has been a good series for me. I've taken apart the scriptures that the lectionary lumps together, jumped between the Gospels, and managed to hear new things in the text. That's always a very nice experience.
My sermon tomorrow uses the Great Commission text from Matthew. We don't have opportunity enough to preach this text a la lectionary, in my opinion, and there is a wealth of meaning, direction, and symbolism in it. I mean, I could probably preach an entire month on the phrase, "Go forth!"
But tomorrow I'm using it as the last of the resurrection encounters and though I don't write in manuscript form and therefore have almost nothing to post on this website ever, I wanted to talk about the sermon here because part of it is the "rest of the story" from an earlier post you can read here.
For those who would rather not read all the details, the gist of it goes like this -- my congregation was helping a family to whom we were introduced on Good Friday. They were people in need of much assistance and as we moved to offer assistance, God's people provided in amazing ways. The family, who had never been very involved with church, were amazed that folks would just offer themselves and their resources to others they had never met. It was a wonderful Easter story.
After Easter, the story of this family became more complicated. The man of the couple made some poor choices, was put in jail and eventually headed back to Arkansas to live with his parents. The woman of the couple struggled along, made some poor choices, had her children sent to her family in Indiana, and eventually followed.
For those of our congregation who know/ knew about it, they shook their heads and expressed sorrow and also some sense of resignation that these poor choices were made. What I have NOT heard, however, is a regret that we went out of our way to assist this family. Now perhaps that's because they don't whisper things like that in my direction. Or perhaps it's because they know the main point of my sermon tomorrow which is this -- even if "the nations" don't respond to the gospel, we're still sent forth to share the good news.
What I have realized again, in the course of helping this family, is that it would be really great if our evangelism or mission had a happy ending, or if all our efforts as Christians could be wrapped up in a neatly presented package, preferrably with a shiny bow on top. But that's not how it is some of the time, or perhaps even most of the time. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, despite our most sincere intentions, despite our most heartfelt prayers, folks don't respond to the gifts we offer. Sometimes they do, but sometimes they make poor choices, get put in jail or get sent back to Arkansas or Indiana!
Yet Jesus calls us to offer ourselves despite the fact that he had to have known much of our work would look like failure. We are still asked to treat each other as we want to be treated. We are still asked to give of our resources for the kingdom. We are still sent forth beyond our comfort zone.
If we look at Jesus -- we might be able to see that some folks might have called his mission a failure. Look at his life -- travelling from place to place followed by a motley band of arguing followers. Look at his death -- a brutal and bloody political assasination, abandoned by most everyone. Look at his resurrection -- supernatural and terrifying and when he ascended into heaven he left the work of evangelizing to the motley clueless followers who had abandoned him. One would hardly call that a successful implementation of the grand plan.
But as we know, the story goes far beyond that moment. The key is that the work of God is never done. Christ ascended to God's presence to be super-present with us through the gift of the Spirit. The disciples received the Spirit and went to work and through the labors of their hands and hearts AND the immeasurable gifts of the Spirit, the mission of Christ to bring folks to the Creator became and has become and is becoming one of success.
So often we think that if the work we do and the resources we use do not acheive the job that the job has failed. That the work is done. But the risen Christ is everywhere -- still! In the midst of our "failures," in the midst of poor choices, in the midst of exhausted possibilities, the risen Christ is still here. And the work is not done until the Spirit stops. And the Spirit doesn't stop.
So. Tomorrow we will talk about Christ's resurrection appearance among us... still...again. And again and again and again. We will also pray that Christ will continue to appear to those for whom our work and resources was not enough to lead them to the Kingdom. And we will pray that Jesus will remind us that he doesn't give up on us, even when we think we're done or when our hubris maintains that WE are those who bring the work of the Lord to completion. We will pray that he gives us the strength and the vision to keep putting him on -- keep working in his name -- keep proclaming him wherever and whenever we go forth.
He has come to us... still. He is here with us... still. He will be with us... still.
Alleluia! Christ is risen, friends! He is risen indeed! Still!

Recipe: Quick, skillet lasagna

It's getting warmer here and the search is on to find foods that can be cooked out on the grill or on the stovetop and thus not warm up the entire house. Here is a good one that worked well for our family. Have a nice salad and veggie on the side, and you've got yourself a really good meal.
Skillet Lasagna
1 lb ground meat
1 can chicken broth
1 small can tomato paste
1 can tomatoes with garlic and onion
1/2 cup wine
Italian seasonings to taste
salt/pepper to taste
1 cup ricotta or cottage cheese
1 egg
1/2 mozzarella cheese
1/4 parmesan
Italian seasonings
whole wheat lasagna noodles, broken, or whole wheat pasta like farfalle
1 c. mozzarella cheese
In large skillet with lid, brown meat. Remove, drain, rinse.
Add broth, paste, tomatoes, wine and seasonings to skillet. Whisk together til smooth, bring to a boil and allow to reduce a little. (Or just skip the homemade sauce and add a can of spaghetti sauce, tomatoes and the wine to the skillet.)
Add back the meat, then sprinkle in the noodles. While returning to a boil, mix cottage or ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup mozzarella, parmesan and seasoning together. Drop by spoonfuls into skillet. Cover and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes or til pasta is done and cheese looks like it does in lasagna! If there's too much liquid, allow it to simmer uncovered for a few minutes, but remember that it will continue to set up!
Remove from heat. Sprinkle remaining cheese over the top. Cover til and allow to melt.
Eat and enjoy!

17 May 2007

The gift of good colleagues

Tomorrow my Disciples clergy friends from the surrounding area are going to get together for lunch. I'm looking forward to it. I missed several of our meetings while I was on maternity leave and I have found myself longing to connect with these folks again.
We are a rather motley group. There's L, the pastor at the church in Dixon. He has been there for almost 11 years and came out of a Assemblies of God background. He's in his late 40's early 50's, I think. He's very quiet, but has a great sense of humor. I can see why he has been at his church for a long time.
There's G, the pastor at Pine Creek, a little country church. G is a licensed lay minister. He is in his late 50's and just became a Disciple when he began serving this church four years ago. He is just the most intentional, sincere, good-hearted person. I think his church is blessed beyond deserving to have him.
There's D who has been the pastor across the river from me for almost 3 years. D is in his late 20's and is possibly the best pastor my age that I've ever met. He is a denominational super-star who is incredibly grounded, humble, honest, and hardworking. That's a rarity. And he's also pretty hilarious. I am so glad that he's the guy-at-the-church-across-the-river.
And, of course, there's me who has been here for almost 6 years. I'm the only girl. And I'm the only one who ever misses these meetings due to birthing. My main function is to arrive and introduce senseless rants on mainline decline into the conversations. I'm sure they just adore me there.
But I do adore them. We never have much of an agenda at these meetings. Basically, our agenda is to eat lunch, chat, listen to my rants. And laugh about the politics in our churches and denomination. Oh, and lament the politics in our churches and denomination. Then we figure out where we'll eat next month. That's always an important topic.
Like I said, I love them. When we go home from these gatherings, I am just so grateful for this group of good guys who are up here in northern Illinois with me. If all of my colleagues were like this, we'd have a really spectacular church, I think. Diverse and spectacular. They are just who they are without many frills. Without much posturing. They are trying to listen to God. Trying to live their callings. Trying to share the love of Jesus. Just trying.
And that's inspiring. It really is. Because sometimes I feel done with trying. Sometimes I don't get started at trying. Sometimes I get stuck trying the posturing and politicking. It's wonderful to know people who are trying in the best ways, who are doing ministry and are being as faithful as they can be.
They inspire me to come home and attempt to do the same. They inspire me to pray for them as I know they are praying for me. They inspire me. And really, that's about the best thing I could ask for in a group of clergy colleagues. I'm just so blessed that they are here.

16 May 2007

Do Americans not have ears?

Ok. I am officially revealing myself as an American Idol viewer this season. So far, I've seen this season and season 1.

Tonight, Melinda Doolittle goes home with third place. She and Lakisha, who received fourth place were my favorites.

I understand how this little Blake guy can be in the competition, but HOW, HOW, HOW can this Jordin Sparks be a contestant still? She is consistently sharp and her voice is just grating.

And why do I care? Ugh.

Chocolate cake meets Annalivia

Well, the perfection of Dennis' celebration cake was shortlived. Someone got to it when Mommy and Daddy were talking.

See the little handprint?

He's home!!

Dennis has gotten home from a business trip to North Dakota! He has been gone since the wee hours of Monday and he originally expected to get home in the wee hours of this evening. But he got home early.
It's been an ok three days without him, but let me tell you -- I would not want to do this any more frequently than I absolutely must! Annalivia really missed him. Everytime someone called, she thought it was him. When he got home, she just laid on him for about a half hour.
He came home bearing good news -- he managed to eek two A's out of his MBA classes this semester! That's pretty amazing.
We're having a special dinner to celebrate it all -- Bruschetta stuffed Chicken Breasts with Zucchini and Carrots, Baked Potatoes and Chocolate Cake for desert. We're going to all look at each other for a while and be glad to be in each other's presence.
Wow. I'm glad he's home.

15 May 2007

More non-annoying music for kids

I wrote about how Annalivia is into the Andrews Sisters then thought I'd also share these other albums that I do not find annoying.

NO! by They Might Be Giants. I love this cd. I actually listened to it for a long time before Annalivia was interested. My favorite is "John Lee Supertaster" which is in a cool funk style, followed by "Clap Your Hands" followed "I am Not Your Broom". Though, wait, "Sleepwalkers" is good, too, and so is "The Edison Museum"....

Here Come the ABC's by They Might be Giants. I like this cd, though slightly less than NO! We also have the dvd and it's ok. Not great. There are a couple of songs on the dvd that are not on the cd like "The Alphabet Lost and Found" which is a very hip song. I can't listen to it now though without feeling a little sick since we listened to it when I was first pregnant with Daniel and a little queasy all the time.

Philadelphia Chickens by Sandra Boyton and Michael Ford. Annalivia's godmother, Trina, gave this to Annalivia for her birthday along with several other Boyton musicals. It is a book with an attached cd. Philadelphia Chickens is my favorite. Meryl Streep and Laura Linney sing hilarious songs, but my favorite is Kevin Kline singing "Busy, Busy, Busy" in the style of Gilbert and Sullivan.
ETA... I forgot to add Dog Train, the most recent Boyton/ Ford creation. Pretty good, too.

And, FYI -- personally, I am not a fan of Dan Zanes. I know lots of Gen X-ers like it, but me -- not so much. I gave our DZ albums away.

And, because I have time and inclination to keep typing, here is some other music that works for Annalivia but was created for adults...

Perfect Time and Whisper to the Wild Water by Maire Brennan -- these are Christian albums by Clannad front and big sister to Enya, Brennan. The Celtic instrumentation is enthralling to Annalivia. They are ethereal and beautiful and uplifting and energizing and also calming. Lovely.

Take this Moment by John Bell. We listen to this a lot at church or in the car. There are some great jubilant pieces that allow Annalivia to dance and there are many more contemplative pieces that allow Momma to think. I love how the words go through my head later in the day, "God's gospel of light shall keep you. God's gospel shall shelter you..."

Keur Moussa: Sacred Chant and African Rhythms from Senegal by the monks of Keur Moussa Abbey -- This is another we listen to at church. I picked this up at the Catholic Bookstore in Peoria, IL just on a whim and ended up with a great cd. It's perfect for when Annalivia wants to listen to something and also wants to play with other things while I'm at church. It is nice, calm music and sort of blends into the background.

Joko by Youssou N'Dour -- good African rhythms and a social conscience, though most of it is not in English. I like it, she likes it. We're both happy.

Graceland by Paul Simon -- again good rhythms and probably one of my all-time favorite albums ever. I love it, though I probably still don't understand it. I also love Rhythm of the Saints but I can't find it, otherwise we'd be listening to that, too.
Choralworks by Howard Goodall-- Goodall is probably best known for his "The Lord is My Shepherd" which he wrote for the British TV series, The Vicar of Dibley, one of the best comedies ever created which I hope American tv will never, ever steal. The setting of Psalm 23 is one of my all-time favorite pieces and is on this cd. There is also some beautiful, modern English choral music. We play this in the afternoon sometimes and Annalivia makes note of it only when Momma sings along.
A Vaughan Williams Hymnal performed by the Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge. This was last summer's high choral purchase. Annalivia sang along with it then and still does. It's a favorite morning selection around here when the Andrews Sisters seem a tad too peppy.

So what are you and yours (whomever that may be) listening to these days?

14 May 2007

Amalee's photos

Once again, Amalee is posting gorgeous photos over at her place. It is a visual vacation. Go see.

13 May 2007


9:30 p.m. and I cough.

From her bedroom comes Annalivia's sleepy, little voice, "Ok, mommy?"

"I'm ok, Annalivia. I love you."


Mother's Day

It has been a lovely Mother's Day here. My sweet love took our daughter to get me a very sparkly card. Church went well. I didn't have to cook lunch. It's been very nice.
And I'm glad for it because yesterday I was a miserable parent. Terrible. Sinful. Perhaps unforgivable.
On days like that, I flee to Ann Voskamp's incredibly beautiful and moving site Holy Experience. Every time I enter her little haven on the web, I find God speaking grace to me in exactly the way I need. She is such an amazing gift. Yesterday words from this post and this prayer, both of which I had read a few months ago, spoke to me from the recesses of my brain in the midst of my parenting failures. I was so grateful to come to the computer later and find them and hear the promises Ann has found in the Word. And later in the day, this one had me weeping.
Thank you, Ann. And bless you. You help me to see Mother's Day and indeed every day as a little more holy.

10 May 2007

My little boogie woogie bugle girl

So Annalivia's new favorite music is the Andrews Sisters. I think one reason she likes it is that she can climb up on the chair and push play on the cd player. The other reason is because it's pretty peppy and she can bob around to it. She was singing along with The Woodpecker Song today -- she sings about every 10th word, but on pitch. I love listening to her.
I'm so just glad she didn't get enamored with the Laurie Berkner band or some of the other children's music she has received. 1940's pop music is good. Now I just have to keep Dennis with his old KISS albums away from her. Of course, if she knows all the words to Roll Out the Barrel, that might not be so great either.

09 May 2007

Guess who went Krogering today...

More pictures for Dusty

Recently, I have had the blessing of reconnecting with a dear friend from seminary. She sent me some adorable pictures of her beautiful daughters and requested some of Daniel and Annalivia. Well, I'm happy to oblige.

Annalivia and her new umbrella.

Um, believe it or not, she added the hat and glasses herself.

Happy Daniel

One Sunday Annalivia and I went to church without Daddy and Daniel.

She took her look-alike baby doll instead.

Eureka in full mocking-mode

This weekend Annalivia, Daniel and I are going to go to my hometown of Eureka to visit a friend and spend some time with the family. I love going home to my hometown and were gas not outrageous and my children slightly uncooperative, I'd probably find a way to head down there semi-weekly.
The only problem with going home is that I long for it when I'm away. This was particularly compounded a few weeks ago when we went to Eureka to spend the night and give Daddy some time to do homework without being bothered by his needy wife or verbal children.
It just so happened that Dennis' need to have peace and quiet coincided with the weekend of Eureka's Lilac Festival and Fine Arts Fair which is an annual event held on the campus of Eureka College, my alma mater.
This year the festival was on a day when it was almost 80 and the sun was shining. It was a tad windy, but it was gorgeous. As we came into town from my parent's house which is an old dairy farm on the edge of town, we saw that Main Street had been lined with American flags put up by the boyscouts, headed up by my scoutmaster father.
We first headed out to the lake where all the cousins got their picture taken together as directed by Grammy Adaline.

We hung around to see my nephew play soccer with the Eureka Youth Recreation Association and saw all sorts of parents being supportive and kindly competitive (really, honestly).

Annalivia and her cousin Cleya ran sprints under my direction. I'd have them run to a fence about 40 yards away before I counted to some random number. They enjoyed it and the lovely side benefit was that they were VERY tired out.
Little Lirah, who is in the stroller in the above picture took a nap on her handsome daddy's chest and channeled Yoda. Wise already she is.

And my sisters ran in the Eureka Spring Classic. And yes, that sister on the left is Lillia, who gave birth a week before I did. And ran five miles, but first walked out to the lake and then walked back home (another two miles). Sheesh.

Marissa placed in the top five(I can't remember which place exactly) in her age bracket.

Then we went to the college to hang out at the Lilac Festival. The College usually has a gorgeous grove of lilacs in bloom that was developed in the first half of the century by a professor; this year they were snowed upon, so no lilacs. Artists set up booths amongst the academic buildings and sell jewelry and paintings and scultpure and pottery etc. There is also live music, this year from a wonderful bluegrass band called Ashton Junction which features the banjo music of a native Eurekan. Several church youth groups sell treats, as well as the Eureka Hornet Music Boosters. And the Rotary sells porkchops, which Eureka Rotary Club does better than anybody else on earth, I think. My grandfather was collecting money for Rotary and came over to see Daniel. Daniel looks more like Gramps than any other family member, we think.
And we met up with my college friend, Remy, and her two energetic boys.

Essentially, it was my hometown at its best: beautiful weather, American pride, wholesome family activities, healthy athletes, artists and non-lilacs, good coffee and better friends, Gramps and Grammy, sisters and brothers-in-law, nieces and nephews.
I want to live there, too.
Can you tell?

08 May 2007

Random thoughts on a quiet afternoon

It's 2:20 and all is quiet here in this house. Actually, all has been quiet for the last hour or so. Annalivia and Daniel have finally begun to coordinate afternoon naps. It's lovely. I should lie down and take one myself, but I'm doing some stuff I want to get done. And that is recharging me as much as anything else right now.
It has been a beautiful day here. The sun was shining this morning. Now it has clouded up a little, but it is also not quite so warm. I'm so glad that the spring is here, but, truthfully, I'm not really in the mood for 80 degree days just yet.
We had our carpets cleaned at church this week which necessitates me staying home during the day. Not that this is anything new at all, but it is nice to be mandated to stay home by something other than my own lack of desire to drag children and self into the office. I have a meeting tonight, so tomorrow I won't have this excuse. But yesterday and today, it was nice. And tomorrow, Wednesday, my secretary is out, so I'll be home again. Lovely.
And I'm grateful for the retreat. Our church family has been hit by yet another terminal illness. This time it is the 50-ish year old husband of a beloved member of the congregation. The woman who is the member of the church has grown up in the church and was a teacher in the community for 30 years before her MS forced an early retirement. The husband has lung cancer and has probably weeks to live at the most. Their daughters are slightly younger than me. I don't know how they will handle it. The family is close, but there is also a lot of posturing and secret-keeping going on. I am praying for their strength emotionally, spiritually, and physically.
And I am also praying for my little church. It seems as though we are holding so many of these situations in our hearts right now that at any moment, they might break open.
I find that for myself it is more and more difficult to bear the heartaches of others as my children grow and change. I'm so much more acutely aware of the tender strings that bind us to each other, I guess. And life seems so very full that it can't help to be fragile. Does that make any sense?
So, today, I'm just very grateful for a little quiet time to sit here in the warmth of my home and be thankful for my loves and this too short time we get to enjoy each other. I am reminded that I should contemplate the brevity of this blessing everyday. What a gift life is.

04 May 2007

The Dark is Rising

The Dark is Rising is one of my all-time favorite juvenile book series. It's hardly exclusive to youth, like all good juvenile books. In fact, I re-read it last summer when I was first pregnant with Daniel and on the couch non-stop.
I just read that The Dark is Rising has been made into a movie of the same name and will be released in fall of 2007. I'm looking forward to seeing how it has been adapted for screen. It looks like it is being directed by a Hollywood outsider and filled with a cast of Brits, so I'm hopeful. It could be a very good movie.

02 May 2007

My gift to us

I am so excited!! I have just won my birthday/ Mother's Day gift in an eBay auction! (Grammy and Pa, this is partly your gift to me!) It is this playset minus the swings and it is used, of course. Dennis, being my handsome and brilliant engineer, is going to make a swing addition for it. Best of all, I got it for $96!! We are going to pick it up in northwest Chicago, hopefully, next weekend. Oh man, this is going to be a fun summer!!

Happy anniversary to blogger and me

Today marks one year of blogging! I began this blog the day after my 31st birthday, inspired by lots of other cool chicas to create a place where I could process life "out loud."
Through it, my world has become so very much larger. Thank you to all of you who read and/ or comment. You have been quite the blessing.

01 May 2007

Former Eureka Boy Hits it Not-so-Big

I recently googled a kid I knew growing up and found his blog. This kid is far too cerebral for me to actually understand, but here is a hilarious video he starred in. It warrants sharing.

Some things

I have so many random thoughts in my head that I would have been blogging, but I've not been able to put together a post lately. So here are some things...
  • I've been trying to read a lot lately. Far too much, actually. And I've been trying to stretch myself beyond my comfort zone and finding that God is speaking to me pretty firmly through two books I'd not considered before but am SO thankful for: For Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn and Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining and Bad Attitudes... in you and your kids! by Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller. Both are available at or through most Christian bookstores. The things I am learning about myself are just kind of shocking. I'm also trying to fit in Unbinding the Gospel by Martha Grace Reese. My Disciples clergy group is going to be discussing it in two weeks. I better get crackin'. And I'm at various stages of completion in eat. pray. love and Plan B: Some Further Thoughts on Faith. I was glad to see More Cows' Friday Five list and find I'm not the only one who reads too many books at once. (Though I'm not sure I'm very comforting company for her!)

  • Church is going well. I think. I feel like sometimes I am holding my breath waiting for the other shoe to drop when things seem to be feeling pretty good. We are working on a VBS program for the first time in about 8 years. I don't know what the fruit of our labor will be, but I think it is good that we will be laboring in this way. We need to do some things beyond us. We are also forming a group to discuss and ponder and PRAY about changes to the sanctuary. It is in need of recarpeting, but if we want to make any changes, we will need to do that before the carpet goes down. That is fun, but also a potentially hazardous discussion. The "c" word causes hives in the majority of my folks.

  • Dennis is almost done with this semester of his MBA program and then has the ENTIRE summer off!! We are both so excited. I am praying HARD about what we are going to do in the fall when he has three classes, three nights a week. I'm sure we will manage, but I worry about him with that schedule. Dennis gets up at 4:30 a.m. for work, school is a little over an hour away and then his classes will be from 6:45-9:15 at night. That puts him home at 10:30 and even if he gets in bed by 11, that's too little sleep three nights a week. And how we will manage church and childcare is also a mystery. If anyone wants to join me in praying for discernment about this, I'd welcome it.

  • Recently, I've been working on a program to honor my college voice teacher who is finishing up her 30th year of teaching at Eureka College. Jan Wanack has been a direct agent of God in my life, offering grace when I did not know the meaning and did not understand the reason. I am excited about the event and also a little terrified because I really want it to be a success and the invites have gone out FAR too late. I hope it all comes together.

  • I am trying to be disciplined about wearing my electronic bone stimulator. We saw the doc in Rockford yesterday and my ulnar bone is not reforming. Probably because I'm not being diligent about wearing the bone stimulator for 10 hours a day. I only get two more months to try to get it to grow, however, and then we have to consider bone grafts. So. Time to strap that buddy on.

  • And I've started some other blogs. I've realized I need to do some discernment in my life and blogging has been a great way to do it this past year. None of them actually show up on my profile because I'm not really ready to share them with anyone else as of yet. But they are out there and I'm thankful for blogger and the use of free blog space.

And, that, umm, well, that's the end of these things. More later.