29 June 2008


We had a GREAT flood relief event at church today! We served about 200 people, made a good amount to donate, and had a great time. After church, I think there were quite a few of us who were worried about whether folks would show up. They did. (of course -- why DO we worry about these things constantly?) And the other church that helped in the event was amazing and it was so cool to see vastly different parts of the body of Christ coming together to make a difference. The food was wonderful, the activities were just plain fun (it was kind of funny to see how many adults were really excited to ride the firetruck!), and the atmosphere was festive. It was truly a wonderful experience.
If you'd like to see pics, click on over to my church blog.

27 June 2008

Ok, seriously

If you are not reading "Et Tu?" you should start now. It's just brilliance all over the place. Jen's latest column about her transformation from being pro-choice to pro-life is stunning, I think. She articulates wrestling with faith as a reasoned individual in such eloquent and readable ways! I'll recommend her to everyone from any background. Fabulous stuff.

26 June 2008

This just made me smile

There's more at YouTube -- Search for Matt Harding dancing.

Thursday thirteen

  1. Now that I have officially resigned from church, I cannot tell you how much more I am enjoying being with my children. I don't know why it correlates for me, but it does.

  2. We have been enjoying our backyard so much this year. Last year, Dennis fenced it in and put up the play area. This year, we've been out there every non-rainy day. Daniel and Annalivia can play for a long, long time in the sandbox. We have to strip them down and shake them out every time we go inside. Daniel has sand in his hair literally every night. He may or may not have been the one to put it there.

  3. I love Daniel's current stage of development. It is just delightful to watch him learn to communicate, play jokes, enjoy moving around, learn to jump. It really is a wonder.

  4. Daniel has been reading books to himself lately. His favorite is a deconstructed (not in the literary sense) copy of The Little Engine That Could. He points to the characters and yells a lot.

  5. He's also a big fan of tractors and lawn equipment. We went to a playground last week after ballet clahss and he just stood there watching a guy mowing the park. Swings and slides cannot compete with the combustion engine, apparently.

  6. This week, we slept too late to get to ballet clahss. Annalivia was remarkably unfazed.

  7. Annalivia has been singing a lot of songs lately. She has a great ear for music. She can return to the home key no matter where we've been and loves to make up songs. Her phrasing is great. I also love to hear her sing "This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us Be-Joyce and be glad in it."

  8. She is also fascinated with the idea of childbirth and can often be found snuggling and kissing her dolls, talking about their beautiful chins, etc. And she's taken to renaming her dolls, which were previously given the perfectly-respectable names of characters in Kipper and Angelina Ballerina to things like "Gootie" and "Gook" and "Sweeha".

  9. I feel like I am channeling Bob McClure lately, going through the house, flipping off lights. I'm practicing my grandfather's "Somebody's paying Cilco!" sing-song for when we move south. (cilco=central IL light company)

  10. We have decided to not move any of our pantry when the time comes, so I've been making dinner from canned, frozen, and refrigerated ingredients lately. It's saving grocery money, but it's not very exciting.

  11. We may not have to worry about whether our garden will be producing after our departure. The crows have been swarming it, pecking at the ground, and eating off of it lately.

  12. Today is Dennis' second-to-last day at the place he was worked for 12 years. It's the end of an era.

  13. We have done no packing today, yesterday, or the day-before-that, or the week-before-that. Tomorrow doesn't look good, either.

24 June 2008

Just because

Last night, Dennis took a little longer than usual to get home. When he arrived, I was holding a sleeping child and he peeked around the corner and then presented this beautiful bouquet. He said it occurred to him that in this time of transition, I'd be dealing with a lot of upheaval, so he wanted to do something, "just because..."!

Aren't they gorgeous?

23 June 2008

Sticky morning

Daniel was sleeping in late this morning, so Annalivia and I made pancakes. I let her dump all the things in the bowl and then stir up the mix. I would occasionally take the whisk from her and she would say, "Go nice and slow, Mommy, like me." And then, "No, that's too fast. Do it exactly like I do it."

We had blueberries to use and the pancakes were buckwheat. The combo was... not delicious. I think the blueberries weren't the greatest anyway, because everything tasted a little too grassy for me. Annalivia's verdict -- "I don't like blueberries. I like butter!!"

About ten minutes after she had gotten down from the table, she came out into the living room with her mouth full of pancake telling me that she liked MY pancakes. And the syrup on them. I didn't associate that I hadn't actually put syrup on my pancakes and that my plate was already washed and draining. So I wasn't alarmed until she came back to tell me she had spilled syrup on the counter. Suddenly, I realized what had happened. She had dumped the ENTIRE bottle of lovely, expensive Grade B Trader Joe's maple syrup onto the plate of extra pancakes that I had hoped would be breakfast for the next few days! It was a mess, not to mention that the syrup was gone and the pancakes were ruined. I will confess, I did not respond gracefully.

But after a very gentle smackdown by someone far wiser than I, I have realized that it was funny in its own right. And I wish I would have grabbed the camera and laughed a little instead of getting all ticked off.

I guess I've got a lot to learn when it comes to handling sticky situations.

22 June 2008

7 months of bad hair is enough

The last time I had my hair professionally cut was on Dec. 1, 2007. I got it cut and I wasn't really happy with it and decided that I was just not going to pay for an icky haircut for the next year.

I made it to last week, when I decided my own haircutting technique (i.e. grab a clump and saw at it with thinning shears) had run its course. I have terrible hair right now. Long haired dogs that have lived on their own in the wild, foraging for squirrels in thickets full of burrs and sticker bushes have looked better. Really.

So, I caved. And I made an appointment at one of the hipper salons in our very non-hip town, asking them for their soonest appointment. I have had to wait until this Tuesday when I will emerge with a new hairdo, hopefully.

I'm excited. I'm not sure what has possessed me to go this long feeling hair-frumpy, but I've learned a lesson -- regardless of the money this experiment has saved, it's really not worth it.

19 June 2008


Yesterday morning before ballet clahss, I was at the dairy getting some lovely fresh milk and I tripped over a large rock and managed to fall flat on my face while carrying a gallon glass jar of milk to the car. I was hurrying and not paying attention to the big ol' rock that the dairy owners use to prop open the milk shed door. I fell hard, knocking the glasses off my face and scraped up my knees and elbows. I'm very, very thankful that I was carrying the milk (which did not break, by the way) because I did not have time to drop it and put my hands out to catch myself. I'm pretty certain I would have broken again my already-broken right wrist that is being held together with screws and plates. Thank God for LARGE favors!
Yesterday afternoon and this morning, I did not feel too bad. But this afternoon.... uuuuuggggghhhhh! And.... owwwwwwwww. Everything hurts. I feel like going to bed and staying there for the next few days.
Is there a point in one's life where one doesn't make a fool of oneself, imperiling life and limb?
If so, I think I may be past it.

18 June 2008

Impromptu service project

So, on the way out of pastoring, I am feeling energized to do ministry again and have spent some of the evening rounding up folks to put on a Summer Picnic/ Old Fashioned Church Sundae Sunday/ Ice Cream Social (we're still debating what we'll call it) to benefit flood victims. And we've decided to do it Sunday, June 29, after worship.
Nothing like a little fire under our seats to get us going again.
I'm excited, and as far as I can tell, so is our congregation. We love any project that involves food and so much of our congregation has family or friends who have been affected by the flooding. I think it's perfect.
A little soon, but perfect.

A special treat

I found this set the other day at an antique store in town. Isn't it neat? I love the large thermoses with the old corks, red pop-off lids and nesting cups... the long sandwich box... the great plaid container... everything fits inside just so. Annalivia is enthralled with our new set for "parapickets" (picnics).
I'm picturing fall parapickets with soup and sandwiches and a thermos of cider...

17 June 2008

Another piece of the puzzle

One of the most wonderful pieces of this life-change puzzle that has been falling into place is our living arrangements come September. We will be renting the house that my sister, Lil, and her family are vacating when they move into their new home.
This house is not just any house, however. It is an absolutely gorgeous, amazing, and very large home built in the early 1900's. It has been in the family of the current owner since shortly after it was built. It is wonderful -- two stories and a walk-up attic, woodwork everywhere and chestnut pocket doors, gorgeous big windows, a gracious front porch, an amazing entry and banister, lovely plantings... these things are just the beginning. The owner is a man who has taken very good care of the place. He is a meticulous caretaker and his house shows it.
Living in this house is sort of a dream for me. When I was growing up, my grandparents lived just down the block from it, in another large house on Main Street in Eureka. I used to walk by the house we will be living in and admire it. I was inside it once when I was in grade school and thought it was the most beautiful place I'd ever seen. When I was in college, I decided that it was the house I'd most want to own in Eureka. Then Lil moved in and I've lived vicariously through her, coveting that house all the while. No longer -- in September we'll get to be the tenants there!
The only thing that would make this whole thing better would be if we were actually buying it. We've always wanted to have a lovely old house that needs enough work that the price is such that we could buy it, but not enough work that we'd be stupid for buying it! :) Dennis can fix anything and the senseless romantic in me is always much happier with creaky floors and high ceilings around me. Maybe someday...
In the meantime, I plan to cook at the stove and weed the gardens and sit on the porch and pretend like it's mine. I'll be enjoying every moment of it.
It will still be a dream come true.

15 June 2008

Of course, I didn't have my camera!

We had a terrific day here.
Church went well. Everyone is so demonstrative with their affections now that I'm leaving! It's refreshing.
After church, we got in the car and drove north. We came upon a small town that was having its annual Fire Department Waterfight Day. The firefighters were decked out in their gear and had out two firehoses. They were aiming them full blast at a plastic barrel and trying to get the barrel over the other teams' line to win a "round". We joined about 40 spectators for a few minutes to watch the crazy ritual, realized I had left the camera at home, and moved on.
We then drove over to the Mississippi River and headed up towards Galena. Right along the river, we saw a large BNSF coal train and travelled with it for a few miles. It was right beside us and the kids were over the moon to see the big orange train and coal cars so close.
We stopped an an army depot near the river and on the way into the depot, saw a home in the backwaters of the Mighty Miss, flooded to the extent that it was an island. On the way out of the depot, we saw a HUGE snapping turtle -- probably two feet long -- in the road. Annalivia and I got a really, really close look at it when Dennis pulled over. It was ugly, but very, very cool.
On the way to Galena, the sun came out and we had just incredibly lit vistas everywhere. Galena was nice and we had gelato and then drove around a bit and headed up to Dubuque. There is flooding everywhere, but we mainly just drove around and enjoyed the beautiful scenery.
From Dubuque, we headed south along the river and saw cranes, swans, and turtles. We went through a little Luxembourg village and near an abbey. We saw a huge ELCA church that rivaled any Catholic church around here. We followed a beautiful, charming little road a couple of miles and saw a neat old farmstead, a very old cemetery and a chapel built by a devout Catholic after a treacherous trip across the Atlantic from Luxembourg in 1852.
We saw a beautiful little town by Lock and Dam #12 and missed our chance to have homemade pies. But we drove through more flooding to Clinton, bought a picnic and then headed to a great little park in Fulton where the kids played for an hour.
Then we headed towards home and took a little sunset-lit walk through the slough, listened to the frogs and the red-winged blackbirds and enjoyed an incredibly brilliant red-hued sunset before heading home to baths.
It was just a perfect, wonderful, impulsive day, spent with the family, grateful for Daddy, and all that we enjoy. I wish I would have gotten pictures, but it was very special and I suppose the lack of photos mean this day was uniquely ours.
Hope everyone out there had a wonderful Fathers' Day, too.

13 June 2008


I have spent the day today calling people to tell them that I am resigning as their pastor today.

I know that's not the conventional way to do it, but I also know that sending a letter first to this congregation who really is more like family would be a terrible way to announce this departure. They'll get the letter on Sunday.

In the meantime, I've talked to almost every regular attendee. I tried to visit face-to-face with some folks who have been very important to me. The others have gotten a phone call and an apology that I'm not there in person to tell them.

I kind of hate to admit this, but I am surprised -- almost shocked -- to find out that people are really, really going to miss me! I look back over the last seven years, and it is the gaping holes that are most obvious, the places where I could-have or should-have. I am glad that they have reminded me of the places where I have. Thank God that they were paying attention.

The reason I am resigning is primarily because Dennis has accepted a position as an engineer in Morton, IL. It is an incredible position at a company with a secure future, or, at least, as secure as one can find in the current manufacturing climate. And they have been very, very generous with him.

I am very excited, especially, because their generosity means that I will get to stay home with the kiddos. I have known since they were born that mothering them was my greatest calling. I am very, very, very grateful that I am going to be able to mother them in this new way -- with no sermons to research, no office to visit or not-visit, no congregants to rush off and pastor.

The most wonderful thing is that we know, we know that all of this is exactly what we need to do. It is clear to us that God has provided this way for us. In fact, it has happened in an almost magical way -- divine, really! :) We were not looking to leave and had actually talked to Dennis' mom about staying here and buying property from her and living out there. Then Dennis got a call from a headhunter and the guy had this position in mind for him.

Dennis had an informal interview with the engineering manager who called the headhunter back and told him that she was sure that the company wanted Dennis. The headhunter gave her a salary figure that was just kind of amazing to us and when she balked at it, he told her that Dennis was very worth it.

The company called him back for another interview and it went very well. He was there for a looooonnnnngggg time. It was only 45 minutes after the interview that the company called and offered Dennis the job at the amazing number! I don't think we could have asked for it to happen in a cooler way!

And since then, and really, before that, everything has just been laid out before us in the most amazing ways. We have had some other miraculous financial news and we are just astonished at the events at hand! In 90-ish days, my husband will be working at a job that will obviously value him and his experience and knowledge, I will be home with my kiddos, we will be living in Eureka, we will have all our debts paid, we'll have a six month emergency fund, and we'll have a very, very substantial savings for the future. It will be a whole new life! Resurrection, really.

I am just so amazed, awed and humbled at how God has answered and is answering so many of our prayers. And I am reminded of the thousands of times I have worried and fretted. What have I to fear, really? I need to remember that He is good to His people.

I may have to tattoo that on my forehead.

And those of you who have told me that all would be well have permission to tell me "I told you so."

But only once. :)

11 June 2008

Wiggley girl

Annalivia had her dance clahss today. She woke me up at 7:30 and was ready to go by 7:45. Class began at 9. :)
She loved it. She was full of all sorts of information afterwards -- "I held on the big white bar!" and "The teacher told me something and I did it!" and "I danced and danced and danced!" and a bunch of other stuff. I'm glad she enjoyed it. This was literally her first experience with taking instruction from someone other than us and being with other kids her age. We don't have kids at our church and she's not in daycare, so I was relieved.
But something else came up and I'd like your-all's help out there! The parents stayed in a lounge area while the kids went to class and they had a video feed of the class into the lounge. We couldn't hear anything, but it looked to me like she did pretty well. She was very excited to do all the movements, but I noticed that she was constantly moving. If the kids were sitting in a straight line, Annalivia was scooting around the floor. She was mimicking the teacher's arm movements, but was also using her legs and doing all sorts of squiggley things. When they were playing a dance-while-the-music-is-playing, stop-when-it's-not game, she wasn't stopping until far after the other kids.
As I was watching her, I was realizing that Annalivia is always moving! She doesn't just sit or stand in one place anytime! I hadn't realized before that it is not characteristic of other kids her age, but I definitely noticed it today! She's like a little butterfly flitting around! And I'm wondering now what I can do to help her learn to contain herself and focus. Anyone out there got suggestions?

10 June 2008

Dance clahs

Tomorrow, Annalivia has her first dance class. (Or if she is talking about it, it's her "dance-clahss" -- I'm pretty sure it's an Angelina thing.) She's excited to wear her leotard, her ballet shoes, and her hair in a braid. We've discussed how important it is that she listen to the teacher and do what the teacher says even if other children aren't following the teacher's instructions. It's her first time with organized instruction from another adult. We'll see how it goes. I may be sleeping with fingers crossed.

09 June 2008


So, we have been gone on a teeny-tiny vacation since, um... Sunday after church! Teeny-tiny. Miniscule, in fact.

We had to be in central Illinois this morning, so Dennis took a vacation day today and we went down to Peoria after church yesterday. We took a winding journey through the country and ended up at Glen Oak Zoo -- a little non-fancy zoo in Peoria. We walked around on a sweltering day, had ice cream at a local landmark, and then headed to a hotel where we swam for a while. Then we got pizza for dinner, took a drive, and came back. This morning, we went and visited the great-grandparents, did some playing and lunching, and got in a grandma-and-aunts-and-cousins visit in the afternoon. Then we headed home.
It was a great little mini-vacation. I felt like we got to do something different and that's a nice feeling as I see the same-ol' dishes and laundry facing me at home!

05 June 2008

There is a balm...

...and it might be on the internet. Thanks so much, all of you -- those who commented, emailed or called re: my last post.

I met with the folks in this family who are members of the congregation today. It was a good visit. We had lots of conversation, lots of laughter. I've apologized directly to those who are most hurt -- not church members -- but still part of the family. I feel as though I have done what I can. I've realized through talking with some of you that part of my guilt is misplaced. Part of it isn't, but I appreciate your wisdom and willingness to speak truth in love.

In other news -- we found out that the insurance company of the woman who hit us back in Sept'06 has agreed to pay us the full limits of her policy coverage. This is huge! And it means that the lawsuit could perhaps be resolved in the next month or two or three. I am praying for it to be resolved sooner rather than later, but y'all know me -- I'm impatient. :) It is very good news, though, and I'm grateful for it, grateful for this day and how things have gone, grateful for all of you out there. Thanks, friends.

04 June 2008

I have screwed up

I have really messed up a situation at church and am having to beg forgiveness from a family I truly love. They have made mistakes, too, but my mistakes are greater.
I don't know whether I can make the situation better and I just don't know how to convey my complete contrition to them. The relationship is hurt. Very hurt.
And the situation is leading me to do some serious praying, thinking, and pondering about the future and ministry.
The answer so far is not easy...

03 June 2008

Grumpy girl

Dennis is on a business trip, Daniel is still going through far too many diapers (and pijamas...and sheets for his crib...and sheets for our bed), Annalivia has been helpful in all the wrong ways today, the house is a mess, we have a visitor coming tomorrow, a secretary leaving for the weekend, a good dose of uncertainty around here, and I am very, very, very grumpy.
How in the world do those of you with husbands who are gone consistently keep from becoming a resentful, brooding, walking ball of irritation?
Oh, yeah.... there is prayer...

Life moves

And we can either enter into the journey of our own accord, or be pulled along unwillingly.

A prayer for this season of life, found somewhere online, sometime in the past...

Jesus of the road, Jesus of the street
Jesus of the sky, Jesus on the beat
May I come with you, along your roads today
and see where you are, and what you do and say
and be involved, in some small way?
May I do it, Jesus?
In your name I pray.

02 June 2008

Desperate temps call for desperate measures

We've not really had desperate temps, but today it got up to 86 degrees here and we were all a little hot. So, we made ice cream.

I made the custard yesterday -- a little bit of very dark chocolate, agave nectar, cream, milk, vanilla and eggs. So simple.

We got it out of the fridge this afternoon and poured it in the frozen bowl and let the KitchenAid mixer do its magic. Have I mentioned here how much I adore my KitchenAid? Mom got it for me and I love, love, love it!!

About 25 minutes later, we turned it off and sampled.

With fresh milk from the dairy, we get SO much cream! We can have a quart and a half of homemade deliciousness every week, if we want. Next week's version may have to be made with fresh strawberries from my brother in law's garden! Mmmmmm.