It's my birthday eve. Tomorrow begins a sabbath year for me and I cannot wait to learn what God has in store.

In the Old Testament God tells His people to let the ground rest every seventh year. At first when I read that, and did the math, I was excited to think that maybe I too was entering a time of rest. I might not be a field, but we all know that humans also need periods of rest and it didn't seem a stretch to think that perhaps our productivity could cycle similar to the land. The more I pondered this idea though the more I realized that while a year of rest sounds wonderful, the land isn't really resting during the sabbath year. It is rebuilding and preparing for a time of growth. While it may look as if nothing is happening in the fields during the sabbath year, the fields, most likely, would beg to differ.

And that's when I became convinced that I was indeed entering a sabbath year.

These past six years has been a time of great planting in my life. Most importantly, I became a mother – twice! I also started my blog, took on significant new responsiblities in my career, and I've expanded my learning in photography. In the past six years, I have grown closer to my husband, matured in my relationships with my family, and I've lost my father. I've made peace with my past, fell in love with the bible, and answered God's call on my life (at least privately, so far -He's still revealing things). I've re-established old friendships, and created new ones that have changed who I am through their love and care. I've found a faith community that feeds me, stretches me, and makes me grow. This is, without doubt, the most productive season of my life thus far.

I feel slightly depleted, but also ready for the rebuilding. I am slightly de-constructed, if you will, and primed for God to replenish me with exactly the right combination of nutrients and building blocks to launch my next season of productivity. It's exciting. It's also not without its fears.

I've learned in these last few years that to actively follow Christ is going to be a lot like motherhood. I do not always feel prepared, the sheer magnitude of the job is overwhelming on a daily basis, and nothing has ever been so fulfilling, beautiful and rewarding. But I've learned that I can do both things. I am not always liked here at home, it's part of being a mom. No doubt I will not always be liked as a follower of Christ, that too is part of the deal. But I am convinced that with a sincere heart and a mind set on Christ, the path will be set before me and I cannot wait to see what the next season of planting will bring.


I think my brain is frozen. My will is frozen. My ability to effect change in my life is frozen. Even my little dog is frozen.

I have never, ever, been so sick and tired of winter in my ever, loving, life. Ever. Seriously. I am totally serious.

And I work for a company in the south – where it will be in the 50's all week and they will think THAT is cold. I could go live there you know….like today.

42 days til Spring, 42 days til Spring, 42 days til Spring.

Greg said he thought it was my thyroid. Maybe. My thyroid died and one of its jobs is to regulate my temperature and give me energy. While I take medication to synthetically replace what it does, I seriously doubt the medical community has it all figured out. They are practicing medicine you know. Oh, to find a Thyriod doctor that has mastered medicine. But alas….I'm freezing and lethargic.

(Disclaimer, I think my thyroid doctor is awesome. I'm just really tired, and really cold, and those are two things my thyroid would help me out with if it were still with us, so I complain. It's probably an endearing trait of mine, but Greg hasn't mentioned it as one.)

So, to recap, I'm cold and I'm tired.

AND the kids are really confused with all this snow and cancelled school. They (read I) really like structure and schedules. While it is true that they have never once, in the five million snow days that we have endured enjoyed together, claimed that their issue is a lack of structure and schedule – I know. When they are pulling each other's hair out and sneaking candy under the kitchen table like stark raving lunatics – I know. When they are screaming because the other one is breathing on them – I know. What they are really saying is, “How are we EVER GOING TO LEARN? We need to be in school more than two days in a row to remember anything. What is happening to my education?!?!”

But I don't answer, because I'm cold and weary…

That 42 days til Spring thing was not helpful. That's forever! There are some animals that can make a whole 'nother group of animals in less than 42 days. Between now and spring a mouse family could have two litters, done and done!

I'm cold.

I really pray that God will remind me of this day in the spring when it is beautiful and the temperature is perfect and I sit inside my house and do something totally stupid like reading. I hope that a divine cattle prod goads me outside and that I take a nice long walk with Greg and the littles. Sure, the littles will still be pushing, and shoving, and complaining, and what-not, but sound disperses so much better outdoors than in not-solitary-enough confinement our home.


How are you all enjoying this fine season? (If you love it, and you wish it would never end, don't tell me that. I can't handle it.)


A little throwback of the Littles :), 2 years and lottsa hair ago…

I simply had no idea. I just didn't fully understand and appreciate a child's openness to wonder. I didn't get it. Now I do.

All week we've been telling the kids that we had a surprise for them this Sunday night. We gave them hints, but they just couldn't figure out what it could possibly be. So, as you can imagine, this afternoon after we got home from the church they were totally wired up with the anticipation of it all and could not wait. Greg and I were sitting by the Christmas tree reading and they were running around playing. We had all been right by the Christmas tree the entire time. There was nothing under our tree.

And then there was.

A wrapped present suddenly appeared under our tree! The kids found it and brought it to me and on the tag was a message: “Special Delivery from the North Pole. To: Elijah and Grace. Please take this wrapped package with you to your surprise tonight.” We talked about who could have possibly brought it and how they could have done it with us all sitting right there. The kids finally decided that it must have been there the whole time and we just didn't see it. So, Santa must have came to our house while we were at church. But just after deciding that must be it, Grace said under her breath, “But I really didn't see anything under there…” We all just shrugged our shoulders and decided maybe we would find out at the surprise.

About an hour later we packed up the mystery present and got in the car to go to the surprise. We drove into town, all the while fielding guesses about where we might be going. We parked the car, bundled up with our coats and scarves, and walked to the square in downtown Springfield.

Now they thought they knew – we were coming to see the giant Christmas tree!

After taking a few pictures we told them that they still hadn't quite figured out what the surprise was and we began walking over to the corner of the square. About that time they noticed the giant white carriage with the beautiful black horses, and riding in the carriage was…SANTA! Now they knew!

Once we were all settled in the carriage, we pulled out the present and told Santa that we didn't know what it was, but it had appeared under our tree this afternoon and the note said to bring it with us. Then we asked him if he had any ideas. Well, he did. He said that he had snuck in when no one was looking and left it, then he asked if they would like to open it. Of course, they said yes! Just like Grace had been asking for, it was an Elf on the Shelf! Santa then explained how every night the elf would be coming to see him and telling him if they had been naughty or nice that day, so to be sure and be nice! It was perfect!

Elijah appears to be thinking of ways to circumvent the elf, here…

After the carriage ride we went to eat and we read the story of our elf. Grace filled us in on some of the crazy things her friends' elves had been doing, grinning ear to ear the entire time. Then came the process of picking out a name: Pinkie, Gerald, Cha Cha, TreePack(?), but finally they settled on Sunny. Soon, we were back in the car and on our way home.

Before we were halfway home, they were both sound asleep.

When we got home, Greg and I unloaded the car, including the elf, and then brought the kids in. Grace woke up enough for me to show her Sunny sitting up on our mantle all ready for his nightly trip. I wasn't exactly prepared for the reaction.

When Grace saw Sunny sitting on the mantle, she woke up completely and exclaimed, “How did he get up there?!? So, when you opened the box, he wasn't there? And you found him here?!?!?”

To which I, wide-eyed, stammered my reply of, “YES….uh, yes, that is exactly what happened, Grace. I went to open the box and couldn't find him, but then I looked over at the mantle and there he was!” Well, she could hardly contain herself! Soon enough she had Elijah up to come see that their silly elf had already started doing the crazy things she was talking about earlier.

Finally things settled down and everyone got tucked into bed, still buzzing a bit with excitement, but ready to sleep. I went in to wash my face and also get ready to settle for the evening. But then, all of a sudden Grace comes running into the room, “MOM, Sunny, he MOVED!” Then giggling, she ran back to the living room, “Come see, Mom! Daddy, come see! ELIJAH!!!”

And THAT is when I realized their capacity for wonder and their ability to believe. Because this is what had happened that had absolutely solidified Sonny's realness as a magical elf. He had went from the position you saw earlier to….THIS!

And I looked from that elf, to my children, and back to that elf in total awe and wonder as well. Grace and Elijah thought I was just as amazed as they were by the elf's antics. At first I really thought they were kidding. I mean, the elf tipped over. Surely they knew that the elf had just tipped over…

But no, they did not. Then I saw what they saw, just for a moment. I saw that silly elf playing jokes with them already! Laying down – in the same silly position that he had been sitting earlier. “Mommy, see? He is LAYING DOWN NOW!!” And I let it wash all of my sadness away for a moment. I just basked in their purity, their faith, their wonder, their capacity for magical thinking. Their whimsy, their delight, and their joy. It's amazing.

It was a gift. A reminder that the world IS a magical place and there is beauty to be found in the most mundane circumstances. They helped me to laugh, with pure delight, at their joy.

And for that I thank our little elf. He may be keeping track of how well behaved the kids are, but he will also be reminding me to set aside my concerns and just believe in the wonder of it all…


So the littles are in their second week of school—one in preschool and one in kindergarten–and we have had some surprises. Our little pre-schooler is just doing two days a week so that one has been a pretty easy adjustment for everyone. He loves it and wonders why he can't go every day. Our kindergartner is the one who has surprised me. I expected some trepidation but we have had only excitement. The biggest surprise though has been the amazing amount of fatigue. I don't know why I didn't think to expect that one, but I didn't.

Here are my top five lessons learned from the Kindergartner:

1. Kindergarten is full-time job, and it's hard work.

The concept of sending the little to Kindergarten was intimidating, but I focused mainly on the big realities that scared me. The fact that she would be out of our little protective bubble. The fact that she would be influenced by kids whom I do not know. The simple scariness of not knowing what she is doing every moment of the day.

What I did not think of, however, is how exhausting it would be for her to be engaged for that long, every day of the work week. When we picked her up after school last week, on pretty much every day she asked if it were almost bedtime. A couple of times she fell asleep in the car or came pretty close. She loves going to school so far, but it's a whole new, demanding world for her.

2. My girl’s temperament is a lot like mine, and school's not really built to support it.

I did not take into consideration that my girl is an introvert – the same kind as I am. We love people and we love visiting, but we need some quiet time. Going to school for seven hours a day means that she lost her ability to choose quiet time when she needs it.

Being the introspective little girl that she is, she seems to realize that she’d better soak up some alone time when she can. The minute we get home, my girl bolts for her room, closes her door, and takes a good 20 or 30 minutes to decompress. After that she and Elijah usually play pretty well with one another. It's nice to see them miss each other, even if they don't know that's why they are playing together.

3. She is really thoughtful.

Before kids get out into the world a little bit on their own, it is hard to really know everything about them. Limited experience gives you limited perspective. But every night when I tuck her in, she says a prayer for whomever has had trouble at school that day. She prayed for the same little boy two nights in a row, and on that second night her prayer was, “Please, please, PLEASE help him listen.” She was pretty worried for him. It touched my heart.

I am just so surprised by this spontaneous thoughtfulness toward her new classmates. I mean, had you asked, I would have told you she was the sweetest girl ever, but to see her act out what I knew was in her heart just swelled my own heart with love.

4. She was ready. Just like she said.

You can psyche yourself out as the first day draws closer. You can start telling yourself that they really aren’t ready. For me, the truth of the matter was, I really wasn’t ready. She was totally ready. Suddenly my little girl who had very few rules to follow is a table monitor and line leader. She is telling me about her PE class. She is proudly saying, “I was so brave today, Mommy. I went down the slide!” She is naming new friends and talking about recess (her favorite part of her day, most days). She is basically reveling in every moment. And by the end of our first week, I was right there with her—celebrating a little more and fearing a little less.

5. Everyone has her limit.

Toward the end of the first week, we went to the grocery store after school. Before we went in, I excitedly told her we had soccer sign-up sheets for her and her brother. “Do you want to play soccer?” I asked. She had been to her cousins‘ soccer games, whom she adores, so I was certain of her answer. Imagine my surprise when I hear a big sigh from the back seat and her exasperated reply of, “Mommy, I hardly ever see my Grandmas, and I don't hardly ever get to play with my Pet Shops. I do NOT want to play soccer!”

Well, okay then. I guess that one shouldn’t have surprised me. (See realization #2 above!) It looks like she’s learning to treasure the way God made her—introverted, caring, and brave. And that’s a pretty good lesson for the first two weeks of school.




Oh how I have missed writing. I feel like I am filled way beyond capacity and I might just burst and leave words strung about the coffee shop. Words hanging from the lights and getting stepped on underfoot as they try to determine just what in the heck happened in here. They would, at some point, string all the words together and find that it was me, bursting from the unwritten words inside of me.


I’ve had quite an exciting few weeks – the highlight of which was my vacation which I wrote about last time, followed very closely by my trip to the United Kingdom and Switzerland. Vacation wins without even a fight because it was with my family – it was time for us to bond and shore one another up after a long hard season of travel and time apart. The trip abroad though, is another wholey unique experience. I scarce even can find a place to start.

I guess I will start with this – we live in an incredibly diverse and different world. We are so different from one another that, while others may marvel at the number of wars that have been fought, I tend to marvel that we haven’t just outright destroyed ourselves by now. We are incredibly different.

Visiting the United Kingdom – we spent our time in York, but also drove through Nottingham and Northampton for business meetings – visiting the UK was truly eye opening. I’ll list my top five reasons for writing that:

1. We are so incredibly isolated.

Looking at a map and seeing all the various countries crowded upon one another is abstract. But being there you can almost feel the weight of the other countries. The United Kingdom is made up of four distinct regions: England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. It is approximately just under the size of two New Jersey’s. I believe if you were to lay a map over all of Europe – the United States would be an equivalent geographic area to cover 20+ countries.

Were we to have made our 18 hour drive vacation around Europe rather than to the coast we would have visited numerous countries with a very diverse set of cultures and customs. Driving 18 hours in the United States will get you into some diverse cultures as well, but there is something about being a foreigner that is a far cry from being in a neighboring state with a different style of barbecue.

There is a stereotype that Americans are geographically ignorant. And many of us are, of Europe. I felt both defensive and embarrassed by this. Many of us know the United States like the back of our hand. But I will be the first to admit that I have to consult a map to find most countries (I do, at least, typically start in the right general area).

What struck me though is how logical this actually is – when you are raised taking vacations in neighboring countries, when your history includes wars with neighboring countries, when your politics and culture and family is mix of neighboring countries – you tend to learn about those countries. When the cost of visiting a neighboring country is the equivalent of flying to a neighboring state – it makes sense to invest in a passport. Of course Europe would have a better grasp of Europe than Americans. I wonder how many European’s can find all 50 states on a map…

All this to say that stereotypes exist because they is typically a grain of truth in them. The work is in thinking beyond the stereotypes to identify why something is true – what are the key drivers of that truth.

2. The United Kingdom is green, really green.

There is a lot of green space, a lot. According to an article from the BBC*, more than 98% of the country has not been built upon. As a matter of fact, you can really only build on land that has already been built on in the past. It is amazing to see so much green space in a country so old. It seems like, by now, they would have such a population issue that they would have to begin using up all of their land, but it is simply not so. A chap we were talking with about this said that it would be interesting to see what happens as the population grows – but I have high hopes, after all, their population has been growing since, well, since 30,000 years ago according to Wikipedia.


3. The UK is a polite country

In so many ways, they are polite. For starts, there is very little neon. The street signs, historic signs, etc are all quaint and lovely to look upon.

The street lights switch to red, then to yellow, then to green. This may not seem like a fact that belongs under the topic of politeness but you have to experience it. Come to find out we all sit just waiting to pounce, trying to strain and see if we can tell what color the light is for the cross traffic, anticipating jumping off the line and getting on our way. In the UK, you sit peacefully and get a few second heads up that it is about time to carry on. Polite.

An ambulance went by one evening and they only turned their siren on during intersections so as not to disturb people in their homes, it was explained.

And then there are the people themselves. I have never heard the word proper used quite so often. (Proper coppers was one of my favorite) Do you take your coffee with proper milk, for instance. Something about the idea of doing things properly seems so… British.

4. I still feel related.

I didn’t feel it in Switzerland. But in the UK, I totally felt like we were related. On the same team. Something about the fact that we have remained allies despite fighting so desperately for our independence is quite nice. Their history felt like it was, in a cousin sort of way, part of our history.

5. There is no place like home.

I loved it. I want to go back. There is a lot of things I wish we had kept as part of our culture. It’s a beautiful country and I love meeting my co-workers and getting to know them. It was such a great experience to really see another culture and look beyond the stereotypes and stories.

But home is home. Familiar is familiar. For better and for worse, we are a family over here on our isolated slice of earth. I was happy to get back to what I know.


My key take-away was probably this:

Even here at home we stereotype and judge. The harsh New Englander, the Southern Belle, the West Coast New Ager, the midwest farmer – we can all list off jokes about the neighboring state. Some can travel among the different regions with ease, but some really struggle with what feels like such a different culture – right here at home. So imagine taking that global. I was a little apprehensive based on the negative stereotypes you hear that other countries have of us. I did, at times, feel like a bumbling American. I’m positive that at times I actually WAS a bumbling American.

What struck me most though was our need to stereotype. Our need to down grade someone else’s culture and lift up our own. There are things that I love about the UK, and there are things I love about the US. There are things I wish they would do differently and there are things that I wish we would do differently. I think the key – for all of us, whether it is fitting in to a new school or fitting into a new country – is to appreciate what we appreciate and let the rest fall by. Differences don’t have to be labeled good or bad, sometimes they can just be differences. If you prefer your way, and I prefer mine, that is of no matter -we will just do our own thing.

I will, if it is within our means, take my children overseas when they are older – 16 and 18 perhaps. I want them to be old enough to at least have a slight inkling that the world doesn’t revolve around them. I think that there is something about going through customs, being allowed to visit someone else’s homeland, that humbles you a bit. The history and beauty is astounding. The accents are fabulous. The chance to fall in love with someone else’s home while retaining the love of your home – that is priceless.

York Minster, 637AD, Seriously.



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