Wednesday, November 30, 2011


I'm amazed at what I miss just because I become accustomed to things. It's kind of like when you post a note on your refrigerator to remind you of something. After a while you don't notice the note anymore or the thing it was supposed to remind you of. This bugs me to tell you the truth.

So today I took a fresh look around my home. Just a few rooms. Just the ordinary things that have been there all along. Look what I found!

Monday, November 28, 2011

the discipline of living

Sometimes I forget that I exist.

I spent the last several days in bed with a migraine. Everything becomes distant and muffled during these long days and nights. A wide expanse of mist develops between myself and the living, breathing people around me. After a stretch like that it's hard to climb back into the world of sight and sound and movement. It's hard to imagine that it means anything to anyone for me to exist. It's easier to remain invisible. I forget sometimes that I'm not really a ghost haunting my own home, that I'm flesh and blood.

So today I will force my body (with as much kindness as possible) to exercise and move vigorously. I will ask my blood to flow and invite my mind to think. I will go outside to breathe the cool air and bring home food for my family. I'll do many mundane tasks like paying bills and laundry and other such real world activities. As I type these words, I'm remembering that some of the smallest choices are powerful and good. I'm remembering that it's a discipline to be alive, but it's the best discipline of all. And it only takes a series of intentional movements, one after the other, to be resurrected and welcomed back to the earth.

Hello friends. I'm back.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

is he totally squeezable or is it just me?

 I don't know when this became a shameless gramma blog, but I just can't seem to help myself. On this day as I think about the things that fill me with gratitude, my grandkids are right at the top of the list. Last night Lincoln stayed overnight and we took him to see Dave play hockey today. Lincoln has loved hockey since before the time he could even say the word "hockey". So here's a yummy taste of my morning with the sweetest little slice of pie in the world.

i know he's not supposed to be sucking his thumb, but he's just too dang cute to stop

total absorption

spotting grandpa

drooling just a bit

high five through the glass

my mouth is saying "cheese" but my eyes are saying 
"dear jesus, that zamboni is gonna run us over!"
(and isn't that mouth guard charming?)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

dreaming of spring

In case you were wondering, here is what my tree looks like today. Her brilliant, fiery leaves are gone, and if you didn't know any better, you'd think she was dead. But she's not dead. There is still life down deep in her roots and inside her frozen branches. She's bracing for the icy darkness and dreaming of spring.

You can't see it from the first picture, but there's a squirrel huddled high in her arms. Squirrels remind me that God is near. They are odd little messengers of all that is holy. Even on this grey day, God is fighting through the fog to whisper my name. I'm glad I hear him and that he cares to stick out the season here with me. I'm glad today that there's life deep in my branches and roots. I'm glad that the ice cannot reach far into the ground where I store my memories.

Today I will stretch and exercise my body to get my sluggish blood flowing. I will exchange some spicy quinoa and lentils for some soup that my friend has made. I will write and write and write until my fingers and back beg me to stop. And all the while, I'll be dreaming of spring and the avalanche of green that is not so far away after all. I'll remember that God is near.

Monday, November 21, 2011

and so it begins

Winter is a tough time in Minnesota. The first snow is lovely and it's nice to have a white Christmas, but pretty much everything after that is, let's say, less than ideal. I don't think this is what God had in mind when he created that garden. It's dark and cold and isolating in the Northern places of the world. We got our first snow this week on Saturday and it messed up some plans that we had. That's all a part of it. From now until April, we'll be hunkering down for the long, frigid hibernation.

I made a deal with myself that I would stay mindful and try to both notice the beauty that is here and create beauty when I have a hard time finding any around me. In truth, I would never have to create any beauty for lack of it because there is always so much already here. This takes a disciplined eye and an open heart. But the beauty is everywhere I look when I force my tired eyes to see.

Take this little sprite I found in my cupboard:

Or just take a look at this sweet face and try not to smile:

All the snow and cold and even the deepest of darkness can't obscure this kind of beauty. And these are just the most brilliant of the good things in my life. There are also the small things: the hot tea and the fuzzy scarves and the talks with my friends. There's the soup cooking in the pot and the touch of my husband's lips on my cheek. There's the dogs warming my feet as I write these words. And there's so much more that can never be told. As I enter this season of frozen landscapes and bitter winds, I'll be tending to the warm fire of my blessings.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

God's fridge

A friend commented on my post yesterday about how God sees us just as we are with all our smudges and blobs and is so delighted that he displays us on his fridge. I love that image. 

So here are the things that I'm proudly displaying today. They are treasures to me. I can't imagine anything more perfect. What do you suppose God sees in you that he's lovingly holding dear? I'll bet you can't imagine. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

before we knew better

Lincoln is a master artist. He's really, truly innovative and free. No one has told him about the rules yet. He doesn't know about what the world considers beautiful or ugly. He's not bothered when the paint spills off the page or when a color bleeds into another. He's just purely caught up in the wonder of his creations.

Remember those days before we knew better? Maybe getting back to this is the highest form of praise. I wonder if this isn't a picture of God at the moment of creation, playing with colors and textures and light, caught up in the wonder of the things he loves.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

shadow places

It's been a busy week. I spent a couple of days in Southern Minnesota with my husband's sister as she struggles with enormous burdens and fears. She is overwhelmed with questions that none of us want to face.

When do I let go of the care of my dear one? When do I acknowledge my limits and release him into the care of others? What happened to the dreams I had of the way my life would be today? Who am I in this shadow place?

As I've begun to take stock of my life, I recognize that as much as I plan and hope and work towards a particular place in the world, there is so much that I cannot predict or control. There is a quote from Isak Dinesen in the movie Out of Africa: "God made the world round so we would never be able to see too far down the road." It's a mercy, this roundness of the world. I think for some of us, if we could see too far it might siphon our will to live.

Today, I am planting my feet in the soil of the present. I am tending to the fragrant garden of my loves and letting go ahead of time of anything that would distract me from the eternal. I am breathing in the scent of my grandchild when he rests his head on my shoulder and allows heavy lids to lead him to a dreamless sleep. I am kissing my husband on his cheek and filing away in memory what his body feels like when I reach up to hold him. I am listening to the sounds of laughter and weeping and everything in between and welcoming it all with tenderness and attention.

I am whispering my fear and love to God in the dark as the road curves ahead of me. I don't know what shadows are there. I only know that night is sweeter when there is company and even the dimmest of candles.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

exactly where we left off

photo by Lori Sabin

Dave and I got together yesterday with some old friends that we haven't seen in many years. Nate (above, far right) was the best man in our wedding and we hung out with him and his family all day. Nate played in a local jazz club late last night and we sat with his wife, Lori (who I also adore) and listened to him open a window of sound so sad and joyful and passionate I almost cried. I love it when you reconnect with people and you can pick up exactly where you left off, as if all the years and events in between had no impact at all. There are loves and relationships that are so easy that nothing can change them. Those are expansive spaces and so rare in the world.

I've been doing this a lot lately. Picking up where I left off. Reconnecting. Mining my history for the people and habits that are life-giving. I'm also finding new things along the way and those are always lovely to discover, but these older treasures are amazing and precious. I'm dusting off memories and reclaiming the places that shimmer with light. I'm listening for familiar music that grounds me and lifts me at the same time. I'm following my heart back home.

Friday, November 4, 2011

on growing old

I have to have a mammogram today. Every time I hear that word I think of the old Saturday Night Live skit "Land Shark" which probably dates me even more than the fact that I'm having a mammogram. (If you get that reference, you're probably going to be relating to the rest of this post too.) I'm at that stage of life where it's hard to keep track of all the vitamins and drugs I take. I'm considering picking up one of those medication organization boxes. In fact, it's hard to remember a lot of things these days. I'm not quite tottering yet, but I expect that's not too far down the road. I'm disciplining myself to not say "eh?" when I can't hear what someone just said to me. And sometimes I make little grunting noises when I get up from a cushy couch.

There's an awful lot about growing old that I don't like very much.

But there are other things that I love. I absolutely love that I have luminous little grandchildren laughing around me. I love that I'm growing more confident and less concerned with what people think about me. I love that I get to watch my grown sons becoming the kind of men that this world needs. I love the way my family is expanding and opening, making room for new loves. And I love that I have fewer illusions about living forever because that makes me more likely to be present and slurp up all the goodness in my life and give away as much goodness in return.

Maybe, just maybe, I've learned enough along the way to live and die with fewer regrets.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

hello sun

One of the things that I really love about blogging as often as I have been is that it forces me to look around and ask myself the question, "What is here that's worth sharing?" I'm pretty sure I would have missed the merciful, shining sky today if I hadn't asked that question.

Take a few moments and ask yourself that question today. Grab a camera if it helps you. Take a deep breath and pray for eyes to see. You might be surprised what you find. And feel free to share it with me (or someone else) who might otherwise overlook the miracles all around us.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Today, I begin the third week of the gospel immersion course I'm taking from Christianne. If you've never checked her out, I highly recommend that you do. She's a gentle, loving and inviting soul who I've come to adore over the years. I'm a little behind this week in the reading, but today I'm starting the book of Luke.

We've been having conversations in our online classroom about the ways that Jesus welcomes the people in his culture who were outsiders: women, tax collectors, lepers, etc. And as a part of that conversation, we've been invited to share the ways that we might have experienced "otherness" in our lives. That conversation made me realize that I'm thinking about these things differently than I ever have before.

I've always felt terribly weird. (If you know me, you might be nodding your head as you read that.) I never really fit in, no matter where I was. I don't think this is my imagination. I've been told many times that I'm different. (This is polite language for "strange.") It has made me feel very lonely over the years. For a while I tried to find ways to fit in, but that was exhausting. So I just quit trying and that made the loneliness even more intense.

But lately, I've started to wonder if a sense of displacement and non-belonging isn't part of what it means to be human in a world that is so terribly broken. Maybe we're supposed to feel this way. Maybe this is what drives us to God. And maybe the things that make us unique and strange are the most precious refections of God within us.

So I'm embracing my inner weirdo. You're welcome to join the club if you like. We're a little crazy, but we're a welcoming bunch. It's impossible to be lonely when you're surrounded with the broken shards of the world, reflecting light off the edges of our pain.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

little kid trances

 linc in his hockey get-up

 zach and sierra...most beautiful pirates ever

wyatt with our friend alex...wy loves him

I had the greatest moment last night. A little boy who must have been three years old walked up to me with his bag stretched out. He was staring at me with big wide eyes (I had some interesting makeup on) and he whispered, "I like your face." That's something that I could hear a few times a day and not get tired of it. :) Then later on when my grandkids stopped by, Linc was staring at my face kind of mesmerized and asked if he could play with Grandpa's tools (his favorite toys in the whole world.) I asked him if he was going to cry when it was time to leave and put the tools away and he whispered in his little trance-like state, "yes." I think I'll have to wear makeup more often.