Monday, June 19, 2017


I like loops.
Roads that begin and end in the same place.
I like leaving and I like coming home.
I like continuity.

My first loop experience was at Capernwray where you left the castle door with a chum or two and came back to the castle door with an enlarged worldview or a poetic twist on your common ideas.

Along the loop you'd see things like this:

And this:

The beauty of the journey shaped my soul as much as the conversation enlarged my thoughts.

I have recently experienced another type of loop. This month, Dave and I celebrated our 20th anniversary. Since we met in England we decided to loop back to Europe to toast our twenty. So in May, Dave and I spent a week in Switzerland.

The Matterhorn
We spoke of our own 20 year loop as we looped along mountain passes and waterfalls. We let our eyes feast on the beauty and our souls feast on the faithfulness of God through the long, winding years. I had time to look at my husband and say, "Thank you. You have been a faithful, loving husband to me for 20 years. I appreciate it. You are more than I deserve. God has shown me His goodness through you."

Tolkien's inspiration for Rivendell. Valley of 72 waterfalls.

Dave had time to tell me a hundred times a day that he thinks I'm beautiful and that he feels very blessed to be my husband. I had time to agree with him.

He took my hand when we crossed the street and he put me on the inside of the sidewalk when we walked. Dave took care of me loving and it reminded me of all the times he has sacrificially cared for me.

We are starting out from the castle door again. A new loop with new views and hopefully another 20 years journey to look forward to. There will be steep hills and deep valleys and graves by the roadside. But I wouldn't want to walk it with anyone else.
A ruin/graveyard I saw from the town and felt compelled to explore.

Our hotel served afternoon tea every day and I loved it!!!
We can see some things on the horizon. Avonlea, our first born, graduated from high school three weeks after we came home. We have our foster care training in August. Rowan starts junior high in the fall. Rose got promoted to the next level of her ballet training.
You don't think of the Alps as being blinding, but they were! We could barely open our eyes without sunglasses!

But there are lots of bends and dips in the road that we just can't see. But we know who we're following and we know we will walk next to each other. So we trust and we set out.

I like loops.
Roads that begin and end in the same place.
I like leaving and I like coming home.
I like walking next to you.


Saturday, April 29, 2017

Our Week: Ducks, Morphine, and Photo Shoots

Rowan is again making the headlines in our home.
He has become the proud possessor of a duckling. He owns a black duck named Swift and Rose has a yellow quacker named Popcorn. Super cute and fun, Until Rowan didn't wash his hands well enough after cleaning the cage and came down with salmonella poisoning.
Our week, consisted of trying to determine why he was so sick and encompassed, one urgent care visit, one doctor visit, two ER visits, and finally hospitalization in a children's hospital. They checked for a huge array of diseases and infections which left us reeling from potential scenarios for our future and Rowan's future. Salmonella poisoning isn't usually hailed with glee, but in our case, it was.

Cutest culprits of infection ever

There were some beautiful gifts given in the process of all of this chaos and confusion.

Prayer. So many texts from so many dear friends telling us they were praying. Rowan recovered so much faster than anyone expected given the seriousness of his case, but I knew it was because he was covered in the prayers of God's people.

Bonds. As Rowan lay writhing in pain on a stretcher he kept calling for his brother. He burst into tears when Dave showed him a recent picture of them together on vacation. He kept repeating over and over, "God's got me. Dad and Mom have got me. Grant's got me." It blessed my heart to see how much he loves his brother.

Education. We had a nurse ask in the ER if Rowan was home schooled. We said yes and then Dave asked what gave it away. The nurse explained that most 11 year olds don't quote the entire Gettysburg Address when in duress. Right. Rowan also quoted the 24th Psalm and discoursed for a bit on his favorite civil war battle (Chickamauga). He was delirious with pain but what came out was what he had worked so hard to put in.

Our very sick little boy waiting for his CAT scan
Faith. Rowan wanted to listen to music in the ER while we waited for the results of a CAT scan. He chose to listen to Bethel's "It is well with my soul". A nurse commented that he doesn't hear that one much in the ER. We met some wonderful nurses and doctors who serve in a really hard setting with really sick people, yet they do so with such compassion and wisdom.

Pleasant surprises. On Friday we were told that our nurse, Jody, had won a nursing award. She was going to be featured in a magazine and have her picture in the lobby of the hospital up on the wall. She would be photographed with a patient and she chose Rowan. Rowan miraculously stopped writhing long enough to smile up at her while she took his temperature and stuff. He's truly my son and photo shoots are not to be passed up NO Matter What.

Drugs. A shot of morphine gave Rowan much needed relief. He really liked the morphine and was later a bit irritated at the nurses who only offered ibuprofen and Tylenol. I woke up in the hospital Friday morning to Rowan's eyes boring into me as he stated, "I want more morphine." It was a good thing we had a lot of time together in the hospital because I was able to tell him every horror story of drug addiction I had ever heard. Pretty sure I got my point across as he refused Tylenol and ibuprofen after our hours long discussion.
Rowan in his hospital room contemplating escape

Home. We had some vague promises that we could go home from the hospital on Friday so when the doctor came in and said  Rowan's levels were too high for her to feel comfortable letting him go, we were both disappointed. But as soon as the doctor left the room, Rowan was more than disappointed. He was crushed. "I want my home. I want my dog. I want my brother. I want my bed. I want to go home." I tried to comfort him but he'd had it. He packed up his stuff and he told the nurse, "I am completely better. I want to go home." She listened to him. She talked to the doctor who agreed to do another blood draw. She found his levels so decreased that she was surprised and allowed him to go home. His face when he got here. His arms around his siblings. His hands on his dog. His smile and happiness and thankfulness filled my heart to overflowing.

So somehow, out of this crazy wild week, I emerged encouraged. Rowan slept 12 hours last night. He woke up weak and scrawny but so happy to be surrounded by the people who love him best. I hope all my kids always feel like that. That they know they have a place in something bigger than themselves and that our family also has a place in a bigger picture. I'm encouraged that even in the midst of all this mess God has got us, and my children know it. Praise the Lord.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Stretching my Borders into China and beyond....

If you were to ask me the top things that I dislike in life (only pertaining to myself and not having to do with slavery, hunger, etc.) I would state the following: hiking uphill, being cold, critical people, competition, and arguing.

Seeing how I hail from Alaska and married a mountain climber, the first two are unfortunate, but I've managed to cope and wear long underwear. Critical people, I've learned to spot a mile away and shamelessly run. My family knows that mommy doesn't compete, even when we play games, so we play them nicely. "I'm sorry I had to send you home but that was the only move possible," is commonly heard. As for arguing, a kind answer truly does "turn away wrath".

Unfortunately, my children not only did not inherit my particular set of dislikes but they claim their own. Which makes for an interesting dinner table. They also possess their own particular likes that don't always parallel my own. Take, The Three Stodges for example. But I endure. Rowan, in particular, is passionate about things that I have a hard time getting excited about. He's a huge history buff, he collects instruments (and plays them), he wants to be president so he loves politics, he is constantly asking questions and debating my answers. But I love him. Love every freckle on his little nose. So I try.

Several weeks ago he asked if he could be on a debate team. I told him I'd look into it and contacted someone in charge of our area's speech and debate team for home school students. She said the best way to be introduced to their team was to come to the speech and debate competition, and since I was going, would I judge at it? (!!!) Every freckle, every I say yes.

This my friends, is how I end up with so many stories. I say yes with NO INFORMATION.

Thursday morning, Rowan and I go to the school where the competition was being held at 7:15 am. I am told I will judge a debate on US trade policies with China. I will be the only judge and will pick a winner and rate the speakers from best to last. I try not to cry. You may realize that I just entered into a world in which the last three things on my list are first and foremost. I have to criticize people. I have to engage in a competition and listen to people argue (don't tell me debating is different). Not to mention: TRADE WITH CHINA. Which I know nothing about, nor have a any desire to know anything about.

I come in the room and sit at a table with the person who is timing on one side and Rowan on the other. I have a ballot in front of me. Each team has two contestants and they all come and shake my hand. Then one guy speaks up and asks, "We would like to know the extent of your judging experience and what you want to see today."

This my friends, is raw. Everything I've just written here flashes through my brain but all I say is, "I have no experience." Then I answer the second part of his question 'what do you want to see.' I refrain from the truth, which is, I want to see my bed and a cup of tea, and answered, "I want to see clear points with good support." God help me.

The debate is over. Everyone shakes hands. My eyeballs hurt. An hour and ten minutes of my life has passed. Rowan and I go to the judge's room and he tells me how to fill out the ballot and who won. He has clear points with good support. He says, "I love this Mom. I can't wait to do this." Every freckle, every freckle...

I then went on to judge literature interpretation which took two hours. The kids who performed weren't arguing and most of them made me laugh so that wasn't so bad. One of them made me cry, she got first place.

I came home five hours later laughing and thoroughly exhausted. How stuffy and confined I'd be if it weren't for my husband and children. They have stretched the borders of what I think and do until I almost don't recognize my own inheritance. The love I have for them is always growing, and in its expansion, I also expand. This isn't always comfortable but it's so worth it.

And if I'm going to enter the world of debating, I need to find the equivalent of long underwear.
Maybe earplugs?

Saturday, January 7, 2017

A Quiet Life Where People Talk Angrily


Ah, the country.
Neighbors sprinkled sparingly like salt. A little friendliness makes everything more flavorful, too much and you gag.
We met a few of our neighbors over the summer. Nice, quiet, peaceful people.
Then a man tried to build a road adjacent to our private country neighborhood road to construct a house on, and the country got angry.
I was texted.
I was called.
I was visited.
The evil of this act was explained to me and it had something to do with CCNRs. I tried to get a word in edgewise to explain that I didn't know what those were. But no, my words were not to be. I signed something and my new neighbors left happy.
In parting they said, "We're sorry you have to be involved in this when you are new to the neighborhood."
I responded, "Well we used to live across from government housing so you guys are a step up."

About 5 days later, I was headed out alone to the store when I was intercepted on our road. By a man in a fuzzy gray robe with dangling earrings. He stopped me and introduced himself as Junior. He was about 50 years old. He was angry that the man was building his house in the mornings when his dad was trying to sleep. His dad is 87 years old and this house building is threatening his life.
I had already heard from the other neighbors that 2 of the senior citizens on our street had to be seen by a doctor because they were so upset about the illegal road activity, but this was new news.
Junior went on to tell me all the nasty things he planned to do to this builder if he didn't stop threatening his father's life. A couple of times he stopped and looked intently at me to see how I was taking it. I think he could tell I was stunned because he said, twice, "You look like a very nice lady." To which I nodded acquiesce. I finally just started driving slowly away, he walked beside my car, still talking for a bit.

I take back what I said about a step up. Sure there was a shooting, several drug dealers, and brawling in the old neighborhood,  but I never once saw anyone in their bathrobe.

I don't know what is going to happen next but I hope that everyone it involves is fully clothed.

Speaking of clothing, I went out warm up the car to take Grant to school on Thursday morning, and found the car already warm. It was running. It had been running since 11:30 am on the previous day. Almost 21 hours of my car running but not going anywhere. This is my mom's fault. She is in Pennsylvania visiting my brother and I am all too obviously co-dependent.

Thanksgiving is this week and again, despite absent mothers and fuzzy robe clad neighbors, I am so thankful.
Thankful for the breath that fills my lungs every morning.
Thankful for the people God has given me to share life with.
Thankful for the Truth that is interwoven into the trite, making all of life meaningful. (I know you're thinking bathrobe here. Stop.)
Thankful for laughter that knits my family together through everything.
Thankful for the interesting people that live in the country. Who knew!

Growing Still

Thanksgiving drifted into Christmas and Christmas slid into January. The weather up at the cottage was just how Dave likes it...cold and snowy. We took full advantage of it with downhill skiing, cross country skiing, ice skating, snow shoeing and sledding.

The first day of January fell softly like the snow out the window.
It's newness reminded me of birth, of a wrinkled wise baby waiting to grown into itself.
We spent time together as a family, dedicating the baby year. Asking God to grow it strong and healthy and hopeful.

Then we came home and I moved back into the comfortable, happy rhythm of school and life with my husband and four children on the path toward adulthood. The familiarity of schedule is good, but there's a deeper good underneath it. I know I am growing. There have been years spent just trying to maintain sanity. Years when growth was, I thought, only what the children did.

Rose bringing in the New Year with Elijah and Annaka

Maybe it had something to do with an impulse I had right before Christmas. Our family initiated our new house with a game of sardines. We used to play it in our old house but just hadn't gotten around to it here. All the lights were out except the Christmas lights and we hid and found and frolicked. Then, inspired by the levity of the moment, I popped in a video of myself (previously unviewed by the kids) dancing and singing when I was 14. My children were shocked. I was obviously not stage shy. I danced with full abandon. After watching that video I had an epiphany. I am growing. I wasn't that same girl shimmying across the stage. I had grown demure.

Once I woke up to the fact, I saw other evidences. I could keep my mouth shut for longer periods of time. My devotions were consistent. I kept my temper with Rose during math (this is meant to be a general statement). Growing is present tense. I'm still in the midst of it. But it's there, and it's good.

So the year started and I recognize it as a journey, a single stair, a stepping stone.
Another opportunity to grow along with it.
So I dedicate myself again and I ask God to make me strong and healthy and hopeful.
And nice.
And sensitive.
And forgiving....good thing I'm only in my forties!
My niece Saylor

I try to remember that this is where we all are. In process. Being born. Growing up.

Happy baby year to you....may it be full of growth and joy....may it live up to its potential.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016


This morning I awoke to the sunrise. A fruity affair of mellow cantaloupe and tangy lemons with a mandarin sun.
I was confused. We are going on eight months in this house and I had never before observed the sun rise from my bed.
Our room has four large windows in it. Dave and I, being city folk, were a little wary of these windows.

Windows in the city, mean people looking in. One time, it meant someone actually stopping and talking to us from the sidewalk as we sat on our couch. So we meticulously closed the blinds on the windows every night since we've moved in, thinking that in doing so we were securing our privacy.

Windows in the country, mean people looking out. Several days ago we had the epiphany that we have no neighbors that could possibly look into our bedroom windows, not even with binoculars. All we were doing, in our fear and self-consciousness, was limiting our view.

All these thoughts floated through my mind as I watched the sun rise this morning and I had to admit several disturbing things. Our preconceptions had made us miss many glorious sunrises. The sunrises that I did see, I had to go out of my way to find, when they were actually just beyond my own bedroom window.

God reminded me again, through different symbols, what He has taught me so many times.
Live with your windows open.

Fear will not stop the sun rise, it will only hinder your enjoyment of it.

Preconceived ideas only limit our perception of what's good, be open to change when His Spirit

Securing our privacy often means missing out.

Stay in bed as late as possible.

I wish I could think of more lessons because I have more pictures. But I can't. If you can, let me know. I'll post the pictures anyway.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Glory Pursues

Day by day life rolls along.
A lilting song.
A shout of laughter.
A child's cry.
A near disaster.

This loud learning process never ends.
Or it ends only to begin again. Immediately.

In the fall, the glory pursues me.
The loveliness grabs me aggressively and I lean into it, lover-like.

In the arms of this radiance,
I realize afresh how far I am from where I want to be.
But I see also, how far I've come and how I'm covered in grace.

My life is a song that I am desperately trying to sing
before the words wrinkle into silence.

In the silence, I can hear the leaves fall.
And they sound like the footsteps of glory,


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