Monday, December 27, 2010

Just lengthen the chain

Here Is Where We Meet, John Berger,

The mother says, “Let a few things be repaired. A few is a lot. One thing repaired changes a thousand others.” The son replies, “So?” And out flows a maternal speech:

"The dog down there is on too short a chain. Change it, lengthen it. Then he’ll be able to reach the shade, and he’ll lie down and he’ll stop barking. And the silence will remind the mother she wanted a canary in a cage in the kitchen. And when the canary sings, she’ll do more ironing. And the father’s shoulders in a freshly ironed shirt will ache less when he goes to work. And so when he comes home he’ll sometimes joke, like he used to, with his teenage daughter. And the daughter will change her mind and decide, just this once, to bring her love home one evening. And on another evening, the father will propose to the young man that they go fishing together… Who in the wide world knows? Just lengthen the chain."

In this season of peace, may you lengthen a dog’s chain. And then see what happens.


The Moon is Always Whole

God of the two lights,
I love the sun,
its revealing brilliance,
its lingering warmth;
but in the dark of night,
let me learn
the wisdom of the moon,
how it waxes and wanes
but does not die,
how it gives itself
to shadow,
knowing it will emerge whole
once more.

Jan Richardson, inspired by Barbara Kingsolver's poem "Remember the Moon Survives"

via - The Advent Door

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Fill the house with lions

"Beware when you honour an artist.
You are praising danger.
You are holding out your hand
To the dead and unborn
You are counting on what cannot be counted.

The poet's measures serve anarchic joy
The story-teller tells one story: freedom.

Above all beware of honouring women artists.
For the housewife will fill the house with lions
and in with the grandmother
comes bears, wild horses, great horned owls, coyotes."

-Ursula LeGuin

thank you karis!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

This is why the questions are important

If the world is to change, first I have to change. The way I change (often kicking and screaming) is by coming to where the abyss of faith is located. I believe in a new way: not by suppressing the questions and the doubts, but by living more and more deeply into the questions and the doubts. I come to faith in a God who is paradoxically revealed in the very struggle to name God. The closer I get, the more I am questioned in my questioning, the more I am probed in my probing. I begin to wonder how it all fits together, especially when I don't fit together too well myself. I feel naked and exposed and frightened....

My fear and anger are very useful, provided I am able to resist that first panicked impulse to run. If I stand still in whatever cave I've been pushed into, my anger and fear can be a means to my understanding more clearly and with precision what is going on, not only within me but in the world.... Doesn't God reveal God's self in the areas of our greatest weakness--in our questioning, our probing, our suffering and our anger? I believe God does. This is why the questions are important. They stretch and enlarge the heart so that it is capable of receiving a deeper revelation. They expand our horizons. It would be strange if we didn't find this enlarging and expanding process deeply disturbing.

The simple truth is that reality reveals its secrets to us in proportion to the level of our willingness to ask questions. We receive "answers" to fit the kind of "questions" we pose. If our questions are narrowly and unimaginatively conceived, the answers will be, too.

Source: Alan Jones, Soul Making

via inward/outward

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Through a glass dimly

Press your face
against the darkness.

Own the countenance
reflected by the pane.

You are known
on both sides
of the glass.

Source: Nancy Compton Williams, Theology Today, Corinthians 13:12

via inward/outward

Sunday, October 31, 2010

He was a good man

One of my favorite new to me voices I've been reading lately - John D. Blase

Taken from his blog Dirty Shame:

In our efforts to see a savior beyond the gentle, meek and mild variety, I fear we've constructed a golden calf of the word great. But riddle me this, batman, when God created the world, you know, back there in Genesis, when all was said and done each day, what was his refrain? and it was great? No, I'm pretty sure it was and it was good. Not a page later and God said it wasn't good that man be alone, so along came the lady, yeehaw! The psalmist wrote it is good and pleasing when folks dwell together in unity. It'd be pretty cool if we could read Acts 10.38 in a Tony the Tiger voice:
Jesus went about doing gr-r-r-r-r-eat!...

but we can't. Jesus went about doing good. Even the word 'gospel' describes a news clarified not great, but good. Don't forget the Bible itself used to be known as the good book. And one of these days, I hope to hear the words well done, good and faithful servant.

Why has this word, that seems to mean such a great deal to God, fallen on hard times? What if God doesn't really want us, or our churches, or our organizations to move from good to great? What if he's quite delighted if we live good in this world gone bad? Remember that childhood lunchtime prayer - God is great, God is good? What if God's the only one who can be both, both great and good, and we, his children, are to be good? We can't be both because we're not God. Maybe that was the banana peel Lucifer stepped on, he tried to be both great and good, like God, but he slipped...and fell. Maybe the road to great is broad and wide, but the road to good is a knife-edge you must be faithful to each mundane day, and it'll take the great God's help if you ever hope to be a good man, or a good woman, or a good kid, or a good neighbor, or a good pastor, or a good friend.

I hope one of these days, when my wife and children and friends and acquaintances and creditors are gathered around the funeral canoe, getting ready to set my body ablaze and send it out upon the waters to Avalon, that somebody, maybe a little kid just happening to walk by will ask was he someone great? and one of you will chuckle, reverently of course, and say nope, not a chance, kid...but he was a good man.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Bold tracks in the land of now

I was telling my friend Rachael about the level of frustration I was feeling as so much of my journey seems familiar to me again. I have been shaming myself with "You should be past this" and "You know better than this" self-talk and I realized that on the spiral staircase that is my life I am passing by some very familiar pain and wounding. I am not going backwards, but I am re-feeling and learning healthier ways to move through this stage in my life.

We used this poem last night at group and I wanted to remember it again this morning.

Help Me to Believe in Beginnings

God of history and of my heart,

so much has happened to me during these whirlwind days:
I’ve known death and birth;

I’ve been brave and scared;

I’ve hurt, I’ve helped;

I’ve been honest, I’ve lied;

I’ve destroyed, I’ve created;

I’ve been with people, I’ve been lonely;

I’ve been loyal, I’ve betrayed;

I’ve decided, I’ve waffled;

I’ve laughed and I’ve cried.

You know my frail heart and my frayed history -

and now another day begins.

O God, help me to believe in beginnings

and in my beginning again,

no matter how often I’ve failed before.

Help me to make beginnings:

to begin going out of my weary mind

into fresh dreams,

daring to make my own bold tracks

in the land of now;

to begin forgiving

that I may experience mercy;

to begin questioning the unquestionable

that I may know truth

to begin disciplining

that I may create beauty;

to begin sacrificing

that I may make peace;

to begin loving 

that I may realize joy.

Help me to be a beginning to others,

to be a singer to the songless,

a storyteller to the aimless,

a befriender of the friendless;

to become a beginning of hope for the despairing,

of assurance for the doubting,

of reconciliation for the divided;

to become a beginning of freedom for the oppressed,

of comfort for the sorrowing,

of friendship for the forgotten;

to become a beginning of beauty for the forlorn,

of sweetness for the soured,

of gentleness for the angry,

of wholeness for the broken,

of peace for the frightened and violent of the earth.

Help me to believe in beginnings,

to make a beginning,

to be a beginning,

so that I may not just grow old,

but grow new

each day of this wild, amazing life

you call me to live

with the passion of Jesus Christ.

Taken from Guerrillas of Grace by Ted Loder

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

this is so me right now

Waiting for the pen to dry up so he can start fresh with thoughts that are worth new ink.

via Brian Andreas, The Story People

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Risking Everything

I want to give myself
as this maple
that burned and burned
for three days without stinting
and then in two more
dropped off every leaf....
Source: Jane Hirshfield, from Lake and Maple in Risking Everything
via inward/outward
image credit

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Pennsylvania Apple Pancake

We tried a new recipe this morning and it is definitely a keeper! It's called Pennsylvania Apple Pancake - and while we never had it while we lived in Pennsylvania it is from my favorite cookbook - Food Editor's Hometown Favorites Cookbook - American Regional and Local Specialties - this one is from the Pittsburgh Press. (We tripled the recipe so I'm posting that version here)


9 eggs
1 1/2 c flour
1 1/2 c milk
3/4 t salt

Preheat oven to 450* while preparing batter. Beat eggs in a bowl; add flour, milk and salt and beat. Slightly lumpy batter makes a light pancake. Melt 2 T butter in a large ovenproof skillet. Pour butter into hot skillet and immediately place in preheated 450* oven; bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350* and bake 10 minutes longer, or until crisp and golden.


7-9 apples (I used a mixed variety we had picked at Todd's Point along with some granny smiths I had on hand)
1/4 c sugar (I used splenda)
6 T butter

While pancake bakes, prepare apples. Peel, core and cut apples. Melt 6 T butter in large skillet. Saute apples with sugar in butter until crisp-tender. (I added cinnamon & a dash of real maple syrup as splenda does not caramelize as well as sugar and the syrup helps). Set aside

Remove baked pancake from oven. Spread apple filling over half of pancake surface. Fold pancake in half. Pour butter from skillet over pancake. Sprinkle generously with cinnamon-sugar. Cut pancake in wedges and serve with lemon (we did not have lemon, but will try next time). (NOTE: Make sure your skillet handle can tolerate 450* heat or you'll have a souffle-ed handle.)

Thursday, September 02, 2010

The Beautiful No

Donald Miller announced the winner to the story contest yesterday, sadly it was not me. I realized along the process that wanting/wishing/hoping/asking is the most important "winning" I could do. Somewhere along my 44 (almost 45) years I have had the hoping taken out of me. I am a positive person and usually quite content, so this surprised me when I realized it. Between the last week when they originally were supposed to announce the winner and yesterday I began to realize that not hoping/wishing/wanting somehow happened because I thought I was too fragile to be disappointed. I truly am not.

I don't like disappointment, but I would far rather hear the beautiful "NO" than live a life that is void of hoping. I also want to be able to hear the beautiful "NO" if it is one that protects me from ruin. Looking back the hard "No's" that I/we have received along our path have always been the best answer. That house we had our hearts set on - big, beautiful and a money pit - that no saved us from financial ruin as I can now see how much the current owners are having to do to keep up. How much more life giving our real home is because it doesn't need everything done to make it livable. That NO was truly a gift. We didn't think so at the time, but looking back truly understand it's beauty.

So, I am not fragile, and I will keep hoping/wishing/wanting/dreaming and listening for that beautiful no, even if it disappoints - because everything truly is unfolding as it should.

Monday, August 30, 2010

When the mind and heart are one

This echos so much of what I said in my last talk at church - I agree wholeheartedly and find that comfort with which we divide ourselves is so commonplace that we don't even question it any more.

Richard Rohr:

When our brain is separated from our heart we will invariably think dualistically, because we ourselves are split. The last 500 years, when we came to rely upon printed words for truth, rational thinking was idealized into what we ironically call “The Enlightenment” (largely beginning in the18th century). This period separated the mind from the heart rather totally, and we might add, since this time war has been almost non stop, and Christianity began to divide into all head people or all heart people, as we often still have today. Both lose half of the picture.

When the human person is split, we find ourselves either in a “war culture”—or in the culture wars that we have in America today—or both. It seems we have to hate somebody or something when we cannot resolve the contradictions that are everywhere—first of all within ourselves. As Jesus said, “the lamp of the body is the eye” (Luke 11:34). And the eye sees most truthfully when it looks out from that place where the mind and the heart are one.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Raising my voice

When a man is singing and cannot lift his voice, and another comes and sings with him, another who can lift his voice, the first will be able to lift his voice too. That is the secret of the bond between spirits.

Source: Martin Buber, Ten Rungs: Hasidic Sayings

Add your thoughts at inward/outward

Sunday, August 08, 2010

How can suffering be redemptive?

The Gospel was first heard by people who were longing and thirsty, who were poor and oppressed in one sense or another. They knew their need and their emptiness. So we must go to the same place within ourselves to hear the Gospel. We must find the rejected and fearful parts within each of us and try to live there, if life has not yet put us there. That should allow us a deeper communion with the oppressed of the world, who are by far the majority of the human race since the beginnings of humanity.

If we wish to enter more deeply into this mystery of redemptive suffering—which also means somehow entering more deeply into the heart of God—we have to ask God to allow us to feel some of their pain and loneliness, not just to know it intellectually. It is what we feel that we finally act on. Knowing is often just that, and nothing more.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Job and the Mystery of Suffering, p. 15

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

All the Good Words are Taken

From one of my favorite wordsmiths: Cheryl Lawrie

all the good words are taken
so i will use them anyway
and mean something else:

i am blessed.

I will not say it to mean i am lucky to have what i do;
especially bestowed with something
that others lack
due to my good luck
or god’s good nature
or something between the two.

but i will mean
that i choose to live
as though in this next moment
and action
i have been given the chance
to be a person of grace.

i am blessed.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


“You can’t create humor out of happiness. I’m astonished at the number of people who write to me saying, ‘Why can’t you create happy stories for us? Why does Charlie Brown always have to lose? Why can’t you let him kick the football?’ Well, there is nothing funny about the person who gets to kick the football.”

- Charles Schulz, Charlie Brown, Snoopy and Me (via All Things Charlie Brown)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

We are her best dreams coming true…

Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes tells of a dream of a time she was telling a story. She felt someone tapping on her toe. Looking down she realized with surprise that she was standing on the shoulders of an old woman. She tried to encourage the woman up to stand on her shoulders so she could see and the woman reassured her that no, this was the way. Upon looking down she saw the old woman too was standing on the shoulders of an even older woman and the ladder stretched far away.

I was raised in a sect of faith that tells women that they have no stories to tell in public. Stories are for home, for children and other women. It affected me deeply because I believed them. I believed that it made God happy if I was silent. It restored creation order. So I willingly agreed to keep my stories to myself. I knew in my heart that God’s happiness was far more important than my own.

But then one day I gave birth to the most beautiful, porcelain skinned baby girl and I realized that it was no longer just about my happiness. I had a world to give her, would it be one of silence or one with a voice? Heavily I weighed these things I had been given from such a tender age.

I grasped that there was much that I was willing to sacrifice for myself, but my daughter was not, and should not be, one of those things. She was growing up in a brand new world, a world where the female voice was not only welcomed, but invited. I saw that this silence was taking far more than it was giving and slowly it occurred to me that if I did not tell my stories no one would.

I remember watching my own mother navigate the silence. It was not where she was raised. She came to the silence late in life. She too longed to make God smile. Her heart was good, but her voice was strong. It was a constant battle for her to keep silent and not tell her stories. She had a rich voice and a deep laugh. I remember being awakened in the early morning as she sat at her Smith-Corona letting her voice pour out her fingers and onto scrap paper, her frustration mounting as she tried desperately to find a story that would please the publishers so she could have a voice again. Her silence magnified her sickness. She died at the age I am now. 44. Unpublished and voiceless.

After her death, and the birth of my daughter Alinea, I began to understand that a God that silences half the population of his creation to restore some order isn’t truly the God of creation, but a sad, mean idol created in the image of men threatened desperately as they tried to find their own stories. I found that upon telling my story it restored much, which in turn made God rejoice. This was a full throated God, not threatened by truth or spirit, but one with broad shoulders and warm thick arms to wrap all the stories together.

This was a world where I could raise a daughter, this was a God who was worthy of my service and worship. You see this daughter of mine has a way with the pen, the keyboard and the language. She is the magnification all of the good that her grandmother possessed, and the entire bottled up story that fell silent so long in me. It flows through her so naturally, so beautifully. She stands on these shoulders as I stand on my mum’s. If I could I’d raise her up to stand on my hands. Raise her up as high above my head as I am able. We are my mother’s best dreams coming true.

So I write today, Mr. Miller, Donald, if I may, to ask you to help me raise her up, help me to help her by learning to tell my own story, and live my life fully and provide her with every tool possible to do that in the very best of ways.

If there was any way to get us there I’d do it. Portland was our family destination 2 years ago for a reunion and we adore it. There is just no way we can get from our coast to yours on our own. So I'm asking you to help me. I don’t even know if we’re eligible to win. If it’s residency we are out, you see we live about six blocks from the Maine border in New Brunswick, Canada. But if it’s about social security numbers and being American there is a possibility we could qualify. Either way I knew that I needed to enter to verbalize these things that are birthing in me.

I have a dear friend who makes wishes and prayers and releases them by writing them on tiny strips of paper and then tying them into knots and setting them in a safe place. She said it was a way to dream big dreams and allow yourself to ask for things you’ve always been told you shouldn’t ask for. That was a few months ago, about the same time you announced this event. With hands shaking and skepticism in my heart I wrote my very first (and only) little prayer.

“I want to go to Portland at the end of September to see Donald Miller & Aunt Peg.”

I told no one. It was my little experiment. Then I saw your contest and knew that I had to enter.
We meet regularly with some others in our community here to pray and try to figure out a way to create something locally to help people, especially children, out of the generational poverty that has eroded much of the foundation of life away from so many. We have seen that children raised in this level of poverty have no chance at hope and freedom. We have been talking about a Million Miles and the Mentoring Project as inspiration to think far outside regular nonprofit walls to begin to change the direction of the erosion; rerouting the water flow so that it works against the desolation instead of the hope.

Also, because this will be read by people who you care about and care for you, I want you to know that I am truly grateful. You have swamped the well of stories for the church and the old, ugly stories are falling away so that new, more life giving stories can be found. Your humility and ability to engage the soul changes everything and I want you to know I'm so thankful. I know you stand on the shoulders of some truly wonderful people and with your words you lift us all up.

Thank you.

Your friend,


This is my entry for the Living A Better Story Conference

Living a Better Story Seminar from All Things Converge Podcast on Vimeo.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Putting poison into the public reservoir

"No one can keep the consequences of any evil to himself. They seep through his individual life, and run out into the community. When the Scripture says, "Be sure your sin will find you out," it does not mean "will be found out." It means what it says, "will find you out," track you down, spoil your character, destroy your happiness, ruin your influence; and because it does that, it will find your friends out, will tend to pull them down with you, will surely make goodness harder for them, and within your family circle will roll upon those who love you a burden of vicarious suffering.

If one could sin privately, he might allow himself the ignoble self-indulgence. But he cannot. Somebody else always is involved. The whole world is involved, for the man has deprived the world of a good life and given it a bad life instead. Sinning, even in its most private forms, is putting poison into the public reservoir, and sooner or later everybody is the worse for the pollution."

Harry Emerson Fosdick, The Meaning of Prayer, pg. 175-176 [X-c]

Bleu Lavande

A sensory gift from my dear Quebecois friend Annick - handmade lavender soap from Fitch Bay, Quebec - the blue of the soap is the color of the glass tile back splash in my kitchen - and it smells so good I want to eat it! It is the most authentic scent of lavender I have ever smelled - it's like walking in a field of flowers. Glorious!

Blue Lavande

Saturday, July 10, 2010

May it be so

This was written for me by a friend and left in comments and I think it is too precious to hide there. Thank you Kel!

as you sit by this grave
daring to name memories
and mourning resultant loss
may you feel the presence of
the one
who as you said
carried this for you
until you were ready

at the foot of this gravestone
i see a rosebud
i believe it will bloom and unfurl
into the fully fragrant rose
it was created to be

may it be so

Friday, June 25, 2010

Splitting my world wide open

"Most writers, like most children, need to tell.

The only problem is that much of what they need to tell will provoke the ire of parent-critics, who are determined to tell writer-children what they can and cannot say.

Unless you have sufficient ego and feel entitled to tell your story, you will be stymied in your effort to create.

You think you can't write, but the truth is you can't tell.

Writing is nothing if not breaking the silence."

Image Credit - Tara F - Slow Traveler

I ended last year with this quote. It summed up where I had been in my inability to blog and give voice to my thoughts. Sadly, six months later, this is still true. Now that school is over and I have a bit more time on my hands I'd like to change that, and I think that taking a risk is the best way to begin.

Anyone who really knows me can tell you that I am quite able to give voice to things that most people would or could never say out loud - I am able to talk about the things that silence most people.

Ironically the thing that silences me is that I have a voice. That I am a teacher, even a preacher and that I have opinions and beliefs that might be different than those around me. I have not wanted to bear the rejection that could come with owning that.

It feels like a big risk. My blog isn't a random internet address anymore, it's linked to my Facebook page and hundreds of friends who have known me throughout my life. Many of those from a time when I was silent and head-covered.

I do not want to hurt or offend or ostracize any of those people or myself, or to provoke their ire, but I long to own who I am and what I am and stop being ashamed of that any longer.

"By their fruit, you will know them."

The crazy thing is that when I am given the opportunity to teach there is fruit. Good, wholesome fruit. I am not a rebel by any means, but owning this feels so rebellious, so risky. So I asked myself, what are the real risks?

Will owning this make me loose some friends on Facebook?

Possibly, but as I'd tell my kids they probably weren't my real friends in the first place.

Will it cause me to be secretly judged?

Always - I can't seem to do anything without that happening.

So why then should I stay silent?

Why then should I not own this very important part of myself?

I truly have no idea.

All I know is that it feels so risky.

I love this part of me, I treasure it, it feels like the pearls of my life - and I know I have no control over the audience. I don't know if it would even find their radar screens, but what I do know is that there are so many people I adore who do truly love me for who I am. I am in a place where my voice is heard, welcomed and invited. I have a place at the table, and I treasure it.

Another quote I found while looking for the one above made me feel warm inside:

Source: Muriel Rukeyser,From Cries of the Spirit, edited by Marilyn Sewell

Crack, crack, crack...

So here is my big risk. Here is my voice.

This is a link to my talk I gave a couple of weeks ago at my church, I'm really happy with it:

Thursday, June 24, 2010

For all of your farming questions, needs and supplies go to

You're welcome Chris :)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

James K.A. Smith on Redemption

Beautiful thoughts on redemption from James K.A. Smith - Via Cardus:
So our redemption is not some supplement to being human; it's what makes it possible to be really human, to take up the mission that marks us as God's image bearers. Saint Irenaeus captures this succinctly: "The glory of God is a human being fully alive." Redemption doesn't tack on some spiritual appendage, nor does it liberate us from being human in order to achieve some sort of angelhood. Rather, redemption is the restoration of our humanity, and our humanity is bound up with our mission of being God's co-creative culture-makers.

While God's redemption is cosmic, not anthropocentric, it nonetheless operates according to that original creational scandal whereby humanity is commissioned as ambassador, and even co-creator, for the sake of the world. In an equally scandalous way, we are now commissioned as co-redeemers. Redemption is the re-orientation and re-direction of our culture-making capacities. It is we who have invented the twisted cultural systems that deface and despoil this good world; restoring creation to its lush plenitude and fecundity will not happen by divine fiat or magic—it will require the hard, patient, Spirit-inspired work of building wellordered systems, creation-caring institutions and life-giving habits.
Complete article here: The Story: Creation > > Fall > > Redemption

God Alone is Enough by Claudia Mair Burney

My long-time blogger bestie Claudia Mair Burney has just published her first non-fiction work for Paraclete Press. Titled God Alone is Enough, a Spirited Journey with St. Teresa of Avila - it is such a joy to hold the work of my dear friend in my hands. We have read each others words for more years than I can count and watching her journey has been a true joy.

I am the ninth step on a blog tour through the book and was asked to blog on Chapter nine - Ecstasy is Not a Drug - an appropriate chapter for a "redemption junkie" :)

Before talking about Chapter 9, I want to explain the book to those who aren't following the tour.

Claudia makes Theresa's writings so accessible. It is a beautiful primer for the saint(s) - and a beautiful introduction to centering prayer. It is fun, funny and filled with the reality of both the author's and the saint's struggles and joys. The only criticism I might make is that the cover shows a prim and proper woman in prayer - it belies the very nature of this book. If this book was my neighbor I wouldn't have to clean my kitchen, or even get out of my pj's before I invited her over for tea. It is as real as it is lively - just like my friend Mair.

I think a more "Rosie the Riveter" kind of sister on the cover would have been a more accurate visual representation of the sense of the book. Don't get me wrong - it is a beautiful cover - I just am such a visual person that I do unfortunately, at times, judge by said cover. Okay, on to chapter 9...

If anyone is at all familiar with St. Theresa and her Interior Castle you will know of her ecstasy.Theresa opines that there are four stages of prayer that the learner passes through. She uses the metaphor of watering a garden to explain:

"Now let's see how we need to water the garden, so we'll understand what we have to do, how much the labor will cost us, if the time and work we put into it is worth it, and how long it will last. Our garden can be watered in four ways: We can draw water from a well, which is a lot of work. Or you can get the water by turning the crank of a waterwheel and drawing it through an aqueducts. I've tried this myself and know it's not as much trouble to do as the first way. And you get more water.

Or you can channel the water from the flow of a river or stream. The garden is watered much better this way because the ground is saturated and you don't have to water it as frequently. This is a lot less work for the gardener.

Or the water may come from an abundant rain pouring on the soul; the Lord waters the garden himself, without any work on our part. This is by far the best method of all." (pg. 43, 44)

Chapter 9 is focusing on that fourth level of centering prayer - when God sends the rain - Theresa calls it "that sacred kiss" - this is the intimacy of the ecstasy with God that very few, myself included have ever experienced. Theresa explains, "The soul detaches itself from everything, daughter, so it can abide more fully in me. It is no longer the soul that lives but I. Since it is not capable of comprehending what it understands, there is an understanding by not understanding."

The holy longing for that level of intimacy with God - where our soul is joined with God has been lost to most of the church these days. We spend our time hauling water and building aqueducts instead of praying for rain. Centering prayer is a lost art form to the evangelical church and we are poorer for its lack.

This is a book I will be passing on to my daughter and one I'd use regularly with teen girls to teach on centering prayer. Thank you Mair, both for the book and for venturing into non-fiction. I adore your story and look forward to one day holding THAT book in my hands.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Finding the right name

There is nothing in your life
too terrible or too sad
that will not be your friend
when you find the right name to call it,
and calling it by its own name
it will come upright to your side.

--Laurens van der Post

Monday, May 31, 2010

Friday, May 28, 2010

Mumford & Sons - Roll Away Your Stone

My Madi has introduced me to a new to me band - I am far behind on the amazing music scene - but will catch up quickly with Mumford & Sons - oh my. I watched "The Cave" on her fb page this a.m. and scooted over to their website and found their new live video on their song Roll Away Your Stone - black and white, foot stomping glorious!

Lyrics to Roll Away Your Stone :

Roll away your stone I will roll away mine
Together we can see what we will find
Don't leave me alone at this time
For I am afraid of what I will discover inside

You told me that I wouldn't find a home
Beneath the fragile substance of my soul
And I have filled this void with things unreal
And all the while my character it steals

Darkness is a harsh term don't you think
Yet it dominates the things I see

It seems that all my bridges have been burned
But you say 'That's exactly how this grace thing works’
It's not the long walk home that will change this heart
But the welcome I receive with every start

Darkness is a harsh term don't you think
And yet it dominates the things I see
Darkness is a harsh term don't you think
And yet it dominates the things I see

Stars hide your fires
For these here are my desires
And I won't give them up to you this time around
And so I will be found
With my stake stuck in the ground
Marking the territory of this newly impassioned soul

And you, you've gone too far this time
You have neither reason nor rhyme
With which to take this soul that is so rightfully mine

Thursday, May 27, 2010

First with ourselves

Openness is the sign of a fully human life. It leads to the capacity to give life to others. It is important to know our own selves, and that we are different from others, and to be compassionate, first with ourselves.

- Jean Vanier, A Human Future, November 04.

Friday, May 21, 2010

My new tag line

Blessed are the cracked for they shall let in the light.

Groucho Marx

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I'll love you forever

Robert Munsch has always been my absolute favorite childrens author and now that I read-aloud 8x a week he is my very best friend. Yesterday the news hit that he has opened up about his long struggle with mental illness and addiction. This only makes me love him more. Anyone who takes a princess who has lost everything and gives her the chutzpah to stand up to dragons and shallow princes could never fall from grace in my books.

I hope this will allow parents to begin to have discussions with their kids about these difficult topics and that others will see the beauty that can come from pain. So thrilled that Annick Press and Scholastic are standing fully behind him as he finds healing and recovery.

Toronto Star - Robert Munsch lauded for addiction admission

CBC Canada - Robert Munsch speaks of addiction battle

Sunday, May 16, 2010


“The only chance of renovation is to open our eyes and see the mess.”

- Samuel Beckett

via Today I Love

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Hello mother

Two beautiful, very different videos on mothering. Absolutely love them both.

The first is an interview from StoryCorps that has been animated into a film short. 12 year old son with Asperger’s syndrome interviews his mum. Having my own 12 year old son I love to hear the way she honors his individuality with such honesty. His questions are so probing and insightful and this peek into their relationship is precious.

The second is for anyone who has ever gone away to camp, missed your mum and given the gift of your creativity in your time away - it's poet Billy Collins reading his poem called "The Lanyard"

Q&A from StoryCorps on Vimeo.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Touching our fear

You see the problem with us is that we can be governed by fear. Fear of not being loved, fear of being abandoned, fear of suffering, fear of death. It is very important for human beings that we touch our fears -- to know where our fears are -- because we cannot let ourselves be governed by our fears.

- Jean Vanier, Address to the Business Community, April 05

Saturday, May 08, 2010

100 months

While I was babysitting the daughter of my good friends Jeremy & Jennifer I got a chance to read some of Miroslav Volf's new book Against the Tide: Love in a Time of Petty Dreams and Persisting Enmities. It was a special treat and Jeremy left it out just for me (thanks Jer!) to read while she napped.

It is a book of short essays so I skipped around and sampled lots. The one that made the most impact on me was his piece on infertility. I don't have the book with me, so I can't quote it - but he wrote of the 9 years of infertility that he and his wife endured before the adoption of their first son. It resonated deeply with me as it was 9 years of trying before our beautiful Alinea came along. He used the term "100 months" and it made cry immediately. 100 months is a very long time - each and every month hating my body and feeling like a total failure, those months were the most excruciating I have ever endured.

Celebrating mothers day without a mom and without children is nearly impossible. I can remember refusing the lame carnation that was being handed out at the door to all of the mums in church that day. I could have punched out the man to tried to shove it in my hands like a consolation prize when I rejected it. Biting the inside of my cheek so I didn't yell at him or begin to break down in the foyer.

Today my Alinea is 14 years old and Jacob 12 - I can hardly remember the deep pain of those months because the joy of their arrival erased them from my active memory. Re-reading that essay brought back some of the emotion. I would encourage you to be gentle to those around you tomorrow - please don't increase their pain or their struggle with lame words that make you feel better, not them. Infertility is a horrible master and there are no words that can stem the pain.

I told my daughter yesterday about the 100 months of preperation we had for her arrival - and how that those times of lack made me a much stronger person and more ready to mother her when she arrived. I will never say that it was a gift or that learning could not have come in other ways - but I can look at that time now and realize that I am a better woman and mother because of it.

I Love Leftovers!

The opposite of a scarcity mentality is an abundancy mentality. With an abundancy mentality we say: "There is enough for everyone, more than enough: food, knowledge, love ... everything." With this mind-set we give away whatever we have, to whomever we meet. When we see hungry people we give them food. When we meet ignorant people we share our knowledge; when we encounter people in need of love, we offer them friendship and affection and hospitality and introduce them to our family and friends.

When we live with this mind-set, we will see the miracle that what we give away multiplies: food, knowledge, love ... everything. There will even be many leftovers.

Henri Nouwen

Friday, May 07, 2010

I know what I like

A Cultural Fable by Brian Andreas

Once upon a time there was a pig who spoke eight languages & did sculpture with pieces of wood & rusted metal he found on his travels.

One day he was out in the woods working on a new installation piece & he met a family from a small town in Tennessee. They had been walking for days.

The dad saw the pig & said what are you doing, little piggie? They were all quite surprised when the pig said working with counterbalanced forces using found objects.

They all stood around & looked at the piece for a long time. No one said anything. Finally, the dad shrugged & turned to the mom & said I don't know much about art but I know what I like & then they killed the pig & ate him.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

First love

If you come in touch with that first love you will discover not only that you are loved unconditionally, but that the One who loves you unconditionally loves all of humanity unconditionally, with that same all-embracing love. And the fact that God loves you so intimately and personally does not mean that God loves anyone else less or differently. Uniquely, yes. But whether they are Nicaraguans or Russians, people from Afghanistan or Iran or South Africa, they all belong to the house of God.

And therefore, when you enter into intimate communion with the God of the first love, you will find yourself in intimate communion with all the people of God, because the heart of God is the heart that embraces the whole of humanity. That's why intimacy with God always means solidarity with the people of God. To put it more precisely: God pitched a tent among us and took on our flesh so that there is no human flesh that has not been accepted by God.

Source: The Road to Peace, Henri J. M. Nouwen


Monday, April 26, 2010

Best Car Repair in San Antonio

Google bombing for a friend - please disregard unless you are Google (or live in San Antonio and are looking for a good mechanic) :)

Kastis Automotive Repair in San Antonio

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Nick Vujicic - A Life Without Limbs

I don't know if any of you remember a short film I posted a few months ago called "The Butterfly Circus" - it is one of the most moving, artful pieces of story I have ever seen. I highly recommend taking the 15-20 minutes it takes to watch. It is so uplifting and redemptive.

My friend from high school, Jackie, just posted a short video of the actor featured in the film giving a motivational speech - I was so excited because I had meant to do some research on him and the impulse got lost in the flow of life. His name is Nick Vujicic and he is a motivational speaker in Australia. He runs a ministry called "Life without Limbs". He's talking here to a group of high school students about body image, self worth and beauty. It's so beautiful to see the kids respond to his words. Watch the movie first and then come back and watch this clip - you will have invested about 30 minutes you will not regret, I promise!

You can find his DVD on Amazon - No Arms, No Legs, No Worries! - and he has a new book coming out in October - Life Without Limits.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Update on Nicola

Some of you may remember my friend Nicola - she of the riding elephant and brave travel adventure.

She just posted an update on the University blog that tracks her whereabouts and how she has spent the past few month. I just can't say enough about how much I love this girl - her courage and zest for life is extraordinary - so excited she's headed back east in the fall.

Nicola Gladwell - There and Back Again

No expectations

"When you are interiorly free you call others to freedom, whether you know it or not. Freedom attracts wherever it appears. A free man or a free woman creates a space where others feel safe and want to dwell. Our world is so full of conditions, demands, requirements, and obligations that we often wonder what is expected of us. But when we meet a truly free person, there are no expectations, only an invitation to reach into ourselves and discover there our own freedom.

Where true inner freedom is, there is God. And where God is, there we want to be."

Henri Nouwen

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Finding Rebirth

Strangely enough, as anguish rises up in us, a new freedom comes to birth. We discover more deeply the small, innocent, trusting child within us; we discover new life.

- Jean Vanier, Seeing Beyond Depression, p. 69

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Clear a decent shelter

You must be able to bear your sorrow; even if it seems to crush you, you will be able to stand up again, for human beings are so strong, and your sorrow must become an integral part of yourself, part of your body and your soul, you mustn't run away from it, but bear it like an adult.... Give your sorrow all the space and shelter in yourself that is its due, for if everyone bears his grief honestly and courageously, the sorrow that now fills the world will abate.

But if you do not clear a decent shelter for your sorrow, and instead reserve most of the space inside you for hatred and thoughts of revenge--from which new sorrows will be born for others--then sorrow will never cease in this world and will multiply. And if you have given sorrow the space its gentle origins demand, then you may truly say: life is beautiful and so rich. So beautiful and so rich that it makes you want to believe in God.

Source: Etty Hillesum, An Interrupted Life


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A new language

"During these years the Church has fought for self-preservation as though it were an end in itself, and has thereby lost its chance to speak a word of reconciliation to mankind and the world at large. So our traditional language must perforce become powerless and remain silent, and our Christianity today will be confined to praying and doing right by our fellow men.

Christian thinking, speaking and organization must be reborn out of this praying and action ... It will be a new language, the language of a new righteousness and truth, which proclaims the peace of God with humankind and the advent of his kingdom," - Dietrich Bonhoeffer.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Remembering who I am

"to be nobody but yourself - in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else -- means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting." (ee cummings, poet)

via four rooms

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Espresso for my soul

Cheryl Lawrie has a gift for distilling her thoughts into beauty with an economy of words - like the best espresso she gives voice to the aching places of my soul.

Here are her 22 words of lent

i forget how hard it is

to remember to be human

to fail
to be fragile

tomorrow i will not try harder

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Lighten up

"Humor is the prelude to faith
and laughter is the beginning of prayer"

Reinhold Neibuhr

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Dangerous thoughts

Thanks Brian you made me laugh out loud today!
Filled to the brim with dangerous thoughts &
no where to put them since she lives in a small town &
everybody's always watching.
via storypeople

Friday, February 26, 2010

It was what I was born for

Every day
I see or hear
that more or less
kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle
in the haystack
of light.
It was what I was born for--
to look, to listen,
to lose myself
inside this soft world--
to instruct myself
over and over
in joy,
and acclamation.

Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,
the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant--
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,
the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help
but grow wise
with such teachings
as these--
the untrimmable light
of the world,
the ocean's shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?

Source: Why I Wake Early, Mary Oliver

via inward/outward

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Minding my own business

I needed this today like a plant needs water. Thank you Martha dear!

Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy; meditate on these things. Philippians 4

[good things this morning.]

[question of the day: if we only meditated on things that fell within the list, above, how could we ever fall into despair or remorse? how could we ever get caught up in the hurt that comes with being gossiped about? or the pain of being hurt by what others think, say or do? if we mind our business and keep our focus on God, how can we think otherwise?]

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Friday, February 19, 2010

Lenten Prayer

Beautiful and idealistic - a prayer from my heart - not because I am here, but I long to be:

We have chosen to fast

Not with ashes but with actions

Not with sackcloth but in sharing

Not in thoughts but in deeds

We will give up our abundance

To share our food with the hungry

We will give up our comfort

To provide homes for the destitute

We will give up our fashions

To see the naked clothed

We will share where others hoard

We will free where others oppress

We will heal where others harm

Then God's light will break out on us

God's healing will quickly appear

God will guide us always

God's righteousness will go before us

We will find our joy in the Lord

We will be like a well watered garden

We will be called repairers of broken walls

Together we will feast at God's banquet table

Christine Sine
- via BeliefNet

Thursday, February 18, 2010

When You Reach Me

Every so often a book comes along that weaves a story together so beautifully I am left in awe. As a wanna-be author these books teach me to reach and to stretch. When You Reach Me is one of those books. We just finished it last night as a family and all of us were so pleased and a bit sad it was over.

Rebecca Stead not only wove her own story, she brought the threads of one of my most favorite stories, A Wrinkle in Time, into it so beautifully and thoughtfully - and did it so well. She just won the 2010 Newberry Award and it is well deserved. To tell you any more would damage your own experience - all I can say is go read it before someone tells you some of the plot - you want to experience this unsullied. Madeline L'Engle would be proud.

Tesser well!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


At night, as I lie in the camp on my plank bed, surrounded by women and girls...dreaming aloud, quietly sobbing and tossing and turning, I am sometimes filled with an infinite tenderness. And I lie awake for hours, letting the impressions of a much-too-long day wash over me. And I pray, "Let me, oh Lord, be the thinking heart of these barracks." That's what I want to be.... The thinking heart of a whole concentration camp. I lie here patiently, and now calmly, and feel a lot better. I feel strength returning. I've stopped making plans and worrying about risks. Happen what may, it's bound to be for the good.
Source: An Interrupted Life: the Journal of a Young Jewish Woman, Etty Hillesum

This is exactly what I needed today - perspective.

Oh to be a thinking heart in the midst of my circumstances.

via Inward/Outward

Monday, February 08, 2010

The kids are alright

I have officially had enough of winter. I can feel it in my bones. This is the long stretch that makes me begin to doubt my sanity each and every year.
This was the last of the PostSecret cards yesterday. I usually read them Sunday morning, but there was a power outage down south because of the snow storm and he didn't get them posted until later. So I got to enjoy them with my Monday coffee instead of my Sunday coffee.

Seeing this reminder gave me a bit of late winter hope that spring indeed is coming.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Be more curious

At the end of last year I began to ponder and pray about some way to encourage Keith, Alinea & Jacob in the new year. I created an small art piece around each of these and this is the one that I made for Keith. I was reading my friend Mike's blog today Waving or Drowning and he had this video of the inspirational Seth Godin talking about curiosity - it is spectacular. Wanted to link the two here on my blog. Thanks Mike!

'curiosity' from Nic Askew on Vimeo.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Turn the faucet on

"If you’re going to be a writer,
the first essential is just to write.
Do not wait for an idea.
Start writing something
and the ideas will come.
You have to turn the faucet on
before the water starts to flow."
~ Louis L’Amour

(my western lovin' dad would be so happy I'm quoting his favorite author!)

via my new favo art blog: Daisy Yellow. Make sure to read her 13 tips for kicking your inner perfectionist to the curb!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Go wild

What she can do with imagination, markers & prismacolors makes me so happy - I am such a fan of Mary Englebreit - and I just love reading her blog. She doesn't post often, but she's really generous with her knowledge and it's so fun to just get a peek into her process.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


It is with words as with sunbeams, the more they are condensed, the deeper they burn.

- Robert Southey (1774-1843, From A Word A Day)

via Deegy

Thursday, January 14, 2010


I warned Keith he had better be nice to me or I'd post this picture on Facebook and tag it as him :D

via People of Walmart

Saturday, January 09, 2010

One giant step

"Sometimes we have to "step over" our anger, our jealousy, or our feelings of rejection and move on. The temptation is to get stuck in our negative emotions, poking around in them as if we belong there. Then we become the "offended one," "the forgotten one," or the "discarded one." Yes, we can get attached to these negative identities and even take morbid pleasure in them. It might be good to have a look at these dark feelings and explore where they come from, but there comes a moment to step over them, leave them behind and travel on."

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Justice for all

True authority is exercised in the context of justice for all, with special attention to the weakest people, who cannot defend themselves and are part of the oppressed minority. A family or community authority, as well as having this sense of justice and truth, needs personal relationships, sensitivity in its action and the ability to listen, trust and forgive. None of this, of course, excludes moments of firmness.

- Jean Vanier, Community and Growth, p. 207

Friday, January 01, 2010

New year stories instead of resolutions

I sent this out on my facebook page, but don't want to forget it or have anyone miss it (Erin) because they are not in facebook.

Donald Miller blogged today about how to create stories around our goals to give them life and to inhabit them instead of having them cause us shame.

He writes:
A story involves a person that wants something and is willing to overcome conflict to get it. If you plan a story this year, instead of just simple goals, your life will be more exciting, more meaningful and more memorable. And you are much more likely to stick to your goals. For instance, rather than saying I want to finish getting into shape this year, I’ve written down that I want to climb Mt. Hood with a couple friends. I have a vision of standing on top of the mountain in May, taking pictures and all that. Now my goal has a narrative context. That’s just a simple story, and I’ve planned some stories that are far more difficult but I only use that as an example. If my goal were to lose twenty pounds, I doubt I’d stick with it. But when you have friends flying up from Texas to summit the mountain with you, you’d better believe you are going to be hitting the stairs. I have to, because it I don’t, my story will be a tragedy. Again, stories give goals context.

Make sure to head to his blog to read the rest of the post and grab a copy of his book A Million Miles in A Thousand Years like I'm going to very, very soon.

Donald Miller: Living a Good Story, An Alternative to New Years Resolutions

Happy New Decade!

And now, we welcome the new year,
full of things that have never been.

Ranier Maria Rilke