Showing posts from March, 2013

Heroes Among Us

Originally posted April 2012
"Even if he knew the outcome, he would have done the same thing." The family of Alan Hall ( )
"Carissa is and always will be my greatest inspiration and number one hero ... the only word that could ever define her is love. " Dan Pearce (
Hero. A simple four-letter word that means so much. This word has popped up time and again in my life this week ... 
People gathered today to mourn the death and celebrate the life of a hero - a man who lost his own life saving the life of a child. His story has been on the news in Florida where the event occurred and family and friends have been sharing thoughts about him via the internet. The one phrase I've heard and read over and over is that even if he knew the outcome, he would have done the same thing. Alan Hall truly is a hero. 

On his blo…

Brown Paper Packages Tied Up with Strings

These are a few of my favorite things...

It arrived in the mail, and upon removing it from its envelope, I was delighted to see it was a brown paper package tied up with string, really! I even took a picture of the fabulous package, but cannot find the file anywhere. Not only did receive a brown paper package tied up with string, but inside I discovered the most amazing smelling and the best working deodorant EVER. I usually don't rave about products, but this one, Mere's All Natural's doTerra Frankincense and Bergamot Naturally Absorbent Deodorant is by far the best smelling and best working deodorant I've ever used.  I've since purchased the Jasmine and Lime scent, and the unscented deodorant and one of the body balms - all heavenly! Go buy some. It's worth every penny!

I also love coming home to notes from friends. Missing homeschool co-op because I was at a conference, a friend sent a note home with my husband that really touched my heart, along with the hug …

Road Trip

We journeyed backwards, my husband and I. From light to darkness. Just the two of us. Good music, like the old days ... but slightly healthier snacks and without the case of Mountain Dew as was typical of our college road trips. This a far cry from loading five kids into the van at 2am to journey to Grammy's house for Thanksgiving, too much stuff in tow. 

Peaceful. Joyful. Fun. A laid-back, throw-back adventure. We talked, uninterrupted. Reminisced. Made jokes that would not have been appropriate with children present. Laughed.

Until we saw the signs of bad things to come.  

And by signs I mean actual signs. Those big light-up road signs that warn of imminent danger. These signs said WINTER WEATHER FORECAST - TUNE IN TO 1670AM. So we did. The first four words I heard were "three to six inches." '


But...but...the forecast said temperatures in the forties and rain. And then it hit me, I hadn't checked the forecast for Pennsylvania since Thursday of last week. It …

Dawn of Insanity

We leave in fourteen minutes. Up before the sun, I've spent the morning alternating between getting ready and panicking that I'm forgetting something. Or lots of things. We're off to church for the annual Palm Sunday pancake breakfast, which requires us to bring a crockpot of gluten-free pancakes for four-sixths of us, plus a couple people at church. The bread will be done baking just in time to cart the steaming loaf to the car, leaving it in charge of a child who will not drop nor eat the bread on the way to church. Once at church, I will set up my computer to continuously play the cutest Easter story ever, then will partake of a hearty breakfast with wonderful people. I also find myself in charge of part of the craft portion of the morning, then rush up to a quick choir rehearsal before worship begins.

We're leaving in nine minutes. One child has yet to shower because another is taking her time in the bathroom. The cats have yet to be fed. Children have seemed to for…


She walks powerfully through my life.

During my childhood, she went to work while her retired husband stayed home and tended house, yet got up early Sunday mornings making dinner from scratch for her extended family. Picking her up at her office was perhaps the highlight of my Saturday. There was something magical about typewriters and adding machines and the high counter in the front where my grandfather would sometimes let me sit. She planted the seed that a woman's place is wherever she wants to be.
During my teen years, she unabashedly shared her opinion and encouraged me to stand firm in my convictions. She remembered with me my history, as well as family history. Stories of my mother´s childhood, the Depression, and her own life we're the history lessons of my youth.

At my wedding when I was just barely 21, she danced joyfully with my grandfather to their song - I Found a Million Dollar Baby in a Five and Ten Cent Store. As I witnessed love reverberate between them, I praye…

Strange Tidings We Bring

Image you this Spring! 

Strange tidings, indeed. This first day of Spring ... blessed, long-awaited Spring ... has turned out to be an interesting one. 

Awakened at 2ish AM by what felt like a spider crawling on my hand, I bolted awake, only to discover that it was hair. My hair. A bunch of it. This after clearing the shower drain three times during my shower just hours before. Tossing and turning for hours, my hair tortured me, tickling my nose, itching my neck, invading my mouth. It seems Remicade has sent my hair fleeing from my scalp at an astonishing rate. 

Making my way to the bathroom in the morning with an handful of hair from my bed in tow, I was greeted by a bright orange plastic bag with a biohazard symbol on it. Ah, the joys of medical testing that requires the collection of twenty-four hours worth of pee. And so my day began.

"Good morning! Happy Spring! Oh, by the way, don't touch the big orange jug in the fridge - it has pee in it." Not quite the greeting my k…

Lenten Love Letters: A Letter to Myself

During the past five weeks I've been writing Lenten Love Letters to all sorts of people. Then I linked up with Sarah Bessey's International Women's Day synchroblog, and discovered many, many amazing blogs. One of the blogs is Emily T. Wierenga's blog, where she has put forth a Love Dare, in which people are encouraged to participate in her synchroblog about learning to LOVE yourself.

Reading A Biblical Manifesto and Emily's Love Dare, I realized there was one letter I really needed to write that wasn't on my list of possible letter recipients - a letter to someone who really needs a talking to about loving herself. Me. 

After all there it was. Right in front of me. That thing. That THING that I've been working on forever. That extreme that I'm not sure I accomplish often enough, and that state of being that was shaken to the ground a few months ago when I became unhinged . I like myself. I value myself. But rarely do I LOVE myself. Lowercase love, maybe, …

Seeing the Hat

We were sitting in a restaurant enjoying our lunch when a man came in on crutches. He was missing one leg and had prosthetic arms and hands. One of my kids yelled, "Hey, Mama - LOOK at that guy over there!" My brain readied itself for the possible situation at hand and my lovely child continued, 

"He has the coolest hat!"

Someone recently asked me if life is different for my children because of my chronic illness.

Life is different for them due to a lot of things. We homeschool, so I guess that could be considered different - but many of their friends are homeschooled as well, so they don't see it as different. My oldest has Aspergers - but he's just Alex to all the other kids, so his differences are normal to them. My children are different from many of their peers in that they are responsible for helping keep the house clean, but not only because often I am physically unable to clean up after five kids, but because they are a part of this family and we all l…

Snowball-Cannonball-Boomerang Effect

Snowball-cannonball-boomerang effect: n. when life events build momentum until they explode out of control and then come back and kick you in the *.

Once upon a time, not too very long ago, I was too ill to do much of anything. We attended homeschool co-op, did fun projects at home, attended church activities, entertained other people's kids, and I made my way to one doctor appointment or another. Enter Remicade, and energy and vitality began to return. We added a few excursions to our repertoire. Then an extra choir rehearsal or two. Women's Circles once again entered my life. 

Then all of a sudden I find there's a need to squeeze doctor appointments, eye doctor appointments, the start of homeschool co-op Spring semester, Alia's belated birthday party/Nanna's birthday party/St. Patrick's day, a chess tournament, Women's Circle, LLL Seminar/Workshop weekend, Palm Sunday festivities, a whirlwind trip to PA and back to get a car from my in-laws, Maundy Thursday…

There's Nothing Like...

... a friend arriving at just the right moment with kind words that you really need to hear.

... reading loving words on your computer screen that really touch your heart and make your day.

... cuddling with a beautiful baby while ignoring the housework.

... listening to children's laughter waft through the open window.

... a child helping with housework and helping to cook dinner without being asked.

... calling to make a hotel reservation and finding out the block reserved for the conference you're attending is full and the hotel is sold out... except for a spa  room with whirlpool tub, sitting area, fridge, king size bed, for $30 more, which is in your budget because you were just refunded more than that from your registration because you are co-running the silent auction and theme baskets.

... the baby sleeping long enough for you to eat your dinner while it's still hot.

... children who climb into bed with you, Bible in hand, and ask if you can read together for a bit before…


"Jesus Christ is the light of the world, the light no darkness can overcome.Stay with us, Lord, for it is evening, and the day is almost over.Let your light scatter the darkness and illumine your church." (Opening, Vespers)
Evening Prayer. It's one of my favorite opportunities to worship. A service of Evening Prayer was offered at my church and I felt pulled to attend. 
"...Enlighten our darkness by the light of your Christ, may your Word be a lamp to our feet and a light to our path..."   (Thanksgiving for Light)Flickering candlelight danced on my eyelids. The words, the precious words spoke to my spirit, deluged my soul. Precious long moments of silence washed over me. In stillness, my heart called out to God, pouring out my worry, my fear, my sin, my sorrow, my gratitude, my joy. Tears streaming down my face, a cloak of comfort and forgiveness enveloped me. God was in that stillness, that silence, reaching out to me, comforting me, snuffing out the darkness wi…

People I Love, even though I don't know them

I've been watching a lot of youtube videos from different sources lately. Many of them touch my heart. A few have people in them who truly make the world a better place and know what really matters in life.
Donovan, thank you for taking the time to do what you did!!! 
Tim, because hugs are manna for our spirit!

Noah St. John's Moms (and him, too!), because they know what's important, down to the last mile...

Three amazing men, from different walks of life, all embracing the goodness in the world. 

Days Like These

"Deep breaths and prayer ... right now that's about all that's going to get me through today."

That was my facebook status today. I posted that after spending over an hour sitting in silence, then talking a little, then listening, then asking questions, then listening a lot. Then making phone calls for doctor appointments, prayers, and support. This after my child, angry at the world, wanting to escape his own skin, tried to barricade himself in his room.

This. This is the most painful aspect of parenting for me. Seeing my child suffer through the hell of depression, knowing that what I can do to help is severely limited by doctor's opinions, my child's willingness to talk, and my ability to cope with someone else's mental illness while dealing with my own.

As I sat, hopefully with even the slightest appearance of calm, a storm was brewing in my brain and in my heart. Terror at the what-ifs consumed me. What if he wants to hurt himself? What if he wants…

Farm Fresh Remix

We sent in our CSA application for 2013 and are already dreaming of farm-fresh goodies! 

Every Wednesday from late June through September we park our car along the driveway of an organic farm, and fill bags with beautiful produce. Occasionally we plunk four dollars into a can in the fridge in exchange for farm-fresh organic eggs or six dollars in a can on the table for a container of fresh honey. Otherwise, no money leaves my wallet.

Most days we play with the dogs, the kids play on the jungle gym, and usually we're in for a nice walk up the hill to pick berries or flowers. We often see the free-range chickens that provide the eggs. Sometimes we glimpse the turkeys, marveling at how quickly they grow. In the Autumn, the kids make and jump into piles of leaves while I fill our bags with the farm's bounty. We meet my parents there and I get another opportunity to chat with them and my kids get more Gramma and Papa time.

I love that this is part of our lives. I am delighted that my …

Tissue Warning

Or ... Things That Made Me Cry : Gail Because we are all connected, and making that connection with just one person can make all the difference. And because sometimes we need to give all of ourselves to someone. Just because. Father of Three One Living Because I know what it is to lose babies and stumble when people ask how many children I have. Me? I have nine children, five living. 

We Found Our Son on the Subway Because love and family and life are all unexpected joys. 

Momastery: Love Flashmob Because a teen mom needed a home. Because $250 was raised per minute over 5.5 hours! Because many people can give just a little and change someone's life for the better. (follow up story here: Homeless Teen Mother's Story Generates Thousands of Dollars)

What Forgiveness Looks Like Because here we can learn what real forgiveness looks like. 

And this...which is worth every second, every word, every truth. 

At 3:56 Shane Koyczan says the word…

To See the Face of God (Spiritual Midwife, age 4)

The amazing Sarah Bessey has blessed us all today with her International Women's day synchroblog. I've enjoyed curling up with these amazing and inspiring blog posts today. My migraine on day four and going full force and feeling unable to form a coherent sentence, I felt called to share a post from January about one of my Spiritual Midwives, who has taught me much in her now five years of life. Her young eyes are open to more spiritually than many of the people I know. Her insights astound me every day. 

At church Sunday morning, I had a difficult time paying attention to the sermon. A certain little girl had important things to say. 
"Mama, do you see God's face? I see it when I see the faces of all these people at church. I see God's face even when I close my eyes really tight. I see God's face in everyone I meet. Do you want to know why? Because I love every single person!" (Alia, age 4)
At the movies Sunday night, one line of a song jumped out at me lik…

Ready, Set ...

3:38 PM: Mama tells children to get ready to leave the house while she finishes up a project she's working on.

3:58 PM: Mama inquires as to whether or not children have gotten shoes on their feet. One has.

4:02 PM: Mama finds out that one child is taking too long in the bathroom and two more are still awaiting their turn. She attempts to hurry things up.

4:03 PM: Survey taken as to progress getting shoes on feet and coats on bodies. One child is wearing both. Another has managed shoes. Another actually knows where her coat is. Two coats are missing in action, having been removed from bodies a mere two hours ago. The five year old is still holding the bathroom hostage.

4:07 PM: Five year old emerges from bathroom and two children squabble over who is next. Two more children now need to use the bathroom.

4:08 PM: Five year old is putting on socks, singing the theme song to "Transformers," and inquires as to whether or not "Mexicons" might be a plausible new transforme…


Graceful. Beautiful. Their undulating movements draw me in, momentarily hypnotizing me. Serene. Peaceful. Gliding nearly effortlessly through the water, their movement relaxes my body and clears my mind. 

Sea jellies are usually my favorite aquarium exhibit. I could stand for hours watching them, and often my children have to drag me away to explore other sea life. 

Watching jellies on our recent trip to Mystic Aquarium, I couldn't help but wonder what it feels like to be one, wafting rhythmically through the sea. How wonderful, the thought of no aching joints - made mostly of water and gelatinous mesoglea. Being more sea than sea creature. 

Happy Thoughts Haiku

Warm kiss of sunlight.

Frog peeking out from marsh grass.

Whale dance, kids laugh.

Everyone Has a Story

A high school teen led two lives, lived two stories. The story her family and friends knew to be true was that of an honor student who played in the band as well as a youth symphony, babysat many children, had a good family life, and liked to hang out with friends. The story She new to be true included all of these things, but also rape, pregnancy, pregnancy loss, and physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, which she hid all too well from everyone. She became good at faking happiness and having it together. She was dying inside while living a normal life on the outside. 

When she was in college and the abuse had ended, she finally told friends she'd known in high school about the abuse. They were so set in their story of her life that they called her liar and fake, trying to convince their new college friends she was a fraud. Blinded by their truth, they couldn't see her truth, her agony as they turned their backs on her.

Everyone has a story. You have your story. I have mine. We…