Highlights of our weekend:
~discovering that we only need to drive for seventeen minutes to feel like we’re really away
~four kids more excited to stay at nana and papas than they were sad that we were leaving
~the hot tub and wearing the bathing suit I scored on Land’s End Canvas for less than twenty bucks
~steaks so tender we could cut them with a fork
~a salad so yummy I had it all gone before the waiter could even check to see how it tasted and then being so unabashed by it that I didn’t even have the good grace to blush
~realizing the only picture I took was of the steak and my dessert with Happy Birthday spelled out in chocolate (the waiter must have forgotten I’ve given up sugar for lent…shhh)
~laughing together
~realizing how very many varieties of zippered Bible cases there are in Grand Rapids
~a funny speaker that taught us about how to love each other better and told stories in slang
~late night texts from Grant until nana busted him
~lunch at The Green Well
~a love letter written by each and read to the other, making us sit silent for a bit as we thought about the road we’ve been traveling and how faithful God is
~plump organic raisins cooling in our ice bucket to be grabbed in handfuls between sessions
~couples buying and wearing matching Weekend to Remember sweatshirts, shoulders creased as they walked, holding hands, to the elevator banks
~putting a stake in the ground at a time when it feels like marriages are falling like a house of cards around us.  vowing not to let it happen to us.  even if we have to go to one of these hokey wonderful things every year.  even if it takes a radical shift in thinking.  even if it means sacrificing ourselves for the other.  even if.  whatever it takes.
~seeing nana’s car drive up on Sunday, spilling four happy, yummy smelling kids out into our arms for a couple hours of swimming before heading home as a family, the way it should be.
~a message from papa retelling us how great our kids are and how thankful he was to spend the weekend with them.  nana had the same message written across her face as she pulled up.
~a note on the door as we pulled into my parent’s driveway to pick up the kids stuff…”We are sleeping…until Wednesday.”
~this man who I love so much and who has such goodness in him, such goodness, and who loves to be with me, even if it means vacationing seventeen minutes from home and at a marriage conference, for crying out loud.  He’ll take it for the sake of alone time and steak dinners and seeing his bride laugh.  And his bride will lay abed all night after returning home and run the weekend over in her head on a loop.  Over and over again and each time finding new nuggets of truth and goodness and assembling them all into a mosaic of what God is doing here.  And she’ll be so blessed.

This is me being real.  Thankful for a getaway.  Thankful for nana and papa who made it all possible.  Thankful for a God who is not going to let us settle into complacency, but will continually challenge us to do the hard work of making it better.


You can’t really tell from this picture, but this is the best capture I got of two boys who’d vowed to read The Invention of Hugo Cabret together and then bribe their mothers into taking them to the movie.  Which wasn’t hard since their mothers love being together and love movies and love their sons.  So we all read the book, devoured it really. And now the movie.  Oh my, the movie.  It’s delightful.  Seriously delightful.  And this quote from the movie and the book, both, caught my heart…

“It’s so beautiful,” said Isabelle.  “It looks like the whole city is made out of stars.”
“Sometimes I come up here at night, even when I’m not fixing the clocks, just to look at the city.  I like to imagine that the world is one big machine.  You know, machines never have any extra parts.  They have the exact number and type of parts they need.  So I figure if the entire world is a big machine, I have to be here for some reason.  And that means you have to be here for some reason, too.”

And while I don’t always try to find spiritual truth in everything, ok, I always try to find spiritual truth in everything, but give me a break.  As far as hobbies go, truth seeking is pretty safe.  And this one caught my eye.  This idea that the world is one huge machine with no spare parts, just exactly what it needs to work and thrive.  Which means that you are supposed to be here.  Me too.  And that we have work that needs must be worked at.  Divine work.  Raising our families and making Jesus look good and other things.  No spare parts.  No mistakes.  Just divine work that, if neglected, hurts the whole, can cause the machine to seize up.  Break down.  So this has me wondering about my work and about yours and it has me challenging myself to live as if I am a cog in the machine instead of a team of one.  And I’m challenging you to do the same.  And to read the book and watch the movie and be entranced by both and the warmth of a small body next to you thinking he’s on a date and devouring the gummy bears you’ve smuggled in in your purse.
This is me being real.  Thankful that God is a God of no mistakes and no spare parts and a God who creates with purpose and craft.  Thankful.


I’ve been wishing for a sick day.  For the kind of day where you have zero expectations for laundry and personal grooming.  The kind of day where you can justify hours of movies while you snuggle a feverish little one on the couch, getting up only to refill their water bottle and stretch enough so that your butt doesn’t fall asleep.  And thanks to a nasty case of the cruds, I got that yesterday.  These two, home with green elevens making tracks to their sweet lips and perched in Lucy’s usual spot helping me make gf pumpkin bread and making my spine tingle with their gross banana noises:

 These two are happy as larks being together, especially if they are too sick to go anywhere but well enough to hang a hammock from the river birches in the back yard and go for a swing in the sunshine.  Well enough to help me transform a black sweatshirt into a Doberman costume for Peter’s 2nd grade musical on Thursday.  Well enough to play basketball in the driveway, Lucy on my shoulders being less a handicap than my stunning lack of athletic prowess.  Well enough to eat oatymeal with maple syrup and then sneak a couple chocolate kisses from a Valentine’s bag to help it go down.  Well enough to sit at table and talk about the season of Lent that starts tomorrow and has us all asking Father what things we need to give up so we can focus better on Him.  And, no Grant, you can’t give up pants and chicken.

So here’s to sick days, together.  And the ushering in of a season of preparing for Jesus.  And doing them both in our warm nummies.
This is me being real.  Thankful for sick days.  And my people who make them so great, even with the banana noises.


We interrupt this regularly scheduled blog post to bring you the following public service announcement:
Lululemon is coming to Grand Rapids.
Did everyone else already know this?
Am I the only one who didn’t?
I did not stumble on this information as I was on the site lusting looking at this:

I did not put my feverish baby to bed, send my husband and other children off to go for a swim and then spend a sinful amount of time going back to this and wondering how I could justify buying it.
Because I have broken up with materialism.  And sugar both.
But then they had to go and tease me with a Lululemon coming here.
They wouldn’t be so cruel as to put it next to Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory would they?

This is me being real.  And wishing coveting and chocolate weren’t so yucky.  Vowing to do better tomorrow.  Starting tonight.

february 14.

february 14.
a gift lost.

this ridiculously overpriced, but worth every cent, Lululemon outfit I picked up in San Francisco last year.  I lived in it for nearly a year before losing too much weight to be able to pull it off anymore.  I thought I looked so chic, so fashionable in it.  I think I may have just looked really big and hot pink in it.  So, now it belongs to Lorna in Minnesota and I hope it serves her well.  I have my new yoga pants on, two sizes smaller and in no danger of falling around my ankles if I go for a run.  A gift lost indeed.

a gift found.

I’d forgotten about this guy.  Made by my buddy Grant, he has spent the last several years on my window sill in the kitchen until he went missing only to be found behind a stack of papers.  Which, instead of spurring me on to get rid of such stack, made me instead vow to dust around fish so as to never have to move him again.  Gift found.

a gift made.

Every meal I make from this new favorite cookbook feels like a gift I am pouring directly from Heidi’s book and into my family’s mouths.  Full of healthy, wholesome, sort of out of this budding foodie’s comfort zone ideas.  The quinoa patties take my breath away.  It’s worth it just for that recipe.  It is one more thing that is shifting my thinking from meals being a drudgery to meals being a drudgery with a purpose: that of having the opportunity to grace my family with goodness that will stir itself round their bellies and make them feel better, function better.  Food is fuel: make it good.  Gift made.

This is me being real.  And hoping to get my camera into Norman’s this week so I can stop taking pictures with my Instamatic app.  I hate cell phone pictures.

February 14.

February 14: three gifs found behind closed doors.

there was a flurry of activity going on this morning as I lay in bed praying.  i could hear it in the way that amplifies sounds that are trying to be hushed.  could hear it in the sizzle of sausages and the patter of feet and the stumble of boys coming down from a night’s sleep.  i lasted exactly 10 minutes, knowing they were all awake and i was missing them.  then i wandered out and found these gifts behind my closed bedroom door:

happy valentine’s day to you, friends.  my you be given the perspective today to understand, really understand, how wide and high and long and deep the love of Jesus is.  and may you be prompted to not keep that news to yourself but to sprinkle it around liberally so that others may know it too.  May you be given the grace to bless God in a way that makes him great and you small.  and in your smallness may you have a big sense of how cradled you are in the love and arms of the God whose very name is Love.

this is me being real.  and drowning in the very idea of this love.  just totally drowning in it.

february 11.

february 11.  Thanks I wish I could capture on film, but since I dropped my camera running into school to see Peter’s Fairy Tale Wax Museum and haven’t yet gotten over to the other side of town to have it looked at, there are thanks only in words.
three gifts found in friendship:
1.  four sets of medium hands cupped around steaming mugs of hot cocoa, marshmallows bobbing on the surface.  four boys sleepy from settling down much too late because there were too many funny things to giggle about in the dark.  this friendship blesses me.
2.  a friend’s voice over the phone line commiserating about that enchantress, Sugar, and how to rid ourselves of her once and for all.  and then vowing to do better with our kids than we’ve done with ourselves.  this friendship blesses me.
3.  a friend disguised as a sister, who is coming later with her golden bracelet that makes her feel pretty though she is beautiful even without adornment, and her husband who makes us laugh and her five beautiful children.  all headed here to feast together and romp in the snow and catch up, something we haven’t done in far too long.  this friendship blesses me too.

this is me being real.  and praying that you find yourself blessed by the gift of friends this weekend.


I could have stayed there forever.  That’s the trick of vacation, isn’t it?  The leaving to go and then the leaving to come home.  Never feels like there is enough staying.  Only leaving.  But those four days were a gift and I’m counting them today.

There was ice skating and waterparking and magic carpeting and lots of Garrett’s Popcorn and hot cocoa to come home to.  I took exactly one picture of Grant.  We only caught glimpses of him through the trees as he rocketed down the mountain with his brother.  A blue plaid blur of independence and daring.  They thought they had arrived.  Which has nicely persuaded me to never take them out west and forever ruin Michigan skiing for us all.

This is me being real.  And wishing I looked that cute in a bathing suit.  And hoping that if Tess ever gets Cancer she won’t remember that we let her eat Superman ice cream, which is surely how it starts.


Dear Pinterest,
Have you ever gotten exactly what you wanted only to find out that it wasn’t what you needed?  Creating a Twitter account so I could join you turned out to be the easiest route and allowed me to avoid the land mine of Facebook.  I spent the better part of two hours pinning images on my board, naming boards things like, If I could redo my bedroom… and My dream family room… I said things to my family like, “I have no idea what’s for dinner.  Go look in the fridge for something.  And feed your sister while you’re at it.”  And here’s what I’ve discovered: you are my porn.  And so I’m cutting off this relationship before I get into trouble.  I’ve only broken up with one other person in a letter before and it didn’t go well, but that was then and this is now and I just can’t do this with you.
Since this is me being real, then let’s be really real.  I have a problem with contentment.  There, I’ve said it.  I spend far too much time, far too much time, clicking through emails to see what’s new for spring, checking favorite websites for daily deals, hoping there will be a package on the doorstep when I pull in the driveway.  The time Sundance, JCrew, Garnet Hill and Serena and Lily came on the same day, I actually checked the front door to see if Ed McMahon was standing there with a cardboard check.  And then I spent a precious evening ignoring my husband so I could play Bing, a game my sister and I invented when we were little.  Every time you turn the page you can bing the thing you want most by tapping it with your finger.  That thing will then magically appear on your doorstep.  This doesn’t actually happen, so don’t try it.  I know this, but I still do it every time.  I dream of shopping sprees and gift cards loaded with unlimited amounts of cash.  I have a little money coming to me next week for my birthday and I’ve spent hours spending it in my mind.  I have a problem.
So Pinterest, I have nothing against you personally, you just bring out the lustful side of me.  Not the one my husband gets all geeked about, but the one that makes me feel shame in all my inside places.  Some people can flirt with you and be fine.  I’m not one of them.  And it’s not just you.  It’s catalogs and websites and Target.  So I’m leaving you all.  For at least a month I’m going to pretend you don’t exist.  Because if this world is not where my citizenship is, then this world should hold nothing for me.  And I’m going to spend all those hours when I would normally be poring over catalogs and filling up virtual carts with things I don’t need and can’t afford asking the Holy Spirit to invade my space and make Jesus the only thing I lust after.  I’m sorry.  I wish it could be otherwise, but you just are not who I thought you were.  I wish you the best.  Oh, and I’m breaking up with Sugar too; she makes me feel yucky.  So, if you’re interested in calling her, email me for her number.  You two can commiserate, maybe go get pedicures or something.


I’ve been lazy here.  Had loved posting every day, but then got lazy and haven’t posted for a week.  It’s so easy to fall back into the old patterns, no?  So in this last week which has found me ribbing a friend (you know who you are) who deals with spills with this saying, “Now it can be a good day!” because, really, if one spill makes a good day, then does three spills make a really good day or a crappy one.  And what if one of those spills is milk, the mother of all spills?  And what if it soaks into the placemats and runs in the cracks of the bead board on the island?  Still a good day?
And in this week of playing basketball outside in the sunshine with my son and going for runs with Tess on her bike, flying past me as we whiz toward the park.  And in this week of wishing for snow, a really good piling on of it that forces us to stay home for twelve days, which is no big deal because I’ve just been to Costco and the library and everyone’s warm nummies are washed and ready.  In this week I am thankful for a hundred and seventy two things.  At least.  Like a friend coming to make quinoa patties this morning and another letting me tag along for shoe shopping and even treating me to Chipotle afterward while we talked about stuff far too serious for a sunny day, but so good, so good anyway.  And like a sister who texts and encourages and asks for prayer, which I love and a boy who was “sick” today and so helped me dig out Lucy’s closet and discover that she is all set for spring just on hand-me-downs and who agreed not to laugh when she chose to while the day away wearing a bathing suit too big and boots too small.  And a husband who is valiant over his demons in Jesus name and the grace to celebrate that with him.  And one hundred and sixty seven more.  I am thankful.
This is me being real.  And getting back on the horse tomorrow.