On Being Present and Falling Behind

Tomorrow is August 1. For me, growing up, August 1 meant time to start on the summer reading assignments because school was beginning in under a month. August always felt a bit marred like that.

The girls start school in 24 days – there are backpacks to pick out and school clothes to fit and all sorts of anxieties to keep at bay.

Our third little girl arrives in about 90 days, mas or menos – there is one more room to paint, more clothes to find to fit, and yes, all sorts of anxieties to keep at bay. There is also my current pastime of constant and continual eating which is proving quite time consuming.

There are million things I am behind on and lists that I have yet to even make. At night when I could be “getting stuff done” I’ve been searching for wall hangings for the girls new room, or squinting at our newly painted converted master bedroom (Benjamin Moore Whispy Green) and wondering what picture/lighting combo could make Travis feel less like he’s on a Sprite Commercial inside Erving’s Nicaraguan school bus.

Some of my favorite people are still home from college and I can’t get enough of them dropping in like they did years ago, except magically, and stunningly, they’ve become adults.

And true confession, when everyone is asleep, and the Whispy Green is finally tempered by lamplight, I’ve  been swept into the world of Mitford, which is the most delightful, comforting, soul soothing reading I’ve done in a while:

And so I’m officially behind but present in summer right where we are. Today is the day, I keep saying I will find my planner and start, umm, making plans. And today we will make it to the kindergarten screening, but then we will go swimming, for the whole afternoon.

Summer isn’t over yet. And the rest of that stuff will get done. Or at least the important things will. (Like making it to Sno to Go.)

Because it’s almost August, but I’m reclaiming August for the present, as a true summer month. One we will enjoy fully even if it means falling behind.

Save Me From Myself (And them from me)

Sometimes I think pregnancy brings certain physical limitations as a protective shield for the rest of the world. Because this weekend, if I had any amount of strength or agility or even normal-paced movement, I think I might have singlehandedly demolished my house and built it up again using tools I carved myself, fueled only by the Taco Bell Feast, I demanded Travis bring me.

Instead, I broke up with my dining room.

We’ve always had a rocky relationship, the ol’ DR and I. As in, I hate being in there. As in, we never make it back there. As in, I’d rather eat standing up or not at all. Was it the furniture? No. We’ve always had this furniture. The color. No. We had it repainted a few months ago, and I love the color. No, some rooms are just not meant to be. And this was finally confirmed when Christie and Tara came over Thursday night and we all sat on my KITCHEN FLOOR.

So we ended it. Abruptly.  And now we have a playroom/sitting room (meaning one chair for me or you to sit in.) And we have moved our eating area into the living area, just like everyone does in Williamsburg (Brooklyn.)

This is now what my living room/chic eating area  looks like:

No. I’m sorry. I’m lying. That’s not my house. (But I do like those drapes.)

And, come on,  the mystique of this blog is built around the dramatic narrative. You’re not coming here for DIY tips, or before and after pics.

And I want you to know the cool magazine houses are breaking up with their dining rooms too…with drapes and large decorative (paper mache?) balls.

So everything in our house is a mixed up work in progress right now. I’ve moved out dressers and have clothes in trash bags – I am  that committed to my current house insanity. Yesterday I wore two different earrings to church because I’m keeping my jewelry in the kitchen.

People. We are camping in our own house, I’ve taken the family to that point. Hopefully by the end of the week we will be in new bedrooms with fresh paint and peaceful spirits. At the very least, let’s hope that tenacious fish survives.

Live Mas.

A note on Taco Bell: there are  two times I consistently want it: pregnancy and the last leg of very long road trips. And yes, I had that dorito taco. Amazing. Why  didn’t anyone think of this earlier?

Survey: What rooms in your space have you broken up with/redefined?


photo credit



Amplifying Our Witness (I know this author but that’s not why I’m telling you to read this book)

Ben Conner was my director many years ago when I was a Young Life Volunteer. He taught our group of college students, the same way you teach  fourth graders, and the same way you teach  thirty-one year olds:

 He asked more of us than we thought we could give and he repeated the same things over and over.

Life is liturgy. How are you participating in the life, death and mission of Christ?

 Thus this liturgy of the ordinary, and this participation, became so much part of my own formation, and what I didn’t understand at the time, my practical theology.

And this book just took that framework to a whole new place, a place I have needed to be.

 Ben, for years now a Director of Capernum, Young Life’s ministry for adolescents with developmental disabilities,  unpacks mission (God is at work, are we joining him?), the doctrine of friendship and affirming presence, and the expansive Gospel, where we realize it’s so much bigger, so much more profound, and, at times,  so much more inconvenient, than our rational, linear steps and equations.

Ben, with countless years of ministry, countless years of seminary and degrees, states, ” I came to the realization that if I can’t teach prayer to adolescents with development disabilities, then I don’t know enough about prayer.” (P.75)

And that single question has made me rethink how I regard so much of my life and interactions and “spiritual pursuits.”

Because it might just be my rational, intelligent, systems-based, (read: angst-infused) perspective on God that can lead to frustration and malaise. God is not limited. We limit Him with an incomplete glossary and biased and narrow views of how He works in the world and who, we think, gets to bear His image.

But, for fear of misrepresenting this book, I must add that “the practical element” here is part of what sets it apart and above. Ben weaves theological teaching throughout practical steps and personal stories regarding his relationships with these kids. The book itself feels experiential, and thus the theology real and  possible.

You can order Amplifying Our Witness here and here . Or you can borrow mine, if you don’t mind the lost art of margin scribbles…

Have a great weekend!We are packing up to move the girls into our bedroom, together. And Travis and I will be moving into Sophia’s old room, together. Help. Us. All. This should not be that hard, nothing is leaving the house, but maybe that’s the issue…(Especially because I’m about to discover what we’ve been “storing” underour bed for the past five years. )

Abnormally Fabulous Forward Growing Hair

“Look, her hair, it just grows forward. It’s something you are going to have to keep working on.”

The Sports Clips Stylist delivered this diagnosis with an air of seriousness, received by my grave head nodding, as if I was being handed a diagnosis and a [albeit vague] treatment plan.

Forward-growing hair? Is this normal?

And then of course…did I do this to her with that first fateful home cut?

The answers are, scientifically speaking,  Who Knows? and Probably.

And I’m struck by my strong appetite for normal.

Staring at the ultrasound, listening to the jargon: “Look, I don’t understand what you are saying. Is what you are seeing “normal?”

To Travis, after helping out in either of the girls classes,: “In a group of 14 of their peers, they seem to be normal.” We both sigh, relieved.

It trickles into my marriage: “I know we’re crazy. But are we normal?”

First of all, when did I stop going for FABULOUS, and start settling for normal?

And second, what am I really asking?

Is it going to be hard? Is it going to hurt? Is it still within my control?

These answers are more clean cut,  (yes, yes, no- it- never- was), remarkably consistent and as normal as it gets.

Just read a book, I will share about later this week, that shook up my idea and goal of “normal”, and increased my understanding of God’s image, bearing that image, and His work in the world.

But, before I even read the book, I could have confessed that when I’m saying I want my children, my marriage, my life to be normal, I’m really saying that I want myself and those I love to be comfortable.

And comfortable has never been synonymous with FABULOUS either.

My Fabulous Forward Growing Hair Girl. It’s true. Those bangs want to start at the back of her neck. Where is my hair stylist from 1985 when I need her? And O is modeling her Hello Kitty Dress. My sweet high school friend Kristin made dresses and mailed them from Oregon for us! She said H.K.’s kind, mouthless face was looking up from her from the rolls of fabric and this Mother of Two Boys could not resist. Kristin thank you ! We LOVE them!

And I Shall Be Lady Grantham…

Well, minus the Mutinous Maid, spacious home, and large inheritance that my husband married me for.

And minus the career path of going to lunch.

Okay, so we will have no other shared qualities besides our American sass, and our THREE DAUGHTERS.

(Antonio…you were wrong….)

So excited about housing half a sorority over here…excited and prayerful already for their relationships – for compassion and not competition…and communal clothing forever.

The One Bookstore not Pushing Fifty Shades of Anything…

And I love it for many other reasons, but this summer that one is near the top. Anyone else feel assaulted by a certain marketing campaign?

I also find it more and more difficult to find anything unique. So many small, shops “around the corner” sell a lot of the same, that my litmus test has become the absence two things 1. Vera Bradley and 2. College Tumblers. (Both I love in their own place, but they are an indicator of usual, big-name, gift shoppy items.)

This store has neither.

But it has many, many treasures.

When I went in last week looking for something for Travis for our anniversary (NINE years? Apparently we got married when we were fourteen,) I found something perfect within minutes and remembered what a glorious treasure trove Mermaid Books is on Prince George Street..

And I remembered why I hadn’t been inside in so long: it’s downstairs, read: not stroller accessible, read: go there if only to escape the strollers who will instead be looping the wide aisles in Williams Sonoma to soak up the AC.

Happy Friday – I guess I disappeared this week…there may soon be a series of catch-up posts or one long ridiculous catch-all post, I haven’t decided:)