Day 18: Lent for my Adventuring


We board a plane this morning and head to Missouri to spend some time with family for a week.

This is the boys’ first flight as big kids, so I’m expecting a tantrum or two in between making spiders out of pipe cleaners and coloring pictures for the other people on the plane.

Adventure is in the air, and we can sense it.

We are nearly half-way through Lent, half-way to Easter, when I will  feel my world gravitate back to hope and Kingdom again.

We carry Lent with us, everyday in our hearts, hoping that the longer it lingers there the more it will teach us about who we are and what we ought to be about.

For today, for this week, it’s about family, about relationship and deep roots and ancient love and bellowing laughter.

It’s about the moment we say goodbye to our familiar sky-scraper-city and step foot on the midwest ground a few hours later.

It’s about the reality that if Lent is with me here, it will be with me there, always present and always whispering something that I should be listening to.

So let’s listen in together, and make adventure a part of our everyday experience until Kingdom come.



Advent, Day 25: the gathering

We arrived at my in-laws’ house the other day.

Christmas decorations were making their way to countertops and windows, bulbs being strung on the tree and the nativity nestled by the fireplace.


Trav’s parents bought stockings for all the grandkids this year. They hang together across the top of the fireplace, where a faux fire burns, little orange flames dancing behind brown logs.

If this isn’t the magic of Christmas, I don’t know what is.

Today, everyone will be here– all six grandkids along with their parents, aunts and uncles.

We will gather for meals, laugh and most likely cry a little.

This is a year for giving thanks for new life, for new adventures, for new perspectives on what it means to walk these paths.

On Christmas morning, we will rush down the stairs and kids will dig through stockings and we will do the necessary and wonderful gift-giving.

And we will look around the room and remember why we’re all even here,

what it means to laugh and cry and be human and know Spirit things, even though we know little.

We gather here because of the Infant-King, born of Mary, fathered by Joseph from His birth.

We gather here because God has always called us in, beckoned us to the good and kind and mysterious ways of grace.


All we need this Christmas is a new set of stockings on the mantel to remind us,

a light in the church,

a dusting of snow outside the window,

and the commonality of our hearts gathered at the manger scene after a long Advent wait.

Advent, Day 20: you can always start over


It’s the holidays, and with the New Year around the corner, I bet more than a few of us are already inspecting ourselves, asking what needs to change.

My dear friend Rachel had some really sweet and wise words for me the other day.

She reminded me, with a quote that I’d actually posted days earlier, to be soft with myself and with the people I love most around me.

It’s the end of the semester, so as we gear up for the holidays and all the warm feelings they bring, we are also settling the end of a few intense months of grad school.

Travis is working hard to get his last papers done, I’m working (so hard) to try to remind myself to be more patient and more available to my boys.

But in the midst of all of it, I’ve still yelled.

I’ve still gotten frustrated over something small, I’ve still given an eye roll or snarled an insinutaion here and there.

And while I was writing to remind myself to be softer, to be kinder to my own human soul,

I was bearing it down with the guilt that I’d spent another day not being as loving and perfect as I’d hoped to be.

Remember those ancient words that tell us grace comes fresh to us every dawn?

It means you and I get to start over.

It means I can tell my boys that I’m sorry for yesterday and that I’ll try again this time,

that traditions can start new

and that every single moment can be

an opportunity to transform.

Can people change one day to the next?

With the celebration of Advent and the coming of

the Infant King,


yes we can.

Hallelujah for fresh mornings.




The Last of the Debts: a community story


Isaiah turned two on Wednesday.

And this morning, I paid the last of our medical bills from the day he was born.

Two years of $100 this month, only $30 the next.

For being in labor less than five hours, for giving birth about forty minutes after we arrived at the hospital, there was still a lingering attachment to that day, money to pay for the gift of a second boy.

The other day, Eliot spoke to us about his Fayetteville family.

We asked who exactly he meant, because we have no flesh and blood relatives there.

“Hannah,” he said.

“Jeff,” he said.

“Nora,” he whispered.

And then we understood.

His family is our flesh and blood, his Meemaw and Papa, his Marmee and Grandpa and all his cousins.

But his family is all the people who poured in and out of our Arkansas home, all the people we spent our days with, all those people who fell into community alongside us.

They were the people who brought us an envelope full of money, delivered by our dear friend Darryl.

I still have that envelope.

We used that money to pay the first round of hospital bills. It was the Kingdom in people loving people.

And when the Kingdom is displayed like that, friends become family to your toddlers, even after traveling hundreds of miles away to a new home, even a year later.

Isaiah is this beautifully thriving sports enthusiast of a boy, and he’s always known the love of people. He’s always known community, and so he’s always known Kingdom.

If we can learn to let go of our fear of community, our fear of knowing secrets and walking dark and light places with each other, learning to heal together, maybe then we can find that the walls of our hearts disintegrate, and we learn to give.

We learn Kingdom love.

And there, we find hospital bills paid.

We find meals made and flowers sent and we find the quiet.

We find celebration and mourning, but never alone.

And we say Hallelujah, whatever comes, because community carries me.

The Post-Thanksgiving Thanks

Thanksgiving Day has faded into a nearby memory, but all those things we spouted gratefulness for, they are still real tokens of thanks for us today and tomorrow.

And for some, family still lingers about the house, still reminding us of the meal shared around the table.

Maybe Grandpa bustles about in his fuzzy bathrobe, the turkey coma floating like a holy aura around his balding head.

Our day yesterday consisted of morning coffee, and a noontime meal followed by a family naptime. All in all, it was similar to other weekend days.


So what was there to give thanks for?

All of it.

Every moment of bickering over how to tell the Thanksgiving story to a toddler;

the twenty minutes of infant meltdown because all he wanted was a nap;

the dry biscuits slathered in delectable gravy.

All of it.

Thanksgiving is something special, but it should teach us that every day contains something holy enough to give our attention to, whether it’s the rambunctiousness of our children or the blessedness of our friends.

In every aspect, it should give us home, home in a new city or home in the town where we grew up, around everything that is familiar.

We spent our night with friends, with two people who draw pictures for Eliot and play with Isaiah at the park, who enter into worship and spend time with refugees. They are friends who give incredible light, and we sat in their home and I remembered why gratefulness can last past the one holiday of the year marked for it. I remembered it in the sign Hannah made from sticks, because she needed home in a hard season not long ago.


Because our very lives are marked for giving thanks.

So while the masses gather in shopping malls, I will nuzzle myself under the blanket with Eliot, where I play the Big Bad Wolf to his Little Pig. And Travis works on papers and data sets, and we remember the path we’re on.

And we give post-Thanksgiving thanks.



And Away We Go…

And so it begins.

Spring 2014 semester, and we look ahead to classes and syllabi, power points and grading.

We long for the green and bright bloom, and we long for adventure.

Our family theme song for this current season has been Brett Dennen’s Only Want You, which is ironic, because it’s about longing for a relationship that doesn’t exist anymore. Nevertheless, there are lines that we sing to each other in the car or at the kitchen counter while we cook. We’ve listened to it so many times, Eliot can spout out the chorus in his sweet toddler falsetto, “Only want you, only want you…”

Travis went out of town last weekend. My mom came and played with Eliot. She spent her hard-earned money on Kindle apps, and read Little House books. She kissed cheeks and disciplined and rocked to sleep, cooked meals and washed dishes.

I love her, and I’m so thankful.

Travis came home after two nights away, and we basked in the joy– our family, our home, our peace.

We’ve got this unknown and crazy season ahead. Christmas crept up and then was a vapor. It left me feeling raw and uncomfortable, and after a few weeks of recovery, we are back into routine. And January is half-way gone.

Isaiah rolled over right after Christmas, and now there’s no turning back. He’s got deep blue eyes and a flirtatious smile. He cackles at smiling faces and gnaws on everything within reach. The newborn is gone.

Eliot is…Eliot. A two-year-old standing in front of the full-length mirror, flirting with his reflection. Singing, dancing, admiring.

The night can be a wreck of a time, and Eliot still wakes up every morning, wishing to hold his baby brother’s hand. He crawls over me (yes, we co-sleep) and squeezes in between Daddy and ‘Saiah, ultimately waking him from sleep.

“Hi, ‘Saiah!!” And that little mouth smiles up at big brother.

And Dennen sings, I only want you…it’s as simple as that.

We had rice and beans for dinner the other night. We sit around the table at every meal and talk; Eliot acts out something that happened while he was playing, or he sings the alphabet…again.

That life of simplicity still beckons, especially with the new year.

I only want this season with my boys. To have the quiet of our home, peace in our air and minds without the TV numbing us.

I only want to write music and know God, the One who heals deformity and calms every rage.

I only want books to be read, bread to be baked, homemade cookies at the table more often than not.

I only want patience with my little men and trust in our future together.

I only want community in a sweet and surprising way, moments that leave me in awe of someone else’s ability to love.

I only want spring to arrive and arrest us with her beauty, birds’ song and flowers’ bloom.

I only want life, and Heaven in every day, at every quiet moment and every loud, clamorous exchange. I want depth and meaning, confidence in promise.

Watch your step, walk softer softer….dreams are growing beneath our feet.

Listen Here:

Only Want You