Because Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify You.
Psalm 63:3

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


there is plenty to go around these days...hope, too...

my prayer journal is full with the concerns of dear ones...physical healing, restoration, guidance in life decisions

i've been listening to these lads...a bit sorrowful, a bit hopeful, always in the thick of it...describes my mood of late


{consider listening and slinging the nearest babe across your lap like a guitar and playing the bunjo...i recommend it}

Monday, March 28, 2011


Still loving the book and I'm almost finished. 

Can I share some of my favorite excerpts? It's a ready? I can't republish the whole thing, so these are just pieces. If you read the interview I posted before, some of this may be familiar. {Michka Assaya's words are in boldface.The highlights are mine.}

God, in His sneaky-up-on-me, perfectly-timed way, is using this book to articulate some of the  wrestling matches I've had with my faith. Who knew Bono would clear so much up for me?

On his faith: 

p. 85
I do see the good in people, but I also see the bad – I see it in myself. I know what I’m capable of, good and bad. It’s very important that we make that clear. Just because I often find a way around the darkness doesn’t mean that I don’t know it’s there.

p. 186
Who was the first televangelist you saw on TV?

It was a preacher who was asking his audience in TV land to put their hand against the screen to be healed. So there were people, old ladies with bronchitis, old ladies with broken hips, and probably people with cancer, all over America, getting out of their armchairs and putting their hands on the TV. It broke my heart. But remember I was a believer. Though I understood the power of the Scriptures they were quoting from, and I did believe in the healing powers of faith, I was seeing it debased and demeaned. But unlike a lot of people, I understood the language. What’s always bothered me about the fundamentalists is that they seem preoccupied with the most obvious sins. If those sins, sexual immorality and drug addiction, come out of unhappiness, then I’m sure God wants to set people free of that unhappiness. But I couldn’t figure out why the same people were never questioning the deeper, slyer problems of the human spirit like self-righteousness, judgmentalism, institutional greed, corporate greed. You only have to look to unfair trade agreements that keep the developing world in the Dark Ages to see the hypocrisy I’m talking about. These people talk about the debasing of culture. What about the debasing of hundreds of thousands of real lives?

p. 221-22
It’s true. Yeah, smashing other people to pieces doesn’t need the same conviction. Most terrorists want to change the material world. Well, add eternity to that, and people can go a lot further to pursue their ends. It’s a big prize, isn’t it, eternity? It’s not a two-term or a three-term presidency. [laughs] But of course, this is always a corruption of some holy thesis, whether it’s the Koran or the Bible. My understanding of the Scriptures has been made simple by the person of Christ. Christ teaches that God is love. What does that mean? What it means for me: a study of the life of Christ. Love here describes itself as a child born in straw poverty, the most vulnerable situation of all, without honor. I don’t let my religious world get too complicated. I just kind of go: Well, I think I know what God is. God is love and as much as I respond [sighs] in allowing myself to be transformed be that love and acting in that love, that’s my religion. Where things get complicated for me, is when I try to live this love. Now, that’s not so easy.

What about the God of the Old Testament? He wasn’t so “peace and love.”
There’s nothing hippie about my picture of Christ. The Gospels paint a picture of a very demanding, sometime divisive love, but love it is. I accept the Old Testament as more of an action movie: blood, car chases, evacuations, a lot of special effects, seas dividing, mass murder, adultery. The children of God are running amok, wayward. Maybe that’s why they’re so relatable. But the way we would see it, those of us who are trying to figure out our Christian conundrum, is that the God of the Old Testament is like the journey from stern father to friend. When you’re a child, you need clear directions and some strict rules. But with Christ, we have access in a one-to-one relationship, for, as in the Old Testament , it was more one of worship and awe, a vertical relationship. The New Testament, on the other hand, we look across at a Jesus who looks familiar, horizontal. The combination is what makes the Cross.

p. 223
Speaking of bloody action movies, we were talking about South and Central America last time. The Jesuit priests arrived there with the gospel in one hand and a rifle in the other.
I know, I know. Religion can be the enemy of God. It’s often what happens when God, like Elvis, has left the building. [laughs] A list of instructions where there once was conviction; dogma where once people just did it; a congregation led by a man where once they were led by the Holy Spirit. Discipline replacing discipleship.

p. 225
Just for the last time, I would like to go back to our tour of the dark side of religion. Appalling things seem to happen when people become religious at too early an age or when their experience of life is nonexistent. Don’t you think?
Zealots often have no love for the world. They’re just getting through it to the next one. It’s a favorite topic. It’s the old cliche’: “Eat shit now, pie in the sky when you die.” But I take Christ at his word: “On Earth as it is in Heaven.” As to the first part of your question, in my experience, the older you get, the less chance you have to transform your life, the less open you are to live in a challenging way. You tend towards love that’s more comforting and safe.

As I told you, I think I am beginning to understand religion because I have started acting and thinking like a father. What do you make of that?
Yes, I think that’s normal. It’s a mind-blowing concept that the God who created the Universe might be looking for company, a real relationship with people, but the thing that keeps me on my knees is the difference between Grace and Karma.

I haven’t heard you talk about that.
 I really believe we’ve moved out of the realm of Karma into one of Grace.

Well, that doesn’t make it clearer for me.
You see, at the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics – in physical laws – every action in met by an equal or an opposite one. It’s clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the Universe. I’m absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that ”As you reap, so will you sow” stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff.

The son of God who takes away the sins of the world. I wish I could believe in that.
But I love the idea of the Sacrificial Lamb. I love the idea that God says: Look, you cretins, there are certain results to the way we are, to selfishness, and there’s mortality as part of you very sinful nature and let’s face it, You’re not living a very good life, are you? There are consequences to actions. The point of the death of Christ is that Christ took on the sins of the world, so that what we put out did not come back to us, and that our sinful nature does not reap the obvious death. That’s the point. It should keep us humbled…It’s not our own good works that get us through the gates of Heaven.

That’s a great idea, no denying it, Such great hope is wonderful, even though it’s close to lunacy, in my view. Christ has his rank among the world’s great thinkers. But Son of God, isn’t that farfetched?
No, it’s not farfetched to me, Look, the secular response to the Christ story always goes like this: he was a great prophet, obviously a very interesting guy, had a lot to say along the lines of other great prophets, be they Elijah, Muhammad, Buddha, or Confucius. But actually Christ doesn’t allow you that. He doesn’t let you off that hook. Christ says: No. I’m not saying I’m a teacher, don’t call me teacher. I’m not saying I’m a prophet. I’m saying “I’m the Messiah.” I’m saying: “I am God incarnate.” And people say: No, no, please, just be a prophet. A prophet, we can take. You’re a bit eccentric. We’ve had John the Baptist eating locusts and wild honey, we can handle that. But don’t mention the “M” word! Because, you know, we’re gonna have to crucify you. And he goes: No, no. I know you’re expecting me to come back with an army, and set you free from these creeps, but actually I am the Messiah.  At this point, everyone starts staring at their shoes, and says: Oh, my God, he’s gonna keep saying this.  So what you’re left is: either Christ was who He said He was – the Messiah – or a complete nutcase. I mean, we’re talking nutcase on the level of Charles Manson. This man was like some of the people we’ve been talking about earlier. This man was strapping himself to a bomb, and had “King of the Jews” on his head, and, as they were putting him up on the Cross, was going: OK, martyrdom, here we go. Bring on the pain! I can take it. I’m not joking here. The idea that the entire course of civilization for over half of the globe could have its fate changed and turned upside-down by a nutcase, for me, that’s farfetched.

p. 228
He was a bit like you, wasn’t He?
No, He only thought He was Bono! [laughs for quite a while] No, but seriously, if we only could be a bit more like Him, the world would be transformed. All I do is get up on the Cross of the Ego: the bad hangover, the bad review. When I look at the Cross of Christ, what I see up there is all my shit and everybody else’s. So I ask myself a question a lot of people have asked: Who is the man? And was He who He said He was, or was He just a religious nut? And there It is, and that’s the question. And no one can talk you into it or out of it.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


had glorious weather here today
so we took a calamity day...
{in honor of you, Mommas MS and AH}

made a trip to Miller Park Zoo
& played at the park

Bean barking at the sea lion

Wallaby Walkabout 
{extreme babywearing...can you see what's peeking out of her pouch?}

king and queen of the mountain

{for the record: this good hair day...

lasted about 17 minutes}

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

the launch

in this family, there is rarely a project that doesn't involve duct tape...

we embraced it with the keelboat

from stern to aft...not pretty...

maybe we should have christened the craft, first

{possible next project: carve a canoe

we're gonna need more knives for the kiddos}

Friday, March 18, 2011

nitty gritty

Back to the original purpose for this account of our travels and life...instead of all that book reading mumbo jumbo. This is what some of you really want to know. Most of you couldn't care less.

Currently we are in Bloomington-Normal, Illinois. Been here for a bit, staying for another while. 

Bloomington and Normal are two cities that grafted into each other. Together they make for a larger town/small city. There's a saying, Bloomington is 10 minutes from Normal. Some people think that's funny.

In the combined towns are 3 university campuses, Illinois State University being the largest. 

We live on the eastern edge of Normal, with Uptown Normal {Children's Museum is there} to our west and a large commercial district in between. {TJ Maxx is a hop, skip & jump...holla!} Our favorite places in Bloomington are Miller Park Zoo and the Davis mansion.

Sweet Man was moved into a one bedroom apartment right around Valentine's Day. Roomier than the hotel, we have an enclosed bedroom, more storage and a larger kitchen. In the move, we lost a pull-out couch and a table. But we gained a washer/dryer! Oh yeah...and a wall for the bedroom! We're making due as Bean sleeps in the large closet in the bedroom {she thinks it's fun} and Bug sleeps on couch cushions in our room. The kids eat at a bar in the kitchen and Sweet Man and I use our laps...meals around a table will resume at home.

I've been cooking every night. Finding a back issue of Cooking Light in my stash has inspired me to try some new recipes this week: cabbage rolls {who knew those were so yummy?} skirt steak with a cucumber-pepperocini relish, and the older favorite: mango salmon...guess I'm bored with soups and casseroles at this point in the season. So the kitchen is pretty well mixer, but I brought a few other essential tools from home...even my frying pan.

{ our view on a dreary day}

It's very quiet...our windows look out onto a pond and there are houses beyond it, but no street noise. And it's very hot...we're on the second floor so our windows are open more often than not.

Right across the street is part of the extensive bike path system. Lovely, although it sometimes uses sidewalks as the path and has several street crossings. So we drive to the bike path. Second problem...they all have bikes, I don't. I want to get one, but don't want to spend the money...seems foolish to spend money again on a meantime bike. I should just go for it, right? Can't do it, yet.

Sweet Man discovered that on one side of our apartment complex is a path that connects to our favorite playground. Bonus! It's a 5 minute ride/walk to the park with one street crossing. Just sent the kids off for the day...just kidding. And finally the weather is allowing us to enjoy the outdoors...cold and rainy when we first returned...latter part of this week has been in the 60's, 70 yesterday. 

School is great...Bug's almost finished with his Math book and his phonics/spelling. And because of that, we've loosened up on our schedule a bit...not that it was ever tight. I'll be supplementing those areas with something, surely...we can't be done yet. Too much day to fill.

We're never finished with history, but we've camped out for a few weeks with the Corps for Discovery {the Lewis & Clark expedition.} Lots of map work and fun stories. Bean is calling everyone Pompy, the nickname of  Sacajawea's baby. Today we are cutting and assembling a balsa wood keelboat, a replica of what they used to get up the Missouri River. We'll launch it on the pond when Sweet Daddy is home from work. 

Don't have a handle yet on where my Jellybean lands in her school skills...but she will surely be a different student than Bug. She is hungry for learning, whereas he is a bit more passive. Mom, can we do letters? She wants my attention pretty constantly...and I try to oblige more often than not in these fleeting days. I did have a mini-fuss a few days ago when she said, for the 27th time...Mom, you're not playing with me. I proceeded to catalog our activities for the day: read/cuddled on the couch, played Set, played monkey in the middle over the bed, played Pollies, she helped me in the kitchen...didn't work...I ended up on the floor drawing with her. No regrets, of course.

Other sweet news: Sweet Man was finally able to visit the zoo with us, Saturday. We took him to see our favorites, although we found many exhibits

I discovered that the church we attend has a Zumba class twice a week!!!! I went Monday and it was a little more hip-hop than I'm used to, but fun.

The kids and I went to another favorite playground yesterday afternoon. Sweet Man arrived after work, shamrock shakes in hand...yum, then ugh! The plan was to play a little tennis. Sloshy bellies were not part of that plan. Sweet Man and I played first while the kids hit against the wall and then they convinced us to all play together...mixed doubles. Ha, it was a sight! And no dinner for me after that 550 calorie (!!!!) shake...I felt so yuck...definitely not worth it.

So we've settled back into this area. I have plans to visit with a college friend who lives in Chicago in a couple weeks. The kids and I will go up and spend the night. I haven't seen her for 15 years{? is that possible?}...a late night and much catching up in our future.

{I feel like I should explain about the is very windy here in Bloomington, it's bath day - that's right...the day of the week for addition, we're we don't much care about hair....}

Okay...gotta go play Flip Puppy Over the Bed. Tell me if you're itching to know anything else.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

i just don't know

On to another guy I enjoy listening to...Rob Bell of Mars Hill.

You may have been catching him on TV in the midst of his press junket. With the release of his new book, Love Wins, he is stopping by talk shows...GMA, MSNBC....

I've seen him speak live and have listened to many a podcast sermon. Loved the nooma's one, but there are several. 

I haven't read the book {released 3/15} fact, I haven't read any of his books. Most of them have kicked up a little dust in the evangelical world. This book seems to have caused whirling dervishes and blinding sandstorms. I'm gathering from the buzz that it smacks of liberation theology.

So, it's on my list. I can tell you one thing...I'm definitely interested.

I gratefully accept the caution of God to examine people who influence me; whether they be earnestly singing into a microphone, streaming sermons through my earbuds, standing before me in a pulpit, writing the words on the computer/paper at hand. However their thoughts are communicated to me, I must hold those thoughts to the standard of Christ before I assimilate them.

Beloved, {that's my name and yours!!!!} do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1

{and just a bit of my faves}

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:8

Here's Pastor Bell with Martin Bashir, outright grilling.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


I don't have words for the tragedies in Japan. I honestly don't know many details as we are now in a small apartment and I don't want to the kids seeing too much. On our drive Friday, we did hear some coverage on the radio and we talked about earthquakes and the big waves. Bean woke up the next morning and told me about a dream she had about an earthquake. Can't imagine what those in that region are experiencing.

I did receive this message tonight...more about the program benefiting from TraffickJam 2011.


it's all coming together

So, there's this guy...maybe you've heard of him. He's in a fairly well-known rock band, started in the late 70' Irish lad.

Née Paul Hewson, you may know him as Bono.

He's becoming part of my life.

You may or may not know...I am fond of all things Irish. Christy Moore, claddagh rings, colcannon, shamrock shakes, Peter Rollins and that charming accent. {And how funny that as I type, with volume low, Rudy Maxa is on PBS visiting Ireland. Synchronicity, indeed. Or, in prep for St. Patrick's Day, I suppose.}

Long have I had an appreciation for Bono's Irishicity and his music. But because I tend more to the jam-band, bluegrass, and folk genres, I haven't spent much time listening to the more intense sounds of U2.

I should add, the soundtrack of my freshman volleyball season was The Joshua Tree, rockin' my K-Swiss and trying to catch a glimpse of my junior boy crush walking by the gym doors. Good times.

So, the little I've known about Bono is that he's a man of faith...but of which faith I was not clear. Intrigued, I read this article when it arrived in my mailbox, years ago. It remained in my interesting read pile for months, but I never really deciphered a clear answer.

Fast forward to last week, when the wise wife of a former pastor of mine posted this link on Facebook. I liked. I shared. Again, I was intrigued by the excerpt of the conversational biography...and immediately clicked on my library's website and requested a copy of the 2005 book, Bono: in conversation with Michka Assayas. I'm on page 89.

Intertwined with the anecdotes of Catholic schools, family heartaches, and raucous touring, is a thread of faith. An authentic one. With a fearless journey through doubt and the systemic failures of religion. In spite of all the shiny things that could render him ineffective, a sincere devotion to God and his people thrives...without arrogance or expectation. And I'm only on page 89.

His faith resonates with me. It's the kind I want to grow into. Embracing the seeming contradictions and settling into a solid, purposeful, joyful faith. Finding clarity in the simple life of Jesus. A faith in which Christ's love is the standard against which all else is measured. 

{Don't be alarmed...I'm not taking religious instruction from Bono; his is an example of how a life of 
faith, doubt and devotion through both, can be lived.}

Paradigms are shifting for me. For a year now, my comfort {and my husband's} in my church home has been and is being challenged. Not a bad thing at all, actually. And no, that doesn't necessarily mean leaving, but maybe. It's easy to table that discussion when we aren't home together often and I'm not visiting any other churches without him.

The stretching at first caused me to panic...but as the pain recedes I am left with a disillusionment with humans and their religion but still a vibrant love and trust for the Most-High God. I shouldn't be following man anyway...keeping my eyes on the heavens. He is burning the dross away and I am grateful for the fresh perspective. 

{I'm still working on that "favorite church" post where I try to explain the disillusionment. Perhaps the greatest deficit in my intellect is the ability to compose a thorough but concise, clear but original, timely answer to any question. Many of you have suffered through some of my blundering, blubbering, bet-ya-wished-you hadn't asked answers. So, right now, that post is ridiculously long and convoluted and I won't be subjecting you to it just yet.}

Turns out, Sweet Man has been listening Bono for months...old stuff, new stuff {Thank you, Pandora!} He shared one of his favorites with me. Now it's one of mine. Proceed with's pretty sexy stuff.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Traffick Jam 2011

Well, friends, my prayers for a girls' getaway have been answered, I think. {Love that God of mine.}

My cyber-friend, 
{ok, I have to be delicate here...she may not claim me...she has scads of real and cyber-friends...but we are legitimate facebook friends...

...and now, she's probably rethinking that}

...anyway...Marla {of Radical read-along fame} wrote about an opportunity last night and I'm jazzed. Maybe you will be, too. 

She is co-coordinating a local leg {she's in Central am I} of a national benefit walk: Traffick Jam 2011. The funds raised by the sponsored walkers {that's you and me} will be used to beat back the darkness of human trafficking in Cambodia. The evil these children endure breaks the heart of God. And it should break ours.

In one day, we can help bring child sex trafficking to a grinding halt.

{credit: Traffick Jam 2011}

Do you have goose bumps, yet?

Read her post, say a prayer, hug your babies, then let me know what you think.

I want to get a team of walkers together! May 7th...10 miles! Barring any unseen developments, I'm in and would love for you to join me. And if you can't walk, you can sponsor. My goal is to find 10 sponsors for $10 each. God can use us mightily!

 Are you up for the challenge?

{Post edit: I hope I don't sound too flippant in this post...I have been compelled in prayer for this very subject, wondering what I could do here on the ground in my cozy life. Truth is, human trafficking is not just a world away, but its victims are in our midst. Bottom line: I am truly touched by the gentle nudging and timing of God and want to be used by Him when and where I can. I think this is an opportunity for me to get on board with Him.}

Friday, March 4, 2011

wishin' & hopin'

i wish...{eyes squeezed shut}

 for a  girls' getaway...

and i'm blaming this for my daydreaming/scheming heart

hiking trip?
beach weekend?
Amish country?
womens' conference?

my criteria:
  • no schedule
  • a coffee source is essential
  • delicious food
  • thrifting/antiquing ~ a plus
  • crafting encouraged, but not required
  • comfy quarters
  • hot tub?
  • good company

who knows if  i can make it happen...

of course, this plan is on the back, back burner until I get a good dose of my sweet man...

{and an inkling of our life more than 2 weeks into the future}

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

indulge {giveaway}

It is true...I'm mostly off caffeine, but that doesn't mean I'm off coffee. From my cozy bed {usually with an additional small person pressed up against me}I hear my coffee maker perk up. I stretch and smile. Can't wait to get my stiff hands around that warm cup.

Two cups: one for my snuggle-on-the-couch, read-devotional, check-email time and
another waiting for me aprés-shower. 

Here's a little something to put in that coffee and there's a $100 Visa card giveaway if you wish to enter.

Just hit the bottom of my first cup. That's my shower cue.

{T-2 days for Sweet Man to be with us for a short break...sooooooo ready to see him after 19 days.
Yes...I'm counting.}