Thursday, December 08, 2011

One Thousand Gifts - the 3rd post

Twenty-Two. Christmas lights in a world of dark and snow.

Twenty-Three. Beautiful yarn for making gifts.

Twenty-Four. Coffee shops with kid entertainment.

Twenty-Five. Wood for the fireplace.

Twenty-Six. Candles on the table.

Twenty-Seven. Craft night with the lady-folk.

Twenty-Eight. Friends who use hanging out with me as an excuse to not get their homework done.

Twenty-Nine. Sunshine on a wintry day.

Thirty. The nativity set from my old church that got passed on to me.

Thirty-One.The silly talk of 2yr olds.

***********************
This post was inspired by Ann Voskamp at:
holy experience

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

One Thousand Gifts - Edition 2

Twelve. Homeschool friends, who came over for the afternoon to play.

Thirteen. The Tapestry Folk Dance Center, where we went yesterday. Thank you, God, for planting us in a city that appreciates art, poetry, dance... I first visited the Tapestry on a swing dance night when I was in college. My brother-in-law went almost every Thursday. He learned English Country Dance there, too, and he taught his students when he became an English teacher. Now my daughter takes lessons there with an awesome group of homeschool friends.

Fourteen. A beautiful, little tree-lined backyard right here in the middle of the city.

Fifteen. Neighbors to share our backyard.

Sixteen. A house that is just big enough...and warm enough...and beautiful.

Seventeen. The fireplace in the big enough, warm enough house!

Eighteen. Photographs...those that line the mantle and those that don't. I'm grateful to live in a time of photographs, to be able to hold onto those memories just a little more clearly.

Nineteen. Email from a friend, who moved away. Oh, dear God, I do not deserve such good friends, but here that are, and they send me encouragement just when I need it, and I'm startled by the way they care about me so much. Help me to always be so grateful.

Twenty. The pocketcast app that Mango put on my tablet so I can listen to Midmorning whenever I want to (and today I ended up listening to a show about gratitude, imagine that!).

Twenty-One. Advent.

 ********************

This post was inspired by Ann Voskamp at:

holy experience
.


Monday, November 28, 2011

One Thousand Gifts - Part 1

I stumbled upon a blog the other day called A Holy Experience. The author of the blog is also the author of a book called One Thousand Gifts. I haven't read very much of it yet, and I don't know very much about it. But I thought it was a wonderful idea to keep a running list of gifts in my life, things for which I am grateful. I've felt a great deal of gratitude lately, in the midst of what seems like endless struggle. I've felt strangely grateful, even when anxious. (And I've been anxious a lot.)

So, begins my list...

One. My husband. Mango. My love. He is a most precious gift. A most holy gift. A gift, I've learned, very few people ever receive, even when married. And because of him, I know I have been called to much in this life. Together we can and have and will accomplish much.



Two. Mane. The youngest child, who came to us first. She is both a reflection and so opposite of me. I learn much from her, and together we walk and run through this wild and wooly life.



Three. Vespera. The oldest child, who came to us miraculously. I cannot imagine life without her. Yet there was a time when she was not here. She taught me faith and tenacity and courage.

Four. Niteo. My son-in-law. Child and not child. Gift to my Vespera.



Five. Co-housing with Vespera and Niteo, which gives us all the opportunity to learn from each other, to practice love and service, honesty and loyalty, openness and intuition.

Six. Sharing a duplex with my in-laws. A gift to them, a gift to us.

Seven. My good friend, who comes for coffee/tea a few mornings a week. So often my lifeline.

Eight. Another good friend, whose children are so close to Mane in age, who is always just a phone call away.

Nine. My Bible Study ladies.

Ten. Book club.

Eleven. Wool socks.

30 Day Photography Challenge Grand Finale!!

So, in order to prove that I can actually finish something, I will regale you with photos from the last several months, which fulfill the final 9 days of the 30 Day Photography Challenge!

Day 22 - Hands - Vespera and Niteo's Wedding




Day 23 - Sun Flare - Not a sun flare exactly, but a sunburst on the floor of Children's Hospital:



Day 24 - Animal - Ellie the Elephant, whom I made for Mane when she was a baby...



Day 25 - Something Pink - Don't you just want to eat them?!



Day 26 - Close Up - Warm, fuzzy legwarmers I made this fall...



Day 27 - From a Distance - Rocket launching in North Branch...



Day 28 - Flowers - Fairy House among the flowers in Red Wing, MN...



Day 29 - Black & White - Life is never black and white, and that wouldn't really be any fun anyway, now would it? (In other words, an excuse to include one of my favorite photos full of ORANGE!)



Day 30 - Self Portrait - Nope, I SWEAR I've done a gazillion self-portraits with this challenge already!

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

It's so not a beautiful day in the neighborhood

A post from over a month ago that I just dug up...

**********************

I want to run. I want to hide. I want to sit in a dark room and rock. I want to move to the country where I imagine everything is beautiful. I want a ranch house with a wraparound porch and trees to climb and no neighbors. I want to live 100 years ago, maybe 200. I want anything but this.

A man was killed in the alley. My alley. Beaten, stripped, assaulted, shot.

A boy was killed over north. Not far from Mango's school.

A woman was shot at a vigil for peace.

I want to back out. I want to cop out. Helpless. Hopeless. Angry. Anxious. Afraid. I feel all those things.

And yet, when you ask my why I am here, I will tell you that it is to bear witness. To see and know what happens here because so few people will ever really know. And then I can raise the awareness of those who don't know. I can speak for the people who cannot speak for themselves.

But I will tell you right now that I have no words. My mouth is empty. My stomach is hollow. My eyes burn. I want to close them. I want to stop witnessing these moments. I want to stop fighting this fight.

But I won't. Because we have always been about living life on the edge. Because I don't want to be safe and out of touch. Or maybe I do, but it's too late.

Oh, come, Lord Jesus, come. Yeshua, we need you.


**********************
Today's thoughts...
 
I am still here in this neighborhood. The tightness in my chest has eased. Yesterday I was stuck in an awful situation and FIVE of my neighbors came to my rescue, while another offered good, sound and necessary advice. Yet another listened to the story and offered prayers. Friends from outside the neighborhood prayed and listened. Vespera and Niteo sent encouraging text messages all day. 

And at the end of the day, I could do nothing but say that I am truly blessed. I was in the middle of something horrible and something wonderful all at once. I couldn't wallow in my anger, indignation, frustration or even just plain sadness because it was so glaringly obvious that I am blessed anyway. 

This is what it has meant for us, time and again to be called to this life. We have been given much. Much will be required of us. It is painfully difficult. But so poignantly beautiful.

Peregrin House

If you've been wondering where all the action is lately...it's over at the homeschool blog: Peregrin House. Mane & I (and really the whole family) have been very, very busy this fall, which has made it nearly impossible to keep up with both blogs. Our lives are never, ever boring, and there's plenty to say...just not enough time to write it. In the meantime, if you just want to catch up on a piece of our lives lately, Peregrin House is the place to look. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

It's like having a newborn...

The way I sleep these days...it's like having a newborn. Don't even both going to sleep during that first sleep cycle because she'll be up again, just one more time, before she settles in. Then lie awake thinking of how I should be sleeping because she'll wake again soon, and she'll need me, and, so, I should get some rest. But I can't. Just because I know I should.


We spent 2 nights at the hospital to try to figure out what is wrong. Mane wakes (or doesn't wake, depending on how you look at it), once, twice, sometimes three times a night, nearly every night...confused and upset. She doesn't remember in the morning. Her EEG says she's asleep when this is happening. Last year's EEG said it could be seizures. This year's EEG says it isn't seizures. Which is a relief. But not. Because we still don't know what to do. And we're still sleep deprived, delirious, irritable, and emotional.

I'm horrible when sleep deprived. Low on patience. Low on everything. Mane is also somewhat horrible when sleep deprived (and I mean that in the nicest possible way), but, for her that means being HIGH on seemingly everything. High energy. Frenetic. Frantic. High needs. High maintenance.

I try to remember. But remembering makes me sit down and cry. I remember that she is my baby. That she's still so young. That she has her daddy's brown eyes. And she looks like me. I remember that she is soft and vulnerable, sensitive, creative, passionate. If I remember, I can be more patient.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

30 Day Photo Challenge - Day 21 - Faceless Self-Portrait

I already did this, didn't I?

Day 18

Day 13

and

Day 2

30 Day Photo Challenge - Day 20 - Bokeh

Bokeh...the artistic use of blur...



I love the way you can see how busy Mane is, whistling away happily during her hospital stay (more on that later).

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

30 Day Photo Challenge - Day 19 - Something Orange

This little guy came back with my parents from Mexico. He mostly hangs out on the computer monitor in the living room...

30 Day Photo Challenge - Day 18 - Your Shoes

Tevas!!

30 Day Photo Challenge - Day 17 - Technology

The definition of technology (courtesy of merriam-webster.com):
1. the practical application of knowledge especially in a particular area
2. a manner of accomplishing a task especially using technical processes, methods, or knowledge
3. the specialized aspects of a particular field of endeavor
I practically applied my knowledge of coffee and various brewing methods, and accomplished the task of cold brewing coffee, a specialized aspect of coffee brewing which endeavors to reduce the acidity of coffee and allow the coffee consumer to enjoy iced coffee without needing to add ice to hot coffee. My method involved the use of 2 glass pitchers and a reusable coffee filter from a regular coffee pot.

Step 1: Measure coffee grounds & water into glass pitcher using a 1:4 ratio. 
Step 2: Cover the pitcher and leave the grounds to soak for about 12 hours.
Step 3: Pour the contents of the pitcher through a coffee filter into another pitcher.
Step 4: The coffee produced is a concentrate and should be enjoyed using a 1:4 coffee to water/milk/ice ratio.


30 Day Photo Challenge - Day 16 - Long Exposure


Long exposure to summer sunshine has Mane turning brown...
Long exposure to books and stories has her motivated to do the library reading program...


Sunday, July 24, 2011

30 Day Photo Challenge - Day 15 - Silhouette

This is the avatar I use for MidnightCafe everywhere...


It's a photo of Mango & I at Lake Michigan the summer before Mane was born. We camped at a campground, the name of which I can never remember, that was cheap and right on the Lake. We used the self timer on our SLR Nikon, and the camera was perched in the rocks. Strange the things we remember as though it were yesterday...

30 Day Photo Challenge - Day 14 - Eyes

Guest photographer...Mane took this photo of herself...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

30 Day Photo Challenge - Day 13 - Yourself with 13 Things

The things that have been multiplying in my house since Mane was born...and me walking around and scooping them up!

30 Day Photo Challenge - Day 12 - Sunset

It isn't sunset, but the baby niece is sleeping...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

30 Day Photo Challenge - Day 11 - Something Blue

The sling I used to carry Mane for years and years...and then T.'s daughter, and now my little niece...and every once in a while Mane uses it for a baby doll...

Sunday, July 17, 2011

30 Day Photo Challenge - Day 10 - Childhood Memory


I have found myself marveling lately at the way life brings us around, how we come full circle, how we feel at peace when we come back to a place, revisit something, bring it back around... I mentioned this in my post on Day 4 of the photo challenge. It was interesting, both unsettling and comforting at the same time (if that's possible), that we ended up camping at Spirit Mountain so soon after Gabe's death, when the last time T. was at Spirit Mountain was with Gabe. I chose the destination without knowing that, but it was as though something was calling us back to the place. And the night that we finally walked out to the chairlifts there was a glorious lightning storm with a purple sky and great crashes of thunder. It was quite satisfying really. There was plenty of pain in the moment but, also, a certain comfort...in the same way that we all felt the need to visit the scene of the accident while we were in Colorado. We just had to go back to the place.

I have an entirely different feeling about spending Shabbat evening with our friends, and, yet, there is this one piece of similarity. It brings back childhood memories of Bible Study at the first house where I lived, before I was in Kindergarten. It brings me full circle in a way I didn't expect. What I've been longing for in a spiritual community for so long is something true, something free, something natural. When I was a very small child, Bible study was simple, full of simple songs and a certain fresh openness that the early hippie Christians had back in those days. Something happened later that turned the church more rigid, more controlling, more arrogant. But back then there was an eagerness to learn and an openness to whatever might come. And we sang these same song that we sing now on Friday nights for Shabbat. It astonishes me every time I am brought back to that old comforting feeling, that childhood memory of being 4 years old and surrounded by new faith. And then I know that I am home. And this is right. And this is where I belong.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

30 Day Photo Challenge - Day 9 - Someone You Love


This is me...and someone I love...

We'll be celebrating our 13th anniversary on Monday, and things only get better. It's been a year with a lot of bumps and snags, but it's also been a year of tremendous growth and depth. And love is a word that just keeps evolving. Just when I think I know what it is to love, it gets to be more...deeper, stronger, more powerful, more evocative. It requires more of me and also covers over and protects me, this love. My love, Mango's love...

30 Day Photo Challenge - Day 8 - A Bad Habit

Staying up too late because I can't sleep if Mango isn't sleeping...Mango does homework, I read books, write blog posts, research all the things I've been wanting to research...and get no sleep...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

30 Day Photo Challenge - Day 7 - Fruit

This painting by Ellen Eilers has hung above our dining table for years, probably since year 2 of our marriage or so. It came from Mango's parents, who own a number of other Eilers paintings. When we moved to this new house, almost 3 years ago, it was a moment of great weight when we unwrapped it and hung it in its place. Once the painting was back on the wall, it didn't matter than the rest of the house was in complete chaos. These fruit trees with all their jumbled mixed fruit made it home.

30 Day Photo Challenge - Day 6 - From a low angle

Leif Erikson Park in Duluth

30 Day Photo Challenge - Day 5 - From a high angle


We're always looking down at these little people. In their world, we are always coming from a high angle. Everything is so much bigger. It's hard to see where you're going. 

This little guy was also on our camping trip. We trekked into Duluth on Sunday, and, in the time it took all 6 adults to blink, this little one stepped out into the street. Mango called his name and ran after him. His daddy got there first and swooped him up into safety.

Later, I mused with Mango over the close calls in life, the "might have beens" and the "what ifs." You see, not only did my high school friend, Gabe, die in a horrible and completely unforeseen car accident two weeks ago, but his 2yr old daughter came within inches of losing her life. And then there's the phone call I received Monday morning, while we were still camping, letting me know that the teenage daughter of a friend of mine attempted suicide Saturday night.

So little separates us from what might be and what actually is. We are so fragile and so strong all at once. We never know what might actually be from one moment to the next, and yet, we are called to live deeply and fully, in a strong, steady, and even fearless kind of way.

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."  (Joshua 1:9)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

30 Day Photo Challenge - Day 4 - Something Green

I wasn't thinking about the photo challenge on Sunday...when I managed to catch such great clouds shots. I discovered, though, that by focusing on the green in the forefront, I could get the sky to show up in the photo the way I wanted it. So, here's my something green...


What a beautiful night it was. The lightning was flashing across the purple sky, the wind was cool and fresh, the hills were covered with tall green grass and wildflowers, full of life. ...and we thought of Gabe, our dear friend, tall as the truth, his memory full of so much life, and his life gone. The last time T. was in this place it was winter and she was skiing with Gabe.  We ended up camping here this weekend because of the government shut-down. Our plan to stay at a state park fell through, and I made reservations for this place. Strange how life brings us around sometimes, without us really intending it.
 

30 Day Photo Challenge - Day 3 - Clouds

The whole sky was clouds on Saturday, and our campground was entirely engulfed in cloud. So, I took a picture of clouds through the trees in order to give your eyes some relief from the sheer white.


There were actually a number of better cloud photo ops over the rest of the weekend...




Friday, July 08, 2011

30 Day Photo Challenge - Day 2 - What I Wore Today

Since I'm not all that interested in fashion, and I can't tell you where most of my clothes come from because I bought them all at Savers, I'll tell you about this one little item that I'm wearing today, and I wear it every day, and I've worn it for the last almost 13 years. Mango designed it...with a rose for my birth month and a thistle for his family's homeland of Scotland and a cross in the middle and a diamond in the center of that. It's a symbol of us. It's a symbol of who we were, who we wanted to become, and what we are slowly becoming. The vines grow together with a deep and shining faith at the center, a guide for our tumultuous life on the edge. If everything else changes day by day and hour by hour, we cling to these 3 things that remain: faith, hope and love. (1 Corinthians 13:13 - How's that for some unlucky numbers, but the way? Lets you know you'll be living on the edge if you follow this path. And our 13th anniversary is just 10 days away.)



"Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away. If one were to give all the wealth of his house for love, it would be utterly scorned." (Song of Solomon 8:6-7)

Thursday, July 07, 2011

30 Day Photography Challenge - Day 1 - Self Portrait

I wanted to leave yesterday's post at the top a little longer...as a tribute, you know...but I also wanted to get started on this 30 day photography challenge and invite the rest of ya'll out there to join in. For me, it'll be a chance to channel the emotional energy that currently surrounds me into something creative. Strange how I find that I'm most creative when I'm tired, sad, grieved, depressed, angry...pretty much anything other than happy. I find that I pay more attention to my internal self when there's dissonance. And I'm more motivated to work it out on the page when there's something that needs working out.


Day 1- Self Portrait




*****





Wednesday, July 06, 2011

A great man is gone...

Two girlfriends and I packed up in one of their cars and drove out to Colorado this past weekend to go to the funeral of a dear, old friend...except he wasn't old. He was way too young.

In week before we left, I was handling all those high school memories of him gingerly, like old parchment, afraid it would all crumble between my fingers. Maybe I would crumble. I strained carefully at those faded memory pages, through the blurred lines and found him all over the place, the places where our lives intersected, where he knew my other friends, where the things I learned from him are written into the rest of my life.

You can't go to school with someone for years and years, with only 5-7 people in your class, and not have them be part of the story of your life. He is written into my story everywhere. That smile, that mischievous grin, those overalls, the red hair, basketball games, bus rides, camp, Mexico, skiing...it's all there. And there he is.

I once said to someone that I will forever be grateful to my guy friends from high school for teaching me what I wanted in a man, for teaching me that men with wonderful qualities were really out there in the world, men who could be trusted. I knew I wanted the depth and conversation of P., the faith and integrity of E., and the adventure and steadiness of G..

Yes, Gabe. On June 25th, the Gabe, who taught me adventure and steadiness, went out of this world. All week I had this e.e.cummings poem running through my head:

 a great


man
is
gone.


Tall as the truth


was who:and
wore his(mountains
understand


how)life


like a(now
with
one sweet sun


in it,now with a 


million 
flaming billion kinds
of nameless


silence)sky;

His parents described him as a "mountain man," and when we were in high school his favorite catch phrase was, "Let's talk about the forest." He was a man connected to the earth, who saw the wonder of creation and reveled in it. He was outfitting his SUV with a bunk in the back to take his little girl camping. So, I'm glad we went to his farewell in the mountains, in a place that seemed full of his spirit, though he is no longer there.



When we left the funeral home, the clouds broke apart and the sun shone down on us like a gift, and cold, wet raindrops fell from the sky.  Heaven's tears. Heaven's healing sun.




We visited the scene of the accident, where he was hit and run off the road by a drunk driver, and I was struck by the peacefulness of the scene. It was so pastoral. So surreal. So unbelievable. But it had his name written all over it. And, again, raindrops splashed on our toes as we walked the length of road.




A great man is gone.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Drizzle

Creativity Boot Camp ~ Day 9

boot camp

*************************************************

I much prefer the storms, a great tantrum, a good cry, to the whining drip, drip of drizzle. Sometimes I imagine I'm in England or Scotland, and then I feel somewhat better. Then the drip, drip drizzle feels exotic, especially when I can enjoy a mug of warm tea and a good book. Still, though, I love the howling wind and a driving rain or a blinding blizzard. It feels cathartic, like something gets to unwind and release. Drizzle feels like there's something holding back, miserable and depressed. Drizzle is what we do when we're trying to keep it all together because we're too busy to let it all out. Unless we're talking about drizzling chocolate syrup over ice cream. Then drizzle is a whole other matter, a delicacy, like snowflakes, a luxury rather than a tight grip.

Which drizzle are you today?

***************************************************
As an aside, maybe I'm being set free from trying to finish Creativity Boot Camp. The links seem to have disappeared. So, I can't get the assignments for the remaining days. Guess this one just took me too long, huh?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Thousand Word Thursday

I spent a lovely weekend in Rochester with some girlfriends of mine. We found out that fun can still be had...even in snowy MN in February!


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Comments are Fixed

In case you've been trying to leave comments lately, I think they're finally fixed.

Back your regularly scheduled programming...

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Judgment Seat



When I was in junior high or so and had been babysitting for some years, I remember thinking to myself that I wouldn't be one of those parents who let their kids drag around naked dolls. I like clean, nicely dressed baby dolls. I still do. But now I understand that children seem to live for the very act of stripping the baby doll naked. And once the dolly is naked, they can happily drag the dolly everywhere.

And, for a while, I thought I knew how to have children who were perfectly behaved in public and who were charming and brilliant and gracious all-in-one. I thought I could reduce parenting to some kind of formula. If I do A, B, and C, then my children with be X, Y, and Z.

Then I had my first child. And I learned very quickly that A, B, and C do not equal X, Y, and Z because this fails to account for personality traits O, P, and Q, and life circumstances F, G, and H, and allergies T, U, and V. Yes, that's a lot of letters. And the combinations are endless.

I say this today because I've encountered some eye rolling and backhanded comments with regard to mine (and others) parenting, and I feel like it's time to make it clear what I believe and what I don't believe.

I can tell you the things I won't do as a parent: I won't hit or in others ways harm my child's body or invade her personal space. I won't call names, yell, guilt or demean. I don't want to make her behave well at the expense of her learning that her body is not hers or learning to hate herself. I don't want her to be externally motivated by fear of punishment. How will she behave when she's on her own if she's only motivated by fear of me and what I might do or say to her? How will she know how to make good decisions for herself if I've always "made" her "be good?"

My goal is behavior that comes from within because my children have learned what the right things are and how to do them. My goal is to love them in such a way that they know how to love and respect others. My goal is for my children to show kindness and compassion out of the overflow of kindness and compassion that has been shown to them.

I believe that children who are forced to do and be act in certain ways do not learn to make their own decisions. In fact, they may not really even have any idea who they are or what they want because they've always been told what to do and how to be. Of course, children who are not forced to act in particular ways will, certainly, make mistakes. Mistakes are an opportunity, though. They are an opportunity for us to teach our children forgiveness and reconciliation and grace. A child who is always punished and shamed for mistakes will only learn to punish and shame others when they make mistakes.  A child, who has experienced forgiveness and learned how to make things right, will forgive others and extend the grace that allows others to make things right. I want to lead a life of grace so that I may leave a legacy of grace.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Lost and Found


We rode the city bus to Lifetime Fitness to go swimming. Mane and I chatted and ate snacks (yes, I know we're not supposed to eat on the city bus). Then we hopped off the bus when we got to our stop. No sooner had the bus driven away than Mane said, "Where's my purse?!!!" and burst out crying. It's a really cute purse. She got it from Vespera for her birthday. It contained her hairbrush, a spray bottle of water, and the sweetest little printed napkins that she received from her friend for Hanukkah.

We sat down on the couches inside the fitness center, and I put in a call to the bus garage. I learned that if the purse contained ID, they would actually STOP the bus and help us find the fastest way to catch up with it in order to get the purse back. However, since it didn't contain anything...um...important, they couldn't hold up the bus. I didn't know they'd ever hold up the bus for anything. So, that we new information! In any case, the bus garage operator helped us figure out when the same bus would be passing our way in the opposite direction. Then we could board the bus and check for the purse.

We had to wait an hour. Mane was beside herself. So, I took her out for ice cream. (Yes, we live in MN and it's freezing outside, but this was an emergency.) The ice cream made her feel better for a while. She told me her mouth was happy, in any case. But as the time drew nearer for the bus to arrive, she started getting anxious, imagining someone else carrying her purse off the bus and taking it home to their own little girl. I didn't want to promise her that it would be there. So, we just waited and hoped, talking about all the possible scenarios.

At 12:04pm we boarded the bus. I said to the bus driver, "We were on this same bus about an hour ago, and my daughter left a little blue purse with stars on it. Did someone turn it in?"

All the other passengers in the first few rows, who could hear my question, leaned forward in their seats. I kid you not, the bus grew quiet in these few tense seconds of anticipation.

Mane stood anxiously.

The bus driver reached beside his seat and pulled out the purse!

Mane laughed and we thanked him profusely.

Then we turned to face the rest of the bus. Everyone was grinning from ear to ear, old men and young, mothers and grandmothers, and a few whom I sure did not even speak English. The whole story played out on our faces and in our gestures, and it wasn't too hard to figure out what happened. I almost felt the bus break into silent applause.

I thought about how this feeling is one we can all relate to, one we long for...to find and be found.

I once was lost, but now I'm found. Amazing Grace.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Top book picks of 2010

I read a LOT this year. Some books I chose for myself and others I read at the recommendation of others. Some were fiction, some non-fiction, some were picture books and others were young adult reads. Most of them I thoroughly enjoyed. I thought I'd pass on a few of my very favorite books from several genres for your consideration...

Children's Picture Book:
 Ben and Lucy Play Pond Hockey - Mango's cousin, Andrew Sherburne, wrote this book, and it came out just in time for Christmas 2010! The book followed Andrew's co-production of the film, Pond Hockey, in 2008. We love this book, not just because Andrew wrote it, but because it feels so much like home. Snow and ice are a reality of life here in MN, and fewer and fewer kids are getting out to play in it. Ben and Lucy are a sweet reminder to get out and play! 

Grade-School Fiction:
The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron - This one wins my top choice hands down! Click on the link, and you can read a review on my homeschool blog!

Non-Fiction:
Such a Road by Philip Solem - The story of the marriage of a nun and a priest, written by the priest himself, captured my interest in early 2010, and I have continued to mull over bits and pieces of the story from time to time all year. The book was not anything I expected when I first picked it up. It's not sensationalist, not a romance, not even a statement about the Catholic church. (And it's not particularly well-written, either. Sorry, Mr. Solem.) It's the story of two people with strongly held spiritual and political beliefs, who joined together in those beliefs and lived them out in the best way they knew how. It's the story of their effort to live communally with others and to raise their children. It's the story of how their faith and spirituality changed over time and how they had the strength and flexibility to give each other room to grow while still maintaining connection. I'll be re-reading this one in 2011.

Self-Help:
The Blue Zones: Lessons For Living Longer from the People Who've Lived the Longest by Dan Buettner - The title pretty much says it all! Buettner reports his research findings after spending time with people groups from five distinct regions of the world where people tend to live to be older than a century.

Cooking:
Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless -  If you want to cook Mexican food, and you love your crockpot, you'll be delighted to know that this book includes crockpot/slow cooker recipes, as well as instructions for doing the same recipes in a dutch oven or on the stovetop. How's that for versatile? Another thing I love about this book is that each recipe includes variations for how to do something similar with a different meat or vegetable. We haven't made anything from this cookbook yet that we didn't like!

Enjoy!