Friday, November 29, 2013



Where they have to take you in.
Where the heart is.
Where you will be for the holidays. 

Where every Mama hopes she will safely gather her babies each year so she can stuff them full of food they will always remember being better than it ever actually was much to the chagrin of their future mates.  Home is a touchstone for family.  Home is a place in a mama's heart where she stands gentle and fierce for her babies.  Some of those babies are near and some are gone, but all are fiercely and jealously loved.

As our family gathered for Thanksgiving this year, we missed several faces.

My youngest brother, Patrick, travels with the touring production of War Horse as the horse Joey, and was in Syracuse, NY.  We missed him and hope that he found some warm hearth to settle next to for a few hours.  Blessings on the house that welcomed him.

My Grandma who died last February taught two generations the importance of family and tradition with flour and potatoes.  Each year we would gather around the warped and dented lefse maker and tell the stories that knit our family together.  We have a home and we come from a place, and we remember both through Grandma's eyes.  As for the lefse, we tried, but...we do miss you and your lefse

And our little Gwyneth.  Our Gwyneth who will never share a meal at the table with us save Eucharist.  We miss her too.  We miss the joy of new life and tremble at the enormity of life without her place at the table.  And yet, she has taught us about home and family too.  She has knit us together with love and a glimpse of a more permanent home.

Why do we gather around the table?  Because we need to remember what was, and then, embracing, go into what will be sure that we have a place. 

And if you don't have a place at a table, we can find one for you too. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


In our daily prayer, my children and I share a time of confession. I usually have to confess having used a harsh and angry voice and not having rested adequately, but Oliver, for whom words are clumsy, jumps off of his chair and gives everyone a hug and cheerfully sings, "sah-wee!!"  

In the fourth chaper of Hebrews, the writer adopts a tone of voice he will probably have to apologize for. I can sense the weariness dripping off of his pen along with the gallons of ink spilt in this weighty missive. From the frustration clear his words, I think he must have felt like he was trying to herd beached whales. Like getting reluctant, rubber-legged toddlers to walk, he was exhorting, rationalizing, threatening and bribing them to just walk. Just put your legs down and stand (mutter, splutter, grind, gnash, steam). 

And what does the writer finally require, since Jesus knows what we are going through? To cling to confession. Confession, really?  How about action and doing and witness and love?  How about bearing fruit?  How about praise and worship and discipleship?  I think that the writer knew something of the beached whale mentality of the church. The writer knew that, while the church's deep calling is to love and serve, often we are immobilized by self-recrimination and doubt, and the cure is...more cow bell...wait, sorry...confession.

But often even the idea of confession is overwhelming. We sit paralyzed before the very one who aches to set us free because we fear to face our needs and shortcomings and sin. Our call is not be the Creator or Savior. We are merely asked to confess, and when we don't know the words, I know a very good place to start. 


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

My Kid's Got Mad Jokes

In the struggle from infancy to childhood and, eventually, adulthood there is a sacred rite of passage; universal and fundamental to human kind. 

The joke. 

Elusive and complex in its formation, compounded by its dependence on timely delivery and sensitive inflection, the joke is the gateway from infancy to the great mystery of the infinite beyond. 

And let me tell you, people, we haven't gotten there yet. 

I had no idea the level of eyeball shrinking hollowness that could be attained by an afternoon spent in the company of a burgeoning joke-teller. Even the most devoted admirer will descend through polite, parental har-har's to catatonic non-responsiveness within minutes of encountering the fledgling's attempts to soar into joke-telling maturity. 

There are many inherent difficulties to decode. For instance, the subtlety between telling a joke and "just joking."  The paradoxical incompatibility of these two para-homonyms is confusing and disheartening.  

Knock knock.  Who's there? Tree. Tree who?  A tree fell on your car.  What?!  Just joking!!!


Also startling is the failure of the form of a joke to manufacture humor while simply delivering factual information. 

Why does a car drive down the road? Because it has wheels!!!!



So, I will engage in the sacred rite of passage; universal and fundamental to parenthood...

I will buy my kid a joke book. 

Monday, November 25, 2013


Have I mentioned the Kingdom of God lately?  I thought not. Here's what I know now: God created us to live in God's community. No matter how broken we are, God's love and mercy are deep and real and often God calls us to sit in the midst of God's community and be still. Sometimes we scream and beat our fists against the wind and sometimes we find our voices choked off and can only manage a groan and always God's Kingdom surrounds us. In touches, in muttered sympathy, in meals, in cards and in love we are lifted on the shoulders of others. We find healing through community when we force our aching knees to buckle in the midst of all the loving arms. Even when all we want to do is hide and protect our pain, God calls us to dwell deeply in community and be beloved. 

I know this to be true. 

Thank you. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013


Today I am thankful for:

::snaggle tooth lisps::
::toddlers with new words::
::friends with enough patience to listen to my breaking heart...again::
::the light of creativity in Luke's eyes::
::having pictures of all my children::
::getting to be a parent::
::kids who sleep in some of the time::
::that life is full of unnecessary, extravagant beauty::
::rocking chairs::


When my first child quickened (moved for the first time), I realized that however much I feel connected to my children they are not part of me. They are so alien, in fact, that our mixed blood would kill us both. The intense experience of feeling a body grow just under your skin is as visceral as any I have known, and while those children might breathe through my body they are not part of it. They will enter the world and live in it and I will not stand between them and their maker. In John chapter five, Jesus tells his friends that they are each a branch off of the vine. I don't know if I find it comforting or alarming that the children I gave birth to will enter this world and the next on their own. 

About five weeks ago, our daughter, Gwyneth Elise was born. I was privileged to give birth to her dear body, but she was one of the quiet ones. At 38 weeks of life, she died, prior to her birth, and my life was changed. 

Since that moment, there are many things I have learned and discovered so far, but the one thing I feel brave enough to say today is, our grasp on our children is no more than a winding tendril or a leafy support. We do not own them and they are not part of us. We are appointed as guides and supports, but they are grafted into the divine Vine just as we are. Each of my children are powerful and unique branches who get their spiritual nourishment as I do: from the Christ. Not only can I not fill their souls for them, if I insist on being some sort of heavenly middleman, I will hamper their ability to be rooted in the Vine. 

Do I miss my Gwyneth, yes, but she is not gone. She is as firmly rooted in Christ as the rest of us. In fact, she might be carefully propping up my drooping branch so that I get the light I so desperately need. 

Blessed indeed are those who mourn, for the grace of the Father and the love of the Son and the peace of the Spirit are deep and abundant.