closer to the clouds

30 January 2008

without pay: post 5

I had hoped to keep a daily record of the ways that God spoke... moved... invited through this time but alas life has required of me the time I would have spent blogging. I can't say that is disappointing for me in any way. Except for the fact that I felt "taken out" at the end of last week and on Monday (not the weekend so much) so it didn't feel as much like my choice as much as a way of reacting...not my preferable way of living...not really living at all only existing so to speak.

As I write I am enjoying a hot cup of blueberry tea and some maple walnut scones. I am not trying to rub it in. I just wanted to invite you to celebrate God's lavish ways of loving with me...I got the scones at the food pantry I visited yesterday.

As we have tried to "plan" for this time of limited to no income I knew we would have limit our expenses and drastically reduce or eliminate others. Well, food was not something we could eliminate but I felt sure we could reduce in that area. Wes (Mark's mentor and our family friend) shared our situation with a gal at church who I have come to learn has been (with her husband and 4 children) in a similar situation for that last year and was anxious to talk. Wes encouraged me to call her and I did. That was last Monday (our first day "without pay"). We were instantly bonded through our details and she told me about the food pantry they have been going to every Tuesday for these last months. We connected over how these times energize us and become like an "on switch" to something that calls the strength in us to rally and not just cope but thrive.

As we wrapped up our conversation she said, "So, will I see you tomorrow?" I gave her some lame explanation about how we were expecting to have income within the next couple of days so I would give it a week and see if we really "needed" to participate. Her boldness in asking me if I would be there rattled me. In theory it sounded great - free groceries - but her question exposed my preference in letting it remain a theory. So, yesterday I met her. As I drove there (alone - hallelujah! - because Mark was home) I grappled over whether or not we should really be doing this. I was talking to God "well, there is some money in the bank, maybe I should wait." He was saying... "keep driving".

As I went through the line I couldn't believe how loved I I picked out yogurt for the kids and milk and eggs and bread. And then, I saw the scones...and I was nearly undone.

And then it hit me...this isn't about food.

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celebrating owen

Yesterday my beloved Owen turned 3.

It is amazing to me that he is three years old already...doing things "by myself", learning to go to the bathroom in (or around) the potty, talking about being a big boy. Owen is such a special soul...serious, loving, feels things strongly, easily entertained, independent yet greatly attached to his momma. I am blessed by his daily need to be held and cuddled, his quiet way of going about his day (except when he is being wronged by his big brother), his simple and freely given affection. I cannot imagine what God might have in store for this boy but I am so grateful and humbled to be a part of it.

We enjoyed a lovely day together as a whole family...finding the blessing in the lack of work for Mark. Mark gives a great re-cap of the day on his blog and here are some of my favorite pictures.


29 January 2008


Today is Owen's third birthday.
When he was just a few months old we nicknamed him O-tastic and it stuck...probably because it is true - he is a fantastic boy! Happy Birthday Owen!


24 January 2008

without pay: post 4

We are feeling led to make this a time of "piecing-things-together". While the next couple months may be tight - like 70's leisure suit tight (having just received our gas bill for over $200 - eeek!) - we don't feel that God is directing us toward a job-change so much as a means to exist (hopefully and prayerfully without accruing any debt) in the mean be evaluated in the early spring, when the work is supposed to be flowing freely once again.

I am hopeful that this may add a missional layer to our lives that we have been asking God to weave into our way of being. I hope this means we find ourselves (one or both of us) at Starbucks or REI or Whole Foods. God is faithfully and graciously bringing on-going clarity to our place in His story - our unique role...sorting out the things that we have put on like a shirt but aren't truly ours and exposing the raw materials which He intends for us to use as we participate with Him in Kingdom life.

Among these places of light - in the shadows, the enemy spirit is restless today. I am lured toward spending and over-eating. I fight for energy. Among the loving reminders I feel the Spirit whispering, there is another voice to defend myself against. The opposition I have felt since Sunday hovers - like the feeling that you are being followed. I have been sensing that God is inviting me to come to Him for affection and tenderness - this is beginning to make sense in light of that which is set against Him, His work and His beloved these days.

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23 January 2008

without pay: post 3

I am going to have to change the name of my "series."

We are being lavished upon in ways that may be more important for our hearts and the journey we travel than knowing where the next paycheck is coming from...generosity, genuine care and empathy, encouragement. When I think of the fact that we have lived in this new place for only 6 months, I am awed and humbled by this reality. People who barely know us are sharing their resources with us - joining themselves to our story - and then this morning...

We had company...a gal who I am getting to know better from Adullam and her two boys. We enjoyed getting our words used up while we consumed lattes and our children emptied every toy bin we own. While we made bread, visited, and had lunch someone dropped a box full of essential groceries at my door. I don't know how I missed the drop. I would have enjoyed catching someone in the act of army-crawling across my snow covered lawn with a box of groceries - including the largest jar of peanut butter I have ever laid eyes on!

I may have to name my posts - without written paycheck...for we are certainly being cared for and loved through the people of God whom he has woven into this story.

Thank you...

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22 January 2008

without pay: post 2

The kids and I made our way to the WIC office before MOPS this morning. Hopefully by next week at this time we will have the blessing of vouchers for milk, eggs, cheese and some other nutritious essentials. I also learned of a great food pantry that I am sure will be a great help in lowering our grocery expenses for a bit. We will go on Tuesday of next week if we don't have some income by then.

Today we had the unexpected blessing of a day of work in the window business!

I think it was a lovely way for God to show Mark (and the rest of us) how beloved he is. Yesterday was a good day, but you can imagine the resources used in a day of searching and "selling" yourself. I think a day to work it out a bit was just what Mark needed to tank up and I cherish it as God's special romancing ... and paycheck!

In the midst of this we have found ourself in more genuine conversation with more genuine people than we have had in more time than I can recall. God has been lovingly surrounding us with people whose details are similar to ours and can come alongside us in prayer and other ways of support in a very authentic way. In the past circumstances like this often left us feeling very alone but the opposite has been true in these days. The redemptive conversations that have occurred in the last 5 days have been a balm to our souls and usually have happened with people we barely know. This is a divine gift...our connection to others in Christ.

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21 January 2008

without pay: post 1

I am struck by the way definitions change when I find myself in the place we currently live (meaning without work and therefore without pay). All of the sudden "need" has a new definition. Last Monday at the grocery store "need" meant: we are almost out of this and it is on sale so I am going to buy one. This Monday at the grocery store "need" meant: we still have some of that so I will wait until it is all gone and then see if we can get by without it.

I wonder what "need" means to my when Paul says "And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus." I am betting on the fact that his definitions never change the way mine do and that is something I find myself unendingly grateful for today.

PS - Jon (the guy who owns the window company Mark has been working for) says there may be a day or two of work this week...that would be wonderful!

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I got this in an email today.
I am not sure I can even express how I think or feel about this...

(click on picture to view larger)


18 January 2008

made with love

Who needs REI... we've got RENE (that is my balaclava making mother-in-law).
We requested these custom fit balaclavas at Christmas time and got them in the mail today.
I can't wait to test-drive them in our fresh falling snow.
The ones at REI may be "field tested" but I am sure they aren't made with LOVE!



if you feel like being a part of our story, pray for work...
it appears at present that there is no work for mark for an indefinite time period...


16 January 2008

follower vs. disciple

"Christianity minus discipleship = religion....
No help to the world, and no meaning for the individual." (unsure of who said this)

I have known this more intimately than I care to admit to myself...

I have being stripped clean of this (meaningless, helpless religion)...

Is "whiter than snow" a process or a state of being? ... both?

Follower or disciple...this is our theme for the year at Adullam (I am not comfortable calling it a church because it is not like any church I have been in or a part of (praise be to God!) and wouldn't want it to be confused or lumped together with church as I have known church - but I guess it really is Church...really, or at least church is a part of what Adullam is).

We are being led to consider the difference and make a choice - follower or disciple - with our lives - heart, soul and mind.

What I am considering is religion has followers...Christ has disciples.
And being Christ's disciple, truly - as opposed to a follower of a church (religion) and church people - is going to be a lovely, wild, frightening, deep, confusing, holy ride...

a ride I plan to be on...
strapped down with God's tender, personal love and bountiful, lavish grace.


13 January 2008

fresh food

I have found myself longing for the fresh foods of summer-time lately. I made this dish last night for dinner and felt it was a must-share...

2 T olive oil
1 T fresh lime juice
1/4 c chopped cilantro
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 1/2 c crisp corn kernels (about 5 ears)
1 1/2 c diced avocado
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
1/2 c finely chopped red onion

In large bowl, whisk together the olive oil,lime juice, cilantro, salt and pepper.
Add the corn, avocado, tomatoes, and onion and toss to mix.
Serve at room temp as a salad or as a dip with tortilla chips.

To make it a meal I added grilled chicken, black beans and chick peas and served it over romaine lettuce with olive oil and red wine vinegar for dressing.

I think I could eat this every day until summer returns.


11 January 2008


peace, truly understood...


10 January 2008

outrageous oatmeal

for oatmeal eaters, here is a must-try recipe...

Steel Cut Oatmeal
(Serves 4/2 Adults and 3 little people)

1 cup steel cut oats (regular oats work fine but cooking time may be shorter)
1/4 cup brown sugar (we decided to leave out the sugar and just sprinkle a bit on top)
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1 cup skim milk

Bring 3 cups water to a boil in large saucepan. Add oats, brown sugar, vanilla and spices.
Stir well, reduce heat to simmer and cook, 15 minutes.
Add milk, stir again, and cook 15 minutes or until liquid has been absorbed and mixture is creamy.

We topped with nuts for a little crunch and omega-3 (and wished for fresh summer berries)


09 January 2008

square candies that look round

Familiar with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?
The kids and I have been slowly listening to it on CD in the van whenever we are out and about. It is lovely to get caught up in a story while on the way to wherever our travels take us. I have found myself a little irritated at times with Owen who all the sudden is yelling... "MAAAAMMMMMAAAAAA!" He has been talking and I have been listening to Willy Wonka! Ooops.

Do you remember the "square candies that look round" room? Willy Wonka and Veruca Salt were arguing furiously. Veruca said that the little square candies did not look round. Mr. Willy Wonka said go in for yourself and see. So Veruca went in and all the candies turned and looked 'round at her. Then Mr. Willy Wonka says, "See, they are square candies that look 'round."

That room has me thinking...
Mark and I were chatting about the places where we find ourselves turning away - at God's love and life filled invitation - from the parts of our story that we have tried to write ourselves... the "forced" relationships or fabricated "calling"...the pursuit of things that are parts of someone else's story and seem to be working well but that God has not written into our own ... square candies that look round (as Veruca understands it).

Not much is clear these days but I find myself to be very clear sighted in this...
square or round (or oval or diamond for that matter), one or the other, as God intends not as I attempt. So, I am settling into my reality - a square - and keeping my eyes open - that looks 'round - for the continuing path of becoming that is my story and none others. Truly, more like an ever-increasing-ness...the nature of becoming being ever-changing and in motion.


08 January 2008


"Our intention creates our reality."
-W. Dyer

When God is stirring my heart over matters that I am not yet able to give a voice to, I am wise to intend myself toward Him with whatever I have to give. I think it affects my reality, the living I am doing now, not just the places He invites me to in the times and places to come.

I find myself in a place of calm uncertainty... calm because I am assured of His abiding presence and deep affection, uncertain because I cannot see where our steps together are going. Indeed, at times I have certainly found my own path away from Him (but not really) and have to retreat from those places and find my Shepherd again.

I find He asks me to "live loved"...and, for now, that is all the reality I need.


07 January 2008

christmas in iowa

We headed to Iowa for Christmas this year. It is the first time in a while we have been together on Christmas day. We left a little earlier than we had planned on to get ahead of a snow storm that had begun here at home and to try and beat one that was supposed to hit Iowa the following afternoon. So, we grabbed dinner on the road and headed east. It was the worst trip we have had in a very long time, maybe the worst. About an hour down the road Owen threw up his dinner. Audrey was asleep by 8 but the boys were so excited it was at least 10 before they were out. The storm meant wind and that meant car sickness for me! Around mid-night I couldn't take it anymore and we had to stop so my stomach could settle... that is when the throwing up began. The kids all woke up and stayed awake until around 5am when I finally stopped barfing and we stopped because Mark's highly caffeinated beverage had finally worn off and the nervous ticks that came along with it. We were a mess! We were all asleep by around 5:30 and at 6:10 mom called! So, basically, none of us slept (except Audrey) more than 2 hours.

Thankfully, once we arrived (and just as the snow was starting to fall), we forgot it all because we were so glad to be there. Here are just a few pictures of our fun...

The weekend before New Year's my in-laws came to spend a few days in Waterloo with us. We were so glad to see them at Christmas time and made lovely memories indoors and out...


04 January 2008


"a spare amount or measure or degree allowed or given for contingencies or special situations"

Oh yes, this is exactly what I am looking for...
room for the Divine and unexpected, yet longed for, adventure.

Room everywhere...margin.

Psalm 71:15
My mouth will tell of your righteousness, of your salvation all day long, though I know not its measure.


03 January 2008

dare you

Do you ever feel like God is daring you?
I dare you to believe...
dare you to take me at my word...
dare you to listen...
dare you to love...
dare you...

I feel this from him right now as I ponder the nuances of creating space in my life... creating margin.
I sense his hope-filled invitation to what doing this might mean for us... Him and me...a dare.

I loved what I found when I went looking for what "dare" really meant beyond a childish playground game...

"venturesomely bold in action or thought"
imaginative or vivacious boldness"
to be sufficiently courageous to"
to challenge to perform an action especially as a proof of courage"
to have the courage to contend against, venture, or try"

I am enticed by the light on the pathway that seems to be opening up before me as I take small steps to accept His dare.