The kind that sends your stomach to the ground and your eyes to the heavens. The kind that makes you listless and tired and hopeless.

Disappointment. Unrelenting disappointment, as the Proverb says. The kind that makes your heart sick.

I battled it this week, after the offer we got for our house came in at half the asking price.

Our real estate agent, who pleaded for us not to see the offer as an insult, says in this economy, everyone's looking for a bargain. I think it also has to do with the fact that we're selling a "high-end" home in a small town; the culture is so different, I'm not even sure I can explain it. Consider that this is the fifth house we've bought and sought to sell, yet never before have we battled town gossip about why we are selling our house or why we settled on "such a high price." (Answer: Because that's what we owe the bank.)

But whatever the reason, when it became apparent Tuesday morning that we would continue to own two homes for the time being, I found myself sinking into the slough of despair. I was actually surprised at how quickly I slid from expectant to despondent.





Of course, it didn't help that the last month as been draining. The kids have been uncharacteristically whiny and picky. The baby keeps forgetting how to nap. The husband has to travel and study and speak at conferences.

I felt like an ocean swimmer who is battling a series of waves. Each one rolls toward me and -- slap! -- I'm left with eyes that sting and a mouth full of salt water. As soon as I catch my breath -- slap! -- here comes another. And another. And another.

Tuesday, I lost the energy to keep swimming.

(Story continued tomorrow.)

What's Gray and Concrete and Modern All Over?

Care to guess what this is a picture of?

(By the way, I'm not sweating anymore about ending sentences with prepositions. Grammar Girl told me its OK.)

Here's a hint: It has a lot of wacky looking objects like this:

(That's supposed to be a cross-section of epidermis. Totally obvious in retrospect, right?)

Most of them have long-winded explainations like this:

(Fifty bucks to the first person who can click on the photo, read the paragraph and then can EXPLAIN it to me. Maybe I'm too blond these days, but it reads like one of those Charlie Brown adults: "Wah-wah-wah-wah-wah-wah.")

It also has a wall of graffiti for children to climb:

And an empty concrete room with aquatic videos projected on the walls:

So what's your guess? A modern art museum? What happens when good designers use drugs? IKEA gone horribly, horribly wrong? A rave for kids?

(Remind me to tell you the story about the time Corey ended up at a rave in downtown San Francisco, by the way. Hy-ster-i-cal.)

Of course, it's none of the above. It's a children's museum, which you undoubtedly know if you read my 5 Minutes for Parenting post today.

Warning: It's a bit of a rant, which isn't always my style. But I've been stewing on this one ever since our trip to SoCal in February. It's time to let it out.

House Sellers, Midwestern Edition

I sent my husband the following text message this afternoon: "I'm the biggest mess of skepticism and optimism you ever saw."

It's all because of this:

That's our house. The one we own but no longer inhabit. The one that's been on the market for 30 months.

The one where I saw views like this almost every night:

According to our agent, some potential buyers are writing us an offer tonight.

It's a little like that feeling you get when you're trying to get pregnant. Maybe you've been trying for months, maybe you've even gotten pregnant only to watch your dreams bleed away when the baby died. You've been waiting and hoping and praying and believing and expecting and despairing and protecting for so long, it feels like it will be this way forever.

And then.

And then, the little stick turns positive.

Afraid to hope. Afraid not too.

Will you pray?

We've gotten a couple of offers before, but both were so low -- almost half our asking price -- they weren't even a consideration.

Would you pray this offer is fair? Would you pray this is God's answer to our plea? Would you pray that, even if this isn't God's answer, that we would continue to believe in His timing, His plan?

I'll let you know what happens.

Called to Love Africa

Last month, God took away our best babysitters.

Not that I hold it against Him, because they went to spend a year in Africa where they are serving the people of Namibia in a hundred different ways.

And while I miss their joyful presence in my life -- and the lives of my children -- I am quite honestly thrilled they jumped at this opportunity. (I'm also a little jealous. But as Alton Brown says, that's another show.) Nicole and Josh are very dear to us. Nicole has been watching our kids since Connor was an infant. And if you've been reading my blog for many moons, you might even remember when they got married. Nicole and Josh are some of the brightest, most passionate, sincere, loving people I've ever met. I'm beyond excited to see what they do in Africa -- and what Africa does to them.

To that end, I'd like to invite you to follow Nicole's blog, Called to Love Africa. Nicole is a fabulous communicator -- honest and witty. Even before they left for Africa, she was writing stuff like this (from her post American Values):
It will be a culture shock to leave the excess of America for the simplicity and lacking in Namibia. But I imagine it will be a far greater challenge to return. In fact, Josh has banned me from touching our storage unit for the first month that we come back, for fear I'll give everything away.

To me, material possessions, status, money, power, achievement, people-pleasing... these are all things that distract me from God. I want to know Him with all of my being; with every breath I take, I want to glorify Him.

Instead, I find myself worried with having enough, or getting what I deserve (another post for another day), or what someone thinks of me. I am being brutally honest here, people. That is not glorifying to God.
Here's a snippet from one of my all-time favorites, You're Gonna Miss This.
Sometimes I feel like all I hear is people rushing to the next thing. They can't wait until the weekend, a vacation, until they find the right person to marry, until they have kids, until they graduate or retire or have more money or lose 10 lbs or the kids aren't in diapers or they buy a bigger house....

Until they go to Africa....

We are letting life pass us by. Well, at least I have been.

Not to be morbid, but what if we die today? In some cultures, that concern is a reality. Maybe our relative safety has spoiled us to the point we are ungrateful and always wanting more. What if Jesus comes back in 10 minutes? Will he be pleased with the priorities I have, reflected in how I spend my time?
If you don't mind your toes bruised, go read the whole thing.

Then follow Nicole and Josh on their journey this year by subscribing to their blog. And if you are so inclined, join their work by praying for them. A pastor from Congo delivered God's message at our church today, and he forcefully reminded us that in the story where Joshua fought the Amalekites, most people didn't know Moses was on the mountaintop praying, and they certainly didn't know Aaron and Hur were holding up Moses' hands in prayer. But each person in that narrative was necessary. Each was used by God to play a small role in a bigger story.

The same is true with us.


In a similar vein, if you haven't already heard, there's a fabulous group of bloggers in India this week, willingly exposing themselves to some of the worst poverty in the world so you and I can see it through their eyes. (And hopefully, do something about it.)

I was reminded this last week that, as believers, we dare not distance ourselves from the poor. It's uncomfortable, it's disturbing, it can be frustrating. But if we close our eyes when Jesus says, "Look -- here I am," we risk imploding from self-absorption and selfishness, and we spit on the grace we've received.

I know thems strong words, but God has burned this conviction into my soul the past few years. I do not want to settle into the entitlements of luxury.

Life is too short. And we can make a difference.

Just ask Nicole and Josh.

She Put Her Head in her Paws and Said "Think, Think, Think"

My post at 5 Minutes for Parenting today is a odd marriage of poetry and Pooh, and while every word of it is true (it flowed out of my very little brain yesterday), I've had a bit of a thinking about it today.

You see, I sometimes think my writing is more melancholy than my personality, which is sadly very cheerful and optimistic. (I say sadly because we all know that to be a true artist, one must be tortured or melancholy or at least quietly morose. I fear my sanguine nature will never allow such tendencies to stick.)

Ironically, I now have a rather gloomy feeling about today's post, as if I am somehow misrepresenting my true self.

So go over and judge for yourself and let me know what you think.

I'll stay here and think happy thoughts. After all, it's sunny and 65 here today. Even Eeyore would have to smile in the face of such brilliant spring.

This Grand Vista

At dinner last night, Corey and I were pondering the size of our new niece. At six pounds and change, she’s the smallest baby ever born in our extended family. (I think the cantaloupe I cut up for breakfast weighed more.)

While we were talking, Teyla walked over to Corey and climbed into his lap.

“Then again, it’s hard to believe that little monkey weighed only 7 pounds when she was born last year,” I said, nodding at the toddler squirmy next to Corey's chest. “Just look at her now.”

That led to a nostalgia tinged conversation about how small our children used to be, back when they were fresh from the womb, floppy and warm and unknown. We laughed that Natalie, our largest newborn at 8 pounds, 11 ounces, went on to be our smallest toddler. (This contrasts with Teyla, who started small and is now perfectly situated at the 50th percentile.)

But Natalie, who was bigger than I ever dreamed my firstborn could be, was so small she didn’t even start wearing 12 month clothes until she was 18 months old, and even then, she wore those 12 month clothes for a year. (I distinctly remember that she was still wearing her 12-18 month shorts the summer she turned 3.)

The next thing I knew, we were pulling up the My Pictures folder on my laptop, which was sitting next to crusty roasting pans on the kitchen counter. We meandered through Natalie’s baby pictures, alternately being stunned and then delighted at the tiny creature she used to be.

“Is that Teyla?” asked Natalie, peaking over my shoulder.

“No, honey,” I laughed. “That’s you. Look at how tiny you were.”

She leaned in close to the screen.

Ooooh. I was so cute,” she cooed.

And she was.

One of the most mystical things about being a parent is watching a person form from beginning to end. This scope, this grand vista, is hard to keep in focus when one lives in the day-to-day. Even I barely recognized the infant Natalie last night when her picture brightened the screen of my computer. She seemed like an echo from the past, far removed from the Natalie I see in front of me today, all giggles and legs and adventure.

But when I step back for a moment and try to take in the whole horizon at once, it leaves me breathless.

She's Here

Good news: My sister got to eat dinner last night.

Even better news: My very first niece is here.


Meet Eliana Elisabeth. (My sister's name is Emily Elisabeth, and yes, she was partially named after the girl in the "Clifford" books. Legend has it that my parents had decided on Emily as a name for their third baby, but they couldn't agree on a middle name -- until my brother, a Clifford aficionado, suggested Emily Elisabeth. It stuck.)

(That's my Mom holding the baby, by the way.)

Eliana weighed all of 6 pounds, 2.3 ounces at birth, so the doctors were right about her tiny stature. But in every other respect, she's completely healthy.

Emily did have a chance to get an epidural before the pain got intense, which was her fervant prayer. And in the end (no pun intended), she only had to push 5 minutes before the baby arrived.

I call that a win-win.

Oh. And can I share this picture with you?

That's two-year-old Silas, Emily's firstborn, bringing her a flower he found in the hospital parking lot. Silas has been spending a lot of time with my parents (Grammie and Papa) the last few days, as you might imagine. Emily remarked that she'd never been separated from him for this length of time before.

I, too, remember the sweetness of introducing my firstborn to her new sibling. All of a sudden, you aren't just two parents with a child anymore. You're a full-fledged FAMILY. It was almost too much.

God, continue to bless this growing family in every imaginable way. And may tiny Eliana grow up to have huge faith in the One who made her.

Baby Update

When I said yesterday -- "my sister is REALLY TRULY HAVING HER BABY TODAY" -- what I meant was -- "my sister is REALLY TRULY GOING TO BE ADMITTED TO HOSPITAL HELL TODAY."

Because that would be more accurate. And as a former journalist, accuracy is everything to me.

(Corey, I can see your eyes rolling.)

The saga started yesterday morning, when Emily showed up at her doctor's office for a scheduled ultrasound. Measurements showed the baby is growing, but she's still small. So Emily's doctor told her, in no uncertain terms, to head straight to labor and delivery to have that baby. She wasn't even allowed to go home to get her bag. "Go straight to the hospital. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200."

So Emily dutifully shuffled over to the hospital, where she was stashed in an observation room, seeing as all the L&D rooms were being used. "It will only be a few minutes," the staff promised her.

She sat there about four hours.

When a L&D room finally opened up, a nurse came in, started a pitocin IV and left. Emily wasn't in any pain; she was mostly just hungry.

As is usual, her pitocin was upped every 30 minutes, to no avail. A doctor finally came to see her -- 10 hours after she checked into the hospital. Emily hadn't progressed at all. So they decided to turn off her IV for a bit and try again.

(At this point, I would have begun to weep a little. Mostly from hunger, because good night, people, who can be expected to birth a baby after fasting for 24 hours?)

They turned the pitocin back on at 2:00 AM, starting again with the minimal amount and upping it every 30 minutes.

Last time I talked to Emily, she wasn't even having any real contractions yet.

And she'd already been in the hospital for 24 hours.

The good news? The nurses had pity on her and let her have some applesauce.

The bad news? That's her food allowance for the day. And today is her (and Luke's) anniversary..

If I was in California right now, I'd totally be sneaking that girl some In-N-Out and a People magazine. And maybe for Luke, a steak and some rhubarb pie.

Stay tuned here at Love Well for the latest on this breaking situation. We'll update as soon as news becomes available.

A Meme for my iPod

I've kept a fun meme in reserve for a fun day when I might want to do something fun.

Today's the day. It's sunny and 70 (for the first time since November 4), and my sister is REALLY TRULY HAVING HER BABY TODAY. The doctors are still a little concerned about the baby's size (estimated at this point to be 6 pounds, 1 ounce), so she's sitting in a hospital room in San Jose even as I type this, getting prepped to be induced.

As you might imagine, I'll be way too distracted by the weather and the birth of my first niece to write anything coherent this afternoon.

So here's the meme (which the lovely Elle tagged me with back in January; I can't believe it was that long ago).

A Meme for your iPod
1. Put your iPod (or MP3 player) on shuffle. (Note: I started this meme using my Shuffle, but eventually, it got too hard to guess the song title. So I switched to iTunes on my desktop. Still works.)
2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.
4. Tag some Moms you admire who could use a laugh and a song.

So here are my answers. If you are feeling as distractable as I am today, feel free to skim. I put my favorites in bold.

Also, please note how many of these answers are kids' songs, despite that my music library is only 15% or so kids material. Weird.

I’m Going to Catch You (Laurie Berkner)


Destined to Win (DeGarmo and Key)


Love My Way (The Psychedelic Furs)


Suddenly I See (KT Turnstall)


Chocolate (Soul Control)

IF SOMEONE SAYS “Can I have a snack?” YOU SAY?
Blessed Is He Who Comes in the Name of the Lord (Michael W. Smith)


Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent (Red Mountain Church)


This is Us (Mark Knopfler)


Hark the Herald Angels Sing (Travis Cottrell)


Nothing Else (Dave Barnes)


Blackbird (Dave Koz)


Hear my voice (Jeremy Camp)


I’m Me and You’re You (Laurie Berkner)


Comin’ Home Baby (Michael Buble / Boyz II Men)


Greased Lightening (Grease Soundtrack)


Believe (Dave Barnes)


Made to Worship (Chris Tomlin)

Did You Feel the Mountains Tremble (Delirious)


How Sweet it Is (Michael Buble)


Someday (Nichole Nordeman)

If You’re Happy (Go Fish)


Smile (Laurie Berkner)


You Are Mine (Go Fish)


First Love (Petra)


My Delight (Twila Paris)

Bullet the Blue Sky (U2)


Let Us Pray (Steven Curtis Chapman)

I tag:
Susanna at Confessions of a Tired SuperGirl
Angie at Flibbertigibberish
Sarah at Life in the Parsonage
Jo at Mylestones
Heather at The Extraordinary Ordinary
Lisa at The Preacher's Wife

Have fun! Now, I'm off to sit on my deck and listen to the (non-napping) baby screech. (Thankfully, I've already altered my napping expectations, so I can relax.)

Great Expectations

If you want to know what kind of day I’m having, you need ask only one simple question: Has the baby napped?

If yes, then I’m having a glorious day, abounding in productivity and sprinkled with sunshine and rainbows.

If no, then I’m having a frustrating day, thick with clouds and whining. Of course, it goes without saying that I’m not getting anything done with a cranky toddler grasping my knees, so you might as well expect leftovers for dinner, because who can cook with Her High Grumpiness at the helm?

At least, that’s how it used to be. But after months of living at the whim of a baby, I decided to take back control....

(Read the rest at 5 Minute for Parenting.)

My Living Delight

I am going to write this blog post if for no other reason than to keep my hands away from the lemon chiffon cake slathered with lemon butter frosting that is sitting on the table next to me. It's the only thing left from yesterday's Easter dinner, and oh my word, I love lemon cake.

You'd think it would be easier to resist. The last six weeks I've fasted from treats (except for the homemade donuts I made for my brother's birthday) as a way to mark Lent. I've detoxed from the sugar. (Or so I thought.)

But there it is, still beckoning.

This was my first time celebrating Lent, and yes, it was truly a celebration for me. I know it's supposed to be a sacrifice, and there were many nights, especially the first week, when I would find myself wandering the kitchen after the kids were in bed, wanting a sugary snack but knowing I needed to be content with a slightly overripe banana and a handful of peanuts, when I could be a little irritable.

But overall, it was a sweet time for me. (No pun intended.) The last few years, I've lamented that Easter -- the most joyous of holidays -- seemed to come and go before I had a chance to stop and think about its meaning. We have too much Christmas and not enough Easter, in my opinion. So this year, I asked God what to do. And He clearly told me to sanctify the days approaching holy week by refraining from a small thing that brings me pleasure, and instead, seek Him as my delight.

I don't want to talk about it too much, lest I tarnish the intimacy. But yes, it was good. And Easter was more special because of it. I felt the sorrow and the joy, the despair and the hope. My mind was fixed on Jesus the last few weeks. It made yesterday's celebration all the more real. I could feel the joy bubbling up inside of me as we approached Sunday. Travis Cottrell's triumphant "Alive Forever Amen" was my anthem.

(Here's a link to my Easter iMix; Travis' song is the first track. If you don't already own that song, buy it now. I guarantee, it will be played in heaven.) (Well, almost guarantee. Certainly the spirit of the song is being echoed by heavenly creatures at this very moment.)

And while nothing matters as much on Easter as the TRUTH that indeed, He's alive and we are set free, I have to say -- yesterday was as picture-perfect an Easter as I can remember. The sun shone, the grass started turning green even as I looked through my camera, and the temperatures were in the mid-50s. It felt like spring.

Oh. And the cute kids? Icing on the cake.

Which brings me back to the cake. The cake sitting next to me. The cake that is calling my name.

It's almost as if the cake knows Easter is over, that my vow is complete, that life should now return to normal.

But you know what? After Easter, nothing is normal. Everything has changed.

I know I have the freedom to eat the cake.

But I do believe I'll put it away for now.

Even lemon chiffon cake cannot beat the Delight that is alive in my soul.


You know that game Whack-A-Mole? I'm guessing there's a variation of that country fair classic in every arcade in America. (My favorite mutation was Whack-A-Demon. It might be the only arcade game my genteel Baptist pastor grandfather ever played. I'll never forget the smile of glee on his face.)

Sometimes, it feels like my life is one big Whack-A-Mole game.
As soon as one problem is beat back, another pops up.

For example, the malware mole was that popped up on my computer last week was soundly hit with the mallet this weekend. Corey helped me wipe my hard drive and reinstall Windows, so now my laptop has that fresh, new computer smell about it. (And I plan to come back later today and post a Easter recap; I'm determined to share that iMix with you even if Easter Sunday is over already.)

But then, this morning as I was getting dressed, I heard Teyla smacking her lips on the stairs.


I found this:

Yep. That's toothpaste. The good news? Our stairwell will be minty fresh for some time to come.

The bad news? I have no idea how I'm going to get that much blue goo out of beige pile.

(But it's better than vomit, so I'm not going to complain.)

Since I have no battle plan (and Google doesn't have many answers for me), I decided it might be more productive to just take macro pictures of the disaster.

I love how you can see one of the mini breath strips in the carpet in this shot.

Wow. Those fibers are blue.

Anyone have a big mallet I could borrow? I promise I'll use it only on future moles and not on my head.

I think.

Can Kelly Function Without The Internet? The Answer: NO!

So Wednesday, I was online, surfing for some information. (Which is like saying, "So Wednesday, the Pope woke up Catholic." Because my laptop is like an extra appendage. I puffy-pink-heart it.) (Which is foreshadowing, so be warned.)

I clicked on of Google's fabulous results from my question, and instead of sending me to the page I requested, a spam search page loaded, complete with pop-up ad. ("You're computer is infected with viruses!!! Would you like to scan??? YES or NO.") I clicked the X button to close the pop-up (which is what you should always do, but you knew that, right?) and shut the bogus page and went about my business.

One minute later, my precious Firefox crashed. CRASHED. I sent an error report, rebooted and started again.

And once again, my search results redirected me to a spam page. (A different one, but it had the same stench.) I figured out, if I clicked "back," Firefox would take me to the page I was trying to get to. But after a few more minutes, Firefox crashed again.

I started to suspect that my sweet little laptop had contracted a ITD. (Internet Transmitted Disease.) My suspicions were confirmed a few minutes later when my wireless connection reconnected itself to the Internet after I had disabled it and then proceeded to LOCK ME OUT. "You cannot shut down this function. It is being used by someone else on the system." Oh really? And who would that be? THE BABY?!? No one else was at home!

Thus began the witchhunt for the elusive malware. I've run all kinds of scans (including McAfee, which has been running on my system this whole time, worthless piece of which makes me question its value), in both regular and safe mode. THEY CAN FIND NOTHING! Every scan comes back completely clean. But obviously, something is up.

Which is why I'm writing this on our back-up laptop, which is normally reserved for the kids' computer games because it's glacially slow. (Also? The wireless Internet card only works if I have the laptop on the dining room table, pointed at the north wall, while I wear a hat made of tinfoil and refuse to answer the phone. And even then, it drops its connection every 12 minutes, just to keep you guessing.) Corey took my precious laptop with him to work today to have his IT department look at it, and it only took me about 30 minutes without a computer to start feeling shaky and crabby and paranoid. (I believe that's the first step in detox, isn't it?)

If Corey's team isn't able to find anything, I'm thinking about calling the Geek Squad. They charge $150 (GULP!) to remove malware or viruses, and that bugs me, because I've got some geek blood in me and I hate to pay someone else to do something that's usually a simple task. But gosh darn it, if I can't find it, I can't remove it. And if I can't remove it, I can't have my laptop back. And if I can't have my laptop back, I'll go crazy.


You know what else bugs me? (This is steam of consciousness; can you tell?) I had all sorts of posts I was going to write the last few days. Wednesday, I was going to post a video of Teyla that shows what a monkey she is these days and link to my 5 Minutes for Parenting post, which explains why eating in restaurants is dead to me for the next year or so. (Hint: the video illustrates the post.) Yesterday, I was going to post My Big Story, which is teetering on the brink of being old news. And today, I was going to post a link to an Easter iMix I made this week (before the computer got funkified), because I love Easter and I love music, and I think Easter gets cheated in this regard.

But maybe my computer will be resurrected (I am SO RESISTING THE JOKES, people, because I don't think they are all that respectful) by tomorrow, so I can post the music.

I sure hope so. Because otherwise?

Crazy. CRAZY!

(I'm suddenly reminded of Carmen's "It may feel like Friday night, but Sunday's on the way." Do you remember that song? It's a little too dramatic for the mix, but the lyrics are classic.)

Good News

I'm happy to report that my sister was sent home from the hospital without being induced. Further tests showed a lower blood pressure, more amniotic fluid and a happy baby. Emily's thrilled -- and probably exhausted after the roller coaster of emotions she's been on. In her words, "I wasn't ready mentally to have a baby today." Amen and amen.

She went straight from the hospital to a birthday dinner for her husband. (They ate out instead of having her make it. Luke is considerate like that.) Personally, I think they both deserve a free dessert. Go for the hot fudge, Em.

And thank you, sweet friends, for your prayers. Certainly, God is God no matter what happens. Therein lies our faith. But tonight, I'm thanking Him for His healing hand on Emily and that sweet little one.

I can't wait to meet her ... in a few weeks.

Quick Prayer Request

My sister.... (Hold up, I need a picture.)

Yes, that's my sister. My only sister, who is six years younger than me, is 38 weeks pregnant right now. At her doctor's appointment a few weeks ago (and I'm hesitating to call it a doctor's appointment; she's at Kaiser in California, and they aren't exactly known for their personal approach to medicine), her practitioner noticed she was measuring small for her due date. As is customary, they sent her for an in-depth ultrasound, where she learned her baby girl appears healthy but is very small. At that point, she was around 5 pounds, 5 ounces, putting her in the 17% category for weight. (This was especially remarkable because Silas, her firstborn, was 9 pounds, 3 ounces. Emily wasn't expecting the words "tiny" and "baby" to be heard about one of her offspring in her lifetime.)

Anyway. At her appointment today, her doctor said her amniotic fluid has decreased by about half, she's showing little to no fundal growth and her blood pressure is high. So she was sent to labor and delivery for an afternoon induction.

If you could, please pray for my sister, her husband (who's birthday is today; so much for his birthday dinner and peach pie) (happy birthday, Luke, you are incredibly awesome) and our extended family as we await news.

Also, you might issue a special prayer for me. I hate being apart from my family at moments like this. (Emily and my parents live in California.)
I just want to be there. But I'm not.

Instead, I'm doing all I can do -- blog, Twitter and Facebook updates for her. :-) At least we have modern communication


I walked into the sanctuary today, carrying my diaper bag-slash-purse and my tumbler, almost emptied of coffee. My cream-colored turtleneck sweater warded off the chill; I could see trees frosted with slushy snow out the windows.

I sat and listened to announcements. My mind wandered. I felt grimy, dusty. The film of the week lay caked on my soul.

Then the music started. Men and women wearing pastel colors took their places up front. Children, including my daughter, skipped down the center aisle, waving palm fronds enthusiastically.

Hosanna! Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!

We sang.

Come thou font of every blessing, teach my heart to sing thy grace.
Streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet, sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount I'm fixed upon it, mount of thy redeeming love.

The light of God's holiness pierced the crust around my heart. I could feel it cracking and slipping away. Tears seeped out of my eyes and run in tracks down my cheeks. I could feel ragged sobs shake in my chest.

Clean. Fresh. A new start.

That is why I love Sundays.

Oh to grace, how great a debtor daily I'm constrained to be
Let thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love.
Here's my heart, Lord, take and seal it. Seal it for thy courts above.

WFMW: Connecting with your Sponsored Child

Tomorrow, a couple of Compassion International advocates are coming to speak to our MOPS group. I'm super excited to expose these women, many of whom aren't churched, to the simple miracle that is child sponsorship.

Since our family has sponsored two children for the past few years, I'm supposed to speak briefly at the end about how to make child sponsorship meaningful even for families who have young children (five and under). I have a few ideas -- we've colored pictures for our children, for example, and we love to send (and receive) handprint outlines to enforce the reality of our sponsored kids -- but I'd love to hear what you do.

How do you keep your young kids connected with your sponsored child?

April Fool's Day, Family Style

I've got a post over at 5 Minutes for Parenting today with gobs of ideas for family-friendly April Fool's Day pranks. (It includes a link to the story I posted last year on this date, which details the April Fool's Day I almost killed my husband. If you haven't read that before, do so. And feel sorry for me, OK? I've been married to that man for almost 16 years. Donations of Starbucks gift cards are accepted in lieu of sympathy.)

As for the house of Love Well, there's a beautiful December snowfall coming down outside my window right now -- huge flakes, cascading gently to the earth, clumping on every tree branch and grass stem I can see.

Problem is, of course, that it's April.

Wish I could say April Fool's. But unfortunately, this is just April in Minnesota. (Repeat after me: It will all be gone tomorrow. It will all be gone tomorrow. It will all be gone tomorrow.)