December 30, 2011

2011 Update

Dear Friends and Family,

As 2011 closes, we wanted to update you on what has been going on with the Fowlers. Our second son, Shields Lee, joined our family on December 6. He has been a source of great joy to us, as is his older brother Levi (now 2). In July Megan bid farewell to the law firm where she had worked for nearly four years and came home to care for Levi and continue her freelance writingWith that transition Lindon started working full time as a maintenance assistant at a condominium where he worked during seminary. He also completed a two-year pastoral internship at a local EPC church.

Though our job situation has changed somewhat, we find ourselves in the same situation in which we ended 2010 – looking for a full time pastoral call for Lindon. With Lindon’s ministry giftedness and resourcefulness, we felt confident he would be a strong candidate for any position. But it turns out Lindon’s abilities were no match for a horrible economy; many churches have cut staff, halted plans to add staff, and not replaced staff members who left.

As we have added members to our family, our desire to live closer to our extended family has also grown. Many times we talked about Lindon getting a “regular” job in Pennsylvania so that we could live near family while we search for a ministry opportunity. Lindon traveled to Ohio in mid November to attend a presbytery meeting of the Presbytery of the Alleghenies (EPC). This trip was a risk because we did not have any idea what might come out of it. We asked friends and family to pray that the trip would produce helpful contacts for Lindon.

God most definitely answered our prayers. Lindon received particular help from a pastor in Slippery Rock, Pa., who expressed real enthusiasm for getting Lindon involved in the church while Lindon looks for a full-time call. Lindon returned from presbytery on Sunday, and 24 hours later he had a phone call with a contractor in Slippery Rock who needs assistance. Now Lindon has some work lined up in Slippery Rock and a church where he can volunteer. With these two pieces of the puzzle in place, we have decided to move to the Slippery Rock area to be close to family, continue the job search, and explore church planting with the EPC.

We write all of this to you because many of you have been praying for us for years, and we thank you for your continued love and support. We plan to move on January 14, though there are still many details that we need to finalize. Please continue to pray for our family, that the Lord would provide Lindon with a job in ministry, that the job would come soon, and that our transition would be smooth. There is much more that we want to say but cannot fit it in a letter…so we started a blog! See the address below (and to see some recent Fowler family photos). Thank you for your partnership with us over the years, and we hope you will continue to pray with and for us in the years to come!

All for Jesus,

Lindon, Megan, Levi, and Shields Fowler

Big News and a Little Blog

First, we started a Fowler Family blog.

Second, the reason we started the blog is to keep friends and loved ones updated as we move to Pennsylvania next month to continue our job search closer to family.

There is much to do and even more for me to process over the next few weeks, and when time permits, I intend to do some of the processing here. I will also keep this as a place for posting photos and dealing with all manner of existential angst. The other blog will be for updating people on ministry matters.

Please feel free to add our family blog to your reader, or just stalk us periodically.

December 20, 2011

Life in Bullet Form

In no particular order, these are some of the random events and thoughts from our life lately:

 - Shields had his two-week appointment on Tuesday, and he is getting along quite well. Really, he is an awesome baby. Also, special props to Levi for being amazing about getting out the door this morning amidst the chaos of me having to be on the phone for 30 minutes with the doctor's office and the insurance company right before we needed to leave.

 - This will be the first Christmas in six years where we will not be with family. Are we disappointed? Absolutely. Will we miss celebrating with our parents, siblings, nieces, and nephews? Yup. But we are trying to make the best of it and look forward to our first Christmas as a family of four. This can be the year we start our own Christmas traditions and get to really relish Levi's wonder on Christmas morning. Plus, we get to wake up on Christmas morning in our own beds, which will be a little comfort and joy of its own.

 - People have asked, so I wanted to mention that Levi is adjusting pretty well to having a sibling. He alternately lavishes his brother with affection and acts out in frustration when Shields requires more attention than Levi would prefer. In short, he acts like a typical two year old. I have tried to choose my battles wisely and affirm Levi whenever I can. He has not asked that we return Shields yet, and our many thoughtful friends who have sent gifts for Levi in addition to gifts for Shields have helped to make the transition as smooth as possible.

 - Really, starting this blog post was too ambitious of me, and I should be napping. So I am going to nap now.

December 15, 2011

The New Kid In Town

One week ago today I came home from the hospital with Shields. And what a week it has been! My mother came to spend two weeks with us in anticipation of the baby's birth. She arrived in late November and patiently waited one week before the kiddo arrived. In that time she had a chance to learn our family routine and become fluent in Levi-ese. It was a huge blessing to know she was taking care of Levi while we were in the hospital.

Then my dad came out to join my mom last Thursday, and having two extra sets of hands was even better. Levi was beside himself with excitement to have his grandparents here, and we were thrilled to have the help. 

They left on Tuesday, and now Lindon's parents are with us until Saturday when we will finally try our hand at being a family of four. Again, it's great to have extra hands, and Levi LOVES grandparent time.

Levi also loves his little brother and lavishes him with all manner of adoration. Shields is a very patient recipient and a pretty easy going kid. I don't necessarily think his temperament is all that different from his older brother; I think he just has more competent parents than Levi did when he was one week old. Either way, he is making the transition as easy as he possibly can, and we love him all the more for it. 

Enjoy the pictures. Both kiddos are sleeping now, so I will go do likewise. It's one of the many ways I am smarter than I was 25 months ago. 


December 7, 2011

Meet the Newest Fowler

Shields Lee Fowler
Born Dec 6, 2011
7 pounds, 7.7 ounces

Just when I think my heart cannot find room to love another little one as much as I love Levi, my second son comes along and opens my heart to even more joy and love than I thought possible. My happiness and gratitude are beyond expression.

Needless to say, we are pretty excited!

November 26, 2011

Simply Thankful

Would you believe that this is the only photo I have from Thanksgiving dinner? Sadly, it is. And though the cheese-ball-in-apple-disguise tasted fabulous, it was only the beginning to a truly amazing Thanksgiving meal that I ought to have done a better job documenting.

Thanksgiving is quickly becoming my favorite holiday. It's simple. A group of people who love each other gather to fellowship and give thanks, and everyone brings a portion to contribute to the feast. This year, we had a mish mash of friends celebrating together. Some people brought the dishes that epitomize Thanksgiving in their minds; others brought a new recipe they had been dying to make. Everyone brought from their limited resources, and everyone had plenty to eat. And since none of us had family in the area, no one had to meet multiple obligations in a single day. We all had time to linger in conversation, assist with cleanup, and eat some more! 

There were so many happy moments throughout the day and so many exchanges that really encapsulate what I love about my friends. But the one moment that keeps making me chuckle is a brief conversation I heard just before we ate. Below is a paraphrase:

Courtney: Jamie, what's that Thanksgiving hymn that is only two verses, but they are long verses that take up two pages in the hymnal?

Jamie: Um, I know which one you're talking about, but I can't think of the name. Arrika, what is that Thanksgiving hymn that is only two verses, but they are long versus that take up two pages?

Arrika: Let All Things Now Living.

Courtney: YES! Thank you! Let's sing that one.

Observant Dave: Arrika, you just knew that?! Off the top of your head?!?!

Jamie: NO ONE knows the hymnal as well as Arrika.

At this point Arrika tried to downplay her vast knowledge of the hymnal and chalk it up to years of being a church accompanist, and I drifted away to help with the last minute preparation. But that conversation made me smile. It made me smile because I LOVE that hymn and had sung it to Levi on our way to dinner that afternoon, and it has been swimming happily through my head ever since. I loved the team effort it took to find the title of the hymn, and Arrika's ability to recall the hymn instantly.

And then I loved it when we sang it, - a cappella, in harmony - as we gathered around our Thanksgiving table. 10 adults (three sleeping children did not contribute; neither did the three disgruntled dogs in the back yard) just singing a song of thanks to God for His goodness and provision. It made my heart happy and my eyes watery. 

This year's Thanksgiving was simple, and given my current condition (39 weeks' pregnant, thank you very much), I needed that. I needed "the usual" faces in a familiar place with the typical exchanges that occur with these friends. But the fact that I see these faces and hear these types of conversations all the time didn't make them dull; it made them seem all the more special. These people, these friendships, these conversations - these are the things for which I am so thankful. 

We too should be voicing
our love and rejoicing;
with glad adoration
a song let us raise
till all things now living
unite in thanksgiving:
"To God in the highest, Hosanna and praise!"

November 19, 2011

Direction is Everything

Part of what makes writing so great for me is the chance to have amazing conversations with thoughtful, articulate people. At their best, these conversations simmer in my brain and connect to other areas of my life that have nothing to do with the piece I am writing. These conversations not only make for interesting articles, but they pierce my heart in ways that the other party will never realize. And I love this.

I had one of these great conversations this week with a guy who works with college students. His job is fascinating, as he leads what many would call "outdoor recreation" events. In reality,  he and his team design and implement opportunities for students to think and live more deeply. His team philosophy is "Direction is everything; distance is secondary." In his field, this philosophy relates most obviously to work with the compass. If you're hiking through the wilderness, going in the right direction is infinitely more important than how many miles you log in a day. And no matter how far you go, if you're not headed toward your campsite, you're in trouble.

Of course, this guy also moves students to think about this philosophy as it relates to their lives. Where are they going? Do they know? If not, then what does it matter how fast they are going? What are their ultimate goals?

This philosophy statement has simmered in my brain considerably since Thursday afternoon when I spoke with this guy. It helps me find a way to answer the question I have asked roughly 18,000 times in the last 18 months: Where are we going? What is our life direction?

Usually I have thought about these questions in terms of distance logged. Having job applications out or making it to the next round of interviews with a church felt like progress, and each gently worded rejection email felt like we were being yanked back to square one. This roller coaster route exhausted and frustrated me. And in times where there were no new opportunities, it seemed like we were just idling, not going anywhere at all.

Now I see things differently. It's not about distance. It's about direction. And what is our direction? Waiting on the Lord. We are not charting the course, and we are not being yanked around by search committees. We are standing still, facing the Lord, and waiting on Him.

It's hard to articulate how much this change has altered my perspective. My head isn't down desperately searching the ground for signs of the trail. My eyes are lifted up in expectation. The hard work of life doesn't feel like a punishing sentence. It is what we are called to do while we wait. And the gnawing fear that through some misstep we somehow missed our one chance has pretty much dissipated. We are facing the right direction, waiting on the Lord.

Holidays and special events can take on a sense of melancholy when you're jobless. When it's your second birthday or second Thanksgiving or second child without a job, life can feel discouraging. Like encountering a marker in the woods that you know you passed two hours ago, these days can feel like indicators that you are indeed lost, not where you want to be. Until earlier this week, that's kind of how we were feeling.

But now things make more sense. We are not as far down the path as we might like to be, but we know we are facing the right direction. The rest will come with time. But for now, we wait.

"Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!" - Psalm 27:14

November 8, 2011

Birthday Followup

Ah, the celebration of all known fall Fowler birthdays has concluded. That's not to say there might not be another birth day to celebrate before the month is over, but as far as we know, the celebrating has concluded.

Having the one-two punch of Levi and then Lindon is a challenge. It is hard for me to find ways to make both birthdays feel unique and especially hard to not make Lindon's birthday seem like an afterthought (which it pretty much was in 2009 and 2010). This year, I did better. We spent Levi's birthday as a family. Since Levi had two birthday celebrations with family last month, we thought it would be nice to skip another party and just hang out together. Levi loved getting his very own bike for his birthday, and it was so fun to help him figure out how it worked.

But while I was trying hard to ensure Lindon didn't feel like an also ran, the weather did not help me out one bit. Sunday, Levi's birthday, was lovely enough. The sky was cloudy and threatening, but the rain did not come. And the warmer temps were awfully nice. Monday, by contrast, was gross. Rain, clouds, and rain. Plus, it was a Monday, and Lindon had to work. And no one knew it was his birthday! And with the changing of the clocks, the three of us felt exhausted, which meant Levi's sunny disposition had set by mealtime. By the time we put Levi to bed, I think Lindon and I would have been happy to just call it a night, too.

Now I realize this is how birthdays sometimes go when you're an adult, but I still felt disappointed for Lindon. We did, however, have some tasty homemade pizza for dinner, which was nice. And because we were exhausted, we went to bed at a healthy hour, which we badly needed. So while it won't go down in the record books as the best birthday ever, it was an alright day.

Now, we have Thanksgiving on the horizon (Really! It's in two weeks and two days), and then three weeks from today, my mom comes! These happy events should keep me going while I wonder when BF2 will appear. 

To Levi, on his Second Birthday

Dear Levi,
13 months
You, more than most people, know how much I hate cliches. So I will do my best to ensure that obvious statements like, "I can't believe you're already two!" and "Where has the time gone?" are wholly absent from this post (except that I just snuck them in above - ha!).

14 months
The past year has brought so many joys and challenges for us. I am still adjusting to the fact that I am indeed responsible for your well being and development, and you are still adjusting to the fact that some of your antics receive less than enthusiastic reviews. Your learning to walk, run, jump, and talk is so much fun, and being present for those moments has meant so much to me. I love your affectionate personality and your obvious desire to please. Training you in obedience has been hard at times, especially when the willfulness you display is clearly something you picked up from your parents (probably your dad), and watching you suffer through illness has been awful. It encourages me to watch you respond well to discipline and bounce back quickly from disease. I hope you are always that way.

15 months
In the coming year, you will become a big brother, a role I know you will enthusiastically embrace, once you accept the fact that the baby will not go away. I can't wait to see how you respond to this new addition and the ways it will stretch both of us. 

16 months
17 months
Sometimes I wonder what you might be like in the hands of a more competent mother. Your potential just seems so limitless. But like it or not, the Lord in His wisdom chose to give you to me and your dad. And while I will probably always pity you for having me as your mother, I will always count it a privilege to have you as my firstborn son. Thank you for the laughter and smiles you have brought to our house, the ways you remind me that I am indeed not in control of my world, and all the hopes and dreams you inspire within me.
18 months

 I thank the Lord for you and look forward to how we will change and grow in the year to come. I love you, dear son.
19 months

20 months

21 months

22 months
23 months

24 months

October 31, 2011

Big Changes at the Fowler House

Someone got his very own big boy bed (hint: it was Levi), which serves as an excellent place for parking tractors with Dad...

 ...and getting raspberries from Baby...

...and snuggling with Nash, against his will. 

Also, someone took these photos on a new-to-her iPhone. You know, those handy gadgets that were first introduced four years ago but seemed utterly unnecessary until a month ago when I woke up from a nap and decided my freelance career would stall if I did not possess one. 

Yep, I am neurotic. But now I am neurotic and can check the weather from anywhere and take adorable photos of my son. 

October 24, 2011

Me and my First World Problems

This weekend I have felt like Mrs. Horatio Spafford.

While the men of the house have been battling gastrointestinal viruses of varying severity, I have been "saved alone."

Poor Levi has it the worst, and since Saturday we have spent nearly all our waking hours (and some hours when we would have liked to be sleeping) trying to keep him comfortable and hydrated. And doing a bazillion loads of laundry.

Since I was the healthiest person in the house, laundry and grocery store runs became my responsibility. Though the weather outside was lovely, I spent most of the weekend indoors playing nurse. And the onset of illness forced us to cancel a trip to visit the Nashville Fowlers, which was a huge disappointment.

So, in all, my weekend was not the weekend I wanted to have. But that's ok. The fact that I haven't gotten sick is a real blessing. It's not just that the stomach virus is miserable, but because, 34 weeks into this pregnancy, I don't need that stress on my body.

And at 4:45 am Sunday when I returned to my room from consoling and cleaning up after Levi, it occurred to me that 110 years ago, Levi's life could be forfeit. The combination of his symptoms easily could have led to dehydration and death in an earlier era. And if that wasn't depressing enough, my mind moved on to think about women all over the world today who do not have access to clean drinking water or sufficient food for their children and how horrible it would be to watch helplessly as your child starved.

Yes, these morbid thoughts likely have much to do with the hormones that have permeated every aspect of my being. But I will gladly be puked on a hundred times and do a thousand loads of laundry to know that my child will live to see another day, pitiful though his condition might be.

I don't enjoy this precarious state of wondering if Levi is going to keep down his liquids, but I am so thankful for modern medicine, the knowledgeable nurses who have advised me over the past two days, Pedialyte, a loving, helpful husband (who got puked on way more than me and still kept his cool with a fussy child), and Netflix.  

It wasn't the weekend I wanted it to be, but it also wasn't as bad as it could have been. And for that, I am grateful.

October 22, 2011

Since We Don't Have Pictures...

Because we flew back to PA rather than driving, we couldn't take with us some small luxuries, like our camera. So there are few pictures of our time with family, and Levi seemed to feel the lack of photo documentation rather keenly. So much so, in fact, that he has decided the next best thing is 1,000 words for each photo he wishes he had. He keeps repeating the highlights from the trip over and over and over. Here are some of the moments that made the biggest impression on Levi*:

"Ride airplane.""More airplane, please.""Sky!""All done airplane."

Our little jet setter has taken four trips via airplane this year, but this was the first one where he seemed to understand the concept of the airplane and could actually be excited about it. And excited he was! He could hardly wait to get on the plane, and once on the plane, he loved to see all the other airplanes around the airport. Unfortunately, about halfway through the flight, the cramped quarters of the airplane had taken their toll on Levi, and he was ready to be done. But he soon forgot his airplane fatigue when presented with the opportunity to ride again.

"Ride Mule; steering wheel."

Perhaps the best thing for Levi about visiting his grandparents in East Brady is the chance to ride the Kawasaki Mule. And perhaps the best thing about the Mule is that it does indeed have a steering wheel, which brought Levi unlimited joy.

"Paw Paw, Grammie."

Maybe the next best thing to riding on the Mule while up at the river was seeing his grandparents.

"Miiiiiko. Aaaaaannie."

And when you see Grammie and Paw Paw, you get to see their dogs, currently Annie and Smokey (Though since I began this post, Annie has left this world. It was a long time coming, but still very sad). Smokey, in his 10-week-old youthfulness, left an impression on Levi (who pronounced his name "Miko) by repeatedly attempting to gnaw on him at their first meeting. Levi quickly picked up, "No bite" and tried to use that command with Smokey often.

"Uncle Dale, lawn mower, steering wheel, big step."

What's better than having an Uncle Dale? Having an Uncle Dale who lets you sit on his riding lawn mower and play with the steering wheel! And if you have to climb a big step to get into the lawn mower, even better.

"Happy birthday."

Levi had his second birthday celebrated twice with family. These were the times when I really wished I had my camera. Unlike his first birthday, this time Levi understood what was going on. He loved the singing, blowing on the candles, and opening presents.

"See Audrey; see Carter; see Courtney."

Cousin time is always fun time. It means someone(s) else is begging to watch after Levi's every step and make sure he doesn't get in to trouble. Levi loves it, too.

"Play park."

Pretty self explanatory.

"Grandma; Grandpa work."

One of the hard realities about living with someone under 2 is that people are easily pigeon-holed. All it takes is one questioned answered with, "Grandpa's at work," and now in Levi's mind, Grandpa only does one thing. Work. If Grandpa were to spend the next 12 months doing nothing but spending time with Levi, the child would probably still say, "Grandpa work." Lindon gets it, too.


It's amazing how one experience on one day can leave such a profound mark on Levi. When Levi was visiting my parents back in June, he had the chance to blow a few bubbles. Guess the first word out of Levi's mouth now whenever we enter my parents' house?

"Ride car; steering wheel."

Not a real car. Those are lame. This was a Fisher-Price car, just Levi's size. He could not get enough of it, and if the weather did not cooperate for riding in the driveway, he just drove around the house. This is one instance (of many) where I was so thankful for grandparents. Levi did need a bit of supervision when riding the car, mostly to make sure he didn't run over himself, and if I had had to spend all the time watching him that others spent watching him, I would have gone mad. Instead, I got to sit back, read, and enjoy the look of pride on my son's face because he was in a car all by himself!

"Uncle Nathan"

It always takes Levi a little while to overcome his uneasiness with my brother's giant mane of blond hair and unruly beard. But after the shock wears off, Levi just loves his Uncle Nathan.

"See KK, see Avery, see Craig."

Ok, there is documentation of this one in the form of a video. But Levi's cute little voice is just the background. The REAL action of the video is when my sister's boyfriend, Craig (with little Avery in his arms), in front of friends and family, asks my sister to marry him. She said yes, and we were so thrilled to be able to be there for the big surprise. We are looking forward to the wedding, too!

Well, there you have it. That was our trip back. After one week of being home in St. Louis Levi will still pull out these phrases. The trip certainly made an impression on him, and we are so thankful for loving, generous families who provide so much fun for our kid.

*Note: These are grownup interpretations of what Levi is saying. The words that come out of his mouth often bear little resemblance to my transcriptions, but I know what he means.

October 15, 2011

Home...and Tired

This afternoon we touched down in St. Louis after a 10-day trip to see family. The time with loved ones was fabulous, and of course I am now completely exhausted. But if I have time in the next few days, I hope to record some of the trip highlights. It was a great time away, but I look forward to getting back to my routine and my writing.

Also, apparently I am supposed to have a baby in early December. I need to keep reminding myself of this, lest I leave it out of my schedule of upcoming events.

September 30, 2011

Pine Valley, Part Three

Last summer, after the loss of their summer camp's administrative building, I posted some reflections on the impact the Reicharts have had on our family. Sadly, this family keeps teaching me more on suffering, loss, and God's goodness.

Matthew and Susan Reichart's granddaughter, Jada, has had a whirlwind few months that began with a lump on her leg, which led to chemotherapy for bone cancer, and this week, traumatic surgery in hopes of eliminating her cancer and preserving her life. All at age 5.

Susan Reichart wrote an essay for her local paper  that declares her faith in God's promises, even in the face of heartache. 

"We are convinced as a family that we exist to make much of God, and so we will," Susan wrote. "One day we will all be whole again, body, mind and spirit, from the brokenness that plagues us in this life, but until that day we will work relentlessly to extract the priceless from the worthless in this life in order to be spokesmen for the glory of God!"

Susan is well acquainted with suffering and tragedy from her work with impoverished children and her own life experiences. Her words need no commentary; just go read them. 

And pray for this family and little Jada.

September 12, 2011

The Child Who Parents

"Who of us is mature enough for offspring before the offspring arrive? The value of marriage is not that adults produce children but that children produce adults." - Peter De Vries

Even before Saturday when Lindon read that quote to me (which stopped me in my tracks), I had been wondering who needs more parenting: me or Levi. The daily battles of childrearing increasingly take place in my head and heart rather than at the dinner table or in the playroom. Turns out the hardest part of parenting for me isn't correcting Levi's unruly behavior but my own, and of all the disciplining I do throughout my day, the hardest is the discipline of responding rightly.

Don't get me wrong: it's no fun to discipline my kid. But I need it more than he does.

Today's lunch was a good example. Lunchtime typically segues into afternoon nap, and as such it easily becomes a battleground where worn-out (and pregnant) mother must take on weary child. Today was no exception. Levi's behavior did not constitute outright rebellion, as he didn't commit any offenses that have been outlined as punishable, but he aggravated me nonetheless. I had a phone interview for a story scheduled right after I put him down for his nap, and I wanted a little extra time to review my questions and ensure I placed my call on time.  Levi wanted extra time to amuse himself by eating slowly and playing with his plate. This dilly-dally attitude made me want to throttle him.

Which I didn't do. But I did lose my patience with him, a fact that became embarrassingly clear when he began mimicking me yelling, "Stop it!" He found my frustration amusing, and in doing so showed me how foolish my behavior really was. And I count it a blessing he found my frustration funny rather than frightening.

Scenes like this happen more often than I'd like. In my moments of irritation I remember a hymn that describes God's kindness toward His children: "Father-like he tends and spares us; well our feeble frames He knows. In his hands he gentle bears us..."


Those words rarely describe my response to my son, though my heavenly Father has far more reason to lose his patience with me than I do with Levi. On many days when I feel so tired, irritable, and edgy, I find myself thanking God for not blowing His fuse with me and praying for a more godly response to my own kid.

And then comes nap time, the great respite that offers me perspective on the morning. Levi really loves his routine (maybe all kids do), so our time together right before his nap is sweet time. Whatever has happened moments earlier at lunch, all is forgiven at nap. His love for his mother humbles me and convicts me.

Sigh. Again.

Shouldn't I be modeling steadfast love, not the toddler? At these moments I feel so patently unqualified for this role, and I don't say that to be a pity sponge. Really, it is a good thing. Feeling my unworthiness is good. Through all the battles internal and external I just keep praying that one day I will be the adult and parent that Levi needs and that he will be a child who takes after his Father.

September 11, 2011


I remember where I was when I heard the news. I remember what I wore that beautiful Tuesday morning, how I did my hair, and who I was meeting for breakfast at Grove City's MAP cafeteria when the crowd around the TV in the lobby caught my eye. The feeling that came over me when I watched live footage of the North Tower collapsing most closely resembled horror.

Those memories have come back afresh this week as I have heard personal essays on the radio from others who were impacted by the events of September 2001. Ten years ago I lived less than two hours from the spot where so many people lost their lives on United 93. While it shouldn't have, the intensity of my sadness this week has surprised me.

After breakfast this morning Lindon turned on the TV. This is unusual for us on a Sunday morning, but he wanted to see what the news coverage. We watched as the Ground Zero Memorial opened to the family members of victims for the first time. As I watched in silence I became aware that tears were streaming down my face.


Suddenly I realized that Lindon was holding Levi, who had also been watching the events on TV in silence. But he recognized that the memorials had walls of water cascading down where the towers used to be, and he had to label that which he recognized. For the first time I began thinking about how much has changed in the last 10 years, not just in our culture and our country, but in my life. Time, like the water of the memorials, has rushed on.

Throughout the rest of the day I reflected on just how much has changed for me in 10 years. I've graduated from college, gotten married, lived in three states, supported my husband through his master's degree, and become a mom. How could life not change? After all, the difference between age 17 and 27 is huge, but the changes feel more dramatic when considered in the shadow of those horrific moments on a Tuesday morning in 2001.

During the moment of silence at 9:59 this morning, Lindon and I sat motionless. But despite our stillness, Levi kept banging his toys in his room, wholly unaware of why we were so fixed on the TV. And BF2 was doing tae bo on the right side of my belly. Life's responsibilities have gotten more...complicated.

We ended the afternoon playing outside. Lindon wrestled with Nash while Levi and I blew bubbles. The bubbles were a wedding favor from a beautiful wedding Lindon and I attended yesterday evening. As we headed back inside to escape the mosquitoes, Levi reached up and grabbed my hand. The pressure of his hand in mind felt sweeter than usual. It occurred to me how I have come to take this loving gesture for granted.

Of course, by dinner Levi was so tired that mealtime was a real battle, but then bedtime came, and he was down without incident. Mealtime battles, diapers, laundry - those are the new normal, just like security alerts, war, and the phrase "9/11."

And while I do grieve for those who lost parents or children 10 years ago today and mourn the fallenness of our world, today was also a day for me to cherish my family - to marvel at the beauty of my son's voice (even when he's whining at me), the treasure a nap on my husband's shoulder during a football game, to enjoy a squirming belly. Because life, like water, goes on.

September 8, 2011

We Just Needed Shoes

That was it. Poor Mr. Growing Like a Weed did not have any close-toed shoes (other than the cowboy boots, which aren't ideal play shoes). So we stopped by a children's consignment shop. And, well...

We got shoes! And a few other things. Oh, you consignment shops. You get me every time, and I love you for it.

And poor Nash. Our faithful, long-suffering dog has no idea that those darling little onesies he is sniffing are a portent of things to come...

September 6, 2011

The House that Smells of Smoke

Three times in a little over a week our house smelled of smoke. All for different reasons. Well, kind of.

The first time was last Saturday when we decided it would be fun to have pancakes for breakfast. Since no one had to go to work and we all love pancakes, this seemed like a great idea. And it was...

...except that our range it certifiable garbage. As such, simple things like evenly distributing heat to a burner are just too much to ask of our range. This became abundantly clear when one set of pancakes refused to cook. After 20 minutes on the burner, they still had not even turned slightly golden. Then, without any notice whatsoever, they were black. And so began the smoke.

We tried to gain control of the unruly burner and get the heat adjusted, but to not avail. It kept getting hotter, resulting in more burnt pancakes and an increasingly smoky house. All the while Levi, who had been informed he would have pancakes for breakfast, kept saying, "Pancakes? Pancakes? Pancakes?" After 2 or 3 failed attempts (yes, we tried changing burners, too), it became clear Levi might not get his desired breakfast food after all. Lindon, who until now had been the chef, gave up in frustration, as we now had all the windows and the front door open to eradicate the smoke.

(Side note: If I wanted to be self promoting, this is where I would tell you that I salvaged the rest of the batter by baking it in a cast iron skilled with bits of plum in it, that Levi indeed got his pancake, and it tasted fabulous.)

The fact that the story had a somewhat happy ending is good because otherwise Lindon's whole morning might have been ruined. But it still bugged me that the burner had been so unreliable. After all, we had just made pancakes a week or two before, and while it had taken a practice round to finagle the heat, eventually we got them just right.

Then on Wednesday we had another incident. This time I was re-heating some leftovers in the oven when we heard a noise like a giant bug being caught in a bug zapper. Even Levi, with his 21 months of wisdom, understood this was not a good noise. When I entered the kitchen, the oven window indicated the oven was most certainly ablaze.

Mercifully, the flames subsided when I turned off the oven, and I think the incident might have finally instilled in Levi a proper fear of the oven (When we open the oven, we always tell him, "Stay back." He obeys for about 3 seconds, puts on his mischievous smirk, and begins inching toward the open oven. Every time.). But of course we had smoke pouring out of the oven and an element that had most definitely burned apart.

(Side note: The rest of the oven story is that after replacing the element, the oven still doesn't work. We suspect it needs a new electrical panel, and that might fix the unreliable burner and the malfunctioning oven. I will keep you posted.)

The third time our house smelled of smoke was under much better circumstances. On Sunday fall came to St. Louis! In typical St. Louis fashion, Saturday was blisteringly hot, then came the rain, and then summer was gone, replaced by cooler temps, and gray skies. We took advantage of the delightful change in weather to open our windows and finally give the AC a much-deserved rest.

After church Lindon started a fire in the backyard to burn up some branches he cleared out earlier this year. It was so fun to watch Levi, Lindon, and Nash all deal with the sticks in various ways (Lindon putting them on the fire; Nash eating them; Levi handing them to Lindon to burn and to Nash to eat). The happy scene that meant fall is definitely here. It also means we can now spend more than 25 minutes outside without the fear of sunburn or heat stroke.

By Sunday evening, the house definitely smelled of smoke. But rather than the awful smell of burnt food or an electrical fire, this was the smoke of a bonfire, a sure sign of the change in the air. It was a welcome smell for a welcome season. While we will likely have a few more 90-degree days before all is said and done, change is afoot.

Bring on the happy smoke.

September 1, 2011

We're Working on It

An Open Letter to my Son

Dearest Levi,
As you know, it has been over a month now that I have been home with you full time. Hence, we spend a lot of time together. A lot. As such, there are a few things that I would like to share with you from our time together.

1. You smirk just like your father, and it makes me happy.

2. I promise you that when I hear the train whistles, I will do everything in my power get us to the door as quickly as possible in order to see the train go by. There is no need to start weeping for fear of missing the train. We will see it.

3. Here is a partial list of words I love to hear you say: Noodle, momma, lawn mower, Nash, dadda, mail, Amen, music, pool, dip, stinky, turtle, whoa, yes, wow.

4. Here is a comprehensive list of words I would be happy to hear less from you: No.

5.  Your blossoming sense of humor is alternately amusing and aggravating. Your sticking out your tongue with me is great. Pretending to take a bite and then showing me that there was actually no food on the fork is pretty good. Taking teeny tiny steps when I ask you to come to me is not funny.

6. Don't forget that you are the only person in the world (other than Dad and me) who knows what we will name your little brother or sister. Don't tell!

7.  It makes me happy to watch you play on the playground and to hear your enthusiasm for riding the bike.

8. If you want to keep taking 3+ hour naps every day for the next 3  years, I am cool with that. If not, you'll need to notify me in writing.

9. You are so precious, and I love you dearly.


August 22, 2011

Famine and Feast

As I continue to make the adjustment from I-take-myself-too-seriously office manager to Levi's full-time sidekick, I have learned a few things. Most importantly, I have learned that being Levi's full-time sidekick is really tiring. And that in that role I can still take myself too seriously, but it's a lot harder because I am so tired.

Second, the prospect of spending nearly all my waking hours doing what I want to do can often lead to doing a lot of nothing. List making, which until now has just been an outlet for neuroses, now provides an outlet for neuroses AND documentation that I have not simply frittered away my day. Of course, the only person who needs such documentation is me, as no one else in my life would ever ask what I did all day. But on many days, I ask myself, so the list of accomplished missions makes me happy.

And third, I have learned that my kid is amazing. Yes, I already knew this. But as his curiosity and vocabulary expand by the minute, he just blows me away. The things that he says and does astound me, though somehow it seems that writing them down for the blog would make them seem trivial, even normal (What?! You mean every kid this age adds 5 new words to his vocabulary everyday?! Mine isn't the only one?). So you'll just have to take my word for it. This kid is amazing.

In my first week or two home, another stay-at-home mom observed to me that activities and obligations can lag for a while, only to all hit at once. This feast-or-famine pattern has definitely marked the last two weeks for me. So when I am not just staring at Levi in wonder - or chasing him - here is what we're doing:

First, we got out of town for a few days last week (or was the two weeks ago?). The circumstances were not ideal, but due to a death in Lindon's extended family, we made a quick trip to PA for a long weekend. It was indeed a quick trip, but it gave us a chance to see a lot of family. Levi got to see all of his cousins, many of his aunts and uncles, and some of his grandparents, too.

Second, the weather gods have shown mercy on St. Louis and offered some days that have been unequivocally beautiful. We have spent many a morning playing outside at the park or just in the back yard. My strategy of getting Levi to wear himself out before his nap has worked intermittently, but, generally, we spend our mornings playing hard.

Third, writing. A couple assignments have given me lots to do during Levi's naps, and I love it. Some are big assignments, and some are small pieces, but all writing is good in my book.

And speaking of books, for the first time in a forever I have a chance to do some reading! For fun and for work. Earlier this summer Lindon and I decided to watch "The Kennedys" miniseries on Netflix. During each episode we found ourselves saying, "It couldn't have REALLY happened like that...could it?" When we read that the History Channel dropped the series during production due to its lack of historicity, we really became curious. So I picked up a copy of Doris Kearns Goodwin's "The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys: An American Saga" so that we could get a better idea of what actually happened with these two families (Interestingly, the last time I attempted the behemoth was during my last pregnancy. This current attempt has been far more successful, but it interests me that pregnancy causes me to crave biographies). I am slowly working through the book, and it is fascinating. The level of Goodwin's research is fabulous, which wasn't exactly true of the miniseries (which we still liked, by the way).

And my freelance career has taken a new turn when, for the first time ever, I have been asked to interview an author about a forthcoming book. No, it's not a best-selling author by any means, but I still think it's kind of fun. It's not every day you get to read a book that is not in its final form (unless you work for a publishing company, in which case I envy you). Here's to hoping I can conjure some questions that are actually interesting.

We have also had some fun excursions creep up here and there - an evening making dinner for friends, a trip out to the country for a birthday celebration, play dates with other kids, a super awesome 3-hour glucose tolerance test, stuff like that. But the "busy" days seems to all crunch together, making the feast and famine contrast all the more striking. Last Friday I had to budget every nanosecond of time in order to accomplish all the things I needed to get done that day. And today? Well, we took a walk. That's about all the fun we're going to have. But it's ok. As much as I am tempted to think every other stay-at-home mom is out conquering the world while I contemplate the dirty kitchen, that simply isn't the case.


At any rate, some days the routine is fun and exciting. Other days it's not. That's life right now. And if you want to come keep me company while I attack the dirty kitchen, please know you are certainly welcome.

August 15, 2011

Hello, Terra

So, here is the new bike, in all her glory. She is a Terranaut Wanderer, and if you've never heard of Terranaut, you're in good company. While the brand popped up occasionally on Craigslist, I had a hard time finding out any information on it. Even this guy didn't have any info on his website to aid my research. Turns out, it was the house brand for years for a St. Louis cycling company called The Touring Cyclist. 

When this dusty frame appeared on Craigslist for next to nothing, I figured it was worth a look. It was. Though the bike was filthy when I brought it home, cleaning it revealed a really pretty frame that appears to have spent most of its life sitting around unused. Once I saw how pretty she was, I decided she needed a pretty pannier, too.

While naming bicycles is not really my thing, as I pulled away from the seller's apartment with my new treasure I thought to myself, "I shall call her Terra." Instantly I heard Scarlett O'Hara's father saying, "...from whence you get your strength." That made me happy. So Terra she is, though most of the time I just refer to her as "the new bike" or "the Terranaut." 

Admittedly, the bike is not exactly a perfect fit for me. You don't have to be a bicycle wiz to realize that if the seat is properly placed in the first picture (which it kind of is), the handlebars are low (which they are). Some adjustments certainly need to be made, and we are getting to those one by one. But this bike just makes me happy. Such a nice looking bike in such nice shape for such a nice price. 

And yes, Pa O'Hara's voice accompanies me on my rides, urging me up those hills that I simply do not feel like climbing. 

July 29, 2011

Two Weeks at Home

As of today, I have been home with Levi for two weeks. Many people have asked me, "So how is it going being home full time?"

The short answer is, "Fine."

The longer answer is, "Pretty good."

Really, there doesn't seem to be much of particular importance to report on the first two weeks of this new phase of life. There have been good times, exhausting times, aggravating times, and times when Levi's sweetness makes my heart want to explode. 

Our daily adventures have been hampered by the fact that it has been witheringly hot here in St. Louis (complaining about seasonally-appropriate weather is insufferable in my book, but when the thermostat hits 85 before 8:15 a.m., it is indeed going to be a very hot day). Outdoor excursions must end before 10 a.m., unless said excursions include a pool. My strategy has generally been to give Levi a chance to run around for a while every morning. Then, once he has that out of his system, we can get do the really fun things like grocery shopping and cleaning the house. During his nap, I work on freelance projects, send emails, blog, and nap. 

Items of note over the past two weeks include the discovery of Shaw Park, with its delightful playgrounds (shaded before 9 am) and Sprayground. Levi and I usually arrive at Shaw Park in Clayton just after dropping off Lindon at work. After Levi plays on a playground for a little while, I load him in the stroller and walk the park a few times. At this point we are both hot and sweaty, so we end at the big playground and play in the fountains that come on at 9. It has been such a fun treat for both of us.

Also, I got another bike this week. Yeah, I know. Another one. But that's ok. I will explain more later.

While I do wish the heat would relent a bit, given the weather that we've had, the past two weeks have gone well. And that is about all there is to report.

If you'll excuse me, someone has just woken up from the afternoon nap, and there are a few more things I need to accomplish before getting him out of the crib.

July 21, 2011

The Photo Post

It hardly seems believable in this day and age, but it's true. We don't have fabulous internet reception at our house. The sunroom often cannot pick up a wireless signal at all, which means that trying to post photos on this blog from my desktop computer can be a headache or completely futile. But yesterday, for reasons that aren't important, the desktop was able to pick up a super signal. So I loaded some photos that should have been up a long time ago. If you are my Facebook friend, you might have seen most of these, but they need to be reposted as a courtesy to la familia. And because so many of them include Levi, they are worth a second look. 

First up, here is a photo of our sunroom with the new curtains we got in the spring. I know. This is not news since they went up four months ago, but I just wanted to document this. The room just feels so much more polished now with some decent window treatments. And we typically keep the curtains open all the time, except for the ones which get the morning sun. Those stay closed to keep the room from becoming an oven right away. 

Second, Levi's hair was once again getting out of control. It grows so fast and so thick that we have trouble keeping up with it. He got a decent trim on June 23, but by July 9, his hair was back in his eyes. This remedy, while amusing, did not last. Turns out Levi does not like having his hair in a ponytail. So...

We got out the clippers again, put it on the longest setting, and buzzed his little head. Levi is getting better with the haircut, and this one saw the least crying to date. It helps that we tell him he will get a bath when he is finished. 

Levi's new favorite toy is the laundry basket. Carrots are still not a favorite food, but he will eat them. 

These photos are also a bit dated, but they need to be posted. On July 2 we headed to downtown St. Louis to let Levi see his first parade. We also hoped to get a few glimpses of the first Fair St. Louis air show and maybe play in the City Garden fountains. We succeeded on all three fronts. 

If you had asked me last week, I would have told you that it was an inferno that day. Now that we have temps pushing 100, I would reflect back on that Saturday morning when it was 87 or so and say it was a bit warm. Levi seemed interested in the floats, marching bands, trains, and fire trucks, but he also seemed a little dazed by the sun. Until...

...we added water! Every 10 minutes or so one of us would walk with Levi over to City Garden to let him play in the fountains.  Initially he was unsure of how to handle the sporadic sprays of water, but eventually he got the idea and found the water smacking his face quite refreshing. Then he really came alive and sped away from us as quickly as his little legs could carry him. And since Levi never succeeded in actually getting away, the morning was a huge success.

July 20, 2011


Some things never go out of style. Like stripes. 

June 2009 - 20 weeks with BF (now known as Levi)

And babies.

July 2011 - 20 weeks with BF2, due Dec. 3.

July 18, 2011

The Boys

Speaking of God's kindness to me, recently I have been reminded of another demonstration of God's kindness in my life.

In the fall 2007, I was working two awful jobs. One was simply a bad fit for me, but the other was unequivocally terrible. Between the two jobs I was working 50 hours a week, no benefits, no vacation days. Also, I spent hours each week communiting. It was a hard situation for me, and Lindon certainly felt the effects of my stress. So did Nash, who during this time developed a fear of me raising my voice, coughing, or sneezing. It's not that I ever yelled at him, but I think he saw me stressed out so often that he just got scared. Poor dog.

Naturally, I was applying like crazy for new jobs. One Monday evening in October I returned from a good interview for an administrative position with a PR firm in downtown St. Louis. It would have been a well-paying job, and the commute downtown didn't seem as bad as my then-daily commute to of 40+ minutes.  Plus, it would have been a better use of my skills in an interesting industry. It would have been a stressful job, that's for sure. You know a job will be demanding when the interviewer doesn't even both to pretend it won't be too demanding. But stress from job responsibilities seemed so much better than stress from a fundamentally dysfunctional office.

But though the interview went well, it was merely the first of what would have been several interviews over who knows how long. I had been through this pattern with other offices, only to have funding for the position cut. So I was cautious. When Lindon returned home from class that evening, I told him how well I thought the interview went. Half-way through my recap he said, "There's was a posting at the seminary about a law firm in Clayton looking for a legal secretary." Seriously? I'm in. He received strict instructions to get the contact information first thing in the morning and send it to me.

On Tuesday of that week I submitted my resume,  hoping the office just 10 minutes from home might be interested in someone with previous experience. On Thursday, I came in to interview and pretty much had the job before I opened my mouth. The interview was alarmingly unpretentious (one of the attorneys had his sleeves rollled up and no tie), and the two attorneys I talked with were incredibly likeable. I knew it would be a good fit.

For over three-and-a-half years, I have (wo)manned the front desk of this firm through its various iterations. It has been the best job I have ever had. Working for/with people who are respectful, gracious, kind, and appreciative is amazing. It has not been perfect, of course, but having a secure, enjoyable job to support our family while Lindon was in seminary was such a blessing. I thank the Lord for His kindness in giving me this job.

The men of the office have made cameo appearances on this blog before, and it hasn't exactly been a secret how much I enjoy this job. One of the men in the office was known to come in and say, "Well, Megan, where are our boys this morning?" It seemed funny to refer to two grown men as "our boys," but I liked that term. In some way, they were our boys. I tried to make sure their heads were on straight and that their plates did not get too full. I offered counsel on tie/shirt/jacket coordination, and on rare occasion I would say things like, "Your hair is sticking up, and you are not allowed to go to court like that." I was also the grammar and spelling master who sometimes grumbled about feeling like a maid. But I tried to offer them the respect they showed me. While I have been the only employee in the office, there has still been tremendous camaraderie here.

I say all of this because Thursday afternoon I said goodbye to my office and my office boys. I washed dishes for the last time, turned off the lights, took one last look around, and shut the door. With Lindon by my side and Levi in my arms, I walked down the hall toward a new phase of life as a stay-at-home mom and writer. Our family is finally in a place where I can devote more of my life to my other boys, those two blonds who have both stolen my heart. And Nash, too. We can't forget him.

The office farewells were not as dramatic as the last scene from Mary Tyler Moore, one of my favorite shows of all time. There was no group hugging, maneuvering as a mass toward the tissues, singing "It's a Long Way to Tipperary," or crying. Really, there was little emoting at all. That's not how our office worked most of the time. And definitely no hugging, which goes against what one attorney calls "the office code." But they did have kind words for me, in their own ways.

The new reality may take a few days to settle in for everyone, especially me. It is really strange to not be at the office now, and it will take me a whle to figure out exactly how to spend this time (Fold laundry or clean up the kitchen? Walk or playtime at the park? Grocery shopping or ironing?). But though it will be different, it will be a good different. Challenging. But good.

Now, if you'll excuse me, there is some laundry that needs to be put away, and there is a little boy having a rather good time trapping things in an empty laundry basket. He might want some help.

July 8, 2011

On Control...

Earlier today I had a phone conversation with a pastor who does not know me. He does not know that my family has been in a life holding pattern for 14 months. He doesn't know that we have sometimes felt angry, frustrated, and discouraged by the uncertainty, the fruitless searching, and the waiting. He does not know how many search committees have been the subject of my internal tirades because they are too stupid to see how amazing my husband is. He does not know that dear friends have had to remind me time and again over the past 14 months that this period of life is a trial, one that will refine us, strengthen us, and produce in us perseverence.

The fact that he did not know any of these things made his side comment all the more powerful. 

His church and community have experienced some tremendous difficulties recently, so he plans to spend the rest of the summer preaching through Job. While the book of Job is commonly seen as a book on suffering, this pastor had a different take. 

"The book is not about suffering as much as fallout from suffering," he said. "Really, it's about wanting control over circumstances that arise from suffering. We just want to know when it's going to be over, but what we are really saying is we want to be God."


It's hard to count how many times over the past 14 months I have said (out loud or just to myself), "If I knew the if of Lindon getting a job, I would be more comfortable waiting on the when." But that's really just another way of saying, "I want this to be over. Tell me when this will be over."

It is a way for me to try exerting some control over a patently uncontrollable sitation. It is a way for me to try running my own life on my own terms. It is a way for me to try my hand at being God.

The waiting is really hard, and the uncertainty and discouragement are heavy burdens. But it is also hard to see that the waiting is exposing ugly things in my heart, like my desire to be in control. Of course, now that I see it, I can deal with it. But it is all very painful, and sometimes I just want to flex my arm and make something happen.

And this is also where murkey spirituality beckons. A well-intentioned woman recently told me that she believes God gives us bad circumstances just so that we give up control and that maybe if Lindon and I really gave control to God, He would provide a position for Lindon. It's tempting to believe this. But if I give control to God so that He will give me what I want, have I really given up control of anything? As my dad used to say, "You still have your hands at the ten and two on the steering wheel of your life." That kind of thinking if spiritual bargaining, and it's garbage.

Real spirituality is harder. It involves embracing the uncertainty, rejecting the urge to frenetically search for a concrete if or when, and just trusting. Sometimes it sucks. Ok, a lot of times it sucks. It is painful and humbling and does not even begin to give you an answer to "why?". Some days I am better at taking the hard road than other days. Some minutes I am better at this than others.

But on days like today, I can see that God at work. Of course, I must also say that Lindon's searching is gaining a little traction, and I do see a pinpoint of light at the end of the tunnel. That fact has everything to do with why I now have the strength to write this post that has been brewing in my head for a year.

But between now and the official end of the search (whenever that might be) there will still be countless opportunities for me to surrender control and admit my position as not-God. And most likely I will fail miserably many of those times. But God is kind to me. His showing me my sin is a kindness. His allowing a pastor to inexplicably share with me his sermon trajectory for the summer is a kindness.

And his trustworthiness if a kindness.

June 30, 2011

Tell Someone Your Story

"It takes energy and time and courage to bring the past up to the present, but we need to get things in focus for the sake of the health and balance of our children and grandchildren. Find a listener. Tell your story." - Jean Belz, 1990

Upon returning to the office after General Assembly, I felt a bit of a letdown at having to sink back in to office life after an exhilarating week of being a writer. Being a legal assistant again felt a little restricting.

Then, just as I was beginning to think, "This isn't as much fun as it used to be," one of the men in my office plopped a book on my desk and said, "Here, this is for you, a gift." Since books and gifts are two things I like very much, this gesture was a nice surprise.

The book was Tell Someone Your Story, a collection of short essays and letters published by Jean Belz's family to honor her 92nd birthday. Mrs. Belz has been having a posthumous impact on my thinking since last summer, and these little essays continue to inspire and convict me in all areas of life. She was a high-school educated mother of 8 and wife of a pioneering pastor. She spent roughly 50 years teaching English and mentoring students at a school in Iowa. For the last 32 of those years she was a widow.

"A mother must keep up her courage and believe in her boys even if she can't really trust them. They can't really trust themselves. But things are easier when we recognize this vulnerability" ("Boys to Enjoy and Love" - 1996).

From the grave, Mrs. Belz exhorts me to love my husband well, to believe the power of Scripture, to find joy in the daunting task of raising children, to pay attention to the subtle, splendid beauty that every season holds, and to write excellently. That last one really gets me. Her mastery of the English language, expansive vocabulary, love of words, and gift for crafting a sentence leave me feeling like a 5th grader with so much to learn. She focuses her keen eyes on seemingly mundane tasks and recollections, and through these she finds glorious insights.

"I know from years of experience that there are glories in January. Even on this dark day there are six finches on the feeder and another fighting for position...This is the sort of day that sends us to the sewing machine, to the furniture stripping, or to cleaning a closet as we put away Christmas decorations. Strip the halls of boughs of holly! Is it too dull? Then write letters - nothing is more appreciated or rewarding" ("January Again" - 1991). 

So, do your self a favor and nab this book from Amazon. Drink deeply from the well of wisdom it provides. Thank the Lord for the testimony and legacy of faithful, brave saints who invested their lives into others. Be inspired to act courteously, write well, keep up with your children, and delight in the stillness of winter. 

And then go ahead and tell someone your story.