Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Top Ten of 2010

My dear cousin DS made a beautiful “Top Ten of 2010” list. Hers is deeply moving. And inspiring, so here goes my own. In no particular order, some favorite things—even ordinary day things—from 2010:

- Making and taking some dedicated time for yoga & walking (& poquito running), and walking the Santa Rosa 1/2 M w/ a sweet friend

- Successful completion of Search Committee duties & calling of a pastor who seems to be a great fit for our community-oriented and globally caring/serving church

- Carter continuing to grow with wonder at the world around him, and seeing his sheer joy at doing things like riding a “big-boy bike,” building Lego skyscrapers, and writing his name (letters are brilliant, you know?!)

- Happiness for Jeff as he continues to follow his dream w/ his own co, and for a favorable new project that has been a gift to us and other programming contractors

- 2 sweet, special family trips, to Austin & Haleiwa (love having people we love living in places we love!)

- Catching up with great girlfriends locally (Olive Garden Moms, baby) and at other locales (one that required use of a renewed passport—yay!)

- Participating in a variety of successful volunteer efforts for Haiti's relief

- Turning 40 in the company of lovely friends & realizing those 2 digits aren't so scary and often pretty great

- Progress/encouragement in renewing thyroid & PCOS health (a lot less fatigue than last year—so grateful)

- More travel/wanderlust emphasis: off-season deal and falling asleep to the sound of Atlantic waves during a quick pre-blizzard Christmas trip to the eastern shore with my favorite fellas

- A little bit of time to think, ponder, create--a favorite gift from a magnanimous Creator (Yes, yes, that's 11 things—funny how lists of joy and gratitude beget more joy and gratitude. I just thought of number 12.)

I'd love to read your list, too. Salud!

Pic from TX trip, May 2010.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

An Advent of Openness

While Advent is a season of waiting, it isn't a passive passage of time. The waiting is active, contemplative, and preparatory for opening our hearts and minds to God's great love. There is significance to this process as it relates to a reflective, listening season in which my church finds itself on the subject of homosexuality. Our denomination maintains a mandate of carrying on Christ's work. A small mainstream denomination, we are blessed with an ability to serve in large, world-affecting ways—groundbreaking involvement in fair-trade, disaster relief, and an influential model of volunteerism. My congregation can be seen as a microcosm of the whole—multigenerational, historically liberal as a peace church, but also traditional, and even, at moments, conservative. And we, like so many churches, are at a crossroads.

At the center of this junction, we find intersecting thoughts about interpretation of scripture. I am of the outlook that many biblical passages have contextual references, and that the writers of the Bible, though God-inspired, were not infallible—personalities and environs showed, an example being Pauline expressions about women in the ministry. I recall conversation with a dearly loved and respected family member about this—the belief that women should not be ordained. My response was heartfelt: but what if I have a daughter who is called to and passionate for pastoral ministry? Another close-to-home “hot topic” in my family: remarriage after divorce. When my parents (one is my step-parent) married, the union was the subject of well-meant concern. By observation, in my own varied ecumenical experience, it appears that most churches, or church-goers, have moved past these contextual ideas about ordination and remarriage. Where many churches, including ours, are still deliberating: homosexuality, specifically regarding calling to ministry and blessing of commitments.

In my 20's (now 40's), I had a dear friend who came out and was subsequently treated negatively by some from the church we attended. It was a wonderful non-denominational church, but not without it's flaws, or flawed persons, as we all can be. The well-intentioned words said to my friend, were often misused or misunderstood scripture. Persons, were, in my opinion, being so heavenly-minded that they missed out on the truth of our highest calling: “to love God with all our hearts, and to love our neighbors as ourselves.” Christ said nothing about homosexuality, and yet, in an instant, a Christ-follower can reject another Christ-follower. Based on what? Interpretations of scripture. Just like use of scripture to justify slavery, or the repression of women, or even perpetuate the idea of a flat earth, religious texts can be used in damaging ways. At the time that scripture was written, it was widely viewed that homosexuality was a choice. We now have scientific references that show otherwise. Just as we know that the earth is round and that second marriages may be blessed unions, some things are learned from science, and sometimes relationships teach us even more.

Christ's words were most always relational, and as such, our greatest calling involves healing and restoration. If so, who needs attention most? I believe, it is those persons who've been wounded by the church's misuse or misunderstanding of scripture. May we mend hurting hearts. And may we also see time as a healer. Years later, the beloved persons who disagreed with my parents' marriage may have re-evaluated their thoughts when divorce and remarriage became realities in their families. Likewise, just this week, I heard a story about a prominent Christian educator who reexamined his long-held views on homosexuality and scripture when his grandson came out. When, over the course of time, we look at scripture relationally, we are no longer merely discussing ideas, we are caring for each other—our grandchildren, our neighbors, our friends. Like Advent, relationships change us. May our hearts be open to whatever God has in store.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Do you remember being 3? It seems pretty fabulous!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

One Fine Day... and Evening

A lunch date with Cartz & Jeff included visiting some chicks at a local pet supply store, followed by a meal from Chick-fila. Yeah...don't think about that too much.

Later that eve, a trek to REI to check out strollers (someone is outgrowing his) became all about bikes. I guess it's time for a big boy bike... Does every mom's heart seem to skip a beat upon seeing her bebe looking so grown up?

I love my family.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

No Soup for You

Not really. Plenty of soup here. But seriously, all this about...soup? Yes. You'll want to lick the bowls. That good.

First up: O'Lordan's Potato & Leek. If you haven't tried it, do! If you're local, you really want to get in the car or jog down the street, stat. Not local, find a way to BWI asap. Divine. Just devoured some last week for St. Pat's. Perfect with Orchard Spinach Salad and a Killian's Red.

The second soup that will have you asking for seconds: Greek-Lemon Chicken. Warmth at winter's end = my friend Judy's January-March "soup night." Mid-week during her demanding job in disaster relief, Judy makes 2 huge crocks of soup & invites friend's to drop by at their convenience for a bowl of culinary mastery, artisan bread, coffee, and conversation. My family loves this awesome community tradition (something, unlike, say 4+ feet of snow in less than a week that we won't miss after it melts). Recipe for last week's savoring:

Avgolemono, or Greek Lemon-Chicken soup

6 c chicken broth
1 sm onion
1 sm carrot
1 bay leaf
1/2 t salt
2 chicken breasts
1 c long grain white rice
2 eggs
1/4 c lemon juice
2 T chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Chop onion & carrot fine, saute till cooked. Dice chicken & brown. Place in a pot with broth, lemon & spices. Beat the eggs very well, add hot soup to them slowly and continue to beat, then slowly put the egg mixture into the soup (important: do not let the soup/eggs boil again). Add rice & simmer 20 minutes.

Beautiful, delicious, and perfect in every way. Σας ευχαριστούμε (thank you), Judy!

Uno mas. I have a dear friend & neighbor who makes incredible gazpacho & it seems the perfect soup to celebrate spring. Actually spring through summer, as it's served cold. I'm thrilled that she shared her un-recipe: "I use V8 juice as a base, then add whatever fresh veggies I can get, add many seasonings and olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, etc. I use the food processor and like it chunky...I guess it is something I prepare by the seat of my pants and we all seem to enjoy it." True, we do. Gracias, Dolly!

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Was it keys, spare change, an ear-ring? I had just returned from dropping Carter off at preschool, placed my hands in my coat pockets as I walked from the car, and felt something metal. MatchBox airplane. Melt my heart moment. A symbol of what I spent so long hoping/dreaming/praying (and paying a doctor) for.

Cheerios all over the car, the house that never stays clean (I mean n-e-v-e-r), a new blouse that becomes someone's handkerchief (while I'm wearing it), an over-tired child in the middle of an aisle, stiff-legged being loud, very loud, with displeasure about being at the grocery store(yes, this did happen once. okay, twice.)—these are also signs of what I wanted/hoped/longed for. And it's wonderful, actually—I like and laugh about the Cheerios thing, and I learn from the others. What stands out even more are requests for "little hug, Mama?" or dancing the "hopping dance" in the kitchen, or pointing up to show me a nest in a tree at the park. I get happy, like beaming happy, when my kid eats heartily, and even wants more. When he pees on the potty. Or tells me he'd like to paint with "dark blue" next. Dark blue, not just blue, uh-huh, that's right, my son the genius! When he shares a favorite toy with a friend. When he races his race-cars on the train track.

It feels right, for me, to be at home with this little person. For this season. What feels right for most of my friends, is working, and it really is right for their families. For many, it makes family-time more treasured. I'm also mindful that there are countless moms, or dads, who'd like to be home and don't have the choice--I know to value just having the option as a gift. While, I'm pretty confident about where I want to be, I feel pressure to validate my decision. To combat that, I have been a volunteer/fund-raiser/member for maybe one too many causes, boards or committees. I've also tried to be an at-home chef extraordinaire, and attempted to create the most awesome at-home kid activities. All good things. Totally important. But, for me, all things to be done with balance, and not to justify a choice that I really needn't pressure myself to justify.

Antidote? Still figuring that out, and learning what to say yes to, and when to decline, and I hate that learning curve... But more so, I think it's simply cherishing this precious time, the blissful mingled with the melt-downs, the laughter and the runny noses, Jeff reading bedtime stories to our babe and the sleepless nights, bright new days (or "Sunny Day!" as Carter exclaims) and also the days of running on empty and caffeine. It's looking forward to the next stages, but not wishing the current one away. And decidedly, purposefully embracing the ordinary...finding in it, extraordinary joy.

These are the moments,
I thank God that I'm alive,
These are the moments,
I'll remember all my life.

—Edwin McCain

Tangible hope. A great way to send it:

Monday, March 1, 2010

Brick Ridge

Jeff & I could not recall the last time we went out to dinner just the two of us, so when a dear friend, here for a working vacation, offered to stay with Cartz for an evening, it gave us a little vacay, too! Note to self: dates are good. Thanks, Cheri.

For this super fun date, Jeff and I went to our fav Carroll County restaurant, Brick Ridge. The gorgeous brick building used to be a schoolhouse, now a "green" (windmill-powered & more) eatery serving fresh, innovative "lessons" on familiar U.S. classics: San Fran Scallops, New York Shrimp Risotto, Indiana Meatloaf... They also have clever and delicious "state of the week" specials. Ooh, and a really brilliant vino list. Can't wait to go back!

Lot's of other fab info here:

Speaking of wining and dining...and incredible music...for a great cause, please check out Unplugged for Haiti at The Austin Grill this Sat:


Jeff, Carter, & I are immensely enjoying our time with dear friends visiting from Nicaragua & Texas—so incredibly fun to see places we know through new eyes. I have to be honest, the grey weather of late has me longing for warmer climes, like the Emerald Coast of FL as in this pic of Carter. Our friends Sarah and Cheri keep saying how pretty it is here. "Really?" I think, "you mean all this grey?" But I'm starting to see (again) what they see.

I long for fresh bulbs and new green, but before starting to sing their praises, I'm pausing to admire the powerful season melting into the next.

A favorite quote: In the depths of winter I finally learned there was in me an invincible summer. —Albert Camus

And a warped one (long live SNL): Too bad Lassie didn't know how to ice skate, because then if she was in Holland on vacation in winter and someone said "Lassie, go skate for help," she could do it.” —Jack Handy

Friday, February 26, 2010

Mi Familia Tiles

During the summer of 2007, I made mosaic tiles like the one in the above pic and sold them to raise funds for various charities. I'm thinking of making them again to help raise funds for If you'd like one, please let me know--I can customize them with faces, color schemes, and favorite quotes or sayings.

Last thought for this post--a quote I read earlier in the week: We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out. —Ray Bradbury

May you know great beauty. All the time.

3/3 note: the tiles are 4X6" to 6X8" & $22 for 3 faces, $2 for ea addl face. They take about 3 weeks with firing, gazing re-firing & mastic. I'll chk 4 requests here, on FB, or at Thx!

Thursday, February 18, 2010


I have a friend who is posting a pic for everyday. She & her family live on gorgeous farmland and it's a thrill to see her capture the beauty of nature and family. She's inspired me to aim for similar: one pic or set of pics each week. This is the week following Valentine's Day, or as it's called in Latin America, "Dia del Amor y la Amistad" (Love and Friendship Day), thus the pics of Carter enjoying freshly sugar-sprinkled love and friendship cakes.

I would be remiss to not mention Haiti. May we send them love and friendship in tangible form. Waterproof shelter is desperately needed before the rainy season--10 days from now--and it can be sent via (you can send them a tent or funds for one, and they'll get it into the hands of Haiti).

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Oh goodness, it took me forever to figure out how to set up the site (I have a wonderful, energetic toddler, so I was indeed a wee bit distracted) and now I need to put some words to the action. I hope to post something erudite from time to time, but for now I'll just admit that I'm not the most tech-advanced chica, although I am married to a software developer, so that should make up for it, yes?

Daily life seems to vacillate from moments where I want to pull my hair out (most recently because my little Picasso has redecorated the crayola) and moments of sheer bliss ("big hug, Mama"). BTW, I'm not as upset as maybe I should (?) be about the ottoman (and other parts of the house) because my inner quirky artsy side loves that he's expressing himself. But I don't want him to redecorate your living room if we visit! Boundaries...I'll work on that after I stop gazing at his exceptional use of color.

So much happens in the course of a day, often in the space of just a few rooms. That leads me to what prompted me to get off my duff about this long-postponed blog: I—have—a—house. A home. A place of shelter and love. Many don't. My mind and heart go straight to Haiti, experiencing the aftermath of "the most destructive natural disaster in modern history" ( and doing so in the face of the coming rainy season. Remarkably, even as a stay-at-home mama, I can make some bit of difference there. Today.

Last night I entered the brave new world (for me) of Twitter for the same reason. There are a number of NGO's that I feel confident in supporting, some big names, some small. Most recently,, and the grass roots movement around it, has captured my time and attention. The plan is three-fold with the end result being safe and sturdy rebuilt communities, but the immediate aim is to send tents, waterproof, to those in Haiti (nearly 1 million) desperately needing them.

The rainy season starts in 11 days. For this reason, if you are reading, you might see 11 more blogs about the same thing. I apologize in advance, but I can't not talk about it. If you can, please send a little more love, preferably a waterproof tent, or donate to (or to any other NGO's sending waterproof shelter, like The Salvation Army in Canada). You can even donate your time, as it's largely a Twitter, FB & blog movement.

Meanwhile, from the comfort of my home, for which I am so thankful, I promise to throw in some humorous son is dedicated to the later cause.