Wednesday, July 16, 2014


My lovely friends, I'll be taking a break from writing this blog. I might be back soon,  it depends on a few things (for example, if our local internet provider ever gets a competitor). I can be found on instagram in the mean time. I will miss this space,  but I'll be back.
Now I will try to figure out the instagram link. ....


Saturday, July 12, 2014

My Dream House

I found another pouf.
Even more on sale than the first one.
Malachi thinks they are both just for him.
He backs up to his chosen pouf carefully, and perches comfortably on the edge.

Last night we drove up to The Land again, where Nate's brother and his wife are building a house.
We destroyed our recent car wash in the muddy driveway.
The drive there is beautiful, through winding country roads, but it takes so long that every time we go, my heart sinks a little. I want to arrive in eight minutes, not eighteen.
And yet once again, we are leaning towards building a new house on a grassy hill, with woods and ponds all around...
It would be a shared house with Nate's mom, with her part of it on the other side of the garage.
I got to thinking about my Dream House.

Before the recession, before a long period of unemployment in our family, before the children were grown, we thought a lot about dream houses. Everyone did. Imagining them was a luxury that all of us could partake in.

But I've decided that my dream house has little to do with square footage or bedrooms or views.
My dream house is where my dreams come true.
And it's in this house, this inconvenient, ordinary house, where my dreams have come true.
We've had some bad moments here, but mostly the moments have been good.
It's hard to leave a place that holds all the memories of my babies, my children, my maturing marriage.
It's hard to leave a place that has held so much love. 

So why move?
~For one thing, we could have three bedrooms on one level, and Malachi could finally have his own room.
He does not want his own room. He likes sleeping in mama's bed. But mama thinks that a room for his stuff, at least, is a good idea.
~We'd have more space in the living room, for the times we're all together.
~Finally, a master bathroom. And a closet. It's been so good for me to have a tiny closet, it keeps me weeding out the stuff I don't wear or need. But it's a crowded mess no matter how much I toss out.
~We'd move for the peace and quiet, for the space, for the country life.
~I am so fed up with my overwhelming gardens, I'm ready to ditch them and start over. I am never caught up. It would be nice to have a simpler yard with more fruiting trees.
~And you guys, I have to admit: I would love decorating a new house. We'd have a strict budget, but still I imagine a bit of marble in the kitchen, soft natural wood tones, white cabinets and distressed-wood shelves, big windows and simple curtains drifting to the floor. Something like this fresh country kitchen.

And what has to happen first? Well for starters, my husband has to find work in the area. He doesn't want to drive two hours every day back and forth from the Cities. We would have to either rent or sell our house (I'd rather rent it. Then I can sneak into this yard and take perennials as needed).

And no matter where I live, if the ones I love are with me, it's going to be home.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Strawberry Trifle and More

On my mind this week:

Strawberry Trifle (recipe at end of post)

This post on the meaning of love

The overwhelming weeds in my garden beds

The possibility that we might move. We go back and forth, back and forth. Right now we're leaning forth.

These words from the introduction to Ephesians: "The greatest adventure in life is discovering the purpose for our lives. 'Why am I here?' The answer may astound you. We have been created to walk in harmony with our God and with fellow believers." This is so simple. Why is it so hard?

Continued overwhelming gratitude for this little guy. Here he is on the Fourth of July, next to Grampa Murphy's (broken) tractor. We miss Grampa.

The upcoming wedding of Caleb and Krista. It's a whole new covenant, a new couple beginning their story together. It's a letting go, and a gathering in. It's a mystery that I don't think I'll ever figure out, but it's blessed by God, and  for that I give thanks. 

All the versions of it on Youtube sounds sort of dorky, but oh you guys, the words, "I need no other argument, I need no other plea, it is enough that Jesus died, and that He died for me," have been running through my head since a friend reminded me of that song. It's so perfect. Can somebody please make a cheerful version of it? The best version I found was a woman from Ghana, she sounded good, but the video was blurry. 

Somebody loves his big brother. This was taken after Isaac finally arrived, after Malachi had fallen off the sofa, after the tears had dried. Joy. It's on its way, and it's often unbidden, in the quiet moments when we are at peace with Jesus and with each other.

And now here's that recipe:

Strawberry Trifle
(with thanks to my Aunt Bea for the original recipe)

1 angel food cake, made from a box mix, cooled and torn into 1-inch chunks
Many strawberries, at least 4 cups, but 6 cups is better, hulled and sliced into quarters

Cream filling:
1 box instant vanilla pudding
1 cup milk
1 cup sour cream (I use half sour cream, half plain yogurt)
3 cups whipped cream (about 1-1/2 cups whips up to the right amount. I add a bit of vanilla and a spoonful of powdered sugar, but you don't have to).

Pour milk into a large bowl, whisk in pudding mix till smooth and thick. Add sour cream and yogurt, stir to blend. Gently fold in the whipped cream.

To assemble the trifle:

1/2 the cake pieces
1/2 the cream filling
2 cups berries

Repeat, but put tons of berries on top if you have enough. This is the healthiest part of the recipe and you don't want to be stingy about it.

Chill for a few hours and then enjoy!

Friday, July 4, 2014

How to Be Happy

Here's my little guy with our 48-star flag, no offense to Alaska and Hawaii.
Yesterday he stood on this same sofa, so he could see out the big window, as soon as I told him that Isaac was coming home. He ran to the sofa, climbed up as fast as he could, and chattered and laughed and expected Isaac to show up that very minute. Seconds later (I was making dinner in the next room), he fell ingloriously onto the hard floor. He cried to break your heart. He has a big goose-egg on his already square-ish head.

And such is life. One minute we're laughing and looking forward to something with great joy. The next minute we've been knocked off our perch and we're badly hurt, crying even, and surprised by how much pain hurts.

Sometimes when I'm setting out to write something here, certain faces drift across my mind. I think of these precious faces and the hearts that beat near those faces, and I just want to reach through the screen and offer up huge helpings of encouragement and support.

Usually I just tell my own story, sometimes a fraction of my story, and most of the time I try to focus on joy.

But some days are hard. Here, in this house, some days are hard. Sometimes I find myself injured by those closest to me. And sometimes, what is so much harder to bear, I find that I have caused the injury.

It's a long and delicate dance, waltzing through life in community with other humans. Without them we are miserable. With them, we are subject to discomfort. Here are some of the ways I pick myself up and dust myself off when the dance becomes awkward and I find myself tripping. Here are the things I do to be happy.

~ Avoid introspection. For me, this means to take my mind off my injury (or my perceived injury) and firmly place my mind on Jesus. This can be so hard to do. It helps to say out loud, Jesus, help me take my eyes off myself and just look at you. Worship music can help (although I struggle mightily with some modern worship songs, so it has to be the right kind of music or I get even more grumpy).

~Be quick to apologize. This one is pure freedom. It's so, so difficult for me. Its difficulty reveals my pride. Those closest to me have noticed this and pointed it out and ugh, I hate it. But the more I do it, the easier it becomes. Every time, I go into apology with dread and pride clinging to me. But every time, it's such a relief to humbly ask forgiveness. Wow, I should do this more.

~ Be the first to forgive. Yes, this one is hard too! Again, it helps to speak forgiveness out loud, every day if necessary. The forgiveness is for my own freedom. It's the forgiveness of Christ. It's nothing I have to feel or manufacture. It's all a gift from Him. He completes the action.

~ Rest in His approval. Do I seek the approval of men, or of God? I thought I sought the approval of God, until I started writing this blog. Suddenly I cared what other people thought of my writing. I was quick to pick up an offense when a friend (I didn't mind at all with a stranger) said they never read my blog. (Yes, this happened). I had to lay down that offense, repeatedly if needed, and remember that I have an Audience of One. He loves me so much. He loves you so much. Nothing, nothing we do can separate us from his love. It is an inexhaustible well. It is enough to fill the gaps when human love fails. It is enough to heal me of any wound. It is enough to make me want to breathe deeply again, after hours of shallow breaths of anxiety. It is enough.

So rest in that, beloved friend, and I will try to do the same.

I love this encouraging song from Need to Breathe. Listen to it here.