Friday, April 29, 2011

You're on the Right Track, Baby: True Beauty Confessions

My friend Melissa and I are continuing our conversation about Beauty this morning. We've been talking about True Beauty through a series of letters on Fridays: What is Beauty? What will we tell our daughters about Beauty? We're so glad you're joining us. We would love to hear from you!


My Dear Melissa,

I have three confessions to make.

The first confession is that I am a "Gleek". Yes, I love Glee!

Your voice once echoed through Carnegie Hall. You know what it's like to sing beautifully.

I don't.

You dance. You dance in costume, no less.

I cannot dance. Unless I'm sitting down. I'm an excellent chair dancer.

But--in the privacy of my kitchen as I cook for my family during naptime, I dance and sing along with those crazy Glee kids, pretending to be a rock-star-diva.

Second confession: I love Lady Gaga.

Sure, she wears dresses that look like hanging meat and plunks a hunk of raw steak on her head for a hair bow, but that chick can kill a performance!

photo credit

I think that what’s so appealing about her to so many people is that she's an original. We all are, but she really lets is all hang out—in her music, in her fashion. She just doesn’t care.

So—on this week’s episode of Glee, my two loves collided, and it was too amazing, and too fitting not to talk about!

Hop on over to Melissa's to read my third confession and the rest of this post.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Two Will Become One---But Not Yet


This whole napping thing.

These two naps might soon become one, just like a bad Spice Girls song.

But--I won't go down without a fight.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Twister Thanks

We've had some pretty wild weather this spring! I guess that's not unusual in the Midwest. We've certainly had the tornado sirens going off a lot!

Friday, in particular, was a crazy night. The sirens went off, and we learned that a tornado was heading down the interstate heading right for us.

For those of you who know me, or have been reading here for very long, you know that our girls' bedtime routine is sacred! We don't mess with bedtime routine. So, of course, the sirens went off about 30 minutes after we'd put the girls down for the night.

Safety is one of the few things that trumps the bedtime routine, but it still makes me sweat.

Through that whole experience, we have so much to be thankful for.

612. Girls waking up to go to the basement without a fuss or complaint.

613. Hadley falling asleep on Brad's chest in the basement.

614. Brynne falling asleep in my arms.

615. The tornado lifting up and missing us entirely, without even one downed tree limb.

616. Safety of my family on their way down to visit during the storm.

617. The girls going right back to sleep when we came up from the basement.

618. The aftermath of the storm creating a beautiful evening to sit outside, watch the lightning show, fellowship and drink wine.


619. My beautiful sisters coming to visit.

620. Playing the Easter Bunny.

621. Easter feast with family.

622. Spending Easter with family.

623. Making funny faces with Brynne.


624. Babies crawling into my lap to read stories.

625. New favorite toy.

626. Easter egg hunt in the basement.

627. Girls on the front steps.

628. Hadley hangin' on the front stoop.

holy experience

Friday, April 22, 2011

His Story: True Beauty Conversations

My friend Melissa and I are continuing our conversation about Beauty this morning. We've been talking about True Beauty through a series of letters on Fridays: What is Beauty? What will we tell our daughters about Beauty? We're so glad you're joining us. We would love to hear from you!


My sweet Julia,

When I was pregnant with the girls I made a drastic decision to throw out all my journals.  Those journal contained my history from 7th through 12th grade.  It is a history I am not proud of and it was not something I wanted my children to stumble on unprepared.

I did not want them reading of
  • how I would chase boys around the playground hoping they might notice me
  • hands that reached where they should not of without permission
  • the deep miserable longing to be loved and accepted
  • that longing so deep that I laid bare before two young men
  • feelings of failure that drove me to food for comfort
  • my pride that I knew everything and that no one could teach me anything
  • volumes of depressing poetry relaying my fear that I would never be good or beautiful enough

Like you, I did not want my children peering into the vivid and painful history painted by my young perspective.

But at the same time, my rough history and yours are

His Story.

His Story of redemption.

His Story of reaching down and buying back with His very life that which others had overlooked as valueless.

His Story.

The Jesus Storybook Bible that we read to the girls tells us about His Story this way:

No, the Bible isn't a book of rules, or a book of heroes.  The Bible is most of all a Story.  It's an adventure story about a young Hero who comes from a far country to win back his lost treasure. It's a love story about a brave Prince who leaves his palace, his throne--everything-- to rescue the one he loves. It's like the most wonderful of fairy tales that has come true in real life!

You see, the best thing about this Story is-- it's true.

There are lots of stories in the Bible, but all the stories are telling one Big Story. The Story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them.

Oh, Julia, you and I know just looking at our history how much we needed God to rescue us!

How much we needing His Story of Redemption.

And our painful history is as much a part of His Story as the cross that brought redemption.

After all, what meaning would the story of Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt have if we were not told about the harsh slavery?

What meaning would the story of David and Goliath have if we had first not learned that David was the runt of his family and left to tend the sheep?

What meaning would the story of Daniel in the Lion's Den have if we did not know that Daniel was brought from his homeland as a captive and yet still served the Lord faithfully?

What meaning would the story of Zacchaeus being asked to host Jesus have if we had not known how he had cheated and stolen from so many?

What meaning would the story of the father running to his prodigal son have if we had not known how the son had taken his inheritance and squandered it foolishly?

Julia, don't you see?!

What meaning would the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus have for you and me if not for our torrid, tearful histories?

Our histories are meant to be told because they are parts of His Story.  Our histories, however sordid or bleak, are meant to be told, meant to be shared as the beautiful gifts that they really are!

Julia, we can't hide our history.  We can't toss it out in the trash like  a group of journals and live as if it never happened.

May it never be!

Let us humble ourselves and be willing to tell our histories in the new light of His Story.


Because it brings healing and hope to others to hear that your new beautiful heart was redeemed from compulsive unhealthy exercise and a terrible break-up.

Because it brings healing and hope to others when I tell that my new beautiful heart was redeemed from the prison of always seeking love and praise in the wrong places.

Our struggles with beauty, our pain, our losses, our trials, our broken places: they are all part of His Story.  And whenever He breathes into our story and makes it His Story, He redeems it.  He gives our story, His Story, the power to touch lives. With the enabling of the Holy Spirit our story that showed a small sparkle of hope to another can be used to create another life story of His redemption.

So was I wrong to throw out my journals containing those 5 years of my history?  No. They contained all of the angst and self-absorption of a person who could not see the pain as a path to a sweet brokenness that led me to the Healer of Hearts.

Would it be wrong for me to hide my past from my daughters?  I think so.  Stories of redemption have no meaning without the context of slavery to sin and the pain experienced.

If I can't say--
This is where your mommy was when the Lord Jesus Christ stepped down to rescue me,
then that rescue holds no meaning for me, or my listener.

If I can't say--
Oh, baby, I am so sorry that I yelled at you!  There's still a rough place in mommy's heart that Jesus is working on.
then the redemption of my story has no real meaning in my day to day life.

If I can't say--
Mommy asked you to obey.  The Bible say to honor your mother and father because we are supposed to keep you safe and teach you what is right.  I know how hard it is to obey. I struggled with obedience too until Jesus changed my heart and made it beautiful for Him.  He can change your heart too, if you ask him.
then sharing the gospel--the news that he can change even the vilest sinners (me)-- becomes impersonal and preachy.

Our histories are His Stories of Redemption.

His Story.

Telling His Story as it happens in our lives bring hope and grace to the hearers--- even when those hearing of our pain and failures are our own innocent daughters.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


I've lived in this house for three and a half years. Recently, I've been making and arranging things, searching for beauty. Not because Anthropologie or Pottery Barn says so, but because I think it's beautiful.

Some of it's old, some of it's new.
Some of it is from other countries, and some of it is from the backyard.

It's a work in progress, but I love looking around our home and loving what I see.


My dad made the shelf out of a tree that used to be just out of my bedroom window when I was a little girl. I'm not a knickknack-y person, but I do love having this space to put small things I love.

Isn't that shelf beautiful?! The tulip broke off in the storm last night. The print is titled Fashion Show by the Ethiopian artist, Zerihun Seyoum. In the shadow box is an antique spoon rest. I do enjoy a good spot of tea from time to time.

Cupcakes from our wedding.

Living Room

Print from Kenya. My dad made the frame out of cherry wood. The flowered candle holders are from our honeymoon in Costa Rica. The marble elephant is from India.

Changing Room (I wish I had something lovelier to call it)

Silhouette from A Happy Exchange. Brad made the cork board.

Prints from A Happy Exchange.

Girls' Bedroom

Chinese art from my years working for an international adoption agency.

Chinese lanterns instead of a mobile.

Wordish Wednesday

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Ten Scary Things on Tuesday

So, I was going to avoid talking about all things hand-sanitizer, in order to prevent inciting another chemist to saying mean and nasty things, but forget you chemists with your "anti-hand sanitizer" platform. I would be remiss if I did not include in my top 10 list of fears:
1. Germs, which leads to:
2. Sick babies.
3. Running out of hand-sanitizer. Just kidding. I'm don't rely on it that much. Just messing with you chemists out there.
4. Showering when Brad is not home. Showering is a very vulnerable thing to do, really. When I hear little noises, I'm always peeking out from the shower curtain. I curse the day I watched Psycho. It has forever dampened my showering experience:
File:Psycho (1960 film) shower scene.jpg
5. Snakes. One of my first memories involves me sitting on the toilet in the bathroom by myself, and a snake coming out from behind the sink. Maybe that clears some things up for you.
File:Crotalus cerastes mesquite springs CA.JPG
6. Brown Recluse spiders. Their bites can do all kinds of bad--and they can be hiding in the most obscure spot, like under a rock. Gardening gloves, gardening gloves, people! 
7. Heights make my palms sweat.
8. Burns. I threw water on burning butter once in high school. Don't ever do that, it hurts.
9. Getting hurt and not being able to get to the girls or a phone. Maybe I should get one of those Life Alert, I've fallen and I can't get up, things--that might make me their youngest client.
10. Cramped spaces. I didn't realize this one until I was in a very small plane in Costa Rica, where I could not straiten my legs, not even a little bit, the entire flight. I had to work hard not to scream in frustration.

What rational, or irrational things are you scared of?


Monday, April 18, 2011

Purple Thanks

605. Bluebells

606. Walk with Jackie and Laila.

607. Surviving two days as a single parent.

608. Drinks and good conversation on the deck with Laila.

609. Breakfast in bed.

610. Hiking at Watershed with the girls.

611. Purple.

holy experience