"Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage." Psalm 84:5


enjoying my Christmas present to me - natalie merchant's 'the house carpenter's daughter'. wonderful stuff, etheral and gritty at the same time, echos of history sung clearly, folk in its glory. i recommend you give it a listen...


my brand new niece lies in an incubator across the atlantic from me, weighing not quite four pounds, in a hospital forty five minutes away from her mom, papa, and big brothers. i need to be there, but i just don't think i'll get my christmas wish this year. if you come here and you're the praying sort, you sure can pray that little hannah marie will grow and stay healthy and get to go home soon...


ready or not, here come the holidays. thanksgiving is next week already...i, the sentimental dreamer, can still be found gazing out the kitchen window at the scraps of last summer still hanging on...the purple and white swirly rubber ball wedged under the deck, the baby blue plastic colander tilting atop the sand pile, the rusting red grill, stoically waiting to be wheeled around to the garage, thus hailing winter, or at least autumn. i know we've gone on the field trip with jesse's kindergarten class to the pumpkin patch, i know our porch mums are nodding their round heads off to brittle brown sleep, i know my one year anniversary to having joined the y and our nine year anniversary to signing our marriage license is fast approaching, yet my mind cannot wrap itself around turkey centered feasting, snow crunching under my nikes, the moon reduced to a thin white pebble far, far away...not just yet. i'm stuck in the purgatory of between-seasons, i'm suspended between recollection and reality, i'm fine here for today, thank you. i've got one more barefoot run in the grass to let loose in, one more push for lucy in the yellow swing at the park, laughing with her in the sun. shivering cold will come soon enough, and i'll look for the treasures under the rocks of winters' days when they can no longer be ignored...but i'll take ignorance's bliss this day and pretend it can go on for a good long while...


kansas (the eight year old) wants to know...

"if twelve o clock at night is called midnight, then how is one o clock in the morning morning already?"

any wiser parents than i out there?


four days ago some good friends of ours had a beautiful baby boy - their first child...and yesterday a fourth grader from our kids' school died of a seizure - i attend a bible study with the mom whose home this happened at (the girl was visiting a friend, they were going to eat dinner and go to awana together. she was the only child of a single mother...)

the soaring, miraculous heights collide with the depths of human despair and pain this week in our little world.


life is charging by at an alarming pace for us these days...work, basketball for the boys, lucy's a flower girl in another wedding, mops, bible studies - one for me, one with the whole family, holidays, school field trips, correspondence, going to the y, friends having babies, church, choir for kansas, cooking, cleaning, shopping, my determination to make it to at least one cider mill this fall, kids making new friends and organizing times to play with them, remoldeling our basement, email, putting together shoeboxes for operation christmas child (a wonderful and worthwhile project we happily support) by the middle of november...the list goes on and on; much more than a calgon moment could make a dent in, daydreaming at stoplights only makes things worse, falling into bed exhausted at the end of long day after long day is my reprieve. even so, i don't think i would trade it...for the joy set before me i'll endure just about anything.


yesterday my little one year old ford focus wagon had to be towed away from an accident scene. Chad and Jesse (my almost six year old) were the only ones in the car when it was crashed into by a couple of high school kids on their way home from football practice, blowing off a stop sign at a country intersection. the only one who got hurt was the driver of the other car, who had to be hospitalized. strange to think of someone lying in a hospital bed from having smashed into my car...c and jesse are fine, not a scratch. two days ago another guy was killed in a car wreck on that very road...sure gives one pause. i really can't imagine getting a phone call with worse news than i got yesterday, and my loss there only entailed a piece of machinery. i stop, i shudder...i take a deep breath, i give solemn thanks to God, who doesn't miss a thing -not a sparrow, not a liquid grey family car on a collision course.


Sometimes it's all I can do to get the dishes and laundry maintained for the day. This morning I said "I'll clean the bathroom at least since I don't think I'll get to cleaning out the garage later." I actually did neither.
I went to see the old man. He had given up on getting out of bed - tired of trying to go on without her. Through my mind passed all of the things I was probably supposed to do and say...get him to the doctor, get him on antidepressants, get him to the dairy queen or out to the lake more often...but what I realized after that barrage, what I'd known really since the moment I'd walked in and seen him lying on his side under the covers at four thirty in the afternoon was that to deprive him of his grief in any way would be highway robbery, that his soul would not be pacified, that the hole in his heart could not be patched over with a flimsy band-aid. So I sat down in the yellow chair next to his bed. I just sat there with him, I opened myself to his pain, I let him give it to me...it wasn't a burden that could be passed on in it's entirety, though, so we shared it. Half of his heavy load lay in my lap, my head lay in my hand, my eyelids lay against my eyes. In silence we shared minutes, shared an hour, I didn't know how to leave. The room darkened, his breathing slowed, became heavy.
I crept out the door to my car, under the waxing moon I cried it out. Sometimes that's really all you can do.


grey patched glow white pebble high
surrounded by blue black inky night
driving down old cold country roads
feeling the bite as autumn arrives

sentimentality takes my mind
to childhood apple happy times
cider mill field trips hayrack rides
warm brown cinnamon donut smiles

wax paper crayon rubbings of leaves
stopping to smell the crisp earthy breeze
flying by black eyed susan sea
my ten speed raleigh my wings, my ease


so i come home from work the other night to the following account...jesse was reading a book to lucy, and she suddenly had to run to her room for something. she said to her brother, "can you pause?", ran there and back, and then commanded "ok, play!", sitting down to resume listening. toddlers in the technological age...


got a letter from a mother
mourning the choices of her daughter
made me wonder how you let go
altogether in the end
watched my three year old lucy
paint and play and ask and imagine
made me marvel at the thought i'd someday
have her for a grown up friend
just how much of our input
sticks forever in their psyches
forms their choices and opinions
revelations, nods and bends
what of all the timeless moments
strung together like round glass beads
entwining our overlapping lifetimes -
will we restore those things that slipped through the cracks,
the tears in the fabric - will they heal? will they mend?


"I haven't failed, I've found 10,000 ways that don't work."
- Thomas Edison


we have seen rainbows aplenty out here this last week. after a storm, or a day of drizzle, there one will appear in all it's watercolored glory for us to smile at, nudge each other over. we may not be able to see God face to face, but a sign of one of His everlasting covenants right there in the sky over my house is sure encouraging.


so...did anyone else catch simon and garfunkel on letterman last night? i've just always had a thing for those harmonies...


we had a busy weekend...kansas went to play at a friends farm, we went twice to see hot air balloons up close at the huff n puff rally out by lake shawnee, chad recorded a harmonica part for a friend's cd, jesse worked on learning to read, we watched strange brew - my #1 high school cult classic, went to church, had a picnic, saw a free bluegrass show at the library, napped, ate big salads, and helped lucy with many puzzles. and i'm just getting around to telling you all about it on tuesday...i guess we're having a busy week, too. life...
comments are back! celebrate away...


"You can't help but remember what Faulkner is alleged to have said when asked whether he wrote daily or only when the inspiration hit him. It's said he replied that he wrote only when the inspiration came, but that he made sure it came every morning at ten o'clock sharp when he sat down at his desk."
- Rick Bass

ah, the discipline of inspiration...a conundrum, to be sure, but a surer bet than winging it.



there they are, just
growing up
in front of God and everybody all
fits and scraped knees,
blown up red faced kickabilly
chewed green army men
pencils fingernails
spilled milk
grass stained and
bug bite itchy.

i think what they need from us
is time
space and
most of all really a whole lot of grace.


this morning, out early driving...there is such a glory to the beginning of the day, a glossy bright newness. that shiny blue sky, peach-grey tinged clouds sweeping by slowly on the crisp new breeze - i think it's a part of God's mercy that is new every morning...a visual for the spiritual reality that no matter how dark and late last night became, it's just a few hours to redemption.


kansas, my eight year old, asked me today - "mom, who are the starbucks?"

heh. would've made a great band name...


have you ever been out in public, like a concert or a store, or a kite flying show, and the feeling crept up on you that someone was standing a little too close? you looked around, and sure enough, someone had mistakenly backed a little too far into your comfort zone. you either stepped away, or they noticed and moved themselves...keeping that space free and clear of that feeling of a small violation. that's what lonliness feels like to me - a large, lurking presence, standing too close, taking up some of my air space, sometimes even making it a little hard to breathe. sometimes i can make it dissipate, but usually i just have to let the thing tag along, uncomfortable in it's clutches, but it is not polite and respectful of my personal space, and i don't know how to back away. I am a person that likes my solitude pretty often, but this is different...I don't choose when it comes or how long it stays.

c is gone for a few or more days to try to sort himself out. my kids, God bless 'em, are doing a good job of keeping me sane and in the day. it's just that other presence...i can't quite befriend.


are chain smokers
more likely to survive a house fire
more used to smoke inhalation
than those who don't and are
more likely to survive an earthquake
more used to gyrating moving shaking
than those who don't and are
roller coaster addicts
more likely to survive loving someone
more used to highs and lows
wrenching stomachs soaring hearts
than those who won't?


happy birthday to me! and in honor of the big event, i've gone and preordered over the rhine's new double album. can't wait to hear it, but i've got to, for a few more weeks...


top 5 requested car tunes from the barker kids this summer :
1-yellow submarine, beatles
2-good day sunshine, beatles
3-SOS, pegtop
4-pop goes the weasel, ella jenkins and some 3 and 4 year olds from the Lake Meadows Nursery School
5-never felt this way before, billions

(i just love watching jesse belt out the chorus to that last one...he's right there...)


sortof sad tired to the bone three THREE trips to town today the y a doctors appointment and work now i smell like espresso grounds i really don't mind lightning outside drove through driving rain tonight hollowed out gut fatigued why though the sadness? i really do not know no end to this busyness this summer but it will come, it will break into a low leisurely autumn, yes? one can hope in the glaring heat, the troubled sky nights (not that i don't dearly appreciate a good rousing thunderstorm, but this one this week's in pieces - last night all we had was hard wind and a bit of flash, tonight it's the rain - tomorrow the dark clouds, perhaps? unsettling...) so here i go, heading for my thirty first year i had no idea i'd still be aware at thirty one so aware of the child within - i'm beginning to believe she'll always be there.


sometimes i can walk into barnes and noble and just browse...find a reference book on clearance to leaf through, gaze through the oversized art books, grin around the humor section, read a newspaper, listen to the samplings of the latest cd's from the worlds of jazz, folk, whatever...

...and then there are times i am unexpectedly drawn to shop in there - like to walk out empty handed would be a loss of some sort. i need a magazine, some new stationary, a birthday gift, of course a card to go with the gift...i need coffee from the starbucks located INSIDE my b+n, and then i head to the childrens section where i am sucked in completely by all the cute, fun, educational merchandise that my kids need for rationales that only seem silly now that i'm home, away from the unexplained lure.

i've always been a bookstore junkie, and in my current town, it's the only thing besides walmart open past 9 or 10. what's a girl to do? i chalk it up to the idea that there are much worse addictions, i'm not so bad off...


it was hot so hot outside so
i got the largest iced tea but
when me + my new york times sat
down for some company it happened to be
directly under the maroon painted vent blowing cold air
onto the only available wing backed chair
and so i froze goosebump chilly, too
chilly indeed to enjoy
that extra large
iced tea


first it was the flood in our basement, now we have the unwelcome (and expensive) problem of...termites. i'm beginning to feel either like pharoah or job.


5 days away...from the sunflower state to the sunshine state.
saw the sun set from the plane
swam in the salty aqua blue ocean
collected tan white spiney shells
watched my children squeal as they ran from incoming wave after wave
somehow didn't get sunburned

ate grilled jamaican jerk chicken
sweet potato pancakes
passion fruit chiffon cheesecake
warm brie
out of this world eclairs

posed with mickey
gawked at the magic kingdom castle
paid way too much for water and popsicles
while walking in the heat of a florida afternoon to ride
after attraction
after show
after parade
snapping pictures and delighting
in watching my kids have an absolute blast

flew home
went to bed early
still have to finish that unpleasant task
of unpacking


"The really wonderful moments of joy in this world are not the moments of self-satisfaction, but self-forgetfulness. Standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon and contemplating your own greatness is pathological. At such moments we are made for a magnificent joy that comes from outside ourselves. And each of these rare and precious moments in life (beside the Canyon, before the Alps, and under the stars) is an echo of a far greater excellence, namely, the glory of God...The more the Hubble Telescope sends back to us about the unfathomable depths of space, the more we should stand in awe of God. The disproportion between us and the universe is a parable about the disproportion between us and God. And it is an understatement."

- John Piper, from his book 'Don't Waste Your Life'


i'm balancing out my hour and a half workout at the y this morning with a cherry vanilla coke float...it's all about keeping things in perspective, right?


kids ask questions nearly incessantly...it is quite subconcious, this need they have to find out about the world around them. they have a keen curiousity and an unashamed way of satiating it. when we grow up, do we not ask as many questions because of our fear of the answers, or worse, not getting any answers at all? sometimes we cannot even form words around the questions that tumble haphazardly around our hearts and minds like tennis shoes in a clothes dryer. sometimes we simply don't want to expand our understanding any further - we've gotten all the answers we want out of life, we hole up, we coast. may it be that i retain some sense of wonderment, of being suprised by something and wanting to know more, of knowing that i don't know it all... that i can still form opinions, that i still have a ways to go in this wide world before i come to the next one.


having some blogger/template difficulties...look for something a bit more eye appealing and reappearing comments soon!


this morning is clear and bright and i could run
run out the door and down the street
past the houses and the school and the post
office past the two slow donkeys in thier little green field past
one two three churches past this town onto blacktop highway solid
white line beside i could run far and fast and free past
all my fears and insecurity i could
run until my lungs burned and then lay down in some
farmer's meadow under the shade of a cottenwood tree


from Augustine's "Confessions"..."What is is therefore that goes on within the soul, since it takes greater delight if things that it loves are found or restored to it than if it had always possessed them?...Everywhere a greater joy is preceded by a greater suffering."

reading Philip Yancey's "Where is God When it Hurts?, mulling over the idea of pain being a gift (think of leprosy patients), of suffering preceeding a joy that could not have been had any other way, thinking about "our light and momentary troubles achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all". the point of suffering, the purpose of pain, the strength and character gained through the things we hate to go through...if we choose that way over anger and bitterness, fear and mistrust.


i'm eating chocolate covered sunflower seeds...how the heck do they make these things?


i was lying in bed reading clara mondschein's melancholia when my two year old lucy tottered in, rosy cheeked, freshly awoken from her afternoon nap. she crawled in with me and after inspecting her freshly splinter-freed, elmo bandaged big toe turned to me and said "mom, i really love you a lot."

i almost don't want to blog this stuff, it's so wrenching...but i guess i just want to prepare you so far kidless folks who read these entries, or remind you parents of now fellow grown ups here just how easily one can be moved to tears with absolutely no notice by a mini person that did not even exist three short years ago, that takes up about the same amount of space as a half a stack of encyclopedias, that bears your name and sometimes even parts of your personality, your face. it's amazing...just amazing.


last night we realized that we are missing kansas' birth certificate...the notarized one, the one that's supposed to be in our - his parents' - safekeeping...needless to say, this was greatly disturbing to me...as well as inconvienient - we need it to send a copy with his application for a state online charter school this week. after searching through every place i could think of (besides the one place where i knew it was last) i checked out the federal government's website for information on replacing it, if it should come to that. here's a direct quote from there..."USAIS (United States of America Immigration Services) has made it simple to obtain your Vital Record Certificate from the comfort of your home. Using our Web based System you will be able to obtain your Birth, Death, or Marriage Certificate efficiently, saving you both time and money."

good to know, in case i ever lose my death certificate, that i will be able to obtain a copy of it from the comfort of my own home...


reading the lauren hill interview in the latest mars hill review has got me thinking - about the wide world of christian marketing's need for seperation of church and all that's not church, the real and needed place for material written for the believer's encouragement, what's in a conversion from one religion to another under the umbrella of the same God, the (highly relatable for me) preference for memior vs. apologetics for growth in understanding what this walk is all about anyway...and on and on. i encourage you to pick one up and read it, if this sort of thing interests you. i'll be here, chewing.


i love those times when in my frailty i can, like a proud beaming child, point to my God and say "MY daddy can do ANYTHING!"


about a year and a half ago we were having great philisophical discussions around here about bob dylan's singing voice...why, when he had obvious talent to sing well, did he choose to grind every other word of his well penned songs out of his nose, and hard...? why did he choose to adopt a voice that grated on many people's nerves and caused him to be even more oddly thought of as he was to begin with? arrogance, perhaps, or even anger fueled this strange choice. oh, we had a heyday of speculation, to be sure...chad even wrote a paper on the subject for a class. but yesterday i thought of something new. while listening to some of his very early recordings mixed with later hits on a compilation, it occured to me that maybe his choice to sing that way was an extension of his fierce privacy and reluctance to speak with reporters and biographers...we, the outside world, were not going to get his story, his comments, or even his real voice. like so many shy people i knew who could play loud, abrasive, or ridiculous characters in the theatre, his real self remained hidden behind a charicature on stage - and the transition between real and affected was too emotionally difficult for him to cross over and back at will. a defense mechanism. as figel of 321 penguins says, "it's a theory, anyway."


you cannot have resurrection life without first dying...


i just noticed that my last three posts were made on a tuesday, and here i am doing it again. i wonder why tuesday has become blogging day for me...?

so...we are having a time finding a sitter so we can go see waterdeep this saturday - one of the downfalls of the show being on easter weekend. it's been downright hot here the last few days - the mercury rose to 90 yesterday. hot and windy - weather i want to stick my head in the sand to avoid. and it's hard to drive in. there are major issues in my life - cleaning out and fixing my basement, taxes, childrearing, etc - that i am currently struggling with. worrying, nursing discontent, even anger at these loose ends that should have been tied up already, or that flail in the breeze making it hard for me to grab on to. but i'm remembering more these days to take them to God, to try to leave them there, and to set my hope in Him...balancing this world temporary and that life eternal has always eluded me though, it's difficult.


in the last four days, we've been home only to sleep two nights. today i'm looking around at my trashed house, no floor space to be seen from the bags, backpacks, and general chaos - i'm a bit overwhelmed. i need time to process the events of friday...the death of chad's grandmother, kindergarten roundup for jesse (me standing there in my p.j's that morning at 9:00 am after the whirlwhind of getting chad and kansas off for the day with the realization dawning on me that i was supposed to be at school right at that moment for the parent's meeting without lucy in tow...not happening. we were late and she squirmed on my lap...) where was i? the great marriage conference we left for on friday afternoon after learning the news of grandma barker...we were glad we had seen her just the evening before, but it was impossible to process the thought of her being gone while heading out of town as the rest of the family was flying or driving in...the time away and the lessons learned at the conference are going to be priceless when we get around to following up with it. the funeral yesterday, the deep, hard to answer questions from my kids...the afternoon and evening spent with family and friends...the distracting basketball game. chad has nursed a debilitating toothache through this all. my kids are having a terrible time giving me these moments to write even now...i've been looking forward to their naptime today since last thursday...

i'll try to get to my little blog more often, when i have some time to :).


our water damaged basement, chad's crashed hard drive, and now his grandma is in the hospital again, and they don't think she'll make it two more weeks. they say these things come in threes, but do they have to come like a series of joe louis knockouts?



ug...the main drain's plugged. our basement, it did flood. for days we've worked and shrugged...shop vacs and dehumidifiers we've lugged. we pulled the carpet up, the pad - when you walked on it went "schlup". can't take much more of this uncertain struggle- about time to call the plumber up.

(this complaint brought to you by the phonetic short 'u' sound)


jesse, lucy, and i went and had lunch at school with kansas today...when a parent comes like that, their child is allowed to choose two friends to sit with along with mom or dad at a special table. kansas chose a very cute and talkative little brown-eyed girl (who gave me the initial impression that she had influential older sisters, and as it turned out, she does :) - and he also chose the class troublemaker - remember the kid who set his desk on fire? he looks like one of the little rascals (think alfalfa with red hair and freckles), but is very easy to talk to and was eager to share with me all the rotten things he's done this year...'true confessions at auburn elementary...'

it really took me back...one hollered room-encompassing scolding from the large marge-esque lunch lady, and i was in second grade all over again, but this time with a more refined sense of humor and a little more height. i watched my kansas go through the hot lunch line, raise his hand to ask for more ketchup, talk with his friends about recess and other kids, and race when he finished out to the playground swings. i swear, it really doesn't seem like so long ago that i was right there...different town, different life - same general idea. we hung around for the ten minute recess before heading back to the office to return our visitors pass. it's still a bit strange to have all this formality attached to seeing my kid during a normal day, but i guess that's part of letting him grow up.


...and today it's sunny and 62 degrees. i'm listening to Arlo Guthrie's Alice's Restaurant [18:31] via streaming online radio...fun stuff.
I was having revelations yesterday morning on the treadmill at the Y - revelations and trepidations, visions and fears. sometimes i see not just the whole picture, but the entire collection of picture possibilities and let me tell you - once you have children of your own, this can be an unwelcomingly blinding situation. I walked faster and faster as thoughts poured through my brain...thoughts of my kids out in this big bad world without a solid anchor, thoughts of inadequacy at motherhood because of my own mother jumping ship when i was two - my daughter's age now - thoughts of pictures i wanted to paint and music i wanted to make, thoughts of never standing on the northern california cliffs overlooking the pacific ever again, thoughts of claustrophobia in my yoga pants, thoughts of hungry children in third world countries, bombings, vacant eyed poverty, my own restlessness and my sometimes seemingly frozen options at this place in my life, thoughts of black and red and flourescent oranges and yellows that hurt my inner eyes...thoughts of something shapeless unraveling and a loss of control over it, thoughts of not understanding God, and being mostly confused at the way people have tried to explain Him, thoughts of armageddon and fire and endless cold unrelenting pouring rain like something out of a ray bradbury story. thoughts i wanted to write down and couldn't and that i knew would have escaped me when i did get to paper and a pen...all this while watching construction progress on the row of townhouses below me out the wide long windows i was facing, and four wall mounted t.v.'s blinking out seperate broadcasts above me. and the woman on the next treadmill over walking just a little bit faster than me the whole time. and coldplay loud in my ears, the wire from my cd player swinging in time to my stride. the track under my feet slowed for cool down, and i remembered to breathe. what gets me through these mental panic attacks? i think having learned that this too shall pass, i guess. that all i really have to hold is the moment i'm in. and that as little as i get what God's up to, I believe He's a good Father.

by the time i picked jesse and lucy up from their play i was satisfied to run our errands and go home for a nap. the sun was shining, the ice and dirty slush had evaporated into thin air, and while it wasn't costal, it wasn't a bad place to be either.


my mateys (resplendant in their pirate getup, wooden shoes, and cowboy hat...dontcha think?)


last minute wishes...i just discovered this gem. anne lamott and over the rhine at the same conference. in san diego. in three days. *SIGH*...
"Grief and tears water the ground at our feet; they are part of restoration." - a.l.


been sick in bed pretty much since last saturday, when i started feeling like i might be coming down with something. it's a particularly nasty cold, settled in my chest, plugging up my ears and giving me huge, painful sneezes at odd intervals. my advice for any fellow sickies out there in bloggerland...if all you have left in your medicine cabinet for this sort of thing is theraflu (the kind you mix with hot water, not the tablets) and you have to at least try for some relief...mix in a GENEROUS amount of honey after you've stirred in the powder. the stuff is most unsavory.


things i collect - part two.

dust on just about every surface of my house...it's something i have a hard time getting around to.
kitchen gadgets - antique ones to add to my kitchen border; new ones to play with
cd's, mainly of friends, independent artists, and classic got-to-own goodies
bags, leaning towards the hippy variety
board games
art supplies for me + my kids
catalogs - cbd, ll bean, pottery barn. when i've collected too many we make collages.
empty water bottles - but i don't mean to. i really should throw them away...
notebooks - we are rife with them. all of us here do a tremendous amount of drawing, writing, and general doodling.
educational placemats - nothing like discussing the nervous system, planetary order, or elmo's favorite colors while enjoying a meal.
credit card applications, which i now rip up and return to the sender at their expense, a tip i learned from the happily determined mary hunt.
fisher price toys from the seventies - for old times sake.

i'm sure there's more, but you get the idea...


i've been a barista off and on for the last, oh, ten years or so. i've worked in quite a few coffeeshops in several states (i met my husband while employed at one in chicago), most recently helping out some friends who started up a new one in topeka. that was a year and a half ago, and the venture is proving itself to be a worthwhile one...i'm happy to be part of its scenery. to me, the occupation of barista falls between waitress - too business minded; and bartender - too technical...and it would probably be a difficult job to do as a christian. coffeeshops - good ones - have an organic soul, they attract a certain group of people that are earthy, into art, politics, or both; college kids, older single folks that talk to me while i pour their shots, steam their milk. my friends jim and cara would come in frequently in the last weeks before their first baby was born, playing chess, killing time. people reading, writing, talking quietly, eating scones, working on laptops. it's comfortable, a communal living room. and a nice break from my day job...


things i collect - part one.


you should collect these, too, if you are able. they're delicious.


lately when i've experienced feelings of excitement over something, interest in something, joy, wonder, a spark of any kind, my thoughts have gone from that feeling to the idea that i want to feel that way about my relationship with God. did he not make me to feel these things? and i'm sure it isn't for the purpose of spending all of it on things of this earth, things in my little circle of concern. i want to know him as He knows himself, know him in His art of creation, His greatness and glory, His sacrificial love for me. i want to be excited about knowing Him, desiring to spend time with Him. Our kids are into these max lucado books right now - you are mine, you are special, and most recently, if i only had a green nose. these stories deal with a wooden puppet living in a town filled with wooden puppets, most of whom spend all their time trying to outdo each other in coolness and belonging via the latest fad. eli, the woodcarver who made them all, lives up a hill outside of the town and is generally feared scornfully by the 'wemmicks'. punchinello, the main character, goes to eli initially to meet him, and then sporadically throughout the other books as he's in need of rescuing...but other than those times is busy getting caught up in the popularity contests at quite a high price to himself every time. as i read these stories to my kids, i am wondering why little punchinello doesn't just spend more time at eli's - he's so much more levelheaded and feeling peace when he's at the woodcarvers shop. the time he wastes in town listening to lost wemmicks he exhibits foolishness and pride and ends up burned, lost and lonely every time. it's a beautiful picture of how we are, it's so simple and straightforward. i want to get off the hamster wheel for good, i want to know it's ok to do that. i want rest in my body and peace in my head. i'm so thankful that that's what He wants for me, too...i just have a lot of trouble remembering this in the thick of daily life.


saw waterdeep and sixpence in wichita last night...wd was wonderful, as usual, funky and fresh again - alive and kicking. it was a bit sad to see them just opening, though...they could've played for hours. sixpence was oddly dark. the sound was full, her vocals pretty...it just seemed as though something a bit awkward was transpiring in the whole thing. maybe it was the contrast with don + co., maybe that the guys in sixpence don't talk or sing - and it was short - they didn't seem to play much longer than their opener had. i've heard great things about their latest release - someone told me that this was the fourth or so night of their tour - getting used to the whole thing again, i guess...it's been awhile. leigh did have a blond braided somewhere around six or seven year old fan right up front by herself, dancing away with stars in her eyes.


misery...i've been in bed for three days with a killer cold. and now my throat is all swollen and sore - looks like i'll be paying a visit to my doc tomorrow. waste of a good half a week, if you ask me. i'm a terrible patient. and of course today in the mail something had to appear like the samaritans purse newsletter - a full color magazine showing picture after full blown picture of skinny, dirty children from the poorest countries on earth clutching brightly wrapped shoeboxes, grinning like mad. we'd helped the boys participate in this project over christmas, and the meaning very nearly got lost in all the other holiday shuffle, shopping, and travel - but here it looked me in the face again, in the midst of my grouchiness over having to have spent some time resting in my warm house and comfortable bed and feeling a little bad - here it was, this reminder of children dying of aids, children living in orphanages with dirt floors and one meal a day, children who were hearing for the first time ever that Jesus loves them very much. and i wasn't amidst the hustle and bustle of anything at the moment to distract me. i looked into their bright eyes, i read their stories, i cried at their innocence and their pain. oh, i wondered - when will i learn to disentangle myself from the preoccupation of self, here and now? God have mercy. *cough*


morning wakes my bleary vision
getting up's a tough decision
stayed up late, but that's my nature
grouchy start the next day's wager
overwhelmed and late already
on my feet i'm barely steady
coffee brewing, cereal poured
warm bed tempts, i can't afford
to give it even one more thought
this is the kind of start i bought
but does it have to spoil the day?
i know it started out that way, but
help me Lord, to overcome
feeling tired, draggy, numb
show your strength despite my weakness
radiate my outer bleakness
grace you show me, kind and true
when even my foolishness you work through.


yesterday was deepening grey and foggy, misty and somewhere between cool and warm - my absolute favorite weather. i need to live in the pacific northwest. but alas, instead of wishing away my morning i started the daunting task of cleaning out my garage and chopped all of my perennials down to barely there. i just had to be outside, it was surreal, it was a grey green gift to my senses from my heavenly Father, who makes all things bright and beautiful, who owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and who knows my own heart much better than i ever could. i was just breathing in the comfort, it was a whisper in my ear from my Abba, i could've stayed there for a year. hopefully it is a glimpse of what spring is going to look like in kansas - if so, i can't wait.


having read anne lamott's entire body of work in the last few months, here's my current reads/ to be read asap (read: when i have time) list...
ruthless trust - brennan manning
a womans answer to anger - annie chapman
the way they learn - cynthia ulrich tobias
where is God when it hurts? - philip yancy
the italian cooking encyclopedia
listening to your life - frederick buechner
...and the grinning skim through the current family fun magazine.

i just wish i had the lazy afternoons, the late nights with flashlights time i used to have to read. it takes much more discipline these days...


so last saturday night c + i actually went on a DATE - dinner and a movie, and then we went to one of the topeka coffeeshops we used to work at back in the day for "sam and friends"...sam billen, a few other guys, and chad performing their new songs. sam's new cd is wonderfully soothing, mellow and thoughtful. or it makes me thoughtful anyway. the other acts i mostly talked to sam's girlfriend through, but then chad went up to play the song he's been working on. it's a lot about the deep dark valley that this marriage of ours went through last year, and he's such a wear-life-on-your-sleeve, allofiteventhehardandembarrassingparts kind of guy...it made me feel a bit more exposed than i was comfortable with. but then there was conversation with present multigenerational friends about it, and the transparancy was helpful, and i was so glad that in a lot of ways we are past that time now. i left with less cynism that i had arrived with...and the take home cannoli's from paisanos the next day shared the sweet aroma of rootsy spontanious fellowship left with me.


*new and improved* addy... lisabarker72@hotmail.com . write, it's good for you. write to me, it makes me happy.


the four or so inches of snow that fell on auburn last night had us huddled around the telly, waiting (kansas seriously hoping) to find out if school would be in session today. it turned out that he trudged to the bus stop in boots, mittens, scarf, and hat - but he does have a preplanned four day weekend starting tomorrow :). it reminded me of so many michigan winter mornings, my sis and i huddled by the radio listening to the long monotonous list of school closings due to an overnight snowstorm...as soon as we heard "all livonia public schools" we would shriek with joy and race to cram down something for breakfast while struggling into warm socks, coats, snowpants, gloves, hats, boots, and scarves. then out the door to neighbor friends yards for snow angels, snowball fights, and hot chocolate, or to the neighborhood park for sledding and more snowball fights. if we were lucky, we could get someone's mom or our campus life leader to drive us out to kensington state park for tobogganing down the big hills, ice skating on the lake, and more hot chocolate at the lodge. red cheeked and breathless, laughing and yelling, white snow weighing down branches of evergreen trees, shovels by the side door for clearing our wide sloping driveway - a job we never complained about - sleds and snow forts and the cold silver blades of skates...these are my childhood winter memories.

it doesn't snow like that in kansas, and michigan doesn't even get the amounts it used to...and with the rise of kids on computers, in front of playstations, vcr's, and cable t.v.'s they're just not out playing in it they way we used to, my dad reports. but my recollections are fine ones that always make me smile, and with them I feel the warmth in my stomach not unlike a cup of hot chocolate complete with floating marshmallows in my cold hands after hours of romping in the snow.

a day at kensington a couple of weeks ago - my sis gina, brother in law mark, stepmom janet, me, kansas, caleb, joshua, jesse, and lucy.


reading through some old 'light 99' posts from the time right after rich mullins died, and came across this quote from carolyn arends.."he was what one writer has called a "living mystery" - he lived in such a way that his life would not make sense if God did not exist."

any stragglers need a quick new years resolution? myself, i'm just floored at the very idea, the beauty of the statement, the possibility that a life could be all that. wow...


i have so much to do today that it's all a blur, as usual...but church was such a warm encouragement yesterday, and God is so noticeably, amazingly faithful that I'm able - today at least - to just do what I can and leave what I can't. which is a major accomplishment for me.


i hate having to deal with html and such. ah well...

i broke my toe a couple of days ago - jammed it up against a lego box that had no room to give between it and the chair it was up against. within the hour after i initially broke the thing, jesse accidentally stepped directly on it, whereupon i let out the second screeching howl of the day. now, though, every time i look at the green blue purple swollen appendage or feel the twinge of pain from it, i think of my friend angie from mops, who over the christmas holidays broke just about every bone on her right side in a freak sleigh riding accident. she was with family, and the horses just spooked and bolted, and she happened to be on the side that was smashed into a tree. not realizing how badly she was hurt, she got up and ran back to the sleigh in total fear that her four year old son had been killed...he was fine, thank God. she has a long recovery ahead, and she is currently in nursing school, so she has half an idea what she'll have to go through to get well. my toe seems a minor inconvienience compared.
ho hmmm...
ok, toying with a new comment system that ultimately made me change my whole template...still trying...


chad and i have had quite a year and a half or so struggling with each other...lots of downs and middle ground, but few ups to speak of. we had been homeschooling kansas up until the end of last september, when for reasons mostly of butting heads all around, we enrolled him in public school. i was far more at rest with the decision than chad, who has been pointing out ever since then the myriad of ways that school is corrupting our son. i had an encouraging talk with a neighbor a few weeks ago who drives a bus to the school kansas attends, and knows a few of the ins and outs of what goes on there - she is a catholic who tells us often what a great job we are doing raising our children. she said on this particular day that even though we may be discouraged with the negative impact school might be having on him, he is having a really positive influence on a lot of the kids there. she noted especially the exclusively spanish speaking boy who started school even later than kansas and was placed in his class. kansas had talked to us about him, and we knew that he had made a special effort to welcome and befriend this boy. but it was nice to hear about it from someone else...

today kansas came home from school with the news that he had been able to pray with two kids, one at recess and one on the bus - to recieve Christ. he was so excited. chad took him to the Christian bookstore for new testaments and tracts, and kansas is at this moment inscribing one of the bibles for one of the boys - "to nicholas from your friend kansas, january 7th 2003 - clad in light may you walk through darkness." ("mom, what does clad mean?")... he told me at dinner that it was sort of like he was the school missionary.

inside i am biting my nails, i am pleading with the sky, for i know that with the heart my son possesses will come pain, and what parent does not want to spare their child agony of any degree? inside i am also beaming, brimming with thankfulness for that same heart, reveling in the answer to a prayer uttered many times over, for him to have a heart like david's, a heart after God's own. the thought of my slight boy, by all observable accounts alone in the sea of secular influences (but standing always in the unseen shadow of his mighty guardian angel; of Jesus, staff in hand, aware of the wolves prowling around Kansas' ankles and daring them to even think of taking a lunge, a nip, a sniff) - yet having the sense that there are those around him drowning, who just may grab onto the raft he is paddling in. i am humbled at the workings of our God, i am taught by my seven year old.

please pray for him, for his brother and sister, and for us as we continue in this great and scary task of raising kids. and dance with your hands up high with us in this moment today of God's obvious hand in this family.


it took 16 hours to drive from akron, ohio to our humble abode yesterday...more on our last two weeks when i recover.