being the brave photographer i want to be.

I told myself at the beginning of summer that I was going to be braver when it came to taking photos of our neighborhood.  I was going to ask people for their photo when I saw fit and try to really capture the beauty that I see here everyday.

It’s August and I’ve taken one photo that counts toward that goal.


Tonight I announced that we would be going for a walk after dinner.  Partly because we have snotty kids who needed time out of the house but mostly because I needed to force myself to use my camera in our neighborhood.  Photography comes naturally, but only if I first set out to do it.

These are not amazing photographs but they are photographs.  I hope that I can use the rest of the warm weather to work toward my goal, to be brave and confident so I can show others how beautiful this place is.



epic mess 6.30.14

It’s 1:30 pm. I’m still in my pajamas and my kids in underwear and diaper. There are raisins ground into the living room rug and dishes covering all the countertops.

The laundry in the dryer is making the house 10 degrees hotter. My temper is flaring, combined with anxiety and sadness. An epic mess of emotion.

I should read my Bible, and I do. I don’t feel that comforted but at least I did it. I should clean the kitchen but instead I lay on the couch. My oldest is supposed to be resting in his room but instead I hear him piling crap on top of more crap. I’m sure there will be plenty of screaming and whining when its time to pick up.

I screamed over a broken light bulb. Sighed over many little things.

Tomorrow. Tomorrow could be better, it could be worse. I will live for today. To make it a little better than it has been.

Over and over and over again.

the email.

My aunt was shredding documents at her courthouse job when she came across emails my mom had sent over 11 years ago.

It said nothing interesting but for some reason it was just such a nice reminder to see this.  To remember that she was alive and had a real life and that at one time I got to share it with her here on earth.

After nearly 11 years of her being gone it’s easy to forget what everyday life was like and to remember only the sickness or the important moments.  But these everyday moments, emails at work, are something to treasure.


giving thanks.

The smell of sweet honeysuckle drifts through the air.


I study the plant that will eventually creep up the wire to shade our porch and smile.


I look at the flowers that line our porch, the food growing in our yard.


My heart could almost burst from gratefulness.


A house once broken, now redeemed.


How long before it would have been condemned?


But now it sits on it’s corner, shining bright for all to see.


To remember what it used to be and see what it is.


And to know, hopefully, Light is there.

Let there be light

We live in a good neighborhood.

In fairness, if you’re driving in from the suburbs, you might be terrified.  It’s not your fault, the neighborhood is intentionally mischaracterized.

A few thousand people live in these blocks that we call home. Most of them are good people. All other things being equal, most of our neighbors will choose an honest living and treat other people with decency and respect. There are some people who go out of their way to do good for others, and some people who go out of their way to take advantage of others if the opportunity presents itself. It’s like any neighborhood in the world in that respect.

But there are a few, less than 50 people by my estimation, that traffic in intimidation, aggression and fear. These people are agents of darkness. They openly sell drugs in the streets, they carry and use guns (sometimes in the direction of other people and sometimes seemingly for no reason at all), they steal or destroy anything that is available to them and habitually and openly use drugs and alcohol.  They actively encourage kids to pursue crime and addiction.

But this group of people is an extreme minority. They represent literally a handful of people among thousands.

If you drove into the neighborhood for the first time, you would likely believe that you were surrounded by these agents of darkness. They have a distinct advantage–they are visible. And they cast the neighborhood in darkness.

They will walk in the middle of the street. They will talk (yell) at ten times the necessary volume. They will park their car in the middle of the road. They will play their music at a level that can’t be comfortable for anyone involved. They will sit on your front steps and smoke a blunt if they want to.

They know something. They know that their power is based on their visibility. They know that their power is only valid for as long as they demonstrate their capacity to put themselves ahead of everyone else in the neighborhood. They are constantly sending an effective message, “We are more important than you,” and they’re yelling it as loudly as they can.  And for the most part, we all believe them.

But there’s a secret. There are more agents of light in this neighborhood than there are agents of darkness. The problem is that we’re hidden, partially out of humility, but more so out of fear. It is time for the agents of light to become visible.

We have a distinct advantage, light trumps darkness. A light can exist amidst darkness, but darkness cannot exist in the light.

Our disadvantage is that it is harder to openly demonstrate light than it is to demonstrate darkness. The mechanism is completely different.

That’s why our community garden is so important. The garden says, “There are people here who care.” When it looks and sounds like darkness surrounds us, the community garden says There is light here too. We are quiet, but we are powerful. We are humble, but we are unstoppable.

But we have to find ways to demonstrate light.  Simply not being darkness isn’t enough.

How many gangsters of darkness does a community garden cancel out? I’m not sure. But I know that the darkness cannot exist in the light. Soon we will see how brightly our community can make this light shine.

We must work together.  We must agree to rise up against the illusion of their power.  We must not allow the agents of darkness to manipulate us into believing that they are the majority.  They’re not.

Be the light. The darker the night, the brighter the stars shine.

You are the light of the world.

what’s in a name?

We’re having a third child, which means a third round of months debating the same names over and over again.  I mean we have some new ones in there but for 5 years Brad has been trying to throw Robin in the mix.  I just can’t do it.

I feel like some couples have the easiest time naming their kids.  They know right away what it will be if it’s a girl or if it’s a boy.  This has never been us and I’m envious of the quick namers.

To me naming seems like such a huge deal.  I probably make it out to be a bigger deal than it needs to be.  I remember nearly driving myself crazy when it came to finding a name for our second.  Then, just before he was born I suggested Ira again for the first time in months while at the park.  Honestly I had forgotten it as a candidate because Brad disliked it, but this time he said “Yea, maybe.”  So we talked about and by the time we left Nelson Park it was settled.

Even though I felt complete peace using the name Ira we chose not to tell people until he was born.  I am always open to the idea that I will see this baby and feel they’re someone completely different.

With our first we had a girl name we were certain we would use (we didn’t know the gender) (it was Eleanor if you’re curious) but had several boy names and couldn’t pin one down.

One night in bed, just a few days before he was born I remember Brad saying, “What about Theodore?”.  Huh, I thought.  That’s good.  And Theodore he became.

With Theo I didn’t consider the name meaning too much before deciding to use it.  I do remember looking it up either right before or right after he was born and feeling struck with how perfect it is for him.

In Greek, Theodore means “A gift from God” and he truly was my gift. You see, Brad and I had not agreed on whether or not we were going to have children.  He really didn’t and I kind of did, so I remember many nights silently praying that things would change and I would be a mother someday.

Lo and behold I am a mother and I am grateful for my gift.

Once we found out our second was a boy our name search became difficult once again.  We always seem to come up with a girl name no problem, that time it was Lula which was the name of my great-grandmother.

Once his gender was discovered, I felt very led to choose a Hebrew name.  So I searched.  And searched.  And literally scoured those internet baby name sites texting Brad suggestions and finding a few we liked but nothing that was “perfect”.  Until that night in the park.

Ira means “watchful” and he surely is.  He has always been taking in the world around him, an active participant in life.

So with this baby I feel led to a certain type of name as well, with a certain meaning. I hesitate to talk about it once again, because welp, you just never know.  I pray about it and have ideas about what we could use but I’m certain the the decision will not come until right before this one arrives as well.  I need the time to get to know this boy or girl in my uterus (it’s going to be a surprise!) and to take the time to listen to what God wants him or her to be called.

For the one thing I know is that this child is a gift to me on loan from the Kingdom.  I believe their names matter and that God has a whole bundle of awesome things in store for their lives.

I just have to listen.


Theodore Albert : “a gift from God”; “noble and bright”

Ira Stephen : “watchful”; “crown”



the miracle of the furnace.

The furnace would shut off sometimes. We flipped it off and back on again which restarted it. For a couple of years this sufficed.

This winter, one of the coldest I can remember, it began to shut off more frequently.

Mornings we awoke to 40 degrees. It would be 4 pm before it reached 67. Space heaters became our friend.

We started a savings account for a furnace. Obviously something was wrong.

One weekend it got particularly bad. I spent several hours of two nights awake. Down the stairs, ’round the corner. Flip the switch. Turn it on again. Up the stairs. Warm in bed. Falling asleep. I hear it turn off again. The cycle returns.

After two days I got into bed weeping. Exhaustion set in and I was tired of being cold.

So we prayed. We prayed hard. We begged God to fix our furnace.

And he did. He fixed it right up. It’s been several weeks and I haven’t touched the thermostat.

I had no idea how much of my time was spent worrying about the furnace. My head feels clearer, freer.

Thank you Lord. Thank you.

we’re all babies.

Today as I was wiping off the oven I felt myself asking God what I should do.

He nudged me to put the rag down and to walk into the living room where my 4 year old lay sleeping on the couch (a very rare occurrence for him).

I looked at him with his mouth wide open, leaning onto the side and thought about how much he looks like he did when he was a sleeping baby.

Then God told me to remember that he still is that baby.

That, sometimes, we are all still that baby.

A part of us stays infantile, ready to cry and pout and whine when something isn’t to our liking. How often do we raise a fit to get someone to notice us, anyone, to come and make things better? To come and make things whole for us again. To love us and hold us until it all feels better.

Today my soul is reminded to be much more kind that I want to those who are hurting or crying or whining or acting out against me.

For they, like me, are just a baby that needs to be comforted and told that everything will be okay.