Monday, December 3, 2012


I feel like I'm about to start that trend where every blog entry begins with an apology for how long it's been since I last wrote a blog entry.  The thing is I'm just SO busy, and now I've jumped into the year 2012 and gotten myself on a Smartphone plan, so I don't get on the computer as often as I used to.  I just spend 2 minutes here and there checking Facebook and E-mails and it's both a blessing and a curse-- constantly connected.  I love being able to share stuff with my family 500+ miles away, but then sometimes I realize I've said something to the Facebook world that I forgot to clue my husband in on!  It's almost like I'm more connected with those who are distant than I am with the one I share a bed with!  

But things are great.  I love the season of Advent.  As a person with absolutely zero patience, this season teaches me to WAIT, to WATCH, and to LISTEN.  In Maic's family tradition, Jesus didn't show up in the manger of the Nativity scenes until Christmas morning.  You know, he's not here yet.  I like that tradition.  It separates Advent from Christmas.  Our Nativity Scene, a gift from Maic's priest, will arrive on Friday night with our good friend Stacy from St. Louis.  She held onto it for the move, since we had to save room, and as a promise that she would come visit our new home before Christmas.  

empty manger 2
As I am now a Real-Live Pastor, I've been asking some very hard questions about what I want Christmas to be like for my children.  Where's the balance between secular and religious?  How do I make sure my kids get to participate in some of the same traditions as their peers, without giving into the consumerist nature of the holiday?  And then, as an obnoxious liberal (more at home than in public) how do I keep from ruining the magic of Christmas with my rants about the sweatshops in which so many of our Christmas decorations were made and the ethnicity of the Christ-child and family in Christmas decorations and, for that matter, Santa.  All I want for Christmas is a really well-adjusted Pastor's Kid who doesn't go over to a friend's house for Christmas cookies and say, "I see you already put your Caucasian Jesus in the Manger before the second Sunday in Advent.  Did you know the stable was more likely a cave-like rock structure and we don't actually know how many kings arrived on Epiphany?"  

And then, of course, I have my husband who explained to me yesterday that it made sense for us to put our large Noah ornament on the top of the tree instead of the star because in the same way that the star pointed the way to Baby Jesus, so did Noah.  For the story of Noah and the Ark is a Covenant with God, just as Christ's birth is a New Covenant.

Our poor kids.  

Anyway, I started this blog because I wanted to write about some work we are doing to our home.  It is a rental home, so we don't want to put too much permanent work into it, but we decided that for Christmas instead of buying each other gifts, we would buy furniture and organize our office.  This room has been closed off since we moved in and used exclusively for stacking boxes and throwing piles of laundry. 

Yesterday, we chose this desk, which we should be able to pick up and assemble by the end of the week:

From this Collection
It seems like it will be perfect for what we need it for-- crafting and writing and sewing and storing all of our crap.  We'll also need some curtains and perhaps another bookshelf.  I'm looking forward to it being completed and usable. 

We've also been working on reupholstering a chair.  Neither of us has ever reupholstered before, but I read some books and found some tutorials online, and I think we're doing just fine.  I bought this chair for $7 at a Rummage Sale.  It has great fabric already, but it's wearing out and has a couple of tears, so it's time for a new one.  

The new one will have the fabric on the left.
The fabric on the right will be for the couch,
which I've started but found to be a little out of my league.  
Well, eventually...I dunno if it will be next week or later this week, I will share some photos of our journey to get a Christmas (Advent?) tree.  Evelyn loves the tree.  She says it's "OOOHHH!  Pweeeeeeee!"  Which I've taken to mean "Pretty."  

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Family Visit

Last week we had a great visit from Nana and Papa.  It's been kind of a nuts week here, so I haven't had time to blog in a while, but did want to share some of these beautiful photos from Nana and Papa's visit.

And, in a sentence-per-subject, what's going on in our life here:

Evelyn is learning something new every day, especially the most effective ways to get Mommy's attention.
Maic is working on his grad-school applications and literary magazine submissions and we're both hopeful and hesitant about jumping back into the student-parent life.
Church is great and I continue to love my work, but this week it has been especially challenging and I'm glad that I was able to have a weekend yesterday and today.
We are going to Milwaukee for Thanksgiving to share the feast with Maic's godmother and family.
We won't be Black Friday shopping this year, because as much as I have cherished the tradition my whole life, I can't support the commercialism anymore-- we might do a bit of Small-Business Saturday Christmas shopping, however.

And now, some photos from a Sunset trip to Green Lake during Nana and Papa's visit:

Monday, November 5, 2012

Shopping With a Toddler, the Answers to the Questions You've Been Asking

I just realized that my blog has had over 10,000 views.  That blows my mind.  I wanted a blog for a long time, but I just never followed through with it.  This one has been good for me.  I like sharing my life with people.  I like the exercise of deciphering what is appropriate to share and what is not.  I like writing.  

So thank you, thank you, thank you for reading it.  I am so honored. 

Evelyn is basically not a baby anymore.  She took off after a little girl with light up shoes at Target the other day and I almost lost her.  I mean, I think she was running faster than I can.  I'm beginning to understand other parents better.  It's not that I was ever the person glaring and saying, "control your kids" in public.  I've always thought parenting is an artform and I still do, but now I am beginning to understand things more clearly.  For example, questions I didn't understand before, but know the answers to now (for now...I think they change weekly): 

Q:  Why don't you just put your toddler in the seat on the cart and buckle her in?  Then you won't have to chase her?
A:  She will flip the %&@*! out. 

Q:  Why did you open that box of goldfish crackers before you paid for it?
A:  At the mere sight of cardboard packaging (food or not), my bottomless pit will say "MUM MUM MUM MUM MUM MUM" until I feed her.  So I chose to feed her now.  

Q:  Why is your child screaming?
A1: Because I didn't open the box of goldfish crackers.  
A2: Because I made her sit in the cart.  
A3: Because I won't let her have the motion-sensor fluffy, meowing cat that they had to put on the stupid end-cap instead of hidden down the toy aisle, where we do not go.  
A4: Because I didn't let her chase that little girl's light-up shoes. 

Q: Why is your child crying on the floor?  Pick her up!
A: If I pick her up, she will cry harder.  She will also punch and kick me until I put her back down.  Therefore, I will wait 10 seconds for her mood to swing back to normal, because a toddler's mood lasts exactly 10 seconds before resetting to better, worse, the same, frantic, silly, or asleep.  At that point, I will evaluate whether we should leave or stay.  

Q:  If it's so hard to shop with her, why didn't you leave her at home?
A:  You're right.  I will just stop shopping.  The only place I will go is to work.  Then when my child is 14, I will allow her to go to Target.  We will all be perfectly well-adjusted.    

Q:  Why didn't you change her before you left the house so you didn't have to change her on the changing table in the bathroom?
A:  I did.  And then she pooped. 

Q:  Why didn't you feed her before you left the house so you didn't have to feed her when she saw the cardboard box that resembled food packaging?
A:  I did.  She is bottomless. 

Q: (asked by the cashier)  Oh, she is so sweet, does she want a sticker? *hands baby a sticker without waiting for reply*
A1: She does want that sticker.  She wants it in her mouth.  She wants it to go through her digestive tract.   
A2: She does want that sticker.  She will accidentally wad it up and get it stuck to the bottom of her shoe.  Then she will cry hysterically until you give her another sticker.  By that time we will be miles away from another sticker.  Halfway through the 25 minute commute from our house to Target.  

Anyone else have any to add? 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

On My Heart: A Mama Entry

Passing out candy for Trick or Treat--
don't worry, we weren't actually passing out half-eaten peanut butter sandwiches
Tonight Evelyn fell on her face on a hard tile floor and got a fat, bloody lip.  There was a Confirmation event at another local UCC, and because the only chance of me ever being introverted happens when I'm around children/teens between the ages of 11 and 17, I brought Evelyn with me.  She's my conversation starter.  She was chasing a balloon around their Fellowship Hall with her arms up in the air screaming "YAY!  YAY!  YAY!" and her socks slipped on the floor and she fell flat on her face.  I heard the sound of her mouth hitting the tile, and then the prolonged silence of breath-catching, and then...the wail.  

This isn't the first time Evelyn has fallen.  C'mon she's 14 months old and I'm not perfect.  There was the first time she fell off the bed, when she was 5 or 6 months old.  Then there was the time when she thought she could get off the bed the same way she gets off the couch, without realizing it's a foot taller.  There's every single time Nos walks passed her.  There are more times.  But this one...I don't know what it broke my heart.  I felt like the pain was in me.  I couldn't stop licking my teeth and biting my lip as if it was my own pain.  

Things have been different lately between Evelyn and I.  Now that I work full-time, there have been several nights when she goes to bed and I cry for a minute or two--she doesn't need me now like she used to.  And it's not about age (although maybe some of it is connected to her weaning), it's about how 6 months ago I had never been away from her for more than a couple hours.  I was with her all but 9 or 10 hours a week.  We were like one entity.  I didn't know what it felt like to miss her.  I hardly knew what it meant to be without her.  

Sometimes, it's hard for me to accept the change in roles-- like that she and her daddy spend all their time together instead of her and I, or that Maic knows her schedule better than I do, or that only he is able to put her to bed successfully.  But on the other hand it's nice because I don't take her for granted anymore (not that I ever really did).  Now, it's like an event when I come home.  She jumps up and down when I'm the one to go get her out of her crib when she wakes up from a nap.  She grins from ear to ear when I walk in the door.  She wants to sit in my lap and give me kisses when I host Bible Study at our house.  

Nobody will ever have the relationship with her that I have.  The deep intimate connection that happens between a mama and her baby has nothing to do with the amount of time we get to spend together.  I don't know why I'm writing this all out, except to just express some emotions-- some Pastor Mom identity issues--I'm having.  It's nights like this, when I get to spend the evening doing my job while being with my baby, that I realize just how abundantly blessed I am.  When she gets hurt and it hurts me physically, I realize the wonder and uniqueness of the relationship we have.  I want to just live in this moment, cherish her toddlerhood, and bottle up the pure joy we both have when I walk in the door and she yells to me in excitement (Fully admitting that she still yells "DADDDYYYY";  I take it as a compliment).

Her "cheeeeeese" face
This is what a doggie says 
Being a mom sure is an emotional endeavor.  I wouldn't recommend it to the fainthearted.  Thanks for reading a heart-felt post.  Little fat-lip is in bed now.  I think she'll be just fine.  

Saturday, October 27, 2012

A Lesson in Sabbath

I don't write much right now because every week is so busy.  I mean, SO busy.  Every week, I think, "next week I'll have time to do this..." and then something comes up.  This week, I got to Wednesday evening, counted the hours I'd worked since Monday, and came up with 30.  Knowing that I still had a funeral on Saturday (this afternoon) and a worship service on Sunday, and an accompanying sermon/homily for each, I took Thursday and Friday "off."  That was a good decision.  

I don't think many people understand all the work that goes into being a pastor.  I recently heard a colleague in ministry joke that when people ask her what she does, she says, "I'm a preacher on Sundays and the CEO of a non-profit during the week."  I think that's true.  I'm not complaining, just trying to explain.  The way my congregation volunteers is extraordinary, truly.  I couldn't ask for more.   But it's such a behind-the-scenes job.  So much of it is about presence and trust-building-- being there when people need you, being a role-model, keeping up with what's going on in the community and in the lives of members.  I can never really stop working.  But that's okay, I love it.  And one of the things I'm learning is that if I'm a role-model, then I must display appropriate care of myself and my own family.  I want others to take care of themselves and their families, so it's also my job to say, "I've already worked 30 hours this week and have about 15 hours of work that I must do before the week is over, so I will take tomorrow and Friday off," because if I don't, I'm telling everyone else that it's okay to overwork and under-nurture their relationships, and I don't believe that's healthy.  

Anyway, yesterday was a really good day off.  We went as a family to Appleton, to the Children's Museum.  It was a free day so it was really crowded, but we had a blast.  The children were supposed to wear costumes, so Evelyn wore her cowgirl outfit (a costume we didn't think she'd get to wear anywhere, she's already worn twice, and I think we'll do a tiny bit of trick or treating, so that makes three!).  She was thrilled that there were some children dressed as animals.  Right now she is obsessed-- I mean, obsessed-- with animals, especially cats, dogs, ducks, and lizards.  So when she saw a little boy dressed as a dog, she just stood next to him and barked and panted at him for several minutes.  She's also been pretending that she is a cat lately, crawling around meowing.  We don't have a cat right now and I'm beginning to feel guilty about that.  But, to be honest, I'm still on team Bearded Dragon, and I think Evelyn is too, but Maic says no.  There was actually a Bearded Dragon at the Children's museum and Evelyn was thrilled about it, but Maic said, "She just likes anything with eyes that moves."  I think I know what he's getting for Christmas...

The traveling exhibit was a bunch of scenes and activities from Children's books--
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
Abuela by Arthur Dorros

Stackable snowmen from the Snowy Day

Little cowgirl stacking blocks

Climbing up a salad.  Where do they come up with these things?
So, here's my lesson in Sabbath for the day.  When you work too much, stop working.  When there's a free day at the children's museum, go.  And when you can put the baby to bed and watch Dancing With the Stars while knitting stuffed animals, do it. 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Wisconsin Fall

I can't say I'm necessarily looking forward to Wisconsin winter, although I am definitely glad to have a short commute.  But what I can say for sure is that fall here is at least as beautiful as it was in the town I grew up in.  

I may be about 2-3 days past the peak, and pictures don't do it justice, but we took some photos on our walk today.  Breathtaking colors!  Enjoy!

This is right behind the church.
That red tree, while beginning to lose its fullness,
has taken my breath away every day this week.  
We have a church member who decorates the church--outside and inside-- every season.
This week I'm preaching  on Genesis 2.  

Fiery Ivy 

Well, the coat's big but it has to last her all winter.  

Someone needs to work on their parallel parking skills.  
Maic remembered a tradition his family had of filling contact paper
with leaves and putting it on the window.  I love how it looks.  
Well, this pastor mom is off on a much-needed retreat as soon as church ends tomorrow until Tuesday afternoon.  The retreat is for Wisconsin clergy, and while I look forward to meeting many of my colleagues, I look most forward to some time to gather myself and resort my priorities, so that I come back to on Wednesday as a recovering workaholic.  It's too soon for me to be this exhausted.  

Star Wars Reads

It has been with great anticipation that these guys have awaited Star Wars Reads day at the Ripon library.    

For a quaint little town, I love how much there is to do through this library.  They have a reading group for little ones once a week that they have been attending.  The groups are split into ages 6 months to 2 years and then I think 2-5 and 5+ or something like that.  But it sounds like a blast.  I love an opportunity for them to get out of the house and for Evelyn to interact with other kids.  And it seems like the majority of young families are really on board with the library, so there are always more families there than you'd expect for a small town.  They're also doing some great programming for Banned Books Week this week.  

Actually, I know it's silly and I overthink my job, but I think churches have a lot to learn from the way libraries are run-- appealing to all ages, getting people excited about their community, bringing people together, withstanding the test of time, while moving forward with the progression of technology and thought...

Anyway, enough of all that.  Now, I present to you Star Wars Reads day: 

A list of the events of the day

Is that a kitty?

Is that a doggie?  Shooting me in the head?

There was a Wookiee search throughout the hall...

Found Ballet Wookiee!

Then we made a Wookiee fortune teller (which horrified Evelyn), Darth Vader Origami (Darth Paper) and colored. 

Evelyn found a friend, and gave him a kiss.  I think she realized he wasn't a cat at this point. 

She's truly an artist.  Look at Daddy's her Darth Vader drawing! 

Growing up so fast!  Next thing we know she'll be leaving Tatooine.  

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Inauguration Benediction

This morning I had the honorable invitation to deliver the benediction at the inauguration of the new president of Ripon College.  It was such a delight.  I was one of three women on the platform of about 15, along with the female student body president and the mistress of ceremonies.  

They did a live recording of the ceremony, and you can view that recording here.  My benediction begins around 2:10:00.  The president himself is Jewish, so I tried to make my benediction a little broader theologically, but I also couldn't give up the Trinitarian reference.  

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Coffee Shops

In St. Louis, on the days when our apartment seemed painfully small (gosh, was that every day?) we used to go up to this coffee shop called Cafe Nura (now Abode Coffee Shop) and just hang out and sip coffee.  When Evelyn was really little, we'd bring her up in her infant car seat and she would nap while we chatted, and when she got bigger we'd stick her in the high chair and give her a few books and toys.  I probably wrote about that coffee shop in about 90% of my pre-move blog entries.  

Well, when we moved it was one of the hardest places to say goodbye to.  It was full of so many great memories for us.  So many deep-breath moments, study breaks, and finally-some-adult conversations.  It seems impossible to replace. 

This morning we woke up early enough to go to a new place in Ripon called Palenque (aka Doomsday Donuts) and have some coffee before I had to get to the office.  It's no Cafe Nura, but I like the place a lot.  Plus they have these CRAZY specialty donuts (last week I had a root beer float donut!) and Evelyn would do a back-flip if it meant she could share a parfait with her Daddy.  Who knows, maybe it will become the new Cafe Nura, in time.  

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Bible Study

Coffee and Tea ready for the Bible Study group, even though I quickly learned I'm the only coffee drinker.  
I think that every day I have slightly more awe for the professors and pastors who taught me.  The minute that something seems easy, it becomes very evident that it is easier to watch than it is to do.  This has been particularly obvious to me as I prepare for my Bible Study and Confirmation Class.  

Maybe it's even harder because my theology is so much a "to each their own" approach that I have trouble teaching people something and letting it be.  I very often say, "but I could be wrong; what do you think?" and you know, I still think that's the right way to go when teaching people-- especially the very intellectual group that this congregation is-- but it sure is hard to get a lesson plan together with that approach.  Or at least it's new.  Maybe it's just new.  

Blessed I am that this congregation knows I'm trying on a lot of different hats to find the right one.  Bible Study hats?  

Well, the Bible Study is actually going tremendously well in my opinion.  We just talk and share stories and asks questions.  We don't look for definite answers; we look for ways to live into our questions so that they can be a part of the journey.  

One of my favorite Bible Study moments so far (okay, there have only been two meetings) was today when we read this: 
"Near the end of his life Thomas Jefferson spent a great deal of time editing his own version of the Bible. He took out all of the passages that he found difficult to believe or that offended his sensibilities. When Jefferson was finished, his “Bible” was only forty-six pages long.  By contrast, when I encounter such difficult-to-believe passages in the Bible, I have learned not to dismiss them entirely.  After all, God is not restrained by the borders of my imagination.  But I don't pretend to believe things I don't believe, either.  Instead, I try to keep such passages in the kind of place where I will be sure to pick them up again." -- Martin Copenhaver, from this document.  
I just love this concept-- we could throw it all out and have almost no book left, or we could realize that our imagination doesn't even begin to be capable of understanding this enormous and complex "book of books," but it sure is fun to try.  

Anyway, I don't know what this entry is for.  Maybe to say, "Wow, professors and other Bible Study leaders, you're awesome."  Or maybe to say, "Come to my Bible study!  You won't be bored!"  Or, of course, "Please don't just throw the Bible out the window."  But probably all three.  

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Well Look at That! An Office!

When I got to the church, somehow the walls in the pastor's office had never received the coat of paint that the rest of the office area got, so I'm fairly certain the walls only had primer on them.  Maybe it was just really white paint...

Anyway, I picked out a color that I thought would go nicely with the photograph that Kristi Foster took and the staff at First Congo Webster Groves gave me. The photograph is bold, but I chose a color that complimented it in a calm and warm way-- it's called Natural Wheat (but it's kind of pinker than it sounds).  A member of the congregation came painted and did a fabulous job.

I also ordered a new desk, because the one that was in there already took up approximately half the office, and I really wanted to have space to meet with people without having to sit at the desk.  So, with a new desk and new paint, and some furniture that was already there and some that I borrowed from the Christian Ed rooms, we created an office!  Voila!

There's a built-in closet for my robes and stoles, a whiteboard that I got on clearance at Target, and a bookshelf waiting for more books :)

Seating area.  Working on getting some pillows or something.

Desk, temporary file cabinet, and a chair the size of Manhattan.  The top of the desk is glass and then the underside pulls out all the way with little compartments for organizing office stuff.  
I have a giant picture window!  It really just shows the back of someone's garage and the parking lot, but I love the natural light it lets in.  
So that's it!  I love it.  It's definitely a work in progress, but I like it quite a bit.  And as for everything's going great here!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Two Sundays!

This morning was my second Sunday leading worship (third if you count my candidating service).  It's probably not a good idea for me to write an entry about how I feel about these past two Sunday services because I'm painfully overcritical of myself.  Really, it's going just fine.  

But anyway, I'm posting because I wanted to share this photo that a member of the congregation took this morning.  As you can see, we have a "no one in the front five rows" rule, but we'll be working on that.  


Friday, September 7, 2012


First let me say that we love our house, we love our church, and we love Wisconsin.

 People have been so kind to us.  We will be walking down the street and someone will stop us and say, "I haven't met you yet!"  The other day, actually, we went to this little diner called Christina's just to have a simple cup of coffee, and afterwards someone stopped us and said, "Welcome to Ripon!  Did you know there are other coffee shops in town?"  

And then for the house-- having space is AMAZING.  I can't even say that enough.  I used to have this recurring dream that I would open a door and discover a new room in our apartment that I didn't know about.  Now, it's like that's come true.  There are TWO rooms that we're not even really using right now (a spare bedroom and an office) that I forget about all the time.  And then I'm like, "hmm where can I put this random object that I don't want in the middle of my living room?  Ah hah!  In the office!"  It's great.  

But really, on the downside, we just don't have enough furniture to fill the rooms.  I'd love to use the office for sewing and to keep the computer in, but we need more furniture and that's expensive.  Also, we hope to have the spare room up and running by October when my mom and Grandma do the Great Gramma Tour to visit Allen and Charis, us, and my Uncle Bob and Aunt Vickie.  This morning we went to a bunch of antique stores looking for some furniture and we found six chairs for our dining room table (we'll probably only use 4 in there and then put the other two somewhere else).  They need some work, but they work just fine for now!

There are two with arms and four without.  

We also found this little model church at the antique store.
I kind of want Evelyn to have a  Dollchurch instead of a Dollhouse.
But really...I'm kidding.  I'm a good mom.  

The real church is...overwhelming to say the least, but I really do feel like I'm handling it well.  Nobody expects me to figure everything out right away, and I just have to remind myself that over and over again (like by writing it in my blog).  My main goals for the first year or so is to just listen to the congregation and to preach well.  I'll be doing other things, like leading the Confirmation and beginning a Bible study with an afternoon session and an evening session, but I'm not going to overdo myself.  The Bible study will be based on the scripture for the coming Sunday, so in a way it will be killing two birds with one stone-- studying something with a group that I would be studying by myself anyway.  

I do have my office set up, but it's still a work in progress.  I'll post photos sometime next week.  

Not being home as often is weird for me.  Sometimes I will get to the end of the evening and realize I haven't changed a diaper all day.  That blows my mind.  And Evelyn is having a bit of a hard time with me being gone,  but mostly I think she just doesn't like change.  I think she's also mad because I decided that now that she's one, I'm not going out of my way to nurse her during the day.   She doesn't like that idea, and the days that I'm home she still nurses 4 or 5 times.  I just don't have the heart to tell her no.  Maic is doing a wonderful job staying home with her.  She's not a piece of cake anymore (she never was, but it's different now).  She's doing toddler-y things, like pulling all of the wipes out of the package, throwing herself on the ground and crying when she doesn't get what she wants, and sitting on Nos's head.  

Speaking of Nos, Evelyn thinks he is the cream of the crop.  She also thinks that she is Nos's sole caregiver and therefore believes that he doesn't eat unless she feeds him.  She has even-- I kid you not-- learned how to throw his toys for him.  She throws them like 8 inches.  Nos is the most poorly adjusted to Ripon of the four of us.  He's not doing great.  He barks while we are gone, and he had a really bad interaction with another dog.  We are really trying to get him onto a schedule and give him a lot of exercise, but of course it's difficult when we're all trying to figure out what "schedule" even means.  

Well, there's the novel on our lives.  We're doing great.  Sometime here in the future I'll be doing another blog overhaul, this time with a name change.  I'm still up in the air, trying to decide between a simple change like "Being Pastor Mom" or "Life as Pastor Mom" or if I want to do something more clever (I have zero clever ideas, however, so probably I won't do that.)  I'm up for suggestions all around-- from the title, to layout, to subject matter.  

Peace be with you all!

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