Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Story to Celebrate

Each Sunday, our church has a time to share our 'celebrations and concerns'. Our community take a leisurely time sharing, listening, agreeing, celebrating. It is one of my favorite things about our church.

This morning, a man moved from his position as usher in the rear to stand behind his wife. He straightened the lapel on his bright, red blazer as he cleared his throat. With his hand on his wife's shoulder, he shared 'This week we will be celebrating our 55th anniversary'.

We rejoiced with him as he moved back to his place as usher. And that would be enough to celebrate, right?

What caught in my throat, though, was when the usher that was serving beside him stood up and walked forward to meet him in a huge embrace. It was a hug only people who have been through a lot together - the hug of true friends and comrades.

I think both are worthy of celebrating, and both part of a very good story.

Friday, December 03, 2010

April 1990

I just spent the last half hour reading my journal from my very first international trip. In April 1990, I participated in  Mission of Peace, sponsored by the Northeast Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church, to the Soviet Union. It was my first flight (from Bangor Maine to NYC to Helsinki!), the first reason I needed a passport, my first long trip away from home.

I had spent the previous 8 months raising $3500 to fund the trip. I would spent the year following visiting the many groups around Maine (mostly Methodist Women groups) sharing my experience over 40 times.

Reading my journal was a little disappointing. I was a junior in high school, and even though I like to think better of myself, I really was all about the hormones and drama. On this trip I had my first beer and my first vodka, and liked the way they made me feel. I had a crush on a guy but played the role of 'little sister' to him, listening to all this woes. I was incredibly aware of the dynamics in our group of 40 high school kids. I was struggling with my relationship with God - mostly that I wanted to have fun that I knew would not bring my closer to Him in discipleship. I was worried about leaving  my little sister at home. (That's what I wrote, but I think I probably just missed her.) There were very nice people there, and there were terrible people there. I wasn't afraid except of black marketeers (whom we could get arrested for associating with). I loved, loved, loved the Moscow Circus and wrote that circuses would never be the same for me. (This is true.)

Communism and the USSR was becoming unglued at this time. At one church service we went to we heard speakers from East and West Germany talking about the reunification process. 

One of the most vivid things I remember about my trip (not in my journal) was how the sky was blue in Moscow. After growing up in the cold war, but also paying attention to humanitarian appeals that featured tones of sepia and overcast skies, I was shocked at how vibrant blue the sky was - just like ours in Maine.

I'm not sure what to do with this journal. I don't think I want to read it again, or that I want my family reading it. What does one do with journals like this? There must be some kind of parting ceremony?

Monday, November 29, 2010

December 27, 1994

"'I LOVE YOU!' he said 'i love you' - me, he loves me."
That's part of the journal entry found from the night before we left for our first visit to India.

The setting was in Lewiston, Maine, a cold winter evening. Marc's parents lived across the driveway from his mom's parents. We had just gone down to visit Gram and Gramp and to say good-bye before our trip to India. I was staying with his family because he and his Dad and I were flying out of Portland to meet the rest of our mission team in NY the next morning. 

I had never expected to fall in love when I met Marc. It wasn't what I had scheduled for my junior year of college. I was ready to be an RA and to throw myself into my studies. Infatuations and unmet expectations had stolen a lot of my time and energy during the previous few years. This was going to be my year of focus. 

Marc and I had known each other for four months. We were 'dating' in the pressure filled culture of a Christian college, with people having all sorts of 'how you are really supposed to date' ideas. As we moved along in our relationship we tried to sift through what we thought and believed for ourselves. I think we did pretty well. But let me share that we were well into the conversation about marriage and had not yet shared our first kiss. It was still a thrill, a big deal, when we held hands.

We had been not only conservative in our physical relationship, but in our promises and conversations. Marc was still trying to figure out a call to a season of celibacy, perhaps in a monastic setting. It was pretty clear to me that he was to be my life-companion. We had long, frank conversations about this.

That night, we paused in the driveway on our way back to the main house to look up at the clear star-filled sky. I said something, I have no idea what. All I know is that he said "I love you" and it was one of those orchestral, sky-spinning moments. All of the dreaming of a life together that we had begun to share became even more than a dream, it became a path going somewhere.

I imagine that we hugged, though I don't remember it. But I do remember scrambling into bed that night with my journal, my hands still shaking.
"'I LOVE YOU!' he said 'i love you' - me, he loves me." 

Friday, November 26, 2010

NZ Adventure - Day 16&17

There's nothing to make a holiday like a good family reunion.

And there's nothing to help find your voice but to try out different ones. And so what seemed like a lovely Thanksgiving week idea to write about Philippians 4, will conclude here and now. Thanks for being with me while I experimented with that kind of blogging.

My next experiment is going to be, thanks to Starbucks seasonal slogan, "Stories are Gifts... Share".

A couple years ago I read in a magazine about 'harvesting' journals. I can't remember all that the article said about this process, but it is an idea that has stuck with me. I've been an inconsistent journal-er since junior high and have a small box of journals that are waiting in our basement storage.

My starting point will be some of my 'anchor' stories: mission trips, wedding, graduations, births. And who knows what else I will find as I begin to read through my journals.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

NZ Adventure - Day 16

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6

I used to be great at being anxious about everything. When we were fairly newly-wed, I would be worried if Marc was 20 minutes late from work - imagining all the terrible things that could happen on 128. By the time he got home I would be so wound up that our evening together would be shot.

Tonight, 15 years into the game, I am able to see that I really am growing. Sometimes you really need to step back and get a long view for these things. Not only am I waiting for my beloved and my sweet daughter to get home from a 16 day adventure, I have also been watching the clock for the last 20 hours or so, imagining each place that they might be on the trip.

I can honestly no anxiety has marked this trip. At times, it asked if it could. Passing thoughts about volcanos and earthquakes wanted to dwell with me. Even Anna's homesickness didn't 'stick' though it asked. I am so thankful for this grace.

In the interest of full-disclosure, I should include that I did have my fair share of anxiety driving down Route 1. So I guess that's the next I'll work on my prayer life - driving Rt. 1 in MA.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

NZ Adventure - Day 15

Christmas Eve this year is going to have nothing on this day. I've run my errands, with a silly grin on my face and taking time to look at and enjoy all the faces that around me. In a matter of hours, they will be boarding a plane to come home. They have a long flight, and I'm sure our hours will also feel long as we make the trip to Boston to wait for them. We can't wait. I can't wait.

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.   Phillipians 4:5

Ironic, that I had assigned this verse to today. In my excitement I am edgy, irritable, everything but gentle. And of course the kids are excited, and express their excitement - like kids.

Looking at the verse, thinking about the context of it, trying not to get too irritated with the writer (Paul often irritates me), I wonder if I could get away with rephrasing it this way: "Let gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near." Just taking out the 'your'.

Cause when I try to make my gentleness evident, well, it's just not there. But when I breathe deep and remember that the Lord is near, then I am able to make evident a gentleness that is not my own, but something that happens when I hold His hand.

Monday, November 22, 2010

NZ Adventure - Day 14

The name of the game today, and for the next two days, is called 'stay busy, very busy'. I have all but given up on housework at the end of the renovation, but in honor of my family coming home in two days I have brandished my mop and vacuum against all the evil debris. It will likely be replenished tomorrow, but I kept telling myself 'but it won't be AS MUCH as it was today' and no doubt I will renew my battle tomorrow evening.

I also went to the gym today. One of the things I have learned in reading more about my enneagram type is that it  is very important for me to be grounded in my body. I find this incredibly interesting because there have been times in the past ten years that I have just 'felt' like if I wanted to get out of my own way that I needed to do something to connect with my body. Sometimes just taking to 30 seconds to put on mascara has been that for me. I also know that exercise is one of my front-guards against depression. So it is a very good thing for me to be at the gym. And tonight I was thinking about how it doesn't even feel like it took away any time from my day. Not that I love being at the gym, but I do love how I feel afterward.

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" Phillipians 4:4

Rather than showing off how much I know about Paul and this letter and that I can look up Greek words and other commentary (that's sarcasm, in case you missed it), I'm going to tell you what jumped into my head when I wrote that and as I've been thinking about this verse today.

Rejoice. Re-Joice. Re-Joy. That joy you had? Remember it. Repeat it to yourself and your kids. Redo it. Relive it. ReJoy.

Sounds simple. Even a little over the top PMA. But then I see a flash of how often I re-complain, re-mind myself and others of failure, re-gret. Oh, my bent little heart.

And so I suppose it's  bit like going to the gym, working out muscles that can't be seen or felt unless they are too weak or damaged. Rejoice. ReJoy. And One ReJoy, and two ReJoy, and stretch and breathe. And one ReJoy and two ReJoy...

Happy Thanksgiving Week.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

NZ Adventure - Day 13

3 days left. Spent time FB chatting with Marc and Anna today. They have begun their week already with a Rotary meeting and training today (tomorrow? yesterday?) Boy are we all ready for them to be home.

The kids and I went to church this morning. I didn't want to go to church. I didn't want to answer people's 'Why are you here, I thought you were going to NZ?', 'When are they coming back?', and 'How can you handle all of his travel?' I didn't want to get weepy in the overwhelming spirit of gratitude and love. (I am profoundly touched by the part of the Body we are hanging out with at PSUMC.)  I wanted to be alone in my Hobbit-hole.

But we went to church. Not because it was the right religious thing to do, but because I know that when I don't want to be around people, when I want to curl up in my hole, I'd better haul my butt out of the house for my sake and the sake of my family. And we went, and the questions were asked, and I was in tears within the first five minutes of the service (the announcement about training to volunteer for the homeless overflow did me in).  And it was a good thing. It is good to be loved and vulnerable and NOT alone (and yes being with my two kids is being 'alone' sometimes).

I met someone this fall who has run three half-marathons. She has no aspirations for a full-marathon. And she has no love for the half-marathon. She says she just woke up one day and realized she'd better get to doing something. I think she is one of the most inspiring fitness/athletic stories I know. And days like today, I think of her, and haul myself out to church (tomorrow it will be the gym) not because I expect to love it (though I usually do) but because I better get to doing something.

As I finish out my NZ adventure this week, I am wondering if my goal will be to stay posting daily and what direction that might take. This week I am going to use the scripture read in church today (Philippians 4:4-9) as I prepare for and celebrate Thanksgiving with my reunited family.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

NZ Adventure - Day 12

OY! I just took a random personality test online and it was so depressing! It was one that I am not going to even share the results.

I was just reading my posts from the beginning of this adventure - about 11 days with several hours to myself. About these days being about soul-care and self-care. You know, when I wrote that I pictured myself in a spa or quiet log cabin. I forgot that I was still going to have laundry, dishes, meals, and renovations. So the quiet oasis I imagined is still somewhere ... still in my imagination. My quiet times have come at about this time at night. After taking care of the needs of my family that never stop, and living with the progress (that's the positive spin of it) of renovation.

But I am not bummed out, and the work that I need to do is to be glad with what I have done and have gained. It happens often that I makes lists and expectations that turn out far from perfect. Tonight I am rejoicing that I am learning to not be defeated by that, but to enjoy the unexpected things I've seen on the way.

Friday, November 19, 2010

NZ Adventure - Day 11

Things I have learned (or re-learned) today.

I like to have my own private corner, with a door, and no sound.
Staying up late is a very bad idea.
People that offer me genuine love often get tears in response.
Refinishing furniture always requires a sense of humor and patience and creativity.
My 5yo loves one on one attention, and to feel pretty.
My 11yo is soon going to be talking in terms that I don't understand - so stinkin' smart.
Beginning a thoughtful blogpost at 9:47 (especially after said very late night) is just not happening.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

NZ Adventure - Day 10

Tonight I am just excited. I think I am excited about many little things. Lots of renovation progress this week - loving the paint colors that we worked so hard to pick; getting a desk refinished for Anna - been working on that since her birthday in May; less than a week till the travelers are home - yeah, we're ready to be all of us again.

I am also feeling the love of lots of friends today... nothing really in particular happened to make this on the top of my awareness. Tonight, I just feel the for real-ness of the people that surround me, that love me, that like me. And I get to love and like back. I forget too easily years of loneliness as a kid and even as an adult. When you make habit of being transient in location and relationships, you miss out on that.

My friend Megin began working on her list of 100 things a couple weeks ago, and I intended to copy her during my NZ adventure. I began today. One of the things that I put on my list (and it surprised me) was 'to live in one place for at least ten years'. I have never had that experience. Even thinking about it makes me teary.

In honor of the movie being released this weekend, I took a ridiculous FB quiz to find out which Harry Potter character I am. I am Nymphadora Tonks. Maybe I'll dye my hair tomorrow in honor of her. Probably not, but it's fun to think about it.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

NZ Adventure - Day 9

No quiz today, too tired to look for one, much less take one.

Today was a rainy, puttery, Anne of Green Gables sort of day. And then the plumber came to move the stink pipe and take out some of the other old plumbing. Old pipes and terrible smells.

Perhaps it's a useful metaphor for the journey. Sometimes there needs to be stink in order for there to be progress.

And on that note, Good night.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

NZ Adventure - Day 9

Tonight's quiz was a Facebook quiz: which word in the dictionary are you. I am "Astute". I love words, and I love dictionaries. Studying words, word origins, finding new synonyms and antonyms - this is one of the things that makes me happy.

Today I am feeling hurried. I am afraid that I won't get done anything that I said I would like to get done. Who cares that it was an impossible list to start with. And I knew it. And who cares that I still have seven days left to still work at SOME of what is on my list.

As I was rushing around moving furniture and dust tonight I was thinking about my enneagram test result. Being a 9, a peacemaker.  One of the things that this test confirmed for me is that I can be an all out people pleaser - supporting people (mostly Marc and the kids) at the neglect of me.

There have been times in our family when I have hit a crisis point and have said 'That's it. I'm done playing the role of support staff. I'm going to exert my individual needs and desires.' Thank God for my very supportive husband who immediately blesses me and sincerely desires to do whatever it takes to support my declaration. The only problem is that when it comes down to it ... I have no idea what I want to do. One of the symptoms of being a 9 is having disconnected from oneself. The most common path for me to consider is school - getting my masters in ...  I don't know what.

So then after realizing that I have no clear path to assert, we all go back to the way things were more or less. And often I feel great about that. Because peacemaking is where I live, supporting, caring for, trying to keep it all balanced.

One of the things about being a 9 that I am trying to digest is that maintaining internal peace is so important to me, and that one of my main fears is that 'my internal balance will be upset' (a lot of my information is paraphrased from, by the way).  Living as a single parent with my two extreme children, who can't seem to leave each other alone, highlights this tension. I'm beginning to feel like Miss America - can't you two just hold hands and get along. I suspect that if I look closer at their personality types, their birth order, their enneagram number, I may see that in some way they are working out exactly what they need to be working out. The fact that it messes with my inner ohm doesn't mean it is all wrong behavior.

I did get to work with Sofia's class again this morning. I can't imagine teaching each day, but I love getting to be involved in these kids lives. As I write this, I realize that when I volunteer I am in a very chaotic situation. Controlled chaos, but it IS kindergarten! And in the midst of this chaos, I feel very settled into my peaceful place - not to hide from them, but in order to be fully present to them. THIS is something I need to pay attention to.

Monday, November 15, 2010

NZ Adventure - Day 8

As I was taking another test, this time another spiritual gifts inventory, I got grumpy. Not like mildly irritated, but like totally angry at the stupid test and the computer and the kids and the A-Team (they were watching the A-Team, so it's not all that random). So I quit the test and found another spiritual gifts inventory. Same thing.

Another time that I felt this kind of grumpy was when I was fasting. And I think that's why I paid closer attention to it than the kind of grumpy that happens when your kid spills milk AFTER being told 'watch out darling'.

I've fasted for both health reasons and as a spiritual discipline. Either way, it is not my favorite thing, and I don't think I'm very good at it. But that doesn't mean I haven't learned a thing or two in the process. When I have fasted and gotten the grumps, it is often at a time of transition or just before some breakthrough or clarifying moment. With each baby I had I hit the point of "I Can't DO THIS" and then soon after they were born (with varying amounts of modern medical help). That's a bit like what the grumps and fasting are for me.

This doesn't really help me to OVERCOME the grumpiness, but it does put me on alert to be watching with an open heart and mind.

Interestingly, I don't have an agenda or expectation of what might be coming. I'm assuming that the discipline of writing and daily reflection is what is prompting this grumpy. It could be that 2/5 of the family is away.  Or that we are almost to the halfway point in this Adventure. But it really feels like the first.

By the way, the spiritual gifts results were top: discernment; tied for second: serving, giving, faith, wisdom. Nothing unexpected there. And it really was a wonky test.

And because of a twitter interaction I opted to also find out which of the seven dwarf's I am. 2 out of 3 tests say I'm Dopey.

Discerning Dopey. Hee.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

NZ Adventure - Day 7

(10 days till they get home - if the airlines and weather cooperate.)

This was my personal mission statement that I wrote in 2003:
  • I live as an individual created and called by God.  As I press into His love, I am able to love myself, and my neighbors.
  • I take time for what’s important to me. I am wise with my time and talents. I don’t make fun of the dreams that I have. I enjoy life.
  • I have high expectations and generous amount of grace and forgiveness.
  • I have healthy habits.
  • Marc is my life companion and my best friend.  I am honest with him. I trust him. I encourage and love and serve him. I am my beloved’s and he is mine.
  • I nurture my childrens growth in the LORD and the discovery of their unique purpose in our family and in this life.
  • I shepherd a home that is a haven of renewal, blessing, safety, and happiness for my family.  We live and grow and play and learn together. I am generous with my hospitality to others.
I wrote it soon after moving to Maine, while I was working with a personal life coach. I had written one or two before. It was intended to be a compass that was general enough to work even when circumstances changed, but specific enough to be mine. I haven't looked at it for a long time and I wanted to pull it out during this adventure to see if it still works. And to think about whether it will be a tool that I want to begin using in my life again.

Reading through it quickly, I feel like 'writing' and 'community' are missing. A previous version included 'I laugh often' - I'd like to restore that, maybe. I've learned to really value being generous, to hold onto things lightly and want to continue learning that.

I took three quick tests tonight. I googled 'what color am I' and took three of the tests that came up on the first page. Each one had different questions and each one said I am purple. Isn't that interesting? I am so tired of picking colors for our home renovation, maybe I'll just pick purple for all the rooms that are left! : )

Kids are back to school tomorrow. After four days with kids home, I am ready for four days of kids in school.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

NZ Adventure - Day 6

I find publishing an un-polished post very un-settling. I just had to insert that here.

I realized that rather than having some fantastic time and space to think I don't know what kind of thoughts - me thoughts? - that I'm still filling my head with kid thoughts all the time. WKID would be the call-letters of my radio station - worried about the homesick kid halfway across the world and the Dad that is her companion, wondering about just pulling Caleb to homeschool and be done with the non-sense of his teachers, hoping that the grace of God will be large enough to help me enjoy my non-stop talking 5yo AGAIN for most of the day tomorrow.

Even with the external environment ripe for some personal margin and experience, they are still there, closer than skin... much like each pregnancy. Perhaps there are still bits of them in me and that's why I'm overweight. I have little child aliens that are still living off me my fungus or parasites. Or I'm just doing my job as a mom, walking that tight rope of being here and pushing them and me into places of independence.

What I really crave, is to get my keel a little deeper into the water. I think my radio is operating on a bit of an am frequency, so it doesn't really take much to upset the signal.  I think that this is my hope for my NZ adventure... that even though I'm probably tuned to WKID for quite some time, I'd like to move back to the place where a breeze or a tunnel don't mess the the signal - my True Signal, the One that has called and equipped me to be mom, the One that calls me child.

PS. I took a personality test today. It said "free test" - it was the DISC test. Yes, the test was free. But if I wanted the results I had to pay $10. And I'm too tired to go looking for another test, so (picture me sticking my tongue out).

Friday, November 12, 2010

NZ Adventure - Day 5

After helping with some pie-making at church, my day included two 11yo boys with giggles about all noises body. We were near to drawing up plans for a natural 'gas' (insert little boy giggles here) car, equipped with automatic bean refiller. Fortunately my sister and BIL came for a few hours mid-day before I could lose all my maturity.

Friday nights are pretty standard in our house - pizza night with a movie. But tonight we did pancakes because we had pizza a couple nights ago. And didn't watch the movie. And I got a little lonely for Marc and Anna around supper time.

I found a place to take a free myers-briggs test today. I think the last time I took this might have been when Caleb was a baby. I've always thought that I was an INFJ or INFP - that my P and J are really close. So my results today were kind of a surprise.

The S surprises me because I operate from an Intuitive center according to the enneagram, but I felt on this test that I answered really accurately. I may bounce around to see if I can find a couple other places to take the test again. The description "Conservator" seems somewhat accurate, though I'm not so sure how loyal I really am. Just read another description that called ISFJ "nurturer". Yes, more study required.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

NZ Adventure - Day 4

On a lighter note, I took a quiz to see which Greek goddess I am today. Turns out I am Hestia.
"You Scored as Hestia/VestaHestia/Vesta was the goddess of the fireplace. She didn't have a throne on Mt. Olympus, but people considered her to be just as, if not more important than the other gods. Every home in Greece had a shrine dedicated to her."

Even though I intended this to be a light-hearted quiz, it actually fits what I'm learning about myself really well.

Also today, I saw the word 'acadia' an abnormal number of times. Enough so that I just looked up the meaning -  "land of plenty". Not sure why, but each time I saw the word it was like there was a highlighter over the top of it saying 'Pay Attention'. So that will be added to the basket of things that I am pondering on this adventure.

Tonight I intend to play some guitar (one of the things on my list to care for myself while Marc and Anna are away) and being reading this book:

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

NZ Adventure - Day 3

Today was the first day that it was quiet enough to feel hard.

After getting the kids off to school I went to the gym. It felt like such a luxury to be able to go without worrying about being done by such and such a time for so and so's whatever. Came home, sanded a desk that I hope to finish for Anna, cleaned up that dusty mess, and then cleaned up me. I was pretty proud that I did all that in that order.

Then I met the doldrums and wondered what to do next. I think it is pretty bad form to just hang out watching the contractor or painter do their work, even though it is interesting and THEY are interesting. I tackled some phone-calls - the least favorite thing ever on my lists, and then decided today would be the day that I took the Enneagram test.

free enneagram test

I began my Enneagram journey in January at a day-long retreat. Even after the retreat I wasn't sure what type I was but felt more convinced that this path was going to have some important keys for me. My first instinct is to 'get a book about it' which I did. Truth is, though, that my eyes have gotten a bit older and my days a bit fuller and I struggle to do the volume of reading that I did in college... if you can imagine!

What I learned about myself today is that I am a Type 9, the Peacemaker, according to the (paid version) test that I took at I have thought that I might be a 9, but also thought that I might be several others. I feel pretty comfortable with this result. With the reading that I've been able to do on the website about the full results has largely rung true. And leaves me thinking that I would do well to put some good focus here for the rest of my time.

One of the things that made me grin as I read the Type 9 results is that "Peacemakers require a LOT of alone time". Guess it's a good thing that I'm including the Enneagram on my NZ Adventure.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

NZ Adventure - Day 2

Today was a pleasant, putter-y sort of day. Dropped kids at school, staying to volunteer for a while in Sofia's classroom. Home to pay bills and work around the house. Parent Teacher conference this afternoon at Caleb's school. Cozy supper of grilled cheese and a quiet evening with the kids. They are in bed, and I am on my way.

The clock on our stove reads NZ time now... so my heart and mind have wandered to that side of the globe not infrequently, but also not unpleasantly. I was a little more on alert during the hour that I knew would be 'touch-down'. I was so relieved to see an email from Anna to Caleb, and then to get one for myself from Marc.

The last time Marc and I were apart for such an extended amount of time was before Caleb was born. Four weeks apart. I was in Calcutta. It was a splurge to send him a fax the three or four times that I did during that trip. I never expected to get one in return. My luggage consisted of letters from family and friends that they had written beforehand - one for each day that I would be there.

And just a few weeks ago I was chatting real-time with my friend in Ethiopia. I am getting instant emails from my family 18 hours away. Bizarre.

One of my hopes during my NZ adventure is to take some sort of personal assessment each day. Spiritual Gifts, personality, enneagram, sorts of things. I hate these things. Marc loves them and is usually the one that is doing or pushing them. I'm not sure if I'm doing them in hopes of discovering something new, rediscovering something forgotten, or just to affirm that I exist as an individual with a unique contribution and calling. But what started as an idea a couple weeks ago has become an important discipline during this adventure.

Today I took a spiritual gifts test at The wording was familiar, the test felt familiar, the results were mostly what I expected. Here are my top five: giving, healing, administration, apostle, leadership. When we took a similar assessment last fall with our church my top two were healing and knowledge. I think I will take that one again, as well.

I found myself wondering why it is I am so much more able to stay even-keeled when I am in tougher situations. Often, by 4pm, I am ready - READY for Marc to be home and help with the parenting - or to take over altogether while I hide under the bed. I know I'm pulling on deep reserves, am also in a Grace Cloud surrounded by prayers of the saints I call friends... But I think that even in normal circumstances both of those exist still and I just don't put my reliance there.  This will also be interesting to watch play out over the next couple weeks.

Monday, November 08, 2010

NZ Adventure - Day 1

My part of the NZ adventure is being at home with my oldest and youngest. My husband and middle left today for NZ. They will be gone for the better part of this month. The last time I was away from my husband for this long was the year before Caleb was born when I was in India for four weeks.

It is a very long story about how all the pieces have fallen this way at this time, and maybe over the course of their trip and my adventure I will unpack some of that here, but not tonight.  I'm tired.

The interesting thing about their trip to NZ is that it gives me something I haven't had for 11 years... several consecutive hours a day to myself most days. Because of the age of our kids and because of our homeschooling years, including this year that I'm homeschooling our middle, I have not had a set of days when I have had daytime hours to myself, to care for myself, to listen to myself. And with complete honesty I can say that this is more exciting to me than the idea of traveling to NZ. I feel like I have been given an incredible gift.

So my adventure will be getting to know 'me' in a whole new way. I have a million ideas of how to use the time for soul-care and self-care and home-care. I am a 'to-doer'. I really want to press into some to-being, but also honor the part of my character and making that loves 'doing', too.

Spiritual renewal and self care and awareness are my focus until the day before Thankgiving.

Of course my 5yo was quick to remind me, when she overheard me talking, that SHE's not going anywhere and neither is her older brother. But because I will have chunks of time to myself, I think that all three of us are going to see great benefit and growth from our part of the NZ adventure.

So here on my blog, I have set the goal to check in each day of this adventure... if for no other reason but to do it.

Thursday, October 28, 2010



I hit that point yesterday where I am so done with renovations and dust and dirt and people in my house. I have one corner left to do my daily living in, and yesterday it was made a dirty mess.

I was telling someone yesterday morning, before hitting the Point of Done, that "I even get sick of Marc when he's around too much. Of course it makes sense that I'm sick of the contractor being around the house. This is a normal social consequence."

In the scheme of things, I do have way more to be thankful for than inconvenienced by. I know this.

And I know that I AM STRONG enough and RESILIENT enough to weather this with grace and joy.

So my activity today to recenter and refocus my heart about this will be to tweet my gratitude each hour at least until the kids get home from school. If you are on twitter watch for my #growingrenovationgratitude throughout today.

Saturday, October 02, 2010


Tomorrow is World Communion Sunday, a celebration of communion in all of our diverse ways across cultures, denominations; and a celebration that it is a meal that celebrates that we are One in Christ... though many parts, we make up a whole.

It is my turn to share a brief little 'sermonette' with our youngest tomorrow during the service. I've had a ton of ideas about how to share this with them. What I decided today was to make a word collage on

Rather than trying to unpack the theology of communion, I have chosen to use the word LOVE. After all it is a table of love, a promise of love, and act of love - this mystery of communion.

Here is my handy dandy word artwork:

Wordle: Love

Monday, September 13, 2010

thepitmans.chronicles, volume8number1

My “New Year” times tend to come more around the school-calendar. So now that school has once again commenced, I am in ‘new year’ mode. And again, one of my hopes (do I dare even call them resolutions any more) is to re-establish some sort of regular publication of thepitmans.chronicles.

I’m sitting in our kitchen, with Anna next to me. She is working on her creative writing assignment on ‘how to brush hair for girls’. Anna was in public school last year, but has returned home this year. While I think she learned a lot about social things, I think she also spent most of her days overwhelmed with classroom and school dynamics. We began homeschool three weeks ago, and she is trotting through books and re-engaging in life in a number of ways. She will go to school three mornings a week for specials – Art, PE, and library. She has been assigned a 3rd grade classroom to attend these specials with, and the teacher (as well as the administration) has been wonderful to work with.

Caleb left for school this morning at 7am. A sixth grader. Junior High boy! After a week of school, he is really enjoying it, and enjoying his teachers. This is his second year in public school. While he still is holding out hope to be homeschooled next year, he has done so well and grown so much, we will continue to wait and see. He began to play trumpet last year, and is looking forward to the start of Jazz Band next week.

Sofia left for school around 7:45. Kindergarten for her this year. WOW! She is as outgoing as Marc is, making public school as easy choice for her. She loves everything about her day and is coming home quite tired. The only answer I can get from her about what she likes best about school is ‘mostly…. Everything’.

Marc is working in his office space in our basement – he has sent book 2 to the publisher and is working on number 3, as well as setting up speaking, training, and coaching engagements. He left the hospital last winter to be the campaign manager for moderate republican’s (the last in Maine?) gubernatorial bid. When we lost the primary in June, he began working from home (or local coffee shops). Each month I am still surprised that this works. He is a true entrepreneur (I am not), and I think he is much happier, though maybe feels more direct pressure to produce. Last month, his publicist had him being interviewed on FoxBoston, FoxNewYork, and an online FoxNationalshow. Later he was interviewed by FoxMaine. In the next few weeks he will be in the Boston area and Chicago. A busy, exciting time.

The other sound in our home is the sound of renovation. After many generations of plans and ideas, renovations began this week. Our three bedroom/one bath ranch will become four bedroom/two bath ranch. The rooms and hallway in the original layout were very spacious, so the rooms will still be nice sized, and the layout much more what we need. For awhile we wondered about just moving- probably staying in the Waterville area. But in our current location we are in town on a quiet dead end street with neighbors that we are just getting to know, five minutes from each school, each grocery store, the gym, and Starbucks. So here we will stay, and renovations have begun.

This past Spring and Summer Caleb and Anna participated in baseball and tee-ball, and then participated in track and field all summer. Anna got three ribbons for her javelin throwing (with a personal best of 27’7”). Caleb went to Mechuwana for a week of sleep-away soccer camp, and did a band camp in town as well as taking trumpet lessons from a high school band student. Anna went to a Day Camp at Mechuwana that foscused on Arts and Crafts. Sofia participated in kickball, tball, and ‘tiny-tykes’ through our town’s summer programs. It was a busy summer (and I’m personally glad to be back at the regular school schedule).

There seems to be so much more to share, but at least here is a start. : )

Have a terrific September!
Emily, Marc, Caleb, Anna, and Sofia

Too cute

Going through some photos today and found this....

taken 2006
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Friday, September 10, 2010

First Day of School (last week)

My Mom reminded me that only Caleb got pictures posted on the first day of school. So to do due diligence, here are all three on the first day of public school, last week.

"Really, first day of school pictures again? I'm in Jr. High now."

Calm, cool, and confident waiting for the bus. I chose this picture because she has really never looked back.

Goofy, and a little smug, in her pj's.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Matchbook Found

Look what our contractor just found in the wall!

Here is a closer look at the two panels. Notice the four digit telephone number. Also, the printer (Atkins Printing Service) is still in business. The hot dog shop is not.

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One of the things I love about homeschooling

Today, Marc had the kick-off breakfast for United Way. Anna got to go with him.

Here is a picture of Anna participating in the hooplah:
And here is a picture of her sneaking in some time to do what she loves:

Because of our choice to homeschool, and because of Marc's approach to work and family, our kids have had dozens of opportunities to be involved with what is happening in our community. They have seen adults pulling together to get something done, have seen adults celebrating what has been accomplished, have seen first hand that our donations are going to hurricane relief or the homeless shelter. Organizations like Rotary and United Way aren't just a meeting that Dad goes to with other adults. They have seen and experienced what it is to be a contributing and involved citizen. They have seen that a difference, even if it's a little difference, can be made and is important.

And thinking about it, those are some of the most important lessons that I could offer my kids.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Prayer for our Kids

Yup. This is the week that I send my baby to kindergarten and my oldest to Jr. High. So when this song came on my ipod this morning, I have to admit to getting a little weepy. (Perhaps I should build margin in for that this week.)

I first heard, and fell in love with, this song when I was preparing to head to India 15 or so years ago. The song was largely about me and my journey. About what I felt commissioned for.

Now, I am hearing it with a mothers ears. I am hearing it as a parenting commission, and as a commissioning that I can pass onto to my kids. It is the prayer I will be praying for my kiddos, especially this week.

Rich Mullins and Beaker

Aidan you're young
But Aidan you're growing fast
Me and your mom
And all the love we have
We can only take you so far
As far as we can
But you'll need something more to guide your heart
As you grow into a man

Let mercy lead
Let love be the strength in your legs
And in every footprint that you leave
There'll be a drop of grace
If we can reach
Beyond the wisdom of this age
Into the foolishness of God
That foolishness will save
Those who believe
Although their foolish hearts may break
They will find peace
And I'll meet you in that place
Where mercy leads

Aidan the day
Aidan the day will come
You'll run the race
That takes us way beyond
All our trials and all our failures
And all the good we dream of
But you can't see yet where it is you're heading
But one day you'll see the face of love

Let mercy lead
Let love be the strength in your legs
And in every footprint that you leave
There'll be a drop of grace
If we can reach
Beyond the wisdom of this age
Into the foolishness of God
That foolishness will save
Those who believe
Although their foolish hearts may break
They will find peace
Where mercy leads

Saturday, August 07, 2010


Remember this little guy?

Grew up so nice and tall and proud and well on the way to becoming a tall sunflower.

Here it is now....

No, not the one behind, nor the little bit of grass in front. It's gone. Bugs, apparently, have no respect for the potential of a sunflower.

So, in spite of my very Organic Gardening upbringing, I have gone to the dark side, and begun to spray POISON! It is with a mixture of guilt and glee that I spray the leaves of the remaining plants about once a week.

And just to give perspective on how tall they are now, here is my new comparison (isn't she cuter than that rock, anyhow).

Monday, July 12, 2010

Track Star

At her first track meet (7/1), Anna was thrown into a chaos that was punctuated by gun shots. It was a first track meet for all of us and Marc and I did our best to keep up with all the action and to shepherd our kids from one event to another, and to lead them in cheering for their teammates.

Caleb ran the 200m and threw the shot put. He didn't place in either, but he had also been at music camp all week, missing the practices just before the meet.

Anna ran the 100m threw tears. She was overwhelmed by all the action and noise and directions coming from every direction. She and I talked and I gave her the goal to just run and told her that even if she continued to hate track all summer, we would hate it, and finish it together.

After the 100m, her javelin event was called. All the ages competed at the same time so we watched the youngest to the oldest take their throws, some of them for their first time. Marc, one of her coaches, and I watched with outright amazement at her natural ability and very good form.

Today we found out that she had placed second in her age-group for javelin. From tears to cheers and feeling proud. Guess who is looking forward to her track meet this week?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Week 3 in the life of a sunflower

No kidding! This is the same sunflower that I took a picture of  taken 7 ago!

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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Treasure Hunt, Waterville Style

Waterville Public Library has some awesome programs planned for kids this summer. The first adventure began this past week with a Treasure Hunt in downtown Waterville. We followed the clues to find 10 'x's' around town. Here are a few pictures the we took on our adventure.

Waterville Pirate Treasure Hunt

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

More about the Sunflower Bed

Years ago I talked about this cool book:

It is full of fun gardening ideas. Even more, it is beautiful to look through.
One of the things I learned from this lovely book is to mark out my garden using kitchen flour.

So here is a picture of the sunflower bed just before the seeds went in the ground.

And here is the garden after the seeds have been bedded and watered.

Here is one of the first babies, just a week after planting.

I put a rock next to this baby. My hope is to take its picture at least weekly.
It is going to grow to somewhere between 8 and 12 feet!