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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Max and Maggie found this sweet baby cardinal with a injured wing at a friends house across creek on Saturday. They watched for a long time to see if it's mother would appear, but she seemed to be abandoned. They brought her home and made a place her in our sunroom. The next morning when we walked to church, we left her in the garage to practice flying. Just outside of our garage happens to be another cardinals nest. We have been watching for the past three weeks as a mother and father care for their three (much smaller) babies. When we returned and opened the garage the mother and father cardinal flew in and out of the garage - a bit frantic to help our abandoned bird. We set her out in the garden and watched with binoculars for an hour as they flew back and forth between their nest and our bird - hunting and feeding all four chicks. We decided to build a nest for our little bird in the nearby tree house. All afternoon the mother and father cared for her. Around five, she gained enough strength and we watched her fly high up into the trees above our house. It was beautiful. I want to be a person that cares for others with the same intensity as our faithful cardinal neighbors.


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Shortly after we unpacked our boxes in Nashville, I knew it was time to start looking for a councilor. I got a solid recommendation and found someone that I love. On and off (over the past ten years) counseling has played a significant role in my life. It helps me initiate more productive internal conversations, gives me a sounding board when I exhaust my husbands patience, and generally makes me a healthier and happier person.

A wide variety of 'issues" have been on the table these past few months, but one thing that keeps surfacing is my hope to start writing and snapping photos again. I leave most counseling sessions with a strong conviction to make time for writing - and return two weeks later with lots of reasons why I didn't.

The process of recording the "noted moments" in our life, has been an invaluable tool for me. It helps me keep track of the small things that I am thankful for - the things that slip away if I don't acknowledge them. Assigning value to these (often overlooked) moments, brings me joy when life feels heavy. I wish that I had written every day when my dad way dying. There was so much beauty tied up in the sadness. It all seem a bit hazy now.

We are heading out of town for a few weeks... but I hope to be back in this space more often in the coming months.

Selling our first home

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

In 2012 when we left Delaware and moved to New Zealand, I wasn't entirely sure that it was going to work out. We were in a challenging place in our family life and I wasn't confident that an international move was a wise choice. We made the decision not to sell our home - thinking that Delaware would be a good place to transition back to the States when we finished our time in New Zealand (or perhaps sooner if things went south).  We packed a storage unit with the things we wanted to keep and Ben's cousin Stephen and his wife Lindsey moved in with their two boys, to rent our home while we were away.

New Zealand ended up being exactly what we needed. It prepared us for an exhausting road ahead. After my dad was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme (an aggressive form of brain cancer) we moved to South Carolina for about a year and in December we settled in Nashville. Stephen is finishing up his residency program in July and we have our Delaware home listed to sell. We never made it back 31 Sheffield Manor Drive and for many reasons that is sad for me. 

It was our first home. We picked it out and made it our own. We opened our doors and shared our space with people that we love. We brought all four of of our babies home and built a foundation for our family within its walls. It's a sacred space that I am not quite ready to pass on. I am thankful for the eight years we had on Sheffield Manor Drive and hopeful that we will find owners that will love our home and neighbors as much as we did.

Malibu wedding

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

In 2011 we were living in Delaware. Ben had finished his five year residency program, worked a year in the ER and had just started an intense two year critical care fellowship an hour from our home. Max and Maggie were in preschool and Jude was four months old. We had a good network of support, a few highly competent babysitters and some dear friends - but no family within driving distance.

Ben’s cousin Stephen and his wife Lindsey arrived in July. Stephen was beginning the same residency program that Ben had completed and they lived five minutes from our home in Newark. They became a special part of our family and made our lives rich in a million different ways.

A few months ago Lindsey called to get my thoughts on traveling with her (soon to be) newborn baby. She knew that I had done it myself, and was hoping to be in close friends Malibu wedding four weeks postpartum. I encouraged her to go and offered to be her (baby holding) date – since Stephen would be home with their two boys. It helped her enjoy the wedding, but it was also a tremendous gift for me. 

The trip came at the perfect moment. I needed a get away – an opportunity to see beautiful things, spend time with a kind friend and be reminded of the things that are true in my life. I know that we are done having babies, so it was a special treat to spend so much time soaking in the wonder of new life. 

The wedding was at a beautiful vineyard in Agora Hills. The weather was perfect and the food and drinks were delicious. The bride was an actress and the groom was a pastor, so there was an eclectic mix of people in attendance. I have always enjoyed meeting new people and hearing their stories (a trait I inherited from my father) and I was also holding newborn – a task that always invites conversation. It was a lovely evening. 

Considering the fact that Lindsey and I have a combined total of seven kids – there was an unprecedented amount of downtime this weekend. In addition to the wedding festivities, we had lunch at a in Santa Barbara, I skated a greenway along the Pacific, we had ice cream on the beach, mojitos at a swanky resort and ate In-and-Out burgers driving Route 1 at sunset. It was a life giving weekend with two girls that I love dearly.


Monday, May 16, 2016

In the past, when I've thought of grief (generically and as it related to other people) - I underestimated it's tenacity. It's ability to linger and distract for a frustratingly long period of time. We lost my dad a year ago today. I spent yesterday remembering all the painful and poignant details. And then I thought about the actual onset of grief - nine months prior when we were living in New Zealand and learned of his grim prognosis.

Life has moved on... but with a notable lack of enthusiasm. All the necessary things get done along with many fun and unnecessary things. And now that the kids are in school and we have settled into a more permanent home, I have time to do a few of the things that I love. But I haven't had energy to be passionate and life feels flat. For the past twenty one months, grief has been exhausting.

Nashville Rollergirl

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Skills test passed - ready to get back at it, with the Nashville Rollergirls!

A civilized truth - interview with Eugene Peterson & Bono

In 2011 I read a book that changed me. When I finished, I did something I had never done before. I wrote to the author. It was a short note, outlining the impact her words had on me and thanking her for the time she took to write them. She was quick to reply with kind and gracious words and over the next several months we developed a friendly online relationship. In addition to the tremendous insight and affirmation I garnered from Andi Ashworth's book, Real Love for Real Life - the Art and Work of Caring, I slowly became aware of a network of people that were speaking a language that I loved.

At the time we were living on the East Coast, my husband was a medical fellow and I was well occupied with the demands of three our small children. In my spare time, I was curious about things like art, culture, faith, vocation, and social justice. Frustrated with the spiritual and political climate, I wanted a more nuanced dialog on what it meant to be a follower of Christ. I was searching for humble voices addressing these issues and found them in abundance at a Texas retreat center where Andi and her husband Charlie spent time over the years.

photo credit Laity Lodge

David Taylor was the keynote speaker at the first Laity Lodge retreat that I attended. I was a bit of an outlier in the group - most of the attendees were professional artist or ministers to artists. Many had attended the retreat in the past and were familiar with David and his vision for the arts. But despite my obvious nativity, I felt very much at home - the words, the people, the food, the beauty, the hospitality, the place... all of it was right and good and I left wanting more.

Over the next five years, life took many surprising turns. We had our fourth child, moved to New Zealand, moved to South Carolina to be with my dying father, and five months ago we landed in Nashville. Coincidentally, David was the first familiar face I saw upon returning to the States. We ran into him at LAX when we were catching a connecting flight to South Carolina.

Over the past several years as we transitioned and transitioned and transitioned...  many of the friends I met at Laity Lodge have become unknowing mentors - I've read books they wrote, watched films they directed, listened to music they produced, enjoyed art they created, followed blogs that they curated... a silent observer gleaning all sorts of goodness from this beautiful, unique community.   

Last Tuesday a project that David has been working on for the past 15 months was released. A conversation about the Psalms with Euguene Peterson (author of The Message - a modern version of the Bible) and Bono (who you might think needs no introduction). I love this documentary for a million different reasons. Aside from the superb content, there is so much humanity packed into this short film.

In a world where truth is often politicized, stripped to it harshest form and intended for harm - this piece of thoughtful art is a breath of fresh air. I think you will find it to be a more civilized version of truth. Take a moment to enjoy this beautiful introduction to the Psalms and if you want a bit more - check out these resources for exploring the Psalms. Here is a link for the film - I recommend the full screen version.