Merry Christmas 2010

Our Christmas letter is online this year at SteveandAmanda.com.

"This has been a somewhat quiet year. A little bit sad, a little bit happy, a little bit nothing much. Due to the underwhelmingness, we didn’t get around to mailing out a Christmas letter, but here’s our online version to fill you in."

Ah, the sentiments of the season.

But it has cute pictures:

So that's something.


Goodbye, Luna



I feel silenced


Wordless Wednesday: Grandma!

Grandma toddler firehat

Grandma toddler firehat

Grandma toddler firehat

Grandma toddler reading a book

Grandma toddler reading a book


Send my roots rain

tree beyond rain-dotted windowSwiss dotted icing
twisting into strands
as thick as rope
silken and catching the light

of three reflected lamps
giving the seedlings
a false sun
in this twilight

darkening the glass
that separates the shoots
from the rain
that would quench them.

{Inspired by Prompt 2 — "write a water poem" — from the April Poem-a-Day Challenge hosted by Robert Lee Brewer at Poetic Asides, and while looking at my seedlings basking under fluorescent lights in the window and contemplating that I would have to water them even though it was pouring outside. The title and deeper meaning are from this Gerard Manley Hopkins poem and relate to my Lenten challenge.}

Photo copyright Lies Meirlaen


PSA break: How to fill out your census

Courtesy of my mother, a little help with filling out your census this month:

Christopher Walken guest stars SNL census skit YouTube screenshot

Click image to open in a new window to play.

(It strikes me that I didn't properly attribute the Ellen clips to my mom, as well. She's an unending source of hilarity.)


Wordless Wednesday: Mailing a toddler

boy in box 1

boy in box 2

boy in box 3

boy in box 4

boy in box 5


Resurrection poetry

Make no mistake: if He rose at all
it was as His body;
if the cells' dissolution did not reverse, the molecules
          reknit, the amino acids rekindle,
the Church will fall.

Celtic cross at sunrise resurrection

Thank you to Rachel at Common Places for bringing me three Easter poems. Perfect inspiration as I seek to write my daily poetry this month, and to think about on this day of days in the faith.

I think John Updike's poem in particular speaks to what I'm thinking of today.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping transcendence;
making of the event a parable …

Yea for poetry, yea for deep thoughts, yea for Easter.

I forgot to be explicit about this, but since my forty days are over and I'm nowhere close to finished with my journey, I'm going to keep trucking.

And, now, on a different note: We've just eaten Chinese food and are going to watch Fame. I expect even more deep thoughts forthcoming...

Photo of a Celtic cross at sunrise copyright Craig Goodwin.


Poem-a-Day Challenge 2010 starts today!

Swimming in the Wild, Wide Ocean: Seasons of Verse: 1989-2009And, no, this is not an April Fool's Day joke.

Get your pencils (er, laptops, whatever) out and start scribing! You are a poet, my friend, and by the end of this month:

You will have 30 spanking-new poems!

The poetry book I published is heavily populated with PAD Challenge poems, so it's totally worth it to power through this National Poetry Month adventure!

Go to Poetic Asides by Robert Lee Brewer to find the very first prompt for this year's challenge: Write a lonely poem.

The complete guidelines are here. Basically, write the poems, and then select your top five to submit by May 5 for consideration as the top 50 of the month.

Get writing, and I'll see you at the finish line with all our lovely new poems! Yea!


Ellen break: Hypnotizing lizards

Don't you so want to try this?


Reimagining church over at Steve's place

Reimagining Church: Pursuing the Dream of Organic Christianity
I want to highlight a series that Steve is doing on his blog of the same name (Steve! The Musical!).
Since I have such a big following, I like to give back by throwing some attention to others. Look at my followers list if you don't believe me. Four people. Four! Ignore that two of them are me and ... me. It says it's Steve, but I logged into his account and followed myself because I got tired of being the only one. Notice he doesn't even have an icon; that's how much he cares about using that feature.

I kind of doubt I have any readers who don't read Steve's blog already, but just in case!

Steve's been reading through a couple books on simple churches and the history of the church by Frank Viola and blogging about his reading in "Reimagining the church: a conversation."

Check out this quote from Part 2 of the series that made my eyes well up:

I feel like more of a semi-educated part-time volunteer clergy person than 'laity'. In other words, I know enough about being in charge and thinking I've got good answers to have enough of a chip on my shoulder that I can look down on people. I know, it's ugly, but that's the truth of it: It becomes pretty easy to feel self-satisfied.

Until the day, that is, that the people who you think you are trying to help turn out to have more of a handle on this whole "love" thing than you feel you do. Until the day you run headlong into a dose of humility and find that most of the 'laity' isn't that interested in accumulating hordes of information but is just trying to live a simple faith and trust in God, one moment at a time, one foot in front of the other. I have learned more about the grace, beneficence, love, and beauty of God by being a willing receiver of others' ordinary stories than I've grasped by reading the most eloquent apologies of the faith. I don't see myself as anti-intellectual or anti-clergy by any means, but as pro-laity, pro-freedom of speech, pro-respect for those hidden in corners, pro-wrestling with how that plays out in community. Because either Jesus Christ is alive, active, and available to everyone with the most simple belief in and love of him, or Jesus Christ is hidden behind a veil that is accessible to only the few with the most learning and wisdom and righteousness and devotion.

Preach it, (lay-)brother!

Pagan Christianity?: Exploring the Roots of Our Church PracticesAll right, head on over and take it in. It's like the book report to end all book reports.

I'll try to compile a links list here (of the series so far, because I honestly have no idea how long this sucker is), because I want them in order to reference myself:
Someone's been doing a lot of writing!


Wordless Wednesday: St. Patrick's Day hair

First day at preschool, a year ago (sigh)


Corin in spring

Click to play this Smilebox photobook: Corin in spring
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Ellen break: It's bad — paid-for photos

And you thought your school pictures were bad.


Wordless Wednesday: Time to grow

Time to garden, Mama!

Guess who bought himself a new watering can!

Corin studies the seed packets: Are these part-shade or full-sun?

Corin helps with the labeling. I certainly couldn't handle it on my own.

Look! Look!


Checkpoint @ Catapult Magazine

Click over to Catapult Magazine to read my latest poem: "Checkpoint."

Kirstin kindly compared it to John Donne's Holy Sonnet 14:
Batter my heart, three-person'd God ; for you
As yet but knock ; breathe, shine, and seek to mend ;
That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.

And Steve said it reminded him of his song "Break Me":

I'll take either comparison. I'm just glad to have written a poem again! I'm pretty pleased with it, in that giddiness that only writing poetry can bring, and I think it fits well with my Lenten theme.

Read the whole Borders & Fences issue here.

Photo copyright John Gaps III/AP


The stinker's the winker

skunk in the grassYesterday, when Steve was out running errands, Corin was sitting on my lap when he passed gas.

"Corin! Did you just toot?" I asked in German (impressed much?).

"No! Apa tooted."

I thought that was pretty clever of him, to blame it on an absent — yet admittedly gaseous — family member.

Note that he didn't bother to blame it on Luna. Why do cats never fart? They must, right? But somehow do it unobserved. It's not like their poop doesn't stink. Must be one of the quirks of an all-meat diet.

The post title comes from my older brother's misremembering of the phrase "The smeller's the feller." I've often thought that "he who smelt it dealt it" was quite an unfair line of reasoning. Many is the time that someone is more offended by the smell who did not deal it than the other way around, and very often the dealer is too sheepish or sly to admit to the deed. I think the whole phrase started when a chronic offender wanted to divert suspicion and blame.

Are you glad I did a whole blog post on farts?

You're welcome.

Photo copyright Torli Roberts via stock.xchng


Wordless Wednesday: Spring in expectancy

A friend has graciously given me the gift of gardening space, when I thought I never would have dirt to dig in again. Time to get out my seed starter set-up and play! And, hey, maybe I'll even get the rest of my gardening pictures from last year up on www.SteveandAmanda.com, which I'd been avoiding because the thought of revisiting my gardening happiness was too depressing when having a garden was out of reach.

I can smell the dirt even now...


Ellen break: These photos just aren't right


Wordless Wednesday: Poor baby

poor sick sad baby

This has been my view the past week: one sad, sick baby on my lap, so close I can't focus the camera.

Fortunately, he's on the mend!

Unfortunately, he gave it to me.


Happy Valentine's Day to my writing partner

I know we said we weren't getting each other anything for Valentine's Day, but I can't help it that you already got me something.

Space to write.

Sure, it wasn't for today in particular, but today in particular is a good example, because you are upstairs with our very noisy, un-thought-inspiring 2-year-old, and I am downstairs, tip-typing away on my computer, in peace.

I would never have won NaNoWriMo again (or the first time) without you. I would never have written so many articles and posts and poems without your giving me that time to go into my head, to live temporarily in another world and enjoy writing once more.

Thank you for your faithfulness, your patience, your ability to amuse a toddler, your inventiveness, your generosity, and your love. Your love.

All the writing I've done for the past two and a half years? It's all thanks to you.

I love you, Steve. Happy Valentine's Day.


Wordless Wednesday: Tots room at PacSci

Little boy playing

Big boy playing


Small church, big church @ Catapult Magazine

Click over to Catapult Magazine to read my latest article: "Small church, big church: A search for just right."

I’ve had a see-sawing relationship with the size of our churches, with all the vertigo and shakiness that metaphor suggests.
I suspect small churches are withering, and that big churches are superficial. But if a medium church stays medium, then isn’t it stagnating?

Read the whole Bigger Is... issue here.


Wordless Wednesday: Growing like a tree

Christmas 2007

Christmas 2009


Loving as serving

Making a new batch of Muddy Buddies every time I run out,
       without judgment or query

Cleaning up our own muddy buddy
       without disdain or distaste

Hiding under a blanket
for hours
taking a 2-year-old
to the zoo

Fetching me a drink
from the fridge
a toothbrush
for the kid

Cleaning the place
for your mother-in-law
hanging up
my shirts

Knowing my love language
       even when I don't

And even though it's not your language,
       speaking it fluently.


Wordless Wednesday: Clouds are our friends

I've spent a long day getting soaked in the rain. I wanted to remember happier clouds.

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