Archive for November, 2011

a banner of thanks

I know that the Christmas shopping mayhem has arrived and that advent begins tomorrow. Even so I wanted to squeeze in one more thought on Thanksgiving before November folds into December.

Like so many people I know, I have been soaking in Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts. I have to drink it slowly, savoring one sip at a time. As Thanksgiving approached I wanted to share her art of thanksgiving, the naming of gifts, with my family.

Thanks to the inspiration from my friend Kari, my children and I went down to our favorite creek to hunt for a stick. We tromped over the footbridge and down to the rocks in search of a forgotten branch cut off from it’s tree and shed with the falling leaves.

We drug the biggest, barest stick we could find home and strung it up with twine in our dining room. It was ugly. It spread it’s brittle bare arms across our window, tapping it’s boney fingers on our panes.

Over the next few weeks, we experienced a reverse autumn. We wrote down each day’s gifts on paper leaves and attached them to the scraggly branches.

Even Jude would scribble with an “pun-shul” on the leaves and hand them over to his sister for translation.

As we poured out our thanksgiving praises the branches grew in richness. The naked, brittle branch filled with crimson and gold, bursting with stories of good things.

We could see how rich and full our lives are. There in our dining room the bounty of His blessings hung above us.

I am grateful that we as a people, diverse and spread across a vast land mark out one day to be give thanks. We pause in our collective business to reflect on the fullness of our lives and say, “thank you.” I am grateful that I believe in a God to whom I can direct those praises. And I’m grateful that in this act of thanksgiving I receive the double blessing of the gift and the knowledge that it was given.

With this simple act, with these simple means of wood, paper, and pencil we have watched how gratefulness transforms the barren into beautiful.

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a high and low

a prologue

In an attempt to ward off the mayhem that has defined these past few weeks I lifted my new tunic dress out if it’s bag.

I would wear a new dress. I would cinch it with a belt. I would pair it with my favorite boots. I would take on this day.

While I was pulling together all levels of fabulous, Ava walked in, “What is that?”

“Blue tights.”

“You can’t wear blue tights.”

“Why not?”

“Mamas don’t wear blue tights.”

the high

Two hours later I carried Jude over a sea of mamas and babies at Tuesday Morning Baby Story Time to an open spot in the back of the bookshop.

I settled him on the floor between discarded mittens and forgotten cheerios and began to take off my coat. The lady to my left stopped bouncing the baby on her lap and looked up at me, “Are you a fashion designer?”

“What? No.”

“You design clothes?”


“But you are some kind of designer.”

“No. I mean, in my dreams. Sometimes.”

There you go, sweet Ava. This mama can wear blue tights!

the low

An hour later I was pushing Jude in a cart through the throngs of Thanksgiving meal shoppers at Trader Joe’s. At some point between explaining to Jude that the buckle on the cart was irrevocably broken and he was going to have to ride freestyle and asking the third friendly Trader-Joesian if they still carry Bistro Bisquit, I sensed that something was slipping.

My blue tights were falling down.

I tried to give them a discreet tug, but my dress was so silky that I couldn’t get a grip.

I hurried along hoping that they would stay put. But the faster I walked, the faster they fell.

I frantically started looking for a quiet little corner in which I could hike them up, but there were cart pushers everywhere. They were coming out of the end caps and holiday displays.

And it was Tuesday, shipment day. It seemed like the entire TJ staff was was crouched down stocking cans and canisters on the bottom shelves.

I made a dash for the bathroom. The line was two deep. It would put my compromised outfit in full view of everyone checking out.

My heart was palpitating. My palms were sweating. And my tights were traveling south.

I escaped to the pasta section. No one is deliberating between marinara and Alfredo on November 22nd. It was in this pause that I realized two things.

One, I was stuck in the middle of a crowded store surrounded by lots and lots of people (yes, I realized that “crowded store” implies lots and lots of people, but I need to be sure we are clear on the crowd factor) from which I could not magically disappear.

And that the hem of my dress, the waist band of my tights, and my knees were all perfectly aligned.

My tights had fallen. To my knees. My knees. My tights were at my knees. My tights were at my knees.

Pride goes for the fall, people. Pride goes before the fall.

Ava was right. This mama cannot wear those blue tights.

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a harvest pairing

As the crimson and gold of fall fade to the crunchy, stepped-on brown, and the world begins to wrap itself in scratchy woolly grays, I store up color. Or ways to bring color into my home.

Fruit with its sun soaked goodness is an edible flower. An economic flower. A flower with a sweet surprise.

I turn the pears over slowly in the produce section seeking the unblemished and unique. One a bit more portly or one with the stem tipped like a hat. One with bright rosy cheeks and another dappled with freckles.

Gone are the mason jars dripping with the clippings of our yard. Now stands the proud pedestal with the offerings of fall. The pecans, the walnuts, the almonds in their dappled browns. And the Anjou in their bright Bordeaux.

After a few days of adorning our table, they are ready to slice and serve. A flower with a happy ending. Enjoy!

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our family circus

Meet Jude the Lion.


He is ferocious.

Meet his trainer, Ava.

She is fantastic!

She has been commissioned to train

this obstinate lion.

She has all the flair, while he prefers to throw things in the river.

Together, Jude the Lion and Ava the trainer have been working hard

to bring you this show!

Welcome to Our Circus!

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