Tuesday, December 9, 2014


"Deep calls to deep in the roar of Your waterfalls; 
all Your breakers and Your billows have swept over me."
Psalm 42:7 

I don't know when it started really...my cynical attitude towards all things labeled "Christian".

I guess my heart has grown cold and suspicious because of the hypocrites, or maybe because I'm the hypocrite. 

I guess I gave into the idea that being "relatable" meant acting like an ass and calling people assholes. 

And now I'm a really "cool" Christian because I curse, and I drink, and I watch "edgy" movies, and I don't listen to "Christian" music, and I don't dare set foot in a "Christian" bookstore,  and I get tattoos,  and honestly I do some of these things because it's just me....and I like tattoos, and I like beer, and sometimes Christian music really isn't that great and I don't want to be fake. 

And that's what it comes down to really. 

"Authenticity" in the Church.

I hear the word and cringe. 

It's one of those modern church "buzz words" that any relatable pastor feels the need to throw into a sermon, and I shutter...because I don't think we are getting more Authentic. 

When did Authentic mean stumbling a brother or sister with the words I use?

When did Authenticity come to mean watching a movie filled with glorifying everything my Savior was crucified for? 

When did Authenticity become the liberaltiy to abuse our bodies with food, drugs, alcohol, exercise, and self mutilation? 

I don't know what got into me last night. I was scrolling through Netflix (I do this when Aaron is on the road), looking for another "independent-edgy-informative-relatable" movie to watch and for some crazy reason I chose the movie "Ragamuffin".

I know about Rich Mullins. I know he wrote "Awesome God". I know he died in a car accident. I thought I knew the story...

"I'll give it five minutes" I thought to myself, "but if it gets cheesy, I'm done." 

I watched the entire film with a rising lump in my throat. 

The message of this movie is simply this:

"Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so."

When the film was over I felt exposed...soul naked before God.  

There is a message in it that needs to be shared. 

I guess it's known as "The Ragamuffin Gospel", and I think in my running from "all things Christian" I had heard somewhere of this message, but assumed it wasn't anything different from what I already knew. 

It is different. 

There comes a point in Rich Mullins life and struggle with faith in Christ, that a friend shares a sermon with him. Like me, Rich doesn't want to hear it...he's probably heard it before...and this preacher is probably like all of the rest. Rich gives the sermon five minutes....and ends on his knees as he hears the message in its entirety...his heart awakening to the words he's been searching for all of his life: 

“When I get honest, I admit I am a bundle of paradoxes. I believe and I doubt, I hope and get discouraged, I love and I hate, I feel bad about feeling good, I feel guilty about not feeling guilty. I am trusting and suspicious. I am honest and I still play games. Aristotle said I am a rational animal; I say I am an angel with an incredible capacity for beer.
To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and the dark. In admitting my shadow side I learn who I am and what God's grace means. As Thomas Merton put it, "A saint is not someone who is good but who experiences the goodness of God."
The gospel of grace nullifies our adulation of televangelists, charismatic superstars, and local church heroes. It obliterates the two-class citizenship theory operative in many American churches. For grace proclaims the awesome truth that all is gift. All that is good is ours not by right but by the sheer bounty of a gracious God. While there is much we may have earned--our degree and our salary, our home and garden, a Miller Lite and a good night's sleep--all this is possible only because we have been given so much: life itself, eyes to see and hands to touch, a mind to shape ideas, and a heart to beat with love. We have been given God in our souls and Christ in our flesh. We have the power to believe where others deny, to hope where others despair, to love where others hurt. This and so much more is sheer gift; it is not reward for our faithfulness, our generous disposition, or our heroic life of prayer. Even our fidelity is a gift, "If we but turn to God," said St. Augustine, "that itself is a gift of God." 
My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it.” 
― Brennan ManningThe Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt Out

Jesus is authentic.

I'm not....yet. 

I'm stunned. I have no words. I'm grateful. I want to know this truth and I want to know this God. 

I plan to read this book. I plan to give it to my children. I will encourage them to watch the movie. 

But most of all I will try to believe that "Jesus loves even me"...the failing faltering, running, beer drinking, tattooed, cursing, blessing, trying, loving, hateful, faithful, faithless, Ragamuffin me. 


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

My "Matthew Cuthbert"

Aaron's Dad was my "Matthew Cuthbert".

Anne of Green Gables has long been a favorite read of mine and although Anne is easily the heroine of the story, and some might think Gilbert Blythe the hero, I have often thought differently.

The quiet and reserved bachelor brother to spinster sister Marilla Cuthbert, plays out the hero of this tale to me.

Matthew, the quiet farmer who becomes, to orphaned Anne Shirley, a devoted and loving parent.

Who else but Matthew understands Anne's longing for "puffed sleeves"?

Who else but Matthew understands first that providence made the mistake of sending the Cuthbert's a girl instead of a boy.

And who else but Matthew tugs at our heartstrings more when he passes away in Anne's arms with the words, "...you'll always be my little girl."

There is just something about quiet people that makes us listen to them more.

And that was Aaron's dad to me.

Dad was easy to be around and didn't really raise his voice at anything except for the Beavers when they were losing. Dad hated that.

Dad could not get enough of his grand kids. He would always be ready to hold them, hang them upside down, our twist them into pretzels. And the kids loved him for it.

Dad had his own chair and was almost always found reading a book in it. Ben is just like him in that way.

Dad loved his wife and his son something fierce.

Dad never complained.

"love suffers long and is kind..." that's Dad in a nutshell.

On the day that Aaron and I were married, after we kissed and made our way down those steps to our parents, Dad hugged me close and held on for a bit, then looked me at me with joyful tears and with that quiet voice whispered, "I finally have the daughter I've always wanted."

I was blessed to be Paul's daughter for almost 16 years.

Thank you for loving me dad, and for living out what love means.

I will always miss you.

Grandpa and Ben 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

run in the rain

Dearest Abigail, Benjamin, & Elizabeth,

A text message I received the other day buzzed on the kitchen counter with this question,

"Any tips for staying dry while running in the rain?"

And it's funny, because I never really thought about it before....

I just know that if you are an Oregonian and you want to run outside year-round, 

you will get wet. 

My only tip for staying dry if you want to run on a rainy day?

Don't run outside. 

But, if you want to know what it's like to feel the the rain of heaven wash you from head to toe, 

if you want to hear the song of water drops, 

and see the dancing trees, 

if you want to feel small but still a part of of it all, 

and if you want to touch rainbows, 

then you are gonna have to get your feet wet.

A little over a week ago Daddy and I had just seconds to make a decision that changed our lives forever. 

And you know what happened. 

We've told you bits and pieces of the story.

A wet and winding road stretched out before us as we drove over the Summit Pass,

admiring autumn in all her glory, 

searching for solace in the recent pain, 

wiping our tears away. 

And in a moment all the colors fade, 

the little car stops, 

and our eyes take in the tragedy before us.

There was no time for thinking about staying dry kids...

"Jenn, get out of the car we gotta help." 

No time for turning back. 

And you know how we climbed into the chaos.

You know how Daddy tried and held that baby as she died.

You know about the family that went to heaven that day.

We've told you about the courage of strangers coming together to help...

the kind of souls willing to get their feet wet too. 

And to be honest we are all gonna be drenched from this for a while. 

Because sometimes running in the rain isn't all rainbows and songs, 

sometimes running in the rain is literally 


It feels like that right now. 

But it's worth the vision of His glory.

This is the kind of faith we pray for you...

the kind that laces up and gets out there,

rain or shine,

let's run this race kids, no turning back.

"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:1-2

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A masterpiece is made of shadow and light

Thirteen years old under the grapevine wearing the dress I wore for my eighth grade graduation
This growing up thing is awkward and uncomfortable and unpredictable and unpleasant and...


It's just the way God creates the loveliest masterpiece.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

This boy

When Ben came down with bacterial pneumonia a couple of weeks ago I was worried. It was overwhemling to see him so sick and struggling just to breath. After a trip to urgent care, a much needed breathing treatment, and antibiotics (oh, he had a nasty ear infection too), mommy knew that this boy would be staying home from school for a while...almost a week to be exact. 

While recuperating Ben was such a comfort and a joy to my heart...still heavy from our loss.

When he started feeling well enough to be up and about, he made me breakfast, cuddled with me on the couch, and even designed a custom made Jane Eyre lego set, just for me.  Seriously. 

I'm so grateful when God provides time for us to spend with our kids individually...not that I want them to be getting sick like this again any time soon! 

I love you Benji.
Thank you for being such an amazing person.
I see you on the edge of change,
and I'm excited for the man that you will one day become,
but for now I'm treasuring these twilight days of childhood. 
You are a gift.

Hurray for Urgent Care!

Still not too big for cuddles

Always has loved to cook

My Jane Eyre Lego set...Mr. Rochester's face actually is two sided...the other side is covered in scars of course.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

"so in the night my hope lives on"

the soul heavy hurt of saying saying goodbye to our baby leaves me empty and full of question.

"what happened?" I whisper in the silence as my body cramps with the surrender of a dream I feel we will miss for the rest of our lives.

the unemotional black and white truth of the ultrasound screen looking back at me more evenly than the quiet Doctor,

my tears flow freely along with the bright red passing of our little one contrasting with the white of the paper sheet beneath me...

that's what a broken heart looks like.

"I'm sorry" he says and leaves me alone in that sterile room with it's stainless steel sink and medical waste trash bin, both filled with the letting go of what had become so precious to me...

so precious to each one of us.

the husband driving 4 hours home to hold me,

the brother and sisters dropping their backpacks and pouring into my arms, wiping away my tears as they forget about their own,

I'm restless with this.

Each one of us will ask our God the same question in the dark...


I can pretend to be resilient and strong...

I can give these bootstraps a tug and move on,

but I've learned that this mentality leaves open wounds that need true healing.

healing comes through honesty,

and vulnerability,


and faith that holds on in the night.

Show Yourself strong on our behalf God.


This song has ministered to my heart countless times throughout this year of goodbye's

In The Night
Andrew Peterson

I am weary with the pain of Jacob's wrestling
In the darkness with the Fear, in the darkness with the Fear
But he met the morning wounded with a blessing
So in the night my hope lives on

When Elisha woke surrounded by the forces
Of the enemies of God, the enemies of God
He saw the hills aflame with angels on their horses
So in the night my hope lives on

I see the slave that toils beneath the yoke unyielding
And I can hear the captive groan, hear the captive groan
For some hand to stay the whip his foe is wielding
Still in the night my hope lives on

I see the armies of the enemy approaching
And the people driven, trembling, to the shore
But a doorway through the waters now is opening
So in the night my hope lives on

Like the son who thought he'd gone beyond forgiveness, 
Too ashamed to lift his head--but if he could lift his head
He would see his father running from a distance
In the night my hope lives on

I can see the crowd of men retreating
As he stands between the woman and their stones
And if mercy in his holy heart is beating
Then in the night my hope lives on

I remember how they scorned the son of Mary
He was gentle as a lamb, gentle as a lamb
He was beaten, he was crucified, and buried
And in the night, my hope was gone

But the rulers of earth could not control Him
They did not take his life--he laid it down
All the chains of earth could never hope to hold him
So in the night my hope lives on

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Zibby's Prayer

Our three Kookies will be four and it feels so strange...they've always just been three. That's how its been. That's how it was supposed to be. So, when we found out that God had given us another baby in the same month our first baby turned thirteen, our hearts, at first, did not soar with joy and wonder. We know that life is a miracle, and that scores of child worthy couples try and try for just one precious baby, and here we were...overwhelmed with worry over a miracle...a miracle! But God was patient with our reaction, He let us wrestle with this unexpected gift...and the reluctant struggle to receive what He has given us has transformed into an embrace of faith. The five of us are in awe...and reminded that God has plans way above and beyond our own...plans that we might not initially understand or even realize were a part of our own hearts until he knocks us upside the head with it... "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." Ephesians 2:10  What a relief! He had this planned all along. So, with that, we are given another opportunity to surrender our will to His. And now we are nothing but grateful....so grateful that He would give us this gift despite our questions and fears. The fact of the matter is He heard a prayer we did not have the courage to whisper...the prayer that only Zibby voiced into words unknown to anyone but her God, "Please give mommy another baby in her tummy." He heard you little girl and we are so grateful He answered your precious prayer.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Dragon Found


Taking three children to a remote island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean is something special. We know this....and we soaked in every moment...grateful, sunburned, and embracing it all.

Because even in (earthly) paradise, we are still human, prone to jet lag, bladder infections, burning and peeling itchy skin, and the occasional meltdown...but it's worth it right?

Days, even years go by and only the best parts remain with us, the memories of scorching sand and plate lunches with sticky rice stuck all over (still) youthful faces, and shave ice piled higher than golden eyebrows, wide smiles lost behind rainbow sugar juice, waterfalls pouring from misty clouds like white ribbons over every shade of green you can imagine.

It was all beautiful  "In a land called Hanalei".

I tell you the truth, I would not have been at all surprised to see a magic dragon emerge from some hidden cave behind those jungly mountain sides, and land on the sand next to Ben.

Dragon found.

The place was that unreal.

side note: did anyone else (besides me) not know that the song Puff the Magic Dragon was inspired by the beautiful Hanalei Bay on this island of Kauai? I'll never forget Ben's tears when he first heard that song.

 Fearless and the remains of an eel
 Nothing sweeter than this smile
 Plate Lunch
 Shave Ice
 Luau love...and Stitch was very well behaved
 Love him
 well deserved

 Daddy & Zibby...(each one of them loved snorkeling with Daddy)
 Crazy beach bum with a coconut
 Proof of Kauai's "un-realness"
 Counting waterfalls
and these two enjoying the views of Waimea Canyon

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

What Goes Around

We were in Seattle last week.

Aaron works there a lot and we tag along whenever possible.

Seattle has become a kind of home away from home for us really.

We've gotten to know the city well.

We have our favorite spots.

With every visit we see something new.

Because it's July, and we "Northwesterners" are experiencing a warmer than usual summer, the kids and I decided to ride the ferry from Seattle to Bremerton.

It was idyllic.

The Olympic Peninsula with it's jagged peaks jutting from the the middle of sea up to sky seemed close enough to touch as the ferry passed through the green and blue of Puget Sound leaving the famous city skyline with it's iconic Needle shrinking behind us.

Even the jellyfish were floating lazily towards their watery rooftop to blob around in the sunlit rays.

It was one of those days that stood still long enough for me to take it all in.

The kids were just, being kids.

They splashed in the Bremerton fountains, munched on Belgian fries, and had the "Turner Joy" battleship practically to themselves.

On our way back to the Emerald City we were all smiles, sun kissed, and perfectly exhausted.

The ferry snugged it's way into the harbor for the evening and being the last ship to leave for the day, it was full of passengers.

As we filed off the ship and onto "dry land" (like a herd of cattle), I noticed a ferry employee guiding a cart full of empty boxes into an elevator and watched as her tower of cardboard tumbled off the cart as she tried to hold the elevator door open with one leg. The line of people in front and behind us seemed to be pressing all around, so I held onto Zibby and made our way down the stairs.

When I turned around to check on the other two, I noticed AbbySue.

She was politely pushing her way back up the stairs, through the line, and rushed over to the woman at the elevator. She bent down and started helping get the load back on the cart, then made her way back to us without a word.

But I noticed.

It was one of those moments that makes a parent feel like just maybe, despite all of the mistakes and blunders we make, something "good" is staying with them.

AbbySue was "in the moment".

I'm thankful that her head was up, that she was a part of the world around her.. engaged..without a handheld device, connecting to another person in need, face to face.

And so later that night, when I was making my way from "Italian Family Pizza" (favorite New York style in Seattle), back to the hotel, navigating the city streets with an abnormally large box of hot food, and a homeless man, with his shirt wide open, dirt filled fingernails, and matted hair, asked me,

"Hey there! Can I have a piece?"

Kindness overtook the impulse to judge and my mind raced back to the mental picture of my daughter, on her knees helping a person in need.

I stopped in my tracks, set my "state of Washington" size pizza box on the sidewalk, opened it up, and pulled out some dinner for a hungry man.

He looked at me and smiled like a person who felt, at least for that moment, cared for.

It was the same smile the woman with the boxes shared with AbbySue.

They say, "What goes around comes around."

On that sunny day in Seattle,

the wheel was kindness and we decided to go along for the ride.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Where we are right now...

Well hello little blog of mine.

Has it really been so long since we've talked?

And yet, life won't hold still for a moment.

The school year came to an end and with it welcomed another Kookie into the ranks of Junior  High.


Ben was more than excited to join the Tuesday Night Grandma's Bus Ride into Salem for Youth Group.

And our little woman now sits proudly as "Queen of the Roost", preening her eight grade feathers.


Next Year we will have a High Schooler.

Which left the evening to the seven year old and mommy.

Oh, I forgot to post that didn't I?

The baby turned seven last month.

But we've really been having too much fun with all of this living to stop for a little moment and record these memories.

These days gone by.

And now we find ourselves just about mid summer.

In between the then and now there was another trail marathon for me at Timothy Lake at the base of Mt Hood.

Oregon Splendor. That was a run I would do again.  But a story for another time.

There was an anniversary for us. We celebrated our 15th year of marriage. And I will never forget the way my love reminded me of what we have...his voice filled with emotion as he read pages of memories and milestones that we alone have shared, the valley view stretching before us like patchwork quilt of future adventures waiting to be shared, hand in hand.

What we have is precious.

We know this.

It humbles us really.

Because we haven't earned it.

We've messed up way too much to brag about this beautiful life being something we've earned.

It's about Grace.

Grace is the mainstay around these parts...

by Grace we run, and ride, and laugh, and love, and cry, and fall, and forgive.

I pray that it be the anthem of our home and the song that these children take with them.

 Fifteen Years
 Seven Years
 Twelve Years
 Eleven Years
 Miles and Miles
 Healed Grandpa
 Our Kookies
My favorite.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

the lose hold

There is something a little criminal of the Estate Sale if you ask me.

I know that's a harsh word for what I mean, but I can think of no there way to explain how I feel rummaging through someone else's things without their permission. 

My heart rate even rises a little with a thump of guilt as I leaf through  memories that belong to another life. 

The graying son or daughter, looking on, will say things to me like, 

"Mom loved those" or  "Dad took such meticulous care of his tools."

I wonder if this personal reference sets their own hearts free just a little...

These things, like a telephone line that connects their memories to what home looked like, felt like, and sounded like are now going to someone who knows "Mom & Dad". 

And maybe that's why I prefer used things to new. 

Maybe that's why I barter for the best price on a bag of quilt squares. 

I'm taking them and making them new again...

something that you can't find at just any store... 

things with history and memories tied to them. 

Stuff with character. 

So, when I see the aging son standing at a distance, finding some solace and distraction in a cloud of nicotine,  while the town pics through his father's things, I tip my hat in respect. 

This "rummager"...this "treasure hunter", will take care of your memories,

and even thanks you for sharing them. 

I understand that you are saying goodbye in more ways than one. 

And at the Estate Sale I learn something precious...

In this life it's all about the "lose hold." 

"For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come." Hebrews 13:14

zibby's old teacup...better than new. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


Church family friends of ours said goodbye to their baby yesterday...and once again I'm heavy hearted. If I have all these questions, I cannot imagine their own. I can only pray and write. The comfort of words and music won't make everything better...but maybe it helps us, even just a little.

What kind of God would give the breath of life,
only to take it back again?

What kind of God stays seated on His throne,
while my heart breaks?

Are You aware?
Do you still care?

You stand to welcome babies home,
You sit back down,
and I'm alone.

Sunday School and Church and Hymns,
can't touch me now,
I'm a stone.

So, with what little faith I have I'm crying out to You. 
With what little hope I have, I say Your Name.
And with what little Truth I know, I see You coming close enough
to wear this world,
to know this pain.

With the pieces of my heart I'm holding out to You,
parts of question,
parts of doubt,
and most part fear,

Would You roll away the stone, 
and let me see some Hope,
Oh let me see the Way out of this grave,

The Way You made,
to be
Alive Again. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

home is what you make it

I know they've been popular for a while...

the "vintage trailer",

but let me start this story with a little background.

You see,

me and trailers, we go way back.

Mom, the boys and I even lived in one from the time I was four until she met and married Dad, when I was nine.


That trailer was the prettiest little home in the world to me.

It was really a mobile home of sorts, circa 1950 something I think.

It rested under the hanging eucalyptus branches on my grandparents property in Murrieta, California.

The kitchen was my favorite. Long wide windows wrapped around all sides of it...the kind with the slats of glass that you had to crank to tip open..letting those Santa Ana winds breeze their way through to the picnic bench table where we gathered for our meals.

Yep, that mobile home was home to us and left a lasting impression for all things "vintage" and

Fast forward a few years to 1984, my brothers and I sunburnt, happy and free on The Strand, in Oceanside, California.

Mom met Dad on the fourth of July at a beach party. Dad lived practically on the beach. Surfing and the City of Carlsbad were his life...until he met Mom, and her three rug-rats.

Soon enough we were spending every weekend with "Mike".

The Strand was exactly that. A tiny strip of a road, covered more with sand than pavement, lined with beach cottages. (If you've ever seen the movie Top Gun, I guess one of The Strand cottages is the house of the girlfriend...I wouldn't know, Mom & Dad said that I couldn't watch it no matter how badly I longed to be an F-14 jet pilot when I grew up.)

"Mike" was a beach bum bachelor who lived in the back of one of those cottages with a surfboard mailbox. His house was really just one room and we thought it was "rad." But, there wasn't enough room for the five of us so, the boys and I "had" to sleep out in the Aristocrat Trailer, settled happily in a hillside of ice plant.

How could I not love old trailers after that? Lorn, Garth, and I would fall asleep to the sound of the waves crash-crashing...wake up with the sun, chow down on C-3PO cereal ("Mike" bought sugar cereals for us, he was a keeper), throw on our bathings suits, slather on the zinc-oxide, and spend the rest of our day on the beach.

Best memories hands down.

After Mom & Dad married, the Aristocrat sat next to our house in Vista, California until I graduated from high school. It was my play house, my hang out, and my "get-a-away from it all" refuge. (I'm actually tearing up as I type this...so silly), but for a little gypsy girl like me...those trailers were home.

Sometimes I wished I had a "regular" house, like my friends..but now, looking back on it, I feel so blessed.

My childhood was very unique and free.

I hope to pass down that sense of adventure to our kids.

Which brings me to the 1967 Red Dale.

I've been running by it for two years now, resting quietly in the neighborhood behind us.

About a month ago I finally got the gumption up to ask about it.

It wasn't for sale..initially, but they were gracious enough to let Aaron and I take a look at it.

It reminded me so much of both the 1950's mobile home under the eucalyptus and the 1960's Aristocrat on The Strand.  The perfect blend of my childhood.

Well, long story short...the owners let us buy it!

So, I have a trailer again.

And it won't be for "glamping" or painting in pastels.

Of course we'll clean it up a bit and make it our own...but,

the Red Dale will be for adventure and for memories,

the kind that Abigail, Benjamin, and Elizabeth can take with them and make their hearts smile too.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

city kids

They did start using the word "wicked".


Seattle...home away from home.

Portland, Boston, Seattle....all three of these feel a bit like home to us Kookies.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


Elizabeth...it means consecrated to God. 

this face.

this heart. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

about now

Ben still loves hugs, laughs, and legos.

Abigail is loving art, photography, and friendship.

Elizabeth is loving pinafores, tutu's, and sunsets.

We are loving all of this beautiful grace.