Monday, November 30, 2015

Let the moment begin

The music,
   The lights,
      The nativities,
         The tree--
Let the moment begin!
Advent opens with hope,
   The Nativity
      Leads to the Tree.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

A Confession

I am not a big fan of shopping--
   Grocery shopping is an evil necessity,
   Gleaming malls make my brain freeze.
But I must confess
That there's something alluring
   About exploring the shops of a quaint town,
   And discovering the beauty of arts and fabrics,
   And sniffing the intoxicating scents of leather...
      and grilled corn...and fresh fruit...and grilled meats....
And I admit I have succumbed
To the delight of browsing for goodies online,
   Like books, music, art supplies, games....
   So many exciting options--
   Christmas presents sent to the door
      with the click of a button.
So I guess I like some shopping after all....

The allure of Tlaquepaque, Mexico

Saturday Night

It was a still and quiet Saturday night,
The kids were asleep, each tucked in tight.
Kraig plowed ahead on student exams,
I vegged and zoned, free from demands.
Not a vacation or any such fun,
Just a night for this and that to be done.
I do look forward to these silent nights;
They bring calm and clarity, and a little light.

Friday, November 27, 2015


There's something miraculous that happens
When something old is made new. 
Have you ever seen
   What God does
      With the world's leftovers?

Hutchmoot 2013, a mural created by conference attendees. We each had a separate piece
and we didn't know what the whole looked like until it was assembled.

Thursday, November 26, 2015


Thanksgiving Day today
   But not in Mexico--
   Kraig had work,
   The kids had school,
   And I struggled
      to be thankful.
I missed bare trees,
   And rich brown turkey,
   And cranberry jewels,
   And spiced pumpkin pie,
   And our kids going to Grandmother's house
     even if not through drifting snow.
It's understandable
   But silly, really,
   Because in reality
   We have been given an indescribable luxury
      of life,
And Someone
    We can thank for it
      every day.

Giving thanks for ice cream at the end of November

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


Stories at night
Stories in the day
Stories of light
Stories for the way 
They weave their lines
Through thoughts and lands,
They shape our times
And affect our plans. 
Stories of sorrow
Stories of pleasure
Stories for tomorrow
Stories to treasure 
May our lives be full
Of these tales of glory,
May we take time to mull
On the power of each story.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


Today's prompt was to write a love poem (or anti-love, but I have no use for that). I was going to write a beautiful treatise on love and marriage and why it's all worth it, even when there are hard times. But the world will have to wait for that masterpiece because too much of life happened today. Ah well!

However the day can not go by without writing something, so I think it's a good day for a haiku :) . We had fun tonight watching two VeggieTale Christmas films at the home of friends who are doing a weekly holiday movie night till Christmas. Here's the result:

Christmas movie night
Where children's laughter rings out
Is worth late bedtime.

And now I need to get back to putting our latest newsletter together....

Monday, November 23, 2015

Forgiven, forgiving

I am wrung dry tonight
   Worn from a morning
   Where I lost my temper
I can excuse it as righteous anger
   My point stands
   But that's just it
      --it's an excuse....
Apologies were made
   Forgiveness extended
      both ways....
But still I beat my head
   Against the wall
            my failure....
How is God able to forgive me so freely?
   I long to learn this
   So I can forgive myself.
Danza de los Voladores~Dance of the Flyers
Tlaquepaque, Mexico
There are days I feel like I'm twirling dizzily like this!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Waiting for a Break in Traffic

Those mornings when one must
Take time in one's hands
And dare Aviación*,
It seems rather unjust
That at first the lands
Flash past in swift succession.
Deception builds false trust,
Then suddenly bands
Of cars surround, stop motion.
One is stuck in slow rust,
Slave to jam's demands--
Some hour no more obstruction!
Aviación without traffic
*Aviación is the primary road by us that we can take to get onto one of the local highways.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Slugs & Bugs Sing the Bible, Vol. 2!!!

Today was a quiet day at our house, but we had one high point of excitement: the download arrival of a long anticipated new album from Slugs & Bugs, our favorite music for the family (oh wait, I mean for the kids....). We were part of the Kickstarter campaign for it, so we get it before it is available to all, but here is a taste of our sneak peek, in limerick form.

When Slugs & Bugs made its debut
Of Sing the Bible, Volume 2,
Our kids listened eagerly
And danced to it merrily
And we can't wait to share it with you!

Tattoos in place

"You are God's masterpiece" ~Ephesians 2:8-10

Friday, November 20, 2015

A Perspective

Many would have it
That we are upstarts,
Youngsters new to life,
Born eons after some primordial lagoon,
And just learning to wobble.
This religion is impressed
And over time
The inevitable occurs--
A horrendous consequence
As humanity plunders humanity
And trods roughshod over the earth,
Because we assume
We are simply ignorant animals,
Or worse
We have the right to overpower the weak
Since we have trumped some chain of life.
If only we could see instead
We have been placed by the Master
As stewards
With a glorious responsibility.

Living Gems

"Down in Bism we have [gems] alive and growing. There I'll pick you bunches of rubies that you can eat and squeeze you a cup full of diamond-juice." ~The Silver Chair, by C. S. Lewis

Edible jewels--
I've had them.
   Ruby drops
      Glowing in the sun
      Like Mexican firestone,
   But alive
      Firm to the lips
      Bursting between teeth
      Sweet and tart.
It's no wonder Persephone succumbed,
   Dooming herself to months beneath the earth.
Who knew that living gems
   Were not the key to life
   But only mortal enjoyment?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Shape of Me

I'm taking a break from writing something new today, and I found this poem in one of my files. I wrote it for an online creative writing class I took hosted by the talented Jennifer Trafton. Typically she only does classes for kids, so I lucked out with this one. If your kids love to write, check out her classes here: Sleeping Giant. Our Clare has taken a couple of them and had a great experience.

The Shape of Me

In all moods, I am a broken circle.

In joy I am a hawk, 
Wheeling and wheeling, 
Higher and higher,
Ragged circles in the sky.

In anger I am a wheel of fire—
Sparks fly outward and
I roll here and there,
Burning all I touch.

In peace I am a hidden lake;
A round pond of stillness.
The birds and beasts find refreshment 
In the cool shadows.

In anxiety I am an iron sphere,
Weighty and hard,
Impenetrable and dull,
No break in the cloudy metal.

In fear I am a hedgehog
Rolling into a ball,
Spines pointing outward,
Trying to protect my soft center.

In love I am a hug,
Arms wrapped round,
Pulling others close
And stretching outside of myself.

In Christ I am complete.
He resolves the endless wheeling,
And soothes the burning touch.
He is the spring of my pond,
And brings light into my heavy sphere.
He holds my soft center
And wraps His arms around me.

He brings all things full circle.

Artwork by Kate Hinson, original photo by Africa Schaumann

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


A man whitewashed the wall
   along the court below our balcony.
I grimaced as dirt from plants I potted
   drifted over the edge and down.
The wall won't stay white long.

I am like that wall, always collecting
   an array of dirty specks.
They stick and hold; I cannot wash them off.
   They must be covered by Another.

We read this morning
   about the holy mountain and the tabernacle
   and the need for sacrifice to cover sin.
      But it was only so good.
"Why did people die when they touched something
   where God is?" Evie asked.
And I realized that our speckled selves
   can't touch God's purity
      without incineration
         ...unless we are covered.

And only one Cover can make us pure enough
   to touch a holy God.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Time to Remember

Today we visited friends
   Who were decorating their Christmas tree.
   I'm not in a Christmas mindset yet,
   But this definitely triggered the process.
There's something so refreshingly familiar--
   The beauty of a tree,
   The steady task of stringing lights,
       Jewels that will light the night.
Conversation turns to Christmases past--
   Memories, laughter, sometimes tears,
   Each one like an ornament
      Suspended in the mind.
A star of joy bursts forth
   And the celebration begins again.

Sunday, November 15, 2015


The bread and wine
Passed down through time,
A chance to look behind
At great love for mankind,
A moment to seek and find
The future release from grind,
This ritual most kind--
Clear sight for the blind.

Saturday, November 14, 2015


In the theater of the ancient Greeks
They declaimed and proclaimed upon the stage
With masks portraying their joy and rage
To tell their stories of the strong and weak. 
We still see these masks in modern days
On those who wish to play a part,
Who fear exposure of the heart,
Because it might force a change of ways. 
And yet it is only the mask removal
That reveals the truth of the broken soul
And provides the way to make it whole--
The mask must drop to allow retrieval.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Tricky Communication

I remember music class in fourth grade
   When we listened to Fiddler on the Roof
   And I was so excited because I'd seen it live
   When we lived in the Philippines.
I tried to describe it to my teacher,
   To tell how it had been acted out,
   And I was confused when he said,
   "They must not have been very good."
I thought then that I hadn't explained well,
   But I've wondered since if
   He hadn't understood because
   He couldn't see that a third-world country
   Could produce something professional.
I don't know. I merely guess.
   Yet I think of the words of a mentor
   Who advised me in later years,
   "You have good ideas, but
   Always be aware of your tone."
In other words,
   Be careful how you say something
   As much as what you say,
   Because words and tone are dangerous tools
   When used carelessly.

Photo by Carolyn C. Givens

Thursday, November 12, 2015

After the Storm

(This one relates to Tuesday's poem. Thankfully not the situation today!)

A good storm clears the air--
   The torrents wipe away the filth,
   The thunder sings in the ears,
   Lightening opens the eyes,
   Truth is revealed and we revel. 
But not all storms are good--
   When the winds wrench
   And the floods ruin,
   We are left bereft
   With more work than before. 
Which storms are ours, my child?
   You rail, wail, and resist,
   While I fight to hold tight.
   Afterward I am spent and bent
   Yet your are transformed and mild.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Panda: Eats shoots and leaves

Unconvinced Ev
I tried to stress today
The importance of punctuation.
My daughter was not swayed
And balked with resolution. 
I thought to tell the joke
Of the panda who shoots
And leaves, but I misspoke
For I'd forgotten the roots. 
I found I could not remember
The placement of the comma,
And so I had to send her
To google it for her momma.

(And here it is: Panda, eats shoots and leaves joke)

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

In Need

(This is off-prompt today. I had no desire to write something pro- or anti-technology. Didn't I just write about GPS systems last Friday? And after all, today was, well, it was.)

The saying goes:
   "If you pray for patience
       expect to be tried."
So I avoid that prayer
   at all costs,
Tiptoeing around the need
   with wary superstition.
I am a mother after all.
   Why ask for more testing?
Each day is a training ground,
   and not just for my children.
My soul is raised before me
   in the mirror of their eyes
      again and
         again and
Each day I am aware
   of my desperate need for
      God's patience
         and mercy.

Monday, November 09, 2015

A Dose of Humility

Every evening at about five
The road before our apartment fills.
   Both lanes are packed,
   Tempers flare, horns blare,
   Diesel fumes rise.
For some, the minutes are too much
And they attempt a shortcut
   On the alluring open expanse
   Of our service drive.
But hopes are dashed
For there is no exit off it.
Their impatience is rewarded
   With a choice between
   Drop off or retreat.
Mistakes seem like that--
   A dead end
   Where we can only backpedal
   Or fall flat on our faces
      And partake of humility. 

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Anchor for the Soul

"What is the fixed point in your life that holds you?" 
~Pastor Larry Trotter, Church of the Redeemer
Hebrews 6:16-20
November 8, 2015

Submerged and lost--
At least it feels that way
When storms hurl rain
And waves toss. 
My deck's awash
And dark of night floods in,
Light quenched, all dim.
This, the cost 
Of forgetting, neglecting,
The anchor for my soul--
Hope that keeps me whole,
Not foundering. 
Hurricanes will lash
But my fixed point will hold
This anchor for my soul
Has sustained every blast.

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Dinner on the Brain

My kids often ask,
"What's for dinner?"
And I seldom have an answer. 
The question simmers;
It is pushed to the back of my brain
Where I check it throughout the day. 
At some point
I'll open the fridge or cupboard
And add ideas to the question: 
   A pinch of chicken,
   A stir of rice,
   An appraisal of cumin. 
The question becomes an answer
And I create reality.

Friday, November 06, 2015

Eyes in the Sky

In Guadalajara
   The streets and ways are mysteries
   Without experience...or GPS.
I have no GPS
   But experience I have gained
   And maps assist.
Last year I discovered by chance
   That my iPad maps
   When planned out at home with wireless
   And carried to help me on the road
   Displayed a moving blue dot.
Without internet or cellular access
   My iPad still tracked,
   Pinging off towers to show my my way.
It's quite a blessing really--
Though also alarming--
To realize there are eyes in the sky
   Tracking my way....


The other night we sat.
   You plugged away on papers,
   I watched a movie, folded laundry,
       When the skies across the street
        Fireworks lit the night with
                   Neon flowers. 
What was the occasion?
What cause for celebration?
It was two days before Halloween,
Four to the Day of the Dead.
Not exactly fodder for fireworks.
   At least not to our American minds. 
More often than not
   We watch the festivities
    From across the street,
         Not comprehending.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Once Upon a Golden Moon

Once upon a golden moon
As the sun shot final rays abroad,
The water horses danced a tune
To the rustle and sigh of papyrus rods
   On the verge of an azure lagoon. 
The only ones to drink in this sight
Were a man and a maid with hands entwined.
Alone for a stroll on this peerless night
They pledged their love till the end of time
   On the verge of the azure lagoon. 
This time has grown since that moonlit eve
When love was sworn and ring was placed.
The years have sown their joy and grief
But the entwined hands have held by grace
   As they did by the azure lagoon.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015


There are beautiful moments
When harmony reigns,
When three children bend together
   in collaboration
And their voices sing with ideas and laughter. 
The world is theirs. 
Without warning
The tune falters--
A note rings off-key--
The balance of the spheres is thrown
   into discord. 
Their world explodes. 
We are left with fractured hearts
And somehow we must hold them
   with tenderness,
And show them the way back
   to the Song 
Where the world is not theirs to balance.

Monday, November 02, 2015


   I realized (again)
   That I had not put You first.  
You were stuck, tucked, shoved
   Behind my late nights
      browsing endless links to words wise, funny, and stupid;
   Behind mornings
      busy with breakfast for the family and daily details;
   Behind the siren call of "time for me, me me!" 
There's always an excuse. 
But yesterday
   You nudged me from behind
   And I took the hint.
So this morning
   I put You first
   And You gave me a sunrise.  
Please keep nudging.

November Poem A Day

Last year I took the 31 Day Blog challenge. It was definitely work, but good, needful work, and fun. I loved sharing with friends. I didn't try it this year--chickened out, I guess. That, and October was particularly busy.

This year and this month I'm going to try something even more crazy. I've never felt too motivated to try NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and try to write a novel in the month of November. Someday the novel will be written, but not now :) . Then a couple friends of mine brought up the November Poem A Day challenge and the more I thought about it, the more it sounded like fun (Or insanity. One or the other). I do not claim great poetry skills. My writing tends to be pretty straightforward. But I'd like to try my hand at this.

I didn't decide till today, so the first you get is the poem for November 2. Maybe I'll write the first one at some point. We'll see where this goes....

November 2: Surrender
November 3: Parenting
November 4: Once Upon a Golden Moon
November 5: Festivities
November 6: Eyes in the Sky
November 7: Dinner on the Brain
November 8: Anchor for the Soul
November 9:  A Dose of Humility
November 10: In Need
November 11: Panda: Eats shoots and leaves
November 12: After the Storm
November 13: Tricky Communication
November 14: Masks
November 15: Communion
November 16: Time to Remember
November 17: Covered
November 18: The Shape of Me
November 19: Living Gems
November 20: A Perspective
November 21: Slugs & Bugs Sing the Bible, Vol. 2!!!
November 22: Waiting for a Break in Traffic
November 23: Forgiven, forgiving
November 24: Laughter
November 25: Stories
November 26: Thanksgiving
November 27: Leftovers
November 28: Saturday Night
November 29: A Confession
November 30: Let the moment begin