the poem that gets me every single time

Monday, September 30, 2013

Meet Heather.  Heather is my real life friend who introduced me to the world of blogging a decade ago.  One of her sons has Asperger's Syndrome, and for a while he was obsessed with tornadoes.  He asked her to write about them.

Before the Storm by premasagar
Before the storm, a photo by premasagar on Flickr
The Thing About Tornadoes

The thing about tornadoes is
They were not meant to be kept
As pets.
There is no jar or bowl or box or pen
That can hold one.
I cannot attach mine
To a leash and lead him

why i let my children out of my sight

Friday, September 27, 2013

This is not the type of post I usually write.

Nor was hers a post I normally read.  MamaCusser, full of the venom and neck rolling I avoid (and if you read through the comments, you'll see why).  What is ruining our kids? she asked.  YOU, she responded.  You, with your fear mongering parenting, who won't let your big kids out of your sight and won't let your kindergartener feed himself.  You are ruining your own kids.

It's not the type of post I usually read, but I thought about it all day.

And the next day, and the next.  While I don't subscribe to her method of communication, I agree with the larger point.  Fear destroys people.

the quote that is changing my image of God

Monday, September 23, 2013

I read this story over a week ago, and I have not stopped thinking about it.

"I'm one of thirteen children.  One day when I was playing in the street of our hometown in Holland, I got thirsty and came into the pantry of our house for a glass of water.  It was around noon and my father had just come home from work to have lunch.  He was sitting at the kitchen table having a glass of beer with a neighbor.  A door separated the kitchen from the pantry and my father didn't know I was there.  The neighbor said to my father, 'Joe, there's something I've wanted to ask you for a long time, but if it's too personal, just forget I ever asked.'  

"'What is your question?'

just take the next step forward.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Did you know I'm a blogger for Middle Places now?  My first non-guest post is about the frustration of breaking old habits, then falling back into them.

"But it doesn’t do any good to deny how bad things were, or to lament how long it takes to climb my way out. All I can do is acknowledge, reflect, and keep growing. Recognize bad habits, and work on changing them. I don’t want it to be true – I want my friend to be wrong – but she’s not. All I can do from here is to keep moving forward."

You can read the rest here.

what i learned from the floods

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

this is usually a little stream that runs through our town
Colorado is flooded.  And it's teaching me something about human nature.  

If you watch the news, you have seen the destruction.  Eight dead, hundreds missing.  In my community, the water system has been compromised, and as streets wash away I'm boiling water for drinking and cooking.  We did not have to evacuate, thankfully, but water drained into the basement, and fans and de-humidifiers have been running for days to try to save the carpet.

For eight days it rained - a steady, all-day downpour punctuated by occasional thunder and lightning.  The kind of rain that keeps you from leaving the house until you must, that traps

a list of great blogs and a winner of the MOPS contest

Monday, September 16, 2013


Here are the links to the mom blogs you recommended:

Momastery  (I love this one too)
Moxie Made
Simply Sanderson
The Happiness Project
Sisters Raising Sisters  (a real life friend, and fun and inspiring person)
Passionate Homemaking
Intentional Homeschool
Meager Words  (another real life friend, who also had a bunch of babies in a couple of years)
Play At Home Mom
Holy Experience
A Heart Surrendered
Women Living Well
Biblical Homemaking
Money Smart Family
The Marathon Mom
Gracefull Mama

And here are my favorites:

Conversion Diary      By far my favorite blog.  I love her perspective and humility and ability to laugh at the insanity of raising a bunch of little kids.  I relate so well to much of what she says.
Jen Hatmaker  She's just ... hysterical.  And Southern, and passionate about orphans and life and faith.  She has a way of making you laugh and inspiring you in exactly the same sentence.  If it has her name on it, I know I'm going to love it.
Like Mother, Like Daughter    Okay, so she loses me when she starts talking about crocheting.  But her perspective is still my favorite for parenting and building a home.  She raised seven children, and they all seem to like her and one another, which makes her a pretty credible source for advice, don't you think?
PardyMama  Another real life friend.  Actually, I think Emily may make an appearance here in the next few weeks.  She is fun, sassy, and grounded, and with two toddlers twenty months apart, she gets it.  I love her.
KiWords    Kira is an old-school blogger.  Remember when people used to write about their daily lives and kids without any sort of agenda at all, but just because they wanted to write?  She may be the last hold-out in that camp.  I feel as though I've watched her family grow up, I've been reading her blog so long, and her words are just so beautiful.  If Kira shows up in my feed, I never skip her post.
Faster Than Kudzu  She is not specifically a mom blogger, but really, if you're not reading Faster Than Kudzu, you miss out on the chance to laugh out loud three times a week.
Jody Landers   Jody is one of my heroes.  I always love her voice, and I love to hear more about her story.
Miracle of the Moment, also Open To Life (And God's Plan For It)  I am including them together because their blogs are very similar.  Kendra and Lisa have been online friends of mine for seven or eight years now, and I feel certain if we lived in the same community we would be real life friends as well.  They both keep sweet family blogs, and they both have amazing stories, if you need encouragement or camaraderie in dealing with infertility.

And the winner is ... 


Gwen, email me at, or leave a message on A Wide Mercy's Facebook page, and I will talk to you about the details of your free MOPS membership!

Thanks for playing everyone!  And thanks for the links.  I am looking forward to some new voices in my reader.

when it's time to get out of the race

Thursday, September 12, 2013

photo by Jeffrey Chan
True story.

A few days ago, the kids went for a bike ride around a pond.  My toddler is surprisingly focused on her little balance bike, but over time she waned, eventually abandoning her task completely and sitting in a puddle.  It was time for a snack.  I called to my son just ahead of me, asking him to tell his brother it was time to stop and rest.  He hurried ahead, and I watched he and his brother disappear around a bend.

why i hate this day

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

I hate today.

Twelve years ago today, I watched 9/11 news coverage in an ICU waiting room, waiting for my grandmother to die.  I was in my early 20's, and I was with my sister, who was in high school.  The weight of our own loss alongside the weight of the nation's loss was incomprehensible and surreal.  After several hours, my  sister finally found the remote and changed the channel.  We watched Gilligan's Island instead.

It was awful, and to be honest, I'd rather not relive it.  But every year on September 11, people post where they were  when the towers fell.  I ignore the blog posts and avoid Facebook, but I still think back to that waiting room, and the weight of death all around me.

when it's time to regroup

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

This perfect photo taken by Jesse

There was an incident at church on Sunday.

One of my sons hit his brother, his brother kicked in retaliation.  Their teacher sent for me, and I found them both cross-legged, staring at a wall, crying.  Their teacher, a soft-spoken mother of four herself, smiled an apology over their heads.  I shrugged a response, and left them in time-out.

A minute later I went back into the room and motioned for them.  Both boys stood up and took my hands.  Nobody spoke until we were out in the breezeway.

"He did it! He hit me!" the younger boy said.

"Because you drew the lines all wrong! It's not supposed to look like that!"

"Boys," I said deliberately.  "You hurt one another, and you had your consequence with your teacher.  Now it is over.  Take a minute and get yourself together.  Then we are going back into worship together."

"I can't!" the older boy said.  "Everybody will know I cried.  I'll be embarrassed."

and the winner is ...

Sunday, September 8, 2013


Fiona, thank you for sharing your story with me through a message on Facebook.  You won your own copy of Packing Light, by Allison Vesterfelt.  Send me your address either on Facebook or at awidemercy at gmail dot com and I will put it in the mail to you.  Actually I'll probably get my husband to put it in the mail, so that it doesn't just sit on the hutch for the next six months until I get to the post office.  Either way, we'll get it to you, ASAP.

Thank you so much for reading and sharing your packing light stories.  I really enjoyed my first review and author interview, and I hope you did too.

I'll leave you with a completely unrelated quote.  I am absorbed in the first season of Parenthood on Netflix on this beautiful Sunday afternoon, and Millie (Grandma) just said something I should post on my refrigerator:  "You fought the good fight, but sometimes being the perfect parent just isn't worth the blood on the floor."  Preach, Millie.

In the middle. Still.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

"The irony of never finishing a project – but having time to blog about never finishing a project – is not lost on me. That’s the point, though, right? At some point we lay aside the need to produce, to prove our worth by what we do, and we embrace something deeper than success ..."

I am talking about my never-finished projects and measuring success and failure at Middle Places.  You can read the rest here.

3 questions with Allison Vesterfelt

Thursday, September 5, 2013

(I had an opportunity earlier this week to talk with Allison Vesterfelt, author of Packing Light: Thoughts on Living Life with Less Baggage, about her new book.  Don't forget to leave your own "packing light" stories on Facebook or Twitter to enter to win her book.  Only two days left to enter!) 

1.  The idea behind Packing Light is to let go of what is holding you back from a more inspired and purposeful life. You did this in a literal way when you sold your belongings and hit the road. But how does the idea apply to people who are not compelled to sell everything and  move, but are still hungry for a more inspired life?

This is a great question, and maybe one of the most important concepts for this whole project. When I sold all of my things to go on this trip, I knew I was going to write a book, but I thought the book would be mostly about the road trip itself — and what it was like to get rid of all my clothes and furniture. I was curious to see what would hap
pen if we tried to live with less stuff, and assumed we would have some funny and entertaining stories to share from the road.

I was right, but what I couldn’t have understood before I left was how letting go of physical stuff acted as a metaphor for the more important lessons I learned — what it’s like to put down emotional and spiritual baggage I was carrying around. I had no idea how heavy that baggage was, and didn’t even realize I was carrying it until I did something out of the ordinary, until I went on a trip.

Who would you be if you knew people were for you?

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

"I wonder if this is what we all need - more than lectures about the places in our life where we might be failing or falling apart.  More than finger pointing and criticism, or even well-intentioned advice.  I wonder if what we need, more than anything, is for someone to tell us we're going to 'make it.'  No matter where we are in our journey, or what has gone wrong, I wonder if what we really need are people who are waiting for us, without judgment, willing to say, 'Do what you need to do.  I'll be here when you make it.'"

- Packing Light, Allison Vesterfelt

People are for each other in my new town.

My husband first noticed it at a bike park designed for professional riders.  He would watch someone not as fit bring an "uncool" bike to the track, and pro riders would hold back to cheer him on, clapping his back when he finished the course.  Not only would pros speak to the little kids scooting around them, they offered tips for improvement, or helped a mom unload her kids' bikes.  There was no line between "professional" and "amateur" at the bike parks.  If you show up, you belong.

I've seen the same attitude among mothers.  

Packing Light: a reflection, a review, and a give-away

Monday, September 2, 2013

What do you take, and what do you leave behind?

As Ally Vesterfelt and her friend set off on a 50 state road trip, their car is perfectly packed.  They have exactly what  they need for the road ... or so they think.  They soon discover sweaters, coolers, and even cars can be easily replaced.  Attitudes, fears, and relationships are the hardest things to leave, and the most important to keep.

I offered to review Allison Vesterfelt's new book because I love her work.  I never expected to find so much of my own life in her story.  Or that her book would intersect with my life at the perfect time.

how we are

Sunday, September 1, 2013

We drive along the sunset, racing prairie grass over winding hills.  Out of one window, the last light fades into low clouds and presses into the Flat Irons that seem to be just out of our grasp.  From the other, downtown gathers its rooftops in the distance.  The windows are down, and the van is full of kids and friends and The Civil Wars.  I rest against my seat and close my eyes.  

Normal life thrills me the most.


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