Tuesday, January 31, 2012

This Moment

As mothers we try to freeze moments of our day in our minds - or on camera, in blogs, journals, jotted on pieces of scrap paper - so that we will know what we did and what our children played with, coveted, wore, pretended......This is Sarah's moment. She's beckoning Spring. What moment are you saving, trying to pay attention to?

Monday, January 30, 2012

How to Pray

Praying for some people is really hard. What is prayer? What does it look like? Can I do it while I'm driving, cooking, feeding my baby, making love, doing yoga? Yes to all of them.  It takes practice and I'd argue some discipline. Christine Sine from the beautiful blog GodSpace suggests some "tools" that can help us with our prayers.
Here are few:
  1. We need to listen with the active intention of doing something. I find it helps to keep a piece of paper or my prayer journal with me as I listen to the news. I write down the one or two items that most disturb my equilibrium and make them the focus for my prayer.
  2. We need to listen with the intent to find out where God is already at work. Sometimes, as with the NPR program on Tomato slavery this week, I do more research on the issue -- not specifically to learn more about the depths of the problem, but to learn about how others are already responding. Recognizing that God is already at work bringing comfort, support and provision is all the encouragement and motivation we need to get involved.
  3. We need to listen to the heart of God in the midst of the pain. Sometimes my response to the news is to sit quietly before God imagining how God feels about the tragedy I have become aware of. At times I feel that God allows me to glimpse the deep pain and agony that is at the very heart of the eternal One's being. It is a pain that is so deep it aches with every broken person in our world and grieves with every lost and damaged soul.
  4. We need to listen for places that we have contributed to the tragedy we are hearing about. Decisions about how to dress, what to eat, and where to spend our money can all have unintended consequences. Sometimes listening at this level calls us to prayers of repentance and inner changes that transform the way we view our world and the ways we interact with it.
  5. We need to listen together with friends. This kind of listening often provides good fuel for a group meeting which not only prays together but also holds members accountable to their intended responses. Once we have shared what we plan to do with someone else, it is harder to back down from our intentions.
Find more of her prayer tools here.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Food For Thought

Words for You

Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Family Principles

Have you given your family principles some thought? What have you come up with? Have you written them down, maybe discussed them with your spouse and children or partner? I like to think of them like these rocks stacked here. They are stronger together, one atop another than if they were scattered alone. They are foundational and when the ocean covers them at high tide they remain intact. Build a tower, a cairn with your family.
Here are some more on my family's list:

Dignity (for all)
Enthusiasm and Passion
Family and Togetherness
Good-natured humor

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend. Let us know what you did!

At Church

Our Spirit Worship Band will lead the 9:00 worship next Sunday, February 5. We will experiment with a different style of worship using video and movie clips. New members will be received at the 10:30 traditional worship. Fourth graders will receive their Bibles at both services.
Boy Scout Troop 12 will be serving pancakes next Sunday from 8:00 to 12:30 next Sunday morning in Plymouth Hall. Cost is $5/person; under 3 is free.
Join us for an evening of fellowship and thoughtful conversation Thursday, February 9. We will meet in the parking lot to carpool to Elmhurst College for dinner and to hear Robert D. Putnam speak on Religion, Democracy and Civic Engagement. The cost is $15 for the dinner in Frick Center; the lecture is free.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Wee Delight

Check out the family site Weelicious for recipes like:

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Quilt Pizza

Crock Pot Meaty Pasta Sauce
Whole Wheat Cheddar Crackers

Feeding our families and ourselves is a spiritual act. We are not just bodies but spirits as well and food feeds us in so many different ways. I'm reading some old copies of Bon Appetit. I love food writing. One quote that struck me from Mrs. Isabella Beeton - author of Book of Household Management: "The moral and physical welfare of mankind depends largely on its breakfasts." Hmmm....I like it. What we feed ourselves very much reveals how we are living. What do you think?  

Monday, January 23, 2012

this one too

A Little Late

Ok, so this is a little late for the Christmas season but I need to know that improbable joy is happening all the time, all around us. Children and magic, love and laughter, God in a baby, in you and me are happening all the time.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Wisdom of Being Present


Our book group is reading one of my very favorite books by Barbara Brown Taylor called An Altar in the World. It is like reading poetry and is so full of wisdom and truth. I never read books twice - if I can help it. Rarely am I struck enough by images and ideas and story that I feel the call to read something over. I keep this book in my desk drawer like a holy book. This passage about Presence by Friar Richar Rohr speaks to Taylor's words and vision of living fully in every moment, of loving others....regardless.
paz to you.  

I suggest that wisdom is precisely the freedom to be truly present to what is right in front of you. Presence is wisdom! People who are fully present know how to see fully, rightly, and truthfully.
Presence is the one thing necessary for wisdom, and in many ways, it is the hardest thing of all. Just try to keep 1) your heart space open, 2) your mind without division or resistance, and 3) your body not somewhere else—and all at the same time! Most religions just decided it was easier to believe doctrines and obey often-arbitrary laws than the truly converting work of being present. Those who can be present will know what they need to know, and in a wisdom way.
presence here.

Friday, January 20, 2012


"God, prepare my heart and mind to rest this weekend.
Help me to understand what it means to keep the
Sabbath holy in my life. Amen."
prayer here.

pay attention to the little things this weekend. to rocks and black and white photos, collections of treasured items. take some time to listen to the quiet. blessings!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

That Moment

taken last summer on our motorhome trip east.

The Simple Way

Just found this organization called The Simple Way. They describe themselves as:

a web of subversive friends, conspiring to spread the vision of "Loving God, Loving People, and Following Jesus" in our neighborhoods and in our world.

I'm always so inspired by people who dedicate their lives to the forgotten in our cities and rural communities (and suburban areas too!). Doesn't matter if you are Christian, Muslim or Jewish, or any faith tradition for that matter, but when anyone is called to care for and live with the poor it is evidence of God's love for all. It gives real meaning to our lives - unlike so many other pursuits and occupations. This type of work requires a special person, one who is ready to make sacrifices. Not all of us are cut out for it. Could you do it? I'd like to think that one day when my kids are older and I'm finally out of seminary that I might be called to do such work but I don't know that I could handle watching all of the suffering up close. There are so many broken hearts that need healing. Thank goodness for groups like The Simple Way.
Check out the ordinary radicals here.

Code of Humanity

So many things to write about today. Mostly, I'm grateful that the sun came out. I don't mind the winter but the sun is always a glimmer of hope of warmer days to come. One forgets so easily what it feels like on the face.
Long ago I picked up a card from a local store for mystics (spiritual folk) that reads The Code of Humanity. Thought I'd share some of its wisdom with you all today.

1. I choose to communicate Truth
2. I choose the reality of Life
3. I choose to Heal Not Hurt
4. I choose Education over Ignorance
5. I choose the Power of Peace
6. I choose to Love God and See God in All Humanity
7. I choose to Seek the Soul in All Things
8. I choose to Connect to the world of Inspiration
9. I choose the Principle of Sharing
10. I choose to become a Co-Creator in Life and Live it more Abundantly
from The Creative Group, Laguna Hills, CA

What do you choose?

Lovely meditation on Creation here.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Interesting article here on "authentic plenitude," by  an"unrepentant optimist", Umair Haque. You can also read his blog here.paz.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Dining For Women at the UCC

Have you heard about our local chapter of Dining for Women? Through our educational dinner circles we inspire individuals to broaden their global awareness, learn about gender inequities, and create lasting social change through the power of collective giving. This month we are having a luncheon at 12:00 noon Sunday, January 15 in the Seim Room. The featured organization is Nepal Youth Foundation and the program is the "Indentured Daughters Program". Women of all ages are invited. We are changing the world one dinner at a time.


Last year my family came up with a list of Family Principles. We tape it to a cupboard door and periodically will have the children pick out a principle to explain and discuss at the kitchen table. The paper is torn and tattered now so I've taken it down to print out another copy. Maybe my family will edit it, add some words, take some away......These words help guide us on a sacred path, when we are together and apart, bringing light to some dark places maybe.  I hope they carry some of these words with them as they become young men and women and eventually shape them to become loving, compassionate adults.   
This is the list alphabetically -one post at a time:

1. abundance
2. balance
3. calmness
4. celebration
5. civility
6. community connection
7. courage
8. courtesy, manners
9. confidence

What words would you use for your list of family principles?

Family Tree

Valentine's Day is not only about hearts and kisses (though I do like both of those things) but it's also about family and friends. It's about bonds of love in all forms. I love this family tree, representing strength and time and love flourishing. What a wonderful way to show your kids how very connected you are as a family. Growing together day by day.

tree of life here.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

To Cook

"eating is something we have to do, so why give it short shrift? if you have to do it, make it beautiful and spread the beauty." LSquinn

I'm thinking about cooking my way through Lucinda Scala Quinn's book Mad Hungry. How many people have done this sort of thing since Julie & Julia came out a few years ago? I like the idea. This cookbook is for hungry homebodies, not for fancy French palates. Have you ever done this, completed a cook book? The first recipe is for bacon, egg and cheese sandwich, new york deli style. I think I can handle that. I'll let you know how it goes. Here's why I cook and why it's so important to my satisfaction, joy in life: (quote from Mad Hungry cookbook) You too?

"It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it...and then the warmth and richness and fine reality of hunger satisfied...and it is all one."
M.F.K. Fisher from The Gastronomical Me

*disclaimer: don't get me wrong. There's plenty of mac and cheese in our house and frozen pizza nights but I long to be creative and this is just one more way to bless and love one another. I grew up eating cake for breakfast and cheerios for lunch. My mother really disliked cooking and we were still really happy kids - she's an angel. I hope my kids grow up really happy too but with the memory of great smells of cinnamon, rosemary and garlic baked chicken, fall roasting vegetables, onions frying in a pan. That's all. Pretty simple stuff.

What She Finds Lovely

Check out what Joy from You Know How We're An Art Family When finds lovely. What about you?
My camera isn't speaking to my computer right now but I can tell you what I find lovely in my day. Here it is:

1. a new perfume from Jo Malone - Pomegranate mixed with Pear
2. making pony tails in my girls' hair
3. reading my magazines on the couch - in silence
4. making dinner - trying out a new recipe
5. writing hand written notes to family and friends

Thanks for the inspiration Joy!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Bread and Roses

"What the woman who labors wants is to live, not simply exist - the right to life as the rich woman has it, the right to life, and the sun, and music, and art. You have nothing that the humblest worker has not a right to have also. The worker must have bread but she must also have roses too."

-"Little Rose" Schneiderman, Labor Activist early 20th Century

Maybe this phrase bread and roses was lingering somewhere in the back of my mind from my Women Studies days but I just found it in a book about the 1911 Triangle Fire tragedy. Wow. How grateful I am. Our tag line is "for bread and beauty". We are all in need of both bread and roses, those things which nourish our bodies, spirits as well as our hearts - to be a complete person. What is your bread? What are your roses?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

In a Word

Here's a word that keeps coming up: Habit.

In light of the new year some folks are musing over the idea of finding one word to focus on for 2012. Consider what word keeps coming up for you. What word keeps appearing for you in your days?
So I ask myself, "what kind of good habits am I forming now that will carry me through the year?" Should I think of it like a seed that I'm planting to nurture this year and beyond?
What about you? Are you putting yourself first when needed? Are you taking care of your body and spirit? What habits are forming?

Some good habits:
Exercise- like walking, sun salutations, running
Breathing - follow your breath, pay attention....
Environment - clearing away clutter in our homes that clutter our minds
Communication - speaking kindly and lovingly with one another - even strangers
Positive thinking and mediation - gratitude journal with the kids, saying positive words to ourselves with love

check out this yoga family blog with many other wonderful habits.

Nuts About You

Thinking about Valentine's Day - just a little bit? Check out these adorable personalized stickers from Frecklebox. The site also has personalized puzzles, notebooks, bookmarks and placemats....
What child doesn't love to see her/his name in print!

A Trip Around The World

Get a cup of tea and snuggle up on the couch with your little one and read a book from The International Children's Digital Library. Take a magical trip around the world and see how other people live and worship and care for one another.  I love learning about the tales told from one generation to another, one village to another attempting to make sense of this great big mystery of life.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Some beautiful blogs from the site mama here now (what excellent taste!!). They will make you grow.

Dollop of Cream

Live Free

A Mindful Home

Cherio Road

Susan Piver

and another:

Two Birds

oh, and one more:

Words to Shoot By
what amazing women!

Be Still

I don't know about you but this winter break was a little hard on me. My delightful children were with me 24 hours a day for over 2 weeks. I noticed that at some point in the day there came a time when I needed silence, a refueling of sorts. I felt guilty. As I get older I'm needing this time more and more, like I need bread and beauty. I just read an inspiring and honest post about meditation and how we need it to keep giving to our families and the world. It's ok to need some time off, to just sit and be. "It's a little bit of attention paid to yourself so you can give all the rest of your attention away." Karen Maezen

Thanks for the post Fanny Priest. (Awesome name by the way!)

Some peace of mind here.

Words for You

Return Only Blessings

This sounds like a prayer, an offering, an appeal. It was on a wooden plaque at a Franciscan center run by nuns. These are words we can say quietly to ourselves, our loved ones throughout the day. Pray without ceasing......

You might even be bold enough to say it out loud some place, in some space that's in need of some love and blessings.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

An Altar in the World

For those ladies reading An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor, please read the introduction and Chapter one. We will begin our discussion on Friday morning. As we did last fall, we will meet at 9 a.m. with the large group on the 3rd floor and then we will move to the Parlor (first floor by the middle stairs) from 9:30-11:00 a.m.
See you Friday!

Bite Sized

Just the thing for the person who needs to have your family close by at all times. Cute and compact this photo album is a little larger than a quarter and holds between 9-18 photos. You can find the bite sized album of love here.

Clutter Bug

Likely one of your resolutions this year is to declutter and organize. The Clutter Diet Blog is full of ways to make life a little more simple and peace-filled. Don't you dream of organized baskets on shelves that might even be color-coded? Lorrie Marrero has a whole section of organizing all of the stuff that comes with children....toys, school papers, sports equipment!   

Check it out here.

Saturday, January 7, 2012



Miles Apart

this site has always struck me as a perfect way to chronicle your days, your children's days, moments at the table and in a field, by the sea.....enjoy the notes and photos.


Beautiful Things

because we need both bread and beauty.....here are a couple of sites filled with beautiful things. Oh, and a quote quite necessary for a new year.



"God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well." voltaire

Friday, January 6, 2012

In Her Words

A Room of Our Own.
Please follow the link to find Reverend Pershey's most recent article in Christian Century magazine.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Together Again

Moms in Faith,
Just a quick reminder that we are reconvening on January 13th. If you haven't paid for your book yet, please bring cash or check that day. Also, if you haven't picked up your book yet, they will be available that day, or you're welcome to stop by the church office during the week to do so.
Enjoy these balmy days.

Be Still

Please join us this Saturday, January 7 at 9am in the chapel for Yoga from a Christian Perspective. All levels and ages are welcome! Bring a mat. $10 per person.
Location: First Congregational Church of Western Springs 

Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured. B.K.S. Iyengar

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Paying Attention to Nature

Paper Birch is a magical record of this amazing Creation.  An honest to goodness nature journal. It is an inspiring and hope filled look at the world. See what glory is right in front of us. This might be a great way to document the days with children as well. Let them take the camera and find the miracles.

Paper Birch observations here.

To Live Simply

Richard Rohr is an incredible modern day mystic. He has a gift of speaking the truth in simple yet profound ways. He is truly courageous. Part of the ability to pay attention (one suggested GL new year's resolution) is in living simply. This topic seems to continually come up in our discussions as harried mothers. Friar Rohr sent this meditation out today that speaks to just this thing.

You can sign up to receive his daily meditations here.

Prayer: Teach me to live simply.

"Living in the second half of life, I no longer have to prove that I or my group is the best, that my ethnicity is superior, that my religion is the only one that God loves, or that my role and place in society deserve superior treatment. I am not preoccupied with collecting more goods and services; quite simply, my desire and effort—every day—is to pay back, to give back to the world a bit of what I have received. I now realize that I have been gratuitously given to–from the universe, from society, and from God. I try now, as Elizabeth Seton said, “to live simply so that others can simply live.”

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Daily Bread

Lord, bless what Thou hast given
Feed our souls with bread from heaven;
Guide and lead us all the way
In all that we may do and say.

simple bread recipe from allrecipes.com. Look here.

Paying Attention

It's easy to overlook the little works by children but I do try to take a good look at their efforts to put together colors and design that turn into rich fantasy. It comes so naturally to all children. They can see a story everywhere. A parent taking notice is life giving to a child, to anyone in need of a smile or recognition. A child's life of pretend is a marvel. They certainly do pay attention. Take note. Barbara Brown Taylor says she would like to apprentice herself to a child. Yes!

"To apprentice oneself to a child is to learn that the world is full of wonders, a world in which nothing is simply what it seems because everything is packed with endless possibilities of usefulness and meaning." The Preaching Life

What do you see in a child's life when you pay attention?

Words for You

"As soon as the generals and the politicos / can predict the motion of your mind, / lose it. Leave it as a sign / to mark the false trail, the way / you didn't go. Be like the fox / who makes more tracks than necessary, / some in the wrong direction. / Practice resurrection."

- Wendell Berry

Monday, January 2, 2012

Give Thanks

One way to pay attention is to give thanks for our family spaces like the kitchen.  One of my favorite quotes is:

"Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul." - John Muir

Spaces in our homes should be beautiful.  I think that is a feeling all people share throughout the world. Even in the most humble of homes there is beauty lurking in the corners. The amazing site pinterest.com has the most incredible collections of beautiful, lovely, heavenly rooms and images - all good for the soul.

Get Organized!

If you're like every other mother in the world part of your new year's resolutions were to be more organized. Better Homes and Gardens might change your life..... Give it a try! Follow this link to the command center binder information. Here.
If anything, it gives you a reason to run to Target or the Container Store. Also, it fulfills an innate need to reduce chaos in one's life by buying pretty folders. Any other organizing tips?

A Site for Women

A mother from the Friday mom's group just passed this link on for us. Check out the site here. The site is called (In) Courage. It's really nice to browse the blog and see what the different writers share about their faith and lives as women.
Below are 20 questions for reflection for the new year by Tsh Oxenreider.  We know her from the book we read Organized Simplicity.

20 Questions for a New Year’s Eve Reflection

1. What was the single best thing that happened this past year?
2. What was the single most challenging thing that happened?
3. What was an unexpected joy this past year?
4. What was an unexpected obstacle?
5. Pick three words to describe 2011.
6. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe your 2011 (don’t ask them; guess based on how you think your spouse sees you).
7. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe their 2011 (again, without asking).
8. What were the best books you read this year?
9. With whom were your most valuable relationships?
10. What was your biggest personal change from January to December of this past year?
11. In what way(s) did you grow emotionally?
12. In what way(s) did you grow spiritually?
13. In what way(s) did you grow physically?
14. In what way(s) did you grow in your relationships with others?
15. What was the most enjoyable part of your work (both professionally and at home)?
16. What was the most challenging part of your work (both professionally and at home)?
17. What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year?
18. What was the best way you used your time this past year?
19. What was biggest thing you learned this past year?
20. Create a phrase or statement that describes 2011 for you.

New Year's Blessing

A new year wish for you:

A New Year's Blessing
May all that is unforgiven in you
Be released.

May your fears yield
Their deepest tranquillities.

May all that is unlived in you
Blossom into a future
Graced with love.

- John O'Donohue

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Paying Attention

The last post is giving me a good idea to think about some ways we can pay attention. There is a saying in our house: When you pay attention to something and to life, life will go slower. Not a perfect saying but almost. The sentiment is there. One way to pay attention is to create together as a family. Check out the wonderful blog You Know How we're an Art Family. The author posts art projects and this moment photos of her children to document their lives. I think life slows down when we do this.  Enjoy and maybe you can start your own blog with your own this moment photos.

Resolution: Pay Attention

So food and a good life do mingle. Yes, food is on my mind. Maybe because there is more time over the holidays to create and to take a moment to think and remember and engage actively in one's dreams, to plan ahead. Perhaps this is a recipe for a good year.
Begin with a pinch of resolutions.
There are many resolutions to come up with for the new year but I think this wonderful post from A Sweet and Savory Life sums up the perfect resolution:
But I have a different sort of thought for my year ahead. I want to pay attention, every day, to the moment I see a person doing their one small thing. If I don’t look for it, I won’t know it’s there. But if I pay attention, I believe I will see, every single day, that one moment given by one person to another.

You can read more of her blog here.
Peace and Happy New Year!

*the photo of the snow falling reminds me of all of those little deeds and acts of kindness that go unnoticed, but that make our world so beautiful, so full of God.