OTG, day 3

3 graces overheard:

1. “It’s not your fault that she fell down the stairs,”…said to me by E’s dad after she “took a tumble.” No worries, she is ok.

2. Silence for 2 hours while both kids slept. 2 hours. That’s a big freaking deal.

3. The sound of my dad, mom, and sister’s voices on the phone when they called tonight.


one thousand gifts, beginning jan 1, 2014

Technically, this seems cliche, like something everyone’s doing. But I’m digging in.

A glass of red wine contrasted with a blanket of snow at 11:30 p.m. after a day of 3 real conversations with friends.

And the fact that I am not going to take a picture of any of that…because I got to see it with my own eyes, which was more than enough for me today.

christmas in st. louis

I just spent my first Christmas away from family. For several reasons, it just did not work this year for me to make the 10 hour drive south. So, Merry Merry from The Lou (it’s a good thing I like this place)! Here are some pictures…since I didn’t send out a Christmas card.

IMG_1620I attended 2 Christmas Eve services…one at Christ Church on Sunday night, and one at Old Orchard Church on Christmas Eve.

IMG_1842On Christmas Eve, I left a friend’s house and hopped on the interstate right as the sun was setting. Good for my soul.

IMG_1857Merry Christmas from my face on Christmas Eve!

IMG_1860My Charlie Brown Christmas tree…with a few decorations.

IMG_1864 I DO like the star that I made.

IMG_1863This was my Christmas Eve entertainment. I went to Target and got it and watched it while I made my Christmas star.

Not traveling over Christmas has given me extra time to be still and mull over the fact that Jesus really came to earth as a baby, born in flesh and blood through flesh and blood. God came to earth to be with us. That blows me away. I found this youtube clip last night and it made me cry. The expressions on the faces of the actors made the event a little more real to me.

Peace and joy-



(just the sound of whimpering)

I am sitting lying down on my couch with a growling stomach, but I don’t yet have the energy to get up and make dinner. I am also deeply regretting that I left my glass of wine in the other room. My toes are freezing and I still have my jacket on (MIDWEST IS BEST) even though I’ve been home for 30 minutes. Ya’ll, raising kids is HARD WORK!! After my first full week of nannying for E and her baby sister (who is only 5 weeks old), I have NO IDEA how I used to nanny for quads. Seriously, was I crazy? I have fluctuated back and forth this week between loving every minute and flying by the seat of my pants every minute…or both. Today I flew by the seat of my pants most of the time, except for the 1 hour of silence during which I had the newborn wrapped to my body and the 2 year old was asleep. At that moment I also felt like I was getting a pretty good idea of what it’s like to be 9 months pregnant. I fixed pizza and had to reach my arm in the oven while tilting my stomach/chest away from the oven so that I wouldn’t bump the baby into the oven door. I sat down to eat (baby still wrapped around me), and I couldn’t eat as much because the child was pressing on my stomach. I reclined on the couch, and I started coughing because she was pressed into my lungs. THEN E woke up screaming 45 minutes earlier than she usually wakes up. That startled me, and I told her she needed to go back to sleep, and she screamed even more, pretty much throwing a tantrum in her crib. This continued for 20 agonizing minutes while I tried to decide whether to give in to the crying and survive a whiney and fussy afternoon, or to stick to what I had told her and have her stay in her bed for a little while longer. She finally fell back to sleep. This gave me an extra bit of time to clean up the broken lightbulb from the floor of the nursery that E had knocked over just before nap time.

Fast forward…I decided that we HAD to get out of the house or the last 2 hours of the day were going to be too hard. I loaded the kids up in my car and took them to Open Play hour at Gymboree. It was a lifesaver, except that I forgot how people STARE at you when you have a baby with you. Especially a tiny one. Baby slept in the Moby wrapped around me the whole time, and I talked with E and tried to help her talk with other kids. One mom struck up a conversation with E, which was so kind. And here’s the best part. When it was time for us to leave, that same mom and her kids (and her husband, who had joined them) were leaving as well. The mom let her husband take the kids out to the car, and she lagged behind for a few minutes while I unwrapped Baby, bundled her and began loading her in the carseat. She was just kind of standing there, not talking to me or anything. I honestly forgot she was in the room. During this time, E was buzzing around Gymboree trying to grab all of the toy bells that were on display for SALE. As I was loading Baby in her carseat, this mom turned to me and said, “Can I help you with anything?” I smiled and said, “No, I’m ok. Thank you though.” And she said, “Ok,” and walked out the door.

Y’all, that made my day. And night. I swear she was hanging around just to make sure that I was okay. I wish I could have thought of some way for her to help me, right there on the spot, but I couldn’t even analyze that. I was just focused on the tasks ahead of me…one at a time (bird by bird, for you Anne Lamott fans). But just the fact that she ASKED was such a gift of grace. I wish I knew her name because I wish that I could somehow find her and thank her again, and explain how much that meant to me. An ebenezer.

grace on the playground

I’m getting tired of the way I write. I always draw connections with kids and playgrounds. Tonight, at the end of our walk, my friend Lizzy & I stopped at a playground. We hung upside down on this modern monkey-bar-like-thing, climbed on the structure that I am convinced 7 year old boys pretend is the helm of a pirate ship, as they look out over the black top and see the school yard as their oyster. Anyway, I was thrilled to be hanging upside down, and I exclaimed how much I love playgrounds, and Lizzy laughed and pointed out that this was not the first, or second, or third time she had been to a playground with me as an adult…it was the 4th time in St. Louis…not to mention the year in PreK in Memphis.

Anyway, playgrounds and popsicles and chalk and french fries and pizza and crafts and Kevin Henkes books are just my bread and butter. But today, I saw much grace on the playground. I am currently Nanny to one little girl. She’s almost 2, and we get to spend our days exploring her house and her neighborhood and St. Louis.

After a year of full time seminary courses and piece-mealing 5 jobs, I decided to step back, commit to one job, and take it one semester at a time as far as school goes. This semester I’m not taking any classes. Today was the first day that Covenant Seminary started classes again, and as I played with my little charge this morning, I felt my patience thinning…like really thin. I felt my shoulders tense up and my mind begin to spin and scheme and I don’t know if I could fully tell you what I was thinking about. But I know one thing: I was jealous. Jealous of all of my friends who got to go hang out on that GRACE-soaked campus this morning. Jealous they got to go to chapel and worship and thank God for the place that is such a part of my life history. I’m so thankful for Covenant and how God has used it in the lives of my family. As I thought through my jealousy, I realized I was shaming myself for sitting on the couch as I watched E play, thinking I wasn’t doing enough. Never mind that yesterday we went to a playground and made smoothies and made play-dough and read books, and today we went to the library and got some new books, went to Target to get bubble bath, played at the sprinkler park, and actually TOOK a bubble bath. “I can’t believe you’re quitting school,” was the voice I heard over and over in my head. “You’re just a nanny. This isn’t even your child.” Lies and shame.

During nap time, I realized I really needed to get out and that we needed to be around other people. E needed to run around, and I needed to see other kids and talk to other adults. So we braved the almost-100 degree weather and headed to a playground with a sprinkler park. I lathered the child in sunscreen and sat down to watch her run through the sprinklers. That girl loves water. As I watched her play, a friend of mine walked up with the little boy she nannies for. I didn’t expect to see them, and I called out to them, excited. What fun to run into friends at the park! Even with kids crying or getting sunscreen in their eyes, etc, we enjoyed being together. As we talked and played, I listened to a mom close by speak with her daughter in another language. Knowing the language was familiar, I asked her about it. It turns out this mom moved to St. Louis from Sweden about 20 years ago…and ended up having her own kids over here. My family is Norwegian, so we talked about Norway and Sweden and life as a nanny, and our kiddos played together.

Two hours later, when E and I left the park, I was much more refreshed. It was good to run into friends. Good to meet new people and listen to an experienced, older mom tell us that she wasn’t bothered if our kids fell apart on the playground. “I just stand there and let them throw the tantrum a lot of times,” she said. That was refreshing to hear as  a nanny who knows that is necessary but is afraid of being judged by playground moms. {As an aside, we can all be so judgmental of the way people care for their kids!} God reminded me, as the evening wore on, that I was exactly where I need to be. Next semester, maybe I’ll take a class. Maybe I’ll take one next fall, or maybe never. But if I take classes, that doesn’t make me any more significant or any more fully human than caring for the kiddos God puts in my arms, and relating to people on the playground…people I wouldn’t meet if I were on campus. I’m thankful that I can kind of be in both worlds, with friends on the seminary campus and friends at the playgrounds and parks of St. Louis.

Life Raft

This is a poem from “Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing” by Sally Lloyd-Jones & Jago.

“Life Raft”

Does it ever seem to you that nothing in your life is right?

When things go wrong, God knows we might start to wonder, Does God care about me? Can he do anything about it anyway?

So God makes you this promise to hold on to–a life raft for his children in a storm:

I am not hurting you.

I have a Good Plan for you and

a Bright Future for you.

I am planning unending good

for you in your life!

Things are not always as they seem.

But God is always up to something big. Always up to something good.

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you home and a future.'” -Jeremiah 29:11