Country Chronicles: What I’m Into March 2013

I’m into the church services that leave me speechless. Spell bound. Dissolved. I’m into the grief and the celebration of living in community. In one day I prayed with nearly weds and prayed for a wounded one. Life is like that when we tear down some fences. I’m into hanging out in the back where the story is still developing, where the mother grieving a lost son escapes to, where the boys with ADD hang out. 

Photo cred...Phil Collins

Photo cred…Phil Collins

I am into the bird calls returning, the woodpecker back. I’m into the stellar jays and the robins fighting and the swallows nesting in my bird house. I’m into the mallard pair who nest in the pond each spring and the way earth smells when it thaws.


 I am into her blond curls blowing in the spring winds and her dusty rose dress. I am into his construction projects, her endless art. I’m into the dams they build in the creek, the mud they sling, the trail they leave across my floor (well, ok I’m not exactly ‘into’ that, but it is what I am doing). 

wpid-20130401_124523.jpgI am into the sun finally creeping in through filthy windows and the motivation to get stuff done. I’m into cleaning out shelves, turning round furniture.wpid-20130402_191624.jpg

I’m into this book. There will be more to come on it (and I’ll even give away a copy) but it is feeding into my leanings and I am excited about it. I am back into Game of Thrones though I put it down for a time. I am into reading about marriage again and what it means and how to do it better. I’m into figuring this motherhood thing out, finding a rhythm wherein I still feel like myself. I’m into the poets, finding my attention span short. I think Mary Oliver and I would make fine friends. 




I am into feet gathered under my table, spring sun heating our backs. I’m into any excuse I can find to use fresh basil, tomatoes and reduced balsamic vinegar. I’m into risotto, salmon lettuce wraps, black bean salad, chicken fajita soup.


What about you? What is on your ‘best of’ list for March??? On the prowl for some new music…suggestions????

What I'm Into at HopefulLeigh



The lights are low and I sling my four-year old around my hip like an infant. It might be the last time you know, that she nestles that softest cheek into mine, that I can rock her to the drum beat. She closes her eyes when I do, peeks about when she gets bored.


They watch the sun turn pink on the horizon. My four-year old calls me, she knows when the sun is slipping, when we lose it completely. We all come. There is a space between heaven and earth just there on the horizon. It is the shape of an eye. We see God in it.



I pop my head back, all I see are pine trees high, star streaked sky.

I breathe deep. Could it be that it is the first time I breathed all day? Of course not. You couldn’t live like that and yet….


I smell the gasoline, feel the speed, the tress whip past, I trust you more than I trust myself, and I hold on.

We set a fire, the dog attacks the flame, the flying spark. We sit.

We tuck the kids in. I think about what parts of this will feel like home for them. The stellar jays? The woodpecker? The way camp fires smell a day later?



They are fighting again.

It is snowing today. You heard me. Spring break, the man is away and it is snowing… again. The kids have gone rabid and are about one more house day away from someone loosing a hand. And yet, there is beauty here too, when I ignore them long enough, once in a while they compromise, practice empathy, create fantastic adventures. It sounds like Love is growing in their hearts. I see the silhouettes of heroes peeking over their horizons, even when they act more like villans.


The kitchen tap drips into the unwashed pot. I scrub the toilets. Match the socks. Revel in these ordinaries.



The man is on a service trip with 137 young people this week. My niece is among them, she is gentle and quiet and so sensitive. I am so proud of her bravery, stepping beyond her usual fences, trying new things. When I see her, love glints in her eyes. Courage is rising. I see it, I get it. We are the same in some ways, I want to shout “There are worse things than failing, trust me, and you are making progress in all the right directions. Keep stepping out…that is where LIFE is. Perfectionism is a vice that keeps you from it”.


I have been writing. A lot. Not here but elsewhere and I feel flesh on dry bones. I am making sense of senseless things. It might never do anything but fill up a journal with understanding. That is enough.


I have a new nephew, born yesterday. Pearl Jam ‘Free’ played on the radio the moment scalpel finished, child emerged. There are some things you just cannot plan.


There is no new thing we are living my friends. Just the old with a new bow on it. Just us, swiftly spinning, holding onto life, to faith, hearing birds sing like it is for the first time. Just life, all its mundane and profound wound tightly into one package, longing to be lived to the FULL.


Tell me then, what ordinary moment turned Holy on you today?

Linking with Emily and friends…

Country Chronicles: Best of January 2013

January sped away with me this year. I don’t know where it went and I notice the blogs were few and far between and had very little to do with what ACTUALLY happened to us this month (sorry again mom and dad that my last post…which was fiction writing practice…made you think I was crashing into snow drifts). So with that I present…THE BEST OF JANUARY.


We have long loved Sally Lloyd Jones “Jesus Story Book Bible” so when I saw she had written a children’s devotional it was a MUST PURCHASE. It did not disapoint…GORGEOUS.

I have started too many books since December and not finished any. Generally I have two or three books on the go at a time: A non-fiction (parenting, doing church, marriage, memoirs, gardening, other Jesus-y books), a book on craft or practice (writing, community development, nursing, research ideas), and always, always, some fiction. Fiction is always where I learn most, where I hear loudest, where lessons last the longest.

Currently reading are here…and I am joining a book club here (theology for this theology phob…blerg).

Did you read any fantastic books this month? Winter is stretching long ahead of me, anything I should add to the list?



O particpated in his first Feddersen Hockey Game. It is a big deal in this family.




I wish I was a better photographer because then you would see a photo of E and I on the our rink, skating on a mild winter night. The sun is setting and has burnt the sky vibrant red, simultaneously the full moon is rising on the other horizon and placing itself in a nearly purple sky. We skate and hold hands and then we sit in and watch the light of the moon reflect off the ice, watch Joel and O sled down the driveway and tow back up behind the quad. It was magic…and I don’t think I will soon forget it.




Does your family ever do things just because you think it would be shockingly fun? We do. My husband has a hobby…he trades things, non stop. Most recently? He traded up until he bought…A 1985 Cadillac limousine CONVERTED into a motor home.


Look out spring (Hide yo’ wife) the Feddersens are coming. And yes…that does look like a rocket on top…imagine us coming down the highway in your direction.



What a babe.



January SoundTrack:

Civil Wars, All Sons & Daughters, and this that I just can’t stop watching.

Also looking forward to Daniel Romanos new album…anybody have it yet? How is it? Missy Jayne?


Without a doubt the best film I have watched recently (though it may have been December) was “Beasts of the Southern Wild”. Have you seen it? As someone who must continually turn around and scream at fear it was POWERFUL.

Additionally as our first “Pursuit Justice” event we screened “Live 58”. You can order the film free from here or if you are a Kelowna-ite and missed our screening let me know and you can borrow it!


I talked about it before but seriously…we can’t eat enough fish tacos. This month I started making our own roti for currys and I used this veggie ladden version as a wrap for the tacos. Big hit.

Other yummy things in the kitchen? Apple fritters, tomato soup with pesto swirl, and O says the best thing I made lately as popcorn and hot chocolate. So it goes.


This winter is treating me well…I have no sign of the Februaries this year which is a HUGE PLUS.

What about you? What is on your ‘best of’ list for January???

What I'm Into at HopefulLeigh

Country Chronicles: The Big Chill

Chill has set in this last couple days…we don’t mind because we hope the rink will soon be skateable. We had the first blades on it last weekend but it wasn’t actually quite ready.ImageThe kids have been loving the extreme amount of snow we got earlier this week. E isn’t quite as keen as the snow is well above her waist and she gets tired. The boy, keen on jumping off structures into snow piles, lasts much longer. He also figured out how to attach a head lamp to his sledding helmet, so his post dinner GT sessions are lasting extraordinarily long.

ImageSam is digging the snow too…the more snow, the more plowing and that is one of his favorite things.

ImageThe cold has also burned off all the cloud and the the blue skies next to this much snow has made things just extraordinarily beautiful up here! Image

I’ve had some fun kitchen experiments too lately. Have you made marshmallows before? SO MUCH FUN! And easy if you have a good mixer.


Also made these fish tacos with homemade wraps and guacamole. STUPID delish. I also did another super cook before heading back to work.

Anyways…stay warm today! Enjoy!


Country Chronicles: Christmas at the Ranch



I don’t know if there is a more magical time at Christmas than when your children are 6 and 4. We’ve had the most wonderful season. December was full of adventure, memory making and entirely too much sugar. A few of the highlights?



We begin to get ready for Jesus’s  Birthday December 1st. We set the countdown calender, wrap 24 books (one for each night of advent) and even (the first saturday of the month) grab our tree with some of the dear friends.




Other highlights of the month were:


Nightly stories under the tree:





Ninja bread men…






Christmas pagents…









Epic sledding (O beat everyone, all the time. He is so fast we had to get him a helmet and goggles. He thinks they make him go faster so, double win).








Cousin sleepover/girls night out:




Christmas was good at our cabin in the wood.





Country Chronicles: Pieces of Memory


Our kids are four and six. I am acutely aware that the shards of memory they are forming will someday meld together into the lens they will see the world through. And so…

Tonight after dinner, the four of us piled into our orange amphibious vehicle. We took the trail that leads to the secret cabin our neighbor built. I am starting to recognize the shadows that the moon tosses across our path. I don’t jump when they shift like I once did. The shapes of the trees that fall across the trail as we move deeper into the woods, my hair blown wild, I hold my daughter tight. It smells like pine, sounds like stellar jays, I feel safe and wild at the same time.

Will you tell them, if they ask, that we really did venture out in the dead of night? That there was a small white truck with a light on the roof? That we did one day, all four of us, climb on a quad and go for a trek. That…no…sorry E you were not really driving. All those tiny bits of memory will carry our quirky legacy.

We pull out at our favorite place, where the trees all part and the valley opens up and we can catch a glimpse of far and away. The waxing moon holds the sky wide open, the clouds moving fast across it, the city lights miniscule below. Orion’s Belt takes its place low on horizon, we sit for a moment and watch the things that shift, the clouds. The stars that hold still, we count them, all our lucky ones.

We gaze up together, whisper wonder; I thank God, out loud.
I hope they remember the stars someday, my arms on them, Jesus all around. I hope when they feel wind on their faces; they remember freedom, wonder, worship.

Linking up with Emily Wierenga and the happy she is back Emily Freeman

Country Chronicles: These days…


Oh Hi! Where have you been? I know…I know…It is me that has been MIA, right mom? Sister? Today is the day I return your calls. SORRY.

*RIGHT NOW: I’ve been working a bit too much this week. So this morning the kids and I are cuddled up in blankets, books, and now they are watching “Frosty the Snowman”. The perfect Saturday morning. I have missed them this week and I am excited to have them all to myself this weekend. *BEST RECENT INVENTION: O has hung a rope from the loft and is swinging on it…non-stop. He got blisters and so now he  wears green gardening gloves and camo water shoes…nothing else. I made him put a t-shirt on for a photo the other day though. I’m not sure that anything else in the history of our home has gotten more use than this rope swing, this last week. *The BEST thing in my kitchen lately has been this salmon marinade. I make a lot and then I marinade the salmon, broil it till it flakes off a fork. Then I make a simple salad, throw the salmon on it and add the dressing (unused marinade). Joel eats absurd amounts…did you catch that? JOEL EATS ABSURD AMOUNTS (translation? make this salad…your carnivore man will like it).



*I’ve started Christmas preparations over here. A touch of decorating (much more to come) and started to do some planning. A few traditions we do?



Our advent calendar is ‘event based’. That is, we put in something special to do each day. I was so excited to find these printable event ideas as sometimes it takes me days to think of all 24 events. This gives me a nice start to which I can add our personalized things (like the Living Nativity!!!).



I am also wrapping Christmas books today. We had exactly the right number in the Christmas decorations box so now we will wrap them up so that the kids can open a new one each night in December (idea stolen from pinterest…of course).


* We are of the strong belief that we don’t have nearly enough celebrations, festivals, holidays. So we started a new one last weekend. “Ranch-o-versary” celebrates when we moved up into the woods two years ago. All who currently or have ever lived in our basement suite were invited…and we expect them to be here for it every year until we are all dead. We are a little skinny on the traditions so far, but fondue with the Switchback family seemed to work out pretty well.



* Speaking of the Ranch…look what the boys have been working on! A rink. We need a bit more snow and for the temperature to drop a little before we can start flooding, but hope to have it up and ready to roll for the Aylard arrival home from Uganda!

Anyways…how has your week been? Best adventures? How are you spending this glorious Saturday???











Country Chronicles: On a Lighter Note

Snow arrived at the Ranch this week. Yup you heard me. Snow OCTOBER 23. This is the earliest that we have seen here by a full month. O has been thrilled and it has been near impossible to make him come in the house. The first night after dark, we finally convinced him to quit by promising him that we could go as soon as school was over the next day. When I arrived to pick him up he was somehow snow geared up from head to toe and shouted “LETS GO HOMEEEEEEE”. So we did (partly because he looked fairly absurd in snow pants when there was not a speck of snow in his school yard). We stayed on that hill, again for a solid 2.5 hours.

We’ve been creating a fair bit these days too. I’ve been preparing for their birthday party coming up on Sunday. We’ve been playing “Wild Things” watching the Maurice Sendak version non-stop we may even be able to recite near half of it. Of all the possible themes for a party at our house “wild things” seems the most appropriate of all. I’ve a bad habit of getting RIGHT carried away with party planning, and the fact that I can still get away with only one party a year means that I can completely justify it.

Some friends and I chatted recently of what our children will believe about us when they read our journals/blogs someday. I later thought about what YOU think about me. You who read here but who have never met me in person. You might get the wrong idea about me. You need to know a few things:

I’ve a habit of writing from my darker spaces when in actual fact 80% of myself is goofy, not quite serious enough, shockingly unprofessional.

I perpetually laugh much too loud and much too long at completely inappropriate times.

I spend too much money on strange t-shirts I find online.

I read graphic novels. Did you see this last season? It was BRILLIANT.


You get the idea. I just don’t want you to think I am all melancholy. So the blog is shifting a little. In some ways it will be more personal…I might tell you about how we actually spend our days, what our life looks like.

My VOICE is sometimes heavy, but my spirit is usually light. I process deep, I wrestle joy into submission with words…and then I live in it, uninhibited and free.


Country Chronicles: Story of Now

It is the feel of her beach hair, wind  blown and natty. It is his chocolate-brown eyes glowing with the passion of new discovery. It is the laughter that trails behind them as the grasp each moment. It is the songs lilting from outside where they list each and every good thing. It is missing my man and keeping journals so that we can fill him in on all of these gloriously ordinary moments.

It is my heart matching rhythm with maker and all of it making more sense. It is joy in doldrums and passion in dormancy. It is the smell of wild roses and the sun setting through the daisies.  It is tiger lilies at dusk, lupins near everywhere. It is doing battle with the weeds and baking cookies on the day the wind blows and thunder cracks. It is piles of books and to do lists and a marvelous list of 100 things to do this summer. It is finding our own quirky style and learning that all of us can handle near anything if we have long lazy mornings.

It is business meetings on my deck (through the computer) and it is water play. It is popcorn for dinner and breakfast for lunch. It is the thought process each night about how long in the sprinkler might equate to a bath. It is the first harvest from the garden and books on the deck at night.

It is good. We miss you J…but also? We are ok.

Tell me…what was your story today?


California Chronicles

The air is filled with the scent of the roses now and the grass is nearing one foot deep. The wildflowers have all crept out and all of it, this whole place, the deepest green. Words are growing up in me again too and it feels so good.

This last week we ‘road tripped’. Our little family held tight each moment, recognizing that these bliss filled days need to be cherished.

It has been a hard month, this June. None of the weight of it has been mine exactly, but somehow, I’ve managed to pick it up and carry it around. I am really good at that…I think it is the leading cause of my ‘introvertism’. Being with others means that I pack around their problems, strap them onto my shoulders, take them home with me, find a way to blame myself.

I know.

It is something I need to work on. My wise friend says the body of Christ must function like a mosh pit. We hold up the body surfers, the wounded. We share the load, but none of us can bear it alone, we will crumble under it. So, keep passing. Take back the weight when others start to slouch. Keep it evenly distributed.

But the weight, when it falls on us, doesn’t it remind us not to take a single thing about this life for granted? Doesn’t it make you think that nothing about that blessing you are living is guaranteed? Not even that breath you are breathing? None of it is permanent. We must hold it close enough to notice its beauty, loose enough to let it breath, let it grow.

I am feeling strong again…ready to step back into the pit. Summer…here we go again.

Thanking Him for our blessings, the rest, this past week…

698) Wild flowers on the I-5

699) Kids that didn’t fight, not once, all vacation. I know. I am counting it, many times, a blessing!!!

First night…Lake Chelan

700) Her face…meeting those princesses…

701) His face…in his version of the happiest place on earth

Shasta Lake

702) These three…this moment. No words.

703) Sunset dinners

704) Falling in love

705) Seeing new things

706) A pod of dolphins up for a visit

707) Dancing on the pier.

And many other moments to cherish.