Fourteen years ago, I spent a semester in Oaxaca, Mexico. It was a rich time of learning, exploration, and growth. But holy buckets, was I homesick! I missed my family, my friends, my comfortable routine. And as October rolled around, I missed fall color.
The beauty down the block.
So imagine my surprise and delight when I opened a big envelope from my friend K and a pile of fall leaves spilled out. I can still see them: vibrant yellows, oranges, and reds, a simple gift that brought me a surge of comfort and joy.
Back at home in the Midwest, I get that surge of joy every time I see those colors on a tree. Every. Single. Time. Truly: the tree next to our driveway, the trees we can see through our living room windows, the glorious reds and yellows down the block, the views on Highway 60 coming into Mankato. I get a jolt of happiness every time I look at them. The delight of fall color just never gets old.
Now: if only we could say the same about raking.
Honestly, the photo alone makes me pretty happy, too.
Where is your surge of joy today?
Have you seen Meet Me in St. Louis? The story of a mother, a father, a grandfather, and four daughters, all of whom almost move from St. Louis to New York City, but do not actually leave their hometown?
It is a pretty weird movie, but I love it. Judy Garland. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” Homemade ketchup. Magnificent millinery. The horrifying antics of Margaret O’Brien. It’s all there, people.
Mike and I often quote the final lines of the movie to one another, because that’s just the kind of wild and crazy pair that we are. Here’s what happens: The family has made it through another year–they’ve escaped the move to New York City, Judy Garland and Margaret Bremer have found love, the homemade ketchup has the right amount of sugar in it, and everyone emerges from the house wearing fabulous flowered and feathered hats. They’re off to the World’s Fair!
As the whole impressively-hatted bunch takes in the wonder of the fair, Margaret Bremer says rapturously, “We don’t have to come here on a train or stay in a hotel. It’s right here in our own hometown!” And Judy Garland, eyes shining, says, “It’s right here where we live! Right here in St. Louis.“
I totally get it. It’s wonderful when the amazing things in the great wide world come right to your hometown. Of course, the World’s Fair hasn’t come to Saint James (I mean, not yet). But other wonderful things do come, or are already here. And as fun as it is to head out of town to do something special, there’s something even sweeter about finding the fun right here where we live.
The star of the historical show. Isn’t it pretty?
It has been a while!
I have excuses. So many excuses to offer you for my failure to post.
However, since none of these (really, very good) excuses are actually very interesting, let’s just skip ahead to the part where we’re back in the swing of things. It will be like Monday night’s dinner:
Usually, I cook something, Leo rejects it, and I give Leo a bowl of cereal. Since it was just the two of us eating at home last night, I skipped steps one and two (cooking and rejection) and went right to step three (cereal for dinner). Leo still didn’t eat very much, but we saved a lot of time and effort. I’m calling it a win.
So. Mike and I took a trip to Chicago over the weekend. I attended Why Christian 2016; Mike explored the city and enjoyed Quiet Alone Time; and we went to opening night of Das Rheingold at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. It was an incredible few days of learning, listening, worshiping, reflecting, and just being together. We had whole conversations where no small child interrupted us. We ate in restaurants without children’s menus and we got to eat our food while it was hot and drink our drinks before the ice melted. You get the idea.
There are many standout moments from the weekend. Here is one: Continue reading
When was the last time you got stuck?
For me, it was last Thursday morning: Leo and I dropped Zoe off at school on the north side of town and made our way south on Armstrong Boulevard to drop him off on the south side. We were running late (even later than usual), and so we ended up on the north side of the train tracks when the crossing gate came down.
Usually, when something like this happens, I can feel my blood pressure rise. My heart beats faster and I stare down the clock, calculating what the delay will mean for the rest of my day. But this morning, even though we were late, we didn’t really need to be on time. Leo didn’t have preschool and I didn’t have an early meeting. We still needed to get where we were going, but not urgently.
So, I listened to the sound of the rain beating down on the car and the train thundering down the track. I watched the glow of the signal lights and the beading of the raindrops on my windshield. I chatted with Leo (who, as we know, loves trains) and soaked up his joy and wonder. In short, I enjoyed being stuck. Continue reading
“Pastors have to wear a lot of different hats.”
People say that sometimes. (Not just about pastors, of course.)
Well, today, this pastor is wearing an actual hat. And it is a little different:
Today is the 46th Annual Nordic Bazaar at First Lutheran. That means that all those pies and all that lefse will be sold (pretty quickly–so if you’re in the area, hurry over now!).
It means that lady pastors will join many other women in wearing little red hats, and man pastors will join some other men in wearing red cumberbunds and bow ties. Continue reading
It’s been raining forever.
Okay, maybe not forever. But it’s been raining, or rainy, or about to rain, for what feels like forever. The world is soggy and humid and grey.
But not the whole world. Because we finally made it to the farmer’s market this week, and look: Continue reading
“I can’t do this again,” I said to Mike as I lay on the exam table. “It’s too much responsibility.”
I was 25 weeks pregnant with Leo. We had traveled halfway across the country for a friend’s wedding, and I had a little spotting. I couldn’t remember when I’d last felt the baby move, or at least I thought the baby ought to be moving more. I called the clinic back in Minnesota and they said, as they would say to any pregnant woman halfway across the country, “You should go in.”
So the day after we danced at our friend’s wedding, we took a cab to an unfamiliar hospital. They admitted me, asked me lots of alarming questions about what to do in case we delivered the baby then and there, and did an exam. I was fine and the baby was fine. We were released. We took the bus back to our rental apartment, thankful and relieved.
I loved being pregnant. It was such a blessing and such a gift. But it was also a huge and terrifying responsibility. If something felt weird or seemed off, I was the one who had to decide if it merited a visit to the doctor. I was the one who knew best, and much of the time, I simply didn’t know.
Tuesday night, three-year-old Leo woke up screaming. We noticed he was clutching his stomach. Of course, we thought appendicitis. We called the nurse line, who sent us to the emergency room in Saint James, who sent us to the emergency room in Rochester. It was a long, anxious, exhausting night. Continue reading
You’re darn right there are six pies in that oven.
“If I put it in the freezer, how long will it last?” I asked.
The answer was simple and immediate: “Forever.”
Now, I admit: I have not tested the truth of this claim, because, pro tip, what kind of person leaves an apple pie in the freezer forever? But when I was cleaning out our freezer a few weeks ago, it turned out that one of the apple pies I bought at the church bazaar last year was still there.
This shocked me. (Pro Tip: Not the part where my freezer went untold months without a good clean out; the part where I failed to eat a pie.) And when I took that pie out of the oven and warmed it up, the pie maker who sold it to me was right: it was still perfect.
After the lefse makers do their thing, the pie makers take their turn. They peel and they slice and they mix and they roll and they bake. They pile on the butter and they sprinkle the cinnamon and they make the whole place smell like heaven. The first morning alone, they turned out 58 perfect pies.
They didn’t know, that first morning, whether they would have apples for the next day. (Pro Tip: Apples do grow on trees, but it’s only the end of August.) Every year, the pie makers wonder and wait. And every year, produce suppliers and orchards and backyard trees provide.
Blessed are the pie makers, for they will be called providers of sweetness. Givers of deliciousness. Bringers of joy.
What’s your favorite kind of pie?
It was the first surprise of many: the hands laid on me at my ordination to the ministry of word and sacrament were heavy.
Seven years ago today, I knelt in the sanctuary of Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church in Milwaukee–the church where I discerned my call to ordained ministry (as we say in the business), where I met and married Mike, where I worshiped and learned and prayed and sang with beloved brothers and sisters in Christ. Continue reading
“I’m tired of playing all day. I want to learn things again.”
That’s my Zoe, who went off to second grade with a big grin on Tuesday:
She couldn’t tell me her favorite part of the first day because “everything was so awesome.” That’s my Zoe, too: when she’s in, she’s all in. She has more “best day[s] ever” than anyone I know. Her joy and enthusiasm for life and learning fill me with joy, too.
I give thanks for Zoe’s joy and excitement, and for the wonderful teachers, bus drivers, paraprofessionals, cafeteria workers, and others who nurture and guide her and her classmates each day.
Speaking of back to school joy: Continue reading