Category Archives: Your Moment of Zoe

O world, I cannot hold thee close enough!

Fall is in the air! We are just on the cusp of this wonderful season, but I wanted to share one of my favorite fallish poems today.

Turns out: I shared it five years ago. So, let’s just turn back the clock and enjoy that post (and some vintage Zoe photos) again, shall we?

Never Done It That Way Before

Today, let’s let Edna St. Vincent Millay (Vincent, to her friends) do the talking.  Zoe, of course, will do the rest.
O world, I cannot hold thee close enough!
   Thy winds, thy wide grey skies!
   Thy mists, that roll and rise!
Thy woods, this autumn day, that ache and sag
And all but cry with colour!   That gaunt crag
To crush!   To lift the lean of that black bluff!
World, World, I cannot get thee close enough!
Long have I known a glory in it all,
         But never knew I this;
         Here such a passion is
As stretcheth me apart,—Lord, I do fear
Thou’st made the world too beautiful this year;
My soul is all but out of me,—let fall
No burning leaf; prithee, let no bird call.
–Edna St. Vincent Millay, “God’s World”
What do you want to hold close this fall?

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Filed under Book Report, Your Moment of Zoe

Home Away from Home

train time

Train ride! 

We had a wonderful road trip to Illinois this weekend. The fun included: a visit to the La Crosse children’s museum; an old-fashioned ice cream parlor; a KOA cabin with bunkbeds, a jumping pad, and a pool; a commuter train ride, lunch, and library exploration with family; a dinner date with friends one night; a sprinkler and pool play date the next morning; and sweet Phip’s first birthday party. Truly, it was a wonderful getaway.

It was just as wonderful to arrive home last night. “We’re finally in the right town!” Zoe said as we pulled into Saint James. “Go to Daddy!” Leo said. And we were, and we did, and it was very good.

I always like to hear what the stand out moments are for my kids after a trip. Here is Zoe’s: Continue reading

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Filed under Book Report, Your Moment of Zoe

Fluffy on the Side: a Love Story

chickie baby

Zoe and Chickie (and Mama), Mother’s Day 2009.

When Zoe was about six months old, I met my friend E for dinner in Saint Paul. We had a lovely meal (we got to eat our food when it was hot and finish whole sentences and everything). Then we went to Half Price books to do some browsing. It was a lovely, grown up evening out.

I don’t remember whether I bought myself anything at Half Price Books. (Pro Tip: I had a six month old baby, so probably not.) But I do remember shopping for Zoe. I came home with a few board books and a few cloth books. One of them was shaped like a chick. I thought it was cute, and Zoe did, too.

Six and a half years later, Chickie is still around. She’s been through the wash; she’s fallen in the toilet; she’s traveled internationally; she’s transitioned from male to female; she’s been lost (and found) in our house and at church and at Grandma’s and out in the world; she’s been with Zoe through good times and bad; she’s soothed Zoe’s physical bumps and bruises and her emotional ones, too.

And after all that, our Chickie is just a bit worse for wear:

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Filed under Your Moment of Zoe

Parenting Unvarnished

Check out my cute little bunnies, Easter 2016:


Adorable, right? Perfectly captures the idyllic family egg dying activity we had just completed.

Except, of course, that it wasn’t. It was crazy, chaotic, and shouty. It was cracked egg shells, and spilled cups of dye, and probably one of the more stressful egg dyeing experiences of my life. (Not to be dramatic or anything.) But I posted the adorable picture on Facebook, because the one idyllic and adorable moment is the one I want to share with the world.

This, though. This is the photo that really nails it. Easter Monday:


Everything that can be upside down is upside down. Both children are weeping and wailing. It is chaos. It is exhaustion. It is Easter Monday for a pastor and her children. Unvarnished. No filter. Just the real parenting deal. Did I post this gem on Facebook? I did not.

Here’s the thing: parenting is a both / and experience. It’s both wonderful and terrible; boring and exciting; hilarious and heartbreaking; sweet and sour. Our children fill us with pride and joy one moment, embarrassment and guilt the next. Continue reading


Filed under All in the Family, Your Moment of Leo, Your Moment of Zoe

Lucky Number Seven

He looked at me with eyes the size of saucers.

“J says your daughter is going to be seven,” he said. Incredulous. Solemn. Amazed.

K is a seminary classmate. If he ever met Zoe, she was teeny tiny. What he remembers, I’m sure, is me pregnant with Zoe during my last year of seminary. And all of a sudden, years have gone by. We can measure them by counting all the Zoe birthdays that have passed since then. Which is, amazingly, seven.

Zoe was born two months before I was ordained, so I can count the years of my pastoring as I count the years of her life. Being a pastor and being a parent are all tangled up for me, in a way that is wonderful and weird and hard.

ordination Zoe

Hungry Zoe had to pose for picture’s at Mama’s ordination, August 29, 2009. Please note her ordination red booties, made by a seminary friend.

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Filed under Ministry Matters, Thankful Hearts, Your Moment of Zoe

Books + Kids = Top Ten Tuesday

Good morning, team! It’s Top Ten Tuesday time!

This week’s topic is pretty open: “Top Ten Things I Love About X”. Read my list, then click on over to The Broke and the Bookish to read lots more.

When my parents were new parents, they worried like all new parents do. However, all new parents might not share this particular worry: What will we do if our child doesn’t like reading?  It’s true. My parents were concerned that if I did not turn out to be a reader, I wouldn’t fit into the family.

Clearly, they had nothing to worry about. I have always loved books and always loved reading. One of the great joys of becoming a parent myself has been sharing that love with my own children. So, for this Top Ten Tuesday, here are ten things I love about Books + Kids:

1. Sharing old favorites. I never stopped loving children’s and young adult books. So it’s a delight to share them with my children. Zoe loved But No Elephants, the absolute favorite of my three-year-old self, almost as much as I did. More recently she has laughed as hard as I did at The BFG.

2. Discovering new favorites. My kids also give me a great excuse reason to explore new children’s books. I love checking out a stack at the library, browsing online, and receiving children’s books from family and friends. Some of our newest new favorites are Max the Brave and Bear Is Not Tired.

3. Books at bedtime. I treasure this time of snuggling and reading together, even if we’re just reading Construction for the one thousandth time (Pro Tip: I’m looking at you, Leo). I also love watching my kids share this time with their dad, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and other beloved adults.

zoe and papa

Zoe and Papa: bedtime book buddies since 2009.

4. Books any time. Sometimes Zoe will stop talking / moving / watching TV, grab a huge stack of books, and ask me to read them to her. And I do. And it is Just the Best.

5. Library time. The first thing we do when we move to a new town is get our library cards. Both the Litchfield and St. James libraries have been havens for us–we’ve spent countless hours at story times, library programs, and just hanging out, reading, playing, and browsing. Leo knows right where to find the Thomas books. Both kids walk in like they’re coming home.  Continue reading


Filed under Book Report, Your Moment of Leo, Your Moment of Zoe

Embracing the Unfamiliar

Great cedar tree, Stanley Park, Vancouver, BC, 1897

Our trees were a little shaggy when we moved in. So, less than two years later, we hired someone to trim them.(Pro Tip: Landscaping is not our passion.)

Zoe and Leo were excited to see the crew start working this morning. But when we got in the car, Zoe was upset. “They’re taking our trees!” she wailed.

“Don’t worry,” I said. “They’re just trimming them. It’s like a haircut. It’s good for the trees.” Continue reading


Filed under Marvelous Miscellany, Your Moment of Zoe

Advent Alert!

Hello again, dear readers!

It’s been a while.  I am embarrassed, which makes me not want to post, because it’s been so long, but that is just a self-perpetuating something or other, isn’t it?

So, it’s December 4th, and we are just getting into the Advent swing of things at the Cumings house.  Zoe and I snagged the last three blue candles at the store yesterday (luckily, we had a pink one at home, for the third week of Advent).  Also yesterday, Mike made it to the Willmar Target and got one of the last four wooden tree Advent calendars.

I hate being behind, but it worked out great for Zoe, who got to open four doors today instead of one.  She was not impressed with the two days of stickers, delighted with the two days of candy, and intrigued by the little Christmas tree light.  That light means we’re going to put lights on our Christmas tree today!

For each day of Advent, our goal is to have a small object  that represents an Advent activity we will do that day.  It’s a simpler version of the Advent tradition Mike grew up with, and I’m so excited to give it a go this year.

Of course, we’ll also have to find room for a little treat behind each door.  Because one of the joys of Advent is chocolate before breakfast.


What doors are you opening this month?

P.S. If you want to know more about Advent, check out this great two minute video (but know that Advent can now be blue instead of purple):


Filed under Ministry Matters, Your Moment of Zoe

The Joys of Christian Parenting

The Good

When your child has worn you out with her constant “Why?” questions, you can end the string of queries with the answer, “Because God made them that way.”  (Pro Tip: This is the Christian version of “Because I said so.”)

The Bad

When your child is lobbying for more TV time, she has this weapon in her arsenal: “But . . . but, God wants me to watch the rest of the movie.”  (Pro Tip: This is the Christian version of “But I really, really want to.”)

The Theologically Challenging

When you coax your child to put her coat on, saying, “It’s a new coat, with snowflakes on it!  Maybe this coat will make it snow!”, and immediately regret making this claim, your child will come to your rescue with this response: “God makes it snow!  We can’t make it snow!”  (Pro Tip: If God controls the weather, does that mean that God sends hurricanes and other natural disasters?  Do you want to discuss this with a three-year-old?)

What good, bad, challenging encounters have you had this week?


Filed under Ministry Matters, Preschool Theology, Your Moment of Zoe

Black Friday Fight Song

Juichende jongens bij VSV-DFC / Boys cheering when their  favorite team scores

Last year, I had a surprisingly great time Black Friday shopping for the first time.

This year, I’m going to the circus.  (Pro Tip: There’s a joke in here somewhere.  If you find it, share in the comments.)

Wherever your day takes you today–fighting the crowds at Best Buy, fighting the pile of dishes in your kitchen–you need a theme song.  So I offer, for your Black Friday pleasure, Zoe’s latest rendition of the Minnesota Rouser.

Or, as we call it, “Daddy’s song”:

What’s your get-up-and-go song?


Filed under Music!, Your Moment of Zoe