Wednesday, June 25, 2008


God gave me a picture this morning. It may not be the most accurate depiction of Heaven, but here it is:

I was thinking about Grandma Diehl and her hospitality. Whenever we would visit her in her little Shipshewana home, we would arrive to find freshly made beds, fluffed towels, refreshing iced tea and lemonade, and some kind of yummy treats to welcome us. She would greet us at the door with a warm hug and a welcoming smile. I could tell that she had been preparing for our arrival with great anticipation and excitement. It occurred to me (this is where God stepped in) that the very same thing is happening right now in Heaven, only on a much grander scale.

I imagine that right now, her sisters and friends who have gone before her are readying her room. They are fluffing the fluffiest pillows. They lay across the bed a beautiful quilt that they have been making together since the day God announced that June would soon be coming home. They have placed in a vase an arrangement of flowers that have never been seen on Earth - blossoms that God thought up and knew would be perfect for His daughter. They talk and laugh and reminisce, excited as little girls to see their loved one again.

Grandpa Diehl waits at the gate. Dressed in his finest clothes, he holds a giant bouquet of his wife's favorite flowers. He rocks back and forth on his heels, trying to be patient, but he can't remember the last time he felt so excited. He tries to remember how it felt to hold his beloved, and he can't believe she will be in his arms again soon. He has tears in his eyes and a permanent grin on his face.

The crowd is gathering around him. Brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts and uncles, neighbors and friends have all come to welcome June home. Her parents stand near the front of the crowd. They are so proud that their daughter has finished the race. They can't wait to love on their sweet girl. They can't wait to show her around this amazing place. A few of the Great Saints have joined the crowd - C.S. Lewis, Oswald Chambers, Fanny Crosby, the Wesleys. (They are on the official Welcoming and Orientation to Heaven Committees.)

And standing at the back, waiting patiently, knowing the exact seconds until she walks through the gate, is her first and greatest love - Jesus.

Thank you, Lord, that we have a home with you.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

for the sake of transparency...

... let me share that my house is never really clean until company comes. Really. I keep my living room and kitchen clean, and I manage pretty well with the bathrooms. But that's just the "front of the house" facade that makes me feel like a very righteous homemaker and puts me at ease that if someone were to drop by unexpectedly, I could probably fool them. The truth is, my bedroom, my closet, my enormous piles of various-stage laundry... this is the truth of my homemaking abilities. I so very much want to be the Proverbs 31 woman, but who has the energy?

you have the energy, please don't tell me.

sometimes you don't see the thing that's been coming from a mile away

Ben's grandma is dying of cancer. She is an incredible woman - warm, loving, kind, and strong. She lives and breathes Jesus' love in everything she does. My heart breaks for my mother-in-law. It might be easier to lose a parent when they are elderly, sick, or in pain... but I don't imagine it is. My dad's mother died in her mid-90s after years of deteriorating health. She was suffering terribly and so ready to go home to Jesus. But I know it broke my daddy's heart when she finally did go home - even while we rejoiced that she was free. Grandma Diehl is our last grandparent. It's so strange to think that our parents are, essentially, orphans. And it makes our own parents' mortality seem so much more real and terrifying. Yes, I believe in Heaven, and I know that seeing my savior face to face will be an experience beyond anything I can wrap my mind around. But I need my mama and daddy, and my children need their Grandma and Grandpa, and we need them for a long, long time. Ugh, this is a depressing post.

Monday, June 23, 2008


I think what I'm about to write is considered "stream of consciousness," random thoughts that are popping around in my mind right now. But I'm going to use bullet points, because I need my stream to be tidy and well-organized.

  • I've always loved to write. As a child I filled countless spiral notebooks with stories (mostly just a lot of "Chapter 1's," but still...). Then I moved on to journaling, and writing letters. I wrote a heap of letters to Ben when we were dating, during a season of separation, and reading them now both proves my naivete at the time and reminds me of all the reasons we fell in love. And now I blog, more rarely than I wish, but as often as time and energy permit. I generally consider myself a gifted writer, not Pulitzer Prize material, but enjoyable enough to read. Today, though, I had the pleasure of reading the blog of someone monumentally talented, and I felt immediately and terribly insecure about my own writing. I ridiculed myself for thinking that anyone would want to read what I write and had to resist the urge to delete this entire blog and save the blogosphere from my uncleverly turned phrases. I have no inner resolution to this just yet, but I decided to write today in defiance of my own insecurity. Ha!
  • I was cleaning the kitchen today. I love to clean. I love to put things into order and make my home pleasant and cozy. It's a cathartic experience for me, and always my go-to therapy when I'm angry or upset or worried. Today I wasn't any of those things, but I am having company tomorrow and my house is a disaster. So anyway, I was cleaning. The downside to cleaning is that it gives you time to think, and in my case, lots of time to worry. I struggle with anxiety and trusting God for the unseen on a daily basis (I don't think I'm alone in that), and today as I started washing up dishes all I could think about was money. We don't have enough of it, we can't seem to make it stretch the way we need it to, and even though we spend less and less we don't ever seem to have more and more. I started my inner dialogue of shame and regret for having lived above our means for a very long time and how much that is impacting us now, and I felt a heavy sickness in my stomach. I hate worrying. The Bible tells us not to worry. Period. God provides. Period. God is faithful. Period. I have witnessed His faithfulness in my life at so many turns that it amazes me that I can still be untrusting. So today, standing in the kitchen with a hundred burdens on my shoulders, I decided to start praising Him. I just started singing, loudly and triumphantly and determinedly. And God came. I love those moments when I feel peace wash over me. More often than not I let the enemy drown out God's gentle whispers, but today I listened and heard, and I felt peace.
  • Our son Eli is 14 months old, and we're beginning to see moments of misbehavior and disobedience (not to mention tantrums and fits and meltdowns), and we're really struggling with how to approach discipline at his age. We've read the books, consulted our families and friends, googled it - and we find the same advice at every turn. Tell your child to stop and redirect him. Give him a time out - a very short time out - and explain why. Tell him, "Don't touch" in a firm voice with a grumpy face and move his hand - and if he continues, give his hand a little swat (or a flick, according to the pediatrician). But all we get, no matter what we try, is the most annoyingly adorable little giggle from our son. I keep thinking, "This is just the beginning. I can't believe this is just the beginning." Of course, this time is precious and fleeting and full of delightful moments, but some days... good Lord.
  • My dog has a very touchy stomach. She's been on prescription dog food since she was a puppy and as a rule, does not get any people food. Until Eli started eating in the high chair and sharing his food with "deedee." I don't know what she got into today, but she has pooped and puked all over the house. Blech.
  • I wish I was pregnant so that there would be an acceptable explanation for my still-protuding tummy.
  • I got a call this weekend from an old college friend, Katrina Stewart. I met Katrina in our Birds of Prey class at NNC and became friends with her and her husband Marcus. We hung out with them a lot the first year we were married, when we lived in our tiny apartment on Sunnyridge with all of our borrowed furniture. Marcus and Katrina moved to Alaska shortly before Ben and I moved to Indiana, and they sold us their beautiful entertainment center. At the time, it was the nicest piece of furniture we owned, and we were so proud of it. We've kept in touch with them through emails and Christmas letters, but haven't seen them in seven years. So I thought it was ironic (don't roll your eyes if I don't quite understand irony - I told you I wasn't a very good writer) that on the weekend when we were finally selling the entertainment center at a yard sale, Katrina called to tell me that they were in town. I asked her if they'd like to buy it back, but she declined. She and Marcus are coming over tomorrow night to have dinner and take our little boys to the playground. I'm excited to reconnect with our old friends and reminisce about the days of cookouts and pumpkin carving parties.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

tiny pet peeve

I hate when someone says "each and every one." It's redundant.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

how bittersweet to watch my child grow

I had the rare joy of getting my sweet baby boy to cuddle with me today in the big, comfy rocker where we spent so many hours this time last year. Elijah is almost 14 months old, and every day he becomes less of a baby. I love to watch him grow and change. I have the incredible privilege of staying home with him every day (for now), and I am amazed at the ways he changes right before my eyes. It's such a wonderful and heartbreaking time. I can't wait for each new stage, each new word, new skill, new understanding. I can't wait until Eli can talk with me and until I can teach him and read with him. And in the next breath, I want to freeze time and hold him in that rocking chair forever. I imagine it will be this way for the rest of his life. I'm sure my mom still feels that strange mix of elation and heartache when she looks at me. Oh baby boy, what a constant reminder of God's goodness to us.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

actually, i am...

Right off the bat, I must tell you that I stole this idea from my friend Whitney, who I am certain stole it from no one. She is simply brilliant on her own. She wrote one about me, but it was far, far too generous. I thought I'd make it a bit more accurate.

I am: insecure
I think: more slowly than I used to
I know: useless pop culture trivia
I want: to be less critical
I have: a happy, funny, adorable son
I wish: I kept a cleaner home
I hate: migraines
I miss: my waistline
I fear: cancer, car wrecks, nuclear war... you name it
I feel: weary
I hear: the dishwasher - strangely, one of my favorite sounds
I crave: Starbuck's Java Chip ice cream
I search: for contentment
I wonder: about the what-ifs
I regret: not always valuing virtue
I ache: for anyone who doesn't know God's love
I care: what other people think of me
I always: pretend that I don't
I am not: high-strung
I believe: that Jesus loves me
I sing: joyfully
I dance: awkwardly
I cry: often and loudly
I don't always: floss, even though I know better
I fight: my human nature
I write: honestly
I never: know when to bite my tongue
I listen: without judgment
I need: affirmation. Lots and lots of affirmation.
I am happy: today

Thursday, June 12, 2008

golfing with ben

I had a simply wonderful day with my husband today. Ben and I have been married for almost eight years, and he's been my honey since I was nineteen. He has always been my best friend, my sounding board, my cheerleader. There's always good conversation and laughing. Lots and lots of laughing. But as life tends to go, with careers and children and more to do than we have time for, we don't get a lot of "us" time these days. I decided that as part of his birthday week (yes, at our house we get a week - and I often get a month), we would spend a day playing golf together. We used to play quite a bit pre-baby, but it's been ages since we got to go. So I was really looking forward to a day on the links with my buddy.

We dropped Eli off at a friend's house and headed to the beautiful Red Tail course in Beaverton. It was as pretty as it was described on the website, and unfortunately for me, as challenging. I'm not what you'd call a "good" golfer. I learned a new rule today - the "you can't score higher than double the par" rule. I got to use that rule on nearly every hole. Poor golfing aside, I so enjoyed the warm, sunny day, a couple of cold beers, and uninterrupted conversation with my sweetie.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

you really want to hate her

I've known my friend Liz since preschool. From what I've been told, we both liked to chase boys. Our mothers became friends, and it just happened that Elizabeth went to the same Catholic school where my mom taught (and therefore I attended). We were inseparably best friends throughout elementary school. We carpooled to ballet together for years. I have vivid memories of us in the back of her van, changing into our leotards and tights and eating crisp apple slices and carrot sticks. Or the thrill of seeing our recital costumes for the first time (minus the unfortunate misstep of the butter tub hats). Or waiting in the wings at Jewett Auditorium, counting the beats until we made our grand entrance as rose attendants, playing cards, or guests at the wedding of the Little Mermaid.

Eliza (as she was known then) and I shared a love of writing stories. We created and performed elaborate plays on the blacktop playground. We spent nights snuggled up in her amazing playhouse, pretended to be mermaids in my swimming pool, ran away from the orphanage in my grandmother's old hats, and solved mysteries as detectives Snyder and McGraw. We had wildly active imaginations and the 1980's freedom to roam our neighborhoods without adult supervision.

We also got into trouble. A lot. Once when Liz was playing at my house, we decided to investigate the attic. I'd never been to the attic, and I wasn't even certain we had an attic, but I knew there was some kind of door on the ceiling of our huge walk-in pantry. So we hauled inside my dad's enormous, rickety old wooden ladder and somehow manuevered it up the stairs to the kitchen and into the pantry. It was a tight squeeze. I was on the top rung of the ladder when we heard my parents returning from their bike ride. (Yes, children, in those days parents went out bike riding and left their children home alone. It was safe - I think.) I scrambled down the ladder and we raced down the stairs. I remember that my dad was coming in the back door just as my left foot rounded the corner at the bottom of the stairs. I don't know what we were expecting - that he would see the ladder and think, "Man, I can't believe I brought this ladder in here and forgot to take it out?" We had just made it to my bedroom when we heard my dad yell "ALISA!" in the "you are in so much trouble right now" tone. And I was.

Liz and I went to different junior highs and quit ballet, and we drifted apart for a few years. We became close friends again when my family moved into a house across the street from hers. How thankful I am today that my parents chose that house! Liz and I remained tight friends through high school and college, and I watched as she slowly became the brilliant, talented, funny, self-effacing, and ridiculously beautiful woman she is today. Liz is gorgeous, no doubt. I swear she has absolutely no fat on her body, which is sickening. Her saving grace is that she has a warm, genuine, charismatic personality that makes it impossible not to love her. Liz is kind and compassionate, funny and humble. She is the single greatest hugger I've ever encountered. She hugs you long and tight and makes you feel like you are the most important and loved person in her world. I would walk to Seattle for one of her hugs.

Liz is now married (to a truly awesome guy) and her name sounds like that of an investigative journalist - "Elizabeth Broenneke reporting from the front lines" - although she is actually a very successful accountant. Liz and Jason live in Sammamish, Washington and are two of the most down-to-earth, enjoyable people I know. We are separated by miles, but she is always close to my heart.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

things i love and things i hate

Things I am loving right now:
  • Rock Band. I love to play with Ben. I'm best on the drums, suck on the guitar, and love to sing.
  • Books. I've been reading up a storm lately. Some good recent reads - The Bright Forever, The Jane Austen Book Club, A Room With a View. I'm looking forward to reading The Russian Concubine next.
  • Reality shows. I love the Legally Blond show on MTV, Top Chef, So You Think You Can Dance. I can't wait for the new seasons of Shear Genius and Project Runway to start. I'll watch anything on Bravo.
  • Sweet Cream ice cream with fresh strawberries from Coldstone Creamery. In a waffle bowl.
  • Being thirty.
Things I'm not loving:
  • Slow Oregon drivers. People here do not speed. I speed. I am a speeder.
  • The crappy weather we've been having. We keep hearing that it's a fluke, that it's usually really nice and sunny and warm this time of year in Portland. It had better be.
  • Cooking. I do through phases of being a really good cook and enjoying making dinners. This is not one of those phases, sadly.
  • Headaches. I am still having headaches every day and migraines every two or three days. Still. I haven't had a day without a headache since Eli was born. I'm going to try acupuncture. I hope I don't end up on Dateline... "All she wanted was to lose her headache... "
  • Elijah's new habit of having mini-meltdowns when he doesn't get what he wants. Or doesn't know what he wants. Or doesn't know how to tell me what he wants. Who does he think he is, a toddler?
  • Did I mention the weather?

eli at 13 months

I am currently head-over-heels in love with my son. I'm sure I'll say this every few months, but he's at such a fun stage right now. At 13 months (give or take), he's fully walking and constantly "talking." Walking has become a source of endless entertainment for us both. Eli's new favorite activity is to pick up two random objects (a yellow ball and a dish towel, for example) and carry them around. He sticks his belly out, holding his two precious items up in the air, and wanders all over the house, mumbling to himself, "ba da rar ga sha" with an occasional ear-piercing screech or top-of-his-lungs "RRRAAARR!" Kind of like a crazy old man, but adorable. Eli has recently taken great interest in Molly, our 5-year-old Yorkie. He has figured out that doggie has her own toys, and thinks it hysterically funny to let Molly take her toys from him. He tries to play tug-of-war with her, which usually ends with him falling hard on his bottom and laughing gleefully. He shows Molly affection by bending over and rubbing his head on her. To her credit, she is wonderfully tolerant of him and even gives him little kisses now and then, just to show that she's a good sport.

The other great thing about this stage is his growing vocabulary. He can say several words - dada, mama, "doddy" (doggie), "ma da" (my dog), "dat?" (what's that?), "pssh" (please), and "dadu" (thank you) on a fairly regular basis. Whenever he hears a car, truck, or airplane go by he says, "Rrraarr!" Apparently, vehicles sound like dinosaurs to him. Our days are set to the soundtrack of a constant stream of babbling punctuated by shrieks, screams, yelps, and howls that I thought could only be made by rain forest animals. I can't understand most of what he says, of course, but I'm pretty sure he's solving the energy crisis or forming an exit strategy for the war.

Eli is also a champion beggar. I rarely manage to get his dinner and our dinner on at the same time, so inevitably he is done before we are. No matter how much he's had to eat, he will beg for every bite of our food. He stands in front of us and marches, right left right left, hyperventilating and whimpering until he finally just goes for it, snatching whatever he wants right off our plates.

Of course, this wonderful age is also the beginning of the tantrum-throwing, leg-clinging, meltdown-having stage of the toddler years. There are days that I long for grandparents to be nearby. But whenever I feel like I'm going to absolutely lose it, I remind myself that these days are short and precious. I look at my little boy, his angelic blond curls, sparkling blue eyes, and dimpled grin, listen to his sweet baby voice, and know that I am impossibly blessed to be his mommy.