Do you have those moments when some life situation allows you to suddenly and clearly understand some other matter you’ve been struggling with? I do.

The moment came last night as I was carefully taking apart a book.

Every one of us has the potential to be remade. Though the pages may be stained with spilled beverages or grape jelly, though several different people may have written their names and ideas on the insides, though the spine may be broken and loose, though we have images and ideas bound onto us, and though we find ourselves on a thrift shop shelf for fractions of our worth, we can be remade.

We can be recreated.

That is good news, folks.

Are there any areas of your life you want to remake into something else? Your health? Your relationships? Your habits?

June is a terrible month for me. It always has been. Maybe it always will be. But today, I find myself determined to at least try…to take it apart and make it something new. So my first attempt is to acknowledge something good about June (just like I acknowledge that a broken, beat up, dirty book has a firm cover that can be used for my journals):

I finished the first draft of my novel on June 3rd.

Comments are re-opened, and I hope to hear from some of you. :)

Pax Domini.


Why Toilet Paper?

Jennifer asks the question on her blog.

This is a story.

She was thirteen years old, struggling as all girls do to make sense of her life and her own self. Her world was crumbling. Her grandfather–the only father figure she had ever known–had died; her siblings were growing up and moving out; her mother had moved them to a new city; her new school was as warm and welcoming as communism; and her new church was hokey. H-O-K-E-Y. Depression settled first upon her with the silence and wonder of October’s first snow, then buried her with the fury and drift of February.

She felt utterly alone, utterly isolated, utterly forgotten.

Her journal was her only solace. Day after day, she inked her frozen prayers on the pages, determined to cling to her faith rather than abandon it. She asked God to show her why He had brought her to this place. She asked Him why she existed at all. She asked Him where her father was and why he didn’t love her. She asked Him if there was anything beautiful or worthy of love in this life He had given her.

One Saturday evening, the girl sat in her bathroom shaving her legs–more for the privacy than for the need to shave. She wasn’t paying attention, really. Her thoughts were on Michelle, a girl at school who seemed to loathe her with incredible determination. The girl didn’t blame her. She pretty much loathed herself the same.

The girl hardly felt the razor slice through her skin, leaving a small pool of blood on her leg. She reached for the toilet paper, pulling several sheets from the roll and pressing it to her leg. As the crimson soaked through the toilet paper, the girl saw the design for the first time. How bizarre, she thought, to create toilet paper with such a design that nobody would ever take notice of or appreciate. And why would they? It was toilet paper, after all. The most common, crass invention, purposed only for disgusting things.

The girl was perplexed by it. She stole a spare roll of the Quilted Northern from below the sink and returned to her bedroom. Pulling out her secret stash of colored pens, she began to color in the design. Little circle by little circle, flower by flower, the toilet paper flourished out of its roll and into hands that would cherish it and ink its beauty.

As she did, she spoke to the toilet paper. “Even you are beautiful to one who will love you and give color to your design.” It was in her own voice that she heard God’s answer to her own feelings of commonness and unusefulness. Perhaps all she had ever needed was to know that there was a plan–that she, being who and where and what she was, was exactly as God desired her to be. Perhaps all she needed now was to allow Him to bring the color back into her life.

And He did.

The toilet paper has stayed with me for these many years. It will follow me to my grave, I’m sure. What began with colored pens and a search for purpose, grew into letters, poetry, songs, essays, bookmarks. It takes time and care. Have you ever tried writing on or coloring toilet paper? I dare you  not to rip it. I dare you not to let your ink bleed through it.

Take your time. Do and say the things that need doing and saying. Be careful, be intentional, and love your toilet paper.

Almost Christmastime

One of my all-time favorite Christmas songs was Almost Christmastime, sung by David Meece. I first heard it on the little white cassette tape that mom bought for us one year. At my former blog, I shared the story of a couple Christmases ago when my mom bought me a copy of this CD. I mention the song today only because I haven’t listened to the CD yet this Christmas. I listened to it some months ago when I was still looking forward to the season, but now that the season is upon us, I haven’t listened to it. I will remedy this today.

Still, with or without the song, it is “almost Christmastime!” I am excited. I’ve been busy preparing for the day, and I’ve enjoyed every moment of it.

I have finally finished felting my oven mitts and trivets. They are spread out to dry on the kitchen table and the coffee table. The trivets are drying very well, but the oven mitts are taking longer. I sure hope they are dry by Thursday! I have to admit, I love the way these have turned out. Even the colors I wasn’t terribly taken with have felted into a nice variegation. I just love how they’ve turned out. I am biased because I love red, but I do think Jesse & Sara’s turned out the best!

I still have to make three journals–for Clayton, for Daniel, and for Joy Forever (Joel & Erin’s baby). I am hoping to work on these today and get them finished. My only dilemma is that the tables are covered with oven mitts!

I’ve been baking, too, which is always fun. I still have pretzels to dip, which I’ve been putting off because of my lack of table space. But I’m hoping to make a dent on that today, as well.

I wanted to write a short little poem to put in the front of each of the kids’ journals. I’m not thrilled with what I’ve come up with, but I think it will do. I didn’t want it to be too heavy or too light, because it needed to be age-appropriate for kids ranging literally from not-born-yet to going-to-college-next-fall. If you have any ideas or think I could do better, let me know. Here’s what I’ve got–short and sweet:

Whatever your dreams,

whatever your fears,

when you are happy

and when you cry tears,

Your life is a gift

and in every season,

the Lord works together

all things for a reason.

So whatever life brings–

whether smile or frown–

remember each moment

and write it all down.

Okay. I’m off to…I don’t know. But I’m off!

Pax Christi!


Pre-Coffee Thoughts

It’s morning, I think. My brain didn’t get the memo, but the sun is up, and so am I. Forgive my disjointedness. Maybe I’ll offer a more coherent blog once I’ve had my coffee. For the time-being, you’ll have to settle for my update thoughts.

  • I’ve felted three of my Christmas projects. Agh. Nobody told me what a pain in the derriere felting could be. Still, the gifts are superbly cool. It is well worth it.
  • Is there truly such a thing as Christian Hedonism? What I mean to say is…can the idea of Christian Hedonism honestly (and adequately) be defended by scripture and orthodoxy? I’m doubtful.
  • Twelve-sixteen…Joy Ison, wherever in the world you are, Happy Birthday!
  • So about this Health Care Bill…I’m reading the Constitution again to see if I can figure out how it might be considered “constitutional” to require Americans to purchase Health Insurance. No worries, I’m sure some constitutional lawyer somewhere can squeeze it out.
  • And about IHOP…I’m very worried about this movement. I’ve been following Ben’s series of blogs about the IHOP “awakening” and it has helped me to consider more angles of this. In regards to IHOP, Ben and I happen to disagree fundamentally, I think–but he has some great perspective, nonetheless. If you’re not already reading Ben’s blog, go there now.
  • Twenty-seven days until Kristin comes home from Iraq!
  • Glenn Beck is on the radio! Woot! I’m gonna go be a sick, twisted freak now.

More after coffee.


It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Sometimes, in Winter, after the animals have stopped their midnight games of chasing each other through the house and tangling up all of my yarn, after all the lights are out, after my cassette stops playing, when the night grows very still, I lay in bed and I swear I can hear the snow falling outside. I love Upper Michigan!

I awoke to the sound of my neighbor kids laughing and playing in the snow with their dog. What a pleasant awakening! I couldn’t see out the windows very well because of the snow buildup, but I suspect they were building a snowman, or perhaps an entire snow family–there is certainly enough snow. And I suspect they will be here later in the day to get some sled time in at the Sand Pit behind our house.

Jenn and I may go snowshoeing behind the house today, but it’s hard to say. We still have a blizzard warning in effect until 1Am tomorrow, and out here, visibility can become non-existent without warning even when we’re not experiencing blizzard conditions. But I really want to go! I’ve been waiting to snowshoe all year!

I also wanted to get some photos of the Lake today. She is, very likely, raging in her fury today. We have a coastal flooding alert, too, though; which means that part of the Lakeshore will be closed. I may still brave it for a few minutes if there are pictures to be taken. I now have John, Kristin, and Erin asking for snow photos–John, because he loves snow photos, I guess; Kristin and Erin because they are a bit homesick and want to see the first big storm of the season.

Speaking of snow photos. I may try to do a collection of photos this winter. Every year I take the same photos–trees, the lake; trees, the lake; trees, the lake. Not that this is bad, because I love the trees and the lake in winter! I think I could photograph the trees and the lake and never get weary of them. But I suspect that I should challenge myself. So what if I keep taking the photos of the trees and lake that I so love, but also take photos of, say, every snowman I see? Or snow-covered mailboxes? Or fences? Or cars? Just a thought. It might be nice to change it up a bit and have a goal. :)

In the meanwhile, I’m working hard to get my Christmas gifts done. I’m starting to doubt whether I’ll make it in time! Kristin’s family will be waiting to celebrate Christmas until she is home in January, so I could have waited to finish theirs last…but…I…didn’t know that until after I had already made theirs. Heh. Anyway, my family keeps growing, and I am far poorer than I have been the past several years; so I decided to change the way I do Christmas.

Instead of buying individual gifts for all of my siblings (six), plus their spouses or significant others (five) plus mom (one), plus all their children (eight), I decided to transition to family gifts. Maybe this seems impersonal, but I think it’s a good plan. I always give each of the families a tin of chocolate covered pretzels; last year, I gave them homemade hot chocolate mix, too–the kind mom used to make when we were little. This year, I am going to make a goody basket with the chocolate covered pretzels, some homemade hot chocolate mix, and some homemade caramel corn (another great recipe from our childhood!). And the gift itself–which probably won’t seem very impressive, but remember, I come from a family of bakers and chefs (Pillsburys, to be sure!)–is a set of oven mitts and trivets. Oh, I can see you all dying of boredom already. Hehe. It’s not a fancy or fun gift, but it’s a practical gift, and I like them. I’m knitting them super-huge with wool yarn, and then I am felting them. They are actually superbly cool, for being such an impersonal gift. At any rate, I think my siblings will like them.

In addition to the one-family-gift rule, I’ve decided that I need to be encouraging my nieces and nephews to write more. Not that I don’t TELL them to write–because I do, but that I need to facilitate writing for them. So each year, the nieces and nephews will also receive a journal from me. This year, as you know if you read my blog, I am attempting the blue jean journals. I’m really excited about this, in spite of the fact that I’m not nearly as creative as I thought I was. I’ve got three almost finished, and will be working on the other five this week. Hopefully I’ll have them done by next week…maybe? We’ll see!

Joel and Erin are pregnant, which poses the big question. I know the lil one won’t be able to write in her own journal for a few years; but perhaps I should still make one, starting this year. Her mom and dad might write in this year’s journal about the pregnancy and their anticipation of her arrival. I’m not decided on this yet. I don’t know if Joel and Erin would even want to do that.

Anyway, I’m excited. I have to finish knitting the oven mitts for Jesse and Sara, and for Mom, and then it’s Felt Time! I’m soooooo excited. And yes, I realize how geeky it is to be excited about felting a knitting project. All I can say is…I’m proud of my geekiness. :D And, I’m excited about the journals, because I have a GREAT idea for the Hannah journal. I think. ;) The thing about it is, it’s hard to know how great the idea is until you’ve tried it and either succeeded or not. I bombed two attempts last night. Hopefully, the Hannah idea will work.

Speaking of which, I suppose I’ll go make a sandwich and get cracking on that journal! Christmas is only two weeks away!

Pax Christi, everyone! Enjoy the snow!


Blue Jeans for Jenny

You forced my hand. I have to blog about it now.

Anyway, I’m not trying to be funny with all that “it is, but it’s not” stuff. I just didn’t want to let the cat out of the bag. :P

I learned this year how to make fabric-covered journals, which–I know–sounds kind of dorky. It’s actually cool as snot. But since I’m a journal freak, and I’m always telling my nieces and nephews to “write, write, write, write, write it down”, I decided I would make them each a blue-jean journal for Christmas.

Needless to say, the “tear holes in them” idea is probably not going to work.*

I have eight journals to make, for four girls and four boys. The girls’ are going to be easier, I think, because there’s a lot of pretty things you can do with jeans–painting and sequins, as you mentioned, also embroidery, etc. But what about the boys’? Even the two younger boys’ journals won’t be difficult, I don’t think–they have younger, more natural interests still, you know–ships, trees, et cet. But the older boys? Uhm…I’m at a loss.

My goals are:

  • to use a belt buckle
  • to use different colored jeans
  • to stitch, paint, or design somehow each child’s name and the year on the cover
  • to use a butt pocket
  • to have some sort of lock/closure on each journal

Any ideas? I’d love some creative thoughts on this.

Pax Christi.


*I’m rethinking the holes. I might could make it happen…if I put another piece of material under the hole. The glue should be enough to keep the hole from fraying . Hmmmmmm. I think I might add this as a goal.