Tag Archives: fall

Lumping the Goals

Its is past mid-October. The earth keeps spinning and moving on its track at a speed I can hardly handle. Hours roll into days, weeks, months. They pass.

The last goal-specific post I wrote chronicled July’s achievements. August and September have had to fend for themselves. I wonder, if you work on the goals and don’t blog about them, was any progress made? Consider this a lumping together of August through October, even though October is not quite over. It is a good-faith post.

August found me back in the classroom for what I lovingly call My fourth year of a two-year stint. Year four has finally given me a groove, and the students and teachers I work with are the best. They make the days a joy and an adventure. Every day is full.

September found me on a flight to Seattle for the first of four sessions at The Allender Center at the Seattle School. I return in November, January, and March, which itself is a huge goal in the midst of being realized. For all who ask What will you do with your certificate when you are finished? that is an excellent question, and one I am fully considering.

Those are the two big events that I credit for the lack of time to blog about all of the smaller ones that have been happening.

I am still in the Bible daily. Jeremiah, I Timothy, Psalms, and Proverbs are where God meets me these mornings. I try to journal then and take time to be still. Steve and I pray together.

Connecting with family and the kids happens regularly. I am especially intentional about grabbing time with child four before he leaves the country at the end of November. Quality time with him looks like moments in the kitchen or around the table or in his almost-finished-but-moved-into room. We have taken walks together downtown. Celebrating his eighteenth birthday as a family at Wood Grill Buffet was a milestone.

As to the other kiddos, I have not been faithful about writing down the specifics of what we have done, but fall coffee drinks have been gotten, dog walks taken, shopping for clothes or desired objects has happened, and projects worked on together. Quality time is always a work in progress.

Steve and I still keep our Wednesday nights open for date night. We also try to grab as many walks together as possible and moments on the porch for coffee or a glass of wine. We know we need to do more and be more intentional about planning out our time. We continue to fight for what we know we need which is to be present together.

Connections with friends have looked like phone calls or coffee dates. I went to an overnight women’s retreat at my church with Angela. Impromptu connections with other friends have been sweet. Fun is still hard for me to come by and engage in, but I am working on it. This season of study is teaching me more about myself and my style of relating.

Stephen Ministry and worship team continue to be engaging. I have participated in both as much as possible and even got a bonus turn to sing on team as a substitute. That was a sweet gift. I updated the Stephen Ministry bulletin board for fall, as well.

Financially, we keep chugging along, and God keeps providing for all of our needs. Some ways are predictable like through the paychecks we receive for the work that we do. Others are more surprising and unexpected, like through the minor car accident that was not our fault but will replace the Jetta. In all cases we are humbled and blessed by our father’s provision.

Finally, writing. Moments like now, inopportune and hurried, are when it happens. I try to make time by taking it from somewhere seemingly less important and have kept up with the Red Tent submissions. August and September’s posts were published. As for my own blog, the number of new posts are fewer than I would like but are exactly what they need to be in this season.

To all who continue to faithfully read and engage my blog and life endeavors, thank you for your interest and care. You bless me greatly, and I hope you are blessed! Here’s to finishing out an amazing year!

My Jonah Moment

This summer I was gifted with a pumpkin patch.

It began with a sapling that Roo brought home from school on Arbor Day. Steve helped her plant it in the front yard, adding a bit of compost from the tumbler. Before long, a small vine was growing from the soil, and after that, it began to overtake the tiny tree.

I carefully uprooted the vine and transplanted to the backyard, behind the shed where the constant digging of holes by children had turned over and aerated the soil. Another mini vine sprouted and another and another. Each time, I removed the vine from the front yard to the back where they thrived.

There were four vines, total.

It was an exciting day when I noticed the first pumpkin beginning to grow. When we returned from July’s vacation, it was round and green, and there was another beginning to grow. All from a handful of compost.


I should note that each fall when we visit the pumpkin patch, I think, Next spring I am going to plant pumpkins.

Then I don’t.

Not every bright yellow flower turns into a pumpkin. It has to be a pollinated female flower, which doesn’t happen as easily as it sounds. The female flower opens for a day. It took awhile to notice that second pumpkin growing. Then the third.


Because the vines were planted at different stages, they produced at different times. And many female flowers blossomed and dropped off.

Three pumpkins! Come on number four!

Then it happened. Pumpkin number three grew rotten. A tiny insect had bored a hole into it that I didn’t see at first. I should have recognized it sooner, but by the time I did, it was mushy and hollow, and rolled right away from the vine.

I felt angry.

Just like Jonah.

You know, the time when God caused a vine to grow up to shade him, and then a worm came and gobbled a hole in it. I am not trying to make any more of a theological comparison other than here I was disappointed and disgusted that I was not getting enough pumpkins when I had not even planted a seed!

There were a few more pumpkins that started and then never developed fully. After all was said and done, I ended up with three pumpkins from my surprise patch. Two small. One large.


I also ended up with valuable insight as to the level of gratefulness that I fail to exhibit and the memory of the joy that the daily discoveries brought to me in my surprise pumpkin patch of 2016.

Scenes From Seattle, part 1

Because I have used up my 1,000 words, here are some pictures.

welcomeNothing says Welcome like chocolate. And an owl lamp.

restMy cozy resting place. I slept like a baby. Or maybe like a 2 year old. Either way, it was lovely.

img_5323The laptop I barely opened in the corner I loved.

img_5324Redemption truly does come in the strangest of places.

morning walkWalking to school.

The Seattle SchoolMy place.

coloringSo glad I decided to forgo packing all of the books and brought the colored pencils instead.

attachmentTaking notes in blue.

groupWhat I can share about group.

img_5340The ferry that I didn’t ride but watched come and go.


img_5347The precious people who loved me so very well all weekend. I love them.

img_5348Now I see my children not only in baristas, servers, and valets but also in street musicians. Of course I put money in the can in exchange for the picture!

Thanksgiving Wrap-up

Thanksgiving weekend has come to an end. November, with its month of thankfulness, is almost over.

I won’t pretend it was an easy month, an easy holiday, because it wasn’t. There were moments of goodness and thankfulness that I was grateful to feel before moments of darkness and pain settled around me more strongly.

There was a struggle to stay present and thankful through some incredibly hard moments that can’t be detailed here. Because privacy.

I battle depression and would be lying if I said that it isn’t threatening to take me down these days, this season. The first step is recognizing the danger zone and admitting that I am in a vulnerable place. The second is reaching out and speaking up. The third is taking action and making a plan.

All three have happened, are happening, will happen.

I don’t know why life is so hard and the struggle is so real, but it is. I am grateful for those on my team who walk with me through the darkness and point me to the light.

One place of light was this tree of life moment Thanksgiving morning.

My husband woke me with a cup of coffee and the words, Do you want to come out and watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade?

He had gone to the store in the early morning hours and purchased an antenna to hook up to the TV to capture the signal for NBC. Each year since our move to this house, Thanksgiving has been the one day I have longed for network TV to watch the parade. Each year we miss the opportunity, and I move on in hopefulness to the next.

Thanksgivings past have found my parents recording the parade for me to watch later or me heading over to their house to watch it. I have ignored it completely or deferred hope to another time down the road. This year it happened as I snuggled up on the couch with coffee and my kids, and we watched the parade together.

Then they watched the dog show.

It was a tree of life moment for us all around, and though it would soon pass and challenges present, for a few hours Thanksgiving morning, we escaped into musicals and marching bands and musicians and dancers and balloons and floats and dogs.


Toothless watching himself in the parade is just one of many sweet moments shared together Thanksgiving morning.


Don’t get too envious of the technology you see here. 2/5 of the electronic devices resting on the entertainment console are not ours. They are also the most modern of the devices. But whose counting? We are grateful for generous family and friends who share the fun with us.


For time with just Roo, I am thankful.

Just Roo

For this heart-shaped leaf on a late-night dog walk, I am thankful.


For family pizza out, even when it’s stressful, and the difficult littles have become difficult bigs, I am thankful.

Kirk and Mae

For progress in the tearing down and in the building back up, I am thankful.

tearing down

For moments celebrated and milestones reached and unexpected visits from adult children, I am thankful.

For a body that reminds me of its need for rest and for care in the busy, I’m thankful.

For time to think and space to write and a blog to return to, I’m thankful.


Today I am thankful for grace. I am thankful to have learned and to continue to learn that it’s not all about me, whatever it is.

Today it was worship team.

I love singing. I love Sundays when I can be on team. This season there are none.

When the last worship team email went out to indicate availability, I knew that I could not be available for any of the Wednesday practices or Sunday morning services or the Thanksgiving or Christmas service, either.

I knew I had to take time off to better care for and more fully engage with my family, because we are running thin these days. Thinner than usual.

I needed to step away from external activities to step towards and love them well.

And that realization was hard.

I missed Community Worship this month to have Steve’s parents for dinner and not be rushing out to the next thing. It was not easy, yet necessary in order to be more fully present in my relationship with them.

This morning as I walked into the church building, I heard lovely singing over the speakers. Moving to our row, I saw and heard my sweet friend Grace on stage singing with the team for the first time. We sing the same part. She has a beautiful voice.

My heart was touched and opened as I began to engage and be fully present in the moment.

The gentle reminder of seasons coming and going, of God’s provision in each, and of freedom to step down and rest was overpowering. The reminder that stepping down allows another to step up, and that through it all God is glorified, was humbling.

I can let it go and breathe and engage and receive grace.

I am grateful.


These aren’t just any apples. They are Black Twig apples, brought in a keepsake basket by Steve’s parents to us. Just because.

More than the gift of tart, delicious fruit, I am thankful for the gift of having both sets of parents (and the children’s grandparents) close by.

I am thankful that the littles get to experience their Grandparents McClay in their own way.

Tonight that experience involved grandparents driving Coco to and from soccer practice and then joining us for dinner. We sat around the table together and enjoyed time. We hugged goodbye.

We shared life together.

That, and a love for crisp, tart, Virginia-grown apples.


I’m thankful today for fall leaves. Their brilliant colors remind me of the beauty to be found during times of change. The older I get, the more meaningful autumn becomes. I long to display beauty in each life season, and summer’s bloom is beginning to fade.

Welcome beautiful fall!

Little Mae brought a giant maple leaf and placed it on the table, commenting on how much she loved it. I nodded, not thinking much about where she would have found a giant leaf. Then it occurred to me, It was from the tree in our yard.

tree of friendship

Dubbed the Tree of Friendship in honor of my BFF who gave me a sapling years ago, it’s our only tree. I noticed how full the leaves looked and how beautiful the changing colors were. I noticed that there were some scattered on the ground.


I felt grateful.

Grateful for a friendship that has spanned years and seasons.

Grateful for the beauty of a tree with giant, colorful leaves.

Grateful for the dream of a big old house to fix up and fill with kids coming true.

Grateful for seasons and the anticipation of my autumn.

Grateful for the hope of beauty even in change.




I woke this morning thankful for breath. The ability to breathe in and out without obstruction or stress is a gift. The growth in the ability to breathe through obstructions and stress is also a gift.

Spending time in Psalm 104 this morning, I was struck by the vastness, the greatness of God. Reminded of the good gifts that He gives to all living things, to us, verse 29 stood out to me.

When you hide your face, they are dismayed;
when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.

I am so grateful to still have my breath, even in the hard. Even when I feel like I can’t, or don’t want to, go on, there it is. In. Out. Reminding me of the one who loves me and sustains me. Reminding me that I am still alive.

I am also grateful for music and for Fernando Ortega’s version of Psalm 104. Breathe in the goodness and enjoy!


This first day of November, when thoughts turn to thanks, I’m thankful for my marriage.

Thankful for a partner to journey with through life. Thankful that he is willing to help carry the baggage we bear together and to help examine the contents we’ve packed down tightly.

I’m thankful for the moments when we connect and for the hope we hold to in the moments that we don’t.

I’m thankful for choosing to carry on through the hard, when a lot of the time just feels hard. For the vows we made and agreed to keep.

I’m thankful for seasons.

I’m thankful for love and laughter and commitment.

I’m thankful for grace.

I’m thankful for us.

Just thankful.