Until We are Home {On Walking By Faith}


Earlier this month I boarded a plane alone with my four children. We were flying home to New York after nine glorious weeks of visiting our extended family in my hometown. Red eye flights always lure me in with their cheap rates and so at about 10 PM, cranky, tired kids in tow, I hugged my daddy tight, braved security checkpoints (the drama!), and we made our way to the gate. Two escalator rides, 5 bagels and 3 juices later, we arrived just in time for my youngest to collapse with her cheeks on the floor exclaiming, “My legs don’t work anymore!” while my son ran his forehead right into a sharp corner resulting in blood, a giant goose-egg and a mild concussion. The wailing was Olympic quality, I promise.

As other passengers looked one with sympathy, pity or the occasional raised eyebrow, others helped me with my bags and even ran to nearby cafes to get ice for my sweet boy. I was so overcome with their kindness and practical help that something in me just burst and I began to cry, right there in the airport. It was a good kind of cry, but I was faced with the reality not just with what was before me in that moment, but also the journey I was embarking on: leaving home once again and raising my babes away from papas and grandmas and aunties and uncles; relying in many ways on new friendships or complete strangers for support.

I write a lot about settling into life away from all I’ve ever known and the joys and challenges that come along with that kind of life, because that is my story- but in a way its the story of us all. At the Mom Heart conferences this year I was surprised by the common theme I kept hearing from women- they feel alone. So many of us it seems feel unstable, unsettled and ache for a deeper, truer kind of community and home.

In Scripture, James writes to encourage the early church and likens them to the 12 tribes of Israel in the Dispersion. This was a time when God’s people had been scattered all over the world by Babylon and Assyria and they longed to return to Jerusalem. God did re-gather his people and bring them home, and James used this illustration to encourage the Church, and even those of us today who are scattered throughout the earth. One day we too will be  re-gathered by our Father, but this time, to our heavenly home- the place our hearts ache for. But what are we to do until then?

Join me for the rest of this post today at Mom Heart

Remembering 9-11


 Originally published on September 11, 2011. 

This is a picture from my window of the memorial lights for the Twin Towers on the Eve of the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. 

Ten years ago, I was waking up with my six month old, groggy from a night time feeding, cuddling and cooing as I touched her button nose and she giggled back. We were preparing to leave my parents’ home after an extended weekend visit and my mom had left for work before we could say goodbye. She called four or five times before I realized I should answer her phone. 

“We are under attack, my building is on lockdown, turn on the tv.” I remember asking what on earth she meant, under attack by a gunman? This was only a couple years after the Columbine shootings, and new procedures had been set in place at her school. Any other attack was inconceivable to me. It just didn’t seem in the scope of possibility at all. She was crying now, “The Pentagon has been hit, the World Trade Center, there is another attack heading toward the White House.” I went absolutely numb. I woke my husband, relaying what I could, and I only remember the look of shock on his face and that I have never seen him move so fast. 

When we turned on the television, we watched as the second tower was hit, watched them both collapse; saw the fire of the Pentagon, prayed wildly as the last plane crashed in the field. We held our daughter close, so thankful for the responsiblity we had to keep calm for her, to play and have our responses tempered by her presence. I remember the relief when my parents and sister arrived back home and the safety I felt in having us all together. 

Ten years ago, I never imagined New York to be a place I would ever live, a city I would ever call my city. And yet, now, I hold it so dearly, call it my own, have a chosen affection placed here. As we unpack the events of 9/11 for our children, it is no longer in the context of an attack on America that ignited war, but it is something that happened in their city. They have walked through ground zero, frequented a hot dog vendor on Fulton street, tilted back their heads and imagined the towers in the open air space that is forever changed. They have met survivors and the seen the memorials of fallen FDNY on our block right alongside pieces of the WTC they can reach out and touch. And now, they have looked out their window to see the beams of light and the memory of what their view might have looked like a decade ago. 

In many ways, although they can’t remember, their understanding is so much more personal and I am praying today that I will respond well, answer well, not share too much…but just enough, and help them love their home and city and remember in their own way. 

A Day in the Life...


A few months ago, my sweet friend Joy posted about what a day in her life looks like. She had been inspired by our friend Tsh and the cycle had begun! Now I was inspired. 

Because here’s the thing: our lives are so wildly different and yet so very much the same. And I love that. I love that the colors and backgrounds of our lives in Indonesia, the Pacific Northwest and New York City are woven so similarly and offer up their own unique marks as well.

So, here is my own New York addition. I plucked a day from the end of our school year for you, because it is most representative of my “typical” day….and because I can think about it now and chuckle at the chaos while I sip my iced latte and let my kids do nothing but run in the sprinklers. Its also the type of day I don’t blog about too often, and I think its important to share the ordinary…no field trips, no movie premieres, no gazing at original Monets or VanGoughs. Just the simple, normal, yoga pants wearing kind of day that is most common for this mama.

6:00 A.M. Wake up.

I usually have to gently remove an arm or two from across my chest to get out of bed. I whisper a prayer that all the children will sleep just a wee bit longer. I inevitably wake the dog.  I make an espresso, sip it slowly while my dog gives me a pleading look to just please (for the love!) go outside. I lug on my rainboots, even in 100 degrees, over my pajama pants, put on a familiar cap to hide my hair and head to the elevator.


We walk to the east river across the street. We greet the same neighbors every morning, the ones with their own hats and pajamas who I’m quite sure have never seen me with brushed teeth or combed hair.Ever.


6:30 A.M. I make it back inside, sit at the table in my kitchen nook and sip my espresso while I read my devotional and write and pray in my journal. I check Mom Heart Online to make sure the scheduled post didn’t suffer a glitch and everything looks ok. Today, I accidentlially scheduled the for 1 P.M. so I scramble to fix it. I mutter thanks to God that I live on the East Coast and that its still only 4 A.M. out west.

7:00 A.M. Ususally a child has peeped out by now and we snuggle and don’t even speak. (We Kills, we are not morning people!) When I’m done reading and praying for our day I start to make breakfast. Its usually cereal. Sometimes its eggs. Today its eggs and yummy bread.  Josh and I usually steal a moment while we cramp in our kitchen making breakfast to kiss near the stove through sleeping eyes and low grumbles that say, “Yeah, I’m glad you’re here. I love you. What the heck are we going to do about all these kids that need to be fed?” And then we giggle when one of the kids, ususally the wild boy, streaks naked through the kitchen with a belly laugh. 


We talk and pray and eat at the table together. The children tell us their dreams and we talk about the day’s plans. It is an anchor for our day….all together, listening, letting Christ pour in through the reading of his Word. On this day, its the Jesus Story Book Bible before cereal spills all over the table cloth. I collect as much of it as I can and grab the mop for the floor. I think about how many times I have done this.

7:45 A.M I get ready, the kids get ready. We whip up beds and wipe up counters. The girls yell about where their brush is. Someone is wearing a shirt that doesn’t belong to them. A door slams. Josh and I tag team and talk to them about generosity and patience and grace. I have no idea what my younger two are doing. Did they sneak off to the other bathroom with the ipad? We realize we really need to get rid of the netflix app on that thing. We realize we need more coffee.

8:15 A.M. Our dog needs to go out again. I volunteer to take him. We live 10 stories high, so there is no swinging of the backdoor to send him out. I secretly love this. On this trip outdoors I see a good friend, we walk for a while together, make plans to meet on the lawn later in the day. A few mornings a week we go as far as the Belgian place on the corner and get lattes to sip while we walk.

I see another neighbor, a woman in her 70s that has come to be a grandmother to my children in the city. We talk about the health of her children, about the errands she has for the day, about a movie our husbands both love and what books on our shelves we’d like to exchange. We make plans for a visit so she can come for tea and to listen to Maia read from her new chapter book. We do our best to do this weekly.

8:30 A.M. I walk back inside, say hello to our porter, a man named Tito that cares for our building faithfully. He is cleaning the windows of our lobby. He knows my children well. He asks what we are going to learn about today. He tells me about his daughter, Halle’s age, and thriving in a pretigious school. He is so proud he is glowing. I’m thankful for him.

I come through our front door to the sound of piano playing in one room and a violin in the other, the children are practicing for their recital. It is all warbled and squeaky. My husband is ready to head to work and pulling his bike out from the behind the couch in the living room. Bike storage is over-rated. 

We all rush to the door to say goodbye and watch him decend the elevator. Music practice is done, and I check the chores. I give Jones and Lael a puzzle to work on and ask the girls to tidy their bathroom once more while I finish the dishes in the sink. I check Facebook and email, setting the timer first to keep me from slipping into a world that is not entirely real, but holds so many people I love. I link Mom Heart Online’s daily posts to Facebook and Twitter. I retweet and comment on a few things that are beautiful and interesting to me.

9:00 A.M. I whelp out to the children that school is starting and to please come to the table. Today is Thursday, so we read poetry together. We talk about the structure, about the feeling, relate some of what we are reading to what we know of the poet’s life. I swoon. Poetry is my favorite. On other days we focus on Art, Music Appreciation or Habits and Manners. We chart the weather, talk about the order of our day and the older girls lead a silly song about the days of the week and belt out the months of the year with the younger two. We go over our Memory work for the week from Classical Conversations.

 Halle reviews phonics flashcards with the younger two while I work on sight words and spelling with Maia. Then, we shift. Maia works alone on her words, and Halle begins copywork out of a giant jar filled with wonderful paragraphs holding scripture and wisdom. She has chosen one to memorize this week as well and I choose one for dictation. Its part of her grammar studies and fills her mind with great ideas. I set the younger three up with their handwriting, modeling from the white board and circling the table to check their progress. 


Halle moves on to independent reading and writing assignments (from her Classical Conversations class) while Maia reads to Lael on the couch. I step into the other room with Jones for a reading lesson. He takes a turn reading the book we have worked on to Lael while Maia swaps for time reading to me. The phone rings. I ignore it.

I get a text message…I answer it quickly and feel guilty for not being as thoughtful in my response. Why didn’t I wait until later?

I pull out Maia’s grammar book (Our Mother Tongue) and review some rules with her and introduce some new ones. Jones sits beside us studying and writing out his sight words for the week. Lael is camped on my lap with a baby doll. I begin Language Lessons with Maia and Jones while Lael runs off to cook in her play kitchen. 

10:45 A.M. My children are starving, apparently. I make a snack of fresh fruit and veggies, some crackers and cheese and let the kids run around like crazies. I realize its beautiful out and they haven’t had a lick of fresh air so we get our shoes on to head down the elevator.


10:55 A.M. We are finally getting down the elevator and out side after potty stops are had and missing shoes are found. Our dog has joined us for a quick run around our building.

11:20 A.M. We are back inside and ready to start math.  The children start on their review and drill worksheets that were laid out for them.  Lael pulls out a workbox and begins to match linky blocks to numbers written for her inside. I go make lunch.


11:45  Lucnhtime. Today its a “snacky” lunch: rolled turkey, apples and peanut butter, milk, cucumbers, cheese slices and carrots. We throw in a few handfuls of cashews and dried cranberries too. I pull out a book to read over lunch. Today its a history tale. The children clear the table and I check their drill sheets. Then out come the math books!

12:15 Jones takes a break with legos while I give Maia her math lesson. Lael wraps up her workbox and pulls out her number book while Halle is working on her math lesson with Teaching Textbooks in another room. Maia starts her review and practice problems while Jones swaps in for his instruction time. While he is working on his practice problems, I work with Lael and keep an eye peeled for any questions Jones and Maia have about new concepts. Halle comes in with a question about exponents. She has surpassed me. I make her call Josh to work through her question. I’m so thankful he is so much smarter than me!

1:15 Lael curls up next to me and we read two picture books. Then she is allowed to play a phonics game on the ipad and falls asleep within 20 minutes. Jones quietly plays with leggos. Halle and Maia are reading some their own assigned texts and we will discuss them together when they are done.

1:45 I pull out our pile of books for the day and gather my crew. Today, Halle is still reading on her own.  I sit near the map so we can talk about the locations we study. I also go over any important people or places or new vocabulary we will encounter. We read for about an hour. The children alternate their time snuggled with me or playing with playdough at the table, or quietly racing cars on the rug. I ask lots of questions as we read and after each passage or section each of the children narrate what they have soaked in. This is my absolute favorite time of the day. My heart comes alive with stories shared.

2:45 I let everyone play or finish up any work they need to. Halle and Maia make afternoon snacks for everyone. I pour a cup of tea and get some reading done myself. I have learned over the years that I must cultivate a quiet spot of time for myself in the middle of the day, or I just burst. Today, I’m reading Madeline L’Engle. I cling to every word on the page. She is my absolute favorite. I pull out a book I keep quotes tucked into and write a few sentences I have read and my thoughts about them below. 

I respond to an email. I respond to a notice on Facebook. I check comments on Mom Heart Online. I pray. Some days I excersise. Today is not one of those days!

3:30 I grab Halle to review her grammar work. This portion of her studies is also defined by an outside class, so we go over the concepts she learned and add on, working on classifying and diagraming sentences with the white board. Then she shows me her writing assignment progress. We talk about components of her work, about strong verbs and descriptive adjectives. She has written a paragraph on what she read in her earlier readings from the day and shows them to me to look over. I ask her questions and she shares what she read in two other books. 

4:00 Lael is awake and we are ready for some fresh air. We load out with scooters, waterbottles and some snacks. We meet a neighbor outside and talk for a while. The children race and run and I realize how sleepy I am….an iced latte is in order! We walk to the corner and soak up the energy of the city. I find the hum of it all comforting somehow. In an instant I can go from feeling isolated at home teaching the childen to experiencing the sense I am a part of this huge place with endless possibilities. The children show me their new scooter tricks on the return trip and weave in and out of one another on the sidewalk.


We head to the park next to swing and climb and play some more. Lael decides she wants to swing forever and I end up having to carry her home. Her scooter is lopped over my other shoulder and she is wailing about going home. My neighbors all give sweet nods and one distracts her enough to get a laugh from her. I’m so thankful that we are surrounded by people that love our kids and care to lend a hand when things get crazy for me! I’m especially thankful for all the older women whose children have been raised in this same place and are now grown. I’m thankful for their perspective and wise words…even for their sideways glances at a temper tantrum here and there. We run on our lawn, and eventually walk upstairs and through the elevator doors with smiles on our faces. It feels like a miracle.

5:30 I start to make dinner and phone a friend and text my neighbor who I somehow missed connecting with outside. The children are huddled together with a show on Netflix. I think its Phineaus and Ferb. Do I like that they watch that show? I consider this while I cook up ground beef. Tonight I’m cooking up tacos. Our meals are always simple and fast. Fresh, but easy. 

6:00 The kids set the table while I check email quickly. Tonight, this task is not witout some grumbling and I realize the countdown for Josh to be home is in full force! There is a time each day when the correction and training of our babes feels a bit much for me. The complaining at this moment feels too much. Maybe it is left over stress from the temper tantrum? Maybe I just need my hubby. I’m so thankful its warm out and that he is riding his bike…the train takes three times as long.


6:30 The kids are starving and Josh isn’t quite home. New York work hours and wee children’s  mealtimes don’t seem to be on the same rhythm. We are all at the table when he walks through the door at 6:45 to join us…yeah! The children are slowly excused and Josh and I talk about our day, kind of relishing the time at the table alone. I try to light a candle each night to make it more special. To make a memory in the midst of mundane. I start to clean up dinner and Josh wrestles with the kids and they all head outside to take the dog out. They love getting their wiggles out with him.

7:30 The kids get showered and pajama-ed and we sing and read and pray with them before turning out the light. I check out halfway through (I’m so tired!) and Josh stays to catch up and cuddle with the children as they fall asleep. I swoon at how much I love this man and the way he loves me and the children. I make a cup of tea and literally stare at a wall…ha! I think through our day and pray and ponder a bit. I pull out my Bible Study and make some notes. I write a to-do list for the next day. Our kids will talk together and share and giggle for a bit before they finally fall asleep at about 8:30.


9:00 Halle is still awake and wants to talk about some plans with friends tomorrow…she is a girl who is all about logistics! We talk through the upcoming outing, what time we will leave, how we will get there. She sighs some relief about my decisions for transportation and heads to bed to read and sleep. 

9:30 Josh and I pour some wine and watch a show on Hulu. It ends on a serious note and we realize we need some laughter and watch a silly favorite. Its comforting to be next to him, just sitting and laughing.

10:30 We shift around and finsish up loose ends for the next day. I make sure all the printables are in place for the children’s schooling the next day, I go over the editiorial calendar for Mom Heart and double check that what is scheduled for the morning is all set. (Most of the real work in these areas is done when a sitter comes over two afternoons a week, or on the weekend, but the OCD in me likes to have a last look over it all). We talk through our calendars and any new activiites that have come up. We share what we have read that day and pull out sweet nuggets that impacted us. I take our dog out for the final hurray of the night. He wants to walk for a while, and I won’t let him. Sorry,Buddy.


11:00 We look in shock at our oldest daughter, out of bed and unable to fall asleep. This is becoming more and more common. Josh heads into her room to cuddle her and pray. I read before he’s back to do the same. We fall asleep sometime before midnight…Which we both love. We are nightowls through and through. 

So, what do your days look like?