Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Onward and Upward

We're playing catch up this week as we traverse the recovery trail. Jonathan's eye is 90% better, Chloe's hair is what it is, and I am coughing only at inconvenient times (on packed subways, in the middle of telephone conversations, etc.) rather than all the time. The weather is warming and the air has that hopeful smell of spring thaw. Today I am thankful that God is a God of renewal, that these small recoveries hint at the greater redemption of this life and this world.

In church planting matters, our focus is shifting toward two things. The first is fundraising, the second is relationship building and core group gathering. Over the next few months, we hope to raise enough money and pledges to support the ministry for three years. Fundraising for three years rather than simply one will allow us to focus intently on building the ministry without the distractions of additional campaigns. The second part, the relationship building, is a delight. We have coffees and meals and great conversations and meet all-around interesting people. We share our vision with them, ask for their insight, and invite them to join us in one way or another. Relationships take time and effort, and it seems that is where much of our time and effort is spent right now. Not a bad place to be.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

One Rotten Week

There is a blob of pink sparkly Dora the Explorer toothpaste in our bathroom sink. It's been there for three days, and every time I wash my hands or brush my teeth, the presence of the toothpaste irks me. It's gross and garish and doesn't have any right to be there.

But I haven't cleaned it up.

I also haven't swept up the small piece of garlic breadstick that lurks under the table (which is an invitation to every roach within 3 blocks). Nor have I prepared meals or showered as regularly as I should have. The flu that we've all been battling has ushered in a mighty lethargy, and it has settled into the apartment like a lingering house guest. Honestly, we're all just exhausted.

And no wonder. In the past five days, we've:

  • been to the doctor 3 times

  • been to the pharmacy 5 times

  • been awake the majority of 4 nights

  • spent $100 on cold remedies and prescriptions

  • used up over 600 Kleenex

  • blew our budget on delivered food
  • watched way, way too much TV

Jonathan has this strange eye thing going on; he looks a bit like he was in the middle of a bar brawl. The doctor used an ink pen to outline the area so she could monitor the migration of the redness.

And Chloe, well, Chloe cut her hair. I'm convinced now that the act was brought on by temporary boredom-induced insanity. We tried to take her to the salon on Thursday so they could attempt to heal her hair, but something in the air made her cough incessantly. We left and tried again today. This is what we walked away with:

Side without Chloe-administered cut

Side with Chloe-administered cut

The stylist took off 8 inches of length from the back, hoping it will make it easier for the hacked off section of hair to catch up. It saddened me.

I'm looking forward to next week. I mean, I really can't wait. This week needs to hit the trail, and how.

P.S. A Jeopardy afterthought:
The answer: Chicken feet in the meat department and a man riding a unicycle.
The question: What are two things I saw on my trip to the grocery store today?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Why on earth...?

I just discovered a 15 inch long section of Chloe's hair in the wastebasket.

She cut it off and can't tell me why.

She now has bangs on the side of her head.

The rest of her hair remains, long enough that it reaches her lower back.

What are we going to do?

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

He's My Little Ostrich...

...with his head in the sand.

Jonathan is sick--we're all pretty darned sick--but he doesn't like to take his medicine and "hides" here, between the couch and the register. Today he fell asleep there for a few moments.

Steve's parents were in town for a long weekend. We went to the American Girl store and the Museum of Natural History and showed them around the neighborhood. It was nice to be able to share the city with them for a while.

But in my mind, I had this conversation with them:

Me: Hi, Mom and Dad. Are you fully recovered from the stomach flu that we gave to you over Christmas, the last time we saw you?
Them: Oh, yes. It was awful, but we're over it.
Me: Good. It's been nice having you here, seeing you again. And here's a little going away present--the respiratory flu! That's right, nose that runs like a faucet, fever, aches, cough, the works. They're all yours. Thanks for coming!

Chloe came down with the flu the day they got here. Jonathan and I were hit with it on Monday. Steve's mom was starting to feel miserable right before they left.

I would not blame Tom and Marilyn if they don masks and gloves and hose us down with Lysol the next time we see them. I might just do that myself.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Visitors Welcome.

What makes a church attractive to you? What characteristics of a faith community would catch your eye, pique your curiosity, encourage you to attend?

One of the things we've had to consider as we plan for this church community in Lower Manhattan is how we're going to let people know about it, how we're going to invite people to check it out... our (dare I say it?) marketing.

Marketing is a new church necessity, especially in a city the size of Manhattan. It needs to go beyond a "Visitors Welcome" phrase on a church sign (we won't even have a church sign, for pete's sake). Whatever form it takes, it needs to be honest, true, full of integrity. It needs to be warm and welcoming.

It needs to begin telling the message of Grace.

It's easy for the message to be confused, however.

Last week, a local church invested much money in the printing and distribution of a large, beautiful postcard that told of their church, their worship times, etc. A postcard was placed in the middle of every Metro, a free newspaper that many people grab on their way down the subway steps in the mornings. Daily readership is close to 500,000. Unfortunately, the postcards tended to fall out of the newspapers as people grabbed them, carpeting the sidewalk with litter. Ouch. The confused message: Come to our church, we add to the trash in the city. Come to our church, we don't care much for the environment. Come to our church, we're just like every other business that tries to shove fliers in your hands.

I don't want to be too hard on that particular church; I just want to show how easy it is for the message to be misunderstood.

Another church I've recently seen uses this line on its website: "Come check us out! We've got free Krispy Kremes and coffee after every service!" What does that imply about the values of the church? Would it encourage you to attend?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Best Workout in the World

Who needs Yoga Booty Ballet or Turbo Jam?

Here's the best workout in the world.

Take a lightweight umbrella stroller and load it with an child who is, in all honesty, too big for it. Attach a 5 year old who doesn't like mornings and is complaining about her snow boots. Now run for a half mile on a slight incline while pushing the stroller through 2 inches of snowy slush. Add pelting sleet. About two blocks in, have the 5 year old begin to cry and pull back on the stroller, for a little extra resistance.

It works every every muscle in your body, including the patience muscle (which for me is located in my jaw somewhere).

Watch for the infomercial. I'm going to package this with the Eat Your Children's Leftover Mac and Cheese for Lunch diet and make a million.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Honest People, Google is a Gift, and Cannoli Condolences

Sunday afternoon I found myself in the middle of laundry with not a quarter in my possession. As I often do, I asked Chloe if I could buy some quarters from her piggy bank. She readily agreed; dollar bills are easier to count than quarters, anyway, she said. I reached into my purse to pull out my wallet. It wasn't there. I swished around the purse contents a bit...and my wallet wasn't there. I tipped my purse on end, pennies rolling to the far corners of the apartment. My wallet wasn't there!
I was horrified. I recalled reaching into my wallet to pay the taxi at church that morning, and I knew: Somehow, my wallet did not make it back into my purse and was currently sliding across the backseat of a yellow cab. It was gone.

I called the credit card company and the bank--no charges that day and new cards on the way. I called the taxi company and filed a half-hearted lost item report. I called the state and ordered a new license. I called myself a fool.

On Monday, I commiserated with Anne Marie. She listened and shared in the agony of my story, but then she did something really comforting. She bought me chocolate cannoli. Fresh from a bakery in Soho, filled to bursting with chocolate cream cheese and petite chocolate chips...
I sat at the table and tasted every bite, thinking that if there were a substitute for a lost wallet, chocolate cannoli may be it.

Five minutes after I finished the cannoli, Steve called. "Dana, a woman has your wallet. Her name is this, her number is that, and Get This: the pastor from Caledonia Christian Reformed Church called and gave me this information."

Now, Caledonia CRC is our home church in West Michigan, and it's a long, long way from any yellow taxi cabs.
Turns out, this lovely, honest woman found my wallet in her taxi on the way to church Sunday morning. She searched for our phone number, but we have no land line and are not listed. She Googled my name and found some minorly interesting but unhelpful information. She had the good sense to see Steve's name on our insurance card, Googled him, and found on Caledonia's site the information about his ordination this past fall. Worth a try, she thought, and gave them a ring. They, in turn, called Steve, and my wallet was back in my possession 2 hours later.

Thank you, God, for being a God of details.
Thank you, Wallet Woman, for being honest, persistent, and computer literate.
Thank you, Google and Caledonia CRC, for posting Steve's name.
And Thank you, Anne Marie, for a great cannoli.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Winter Jam

We checked out Central Park's Winter Jam this Saturday afternoon. Winter Jam's big draw is the winter sports: snowboarding, cross country skiing, snowshoeing. What might have posed a problem--the fact that the city has had only a trace of snow this winter--was simply an opportunity to haul out the ol' snow making machine from behind the shed. We arrived in the park to find two piles of snow surrounded by acres of grass (see the top pic). One pile the snowboarders used, the other pile was simply an invitation for snowball fights. Our friends Anne Marie and Ezra joined the fun and we throw snowballs (that term is generous, especially where Jonathan was concerned; he mostly threw snowflakes) until we were all soggy and cold and ready for a good cup of hot chocolate. The line for free Dunkin' Donuts hot chocolate and donut hole (that's right, singular) was unacceptable, so we chose a much cozier alternative, a visit to the Buttercup Bakeshop. I can appreciate a cupcake with as much frosting as cake.

Friday, February 09, 2007


Fashion Week
Fur Coats
Designer Bags, Designer Strollers, Designer Dogs
Apartment Envy
Gourmet Restaurants, Cafes, Bakeries
Broadway shows
Barney's and Bloomingdale's

I've encountered a struggle with contentment in this city.

It's not as if I covet any certain item...it's the More of the city that gets to me.
There are so many good things here; everything has the potential to be upgraded.

More choices than ever before, more expensive than ever before.
More unattainable.
More to say "No, thank you" to.

And the marketing machine is in full gear, on every building, bus, and billboard.

Yesterday, I found myself thinking that a fur coat wouldn't be half-bad.
It is not an exaggeration to say that particular desire had never, ever crossed my mind before yesterday.
But there are many fur coats wandering around this city, and they look so warm and soft and lovely that my own coat seems threadbare and boring.

I am an Israelite, grumbling in the wilderness, telling God that his daily provision of goodness just isn't good enough.

I know this, yet my eyes linger long on the upgrades.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


The weather has been oh, so cold here this past week. The kind of cold that makes your whole body tense, makes you angry at the wind, makes you wish you had found your long underwear when you set out to look for it three weeks ago. We've been staying in a little more because of the cold...I've had some tantalizing books waiting for me at the library for a week, but it's a 12 block walk and I just can't get the gumption to do it. Maybe tomorrow.

We're getting a bit of cabin fever, I think. The great big gift of this city is shrinking down to the confines of
our teeny, tiny apartment.

We need to get out more. I realized this today when I became really quite disproportionately giddy over the fact that our super fixed the dryer in the laundry room so that it no longer cooks our clothes (ah, the smell of unburnt fabric softener). I also had to resist the urge to call everyone I know to tell them that the maintenance guys put weather stripping in the windows, and the Daft Draft is no more. Also, I've reminded Steve 3 times that Lost begins again tonight (yippee!).

It's off to the library, post haste!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Since I'm Not Watching the Super Bowl

...and Michelle tagged me, I'll share with you my

Motherhood/Homemaker Quirk Confessions

  • If you ask me, I'll tell you that I keep chocolate chips in the apartment for baking convenience. A bit closer to the truth would be that I keep them for emergency chocolate fixes, which usually occur on a daily basis and at regular intervals throughout the day.
  • I will inhale lightweight fiction (Sophie Kinsella, et al.) while drying my hair, preparing Chloe's lunch for school, playing Uno with the kids (I can multi-task with the best of them). However, it takes me a good month to read through non-fiction books (which explains why Total Truth has been on my sidebar for so long. It's not from lack of blogging updates, I'll tell you that much).
  • I play with the kids' silly putty while I watch TV at night.
  • I will fill my sink with dirty dishes and hot, sudsy water, then I'll walk away. I hope that somehow the dishes will wash themselves while I am busy doing more important things, like blogging. They never do. But sometimes Steve comes home in the interim and is baffled by the abandoned sink, so he does them. Which is just as good.
  • Grapes are $4.49/lb at my local grocery store. I know that's not a motherhood confession, but someone should be confessing to something related to that, because it is just wrong.

Consider my tag obligations complete...

Friday, February 02, 2007

Songs I've Loved To Death: The Early Years

I mentioned in my last post that at certain times in my life, I listen to the same song over and over again until I can't stand it anymore.

In other words, I love the song to death.

Right now, that song is "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" by Celtic Woman.

But last night I started thinking about all the songs that have perished under the weight of my affection, and I saw a perfect opportunity for a beautiful bulleted list, which may or may not be in chronological order.

Hence, Songs I've Loved to Death: The Early Years

  • Elvira, by the Oak Ridge Boys. My dad bought a used truck with an 8 track. The Oak Ridge Boys came with the truck (bonus!) and I used to go sit in his truck in the garage and listen to Elvira. "Giddy up, um boppa mouw mouw..."
  • Sing Your Praise to Lord, by Amy Grant. Age to Age was the first album that was truly mine, and the instrumental lead-in to this song was thrilling.
  • Friends by none other than Michael W. Smith. The second album I owned. I dreamed of having friends who would sing this song to each other and vow to never, ever change. Wasn't really the point of the song, but that's how I heard it.
  • I Think We're Alone Now by Tiffany. "Children, behave! That's what they say when we're together..." Deliciously rebellious.
  • Only in My Dreams by Debbie Gibson. I always thought Tiffany and Debbie should be best friends.
  • Word Up by Cameo. My sister and I recorded this one off the radio on her Sidestep boombox. That's some serious dedication: Sitting by the radio until the song comes on and then hurry-up! Push record! Push record! Inevitably we missed the first few seconds of the song or had to endure a fade-in from the song previously playing.
  • Parents Just Don't Understand by DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. My friend Michelle and I could sing it word for word one summer when our families shared a rented cottage on the lakeshore.

That's it for the early years.

Share--what songs have you loved to death?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

It's Just a Crush

I go through these phases where I am utterly dedicated to a treat of some sort or another. When given the choice, I pick that treat over and over until my crush fades due to over-exposure. I do the same thing with music, and someday I'll write a list of all the songs that I've listened to until I couldn't stand them anymore.

Today, I heart this: