Friday, April 29, 2011

Just As I Am (After I Try To Fix The Really Bad Things Myself)

Just over a year ago, my life was turned on its ear. It was still my life. I had not suffered a great loss, like so many that I love. But I remember a long string of days where I cried in the shower. I had officially become that cliche. It was strange to me, because I did not understand the source of it all. I couldn't articulate why my heart felt bruised, when there was really nothing to show for it. I couldn't wrap my mind around how something could feel perfectly right and painful, at the very same time.

It all started with the teeth incident.

The teeth incident turned into the great job losses of 2010.

The job losses turned into a big red sign in our yard.

So here we are, another foxtrot around the sun under our belts.

The sign in the yard isn't red anymore, but it's still there. It keeps toppling over so we stand it back up.

Who knows whether we'll stay or whether we'll go. But we have placed into the hands of Jesus something that ranked, at one time, too high on our priority list. You take it. Do with it what you please.

I glance over my shoulder and I see a girl trying to steady herself against the ground moving beneath her. Everything I thought I had done so right wasn't right at all, and even crazier? It didn't really matter. It was never God's ideal for me to do everything "right". I don't think he cared so much whether or not my kid had cavities. I don't think he was bragging to Moses about his Girl who was so wise with her money and lived such a lovely, quiet life in a lovely home in a lovely, quiet community.

He wasn't disappointed in these things either, but he knew that my life lacked the zing! that comes with loosening my grip on all those things which I held onto so ferociously. He knew that safety was a lie. He knew that life was so much bigger. And he knew that I could handle it.

So he reached down and shoved those strong rocks that made me feel so steady.

He reached in and taffy-pulled my heart.

He reached out and de-fogged the glasses of my soul with the hem of his t-shirt.

He climbed towers with a megaphone and screamed out cheers for me.

He sent me flowers and salsa and *you*.

He huddled Cory and I up super-tight and tied us together with a new, shared purpose.

We began praying, all those months ago, that we might land a part in his big jaw-dropper of a show. As it turns out, we had always been on the playbill. We had just simply failed to show up.

Here's what I can tell you for sure: If you ask for God to bring new people into your life, He will do it. We weren't really sure that we had the time - our lives were already so busy. We weren't sure that we could relate to the world around us - it had become terrifyingly clear that we had both lived our lives under the "protective" bubble that so easily sneaks up and covers Christians.

Still, we prayed.

One by one, broken people showed up at our rickety door.

And the table always could stretch a little further and the jar of oil never ran out.

In sharing a meal with friends whose laundry could use a hearty washing, we saw the filth in our own hearts. In playing board games with kids who have seen more than I ever care to, we recognized that we all want the same things: We want to connect. We want to be loved. We want to strip away the masks that we foolishly believe save our face and we want to just lose it.

Robert wants to believe that our love for him is just as strong when he tattoos the tops of both hands and is kicked out of school again.

Charlie wants us to see him as every single good thing that he is, despite the fact that his steadiest mailing address has been the state prison.

Renee wants to dare herself to believe that it was never about what she did or didn't "deserve".

Nancy wants to feel like she can be a good mom to her unborn baby, even if she doesn't have one tangible thing to offer her when she arrives.

You know what I want? I want every last one of them to see themselves as they are seen by the Only One who matters. I want them to believe that what He says is true. I want them to watch in amazement as He shows up in ways that no one else possibly could. I want them to feel cherished and included.

I also want all of those things for myself. And for you.

God can fix their brokenness and He can fix mine. All of it. Without me. The question is, do I really believe that? And if I say that I do, what does that mean?

We are all, every one of us, in a big heap of trouble without Grace. It covers. Can you feel it?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Stodge Podge

Warning!: I'm feeling a little soft on the inside.

In a good way.

I'm not going to go smearing Ugly Cry on your sleeve or anything, but I'm tied loosely nostalgic at the middle tonight, and grateful to the raggedy ends of my locks.

I guess a day topped-off with a bow-tied visitor bearing Swedish pastries will do that to a girl.

What started with mad dashes and soggy hair-dos and fusses mellowed into old-friend hugs, rain boots all around, and the kind of talks you might have with a friend who knew you from back-when, but who didn't really know you.

We mental-pictured the same little town, we smelled the same varnishy scent of the same little school. We rearranged things we thought we knew for sure and lamented the state of "the young'uns these days" with our legs crossed identically at the knees. We acknowledged our stodginess.

He moved on down the road and the babies woke up happy and the house filled up again with noise and spills and lock-eyed talks about what honesty really means.

I am the luckiest gal, for living this unexpected life. I'm learning new truths about myself and shucking the old lies like a bad shirt.

I'm square-dancing on common ground and waltzing across a wide floor of New.

I'm finding plenty of room in here.

I'm finding that "old" is quite relative and stodginess, in the grand scheme of things, is underrated.

(This one's for you, Jason!)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Groovy Like That

The bigger kids and I made homemade lava lamps.

I got the idea here.

I was all excited to tell them what we were about to do.

Lava lamps!

Blank stare.

We're gonna make some!

Wrinkled brow.

Oh yeah, I barely know what a lava lamp is.

But homestacks are always up for some groovy fun.

And if a trip to Dollar General is in the cards?All the better.

This is all you'll need.

Find step-by-steps here.

Your kids will morph into mad scientists and scientistas before your very eyes.

Behold - the power of the lava lamp.

I have to admit, I had trouble looking away, too.

In fact, I just decided: I'm on a mission to Bring Back the Lava Lamp!

La-Va! La-Va!

Come on, join in!

It's like a peace protest only...for lava lamps!

Bring 'em back, Jack.

You know you want to.

After all, what else could command this sort of rapt attention?

What other chemical reaction could inspire a pint-sized interpretive dance?

He digs, she digs, we all dig the lava lamp.

Far out.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Emergency Interventions of Various Types

I hit up the town over the weekend.

I hit it up thrice.

It was much-needed, for a whole litany of reasons.

1. Silas has entered a new season in life in which he is either
a) being held by me while I "walk, Mommy"
b) out-of-his-mind hysterical

2. I did no non-essential house-leaving last week. Zero. None.

3. I was starting to talk to myself.

4. When I talked to myself, I was starting to say things like, "You've lost your gourd, Shannan."

5. I dreamed about a girl I barely know and in that dream, her son was named "Sissy". I didn't think it was weird at all. I assumed it was a perfectly sensible homage to Sissy Spacek.

Do 5 reasons count as a litany?


On Friday I met up with my friend Stephanie.

I am a Martin. She is a Troyer. This sign was a...sign. Of...something. Something...good?
(I'm Ron Burgandy?)

Background on Stephanie: She was one of my first non-Sarah friends my Freshman year of college. She was interesting and kind-hearted and funny and...odd. In a good way. She wore the best, baggiest American Eagle flannels and rocked Malibu Musk like we all wanted to, but never quite could.

When we got into disagreements we learned to settle them by passing notes under the door. Apparently 5th grade was the new Freshman in College. But it worked. Still does, in fact.

We began an etched-in-stone tradition of calling each other random names and sometimes even animals and/or edibles, such as the ever-popular "Mini Muffin" or "Small Lamb".

To illustrate my point, I have combed my archives for an excerpt of an email from Steph, dating back to 2005. (It's the best I can do, but trust me, this type of genius hails from all the way back to 1994.)

So in summary I'll leave you with a sweet melody...God will make a way...where there seems to be no way...He works in ways we cannot see...He will make a way for me!

-Salad Suzy

All of that to say, when you find a girl like her, you keep her around.

So, we ate two baskets of chips and four bowls of salsa between us, and I told her, among other things, about my inability to stop crying at our Maundy Thursday church service.

After lunch, we hit up an antique mall.

The light was low.

The camera-person was unfit for the job. And her hair was very flat on account of the rain and the laziness.


After innumerable failed attempts...

We appropriately memorialized the day.

Later that night, I was given a proper introduction to that vampire kid.

(And I wasted $3 on the worst soft pretzel to ever fall upon this good earth.)

The following morning I ate over-priced pancakes and sorted life out a little with Holly.

Then I tried on two bathing suits.

Then I rued the day that women decided to stop swimming in this.

We had our big family Easter dinner later that afternoon and stuffed ourselves to the gills.

And on Easter Sunday?

We had lunch at McDonald's.

In a gas station.

Isn't life just a head-scratcher, sometimes?

Saturday, April 23, 2011


I find myself veering even harder towards juxtaposition, these days.

Its true, I've always been a floral-with-plaid sort of girl.

I've always secretly wished that I could rock the pinstriped-suit-with-Chucks look that J Crew never tires of peddling.

There's a mile-wide mean-streak of hodgepodge in me. It makes my world go 'round. It causes me to cock my head a little to the side and reconsider what at first glance looked a bit... accidental. Mistaken. Just plain wrong.

I like a reminder that it's all, all good; that the tattered and bruised elevates the boring to cozy and the just-fine to drop-your-jaw fantastic.

Make my life a patchwork quilt, please. Make it the postage stamp kind, where I get a 2x2-inch square of every single thing. Stitch it together and fold it up. Hand me king-sized grace, so large that there's room for everyone.

Because I probably would have driven right past these daffodils, were it not for the busted-up, has-been dream.

The grab-the-camera-and-turn-around jolt would have passed me by, if not for the dull pang of lost chances hovering.

It took both things for me to notice.

Life has its fair share of shaky floors and neglected, wayward window treatments.

Sure, I'd like to shove my way through a rusty, bolted-shut gate or two.

But you know what? The flowers keep popping up and though I should know by now to expect them, they never fail to captivate me.

This is life, friends.

Turn around and grab your cameras.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Totally Worth A Horrid Soft Pretzel

Just saw this.

With her.

And I'm now a believer.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


I have all kinds of things I'd like to say right now. I have fun things and achy things and things I started to say yesterday but didn't have time to finish.

But the rain is pounding down and I find everything extra settling down around my feet in a pile.

I'll pick it back up later.

For now, there's just one thing.

Amazing love! How can it be, that Thou my God, shouldst die for me?
-Charles Wesley, 1738

I hope that today I will walk in the full knowledge that God's love for me was that great.

I hope you'll join me.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Tale of a Dress

I had a big, high-falutin' wedding to attend a few weeks ago.

And nary a dress for the occasion.

Enter: Shabby Apple.

First of all, can we take a moment to appreciate just the name itself?



Honest to goodness, the name alone told me most of what I needed to know.

Then I hit up their website, and it was all over.

I was drooling on my keyboard over the women's dresses. The variety was amazing, the photography was fun, the models were pretty and relatable and the styles were unique.

But my favorite part of all?
Shabby Apple contributes 5% of all sales towards offering microloans to women in India.
Read some of their stories here.

In no time flat, I found a dress that was perfect for the soiree.

I've always been a bit of a sucker for eggplanty plum.

And can I just say: It's awfully fun to pick out a dress for a special ocassion.
It spoke to the Prom nostalgia in this 30-something Mama's heart.

The dress was super sheathy, which made me feel all zipped-in and sophisticated.

The material had just enough stretch to make it comfortable.

I felt good in the dress, and that's saying something, because I had exactly 8 minutes to get dressed and ready that night.

Sidenote: In the middle of the wedding ceremony, Ruby (who was positively glued to the whole hoorah) leaned over and whispered to me, "Is Mindi wearing glath thlippers under her dreth?" I said probably not. She had never looked more perplexed.

Now, I'm finding that I want to buy 5 or 6 more dresses, just for the thrill of it all.

I'm sure a girl like me has ample opportunity for a whole wardrobe of fetching dresses, right?

Black Oak

Who couldn't use a ruffled-up LBD?

I could.

And hello!

Stripe me up.

I'm yours.

Close this window
Fifth Ave.

If I was Ivanka Trump, I would so work this giraffey print.

Close this window

But I'm not Ivanka, so I'll settle for this one.

I was made for this dress.

The stripes!

The blue!

The green!

The name!
Champs Elysees

Ditto everything I just said, minus the stripes.

(And the green, I suppose.)

Finally, this.

Here's a fact about me: To this day, I regret that I did not get married in an eyelet wedding dress.

I have always been smitten with eyelet.

It's in a lifelong dead-heat with seersucker and oxford stripes.

Why didn't I include all three in my wedding?

Because I was too young to bother.

And if memory serves me, I only had eyes for my Mister and was more-or-less unconcerned with the whole wedding planning stuff, which may explain why my dress was 3 inches too short for me...

Now, go meet and support the good people and fantastically charming dresses at Shabby Apple. In addition to women's dresses, they have retro-y swimwear, accesories and unique little girl's dresses.

For 10% off your order, use flowerpatchfarmgirl10off at check-out.

I hear party season is right around the corner...

It turns out life is more than holey sweatpants,

Monday, April 18, 2011

Look at pitty lights.

Siley in action.

I apologize to all of you non-video-watchers. I very often do not watch videos online, so I understand. The thing is, we now have a point-and-shoot that takes decent videos and we know how to upload them to Youtube. We're reals smart like that. Some might call us a double-threat.

You'll notice Siley absentmindedly pretending that the clip-on strap to one of Calvin's many briefcases is a "pitty light". For the most part, anything that keeps his attention longer than 3 seconds morphs into a pitty light.

Also, this is a game!

A game, you ask?

Yes, a game.

It's called "Name Those Tunes".

There are two of them, hiding betwixt homeboy's version of "singing", in which he sings the tune whilst inserting any combination of consonants that suits his fancy at that given moment.

He's quite a singer.

He's quite a lazy singer.

Whoever guesses both tunes correctly wins $1,000 betend dollars and a virtual dessert of his or her choosing. Please submit virtual dessert requests along with your entry.

One entry per household, please.

Entrants under the age of 18 must be signed off by an adult.

I am tired.

I'm tarred.

But you probably already guessed as much.

Sweet dreams, Homies.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sunday Confessions

1. I feel like I should subdue myself just a bit and push this further down the list, but I just cain't. John Rich is surprisingly dreamy.

2. There, I said it.

3. "Don't you ever call me boy!"

4. You might as well know, we have seen at least part of every episode of Celebrity Apprentice this season. Nene is smart and makes me laugh.

5. My heart twinges for Gary Busey. I can't explain it. It might be the teeth.

6. Or this:

7. Yep, I think that's it.

8. I just ironed 10 shirts for Cork. 10. T-E-N.

9. Every time I do this, I believe in my heart that I deserve some sort of Wife of the Year medal and/or crown and/or commemorative sash.

10. I should be planning our weekly dinner menu right now. Any ideas? Please?

11. I have a big, ol' puffy-hearted crush on my life right now. I'm all keyed up over it.

12. Except for the "accumulations expected tonight" part.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

I Can Be Kind Of Bossy

Adoption is the most mind-bending, beautiful, rock-my-socks-off surprise. It's hard and it's easy. It has taken everything I once knew for sure and sent it skidding across the kitchen floor like a wayward toy top.

Right around the time that we were realizing the age-old discussion of "Will our kids have your eyes and my ears?" might be altogether pointless, my mom told me something that I will never forget. "God knows exactly what your family picture looks like."

I cannot tell you the peace that brought me. He already knew. It was already planned, from the beginning of time. It wasn't because we had failed somehow or because something was wrong with us. It wasn't because we were extra-brave or good-hearted. It was just the plan. It had always been The Plan.

From that day on, I began daydreaming about eyes with the slope of an almond and hair that could spring up to half its length. We didn't know the details and we didn't care, but to cover all of our bases, we pictured a little bit of everything.

Little by little, God reveals to us our family picture.

Little by little, God reaches down to a child who appears to be an orphan.

He wraps that baby up and carries him across the ocean and her across the river and then, the baby is HOME, with the family it was always meant to have.

Last weekend, talking to J, Calvin said, "I remember looking out of the airplane window and everything looked different. I didn't recognize anything. And I knew my life was about to change forever."

J scrunched his eyebrows together and asked, "Does he really remember that? How old was he?"

Well, he was not quite 5 months old and no, I don't think he really remembers any of it. Not really. But you know? His story is different than mine and maybe God put a really valuable memory in his little heart and maybe he knows more than we think he does. Maybe he does remember the moment he came Home.

I almost cried when he said it. I had never heard him say it before and I have never described it to him in exactly that way. He was speaking from his old-soul heart. His words were cooked-down truth.

So many of you have told me that adoption is on your heart. Well, I'm here to say that it's quite possible that your family picture looks different than you think it does. And there may be a child somewhere who looks like an orphan right now, but really isn't. The outcome depends on your willingness to step out of the life you know right now and embrace the beauty of so much more.

Dn't let fear or indecision hold you back. Match the courage of that precious boy or girl. Find their faith and hope and meet them there.

In the meantime, I'm asking for your help.

This is Danielle and her family.
They are working to bring their boy home.

Remember: He is already theirs, and they are already his.

His name is Sergey and right now, he lives in an orphanage in Eastern Europe.

He has Down Syndrome.

He needs his Mama and Daddy.

Right now, they are standing on the tallest ladder, reaching up to grab hold of faith and provision because that is The Plan for them.

Click here to donate $10 (or more!)

There are loads of amazing prizes being given away as part of this Dream Big fundraiser, but you and I both know that the prizes don't even matter in comparison to being a part of God's Big, Crazy, Mind-Bending, Grace-Filled Plan.

Be a part of something Big today.

And keep thinking and praying about that picture hanging on your own wall. Because maybe there's room for one more in there. Maybe it's not as complete as you thought it was.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

This Ol' Day

Here's the Cliff's Notes version of this post, in case you have better things to do: There is always a $2 Aldi hydrangea to be found somewhere in the mess and the angst of an ordinary day.

Today got off to a rough start.

I cried on the phone to Cory.

I took the kids to Subway, just because I couldn't bear the thought of returning home to bowls half-filled with cold, crusty oatmeal.

I bought my first bag of ground flax.


Siley and Rubes went down for naps and I started to tidy up, but then I just up and walked away.

A few minutes later I walked back in to find my kitchen in this sad state of affairs and I had to laugh. And I had to grab the camera.

And then?

I walked away again.

I marched to the couch and scrunched my knees up, shortening my body by half in order to fit under the fleece fire truck blanket.

I had the good sense to thank God above that Silas was actually sleeping today. The house was silent. I was out in no time flat.

A 40 minute nap is known to cure a host of ails.

Kids came home and woke up and we did snacks and books and chores.

Silas lugged his 'puter up to the island like he's known to do and occupied himself quite well while I cooked dinner.

The air was all dreamy-like and I hate to brag, but dinner was good.

We filled up our extra chair. I always like these kinds of nights.

This day was just a day.





It can be so easy to get swallowed up by the drear. It happens.

But when I begin to close down a day and I catch a replay of my Girl with her wicked jugular bulging out and her "Lion hair" in full force - the evidence of a day well played - my mind can't help but paint over the messes and the fights with bright, shiny glow.

Because even when the days aren't so great, they're pretty stinking amazing.

And this, my friends, is one of the things I love best about blogging. It forces me to take a second look. It nudges me to notice more.

*This photo courtesy of Robert*
He would also like me to add that he is the one who located the oil filter.

My eyelids are droopy, but I have one more thing to share. Heidi of Wonder Woman Wannabe fame interviewed me. You can find it here.

Go chase down some peace today. Cut yourself a break, if you need one. Find a daffodil and notice all over again how pretty and new it looks.