PHFR - July is almost over

I'm neck deep in event planning again. The Charis Comedy Night is this Saturday. If you are in San Diego come out for the show, and let me know you're coming so I can be sure to say hi. I apparently have to talk and stuff, before the funny bits start, so you can heckle also.


She smiles a lot more naturally for me than someone else I've noticed.
Little is currently the most productive member of our family, among the children. A while back she did a bit of modeling for this new clothing line called Daisies Clothing. She got to keep a lot of the dresses and last week we finally picked them up from the photographer Natalie Warr.

She's so tiny that most of the clothes had to be clothespinned in the back to look right for the shoot, which means she's earned herself, and her sister, new clothes.

I say she should keep this up and I won't ever have to buy them clothes again. :)

Also Pretty, this mural painted by this guy Steve, who says he doesn't know how to paint, didn't have permission to do this, and didn't have a plan when he started. Apparently the city is going to provide him retroactive approval because look at it. He did that in 2 weeks!

We met him walking home one day.

The Boy is now into looking like a cowboy. This makes him happy, and I'm happy to see him not afraid to do stuff like this.

I dragged my kids along to put up posters for the comedy night for a few days last week and promised them when we were done we would stop at this little creek/duckpond for a while. They had fun.


Well I am in the middle of a series of comedy night fundraisers with great comedians performing. So how about for funny I show you some of the promo videos?

We were trying to figure out how to tell people what a perfect date night it is, and these videos were born.


Busy mamas buy things they never would otherwise, like ramen, and chicken nuggets, because they are, uh,  fast, .... and stuff, and the kids can make them themselves.

But that's the first time I've been able to get Bam Bam to eat chicken.

And there has been a bunch more lounging in front of the television than I like the past few days as well.

Show is on Saturday, and then there is only one more to go before summer ends. Yay! I don't know what I was thinking planning all these events in the summer. Sigh. Good thing they are fun and stuff.


This is what we do with broken things

He couldn't know that the glass he broke was something thrifted, or from the dollar store, I don't remember which. And as a first time dinner guest at my in-laws house he was busy apologizing over the wine glass and offering to replace it, not really believing my mother in law's gracious edict not to worry about it.

I could see he was still worried, this friend of ours. So I beckoned with my head and said, "Come on. Let me show you what they do with broken things around here."

This mosaic is at least 50% tragically broken dishes. In a house with 9 children and 4 visiting grand children broken dishes are in abundant supply.
My mother in law saved broken dishes for several years, some of them wedding treasures, some of them dollar store purchases, but she saved all the pieces and then with a few friends created this fantastic mosaic from them all.

Originally she intended it as a table, but it was too heavy, so now it decorates the front entry way.
It was an accidental phrase, "This is what we do with broken things." But as I stood there  I realized just how true it is. Not just what they do with broken things, but broken people as well.

Here they gather up broken pieces, broken lives, and help lay them out in such a way as to find the beauty still there, and the patterns that bring a sense of order and place within a larger story.

I know because I personally have benefited from this slow, methodical, laying out of broken bits and learning to see them in a different light, to find the beauty possible in them.

Very few things are so far broken that a creative enough artist can't turn them into something beautiful.

No life is so far broken that a creative and redemptive God can't lay the pieces of it out in such a way that it's beauty and worth are visible again.

That is what the people of God are to do. We participate in gathering up the broken pieces of this world, and laying them out again. Not the way they were before, but as something new, something better, a unity of parts that forms a more beautiful picture than we started with.

That's how redemption works. This is how our lives can look if we're willing to lay all the pieces on the table and let the master artist rearrange them.

This is what He does with broken things. All it takes from us is trust, and perhaps some courage as well.

Have you ever had something in your life that seemed to be beyond repair, only to watch God make something beautiful out of it in unexpected ways? Will you share it with us? This is one of mine. Grace Wins


When my heart is in retreat.

I let the tears flow, under the cover of darkness, while I lay on the girl's bed listening to them pray. Aaron's arms wrapped tight around me as we listened, as if he could feel the tears I wanted no one to see.

I let them flow for distances that may never be bridged, for the home I want, and the home I miss, and the weariness of the journey.

I'm from a giant family. My dad was the 2nd of 11 siblings, my mother the 2nd of 8.

And most of them still all live within a few hours drive of each other. Many, if not most, in the town where I grew up.

 They all like each other, and get together for big celebrations, like the annual Canada Day weekend camp out at my grandparent's farm.

So when my aunt Carol, 3rd youngest of my dads' family and a fabulous photographer, posted all these photos from the annual gathering I had to spend the rest of the night wiping tears away.

My grandmother, walking in the spot where we had our wedding photos taken.
 The simple version is that I get homesick, every so often. That place, and those people, they are my people. That is my place.

These are my people. Well, some of them anyway.
 And living here, on a limited budget, unable to afford to visit so far away, is hard sometimes.

The path to the spring.
You see, I have walked those paths my little cousins now walk countless times, from the time I was old enough to put on shoes and try to keep up. Before that I was carried. I've walked it in snow and in rain, all alone and with a crowd. My growing up is anchored by this place, these people.

Grandpa has been keeping those paths clear to walk on as long as I can remember. He lobbied really hard to have his farm declared a nature preserve, and it is. I don't know if he's is still maintaining the trails, his eyes are failing, but someone is. I hope someone always will.

I have worked out childish worries and angst, and grown up questions and worries as well, sitting on the cliff overlooking the river, one hand on the head of the current farm dog, always a faithful companion on a ramble.

There is a rhythm to life there that I find myself constantly seeking elsewhere, and failing to reproduce.

Every major holiday was at that place, and then all the little excuses just to get together had us out there too. Grandma loved to have a full house.

I spent weeks there in the summer, helping grandma garden, shelling peas on the front step, hanging laundry out to dry. (I still think of her every single time I hang the laundry, which is almost daily.)

When my immediate family fell apart for a while grandma's house was still there, exactly the same. They were still there, exactly the same, all those people, aunts and uncles and cousins. To be loved by so many people is a remarkable thing, one I took for granted once.

Which isn't to give you the impression that they are perfect. Arguing about things is a favorite past time with them, and they have their opinions honed to a razor edge. But they care deeply, and love long and faithfully,  reconcile when they disagree, and have the part about staying together and living life together sort of figured out.

I miss them.

Which is to explain how, even surrounded by my 4 children, with my wonderful husband's arms around me, and my fantastic in-laws, of whom there are many, just down the road, I can still feel the lack brought on by a series of photos shared on facebook.

When I let myself fantasize about what I want these days it takes the shape of a big country house, chickens, dogs, goats and space to run. It involves Aaron actually being home, more than he's away, and coming home before dinner every single night. In my fantasy I am no longer CFO of a growing organization, I'm just a mom, who has time to teach my children sewing, and sit on that back porch I want and play the guitar, an instrument I have not yet perfected the playing of. But in my fantasy I have a nice classical model, and I've taught myself to play it. I write, sure, and I am always on top of the home school schedule, but that is all.

You will all see right away what I finally realized. What I'm fantasizing about, truly, is going back to where I grew up, of living that simple life of work and rest and easy rhythm that provided my childhood with so much security, and so much joy.

My life is far from simple. No matter how hard I try to make it so. It turns out I'm not built well for change, and transition, and lack of permanence. I find it challenging. When I feel overwhelmed my heart retreats and grieves a little for what it no longer has.

It took forever to write this, because I was trying to figure out a point to it, which I haven't. This is just me, telling you about where I grew up, and how much I miss it sometimes, and making you look at pictures.

I hope you don't mind.

All of these gorgeous photos were taken by my dear aunt Carol Provins, who has traveled much farther and more adventurously  than I have ever done, and is now blessed to be raising her children close to home.


7 quick takes

I have not done one of these posts in ages! But I have a pile up of interesting things I wanted to share in my browser cache so welcome back to 7 quick takes Friday, hosted by Jennifer @ Conversion Diary.

1. Be The Adult by Noel Cordle

You may have seen the video of the bus monitor who was being verbally abused by a groups of kids and how a bunch of people felt sorry for her and sent her money. I was so happy to read Noel's take on the story because she asks a question that no one else seemed to ask. "Wasn't it her job to be the person in charge there and put a stop to their behavior?"

2. Riverside Girl Trapped in Tijuana Child Sex Trade

This article is frustrating because it doesn't fix anything, it just tells you what the reporter saw. And I share it because it's something we can't ever forget. This happens, and we can do something about it. If you live in CA be sure to vote yes on 35 for the California Against Sexual Exploitation Act.

I'm never political here, but I have met these people and been privy to their tireless work to change laws to protect people and you should help them.

3. So I got an iphone for my birthday and it's completely changed my bedtime routine with Bam Bam. I've had to lie down with every single child to help them sleep for years before they will do it themselves. Usually it's been an exercise in patience because some nights it takes so long, and there's so much I need to do.

But now I can check email, scroll facebook, read a book, even watch TV some nights, all while laying there in the dark nursing a toddler. It's amazing! It's my favorite relax time now.

4. On that note, I found a place that every day tells you 100 free kindle books, if you download them that day. A lot of them are totally stupid looking, but there are a few gems every day. I know have the complete Grimm's Fairy Tales on my phone in case I ever need something to read to my kids while waiting somewhere, for example. Perhaps you will find some books you like in there too. onehundredfreebooks.com

5. This summer has turned all kinds of hectic because we decided to do this comedy fundraiser series for The Charis Project. One show, every 4 weeks, for 3 months.

I'm really excited about this next show though. A local micro brewery, Aztec Brewery, is allowing us to use their tasting room for the event, and we have some great comics lined up.

We're even making promo videos. Here's the first one.

6. A Spark of Bravery - Lisa Leonard

I loved this post. So often the bravest things we have to do are not visible to anyone else. I think her response was perfect and just loved this post.

7. I am already loving my facebook page. I am a way more consistent facebook user than blogger so it's great for me. But my favorite part is that now I get to see you. It's really cool.

So go ahead and like it so we can stay in touch. https://www.facebook.com/shelaughsatthedays Ya know, if you want to.

Bonus: Did you see this picture I posted yesterday of Bam Bam after his big sisters dressed him? It still makes me laugh.



Aaron is in town longer than 7 consecutive days, for probably the last time in 2012, so we went camping. It was amazing, exactly what we needed.

I accidentally booked us at this place that is basically a camping resort. I was really just looking for the next closest place that wasn't booked already that weekend and swallowed the price, $35/night, so that we could be sure to get away as a family our one chance this year.

After getting lost and going to the wrong campground, twice, Aaron was getting kind of grouchy. (Don't trust the GPS on your phone in Idyllwild, just FYI.)

 Imagine my surprise when we arrived at this campground and they told us where the pool was, and about the free showers, and the lodge,

 cafe, family game room, amphitheater, fenced in playground,

and gave us a schedule of activities for the weekend. Let's just say it did not suck.

So we pitched our tent in a beautiful spot. Woke up to deer and raccoon tracks just outside.

 The kids got filthy, and mosquito bitten.

He caught a lizard.
 We walked a lot in gorgeous places.

Guided nature walk

I stepped in the only pothole on the road and twisted my ankle, and then walked some more with a pressure bandage on. Which made Bam Bam wrangling a bit more challenging than it already is, but fortunately Aaron was there.

There was only one other family in the tenting area we stayed in, and they left one night before us. The last night there was so still, and the stars were brilliant and the silence deep, and the evening mild. It was exactly what you want from a camping experience.

Aaron and the Boy went on a 5 hour trek one day while the girls and I chilled in the family lodge, and played ping pong, and air hockey, and I tried to keep them from turning on the flat screen TV.

The Boy loved the Saturday evening live concert at the fire side, with a skilled performer playing vintage Country and Western songs that I grew up hearing.

But the best part I think was that Aaron had the space to surface again. He read, and played with his kids, and walked and just had time to be still, and think. I feel like I got to see my husband again for a couple of days and I hadn't realized he was missing, buried as he is under all the work and travel and everyday life.

In other words, it was a fabulous time. We got back Monday night and I can't believe it's already Thursday. I've been playing catch up ever since.

I have made you something though.

I finally finished this facebook page I started ages ago. And it will now have all the instagrams I post, and stuff I write, and whatever else I feel like putting there. Lately I've been writing less, and telling the story I'm living in other ways and I'm hoping this page will help us stay connected as the craziness of my life right now pulls me in 100 different directions, just about literally. So go like it, if you want, and catch all the things I fail to write about here.
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