Wednesday, September 10, 2014


I am excited to announce that I now have my own domain name. My new website is still under construction, but I will be writing there from now on.  Thank you for reading.

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Beauty and the Might

I look up from the full table, beyond the long white porch of Lauren's rental cottage, at the changes on the lake.  Before breakfast,

savory crepes: eggs, bacon, spinach, tomato, cheese, salsa
sweet crepes: strawberries, bananas, nutella, home-whipped cream
with four friends while our grad student husbands take Saturday midterms

Cayuga lake was serenely still, but now under a low thick sky southbound white caps rage.  I take my hair down and slip out alone and barefoot to the pepper pebble beach to watch the storm roll in.

A wall of rain creeps toward me down the lake with white boats and birds rushing ahead of it.  I wait in the first September chill for the cool drops to splash my face, taking it all in:

The wind on my eyelids
The sound- the most peaceful kind of loud
The smell- rain and summer
The gray- who know I'd love the gray?  Gray sky, gray beach, driftwood, gray water, even the green slope across the finger lake is veiled by haze.  There's something beautiful about the unity of this uniform neutral natural gray
The power

Awe. Might. Not my might. humbled.  Perfect.

With arms tight crossed in my moistening sweater and bare legs prickling, I dawdle back in to friends and children.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Bravery Begets Bravery

Fear, not inability, is the greatest barrier that keeps our children (like ourselves) from stepping out in creativity. After tiptoeing through years of well-meaning correction and red ink, we cower for fear of being judged or called wrong.

I did not model imaginative play to my son or inspire him into inventiveness.  Creativity just flowed naturally out of him at thirty-six months old. Rather than building the towers depicted on the box, he places his blocks in a single layer radiating out like a mosaic across the floor. When we can’t find his toy airplane, he wedges a cardboard scrap between the cab and bed of a pickup and flies it instead.  Adults do not teach children creativity; we teach them structure and in the words of Sir Ken Robinson, we often educate creativity right out of them.  Parents gently correct kids’ opinions or simply load them with too much instruction.  “Apple starts with A” or “This is a square” is beneficial.  But “No, this song is not sad; it is happy” or “Draw your snowman like this” can be stifling.  If we do not guard our tongues, we can inadvertently limit our kids’ capacity with the very words that we think are helping them. 

What else can we do in addition to encouraging their creations?  Be brave for them. Dance with them. Sing in front of them. Make up stories for them. These activities can release you from the impervious walls of your own comfort zone.  Young kids are great guinea pigs on whom to practice your storytelling skills.  They haven’t any background knowledge about the modern interpretation of plot development.  They won’t refer back to a selection of best sellers to compare your work to anymore than they would compare your clumsy tap dance routine during the credits of the Disney movie, Brave, to the genius of River Dance.  This blank slate with eager ears and zero expectations will not boo you away from their bedside.  Make up a story on the fly.  You will be surprised by how enthralled a 3-year-old can be at the tale of Dusty Crophopper rescuing Todo from Ursula the Sea Witch in a monsoon.  Or of dragons helping a bulldozer with their daily work.  You can even toss in a moral to the story if one comes to you.  For instance, the bulldozer can thank the dragon thus teaching gratefulness.  Or when Buzz Lightyear laments to Woody, Bulls-eye, Kristoff, and Sven the reindeer about his jealous longing for his own animal companion, Woody can encourage him to choose to be content with what he has.  Tell a story and when you overcome those old looming barriers, you can enjoy a newfound freedom and confidence.

We are made in our creator’s image, so it comes as no surprise that we feel closest to God when we are being creative.  What do you desire to do?  Do you want to try hip hop dancing, start an art journal, write poetry, sew a skirt, paint, play an instrument or pull off wearing those artsy glasses? Your creation does not have to be perfect. You will not receive a grade.  Don’t worry about impressing your kids; focus on making a more lasting impression on their personal development by cultivating their confidence. Bravery begets bravery. Let’s be bravely creative and raise up our children to do likewise. 

Disclaimer: By promoting free thought in creativity, I am not advocating immorality, relativism, or time tested positive social constructs. Teach children the truth every opportunity you can and guide them toward the fruits of self-control and wise evaluation.  

Monday, August 25, 2014

"Big" is a Nebulous Term

"Hey Linus, look up into that huge dark sprawling 40-foot tall tree. Now look beyond the tree at the first star tonight. Did you know that that star is bigger than that tree?"



"Hey Heather, look at your tall dark sprawling problem that seems to huge.  Now look beyond the problem at God.  Didn't you know that God is bigger than that problem?"

"... yah."

Tidbit #1

If your child is resistant to washing his hands, try inviting him to give his toy car a shower in the sink.  Or his army man or her my little pony.  Lather up.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

I'm Not That Bad at Math and

my neck is not that long.

So it turns out I am not bad at math.  I find this out now at age 28 while my husband is in grad school, after 20 years of calculators and bashful avoidance and strategizing my undergraduate course load out of fear, leaving knowledge gaps in economics, physics and microbiology as a result.  How did this happen?

I know its the the same reason I have strategized my hairstyle and necklines around my long neck and "beady head" as Chris Rodriguez so loudly pointed out to me in 8th grade MATH class.  I believed what I was told about myself.

And then I rose to those expectations. Some teachers assumed I would not excel at math; they treated me as such and students perceive more than grownups realize.  Some kids are late bloomers academically, prolonging that blissful stage of play dough, crayons and ignorance- or just growing their strengths in some  areas before others.  My math and reading skills lagged.  I recall crying over 2nd grade homework pages and literally hunching down at my desk when the teacher called on students for answers. For me, my creative and verbal skills blossomed first, earning me encouragement which naturally bred confidence in those areas.  I am so thankful that Mrs. Macklebee promoted my writing.  Teachers unintentionally put kids in boxes (there is simply not enough time to give to a Texas-sized classroom of individuals.  As a teacher, I know- my own largest of 6 classes had 27 11th graders and no para).  At 6-years-old, I was filed in the sweet, well-dressed, artistic girl box not the clever, analytic, scientist box. So I adjusted to my imperfect label.  

As parents, we must check ever word we put into our kids ears.  We should ask ourselves, "Is it true? Is it uplifting? Is it necessary?"  If all three do not apply, skip the statement because it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Back to my body proportion.  I looked at myself in fitting room mirrors recently with less assuming eyes.  And you know what!  I don't look awkward or ugly after all! In fact, if Chris Rodriguez's magnifying words hadn't launched me into insecurity, this trait might never have stood out to me.  I've decided to call my neck elegant and my brain smarter than average (because obviously it isn't as big). The self-conscious feeling I have been so conscious of for so long was not necessary.  My neighbors don't waste brain space thinking about how weird that girl looks. My friends did not choose me and my husband doesn't love me because of the "normal" human I do or don't resemble. But hey body image and contentment is a whole other post, guys.  Like this throwback.

Homeschool Moms, do you have advice for me and readers in how homeschooling does or doesn't bump this problem?  Tell us in the comments.  

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

3 Thousand Different Kinds of Beautiful

1) Sunlight on water can be a thousand different kinds of beautiful.  Even over the same body of water, this East Texas lake for instance, every morning sky reflects uniquely and changes by the minute.  Every evening, I peer from this mezzanine-like porch through drooping cathedral limbs at the water and sky unable to look away for fear I will miss a "scene".  The elements never change, but I experience them differently every time I watch.  All I can do is stare, trying to sear the spectacle into my brain.  But once the waters are dark, I can not fully remember the fullness of the view or recreate the happiness I felt in it.

2) Likewise, though scripture (and liturgy) is unchanging, I seldom remember it fully after I close my Bible.  Neither can I easily recapture the experience, the reflection, or the connections I made during my reading.  Like a sunrise, a single passage can affect me differently on different days.  From the angle of my circumstances and the amount of understanding given me, I see the verse in a different "light" every time I read it.

3) Unlike unchanging elements and the Bible, my 5-month-old daughter changes with precise regularity.  I stare at her in wonder morningly.  I file the mental picture in my memory along with the glorious sunrises and life-changing Bible study moments- all three categories jumbled and fuzzy in my mind, never to be repeated.  In this limit of mortality, I feel a mix of sorrow and delight.  But mostly I feel awe.

Friday, July 25, 2014

A Lesson in Patience and Perspective

20 hours ago we were packing ice chests by candles light because this time yesterday a sudden, angry, lake-sloshing storm blew pine trees into power lines.  I love East Texas thunderstorms... in different circumstances.

The storm rolled in while my parents were buying 2+ days worth of groceries for the 16 guests coming to the cabin tomorrow.  I must say, Mom and Dad made an impression on me when they returned soaked, scared and laden with a chunk of the small-town store's refrigerated section.

Dad calmly waited for the storm to calm then drove back for ice and chests to fill.  We ate peanut butter for dinner in the dark and Mom did not act stressed or worried.  With money on the line, hungry guests coming, a soon-to-be out-of-stock market, a hospitality bug like my mom's, and no idea when power would return, an average person might become a dramatic frazzled frenzied complainer listing off every inconvenience that she so temporarily faced.  But they didn't.  And their reaction made an impact on their adult daughter.  I admire my parents' impenetrable patience and adaptability.

Electricity was on by morning.  At 6am they stocked the fridge.  Life is easier when we don't make it so hard.

I should practice voicing movie trailers for my personal dramas to measure how terrible they really aren't.

Intense voice for typical action flick, "In the face of massive inconvenience... bum bum bum... Heather rushes to finish the dishes before the baby wakes up!  Her back is turned.  Will her son drop another toy down the heater vent?  Will he need her help opening the Cars 2 box?  Will her husband come home before she seasons the chicken or brushes her hair?  Find out in a theater near you!

Friday, July 4, 2014

No son, we are not gypsies.

This summer resembles last summer in that we move nearly weekly, but this season we are not family member hopping- we are church member hopping.  Christopher's 10-week internship just happens to be 30 miles from our last military duty station where we have many friends.

After spending 3 weeks alone with a toddler and a newborn, I was delighted to join Christopher even if it was in the house of two benevolent bachelor brothers where we and Linus shared two twin mattresses of different heights pushed together on the basement floor.  It is good to be together. Let me also mention that one of the three furniture pieces in this house is a baby grand piano. I enjoyed that baby.

Not all of our posts are so parasitic- two are house and dog sitting jobs.  Since that grand basement stay, we have moved thrice and before summers end, we will move three times more. Our fam of four will have stayed in a basement, an attic, two master bedrooms, and yes, bunk beds!

The purpose of this crazy summer may not be merely to make me laugh or make our family more flexible; it may be to grow our faith.  While craigslist sublet searches yielded only "no," $$, "unfurnished" and scams, I felt a persistent peace assuring me of God's provision.  I was persuaded and so I did not waste minutes of months worrying over the mystery of our living situation. Three weeks into the summer a seamless lineup of opportunities presented themselves. We are grateful to all of our friends here who have made this unsettled time for us a little less unstable. If you're reading this, thank you.

A Big Loudbright in the Sky

From the front yard of our house of the week, we sense the local event flickering just under the horizon.  Surrounded by rising fireflies below a clear sky that seldom looks so dome-like, I stand with my 4-mo-old on my hip.  Nearby block parties smell as loud as they sound and I hope a firework rises between these tall trees.

Boom! Popopopttttttpop!  My daughter whirls unsteady to face me. Her empty little memory box has no place for this sensation. She is asking with her wide eyes, "Mom, should I be afraid?"  I offer reassurance with a smile and squeeze.  "Oh okay then."  Joy turns back to the sky happy. 

Introducing little people to fireworks is one of the many little jobs of motherhood.  Happy.

Check out this Throw back to July 4, 2008 post

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Wend with Me

You'll find that I am pretty open.  I am not here to impress you.  I like to say what you hope those sprucy subtle women are thinking because I type what I journal and I journal what I feel.  God did not make us to pretend, to compare, to hide or to wish.  He made us to be loved and known and to become.  I hope words here stir and strengthen you along the way.

I've heard that the most direct route from Point A to Point B is often a zigzag line.  If Point B is perfection, don't expect to arrive in this life.  I don't expect you to.
Wend- to go in a specified direction, typicaly slowly or by an indirect route. 
We do not "wander" aimlessly; we "wend" with purpose, pausing often to wade in the wonders of our Guide.  So whether you're a bride or a maiden, a mother or a mentor, steady or whimsical, rest here.  Wend with me on this wondrous winding way.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Who's Heather Paige?

A friend once said, "I didn't know you were a deep thinker; I always thought you were crazy."  

Indeed, I am awfully introspective to be so extroverted.  I write more by default than by nature.  See, there are visual learners, audio learners, kinesthetic learners... I am among the annoying few who learn by talking.  I realized at a young age that people didn't want to listen to me quite as much as I needed to talk, so I took up journaling as a means of processing my thoughts.  I have probably filled 100 journals in the past decade (I am 28). It's an addiction.
Sometimes I don't bother thinking when I don't have paper.  
Sometimes I hide under the sheets at night and type memos on my phone.  
Sometimes, when song lyrics strike me, I pull over the car and journal.  
Journal is a verb, did you know?  Much of what I relate here springs from my journals.

This blog has had many faces since 2007.  In my jitterbuggin', rock climbin', trail ridin' college days, I wrote primarily about travel and faith.  Then my baby ate my blog then my beloved job ate my blog then our transition to family-in-grad school life ate my blogging time.  Now, one state, another baby and two drastic haircuts later, I type up untethered observations on life from the perspective of a Christian married motherly frugal contemplative adventurous woman.

Our family of one large sporty nerd, a stay-at-home mom and two little loud people lives on the splendiferous income of a full time student, eating half-portions of meat, strutting second-hand garb, and savouring the small things, sprawled across a 130-year-old 650 sq ft walkup.  In accordance with our married life so far, we have no idea what comes next on life's itinerary, but we trust the Trip Planner.

When I married Christopher, He looked like this

Soon after finishing his 9 years of military service, he looked more like this

And halfway through graduate school, he looks a bit shabbier than this 

I love this curious, hilarious, hardworking, steadfast man.  As a young woman, I prayed that God would help me honor my future husband, so He gave me an honorable man.  For him and for our two kiddos, I am very thankful.  

In this blog, I will refer to our son (formerly Blue Eyes) as Linus.  My siblings named him Linus van Pelt in utero because he resembled a peanut... peanuts gang.  Yes, well I had quite forgotten that we had called him that until his little personality started to develop and I discovered that (apart from the iconic security blanket) this kid shares many traits with Schulz's famous character.  Both boys are analytical, cognitive, imaginative, and very nurturing guys- typical INFJs.  

My daughter, I will call Joy.  Joy is her middle name and she is afterall quite joyful.  

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

However long & hard I strive, I will never arrive.

I listen to podcasts almost daily while I do chores or drive.  Sometimes, I have to pause, dry my hands, and take notes.  But lately, with blogger Edie Wadsworth's new "Grace Talks," my notes turn into full on self-evaluation sessions.

In Edie's "The Life You Love Manifesto," she describes our Life of Faith as a life of receiving, not of doing.  She lingers on the point that "we bring nothing to the table except sin and despair" and every good thing at the table is from God.  I look back on each guilt-generating seminar and self-help book that I have raved, craved, and prayed over and am finally comforted.  Truth that I already knew rings truer.  Peace sweeps over me.  God brings grace; grace leads us to hope because it grants righteousness.  On my own, I am not righteous.  Nothing I could ever do will ever change my status- neither of my two statuses:

1) I am totally bad.
2) He makes me totally good.

Edie shares her personal experience (I hang on the wise words of older godly women) of trying trying trying for years and years to get it right, stuck in the endless cycle of spent energy and guilt.  I am so there, my friends.  I have created and renovated self-improvement lists, habit-breaking strategies, and personal schedules for which there is not enough time in the day.  No matter how long and hard I try, I will never arrive.  The more likely scenario is that I will spend another decade striving, failing, and guilt-ridden, possibly bound for the stress that beautiful and redeemed writer Ann Voskamp once felt when she wrote,
“I wake to... the wrestle to get it all done, the relentless anxiety that I am failing. Always, the failing. I yell at children, fester with bitterness, forget doctor appointments, lose library books, live selfishly, skip prayer, complain, go to bed too late, neglect cleaning the toilets. I live tired. Afraid. Anxious. Weary. Years, I feel it in the veins, the pulsing of ruptured hopes. Would I ever be enough, find enough, do enough?"  
We can spend our lives on earth lamenting that we cannot reach godliness not realizing that, when we see Him in heaven, we will more so lament not having fully experienced the freedom and rest that He offered while we were still on earth.  Oswald Chambers so beautifully describes the "delight of despair" you will feel at the moment when you fall prostrate, as John did in Revelation 1:17-18, and Jesus touches your shoulder,
"You know it is not the hand of restraint, correction, nor chastisement, but the right hand of the Everlasting Father... it is an ineffable peace... full of sustaining comfort and strength.  Once His touch comes, nothing at all can throw you into fear again."  
In this mortal life, we should not expect to continually feel the utter fullness of His patient love- for we cannot remove ourselves from the context of our earthly circumstances and daily conditions constrained by our mortal needs and faults, surrounded by the devastating faults of others, and filled with sympathy or sorrow (Bernard of Clairvaux). But, when we see Him, we will be given understanding.  We can delight here and now in believing that moment will come.  I choose to fall into that happy rest that he offers now.  I will put forth effort, but I will not put my hope in that effort.  I will never "arrive" or be "enough," but He is enough and His grace is sufficient for me.