For Lent at church we’ve been reading NT Wright’s ‘The Challenge of Easter’ which is an excerpt from his ‘The Challenge of Jesus’. It resonates SO deeply in my soul – he challenges the ‘my own personal Jesus who died for my sins’ theology and talks about the historical implications of a resurrected Savior, and of the redemption of ALL of creation, not just my escape plan from the flames. Last night I shared with the group that for many years I had life divided into Christian Things and Non-Christian Things…. Christian Music. Non-Christian Music. Ministry. Secular employment. So many categories. I had moved far from that sort of thinking already, but when an opportunity to play music at the local upscale supper club came up, I couldn’t figure out why it was resonating SO deeply in my soul. I’ve played at Royal Albert Hall, with some of the best Bible teachers in the world. I kept hearing whispers of ‘you were made for this!’ and would think, ‘how is that possible? Made for THIS? Made for Henry Mancini, Cole Porter, REO Speedwagon and Barry Manilow?’

Resoundingly, I respond – YES! For this! Redemption comes in strange places. [thank you, Sara Groves]. My Mom didn’t like coming to church. But she loved hearing me play. She ALWAYS came when I sang at the karaoke bars. [paid for college. ;)]. She eventually tired of the church services. But she would have absolutely LOVED this place, this job, this thing, this beauty. Adding to the beauty – to God’s common grace, perfectly created order that is GOOD – is redemptive. So I’m going to be the best supper club pianist you’ve ever heard. AND, as relationships build, and trust grows, invitations will be extended to hear the reason for the music. I have to believe it.


We come with beautiful secrets
We come with purposes written on our hearts, written on our souls
We come to every new morning
With possibilities only we can hold, that only we can hold

Redemption comes in strange place, small spaces
Calling out the best of who we are

And I want to add to the beauty
To tell a better story
I want to shine with the light
That’s burning up inside

It comes in small inspirations
It brings redemption to life and work
To our lives and our work

It comes in loving community
It comes in helping a soul find it’s worth

Redemption comes in strange places, small spaces
Calling out the best of who we are

And I want to add to the beauty
To tell a better story
I want to shine with the light
That’s burning up inside

This is grace, an invitation to be beautiful
This is grace, an invitation

Redemption comes in strange places, small spaces
Calling out our best

And I want to add to the beauty
To tell a better story
I want to shine with the light
That’s burning up inside

-Sara Groves


My Sentiments Exactly

windy fall

Autumn Movement by Carl Sandburg

I cried over beautiful things knowing no beautiful thing lasts.

The field of cornflower yellow is a scarf at the neck of the copper sunburned woman, the mother of the year, the taker of seeds.

The northwest wind comes and the yellow is torn full of holes, new beautiful things come in the first spit of snow on the northwest wind, and the old things go, not one lasts.

Small Town Observations

* Our mailbox is across the street from our house. Weird.
* Our mail is delivered by someone in a grey pick up truck – not an official USPS vehicle. Weird.
* Our kids have made more friends in the last 2 days than in the last 2 years. Pretty great.
* The world’s greatest Walmart.. is here. In this little town. Weird – but wonderful. And is ‘all the way across town’ – so, like 6 minutes.

* People leave their cars running – keys in them, the whole deal – at the bank, the grocery store, the post office.. 
* I took a long, long walk this afternoon in the blazing heat [we are NOT in Racine anymore, hallelujah!] with 60 pounds of KID in the double jogger… and we spent most of the time meandering purposefully through a ginormous cemetery. The population of this thing has GOT to be bigger than that of the town. And oh, if you know me, you know I love a good cemetery! This one does not disappoint. A cursory first look revealed headstones back to the early 1800’s, and I’m sure there will be some from the 1700’s as I keep looking. What a story these stones tell! And this particular cemetery follows the ‘only real plants from May-November, only fake ones from November-May’ which I love. Some of the stones have elaborate gardens… some are starkly blank. I’m not sure why it’s so moving to me, but I think it hearkens back to the Martens [my family] semi-annual cemetery tour in Platteville, WI. No matter what was going on in our lives in busy Green Bay, twice a year we would make the trek to Platteville with a trunk full of artificial flower arrangements for mom and dad to put on the stones of their parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles. It’s one of the most favorite memories of my childhood, to be sure… I only knew Mom’s mom – all the others were long gone when I was born – and something about the cemetery made Mom and Dad tell stories. I love to hear the stories of their families! This Baraboo move has me strangely nostalgic for Platteville. This southwestern section of the state of Wisconsin is some of the most beautiful land I’ve ever seen – seriously. It’s gorgeous. I’m grateful.


Will post photos soon of the piano… tonight, it was showtunes. One of the problems I’m facing, though, is that living with this piano again evokes memories of 1988 – so the only songs I can think to play, suddenly, are the songs I played on this piano in high school. So we’ve been singing Les Miserables, Richard Marx, Chicago 19, and Stephen Schwartz stuff. Not bad. Now I just need to find my hot rollers…




From Where I Sit…

Well. From where I sit, I see furniture in the wrong spots, a nervous poodle wondering why his world is changing, bags of purged clothes and STUFF from around the house, a very happy baby trying to crawl, a 10-year-old nearing the end of a very successful soccer season, a husband and son driving around in the Model A, and a daughter in a pink tutu. It’s moving time!!!

Today is highly nostalgic for me – or bittersweet, or something – as the moving company went to my childhood home this morning and picked up my baby grand that has been there – without me! – for 20 years. It was given to me as a gift in about 1987, and I had it for 2 years in high school, and for college breaks, but since becoming a grown up [as if..] it’s continued to be in my folks’ living room – standing alone as a reminder of all the high school nights I spent playing it with all of my friends over. I am delighted that it will be at our new home, but I’m not looking forward to being at Mom and Dad’s and seeing it with no piano… first time in 32 years.

The seasons, they continue on….. I’ll keep you posted as the move draws ever nearer. T-minus-9 days until they come to pack us!!


Emerging from Easter stupor…

…with a brief update and a joyous YouTube clip…


I’ll be getting back to this blogging thing soon — maybe a hymn of the week or something. Not sure what shape it will take, but I know my treatise on Hyfrydol will be here soon.

We’re moving to Baraboo in June! Scott is the soon-to-be-installed Rector of Trinity Church, the kids are about to be enrolled in school, we’ve bought a small house near the schools, and we’re very excited for this new chapter to begin. Hooray!


Secondly, this has been a busy spring for me with worship gigs, and fall 09 promises the same. It’s a privilege. My calendar is posted at for those who have the remotest interest. I’m working on selling my music on itunes as well, so stay tuned for a digital update. 🙂


Thirdly, I see lots of these sorts of things, but I have to confess that this one brought me actual joy this morning. If I ever happen to be in a European train station [ ? ] at the right time for one of these to take place, I might not be able to contain myself. This was also well timed, because in the car yesterday as we were listening to a remix of ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ I said to Scott ‘man, I love remixes like this.’


He looked at me with a combination of alarm, consternation, and … worry.




‘Because they’re perfect for all the step aerobic routines I’m constantly making up in my head’.








‘You know’, he said, not unkindly, ‘those routines do you more good if you actually do them than if you just think about them.’


‘I know. Just you wait.’


So, with that ridiculous digression, here’s what made me smile this morning. Have a great day!

That was the weirdest lunch I’ve ever made.

So, we’re living poor for a couple of weeks here – poorer than usual – meaning, no grocery accoutrements – use what you’ve got. The end.

Well, I had some ground beef that needed to be browned, so that I could use a bunch of it in some spaghetti sauce later in the week.

But I have no tomato soup which is, as every midwesterner knows, the base for any sauce/chili/goulash one might want to make.

So I took the meat… an onion and garlic… a can of spiced diced tomatoes.. a can of tomato sauce… chili powder… black beans… cumin… macaroni noodles [for filler]… and….

… frozen spinach that was, thankfully, thawed.

So it was basically chili with no soup.


Goulash, or something.

Served it up with shredded cheese, sour cream, and oyster crackers.

Strangely enough, the kids loved it, the hubby loved it, and it was a warm, filling lunch on a cold day.

I need to watch for the canned goods to go on sale. I guess I need to step foot in an Aldi – a store which, by the way, scares the heck out of me. I feel like I don’t know the secret handshake or something.

But sneaking spinach into a lunch that the kids actually ate?

Not a bad day.


Thanksgiving. Giving thanks. hang this. Stan King. Stink van…

…what other words can you make out of Thanksgiving?


I find myself lamenting the fact that we relegate gratitude to one holiday a year, as opposed to being a culture that’s marked by [with?] gratitude. I long to be that kind of person, to raise my kids in a home where gratitude is paramount in all we are… I think we are on the right track, but I know how often I lapse into callous indifference… I would rather be someone who errs on the side of TOO many ‘thank you’s’ than not enough. 


I also wish that time could stand still in some magic way, so that all the family with whom we celebrated when we were young could gather with our immediate family. Thanksgiving was a big travel holiday for us, and our home always hosted Aunts and Uncles who are long gone. Mom and Dad remain, but are elderly and ill and don’t travel if there’s a HINT of a snowflake somewhere in the state [Dad would, but Mom… not so much.]. And DH is a pastor so getting away on holidays isn’t much of an option [not to mention the 10 week old baby…]. I miss when it was … easier.

But it’s richer now with the one I love and my littles at my side!

Wishing you all loads of tryptophan-induced naps, stuffing-induced belt loosenings [or elastic-pant wearing], and most of all, overflowing gratitude as you look around your life and see what God has given. We are blessed beyond measure.

Someone told me to do a me-me on my blog.

My first me-me. Seriously. me-me. That’s REALLY funny.

Thanks to Donna at Quiet Life. Her little corner of the internet is my first stop each day.

A – Age: 37
B – Soundtrack from ‘Wicked’. Not so much a band.
C – Career future: world famous singer/songwriter
D – Dad’s name: Ray, but everyone calls him Buzz.
E – Easiest person to talk to: Erin. Or Katie. 
F – Favorite song: the unanswerable question.. ok, for tonight, I’ll say ‘Going Home’ from the Dvorak New World Symphony.

[cringe factor – 4 out of 5 cringes. pretty pitchy…]

G – Gummy Bears or Gummy Worms: neither. Gummy food should be outlawed.

H – Hometown: Green Bay, WI
I – Instruments: A baby grand.
J – Job: wife and mother / worship leader
K – Kids: four
L – Longest car ride ever: Green Bay to Orlando
M – Mom’s name: Carol Louise
N – Number of jobs you’ve had: ten-ish.
P – Phobia: claustro.
Q – Quote: “We can’t have nice things”. Paula Poundstone, in a mid-late 80’s HBO comedy special. I know.

R – Reason to smile: My new baby boy.

S – Song you sang last: the one I wrote this afternoon for Erin’s 30th birthday.
T – Time you wake up: never as late as I’d like. 
U – Unknown fact about me: I’m adopted.
V – Vegetable you hate: peas, but only when in tuna casserole. they interrupt the flow.
W – Worst habit: over eating
X – X-rays you’ve had: teeth, knees, hips
Y – Yummy food: hot bread with freezing cold butter.
Z – Zodiac sign: Pisces


Ok friends. take it and run with it!