Thursday, 12 May 2016

What's In A Name?

As I step into this new adventure of blogging and processing life through written word, I've been deeply moved and encouraged that my Mother's Day post (April Showers Bring . . .) resonated with so many of you.  I have read your comments and am carrying you all close to my heart in prayer.  Prior to publishing that post, I hesitated, allowing insecurity and self-doubt to creep in.  "Will anyone even want to read this little post?" I wondered.  So, please hear me say a BIG THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart to all of you who read, commented, and/or shared.

Upon returning to the "blogosphere," I thought it appropriate to give this blog a new name, and I wanted to share with you all the meaning behind the name.  I don't know about you, but for me, naming something is a real struggle. I feel the heaviness of bestowing an identity on something or someone before really knowing what or who they will become.  As long as you pinky promise to withhold all judgement, I will confess to you that our third child remained nameless for nearly one week.  I just wanted her name to be perfect, and it took my husband and I forever to choose.  And so, when it came time to consider a name for this blog, I panicked.  "Should the name be funny or cute?  Maybe I need to go the intellectual route."  In the end, I gave this blog a name for what I want it to be about.

Finding Thin.  

No.  This is not a weight-loss blog.  While I may contend that my post-birthing-three-baby-body could use a little help along its path toward thin, the good Lord knows I'm doing everything I can to just keep clean laundry in our drawers at this point.  Can I get an amen?  However my trousers may fit, I am endeavoring to find thin in other areas of my life.

What do I mean by that?  My husband, Tanner, and I spent three years living abroad (2009-2012) as students at a small bible college in Belfast, Northern Ireland.  It didn't take us long to fall in love with Ireland - the place, the people, the culture, and the rich history.  The title of this blog is inspired by a prayer said over our daughter on our final Sunday in Belfast.  Friends, many of whom had become like family, gathered and prayed that our Eiley would forever be marked by her time in Ireland, that she would be a woman of the “thin places."  Celtic Saints of old often wrote about thin places - these moments in time and locations wherein earth and eternity seemed to collide.  "Heaven and earth," as the Celtic saying goes, "are only three feet apart, but in thin places that distance is even shorter."   I believe that these moments are happening in our daily lives; in the obvious, and the subtle; in the triumphs, and the crash landings.  It is our joy, in the truest sense, to work alongside the Holy Spirit to foster within ourselves a greater awareness of these moments.  It often feels that the greatest blockade in keeping me doing so is the sheer busyness of life.

And so, for me and for you, I hope that this little "blogspot" is an intentional space.  It has purpose - I hope to use this platform as a way of identifying, celebrating, and reflecting upon "thin moments" in my own life, and in doing so, encourage you to do the same.

So, here's to finding thin together. 

Sunday, 8 May 2016

April showers bring . . .

Memory is a weird thing . . . so are emotions.  The saying goes, “April showers bring May flowers.”  But, when May rolls around every year, I kind of feel that April showers don’t bring May flowers . . . they bring May mud (I know it doesn’t quite rhyme, but mercy abounds for those of us who are not poets).  May is the month my family and I remember my sister Maria, as it holds both her birthday, the day she left earth for eternity . . . and today, Mother’s Day.

I woke up today to the noise of my tiniest ready for breakfast, and as I rolled over to hop out of bed, I found my oldest snuggled up next to me.  I guess I was so tired last night that I didn’t even notice her sneak into our bed in the middle of the night.  I started my day with a heart and home full; however, there was a little unsettled part in my heart knowing that many women dread the silence they awaken to on Mother’s Day.  My own mother’s home will be full of laughter today as we all gather to celebrate her, but she will feel the uneasiness one senses when waiting for the last of the party to arrive before commencing a celebration.  Today, for so many, is like a megaphone to the silence; a spotlight on the empty spaces.  If you find yourself there today, bracing for all the smiling photos that will flood your Instagram feed, prayers for peace and grace abound. 

I had an experience the other day in which my own uneasy feelings about the month of May and God’s goodness collided.  My preschool aged daughter, Eiley, thoroughly enjoys school days.  She’s a social butterfly and quite keen on learning.  I am convinced, however, that her affinity for school has something to do with wardrobe, as she is allowed to wear one of her “fancy dresses” reserved normally for school or church.  This past week, she pulled a polka dot dress off a hanger and brought it to me.  It’s a dress that has been hanging in her closet for sometime, but until this week, it’s always been too big.  I’ve never really wanted it to fit her anyway.  It is a dress that belonged to Maria.    

I can’t quite put into words what I felt seeing my daughter in that dress.  I was uneasy at first – could I really feel happy looking at that dress?  But with the smile beaming across my daughter’s face, how could I not be full of joy?  And yet, she was in a dress that represented such a deep sadness for me.  All of these emotions were colliding, but somehow in that moment, a little bit of peace enveloped me.  “God,” I thought, “You even breathe new life into little polka dot dresses.” 

My mind knows that newness of life is at work in roots buried deep underground, but my heart feels the messiness of the topsoil.  There’s a piece of me, the “I want to fix it” part, that tends to rush past the mud to celebrate spring’s new bulbs.  But, my heart tells me there’s something for me, and for you, that can only be found in the mud.  I suspect May will always be a “muddy month” of sorts for me.  Maybe you feel that Mother’s Day will always be "Muddy Day" for you.  We’re all traversing the human journey together, and I don’t think muddy should be avoided (or necessarily can be, for that matter).  This month feels messy, but it serves as a prophetic reminder of the kingdom coming in which God will make all things new.  The month of May reminds me of my own vulnerability, of my own mortality, and compels me to journey with others - broken by sin but enfolded in God’s great mercy - toward heaven’s eternal shore. 

Will you join me?

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Lent 2014

Today is Ash Wednesday, and thus marks the beginning of a sacred and important time in the Christian calendar.  Over the next 40 days, Christians are encouraged to remember and reflect on life of Christ, particularly the 40 days leading up to his death and resurrection.

This past Sunday we celebrated Transfiguration Sunday at church, and our pastor talked about the importance of remembering the light of Christ even amidst our darkest of days and moments . . . he pointed out that as Jesus and his select disciples descend from the Mount of Transfiguration (this crazy awesome experience . . . wherein Jesus in all his glory is shining so radiantly and brightly) the march toward Jerusalem, toward Jesus' passion, death, and resurrection officially begins.  I assume the disciples desperately needed that moment on the Mount of Transfiguration so as to hold onto hope in the dark days ahead as their beloved friend and Savior-King would be mocked and beaten by the world, slain for the sins of all of humanity.  I find myself in this story . . . I find myself in the confusion and terror of the disciples as their source of security, their light in the darkness, seems to slowly fade away.  "You can't leave me here; I can't do this alone; The pain is too much for me; I do not have the capacity in my head nor my heart to receive anymore bad news . . . to be faced with the reality of living in a broken world."

So, as I journey with Christ these next 40 days, I am thankful for his willingness to descend from heaven to earth and experience the human condition.  I am thankful I can relate with him.  I am thankful that the assault of the brokenness of the world on my head and heart is not something foreign to him.  And so, I choose to embrace this downward trajectory over the Lenten Season, holding onto the hope of Christ, the light of the world, and looking forward to the magnificent celebration that is EASTER SUNDAY!

Many blessings to you during this season,

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

The Talented Uncles

All of Eiley's uncles are ridiculously talented . . . Caleb, Will Franklin and T.J. all have a crazy creative side and are all particularly talented musicians. We love that Eiley will grow up around such creativity and with uncles who are passionate about their art form. My brothers, Caleb and Will Franklin, recently made a video with an impromptu performance of their song, "Learning How to Love." If you don't believe me that they got some made musical skills, check out this video for proof! I love how talented they are and am proud of how they are using such talent as they are currently on the road with The Red Bus Project raising awareness about the global orphan crisis.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

A Festive Weekend...

'Twas a festive weekend here on the Emerald Isle. Yesterday, Tan and I took our little lady into town for the St. Patrick's Day parade. Town was quite busy...and quite green! Prior to living in Ireland, all I associated with St. Patrick's Day was that it was the one day of the year every American somehow mysteriously became Irish . . . it was the day you ate Lucky Charms, wore green to school because you didn't want to get pinched, and ended the day asking your Mom if leprechauns were real. Perhaps you may already know this, but St. Pat's is a much bigger deal in America than it is here in Ireland. While there is a parade and yes, it is a bank holiday and so everyone gets a day off of work, it isn't what I expected. This past month, I spent a lot of time writing a paper on understanding the Church as community and for part of my research I looked into early Celtic Christianity. Of course, Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland and St. Patrick's Day is really to celebrate the power of Jesus entering the lives of the Irish as a result of one man's obedience to follow God's call on his life. Now, that is something worth celebrating! Also, Sunday was Mother's Day here in the U.K. and Eiley and I got our picture taken in our back garden after Church. I am so thankful that God has allowed me to become the mother of princess Eiley this year. Enjoy the photos of our wee Irish shamrock ;)

Mother's Day 2012 - Belfast, N. Ireland

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Eiley - 4 Months of Life Together


This past weekend we celebrated you being in our lives for four wonderful months. We can't believe how quickly the time has flown by . . . I guess all those sleepless nights in the first few weeks make everything kind of a blur. But, here we are now . . . four months into this adventure together and your Dad and I are so grateful for you. You always know how to put a smile on our faces, even when you are fussy. You're personality is really starting to come to life and we can tell that you are a bit of a firecracker and we love it. You love to sing and scream . . . like the happy, giggly kind of scream. You love love LOVE to eat your hands (see photo below). I think the teething season (that I hear lasts kind of forever) is upon us as everything goes straight into your mouth for a wee nibble or gnaw these days.

We love you so much Princess Eiley Eliza and are so thankful to be your Mom and Dad!

Friday, 9 March 2012

The Red Bus Project Trailer

Hey guys...check out the Red Bus Project Trailer to view a sweet video with some clips of the REAL RED BUS!

Just click on "Red Bus Project Trailer" above and it will take you directly to the video. Please share this with ALL your friends.

- Em