The Promise of Shared Brokenness – Heather Kopp

A friend shared this post on Facebook awhile back, and it resonated with me:

When folks gather around a system of shared beliefs, the price of acceptance in the group is usually agreement, which means the greatest value—stated or not—is being right. Unfortunately, this often creates an atmosphere of fear and performance, which in turn invites conformity.

But when people gather around a shared need for healing, the price of acceptance in the group is usually vulnerability, which means the greatest value—stated or not—is being real. This tends to foster an atmosphere of safety and participation, which in turn invites community.

via The Promise of Shared Brokenness – Heather Kopp.

I’ve always gravitated toward vulnerability, so it doesn’t surprise me that I’m drawn to all kinds of relationships, regardless of racial, socio-economic, or religious perspectives — though I’ve never quite put my finger on describing it this way until I contemplated the above quote.

As I reflect on my relationships — both intimate and less so —  the common denominator in most of my friendships doesn’t appear to be a specific culture, belief system, or even Jesus.

I think I just like people who are real.

You can be real about being gay or straight, you can be real about believing or not believing in Jesus, you can be real about being rich or poor — just be real, and we’ll probably be friends.

Four Myths Regarding the Current Public Discussion of Mars Hill

This week my Facebook feed exploded with discussions about Mars Hill Church and its senior leadership, which quickly turned into a debate on several threads over the nature of such discussions happening on Facebook (or anywhere public, for that matter).

As I read through it all like a gawker who can’t look away from a highway pile-up, I noticed four myths about conflict in the church that I’d like to debunk.

1) It’s wrong to talk about this in public, and Facebook isn’t the right venue.

We live in an era in which the use of technology is growing at a faster rate than policy about the use of technology.

For example, if a fourteen year old girl texts a booby picture to her boyfriend, she can be prosecuted under distribution of child pornography laws and will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of her life. This is because there’s currently no law in the murky middle between foolish girl and sinister pervert.

The ambiguity of this murky middle makes people nervous about things like social media. We like it for sharing our lunch and cat photos. We like it for expressing joy in the weather, quoting a book passage or sermon, and posting quiz results for which Game of Thrones character we are.

But when someone uses social media to shine light into the darkness, we get uncomfortable. We wonder, is this gossip? Is this public shaming?

I’m not saying anybody’s showing their boobies, but we are trying to figure out how to be the body of Christ in this age and how to be a Gospel community.

In Matthew 18, Jesus outlines clear direction regarding the public discussion of sin. He says:

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”

So the step I suppose we’re all unclear about is, “tell it to the church.” In this day and age when content marketing and social media strategies abound, who or what is “the church,” and where should this discussion take place?

First of all, the church is described in the Bible as a group of people, not a building. The bride of Christ, the people of God, and so forth. By this definition, we’re not confined to having this discussion within the four walls of a building.

Great, so who are the people of this church?

Mars Hill would define its local church body by its membership, which is defined on their site as members of the family who “participate as the church: sacrificing time, talents, and treasure; committing to the care and community of their fellow members; and submitting to the authority God has established to lead our congregation.”

The tricky thing is, there’s currently is no forum for public discussion of the hard things that have surfaced over the years within the body of Mars Hill that I know of, and there hasn’t been for many many years. Church wide meetings are tightly controlled with scripted information going out and no opportunity to ask questions or dialogue.

In general, community discussion is not encouraged, and questions are not welcomed. Quite the opposite, actually, as those who ask tough questions are frequently labeled as dissenters.

So when it comes to the step Jesus describes in Matthew 18, “tell it to the church,” it’s still unclear how we are to Biblically address a grievance within the body when the first two steps have failed.

Well shit. Now what?

Mars Hill is a church that 1) utilizes technology to broadcast its message around the world, 2) uses social media tools like twitter, Facebook, blogs, and Instagram to communicate its values and mission, and 3) recognizes that a high percentage of “followers” are by those who don’t physically attend a local Mars Hill campus.

By embracing technology and social media to broadcast worldwide, and by shutting down public discourse within the membership, it stands to reason that people online can be considered part of the church, and that Facebook is a reasonable vehicle for asking questions, pursuing accountability, and seeking reconciliation.

2) You’re just bitter and out to get Pastor Mark.

I’m sure there are many people who fit into this category, so how can you tell whether someone is acting out of love or bitterness? Technically you can’t, because only God knows the motive of our hearts. But the way we talk about conflict can offer up some clues as to how our heart is leaning.

First of all, the point of Matthew 18 is to confront a friend who has sinned against you so that he or she can repent and the two of you can be reconciled. It’s an act of grace the offended friend offers the offender so the conflict doesn’t ruin the friendship or further divide the larger body through gossip.

Confronting a friend who sinned against you is an act of love. Watching that friend continue in unrepentance is sad. And the broken relationship is painful.

Chances are, the words and actions that come from a person who loves the friend who offended, is sad they won’t repent, and is in pain over a broken relationship, won’t focus on retribution or revenge, but on rescuing that friend from his or her own destruction.

Secondly, look for folks who skip steps one and two — the private confrontation alone and with witnesses — and go straight for a public soapbox to air their grievances. This is gossip and public shaming done by folks who don’t love someone enough to speak directly to them but merely have a bone to pick.

I’ve heard some say that people should just be quiet and let God take care of his church. But I wonder why we’re to assume that this current public discussion is not God taking care of his church!

People are hurting, and they’ve hit a brick wall in the system that Jesus himself gave us to bring about healing, repentance, and reconciliation.

If Mars Hill chooses to prevent any opportunity for “telling it to the church,” then technology and social media have provided a valid work-around for bringing to truth into the light.

3) You’re just jumping on a bandwagon or joining a crusade.

Don’t be fooled by my silence up to this point, lest you think I’m simply joining a drunken conga line. I’ve been praying for years for truth to overcome fear – not only for those who have been sinned against, but for those who are unrepentant (because I love them).

I was not personally sinned against by Mark or anyone at Mars Hill. But I know people who were sinned against — painfully, and with lifelong consequences — and have walked with them for years through the struggle to understand why repentance and reconciliation is so elusive.

I’ve been extremely impatient at the slowness of God to respond, and it’s very tempting almost every day to write about what I know.

I have a T-shirt that says, “Writing Well Is the Best Revenge.” It’s faded and worn where it rubs against my belt buckle, but I can’t bear to part with it because writing is my super power.

And yet, Christ called me to silence for a season because it’s not my story to tell.

But now that folks are “telling it to the church,” I support a healthy exposure of the truth for the purpose of reconciliation.

If all of this blows up, it will be a beautiful, glorious, mess, and God will be glorified because this is his church, and he takes care of her. If we look to the circumstances at face value, we fear and cry “gossip!” But if we lock eyes with “the one who sees our injustice” as Hagar did, we’re empowered to speak and live in the light without fear.

4) You shouldn’t talk bad about my church — Mars Hill changed my life!

I hear you. Mars Hill changed my life, too!

I was there for sixteen years – all of which I spent as a dedicated member who supported the vision and mission, and even spent some time on staff.

In the late 90’s, I came of age as a believer at Mars Hill. I am a smarter, more thoughtful, less cultural Christian because of things I learned at Mars Hill. I make friends with my neighbors, send my kids to public school, and moved into the city because of things I learned Mars Hill.

But as my friend, Wendy, says here, we’re all called to something much bigger than Mars Hill, so we need to be wise about our allegiance.

In that post she also provides a great analogy for something I’ve thought as well:

“During the years since I left the church, I’ve watched the branches of the Mars Hill tree grow even heavier with new believers as the root system of mature Christians desperately needed to disciple these converts continues to erode. It is only a matter of time before a wind rushes through and causes the entire tree to crash down. I perceive that these current controversies might finally be that wind, and I do not rejoice in that AT ALL.”

If you’re part of the body of Christ at Mars Hill and you haven’t experienced broken relationships because of unrepentant sin, rejoice!

But know that there are some among you who are experiencing broken relationships because of unrepentant sin. The correct response for you is to grieve with those friends, to encourage repentance, and to facilitate reconciliation.

There’s no need to be defensive or beat someone up because you think they talked smack about your sister. Truth transcends all earthly loyalties!

In conclusion…

I write this post — possibly my longest post ever — because I love my brothers and sisters in Christ, I love the Church, and I love sorting out the messy nuances of living as one who is rescued.

I welcome your comments and further discussion.

**If you have a negative comment, please be sure to give the benefit of the doubt on motive or tone to the blog author or readers who comment.

Anonymous comments are welcomed ONLY if you need a safe place to be honest about a burden or concern that you don’t feel free to share with your name. Anonymous critical comments will be deleted immediately. If you need to respond critically, please use your name.**

(I borrowed that comment policy from my friend, Wendy.)

Peace to you.

It’s given us, to overcome.

The other day a friend called me. She was struggling to see light at the end of her tunnel of despair, and I hope I was able to encourage her.

We talked as I sat in my car in the Grocery Outlet parking lot because this is the reality of life in community: to go on a rescue mission between client calls and grocery shopping.

After we talked I went into the store. I don’t normally shut out the world in public. I like to smile and say hello to fellow pear squeezers. But on that day I needed to pray, to decompress, to go inward.

This song by Josh Garrels came into the mix as I rummaged through packs of chicken thighs, looking for the largest one. As I heard a particular lyric – I can’t remember which one – I gasped.

And I must have gasped out loud and not just in my head because the lady next to me turned quickly and looked concerned.

“Wow, these prices are great,” I said, and chuckled. Nothing to see here! All is well! Surely no one despairs in the meat department!

But when she turned away, I cried a little. And worshipped a little. And I can’t be sure, but I may have sung this out loud a little. I really hope I didn’t, though, because I’m no American Idol.

To be clear, my life is pretty great right now – I don’t have much to cry about. But Jesus wept with those who wept. And Job’s friends sat down and cried with him (before they turned into jerks, but we’ll ignore that part of the story for now). So if I want to cry and worship in the meat department on someone else’s behalf I think there’s plenty of Biblical argument in favor of that.

So, this song is for you, friend. And it’s for anyone who is struggling to see light at the end of despair. It’s not a battle cry that calls you to kick ass, but a meditation, a beckoning, an invitation to believe He will overcome.

It’s one of the reasons I follow Jesus. He’s a God who restores everything I lose, squander, or have taken from me.

p.s. Thank you, Bandcamp & Josh Garrels for letting me share your music with a file embed.


I hung my head, for the last time
In surrender and despair
Before I’m dead, I’ll take the last climb
Up the mountain, face my fears
The time has come, to make a choice
Use my voice for the love of every man
My minds made up, never again
Never again, will I turn round

Though they may surround me like lions
And crush me on all sides
I may fall, but I will rise
Not by my might, or my power, or by the strength of swords
Only through, your love, my lord
All we’ve lost, will be, restored

Take courage sons, for we must go under
The heart of darkness, and set them free
But don’t lose heart when you see the numbers
There’s no measure for, the faith we bring
It’s given us, to overcome
If we run, where the spirit calls us on
The greatest things, have yet to come
With the dawn, we will rise

Though they may surround us like lions
And crush us on all sides
we may fall, but we will rise
Not by my might, or my power, or by the strength of swords
Only through, your love, my lord
All we’ve lost, will be, restored

Because the Zugs could never just buy a Christmas Tree.


Thanksgiving weekend we took a day trip into the mountains with some friends to chop down a Christmas tree. Mind you, this was no froo froo tree farm with hot cocoa and carolers… this was THE MOUNTAINS.

(As we’ve discovered before, when the Zugs do something we go all the way).

We bought a $10 permit from the forest service and wound our way up one of their treacherous, winding roads in our ’95 Honda Odyssey with two wheel drive and questionable tire traction, following along behind our two friends in their identical Subaru 4 wheel drives.


I’m not going to lie to you – IZE TERRIFIED of that drive. Somewhere between now and my daring twenties I lost my chops and everything makes me nervous. Maybe the closer you get to 40 the more aware you are of your mortality, but let me just admit that I was NOT TRUSTING JESUS as we fishtailed around those hairpin turns with only a snow bank to keep us from employing the local search party operation.


But alas. we soon met a stalled car on the road in front of us and couldn’t gain our traction again in the snow. We had to abandon ship and hop into one of the Subarus.

The kids and I waited in the back of our friend’s car a few dozen yards up the road while the men heaved and pushed our minivan to the side of the road. I felt much better there, not able to witness whether or not Bryan would end up at the bottom of a ravine.

I prefer my tragedies to surprise me.


It was exhilarating to play in the snow. At one point Ruthie and I had to tromp off to find a bush *cough* and stepped into a snow drift up to my waist.

Wow. I mean, I’m the kid who used to JUMP off my roof into a pile of snow. Now I’m the middle aged mom who FALLS into a drift while trying to not pee her pants.


Chopping down a tree from the side of the mountain challenges one’s perspective. I kept pointing out THAT ONE! WHAT ABOUT THAT ONE? IS THAT ONE GOOD? Because I was all, “Whassamattah? We have nine foot ceilings!”

But, yeah. Check out our itty bitty TEN FOOT TREE next to its ginormous counterpart:


Our friends think they may have scared us away, but we’re totally going again next year. We had a great time, and this was the healthiest, cutest tree we’ve ever had.

on suffering openly

I’d seen Bryan around, but I first noticed him when he officially introduced himself to the group at a staff meeting. He was from southern Colorado, his wife left him, and he came to Seattle trying to make sense of the last six years of his life.

I took note.

It wasn’t that I reveled in rescuing lost puppies; but rather, because he suffered, I knew he wasn’t shallow.

I look around me now, at my closest friends, and they all know or have experienced suffering. Some I have watched suffer; some suffered before I knew them. But it is their Story of pain and tragedy that allows me to trust them, to let them watch me as I writhe in my own confused, dark places.

I’ve had a few people tell me I’m stand-offish, that I’m hard to get to know. This confused me, because my commitment to friends is deep and forever. But when I think about it, when I think about who makes these claims, I realize it’s the people I don’t really know – the ones who lie to themselves and everyone else about their suffering, who want to pretend they have it together, who avoid suffering at all costs.

And they’re right: I’m stand-offish to them.

I have to be, because in relationship I don’t hide much, and it would be foolish for me to expose myself to the untested.

A few years ago I lost a friend. She met me on the doorstep as I came to pick up my kids at her house, and she told me we couldn’t be friends anymore. She didn’t really explain, and it didn’t make any sense. Conflict was happening around us, but I wrongly assumed we were tight, that we would persevere, that our friendship could withstand it all.

Ironically, as I walked over to pick up my children that morning I felt compelled to acknowledge all that was swirling around us. I was planning to tell her I loved her, and that I wanted us to pray together for Peace in the midst of The Ugliness, and that I wanted to wrestle through our friendship.

So her confrontation was quite a blow.

But it let me know I had chosen wrongly in her as a friend, that my vulnerability was given to her untested. As the following weeks unraveled, everything I thought I knew about our friendship turned out to be a polite facade that covered gossip, disdain, and betrayal. Despite the fact I could see how she suffered, it turns out she never let me in. She was pushing me away, and I never even saw it.

It took two and a half years for me to understand this – to understand we did not feel the same way about suffering and friendship. In fact, I don’t think I understood it until around paragraph seven of this post.

Thankfully, that experience did not cause me to retract my vulnerability, but it did open my eyes to Caution. I think back on what it is I saw in Bryan, and in my friends, that drew me in to their Story – and I believe it is the limps and scars and weathered skin that tell me I’d be safer in their boat than in a greenhorn’s.

On dining with strangers

I had dinner last night with a new friend at a new (to me) restaurant in the Big City. I parked my car a block away so as to not completely embarrass her with my well used, dented, unwashed mini van in need of a good decluttering – no sexy single girl wants to be seen out on the town with THAT.

(Truth be told, neither do I).

She arrived first, and when I got there she says we can either wait for a table or sit at the community table. With a smile, I masked a flash of panic at talking to strangers all night on a first date, and agreed it would be FUN! YEAH, THAT SOUNDS FUN! THAT WOULD BE GREAT! YEAH, LET’S DO THAT!

Within 30 seconds of sitting down my new Friend Who Talks to Strangers introduced herself to the other couple sitting at the table, and as it turns out they know each other. Kind of. They both ride Dressage horses in Redmond – which I’m told is like horse ballet, so I can imagine it’s like a five katrillion to one chance we would end up sitting in a tiny Seattle restaurant together.

Octopus with clams and chick peasA third couple was seated next to us who turned out to be either sisters or friends – I can’t remember which one. We spent the evening ooooo-ing and aaaaahhhh-ing over each others’ plates of food, and actually passed one of ours around to be smelled by the others.

I had octopus for the first time, and Bryan is going to kill me for this because he’s always trying to get me to try octopus. But like everything else that is important to him, I only acquiesce if a chick friend also suggests it (Remember Freakonomics? Remember Iron Man? Remember white water rafting? Chicks all told me to do it). But it’s like I had no choice. My Friend Who Talks to Strangers was all, if you like mussels and if you like scallops, you will like octopus, which to me sounded like a triple dog double dare. Of course I loved the octopus. But this place cooked everything to such perfection, and in the most exquisite sauces, that I think I would have died and gone to heaven had they served me snow tires for dinner.

By the time we reached the chocolate crepes and dessert wine portion of the meal (!!!) we were all exchanging business cards with one another. I was fascinated by the gal sitting across from me who bought land with her husband about an hour north of Seattle and started a winery. They are attorneys. They are city people. They’ve never done this before. I was all, YOU HAVE TO START A BLOG!

Their first harvest after five years of growing will be this October, and I suggested she host a special wine tasting for Seattle bloggers to help spread the word. In fact, I now think she should host a special wine tasting for Seattle moms for which I can hook her up with some extra special Mommy Needs A Glass of Wine shirts. If you’re reading this, New Friend from the Community Table Whose Name I Didn’t Catch, please pull out that card I gave you and email me, because I would love love love love love to visit your winery.

As it turns out, I still have a brain. I am very happy with the life choices I’ve made, staying home with my kids. But sometimes when I find myself dining at a table with marketing directors, physicians and attorneys, I feel a slight stage fright when introducing myself as a stay at home mom – I assume the other person is making assumptions about me. But last night as we discussed Twitter and blogs and our kids and horse riding and pilates and wine making, I feared no assumptions. We were just six people brought together randomly by a unique dining experience, and we enjoyed the evening all the more because it.

As we parted for the night my new friend said I should pick the restaurant next time, and I was all, YOU MEAN WE GET A SECOND DATE? I think it was the new sexy jeans I was wearing. All I know is, I plan to call every restaurant in Seattle to find out who else has a community dining table.

The moment you realize you are the only one on the planet without call waiting..

(via email)

Her: I got your message and can’t seem to get through on your phone, I keep getting a busy signal.

Me: LOL. That busy signal probably means I’m on the phone. 🙂

Her: Dude, you so old school, i haven’t heard a busy signal since like 1998… ha ha…

Too tired to think of a witty title to this post

I took a commercial break from life this evening to spend time with two soul sisters who are in town at the same time. Both women have participated in the reality of The Pile that is my life, having rented our spare room at different times over the last four years that we have been in this house. One moved back to the midwest to be near her family, the other is off at medical school on the East coast. Both have left a void in our hearts by leaving.

One of my favorite things ever is being totally entrenched in conversation about God and relationships and baggage and sin and redemption and covenant –

– and pausing for a moment in the midst of that conversation to consume my third tequila shot –

That, to me, is poetry.

This may not be for everyone, and I certainly don’t want to imply that I am again drunk blogging, and I definitely don’t want you to feel left out if you were not present. Let’s just say that despite my having been on vacation for 14 days, it felt really good to get out.

Comin’ from the land down under…

I was hoping to have my house put together more than it is, but when you have a friend visiting you FROM AUSTRALIA you’d best concern yourself with ending Pukefest 2007 first. The important thing is that I vacuumed the layers of cracker crumbs out from the between the couch cushions so I don’t look like a complete moron when we pull the bed out for him. The dining table full of clutter? We can eat out. The couch filled with loads of clean laundry? The area rug is pretty soft for sitting. I think we’ll be fine.

When I was a kid my parents once had friends visit us from Australia – they had met while traveling in Europe (my mom makes conversation with everyone, even Australians in Europe). But me? I met my Australian friend while sitting on my couch. I think he found my blog through this review I wrote for, and because he commented a couple times I read his blog and we became commenting friends. And now? We’re stop #2 on his American Extravaganza! (My term, not his.)

Let that be a lesson to all you lurkers out there: YOU TOO could be sleeping on my Ikea pull-out couch if you were to just LEAVE A COMMENT.


Just checking in because I hate to see posts like this one sit at the top for too long, dragging everyone down. I actually pulled it together this afternoon: I had a good cry over a glass of wine, I had a good cry on the phone with a friend, then I rallied myself to dig out of the clutter that was suffocating my living room.

I recognized early on in my day that I was responding completely wrong to everything – not just in my actions, but in my heart. I’ve felt bitter, angry, and selfish this week – and I’m not even pms-ing. I knew this, yet the train had already left the station and I didn’t know how to turn it around.

When I explained all this to my friend on the phone, she stopped to pray for me right then and there. “Lord Jesus, please pull up the tracks of Jen’s day so her train derails.”

In that moment those words felt like the most powerful thing anyone’s ever said to me.

I find that I am still attempting to change my anger and control tendencies by asserting my own will against them. Just typing out that last sentence is laughable – controlling my control issues with more control. Ha! That’s funny.

So much more to write, but it’s after 11 and it’s good to end on a light note anyway.

Recipe Swap

Recipe Swap nightLast night about nine or ten gals came over for a Recipe Swap and Menu Planning Party that I hosted. The group was mixed, consisting of friends from all different compartments of my life, including local bloggers.

I didn’t really plan to have a format, so everyone just brought their cookbooks and notebooks and index cards and we swapped swapped swapped. We mingled, and chatted, and nibbled on veggies and called out things like, “Anybody need a good enchilada recipe?” or “Does anyone know how to make pesto?” or my personal favorite, “Tell everyone about that great chicken dish YOU make, Jen!” (Nothing like a little flattery to get you multiple dinner invites).

We had great fun, and I hope to do something like it after Thanksgiving – maybe something crafty-like, or maybe we can all get together and address our Christmas cards together. Or whatever. I just think it’s fun to get together!

Leah of My Pink Toes had to cancel at the last minute, but she wrote up a blog post about it and left us with a few recipes.

Annagrace at Love Drunk lives a little too far to attend, but coincidentally, she had this recipe on her blog this week.

And Dacia also posted many of her favorite recipes at her lovely craft blog, here.

If you have a favorite recipe to share, leave it in the comments or link to your own blog.

I will also take this time to point out a few things about this picture (click to enlarge if you care to indulge me).

First of all, you will notice the pieces of orange streamer paper taped into each corner near the ceiling. These are left over from Ruthie’s birthday party TWO YEARS AGO when I yanked them down. The pieces stuck to the tape didn’t come down, and here they still sit.

Secondly, you will notice the faux iron plate rack hanging off center above the piano. This used to hold a giant white platter, as I have storage issues in my kitchen. I have since decided to go completely IMpractical and hang a piece of art there. However, I cannot get the plate rack down. The screws are stripped or something, but the damn thing will not come off the wall.

You may have also noticed my latest organization project, which was to remove all the random photo frames off the piano and put them on the wall in hopes of eliminating clutter on the piano. They just always looked so terrible on the piano, and besides, that area needed some height. Hopefully I didn’t just make my wall look cluttered – what do you think?

And what you can’t see in the picture is that I rolled my kitchen island over to the wall under the window, opening up the kitchen wide and spacious. Wow! What a difference that made, and nobody was bumping into each other trying to pour a drink! I think I may just keep it over there and roll it back out into the middle when I need to cook.

These are my friends.

Tonight as I pulled into the parking lot at Macy’s I was cat-called by a familiar voice behind me. I turned to discover that my friend and her husband were parked in their Toyota LANDCRUISER* drinking beer and smoking cigarettes like they were living out a scene from The Outsiders.

These are the same friends who, when I called them once to see if they could join us for a movie, declined because they were heading out to the mountains to drink Budweisers and shoot her old sewing machine to pieces. With an actual gun.

These are the same friends who’s son (who is three days older than Ruthie) rocks out to worship music at church like he’s front row at a KISS concert, while Ruthie flits about with her twirling and flitting.

God bless friends who keep it real.

*When my friend first acquired this car, every other word out of her mouth was LANDCRUISER, and she drawled out the word like it was in all caps: LAAAANDCRUISER.

“Want to carpool to the party? Because I have plenty of room in my LAAAANDCRUISER.”
“I don’t have a car today because Husband needed the LAAAANDCRUISER to drive in the snow.”
“Have you heard the kick ass sound system I have in the LAAAANDCRUISER?”

I mock, but secretly, I was jealous of her LAAAANCRUISER.

how to can plums

1. Stand on a tall ladder over a treacherous patch of blackberry bushes in order to pick plumbs off the top of the tree

2. Sit around like old ladies, chattering about weddings and babies and the first days of school, while pitting plumbs.

3. More chattering while chop chop chopping.

4. Carry the load together, knowing that canning should never be done apart from the community of friends.

5. Stir stir stir!

6. Taste taste taste!

7. Marvel over the beautiful, purple jars, and feel proud after a hard day’s work.

8. Locate your children, who have run free on this half acre of blissful property all day with minimal supervision.

Thank you to my friend, Heather, who invited us all out to share in this experience, and for climbing the ladder – so bummed I didn’t get a picture of that! Alecia, you rock – your previous experience saved the day! And Beth, you looked mah-valous, and were just as clueless as me!

Round two with pears is this week, and round three with apples is next (if we can manage that kind of stamina!).


I look forward to my birthday more than I look forward to Christmas, or summer, or the day all my kids are potty trained. Today is a cool, crisp, sunny day, and there is freshness in the air. Summer is gone and I am wearing socks again. New fall fashions abound, and school provides me with a refreshing break during the day.

I am light on my feet.

I am light in spirit.

My birthday draws out the happy drunk uncle in me – the one who embraces everyone in a big hug and blesses them for being alive, who raises a pint in honor of friendship and then sobs uncontrollably while chanting, ‘I love you, man!’ I am always and forever grateful for my friends, and nothing brings out that gratefulness more than remembering the day many of those friendships began – which was 17 years ago today.

I am thankful today for all of my friendships, for each person who adds so much to my experience, for each comment I hope for on my blog, for each ass-kick I receive in loving rebuke. I could not be a mother without you. I could not be a wife without you. I could not be a writer without you.

And now I’ve done it: tears, snot, and contorted face – I’ve gone and made myself cry.