Archive | Personal Essays

Radio Lab, Musical DNA, and Surprising God

tech joy

My hands are in the sink. I am washing dishes. My family is off playing Nintendo. I am blissfully alone, and my mind is open. Radio Lab is on NPR.

The interview is with David Cope, a composer. When faced with musical writer’s block, Cope built an analytical computer program, named EMI (Experiments in Musical Intelligence). EMI is able to ascertain patterns unique to each composer run through its system. After analyzing scores of music, Cope applied algorithms from these composers to other works of music, giving them new and amazing life. (more…)

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I’m Just Like Isabel Briggs Myers

matt & phoebes

Myer-Briggs is my favorite personality test. When I stumbled across this little nugget about Isabel Myers and her husband, Clarence “Chief” Myers, I was exhilarated: I have the same personality type as Myers (INFP), our husbands have the same personality type (ISTJ), and, according to the Myers-Briggs test, we are NOT supposed to be compatible!

Isabel and Chief were, by all accounts, happily married; Matt and I are, as well (of course I have to say that, but it’s nevertheless true). However, learning to love each other has had its obstacles. I thought I’d share a few tidbits of what it’s like being an INFP who is married to an ISTJ: (more…)

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Confessions of an INFP (Introvert/Intuitive/Feeler/Perceiver)

birthday gangWhen I was preparing our home for Phoebe’s birthday party, I learned something eye-opening about my INFP personality type. The morning of a party, I always have anxiety, but not the type I always thought.

You see, I grew up in a structured and tidy home that was always presentable to guests. I’d always assumed my “party anxiety” was about presenting my guests with a perfectly hosted experience (aka: an experience like the one my mother would offer); however, that is not it at all!! I don’t care if my home, or anyone else’s home, is tidy or not…in fact, I find myself more at ease when there is a small to moderate amount of mess.

The reason I get anxious before a gathering is because I am an introvert. No matter how much I love hosting my friends, large groups make me extremely anxious. In this case, “large” meant 4 extra adults and 6 extra kids. HAHA!!! A much smaller crowd than Phoebe’s party last year, when our home was bursting at the seams with two dozen extra people. (more…)

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A Year In The Life

Today is Phoebe’s birthday. She is three years old.

In commemoration, I chose to feature one photo for each month of her life as a two-year-old. Of course, these photos don’t contain every nuance of her year (how could they??)…but I hope they represent a bit of her personality, her spirit and her growth.

^_^ Erin

Phoebe April 2013Phoebe May 2013Phoebe June 2013Phoebe July 2013Phoebe August 2013Phoebe September 2013Phoebe October 2013Phoebe November 2013Phoebe December 2013Phoebe January 2014Phoebe February 2014Phoebe March 2014Phoebe April 2014

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“Are you having more kids?”

There is one category of questioning that all young parents loathe: “Are you having more kids?”

For the record, yes. Matt and I want more kid(s). But it’s up to God when we have our next one.

I want to share with you, my readership, some thoughts on this question so that you can be more sensitive and understanding when broaching this topic with others.

First off, if you just met someone and they have not volunteered any information about more kids, assume they don’t want to talk about it. This is a good rule of thumb for all category of acquaintances, actually. But. If you *do* ask, and they answer yes or no or maybe someday, give them a moment. If they clam up or change the topic, then drop it. They don’t want to talk about it. And that’s OK.

Parents do NOT have to justify their parent numbering choices. To ANYONE. Some people will only have 1 kid, and others will have twelve. Families look different everywhere, and for a multitude of reasons. And scoffing at a big family for bringing more children into the world or berating a parent for giving their child no sibling, these are insensitive and inappropriate ways of talking to parents. We already feel judged. All the time. We make the best choices we can, and we take the children God blesses us with, and that’s that.

Things that are very ok to say:
– You are a great parent.
– You’d be a great parent to multiple children.
– You have a big heart.
– Kids love you.
– I marvel at your patience/creativity/nurturing.
– What a sweet relationship you have with your child.

I write this from personal experience, but also from conversations with MULTIPLE parents who dread being asked about their plans for future children. I just ask you: please try to be sensitive, do more listening than talking, and (when in doubt) just avoid the topic entirely.



– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

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Do Not Despair

Joy is a complicated thing.

Matt walks in the door after a long day. I tell him how I have felt sick all day, how Phoebe fought her nap for two hours, how all of the dishes are dirty, how it’s beans and rice for dinner because I was too exhausted to prepare anything more elaborate. With compassion, he hugs me and says, “I’m sorry it’s been a bad day.” And it hits me: it HASN’T been a bad day. A difficult day? Yes. But a good one; a fulfilling one; a purposeful one. A day filled with love and blessings.

Weeping Sunshine

How are we to be JOYFUL when we are called to pass through DIFFICULT TIMES? I’m not even talking about the bombing in Boston or the shooting in Newtown, although those tragedies apply. I’m talking about your everyday life, your everyday grief, the griefs you carry with you that you cannot seem to shake. I have these types of griefs, and I believe we all do: money troubles, aches and pains, illness, injury, people we have lost, relationships that have withered, divorce, death, miscarriage, the yawning pain of absence.

Close up 1

Being Joyful is less about being happy, per se, and more about Being OK whether or not I’m happy. Knowing that my world will not fall apart in the face of despair, this is what gives me hope and strength and tenacity. I do not speak these words as someone who has never felt pain. This I have seen time and again: wherever there is disaster and death and chaos, life and love and hope spring back in it wake. Love is victorious. Good is victorious. The flowers pop up each spring. Babies are born. Wounds heal. Rainbows paint the sky.

Loving someone means you open your heart and make yourself vulnerable. Even the most loving relationship has its hurts. But that’s ok. Because loving someone was never supposed to be about symbiosis, but about paying it forward. Love is not about keeping track of how even a relationship is. Love is about being poured out, being ok with the mystery of emptiness, and being amazed when God fills you up again.

This, I believe, is the mystery of Faith. This is the act of surrendering my idols and worshipping God. I don’t need to be healthy. I don’t need to know where my food or clothing or shelter will come from. I don’t need to be with my child. I don’t need rest. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I don’t wallow in my sufferings, because suffering tenderizes me: it opens me up to feel the suffering of others and teaches me how to love compassionately.

Close up 2

My hope for you is not that you will never suffer, but that you will suffer well.

My hope for you is not that you will never feel pain, but that when pain finds you, you will allow yourself to feel it, and then let it pass; and when the echoes of that pain find you: let them fill you, take a breath, and then empty yourself all over again.

My hope for you is that, when you find joy, you dance and hug and sing and laugh. Pour yourself out, over and over, like a jar of clay. For we feel like sinew and bone, but we are dust-to-dust in the blink of an eye. And recognizing the slice of eternity we are called to steward within our hearts might just be the key to turning our Grief into Joy.

I leave you with this poem by Mary Oliver…

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean–
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down–
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

Blog post by Erin

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Phoebe Turns Two

I’m filled with joy. I’m filled with sadness when I think of time passing. I’m so happy; Matt and Phoebe fill me up in ways I could have never dreamed. I want to always be this happy. And part of being happy, I think, is not trying to hold onto happiness like a Thing, but to let go and let life pass through you. And sometimes you’ll be sad. And that’s ok. And it will pass. And sometimes you’ll be over the moon. And that’s ok. And it’s ok when it passes. But the JOY comes not from any one innocuous moment or feeling, but from Being OK no matter what comes to pass. So. On this birthday. I remind myself: there are joys unknown yet to come. And all thing that come must pass. And JOY lives eternal.

Birthday breakfast.

Lunch at Phoebe’s favorite spot: Shakbrah Java.

Juggler & painter & acrobats in the park!

She picked out a bouquet. Yellow roses? Girl’s got CLASS.

Impromptu mini party with family & close friends!

“How old are you Phoebe?”

By Erin

PS: Yes. We had a zillion outfit changes. ^_^ It was a messy day. Lol.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

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Scenes from Phoebe’s first birthday

Good morning, Phoebe!


Breakfast & first taste of sugar.

Shy baby during her birthday song.

The moment she turned one year old…was perfect.

Decorations for the party.

A year in the life

Lots of photos!

Guests brought notes for Phoebe that we hung up. I requested that people write one of the following:
– A memory from the last year
– A favorite thing about Phoebe
– A wish for the coming year
I will work these into an album for Phoebe, along with the photos from the day.

My friend, Stacy, took photos during the party so that we could just enjoy ourselves. Thanks Stacy!! You can check out her photography on Facebook: Fox and Wagon photography.

Pooped out party girl ^_^

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone, 4/16/2012

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