About a Boy

about a boy

“A person’s life is like a TV show.  I’m the star of The Will Show, and the Will Show is not an ensemble drama.”  — Quote from Will, one of the main characters in About a Boy

This post is loosely related to the last one.  Have you ever seen the movie, About a Boy?  It is one of my favorites.  The story is about, well, a boy, named Marcus.  He is nerdy and “poor” and lives with his single mom in a suburban environment in England.  He finds himself wishing for friends, and through an unlikely connection, he meets and becomes friends with an adult man, Will, who is single and lives by the philosophy that all men are islands.  By the end of the movie, both Will and Marcus both discover that life is better when lived in community.  As Marcus comments, “Couples need back-up.”

I am thinking a lot about what living in community means.  The fact is, with 4 kids in a city with no family, community is very important to us.  We count on the help of others every week to make our lives work.  That being said, it isn’t easy to do this.  Sometimes it feels like we are needy–like we are the only ones who have to make that phone call to ask someone to pick up one of the kids because we can’t get across town in time.  I would like to feel more like we can live in community where there is give and take, where people feel comfortable calling me to ask for help more often.  Sometimes I think people don’t call us because we are known to be busy, but I also want to be known to be generous and accommodating and helpful when it is within my power to do so.

I started this post on Saturday of last weekend, and interestingly, our pastor preached a sermon on Sunday about the community of believers in the Book of Acts.  My husband also preached a sermon where he talked about community.  Hmmm . . . coincidence?  I don’t think so.  I think we all long for more relational lives of meaningful interaction with others. But in our society, it is difficult to bring about.

In About a Boy, Marcus sensed what he wanted/needed, and he started to pursue it until his life looked more like what he longed for.  Real life, unfortunately, is not as neatly constructed as movies or over in a couple short hours.  So we have to work at things for the long haul.  Now I am challenged as to how best to pursue community in my own life without turning others off in the process.

Building Friendships as Grown-ups

The other day at work, the 23-year-old ministry associate who works in my office asked me, “How often do you and your husband get together with other couples your age?”

I answered,”Maybe once a month now, because, well, we have 4 kids, 2 jobs+, a dog, and only 24 hours in a day.”

He was a bit disappointed with my answer.  You see, he and his young wife have been in St Louis for about 2 years, and they haven’t made a lot of good friends.  It is hard to go from the college environment where all you do is study, sleep, eat, and think of ways to socialize with all those people who are just like you and who live right next to you!

It takes real work to make friends after you enter the adult world.  Even in the church, where building relationships with other Christians is supposed to be part of the deal, it isn’t always easy.  We have to go out of the way to strike up friendships, and even then, it often feels unnatural and awkward.  If you’re married, you have to figure out ways to include your spouse in new friendships.  Then, add the kids, and you have to work them into the equation, too.

The sad thing is, that even in adulthood, we feel those same insecurities we had in high school about reaching out to other people.  We worry about reactions.  We worry about rejection.  We worry that our houses aren’t up to par for visitors.  We worry about being vulnerable.

I propose that we have to get past all these worries and just get out there and make the effort.  We have to set aside a day here or there every so often and make a plan to get together with friends.  We can’t live in fear, and besides, as Christians we are commanded to love one another and to bear each others burdens.  It’s a lot easier to obey those commands if we take the time to get to know the people in the trenches with us.

Big Kids, Pushing 20, and Life

Big Kids

Calvin turned 15 on April 28, and Charis was 8 on May 8!  Bookends of our children.  Babies are completely gone from our household.  Evangeline was 12 in June.  Nevin is 13.5.  Did we ever really believe this day would come?  In a year we will be the parents of 3 teenagers!

Pushing 20

Years of marriage, that is.  I am so grateful for the nearly 20 years I have had with Mark.  We often feel overwhelmed with life–the mundane things, the difficulties, the struggle, and the tension we feel because we believe circumstances can be better.  But when I consider all God has done for us, all He has brought us through, all that we have faced together, I can only praise God for the husband of my youth.  I want to praise Him for all the trials, too, but I am not always so good at that.  Still, I know that I much prefer being in God’s hand and knowing He is faithful to the idea of trudging through life without Him.  I am so thankful that He gave me Mark to trudge along beside me!


I continue to learn much about how to live.  I think the greatest thing about my forties has been realizing how naive and stupid I really am.  It is so much less stressful to realize I can’t solve all the problems I face.  There is a freedom in this realization that leads me to greater faith in God’s strength to hold me up and move me forward.  I am more free to trust Him more.  I wish I could say I have gotten completely out of His way, but I can’t.  I am just learning how to let Him work more.

Psalm 90:12-17 is a great passage that reminds me that my days are numbered and that I need to follow God’s leading and make the most of what I have been given.

Psalm 90:12-17
12  So teach us to number our days
that we may get a heart of wisdom.
13   Return, O LORD! How long?
Have pity on your servants!
14  Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
15  Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
and for as many years as we have seen evil.
16  Let your work be shown to your servants,
and your glorious power to their children.
17  Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
and establish the work of our hands upon us;
yes, establish the work of our hands!

Not Blogging Since October, 2010

I decided my blogging hiatus was getting old, so I am giving the old blog another go.

I have been thinking a lot of why I quit blogging for a while.  Yes.  It is true that working full-time has carved a big chunk out of my “spare time.”  But, ultimately, I think it has been because I haven’t felt like I have anything much to say.  Most of my old family posts are now covered with Facebook in much smaller bits–better for everyone.  But I really feel like I want to have something to say.  So I will give a try to finding this and that in the news, books, or other common cultural element to comment on here and there.  If I get too busy or tired, the few who might stop by will forgive me, right?

So I’ll start blogging again by sharing a Psalm that has been meaningful to me.  No commentary.  Just God’s word:

Psalm 34–ESV


I will bless the Lord at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
let the humble hear and be glad.
Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
and let us exalt his name together!

I sought the Lord, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints,
for those who fear him have no lack!
10 The young lions suffer want and hunger;
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

11 Come, O children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 What man is there who desires life
and loves many days, that he may see good?
13 Keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from speaking deceit.
14 Turn away from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.

15 The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous
and his ears toward their cry.
16 The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
17 When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears
and delivers them out of all their troubles.
18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.

19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
20 He keeps all his bones;
not one of them is broken.
21 Affliction will slay the wicked,
and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
22 The Lord redeems the life of his servants;
none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.

A Funny Thing Happened on the way to my Blog

So I was doing pretty well there at the end of September . . . on a roll with blog posts.  I was thinking I might get back to regular posting.  But then realities of life got in the way.  And I have lapsed again.

Then tonight I thought, “Oh.  I think I had better post something on my blog.”  So I meander over to “manage the site,” and I notice that there are 12 comments in the “comment moderation” box.  I used to get little e-mail reminders about comments that need approval, but I haven’t received any of those in a while.  I sort of forgot about the approving of comments thing.  So I was happy to see that others had commented on posts.  I was also sorry that I hadn’t approved the comments right away.  I confess to being motivated by comments, so this little happenstance could get me back on the blog horse again.

That’s all for now . . . thanks for stopping by to the commenters who were lately approved.

A Poem of Hope

Resurrection, imperfect

Sleep sleep old Sun, thou canst not have repast
As yet, the wound thou took’st on friday last;
Sleep then, and rest; The world may bearer thy stay,
A better Sun rose before thee to day,
Who, not content to’englighten all that dwell
On the earths face, as thou, enlightned hell,
And made the darker fires languish in that vale,
As, at thy presence here, our fires grow pale.
Whose body having walk’d on earth, and now
Hasting to Heaven, would, that he might allow
Himself unto all stations, and fill all,
For these three days become a mineral;
He was all gold when he lay down, but rose
All tincture, and doth not alone dispose
Leaden and iron wills to good, but is
Of power to make even sinful flesh like his.
Had one of those, whose credulous piety
Thought, that a Soul one might discern and see
Go from a body,’at this sepulcher been,
And, issuing from the sheet, this body seen,
He would have justly thought this body a soul,
If not of any man, yet of the whole.

–John Donne

Whine, whine, whine

I read this book about 10 years ago, not long after it came out.


Then I read this one:

 And, let’s not forget the Parenting with Love and Logic Seminar that Mark and I went to when the three older kids were little.

 All of these books/resources were good, and I recommend most of the concepts presented in them.  They all advocate the idea that children are to be taught when and how it is appropriate to express their feelings.

 Unfortunately, all the book reading in the world will not change the behavior of children.  Consistent admonition and consequences for wrong behavior and modeling are what really makes a difference.

 Lately, the whining at my house is driving me up the wall, and one would think we never practiced any of that.  But the fact is, we did some of the time.  Were we always consistent?  No.  Were we perfect role models, by no means.  Did we always present consquences for wrong behavior in a proper way?  No.    But the fact is, our kids do behave well a lot of the time–especially when they are with other people.  So I feel that the work that we did do is paying off some.

But, now I need some refresher courses in being consistent, in improving my own behavior and reactions to wrong behavior so that I can be a better example, and, what I believe is most important, coming up with consequences that appropriately match the offense.  Basically, I am looking for a more peaceful household.  It would be nice if I hadn’t read good books that had good advice so I could claim complete ignorance.  But I did indeed read these and several other good books on the subject.   So I am praying that all the good information floating around in my head will sink in again.  I am also trying to pray for our family more.  As the kids get older, I want peace not just for the here and now of our lives, but I want it for them as they enter adulthood and leave our home into the world.

The prayer of St. Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Goodwill Gleaning

Our women’s group at church kicked off the fall with a Goodwill fashion show and lunch last week.  A few of the young women modeled their thrifty and fashionable finds from Goodwill. Since 2/3 of our family’s wardrobe comes from Goodwill and other thrift store, this was a function I felt I must attend.  Since Mark was working, the girls came along wearing a couple of their cute dresses from Goodwill.

Our numbers for the event were small, but everyone enjoyed sharing info about their finds . . .  As I talked about which Goodwill stores I shop in and mentioned other thrift stores in St Louis that I like to frequent, I realized what a blessing it is to live in a country where the cast offs of some are perfectly usable and worth hunting down.  It is great to glean from the waste of others.  I can’t pretend that I don’t also send my own cast-offs to Goodwill and other charity shops.  I am also blessed to have somewhere to take things we can no longer use that still have some wear in them so they can be passed on to others.  It was also good for my girls to see that other women in the church whom they respect shop at second-hand stores.  They were able to see that we are not the only family that chooses to buy gently used clothes and household items whenever it is feasible.  I hope that as they mature, they will remember this and conclude that buying from second hand stores is not something to be ashamed of, but it is something that makes us better stewards of all that we have been given.

(P.S.  Did you know you can shop at Goodwill on-line?  I have never tried it, but I like the concept.  They also have a merchant site on Amazon for books.)

Working . . . Cooking

So I have been at the full-time job for 10 months now.  Wow.  When I was working full-time at home taking care of the house and children, I was always wondered how all those women who work full-time outside the home do everything.  I always thought it would be very hard.  And, I was right.  But, I have found with 10 months under my belt, that it is ok to let stuff go sometimes, and planning ahead really does help with getting more stuff done.

So a few weeks ago, I got just a little more deliberate in my meal planning.  In 3 weeks, I have done much better than I was doing, with just a little planning.  If I have all the grocery shopping mostly complete and a planned menu for every night, we save time and money.  I know.  It is nothing new.  I just rebelled against it for a long time.  I am in danger this next week of not being prepared, but I am giving myself grace until Monday night to get the full plan for the week underway.  Plus, my planning over the past month has me armed with a chicken enchilada casserole in the freezer.

I leave you with this recipe that I tried during week one of my “more deliberate meal planning” experiment . . .

Savory Grilled Pork Tenderloins with Herbed Vegetables


 2 teaspoons onion powder

2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves

1 teaspoon garlic salt

1/2teaspoon pepper

 2 to 2 1/4 lb pork tenderloins

 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 large red bell peppers, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

16 medium green onions, diagonally sliced (1 cup)

2 medium bulbs fennel, cored, thinly sliced

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

1/4 teaspoon salt


  • Heat gas or charcoal grill. In small bowl, mix onion powder, 2 teaspoons thyme, the garlic salt and pepper. Sprinkle thyme mixture on all sides of tenderloins. Immediately place on grill over medium heat. Cover grill; cook 15 to 20 minutes, turning 3 times, until meat thermometer inserted in center reads 160°F.
  • Meanwhile, in 12-inch skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until hot. Cook remaining ingredients in oil 4 to 7 minutes, stirring frequently, until vegetables are tender.
  • To serve, cut tenderloins into slices. Spoon vegetable mixture over slices

When I made this, I used the broiler, and it worked great.  I also did not have fennel available, and we liked it fine without. Enjoy!

Musings and contemplations about trying to live a full and meaningful life