Wednesday, January 13, 2010

DECADEdent :: II

So this is a continuation of my reflection on the past decade of my life. I thought with a new year and new blogging goals, a little getting-to-know-each-other practice might be nice. Also, most of my new friends here in Charlotte don't really know our story, so here's a continuation. 
In '02, I convinced Scott it was time to bid our 70s condo & Napoloen, MI farewell and we sold it and moved to an adorable fixer-upper ranch house closer to town. It was microscopic and cute and had been lived in by a little old lady and her family for about 50 years (which would be a recurring theme for our future homes). We put our bed in the basement (man, I miss basements) and worked on the house for what seemed an eternity. My dad flew out and taught me how to use a tile saw and we ceramic tiled the kitchen floor. Friends helped us paint-inside and out. Jerry Neu (a friend from Westwinds) taught me how to paint the entire interior of a house like a pro w/ no tape (since he was the expert). After a lot of blood, sweat and tears, it was livable and we were living maybe 10 minutes from work. (too bad we ever move from my place in the city...that was our pre-Shane Claiborne days - and also, Scott's condo in Napoleon was much harder to sell than my little house in the city) It was a beautiful thing. I imagined children running around in the backyard someday or playing drums in the basement...Scott bought a Harley and we fell in love with everything biker. We admit being bikers was our attempt at an alter-ego, but we had a blast. We became deeper with our friends in MI- and since our fam lived so far away, our friends there really became our family. The seasons were dramatic, the conversations were lively, and Scott and I loved our jobs and co-workers! Our brains literally hurt from all the books we were reading and how we were being stretched in our jobs @ Westwinds. From our theology to our relational depths, we were being transformed and it felt really really good. Let me also say this. I had not done much worship leading in my life before taking the job @ Westwinds. I had done alot of singing...some playing, some performing...and a tiny bit of leading-  I can't think of a better place to kind of grow up and learn as a worship leader than that church. 

I think '03 might have been a bit of an early mid-life crisis for both of us. Or maybe it was the first year I had lived in Michigan and didn't move! I recorded an album at our house with some good friends (not the highest quality, but fun) and Scott got more into the motorcycling thing. We did a road trip with a bunch of friends to Milwaukee for the Harley 100th yr. was amazing! 
We rode from MI all the way around Lake Michigan- the scenery, food, sights, libations, and friends were all marvelous. Sometimes now when I'm throes of my current schedule I'll think back on those days and wonder if that was really me wearing a bandana and a leather jacket on the back of that bike or someone else. It's almost surreal! I can say I saw things at that Harley event I've never before (or never again) will see- people-watching highlight of my life. Note the pictures. I think that also might have been the year that Ted and Shemane Nugent invited me over their house after church one day (they attended our church) and then invited me to sing in their wedding and on Ted's album. It was pretty fun. I know this sounds like name dropping, but really I'm just trying to articulate what kind of unlikely year that was. 
This was also the year that our good friends Matt and Donna O'Neil who we'd known for year, came out to visit. We had a long talk one night about how incredible it would be to all work together again like we did in our WorldHelp days (a humanitarian aid org) and how after we all had now had a few years working in local church, that we'd love to start a church together...SOMEDAY. I believe this was also the year that one of my sister's acquaintances, Matt Shaughnessy, came to play at our church in MI with a band and we were blown away by his ablilties/mad skillz (and he was but a young college student at the time). He came that summer from VA to intern for us @ Westwinds. Once again, we had no idea the significance this sort of chance meeting would have on our future! Then in the Fall of that year we decided it might be nice to start a family. In November we found out I was pregnant and to surprise Scott, I wrapped the pregnancy test in a box and put it in under the tree. Not very original but surprised him nonetheless since we had just been throwing the idea around.  When he came home from a soccer game he opened it (pics below). We had NO IDEA the change that would be hitting us in FULL FORCE the following year. So overview of 02/03: moving, music, motorcycle mania, church-planting fever, Cat-Scratch Fever, Baby Fever.
(pics below: the night we found out we were expecting & random pics from our harley, eh?!)

So, I'd love to hear...what were YOU doing in 02-03?

Sunday, January 10, 2010


Well, my first year blogging resulted in three posts.
Raise your hand if you're surprised (if you know me).
I'm realizing that although I'm far from being Type A, I need specific goals or i'm a "bee with one wing" as my dad likes to say. So, maybe this year, as much as I'd love to say that I'd like to blog weekly, I'm just going to shoot for 4 monthly...then, maybe I'll pleasantly surprise myself.
My husband Scott started a blog in late 09. And not surprisingly, he's been great about keeping up with it. It's called Digital Centering -check it out! He told me that I need to focus on writing shorter blog entries and maybe that way I won't feel as though I need to take a ton of time to pull off blogging. Me...short-winded? I can only hope.
By the way, Happy New Year! Here's our family Christmas pic (courtesy of our friend Steve Cook).
I know most posts this time of year are about Resolutions, top ten lists for the past decade (and what do we call the first 10 years of the 2000s?), and "what I was doing 10 years ago today" kind of stuff. So as briefly as I can, I'd like to debrief my past decade & reflect a bit. I thought it could be not only cathartic but also a good way for us to get acquainted if you happen to be reading this blog.
I can honestly say 2000-2009 was a decade of overwhelming reorientation and "firsts" for me. And in my attempt to take my husband's advice, I'm going to split up the reflecting over the next few days.
I spent a good part of 1999 living in a remote village in India with a few close friends on the campus of an orphanage. I've got a bit of a Mother Theresa crush you could say and my time there and my relationships with motherless, fatherless beautiful orphan children in the middle of nowhere changed me forever. I'd never lived in such extreme conditions or experience such extreme, raw love in my life. I got on a plane one person and returned someone else...someone who'd held abandoned leper children in my arms, someone who rode trains across unfathomable countrysides and like The Darjeeling Limited meets Divine soul-overhaul, I experienced something there that I find difficult to articulate unless you've taken that same journey. I have no regrets over how I spent my post-college days...I enjoyed every minute of my single, house-mortgage free days living like crazy gypsy/humanitarian. I was flying home (U.S.) on New Year's Eve 1999 to take a job at a church in Michigan (something I never thought I'd do: work at a church nor live in MI)- and I got stuck in Frankfurt Germany b/c of a blizzard. I remember spending that evening in a strange, sterile hotel room in my birkenstocks and dusty India-trainride-scented overalls (yes, quite glamorous) thinking what the HELL am I doing and where I am going in life, God?!
I had a long-distance relationship with a guy I really loved...who lived in VA-and who was willing to move to MI to be with me...but the whole plane ride home I just felt as though we were two souls being pulled in opposite directions. First, me to India then to MI and something/someone else.
So, I then arrived in MI, moved in with the pastor and his wife who led/started the church in MI and spent the first few months camping out in their arctic but plush basement getting my bearings in my first ever local church role and first job as a worship leader. I had NO IDEA was I was doing. I missed the little kids with whom I had lived in India. I missed my friends with whom I had travelled the world, I missed my family spread out all over the East Coast...but just like Vernon Brewer used to say that "there's no better life than living one where you can do something daily that will outlive you", there in the middle of Jackson, MI I felt that overwhelming sense that I once again had that opportunity. I'll admit I had wished it had been an opportunity in a warmer climate, but it was the right move at the right time.
I got engaged in February. I was in love but full of doubt. Excited but disoriented. Anticipatory but not at peace. I moved out of the friends' basement and bought my first house. A cute little old house in downtown and loved everything about it and my sweet roommate, Sarah, who is now quite the author/speaker! Life was great, but my internal theme song was still "READY TO RUN". By June, still in a long-distance engagement, I called it off. The most difficult thing I've ever had to do. That was a huge first. In September, someone who had been my good friend (but only a friend) became "the one". After 5 years of knowing each other, 9 months of working together in Michigan, and 6 weeks of dating, Scott asked me to marry him. And again, I experienced the "rightness" of the right thing, or should I say the right One.
So, in May of '01, Scott and I got married. I sold my adorable little house and moved out to a town called Napoleon (it's as "out in the sticks" as it sounds) into an incredibly bachelor-y condo (not to mention beat with w/ a 70s stick). Our wedding was like a concert mixed w/ some vows...our fam/friends came from all over and since we had both been living all over the place since or childhood, we decided getting married right there in Jackson in the church where we worked and got together would be the best. And it was. Sure, we had our 1st year of marriage bumps in the road..but working together and living out in Boonies was pretty fun. We just plain enjoyed our life and the community we had there in that city. We hosted a small group on relationships and met a cool couple named Scott & Kendra Miller who were married the same month as we were. We had no idea that it'd be the start of a long friendship...
More early 2000s reflection to come ....

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Why I love Montessori!

On Thursday, Scott, Keane and I had the opportunity to go into Colsen's classroom @ Park Rd. Public Montessori. Colsen is in Pre-K this year (they start them at age 4!) and his class is about 25 kids... at least half of whom are Kindergarteners. He has grown up so much being with the older kids all year. He's reading, he's reciting poetry, and he is just maturing in so many ways. He's also discovered new ways to get in trouble. As hard as it was for me to let him start going to "big school" after he had JUST turned 4, I'm so glad we did! So, one of the things I most appreciate about the Montessori program is it's emphasis on QUALITY over QUANTITY. Taking time to make each moment and learning experience special is one of the things I love about his classroom. We loved watching how the kids just drink in this little birthday tradition they do in their class. The teachers encourage us at home to not load our kids down with a bunch of stuff, but rather to take time with them...playing, learning, imagining, reading. LOVE IT! Since Colsen's birthday is August 14, his class celebrated his bday in May. See video above. The end of the video is the sweetest part. I just love this school!!!!
They had us bring in a picture for every year from colsen's birth and then every birthday. 
After this little celebration, they passed each picture around and talked about it and then displayed it on the board. I just melts our hearts!
Keane was pretty loud during the filming (as usual) so we were trying to bribe him w/ food most of the time.
After the little celebration, all the kids stood up and recited poetry (by memory of course) and then after a little story time, we all went to the cafeteria for lunch. Colsen chose chocolate chip oatmeal cookies as his birthday treat for us to make & bring in to school to share. 
(yay for not having to ice cupcakes!!!)
...and better yet, our favorite  chocolate chip oatmeal cookies on the planet are made from a package! [Seriously, we started making these years ago and every time we bring them somewhere people flip for them. I couldn't make better from scratch, but that's not saying much.
Just a side note: we like the cookies better made with canola oil than with butter- they just come out better for some reason] 
Anyway, what is just really the sweetest is that the whole time we were in his class or in the cafeteria Colsen was all about sitting on our laps, holding our hands, giving us kisses and hugs...
he's just not yet at that age where he's embarrassed of us. I'm sure that's coming soon. 
So we drank it in. If you live in the area and are considering entering your child in the lottery for Public Montessori, DO IT! 
They are making plans to possibly start a 3 yr. old program at Park Rd. soon. I don't know if I'll be able to part with 
Keane enough to do it if it were an option, but given this year's experience with Colsen, I know it would be amazing relationally and educationally for him. 
I would say this school has been one of this year's greatest blessings by far. I'm also heading into next school year with 
the role of "Community Outreach Co-Chair" for the PTO. I actually have no idea what that 
means but I know that we will be organizing coat-drives and different opportunities to serve kids in need in Charlotte- I'm excited. 
Hopefully we can tag team with some of the justice initiatives that Watershed is already doing! (I vote yes at least and I guess that means something now?). 

Saturday, May 02, 2009

In the arms of the angels...

On Thursday, our family received a heart-wrenching call.
Scott's stepbrother's two and a half year old son, Kaden, was tragically killed. The details are too awful to even put into words. There was a brief article written about it in a Buffalo newspaper. 
Scott's stepmom was babysitting at the time of the accident and from the moment we received the call we can't stop thinking/crying/praying for their family, especially Kaden's mommy & daddy and his sweet Grandma Hofert. What words could possibly bring comfort? We only can say that if we shed a million tears for his family it would not be enough to even measure the sorrow of the loss of this precious little boy...
Scott is heading out early tomorrow morning with his brothers to Buffalo to attend the wake and funeral. I wish I could be with them.
I had the sweet privilege of spending a little time the past few years with Kaden. I think maybe we met him when he was a tiny baby during a visit to Buffalo, but then we had the chance to play at the beach with him when he was about 1 or so. This little blonde, blue-eyed little sweet boy who was the apple of his mommy and daddy's eye. I remember his daddy even carried a cool "man-diaper-bag" camo print. That takes a real man to have his own diaper bag :)
Here's a pic of the whole fam at the beach that summer for Kaden's uncle's wedding. 
Kaden is way in the background being held (little blondie). Colsen is the little blondie standing in the front. What a sweet rainbow-filled day. I remember Kaden's mommy, Jen, telling us how she went back to work after Kaden was born and then couldn't bear to leave him and ended up quitting her job to be with him. 
 Everytime we talk with Scott's Dad and stepmom we would hear stories about Kaden and how much they enjoyed their time with him. Kaden had Scott's dad wrapped around his tiny little finger too. I remember Kaden's mommy & daddy telling us how he liked to get up early in the morning and "shave" with his daddy. Since his daddy worked late at night, he'd spend morning time with him. 
Then this past Thanksgiving, Scott and I and our boys had the joy of sitting at the "kids table" with Kaden and his daddy. Kaden loves his dog and was convinced that he also was a dog so he ate his entire Thanksgiving dinner without any use of his hands...just like his doggie. And what was sweeter, his daddy let him...and just smiled. They had such a special sweet bond. I also remember thinking how much Kaden and Colsen looked related even though they're only related via step-grandparents...amazing.
I remember about three and a half years ago now, some friends of ours lost their sweet baby girl, Indigo. My friend Donna and I sang at the funeral and I can't remember much about the funeral service due to the weight of the sorrow and tears, especially as I was a new mom at the time. But, I do remember Indigo's dad, Kevin, saying ( I can't quote him exactly) that she was such a happy 2 year old... and the saddest part is that she'd always be two. 
And so, at only 2 years old, another little angel is now in the arms of the angels. God, we don't know why. We could flood the planet with our tears and we just beg you to bring comfort somehow to Kaden's mommy and daddy and grammy and grandpa...and aunts and uncles and cousins and baby sister and little friends. Wrap your giant supernatural arms around them and allow every good sweet memory of that sweet little tow-headed, doggie-wanna be, love-of-his-family's life boy to fill their hearts in these upcoming incomprehensible days. May your mommy be so grateful that she dropped everything to be with you. May your daddy delight for every morning shave your shared, may your little soul continue to be a light that brings your family together in your memory.
And Kaden, next Thanksgiving, we're all going without silverware in honor of you, little precious boy. 
All our love to you and your family.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

sweet decisions

So I just got Colsen & Keane's proofs back today from some pictures they had taken this week. My mom runs a preschool in town and gets me a "family" discount with the school photographer. I have an amazing camera, but I really don't know what I'm doing with it. I need to go to the photography (oh! snap) bloc @ watershed (my sis lauren leads it!), take a class, do more...but in the meantime I'll just let other people take them while I stand on my head behind the photographer to try to get keane to smile. I'll post all the proofs in a facebook album if you'd like to see. Here's some of my faves. I'd love your thoughts on which ones you like best. I have to pick one of Colsen, one of Keane , and one of them together. If you've ever been in our house you'll see that we're running out of wall space due to our affection for gigantic b & w pics of our kids/fam/friends. It's hilarious. Can't afford art? Overdue the whole picture thing. Every time I take a new picture of the boys and decide to put it up in the house, I fret over making the decision which picture should come down so that I can reuse the frame. I can't bear to take down the 4 month old Colsen to put up the 4 year old Colsen and at this rate, we'll look like crazy people if we keep buying and hanging this many frames. I'll keep Ikea in Charlotte in business for years to come. And Scott, my minimalist husband, surprisingly, is worse than I am in the whole picture dept. Each time a school picture comes home or we take a nice shot, he wants to order 10 in every size and have them blown up and hang them everywhere. We're crazy. But I guess it's a good crazy. 
Colsen is just becoming such a little independent smart guy. His constantly churning mind keeps me on my toes.
..the questions are incessant and adorable. Tonight
 we read the Last Supper story out of his Kids StoryBook Bible (thanks to my buddy Sarah Caton for telling us about it! (btw if you have or know a kid, you have to get them this makes me cry..the
 illustrations are awesome, not cheesy, and they theologically GET IT when tying the OT & NT together)- it's called "THE JESUS STORYBOOK BIBLE: EVERY STORY WHISPERS HIS NAME" 
It's just amazing watching him take it all in...ask the questions
 he asks. Then there's Keane, my little jolly Bean & chunk. He's
 really starting to talk more...he laughs at everything and 
makes a lot of faces involving a scrunchy nose. His vocab is limited to pretty much "ma
ma, dada, chocolate (that's my boy), col-col, grandpa, papa, cookie, uhoh,etc. " - but the other night when I was rocking him to sleep, I was singing "Silent Night" (I run out of tunes and go for the carols) and every time 
I said "NIGHT" he said "Night-Night" - I could bite him. I do bite him.  He belly laughs all day. Here's a sample. It's awesome. Here's some of his pics w/ Colsen 
and his on his own. He's not as big on smiling for 
the camera yet..  The other day on twitter, one of my friends from Watershed, Maybelline, listed 
a bunch of people she follows on "follow friday". Not sure if you're
 familiar with how that works, but people will list a bunch of people who they follow on "follow friday" and then list a one or two word description of them. I met Maybelline through our book club @ Watershed and she is just an amazing woman. She's inspired me to one day make the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage and her depth of thought and writing floors me. ANYWAY, I am so new 
to Twitter and still wet behind the ears as to how it all works, but somehow I made it on her "Follow Friday" list. And next to "@TarynHofert" there was my 2 word description ..."cool mom". I chuckled as I read it in my Red Sox hat and food stained shirt. I haven't felt cool since the 80's..and why I did
 back then is still foggy when I look at pictures. But I told Scott
 that "Follow Friday" night, I've had a lot of titles in my life...but I think that one was one of the sweetest. So, thanks, Maybelline
. I'm far from cool, but even you saying that my kids give you "infanticipation" makes me smile ear to ear. 
I feel like moving to Charlotte has allowed me to take on some new roles, new opportunities...
 and in all the chaos of starting Watershed, figuring out how to help/serve and balance a "home life" I can't get over how much t motherhood fits more than any role I've had before. Who knew. I sure didn't. So, help me pic a picture (I have to narrow it down to three!). 

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day's the new New Year's Day

NOTE: I’m a procrastinating perfectionist. Or at least that’s how I make myself feel better about not finishing things but strategizing in my mind how the task should be done “well”. I wrote this first blog entry New Year’s Eve as I watched the ball drop (exciting household, eh?). But I didn’t finish it, and only 4 months later I am trying to hop on board the Blog Train.

So, for years I’ve toyed with blogging. The closest I’ve ever gotten is a note or two on facebook and several attempts at picking out layouts on then forgetting my sign in info and passwords. I was more concerned with the color scheme and picking from the various array of spiffy layouts (polka-dots or formal, modern or torn edge looking stuff) than what I’d actually blog about. ha. That’s so me. 

I think because I’m not one to read others’ blogs that much I sort of can’t imagine how/why people would want to read what I would blog. But it’s a new world and when I look into my boys’ eyes I think that they’ll grow up in a world that blogged before they were born-- and me? Well, ancient mom grew up in a world where I remember getting a Commodore 64 in elementary school and that was THE STUFF. I printed pictures of snoopy out on a dot matrix printer with the kind of paper that you rip off those perforated dot-edge things - i remember popping Eddie Rabbit 8-tracks in our oldsmobile toronado and singing “i love a rainy night” with my mom in the car. Yes, i had a turntable in my room and sang “you light up my life” every time i set the needle down. I’ll tell them these things and they’ll roll their eyes and think i’m from another planet. Resisting blogging is like our grandparents referring to the rock music as “that noisy trash” - it’s tim

e for me to get with it I guess. (And Grandpa Wally, I wish you could have listened to Coldplay, I think you would have liked them alot.)

And so, I can already say that I know that I won’t be a consistent blogger...I’m a mom to 2 boys, a husband to a self-proclaimed “requires-much-attention” husband, a church planter, volunteer church staff member, musician, amateur humanitarian, house fixer-upper, PTO member, sometimes-helpful neighbor, bargain hunter, friend-who-doesn’t-answer-the-phone-much, yada yada. I’m not sitting in coffee shops quietly reflecting on deep thoughts on a daily fact, I’m not sure if there’s a time I AM alone in my week...and if I was, I think my eyes would be closed! Sometimes I type right here on the kitchen table while food is being flung at me for just a moment of sanity...a respite from the madness...a little outlet. I am sitting at such place this moment.

I do know one thing...had I sent out a Christmas letter (like so many of our good friends do!) would have been a book, not a page. So much is happening in our much has taken place in just this one year, so much is simmering in my heart...that sometimes I just don’t know where to start. Ah, WHERE TO START.... how ‘bout I just think about it ‘til April. ha.

That was the other problem for me with blogging. What to call the blog? I mean, once I remembered my password and found a layout, etc. - the name means more to me than anything. (You see nomenclature is my wanna-be hobby. I love it. I could have more children just to name them...but alas my husband is not on board with that idea.) If you want my list of baby names I’ll never get to use, call me. (unless, of course, God answers my prayers that someone will leave a baby on my doorstep, but that’s a whole other story)

Back to the blog-naming... In the middle of feeding my 1 year old lunch and my 4 year old bombarding me

 with questions about Batman that I had no business answering, I became overwhelmed at how full (& crazy) my life is. It also hit me how there was nothing at that moment I’d rather be doing. Which, when I think back on all the “dreams” I have had at various times in my life, just kinds of tickles me. Then the perfect name, as well as a variation of a lyric from one of my favorite songs (not to mention one of my favorite musicians on the planet), just kind of came to mind...


The whole idea of life here on earth being so rich, full & meaningful that even the sun shining above is looking down in envy from “his jealous sky”. Well written, Mr. Sumner-- can I be your backup singer in the next life?

You see, I love the idea of quiet reflection and journaling...but I also don’t want the food-flinging or Batman litany of questions or Watershed craziness to stop. I love it. It’s my life. I don’t want to change it and most of all I don’t want to miss one minute of it by not being completely present & whole-hearted. Passionately, intentionally, completely living - and in what little blog-following I do, I just can’t seem to find many women blogging on anything to which I can truly relate. Then, a few years ago when I first moved to Charlotte, I stumbled upon And, I was hooked. I don’t think I’ll touch her level of bloggy nirvana, but in 2009 I hope to maybe provoke a little thought in the realm of being a woman who loves God & life & people (no matter how small) ALOT. ordinary person who loses stuff (often), cusses (more than I should), sings a little too loud, loves Charles Shaw like a brother, has to limit my Target visits, is an informercial-addict, and loves to laugh hard. 

I have no idea what i’ll blog about. A friend, Nikki Hogsed, told me that she mostly blogs about family and then prints out the blog each year as a scrapbook. As I’ve never scrapbooked one thing nor do I have one photo in a photo album of my children, I love this idea. I take the pictures, but I’m still strategizing on what to do with them. STRATEGERY I say.

 Maybe this blog will be more about my kids and informing my fam about them...or maybe not. Maybe I’ll have a quarterly blog at the rate I’m going. Whatever the year holds, I think I’ve just broken the record for the longest blog entry ever written.

HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone- or should I say HAPPY EARTH DAY.

(To all my fellow-procrastinators. April’s not too late to get crack-a-lackin on your resolutions!)