13 (this man)

13 (this man)

11 (this man)

this is supposed to be “our” blog, but honestly i’m the one who writes almost all of the posts. so you don’t really get to hear that much about the other half of my marital union. 🙂

but he’s great. and i wanted to write a touch about him here, so you can know what he’s up to.

he is in the thick of building a bike shop in our garage! he’s been gathering donated kids bikes, building tool boards and work benches, running electric out to the garage, putting on a new deadbolt, hanging the bikes so they’ll be organized, and getting help from generous donors to purchuse tool kids and bike stands. it’s incredible. he thinks they’ll be in business by early june when the neighborhood kids get out of school. he has a few volunteers to mentor the boys as they work on bikes. i’m proud of him for this project. it’s so wonderful.

and he’s doing all this boiler room work. it’s an apprenticeship of sorts, in which he’s walking really closely with tony in order to learn how to lead this thing like it’s a family, which it is. this work is fiercely relational, which is sometimes hard because it doesn’t always have immediate fruit that you can point to or statistics of salvations that you can generate. it’s a slow process of sowing and watering and waiting. then waiting some more. and he has the patience for it, is wired to operate in this way. what a pastoral heart he has.

on a more shallow note, i’ve been getting a kick out of his love for finding the latest and greatest apps for his ipod. most of them have something to do with productivity and workflow. seems like every two weeks he’s got another one he’s using and championing. i jokingly call him the “productivity app missionary.” but i appreciate his efforts to find ways to operate intentionally, mindfully, and proactively.

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12 (first mother’s day)


my first mother’s day. it started with an hour to sleep in while tim tended to hazel. then there was breakfast in bed, and hazel holding a sign her dada helped her to make, which said, “happy birthday mommy. love, hazel + daddy.”

tim took hazel back downstairs while i enjoyed my breakfast in bed. alone. which was nice, that peace, but really i was sorta missing my family. my family.

and that tray upon which breakfast arrived reminded me of the week following hazel’s birth. that week when i was on bed rest and didn’t leave except to use the bathroom or to pick up my crying babe if no one else was around, or if they’d let me. i wanted so badly to be able to stand up and rock her, pace the floor with her, walk outside to see the sun and the peonies in the yard. it was so hard not to be able to.

nearly a year later, i’m enjoying breakfast in bed again, but this time because my husband brought it to me just because. because i’m a mama.


this girl has changed so many things about me. she has changed me deep. i kept thanking her today for letting me be her mama. what a gift to be her mama.

we had dinner with my mom and grandma and lots of other members of our family today in lansing, too. that was a sweet time. we got a photograph of 4 generations. my “buc”, my mom (her firstborn/daughter), me (my mother’s firstborn/daughter), and hazel (my firstborn/daughter). that’ll be a keeper. what a great line of women i come from.Image

11 (thirty-two)

i turned thirty-two on monday.

i woke up in a really rotten mood. everything seemed wrong and the sky was grey and heavy with impending rain. we were supposed to go to the hytta for the day, which is one of my favorite places on earth. but we couldn’t leave first thing in the morning as hoped because we had a flat tire that needed to be serviced first. pouty, i said perhaps we ought to just stay home because we’d have to turn around only 4.5 hours after getting there. but we went anyway.

within 5 minutes of being there, everything with well with my soul once more. i don’t know how to explain the shalom that rests on that place, and how it ends up resting on your shoulders, too, when you step foot onto the property.

we didn’t do much. just watched hazel play and explore, ate some lunch and drank some wine, took naps, listened to the rain. but it was enough. it was just right.

then we headed back into town to have dinner with two other families that have both been dear friends of mine and are getting to know one another in recent months. our three families get together from time to time to have a world-class potluck and to pray about the dreams in our hearts. it was lovely to spend a bit of my birthday with these favorite friends. and they made me chocolate cake with espresso buttercream frosting. yes, it was really good. so was the salmon. oh my.

thirty-two feels a little more threatening than 30 and 31 did, however. it seems frighteningly close to Mid-Thirties, which scares me a touch. still, i’m much happier being in my 30s than i was in my 20s.

happy birthday, me.

10 (affection from babies)

at some point, the affection became purposeful. i remember the first time. we were playing on the floor of the nursery and suddenly she just nestled her head into my neck and stayed there. quiet. soft. i was seated in a rather uncomfortable position, but i felt like i could hold it forever if she would only remain nestled there that way. which she did for many moments. my heart melted afresh.

and since then, this is more common. “do you have a kiss for mama?” i’ll say, and she’ll immediately push her head and face into my chest or my face. she does the same for her baby friends miles and landon and lilia. and sometimes she pats my back or my chest or my face with such affection and a light in her eyes. you can tell she is actively — purposefully — expressing love. i don’t imagine it gets much better than this.

tonight tim tried to put her to sleep for the night while i was away photographing an engagement session. but i returned to find her still very much awake. at the sight of me she flapped her arms, smiled, and began scooting toward me, then lay her head in my lap. tim reported that even as he had been snuggling her for 20 minutes with hopes of her falling to sleep, she suddenly started making raspberries at the 15 minute mark. she just wanted to be cuddled and close and playful, not to go to sleep. it’s hard to resist a cuddly baby. and so i guess we kept her up a little later tonight than we “should” have.

i’m okay with that.

7 (easter morning)

it is easter morning. the most important christian holiday of them all, really. it marks a moment in history that has power to heal, transform, and set free for all men and women in all nations from that day forward. it’s the day that Jesus came out of death.

i have to admit that even after many years of knowing and loving Jesus, of building my life around the reality of the resurrection, that i still can’t actually get my head around it. there is nothing relatable about the story of Jesus being beaten, crucified, mocked, and dying. most of the time, i can’t put my heart around it, either, finding that i relate to it as an story heard so many times that it feels more like interesting mythology than deep and relevant truth.

but this morning, over breakfast, i read the easter story to hazel from The Jesus Storybook Bible (which is the most beautiful version of the Bible i’ve ever read), and the Spirit put some life into it for me as i read. the bit about Jesus encountering Mary in the garden always gets me. i can begin to feel her sad disbelief melting to hope and then confidence that her Jesus was indeed alive, was really speaking her name with tenderness.

“was God really making everything sad come untrue?” this bible reads? YES, He was; He is. that is such good news.

today i remember that i have been resurrected, too. by His great love. i have known the depths of the slimy pit, but He has not left me there.

thank you, Jesus.

6 (a lovely sabbath day)

in our house, saturdays are sabbath days. they are the days that we avoid housework and intentionally put ourselves to the work of resting. yes, i DO think that resting is work for most of us modern americans who are so accustomed to running around in endless circles of productivity and efficiency!

some weeks we do sabbath well. other weeks it seems we waste it. but today we spent it well, i think.

this morning we had cinnamon rolls. i haven’t ever made cinnamon rolls before. they were gluten-free. and we ate them after we had put hazel down for her morning nap, so that she wouldn’t grunt and wave her arms with demands to be allowed to partake (why taunt her with something she cannot have anyway?). paired with a particularly smooth cup of french press coffee made by tim, it was a real treat, and the end to our lenten fast.

we went to the tenderos house mid-day, along with the hammonds. our little played together on the floor while we talked about church and continuing in prayer, and the building of kingdom family and how to discern God’s guiding. it was rich conversation, followed by a delightful potluck lunch composed of fresh and real foods from three women who love to cook, then listening prayer.

this afternoon, tim and hazel and i went to Blandford and had a long walk on the Back 40 trail. the weather and the light were perfect. i left my camera at home because sometimes when i want to be the most present to my life, leaving the camera behind is best. we sat a while in the grass afterward, appreciating the quite of that space compared to our own backyard, flanked as it is by ally and street with many passers-by. hazel was so very content; being outside does something to her.

5 (backyard garden, year two)

i ordered the seeds this week. lots of them.

chard, kale of two kinds, spinach, lettuce, golden tomatoes, zucchini, patty pan squash, watermelon, green beans, yellow beans, carrots, purple carrots, basil, cilantro, marigolds, red cabbage, green cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, onion, garlic, beets, bell peppers, and more.

i don’t know what i’m doing. but this year i’m determined to learn as i go.  i am confident that SOMETHING will grow, and probably quite a bit. last year’s negligence showed me that God is the one who grows things, not me. 🙂

we have 8 8′ x 4′ raised beds in the back yard. i suppose the soil needs some prepping, but then they’ll be ready to receive seeds and seedlings. i have territorial seed’s garden planning software to help me know when to plant each thing indoors or out, and to help me determine spacing. and i have a gardening book about companion planting that’s helping me know what to put together in each of the beds.

we’ll transplant some raspberry bushes from the boiler room yard, and some strawberry plants from another lead. and we’ll get the tomato and pepper plants from a friend of the boiler room who works at a nursery.

and we’ll start composting at last, i hope.

i am looking forward to this. i am looking forward to showing hazel, right from the beginning, how food grows. i picture her chubby little, dirt-smudged hands carrying a fistful of peas or basil. ah. i love it.

4 (5th St NW)

the block of fifth street that corresponds with ours on 6th street is awful.

for as long as we’ve lived in this house, that block has been a place of chaos, abuse, violence, noise, mean dogs, drugs, and street fights. plus many other things that go on behind closed doors, i can only imagine. the odd thing about it is that it seems to retain this atmosphere regardless of who lives there. it seems to be in the air, or the soil, or something. as if it is a place claimed by the Enemy, as if there are strongholds in that physical location that attract and hold in bondage anyone who moves into the houses there.

there are four houses in particular that seem to bear the mark of the beast. last week, within 5 days there were 7 arrests. at least two were assault and battery involving stones and hammers. another appeared to be auto theft. we use crimemapper.com to get a sense of things, though we already know SOMETHING is going on (it’s hard to miss), this website helps to fill in the blanks.

several members of the boiler room community live on that block. they hear the noises in the middle of the night, have been awoken by the fighting, have seen the flashing lights and the animal control vans and the rest. and i know it tires them; they are weary of it. they are also burdened for the men and women and children living in that dark kingdom. we aren’t sure quite how to be light bright enough to penetrate that darkeness. so we gather on the

(dang, there goes the timer)

3 (on cloth diapers)

tonight, after watching the latest office episode and a few episodes of one of the two ill-fated seasons of this american life (the televised version), there are other chores do to.

like the diaper laundry. it doesn’t end.

i’m a cloth-diapering mama. i’m glad to be so. i know we’ve saved so much money already. i’m sure we’ve made a small reduction in the landfills. and i like knowing my girl’s butt is covered in mostly cotton and hemp rather than the stuff of disposable diapers.

but the laundry doesn’t end. and even with a diaper-sprayer conveniently attached to the toilet tank, spraying out a poopy cloth diaper is messy and stinky. not a pleasant task. tim and i fight over who gets to NOT change a poopy diaper.

the cloth diaper butt. oh, it’s so cute, isn’t it? those tiny bellies and legs sticking out from the huge padding of a cloth diaper? unfortunately, a lot of baby clothes aren’t made to fit those ginormous booties, however. there is a pattern floating out there that you can get for sewing “big butt baby pants.” google it. i got the pattern, i cut the fabric pieces, but only two of them have been thus far sewn together. (i’m not so good at follow-through on sewing projects).

but now the diapers are all sorted in the baskets, inserts here, covers there. ready to begin again tomorrow. ready for that poop that will surely come between her waking up and her first nap. like clockwork.

are you a cloth-diapering mama? why or why not? it’s okay if you, like i, have a love-hate relationship with it. 🙂


2 (projects occupying my mind)

a million projects running through my mind. all the to-do lists are mingling together. it’s no wonder i sometimes have trouble falling alseep. this also explains why it took me fully half of the rosie thomas concert last week to quiet my mind enough to be present to the music and the husband seated beside me.

  • the community garden in our yard. how can we steward it better this year, and share it more fully? should i start the seeds indoors, and if so, how? i need to order the seeds soon, which means i first have to decide what to plant.
  • the boiler room website, which i suddenly have a major itch to improve upon. i hope to solicit the help of friends much more adept at web design and logo/branding than i am. but my mind is running with ideas about content and how we can communicate our identity to the designers so that it comes through clearly. i want it to be attractive and clear and to be a place where the stories of God’s activities here are told beautifully and in such a way that others feel connected to it, and know how to plug into it.
  • my own log for brookecollierphoto.com, which i have gorgeous raw material for thanks to the very talented emilie of leif designs. but now i need to get some things back to her so we can do phase 2.
  • city of GR taxes that i still need to pay. but first i need to be sure that the filing is done accurately and fully, because turbo tax appears to have done only a draft version of it. i was mad at first about having to pay city taxes, but then i remembered that scripture that talks about “seeking the peace of the city where you are in exhile.” God promised His people that if they seek and pursue the peace of the city whe


oh blast. time up.