finished object report: fox scarf

Behold, Gabriel's 2012* winter scarf:

The pattern is here (with a semi-wonky English translation at the bottom) and here's my project page on Ravelry. I made some modifications based on projects other people had done. Knitted with yarn from my stash. 

Grown-ups love it. Gabriel is less enthused. Let's just say there's a reason I made him a scarf that effectively cannot be pulled off by tiny toddler hands.

Welcome to our den, little fox!

*selected, knitted, and finished in January 2013


bonhoeffer: thoughts on creation

From last Wednesday's entry in the Bonhoeffer book:


When the Bible speaks of six days of creation, it may well have thought of a day as consisting of a morning and a night, yet it may not have meant the day literally, but may have thought of it as the power of the day that makes the physical ay what it is, as the natural dialectic of creation. When the Bible speaks of "day" here, the discussion does not concern the physical problem at all. It does not matter to biblical thought whether creation happened in rhythms of millions of years or in individual days; we have no reason to value the latter or to doubt the former. But the question as such does not concern us. There is no doubt that the biblical author, to the extent that his words are human words, was subject to his time, his knowledge, and his limitations -- nor is there any doubt that through these words only God himself is speaking to us of his creation. The daily works of God are the rhythms in which creation occurs. 

p. 24 (not an affiliate link)
Your thoughts? Here are some of mine:

I agree. As I grew up in a pretty conservative evangelical Christian environment (church, school, home to a lesser extent) I was told, again and again, that God created the world in six literal days, that anyone who said otherwise was misguided at best and was waging a war against Christians at worst, and if I were ever to doubt the six day thing, it was a slippery slope from these minor doubts about biblical inerrancy into a murky pit of sin and Liberal Christian-ness that would make God weep and jeopardize my soul.

I bought this, for a while. I don't buy it anymore. These days, I more or less hold the stories in scripture lightly. I accept them at face value, knowing it's possible that all these thousands of years and how many transcriptions and translations later, maybe the words aren't exactly the same as they were, and maybe there's some context missing, and maybe there's more to the story than what appears on the page. The God I believe in -- the one I understand to be present in the bible and today -- is certainly capable of creating the world in 6 days, creating man from dust, and bringing a baby to a virgin. Maybe he did, but maybe he didn't and maybe the creation story is a giant metaphor. But this is not the essential matter on which my faith hinges, and I am willing to accept the ambiguity.

And now it's your turn. Am I a loon and Bonhoeffer a heretic for suggesting that creation wasn't six literal days? Or maybe we are loons and heretics for suggesting that creation DID occur in six literal days. What are your thoughts?



Are you familiar with Dietrich Bonhoeffer? I'm only slightly familiar with his name and story. By many accounts, though, he was a great theologian and his writings are worth the read.

Two years ago (gasp) when I started taking an interest in theology, I came across a collection of brief excerpts of Bonhoeffer's essays and other writings. The book is one of those "year of daily devotion" books, and each day of the year has its own reading. At some point during that year (was it really two years ago?) someone gave me the book, and I set out to read it in 2012.

Confession: I made it about three days into the new year and realized that 2012 was not the right year.

When 2013 dawned, I thought again about reading Bonhoeffer. I have a little bit of traction now -- at least there's enough to read a paragraph or two on most days -- so I picked the book up again and put it in my reading basket. I'm now 23 days in, and I think it's possibly going to stick this time.

"Doing theology" does not come naturally to me. I've wanted to incorporate more of a spiritual dimension to my days, especially after having a baby, because God should be a part of our inner and outer lives if we profess to be Christians. I used to have a ton of "bible knowledge" and the easy, pat answers that you learn in Sunday school that supposedly answer all of your questions but lose their efficacy as you move into adulthood. Nowadays, I feel sometimes like I'm missing out on a spiritual depth that is within reach, if I only make the time to go there. This Bonhoeffer book is one step in that direction.

Who knows - maybe this year Gabriel will start asking questions about God and faith, and maybe I'll even have some answers for him.

(note: the link is not an affiliate link.)


eli at 35mm

I'm the lucky girl who received a super-awesome new camera for Christmas. With it, I received a couple of new lenses. One is a zoom-y telephoto. The other is a 35mm prime lens.
Eli says I should go photograph that really interesting thing over there.
I've been doing a little bit of practice with the new gear. Eli is a common subject, as has been his habit for the past 7 years. Eli tends to get a little timid when the camera is on him. He thinks the flash is going to go off, every time, and this disturbs him. He recognizes the "I'm focused!" beep the camera makes, and he closes his eyes in anticipation of the flash. I have about a billion photos of Eli looking nervous with closed eyes. For example:
Eli says he hates cameras.

 Sometimes I try to humor him by pointing the lens not-at-his-eyes, but he doesn't seem to notice the difference. I'm just glad he returns the favor by sitting still long enough to get a few pictures. I have approximately 45 seconds of camera practice time in any given day, and it's nice to have a live model who doesn't clamor for that curious thing mama keeps holding up to her face.

Eli says he's ready for his manicure.
 I also have the option of photographing Gabriel while he's napping. He sleeps by a window and there is this delicious, beautiful natural light in there during nap time. Sometimes I just can't pass up the opportunity, but most days I am not willing to risk waking him. It happened once....that was a rough day.

Here's an out-take. Let's all pretend my apartment doesn't look like this approximately 95% of the time.


our setup

I thought it might be interesting to share our current setup and structure here.

Gabriel and I share a 900-square-foot apartment. It's a good size for us, even a little on the roomy side. Our apartment is situated over the detached garage to the home my mom shares with her husband. I used to describe it as "an apartment over the garage" or something like that, but then I had friends over and they all said it's too nice to call it a garage apartment. So now I call it "the loft" in my head. Our neighborhood is safe and secluded, a great place for Little G to spend his first years.

Living with family can be perilous and I happen to like my independence, however delusional it may be to prop up some sense of "independence" at this particular point in my life with these particular trappings. However, I have a lease and pay rent. It's not an insignificant rent, either. I work from home and I rarely take a day off, because independence costs money.

I am more or less "unpacked" but I don't quite feel "settled" yet and it is definitely nowhere near "done" in here. Of the 7 windows, one has a curtain and two more have sheers; the only artwork that's hung is what's in Gabriel's room (not counting the stuff that has already fallen off the walls in there), and I'm pretty sure I will spend the spring re-doing every closet and overhauling every storage-related decision I've made to this point. But it's a great apartment and I love living here. I shudder to think of what our lives would look like if I'd stayed in Denver.

It's weird to say this and really weird to think it, but I am blessed beyond measure to have this life I call mine. I never thought this would be how I wrapped up my 20s, but here we are and here we go.


why I use cloth gift bags

I like to decorate for Christmas somewhere between the day after Thanksgiving and the first few days of December. My decorating isn't a huge to-do, but I do the must-haves. Something else I like to do is buy Christmas presents over the course of the year, and then finish my shopping on black Friday/cyber Monday with all the sales and whatnot. That usually translates into a huge pile of gifts that need to be wrapped.

A couple of years ago, to save myself time and money and also to exercise some budding creativity, I started making gift bags. I buy a couple of yards of Christmas fabric every year in mid-December when it goes on sale and add to my collection of bags. It paid off immediately, and it continues to pay off now both as a money savings and an efficiency thing.

The gift bags are very simple to make if you have a functioning sewing machine. I won't bother with a tutorial because there are about a billion already available. Mine are the extremely simple "cut a rectangle, fold it in half with the right sides together, sew along the two edges that share a corner with the folded edge, flip it inside out, and sew a ribbon about 1/3 down" variety, though I could easily get fancier with hemming and decorative edging and making the bottoms more box-shaped and drawstrings and blah blah blah. I don't have time for that nonsense.

And because I had this nifty stash of gift bags ready to go, I saved myself a lot of time and a LOT of trouble with gift-wrapping. I had a pile of presents to wrap, and I was able to get it done in about 10 minutes. Add another 10 minutes to account for time spent making new bags for the oddly shaped gifts, and I was done.

It was glorious.

File this under "do your single-mom-self a favor."


telling my story

Most people say there are two sides to every story. I don't agree. I once heard someone say that the truth is like a coin. There's one side - heads - and the other side, tails - and then there's the edge around the coin, the third "side." That third side is the truth. Here, you'll find my side with what I hope is a reasonable allowance for the edge of the coin.

A dear friend last month encouraged her blog readers to keep telling their stories. That message from her reached me when I was feeling particularly sensitive to the fact that I have not felt very free to tell my own story - the one about my marriage. Becoming the former spouse of a pastor has been a little weird to navigate, and there's been a lot of internal and external pressure to keep things neat and tidy.

It occurred to me at some point in November that I have more or less allowed myself to be put in a box (or maybe I put myself there?) as far as what I do and don't say about Brian and how things got to where they did. At first, I (mostly) felt the need to restrain myself from going on a "smear campaign" against him. I was hurting, and I didn't want to become that angry woman who flames her ex everywhere. In a (mostly successful) effort not to say too much, I think I basically stopped saying anything.

As was my habit in our marriage, I became complicit in a cover-up, in an unspoken acknowledgement that the illusion of "good"ness is more important than the truth of broken-ness. The general audience of our lives was shocked when we split, because we'd both done a decent enough job of pretending that things were good between us and we let the banner of "pastor and wife and new baby" fill in the gaps.

There are certainly things I would do differently, if now-Ashley could talk to then-Ashley. I would approach counseling with more honesty. I would keep my mouth shut a little more, assume a little less. I would make the desperate phone calls to wise friends before it was too late. There are a thousand other things.

I still struggle emotionally with my choice to leave Denver, though I know it was the best thing I could do for Gabriel given the options of "bad, terrible, and even worse." But  it's been hard, selfishly. I know it has been all too easy for people to "come to their own conclusions" about what happened between us, and I'm not foolish enough to think that those conclusions would favor me. It's taken some real work to embrace the fact that I cannot control what goes on in the "ether" (and any attempts to do so would be unbecoming of me). I was the one who suddenly moved away with the baby, you know, and he's the one who's an ordained minister of word and sacrament. Pastors don't divorce their wives and leave their brand new babies. But the truth is, sometimes they do. Sometimes people are so full of pain, fear, and insecurity that they make terrible decisions. You aren't exempt, I'm not exempt, and pastors aren't exempt. We are all broken.

So this is my story. A month before my first baby was born, my husband and I separated; a year later, we were divorced. It wasn't my idea and it wasn't what I wanted. Ultimately, however, I didn't have a choice. I moved back to where our families live, knowing I would need the support and wanting an alternative to job-hunting and daycare. And now we are a broken family of sad statistics, preparing for lifetimes of consequences and finding ever-increasing pockets of joy.


gary morris album

If you've been reading this blog for-evv-ur, you'd know I'm a follower of the flylady. Flylady, aka Marla Cilley, is the sweetest thing and one of the things she does wonderfully is promote the causes and projects that mean a lot to her. 

Sometimes this means telling her network about a new music album from an upstart. Which is why I had an email the other day talking about a new album from a guy named Gary Morris. I have never heard one second of Mr. Morris's music, but I am guessing he's a country music singer.

Here's the track list from his new CD, called Single Man:

1. Single Man
2. I Love the Waffle House
3. Woe is Me
4. Another You
5. Poison in your Water
6. I'll Forget to Breathe
7. All in the Name of Love
8. If You Were Mine
9. Silence Says it All
10. Midnight Madness

Is it just me, or does that track list tell a story in 10 lines?

If you're curious and would like to purchase the album, you can get it in the flyshop. This is not an affiliate link and I will receive nothing if you click on it or buy anything.


a hope for this year

With like 7 hours to go, a new friend decided to come over and ring in the new year with Gabriel and me. She's awesome. We had a nice time getting to know each other, marveling at the baby, eating way too many snacks, watching an episode of Scarecrow and Mrs. King, and then watching the final moments of coverage from Times Square.

New Years has never been a "big deal" holiday to me, requiring fancy plans and new dresses and lots of people. I've got some pretty spectacular memories of new year's eves past, but I'm also no stranger to ringing the new year alone-plus-five-dogs. I had fully expected to welcome 2013 by myself, and that was fine with me. But then my sweet friend came over, and I realized how happy I was to have her there.

I haven't really put a whole lot of thought into this new year. I would crack a joke here about not having time for things like thinking, but it's not really a joke. Mostly, though, I think I've been afraid of 2013, with its promise and its potential and its blank slate...its decided lack of answers.

The truth is, I'm afraid of the (un)foreseeable future. It's so....unknown. In previous years, I had my plans (grad school! career paths!) and my life-structures in place (marriage!) and an inkling of what the adventure might be - or at least a sense that the adventure would be unpredictable but good. These days, there's nothing but a to-do list I know I'll never conquer, a sense of urgency that I can't seem to shake, and the two questions that always lurk just behind my eyelids, ready to pounce when I stop moving for half a second: is Gabriel my only child? and am I doing right by him?

The fact that I don't know the answer to either of those is no small issue for me. In fact, it's kind of terrifying. And this "new year" business conveniently overlapped with Gabriel's first birthday and the year-markers of a bunch of milestones in the demise of my marriage, making my big, scary questions feel bigger and scarier, like a recurring chest pain that might be a serious thing or might just be heartburn, or one of those sores in your mouth from biting your cheek, that you keep re-biting it because it's all swollen and in the way. I'd retire a shirt to the bin of clothes he'd outgrown, and I'd wonder if I'll see it on another baby or if it will be sold to the consignment store in five years. It'd take me weeks to take apart some unused baby gear because I would distract myself while looking for a screwdriver, afraid to acknowledge that he is done with the bouncy seat and maybe we are done with the bouncy seat forever and if he's my only baby, why am I wasting my time on things like folding the laundry and drying the dishes when all I care about is him?

So it was a very big surprise when, at the stroke of 2013, I felt a surge of joy.

Anything could happen this year, I felt somewhere inside. That includes good things. Big things. Happy things.

So I relinquished to God my 2012 and all it brought, I smiled at my new friend, and I sat for a moment, grateful for years passed and for years to come.