In normal life we hardly realize how much more we receive than we give, and life cannot be rich without such gratitude. It is so easy to overestimate the importance of our own achievements compared with what we owe to the help of others.
—Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Today is my birthday. I’m thirty-six.

In some ways, this year was very much like the year that came before it, which is a blessing, as far as I’m concerned. While I have waxed philosophical on my birthday in previous years, I find that I don’t have so much to say this year. Things are good. My life is proceeding, largely, without interruption. I pray it will always be so.

In light of the above quote, I wish to offer birth-day thanks to family, friends, and kind strangers who have helped to shape this life for which I am so grateful. Far or near, you all enrich my life so much.

billings farm

While I generally ignore Facebook ads (or at least try to ignore them), a promoted post from Billings Farm in Woodstock, VT about their Baby Farm Animal Celebration caught my eye. It seemed like a fun activity for Zane and I to try, and the weather looked like it would be perfect for an outdoor excursion. Never having been to Billings Farm before, I was expecting a smallish operation with a petting zoo atmosphere. I was surprised when we arrived and had to park in the third lot out from the main building—the place was huge and sprawling! My heart sank because I thought we would have to wrestle with crowds and that it wouldn’t be much fun, but I was definitely proven wrong.

Everything was beautifully organized and the flow of people moved smoothly and organically from place to place. Our first stop was the baby animal barn, where we saw some adorable baby bunnies, lambs, and chicks. We also perused the museum (in the same building) which has many displays about old farm equipment. I was surprised that Zane was actually interested in the displays and wanted to chat about them. Next we ordered a picnic-to-go from the dairy bar, which contained locally made crackers and the farm’s own cheese, plus some fruit, and Zane also had a chocolate ice cream. We set everything out on the grass and soaked up some warm, spring sun. Even though there were lots of folks wandering around, and many others having picnics, it didn’t seem at all crowded. At the end of the day we took a horse-drawn hay ride. It was about as perfect a day as one could hope for.

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billings farm collage
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Lillia 9 of 52 (2017)
Zane 9 of 52 (2017)
Lillia 10 of 52 (2017)
Zane 10 of 52 (2017)

Lillia: This month you have been very sad. In fact, you have been sad for a long time. I think these pictures tell the story better than I ever could with my words. Being thirteen is terrible—it is for everyone. Knowing that doesn’t make it any easier to watch you go through this season of your life. The inner turmoil you feel is palpable, and there is nothing I want more than to find some way to relieve your pain. But, I can’t. It might seem like I don’t care how you feel, but I do—sometimes my only option is to be the parachute creating resistance as you fall. In the turbulence of the descent, I hope you can hear me telling you over and over again how wonderful and deeply loved you are.

Zane: This month you have really been enjoying Lego Club on Thursdays after school. You’ve been collaborating with other kids to make all kinds of interesting structures, including some sort of marble maze. You also had a terrible tummy bug this month, which went on for so long that I actually thought there was something seriously wrong with you. Of course, as soon as I made an appointment for you to see the doctor you perked right up. It’s nice to have you back to your normal self, but I guess I needed to be reminded that I should never take your health for granted.

guest post // the homely hours

I’m excited to announce that The Homely Hours has published my submission for their Book of Common Prayer in Daily Life series! Click on the image below (or link at the end of this post) to read my thoughts on how the BCP has been helpful to me in my Christian journey.

Thank you to Kelli Ann Wilson for submitting this guest post to our series on Family Prayer. Kelli Ann lives in Walpole, NH with her husband Damian and their two children. She works as a writer, and in her free time enjoys reading, gardening, and photography. Kelli blogs at, and shares her family’s faith journey […]

via There’s a Prayer for That — The Homely Hours

some thoughts on ash wednesday

I recently came across this quote from a Mary Oliver poem (in the image below), and I immediately felt that it really captures something true about the gesture behind Ash Wednesday, and the season of Lent, generally.

Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

As Christians, we are both of this world, and not. We are both beholden to our mortality, and not. In other words, we should love our lives while we are here, but just the right amount—not too much—for we are called to love the lives of others even more than our own, and we are destined for something greater still in our lives to come.

Transcription: For years and years I struggled just to love my life. And then the butterfly rose, weightless, in the wind. “Don’t love your life too much,” it said, and vanished into the world.—Mary Oliver