making pearls

Here is a hard thing that needs to be said. 

Even those who love you may not understand everything you do. And that’s ok. 

Oh, it’s hard. It can feel like a sucker punch the first time somebody who’s always been supportive, no-questions-asked, always got your back suddenly looks at you funny and says Why? or even I wouldn’t do that. It can feel like the rug’s been pulled right out from under you. This was the person you’ve always agreed with. They’ve always supported and agreed with you. They’ve always been the cheerleader. And then in the one second when they don’t, you wonder suddenly if you’re crazy, if you’re the one off-base, if you’re running wildly in the wrong direction. 

It might be a little thing. You choose to nurse your baby to sleep when they’re teething or you let them crawl into bed with you once. You didn’t potty train by a certain age or you let your two kids sleep in the same bedroom. It seems to be the littlest things that wiggle into close relationships like sand in the heel of your shoe. 

I have experienced this. It starts with a single comment between friends and then suddenly you go to bed wondering and wake up insecure and a little niggling distance grows while you stare existentially into your morning coffee (and then also your afternoon coffee and your evening wine. It escalates quickly.) 

Anyway. I don’t have grand solutions for you. This is a hard situation. But I just want you to know you’re not the only one who’s accidentally let an off-hand comment or difference in parenting methods or exercise habits or even the way you grill your chicken work like sharp grit into a relationship that used to be smooth sailing. It happens to everybody. It usually happens pretty often. But it doesn’t have to escalate. You can let the sand work into your heel and give you a blister, or you can make like an oyster and cover it in softness until it becomes a pearl. I’m not just being poetic: this is a choice we get to make. You let blisters rise on your soul or you let God-in-you grow small sharp things into large beautiful things. Pearls are magnified sand, you know. Pain coated and coated until it becomes a round globe of beauty. That is what redemption does. 

It will sting at first. I know that much. I wouldn’t be saying all this if it didn’t: it stings and it’s ok to feel the sting. The sting points to something important. Hard words hurt more when they come from somebody we care about. But after you brood over your morning coffee, pray over your breakfast. Ponder over your lunch. Pray some more through your afternoon coffee. Forgive over your dinner and if you can’t quite get that far, then at least exhale all that anger out before you go to bed, and remind yourself that when you pour the next morning’s cuppa you’ll be praying out the angst again. Step by step, baby. Don’t worry about how long it takes. We’re in this life and this becoming-like-God stuff for the long haul. Don’t give up when it takes a lot of morning coffee before something that used to be sharp doesn’t hurt anymore. It will come. Just don’t let the sharpness breed a callus. Take your sand and make a pearl one prayer, one sip, one ounce of forgiveness at a time.

what can I do to help?

The best way I know how to describe my community is that they are helpers. When people have babies, they bring meals. When somebody’s sick, there are offers to babysit, bring over a stash of chocolate or cup of coffee. When it’s just a long day and the kids are, well, kids, somebody’s ready to listen. They just help.

Last Saturday I stood in the kitchen adding one dash of almond milk after another to a batter that still looked too dry. S finished chopping the strawberries. “Anything else I can do?” W heard her ask and turned towards me too; “Yeah, what can we help with? You look busy.” So the strawberries got mixed into the slightly-less-crumbly batter and the teapot was pulled off the shelf I couldn’t reach and we all settled into the living room to enjoy our Christmas brunch.

I would love to summarize our year with pretty thoughts tied in a bow for your advent admiration, tucked under a perfectly-tapered, not-shedding-needles tree. But, life.

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We moved, wholly or partially, four times this year. Some of our things are still tucked in the back of a garage, cringing as passing time lessens the possibility that I will label them “necessities”. I was lucky just to find the Christmas lights. Also, please somebody explain the mystery of perfectly operational, gently packed Christmas lights that mysteriously just die in the year between. But we have two working strands and they wrap halfway around the living room and my point is really just that our year was unsettled.

In May we moved up to Eagle Lake Camp for Grant’s job. In August we moved back, and packed up our home. In September we moved out of our house and into flux, and in October we moved into the cottage. I still don’t know where our large skillet is, but the lights are stretched above the windows and the throw blankets are on every piece of furniture and it’s feeling like home now.

But our friends have been even more comforting than the cheery yellow throw blankets we tuck around our feet on cold evenings. They brought us meals when I was sick this Spring. They shared their coffee when we all moved up to camp this summer. They gave a lot in the give-and-take of monitoring our collective kiddos at the staff housing lodge. They loved us and supported us and when I try to think of this year as a whole, they’re in it one way or another.

So, thank you, friends. Thank you for memories, thank you for friendship. Thank you for putting down roots with us, sharing meals with us, wiping up spilled milk and consoling unhappy babies and drinking a quiet cup of coffee with us. Here’s to next year. Here’s to community. Here’s to crumbly scones and hot coffee.

holy Saturday

Truth, truth. It is like a dye, staining every thought I have this weekend. I have scripture ringing in my ears – a lying tongue hates its victims; Proverbs 26. I repeat it to myself, thinking not just of telling lies but of softening truths. It is so easy to sidestep truth, to just assume somebody knows my beliefs and positions and that I don’t need to clarify them.

I never want to present truth unlovingly. It’s the spoonful of sugar with the medicine. But you can’t be nourished on spoonfuls of sugar alone, and that’s the way our culture has leaned. Religion is suddenly acceptable if love is the only real application. But truth and love are inseparable. That is actually my clearest memory from my recent trip to California.

Redwoods are beautiful, don’t misunderstand me! I loved them. But on the way back to the airport, Tiffany reminded me of the absolute vitality of truth. It’s unloving to not speak the truth she said firmly. She’s right. I’ve been mulling over those words since I reached the airport and quietly circled the terminal with hot coffee.

I read a post about celebrating Easter as a millennial who’s left church culture, and the post was about the spirituality (in a loose sense) of the holiday and the beauty of celebrating newness. I love newness and celebration, but the truth of Easter is so much more brutal, so sin-dyed. And it is so much more powerful, beautiful, so earth-shattering light-filled. Easter is the obliteration of our blackest wrongs through brutal death. Earth is the glory of new life where no life was even possible before.

Tiffany was right about truth. To withhold the glorious beauty of Easter and just celebrate newness? That is no kind of love. I do not want to alienate people who are on the fringes of faith and church, but I’m not going to break the truth into pieces we can consume without fear. Truth in love, yes. Half truth, no.

Those are my thoughts on this Saturday of waiting – the day in between death and Resurrection, a grave day of not celebrating, not yet. And this is my invitation to you: celebrate with us tomorrow. Celebrate life and grace and forgiveness, the truth of the holy day.

reasons and things

I have good days and bad days.

On my good days, I think It is so good for me to blog! I am taking back my writing – I’m not giving in to the fear that I’m a horrible writer. I’m writing and publishing it and no matter who reads it, I’m writing with courage and joy and it’s so, so wonderful!

On my bad days, I think Why are you writing a blog? You’re years late to the game. You’re just writing here because you’re afraid of writing an essay and submitting it for publication, aren’t you? You’re scared! This blog is just an excuse – so that when people ask about your writing, you aren’t empty handed, you don’t have rejection slips to show them, you have this, your blog! This is a cop-out from doing anything real, anything that takes guts!

I keep trying to turn the bad days into good days by reminding myself of the encouraging thoughts.

The truth is – and truth is the ground upon which I can stand through any day – the truth is that this is a safe place. It’s a place where I can learn to enjoy writing again, because there’s no pressure. Nobody who has read and reviewed and loved or critiqued my writing is reading this, judging by the WordPress stats. And I love that.

I can write and publish and write and publish and if nobody ever knows, that doesn’t mean I’ve done nothing. I’ve written.

So that is why I am blogging. I want to show the negative voices of fear who’s boss. And maybe, one day, one of the writers I love will tell me, “Actually, this is good. You writing, you claiming back joy and just writing. Even the words are good.” A girl can dream.

On one hand, this blog doesn’t take a lot of courage. That’s important to me. I need this simple space to put the love of writing back into practice. But I want to write with courage too. So to you, reader, I’m making a promise. I will write and submit an essay, or poem, or story. Something. I’ll do some writing that takes guts and a tough skin. I need both sides of this craft; the safe, and the wild.


the talents

I’ve had a lot of trouble understanding the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25 before. The parable is about investing – servants of a master who are given different amounts of money and expected to use it to good purpose while he’s gone. Two of them invest it and earn back double what they were given. One just hides it so that nobody steals the amount he’s given. It’s pretty obvious on one front: use what you’re given.

But I get caught up in trying to understand it so much that I never get around to investing. Hear me out. Maybe it’s because their word for the currency, “talent” sounds the same as “talent” in English, meaning special skill or ability. My usual train of thought after reading passage is “Talent… what talent do I have? And how do I use it? I don’t have a lot to write about right now, so scratch that. I don’t have a piano anymore, so scratch that… I don’t know.” And by then it’s dinner time or the dishes need doing or a certain wee boy is calling his mama and the train of thought derails until months or a year later, when I circle back around to that passage.

I always though a talent (currency) was a lot of money. Bible currencies are confusing and I’ve never taken the time to sort them out, but I just assumed it was a lot. But then in verse 21, the master says to the servant who returned 10 talents “You have been faithful with little. I will set you over much.”

That. That’s what clicked today. I can be faithful with little. Maybe I don’t need to be getting up in front of people playing piano on worship teams to be in ministry. Maybe it’s not about writing truckloads of spiritual memoirs (or even writing one.) Maybe it’s less about talents and more about responsibilities. I have a tiny boy to take care of, and maybe just letting him yowl into my shoulder and get snot everywhere while teaching him how loved he is by God and by me is all I need to do. Maybe “talent” is about wiping his nose over and over, and reminding him how much I care. Doing the laundry full of baby boy boogers again and again because, well, it keeps piling up. Maybe my investment is the few times I remember to get the coffee ready for my early-rising husband. Maybe it’s remembering to give thanks for something, even if I’m trying and failing to find the source of infant yowls.

It’s probably going to be a lot harder than using skill-oriented talents, but if I can only be faithful in this, in living Christ’s love to my tiny family again and again; I will probably be so much closer to hearing his “well done” than I ever knew before.



I wake up and roll over and twitch the curtain aside, one hand still clinging to warm covers, just checking if the sun’s awake with me, and she is.

I eat something little and savory – first morning food always making me nervous with nausea – and move into the light. Set myself in the blue chair, legs curled under, gratitude journal open and pen clicking on off on off on off while I think happy morning thoughts and squeeze cold toes in the sunlight.


Fuller, stronger, take my fuzzy blanket and cold toes out to the back patio. Sit in the sunshine, feel warmth holding joy against the calendar box of today. Pen scratching journal paper; “403. Sunshine. 404. Singing birds. 405.”

I always leave one blank at the end because I always want to remember that I will be thankful, again, later. There will be more little happy things scattered among my hours and more evident faithfulness piling up where I forget even to write them down.

Always more.

Sunshine following me inside and I leave the door open, spend the day with shoes on and bike tires whirling, or feet moving and climbing, or self settled in a hammock, swinging. Always in the air, always bringing the outside in, bringing the books and joy out, letting God show me how he can make a day just like I like it.



I’m crying my way through probably the biggest lesson plan God’s ever set on the table in front of me, and if you’ve ever been a grade school student with a homeschool parent or favorite teacher who handed you this year’s textbook in your nemesis subject, then you may understand why all I want to do is slam this thing down, wipe my nose on my sleeve, and walk away.

Just like any good homeschool parent or favorite teacher, walking away and pouting is not part of the lesson plan. Figures.

You know all those people who say that you are not your talents and gifts, not the food you eat, nor what people think of you? I’m one of them. I’m great a reminding girlfriends that one fellow’s opinion doesn’t make you what he said you were. Your skill or lack of skill at Tae Kwon Do or horseback riding or swing dancing doesn’t make you an amazing person, or a horrible one.

You’re just you,” I say, “And we all love you!”

Yes, well. It appears I can recite the lesson word for word, tally up the addition and subtraction of it without a hitch. I get stuck on the word problems.

Solve: If Gianna writes two popular blog posts, one kinda popular blog post, reads 50 books in one year, and encourages 70% of the people around her, who is Gianna?

Answer: Mostly successful! Way go to!

Solve: If Gianna has a bad case of morning sickness, the bathroom doesn’t get cleaned, and there tissues on the floor, but she reads 55 books in one year and waters her daffodil regularly, who is Gianna?

Answer: Kinda failing at life in a big way- have you seen that bathroom?!

It’s true – my bathroom needs cleaning and there are tissues on the floor.

Yesterday, dozens of loving souls posted sweet and generous birthday wishes on my Facebook timeline. It’s usually one of my favorite parts of my birthday, getting to scroll through such kindness expressed from the most unexpected sources, and replying to them, thanking them. This year it just broke me.

“Thank you for filling my online reading time with such beauty” wrote one person, referring to my blog. “I’ve been thinking about you all day,” from somebody I’ve met in person only once, five years ago. I started to cry. Do they know I haven’t blogged at all lately? Do they know I have to rest so long and move so carefully that the bathroom kinda doesn’t matter? Do they realize I’ve barely been in touch with anybody? And when I am, I’m just griping about morning sickness! Do they know how hollow I am?

I couldn’t read anymore. And it was right as I closed the app and set down my phone that Grant began playing worship music. The pain of my realization – my own hollowness, the emptiness of my achievements – overwhelmed me. I couldn’t even face God feeling so naked and small.I curled up, leaned against my husband, and sobbed.

Songs played, one after another. All I have is Christ. Cecie’s Lullaby. Out of Hiding. Soft lyrics rolled over me, carrying whispers of God’s voice.

But that is how I made you, Gianna. Naked and small. You aren’t those things. You are you.

And I love you.

Those were the final words pressed on my heart the night of my twenty-third birthday.

You aren’t those things, you are you. Small, dependent on me, all those pursuits set aside; just Gianna.

I think maybe I get it better now.


If you struggle with insecurity like I have for years, I doubt my post alone is going to convince you otherwise. But there are books, other blogs, counselors, songs. Please, please don’t just walk away crying and wish you felt better, more secure in your identity, more confident in how you were created. Learn, grow, change. It’s hard – really hard. I’ve been thinking about and praying about this struggle for nearly a year. 

But it is worth it.


I love Steffany Gretzinger’s music. It is soft and warm and deep as a soul.

I will be doing dishes or driving or standing in the middle of the carpet, curling my toes and wondering what to do next when her Morning Song comes on – and I cry.

Night turns to morning, You have been waiting

He has been waiting – always waiting, always awake. Porch light on, you might say, candle in the window, screen door propped open. Waiting. There is no timer, no stopping. No giving up and running into town for a movie, no locking of the door, no turning in for the night.

I am waited for? The lyrics swell and sway and pull me into weeping. I am waited for.

It all reminds me of a really long road trip to a really rainy place to visit my youngest sister, the one who looks like me and craves salted caramel frozen yogurt with me and gives me those hugs, you know. That sister. And we drove – drove and car-camped and drove again and fell into bed at some late-early hour.


Night turns to morning, You have been waiting

Waiting to just get there, waiting to sleep in a real bed, waiting to hug my sister again, waiting to smile and laugh together.

We sit on a couch and she looks at me, and it comes out – we paid to come. We paid in gas and time and in nights on a hard car bed and in kinky necks and eating out and lots of coffee. We paid in grit and tears and love, and we were waiting.

It’s the dawn of a new day You’ve painted for me

I watched lazily out the rear window while light drifted slowly into the sky. Haze – enough to illuminate only the horizon. Then dark lightened to gray dusk and invisible objects took shape, if not substance. Liquid – the light trickled slowly down the rocks and eastern edges of the hills until it pooled softly on the tops of the valleys and turned the world magic (again). I feel the light permeated with love. I catch my breath against it all and then the loveliness sweeps over and I am half drowned in it.


There it was, in the midst of a remembered road trip. God and Grant loving me, us loving her, so much passion flowing from one heart to the next. Waiting.

I squeeze my feet and knees together, still standing in the living room. A small part of me wants to go, turn off that song, not feel the deep hard hurty lovely feels. A bigger part of me stays, letting my heart unravel, letting me take the love for my sister and hold it up to God and realize he’s paid his love, he’s doing his waiting, he waits for me.

I’m waking up


[Song here]

not roses

He knocked quietly on the door, hoping I wouldn’t be home yet.

I answered.

“I got you flowers, and chocolate.”

I was speechless, like I always am when he romances me. I kissed him, and  put the chocolate on the back shelf of a kitchen cupboard for my own safety.

“Do we have a tall, narrow vase?”

I knit my eyebrows together, mental inventory. The short green one, the really narrow one that wouldn’t keep it’s balance…


He grinned with an idea. I returned to washing dishes while he arranged the mountain sunflowers in something. I turned around;


His everyday not-roses were tucked into a mountain-lover’s be-stickered Nalgene water bottle.

I love this.

I love that they are different. The creative expression of love. The sunshine captured on our kitchen table. I love that they are vibrant and messy, and unabashedly, wildly reaching their crinkled petals in every direction.

I love this simple ordinary love that we keep in our regular old, favorite container. I love this bright mountain flower tucked into a used, loved bottle that seen its share of real life (so why not its share of romance, too?)




1. To construct (especially something complex) by assembling and joining parts and materials.

2. to establish, increase or strengthen

Dictionary [dot] com

Building my bookshelf was easy. It’s from IKEA – complex enough to make one feel accomplished and proud of putting together such an efficient, beautiful piece of furniture, and simple enough that there is little challenge involved. I like that kind of building.

Building a home in a new apartment is less simple. My taste is difficult to describe and therefore decor is difficult to acquire – I don’t always know what I want before I see it, but when I see it I know I wanted it, and I work with and around it to make something beautiful. (I still haven’t found a lot of the things I think I want.)

But building a home means other things too. Like relationships. Memories. Places.


Building new relationships and new homes is hard. Much as I love the mountains, I don’t have anything like an old favorite hike, or a local place that is part of any tradition.

I’m starting, though.

I sometimes sit in a corner of the couch and tally up the memories I have in this living room, counting gatherings and lunches and laughter like beads on a string. Memories are piling up on my phone too. I’ve got selfies that I took for that one person who needed a laugh, and groupies with a little selfie-arm from that tall person who can hold the camera out the farthest. There’s autumn pictures from this year AND from last year – a stretch that I take particular pride in.


There’s a place too, up the mountain, that makes my heart happy just thinking of it.

Rampart Reservoir. Our favorite date (and we were separately quizzed on this, so I’m not romanticizing it.) The place where we got all those fun pictures and I wore my knitted yellow hat. The place where I picked out my favorite hill, and we scrambled off the trail over rocks.


The place where we took Luke and Jordan for a double date and played around with the old Minolta film camera – so much laughter bouncing between the hills. The place on the same range as where he proposed to me, kneeling in his hiking boots in a tussocky field with the peak behind us.


The place where the two of us old engaged people crept down the stream to sit on a sunny rock where they wouldn’t be able to distinguish a little kissing, but we could still keep an eye on them. The place where we always pull off the road to admire the sunset. The place where walking and conversation and adventuring and fellowship all run together like the stream, down towards the lake.


Yes, this is a good place, and these are good people, for building with.



We are obsessed, aren’t we?

Who am I kidding.

I. I am obsessed. I love new things. New posts. New photos. New blogs.

I wanted something fresh and I wanted the fun of creating it myself. (WordPress themes, shhhhh.)

So there’s this. Here’s me wondering if I’ll ever publish this blog, then figuring that I can create and enjoy it all I want without having to publish it, and reminding myself that no time spent creating something new and picking apart design is wasted.

Welcome to the really truly genuine me-site. The one I created on a whim.