Monthly Archives: September 2012

september in pictures

As I do every month, I’d like to end September (has another month really passed!?!?) with some pictures. As always, a random assortment of life. Enjoy!


Love upon love. Bougainvillea lurks around Bahrain, offering sprays of this electric fuchsia in an often beige landscape. I ADORE this color. Totally. Steve brought some to our house and potted them for me. Grateful for tender husband. Grateful for glimpses of gorgeousness. Always helps me breathe.


Holding hands with my Lukey. We gave up naps this month and started back to preschool. This combination has made for some tired afternoons. Requiring lots of snuggles on the couch while we watch “How to Train Your Dragon.” Love.


My signature summer blue/green polish has made way for the modern red of fall. Though it’s still well over 100 degrees here every day, I feel like celebrating fall. Since I can’t wear anything fall-ish, I’ll put a fall color on my nails and light cinnamon apple candles. It’s the little things.


We are so proud to announce two new members of the Tank family: Elle’s bottom teeth! Love them. Love her.


One of the things I love most about Luke is his absolute obsession with the color orange. I’m not sure he’s actually removed these shoes since he got them.


Does it surprise you that she’s a middle child? Lane moves to her own beat. Baby bohemian in her own way. Love the little gypsy I already see in her.


Certainly can’t give you a picture post without including a rug. We went to a rug flop last weekend. In case you’re not familiar, a rug flop is a party at someone’s house where rugs are shown and available for purchase. A shop owner will bring rugs to your house, cater dinner, and flop rugs for the guests. Choose your rug, swipe your credit card, and you can take home your new purchase that very night! Like a tupperware party for rugs. Fun to shop in that environment. Lots of energy and interaction. We had such a great time at the flop where this particular rug was featured. It’s over 100 years old. The shop owner said to me, “This rug will speak to you if you look at it long enough.” Honestly, I believe him.

IMG_1017Putting the finishing touches on the book proposal I’ve been working on for nearly . . . ever. This is how I take books apart and put them back together. Helps me see the whole thing. I’m getting excited about what this project could become. Your prayers appreciated.

How about you? What’s been a snapshot of your September? A moment you’d want to capture and remember?


Fire Alarms

This post originally appeared on my blog in January of 2010. I like it and wanted to re-share it. Enjoy.


Just sat down to light a fire and work a bit since I finally got both babies down. We’re in the middle of the heinous transition from two naps down to one. All of a sudden I have crabapples for children. Today will be a two-napper.

Getting babies down, especially when they’re in a transition, is a rain dance of sorts. Some days, the rain falls with ease. Some days, you have to hop around for what seems like far too long, jumping and gyrating until the stars align.

Anyway, finally got them both down, put the fake log in the fireplace, lit it, only to discover — after a bit of time — that Steve had closed the flue last night. Amazing how much smoke those plood bricks can pump out.

While it was bad, the worst part of the whole mess wasn’t the excessive smoke inhalation. And it wasn’t even that the fire alarm started blaring in the hallway until I opened enough doors and waved a pair of Lane’s red fuzzy Christmas pajamas in front of it vigorously enough (now I’m sweating) that it finally cut off.

The worst part of it all, as I’m sure you’ve already guessed, is that the incredibly subtle fire alarm stirred Luke, and he began crab-appling in his room.

I thought I was literally going to put my fist through the wall. I would’ve, too, if I could’ve seen the wall through the haze.

Obscenities. Curses. Gasps. Clenches. Mutterings. Choking. More curses. You get the picture. Hold breath and reach up into the annals of the chimney to pull some secret lever . . . all while madly texting Steve for instructions. Open all doors. Wave pajamas. Try to ignore crab-appling. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe. Sputter a bit from smoke. Utter the prayer of desperation (which cannot be replicated here as it involves some additional obscenities). Oh, and try to graciously shew off the man from the VA who has appeared on our doorstep in the middle of all this (Yes, of course he rang the doorbell. Or, maybe more appropriately, doorsiren.).

Miraculously, after some ventilation and time, the house has cleared and quieted, and I’m reminded, yet again, that fire alarms are a part of life. So if you’re waving pajamas today, or cursing, or texting madly, or rain dancing, or shewing away one more person who needs something from you, or reaching up into the darkness to try to jiggle a flue loose — literally or figuratively — just know you’re not alone. I think that matters more than anything.

Peace to you.


with hope


Are you weary in some way or another? Losing steam? Needing a miracle? Or even just the tiniest sign?

As we approach a new week—with all its complexities, with all its uncontrollables, with all its possibilities, with all its veiled romance—I want to give you these words, a few lines I’ve lifted, from Maya’s “On the Pulse of Morning:”

Do not hide your face.

Lift up your eyes upon
The day breaking for you.
Give birth again
To the dream.

Lift up your hearts.
Each new hour holds new chances
For new beginnings.
Do not be wedded forever
To fear, yoked eternally
To brutishness.

The horizon leans forward,
Offering you space to place new steps of change.

Here, on the pulse of this fine day,
You may have the courage

Here on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up, and out

With hope

His mercies are new every morning. This is all I know. As we approach a new week, a new day, a new hour . . . may we harness the energy of starting fresh. With our kids. With our selves. With God. With each other. With our deepest desires.

We can make the changes we long to make. We can stop the cycles. We can find a safe place. We can stop hiding. We can get well. We can create. We can return. We can, for the thousandth time, start over. With hope.

I believe in you. I really do.

All my love, Leeana


a borrowed prayer

I’ve been praying more lately. Lots of cries for help. Lots of beggy pleas. Not totally sure why.

Maybe it’s the 3 babies. Living in Bahrain. Current geopolitical climate. Book writing. Trying to keep breathing. Trying to keep my mental health. Realizing, day after day, that today is not quite the day that my life will resemble the Anthropologie catalog.

Lauren Winner quotes the poet Carrie Fountain in Still: “Prayer was the last skill I learned. I practiced rigorously. Just as I was getting good, I lost it. As soon as it was gone, I understood it was not a skill at all.”

Unintentionally, I think we look at most things in life as something to be “practiced rigorously” and then conquered. Like tennis. Or chess. Or baking. And somehow, prayer gets lumped in with that must-master mentality.

And then we see—we learn through our desperation—that prayer is much more about being human than being holy.

What is your prayer today?

Mine is this (a borrowed line from the beautiful song by Nichole Nordeman): Oh great God, be small enough to hear me now.


broad grace

Rereading my last post, I am reminded that I so easily drift off into a very small place. A place that is narrow and cramped and stifling. My last post was a reminder that toxic thinking puts me in that small space.

Today, I wanted to share with you a Scripture that has long meant something to me, a word to combat small living, cramped quarters. A few lines that can restore a bit of breathing room in our lives, if we’ll let them in:

But me he caught—reached all the way from sky to sea; he pulled me out 
of that ocean of hate, that enemy chaos,
 the void in which I was drowning. 
They hit me when I was down, but God stuck by me.
 He stood me up on a wide-open field; I stood there saved—surprised to be loved! (Psalm 18:16-19, The Message)

Other translations of this same verse use the following phrases for Peterson’s paraphrase “wide-open field” . . .

A place of safety

A large place

An expanse

A broad place

A wide-open place

A spacious place

I’d like to live every minute of my life in the spacious place. Turns out, I’m only human. I can’t do it all perfectly. I can’t will myself back there in my own strength.

My life is this Psalm 18 story. Me being pulled out of a sea of self-contempt, of emotional swirling (the void in which I was drowning) and being stood up in a spacious place, a wide-open field, a broad grace. It is the story of salvation, of love, of God sticking by me (even when I’m completely crazy).

When I was in high school, I had to do a report on a disease for Miss Wagner’s anatomy class. I chose asthma because I’ve had asthma since I was a toddler. For the oral report, I passed out coffee stirrer straws and had everyone try and breathe through the tiny opening. This was supposed to mimic the feeling of an asthma attack—the struggle of pushing and pulling air.

I look back at myself last week. Mostly a mess. Mostly scared. Mostly living life as though I was breathing through the coffee stirrer straw. Emotionally asthmatic.

Most of all, I see that “me he caught . . . reached all the way down . . . pulled me out . . . stuck by me . . . stood me up.”

Not once and for all (wouldn’t that be so convenient if we could just graduate from all this difficulty?). This is what God does for us every single day if we will reach up to him.

May we all step out of our small living today, our coffee-stirrer-straw existence of fear and shame, and choose to accept his invitation into broad grace.

Here I am, yet again, God, grateful you haven’t sent me down the river. Grateful you are willing to reach down and pull me out. I’m reaching up to you. Today. Amen.


i am not god

Do you ever believe that the power to rescue or ruin someone else is in your hands?

Last week, I sent my kids out into the world for preschool. The days leading up to that launching were not pretty. We were trying to make some decisions regarding the kids’ schooling, and I was a swirling mess, filled with this relentless voice of shame telling me that I singlehandedly held the power to rescue or ruin my kids with this one decision.

The voice of shame is the voice of the Serpent in the Garden: “You can be like God. You can know everything. You can be more than human. Just take the bait.” This sounds great. I can be more than human? I can be like God? I could be perfect? Well, sign me up!

And we gave in to the first and the greatest temptation of all time . . . to blur the distinction between humanity and God. To believe those voices telling us we can be, must be, perfect. To believe that we could be in control.

Last week, I began believing that I had to be God in order to be a good parent. I began believing I had to make the perfect decision OR I was a deficient parent. There was no emotional space for my humanity. Just this shame-filled expectation that I had to be more than human or I was decidedly less than human.

This was the outcome in the Garden. They took the bait, and they immediately felt shame. When we believe we can be perfect, we ultimately end up feeling like a failure.

Because . . . we will never be able to do enough; we will never be able to become God. We will always fall short. Our best attempts at perfection, at control, will only leave us feeling deficient in the end.

In the midst of my swirling, I read this. I wonder if you need this reminder as much as I did:

“I am not God. I cannot control others I love. I do not own their problems; therefore, I must learn to leave them in God’s care. After all, God loves them even more than I do and wants only good things for them. The Higher Power’s plans for them are far superior to anything that my manipulating and scheming could bring about. What a relief not to be God!” (from Today, a publication of Emotions Anonymous)

Ultimately, this reading was a reminder that I am human. No more and no less. I do not need to be God. I am not God. I cannot fill the role of God in anyone’s life . . . not even my kids’ lives.

Are you believing that it’s all up to you? That the fate of those you love is on your shoulders?

The practice here is to remember that we are human—no more and no less.

When I rest in my humanity, I am simultaneously trusting God’s God-ness. The truth is, I’m not always sure I can trust what he/she’s doing up there. I’m not always sure I can trust that he will bring things to an acceptable resolution. I’m not always sure I can trust him with those I love. I’m not always sure I can trust him to fix the mess I’m staring at. Can you relate to that? (I wrote more about this here.)

We got through last week. The kids were loving school. AND THEN, this morning one of the kids had a MAJOR meltdown over going to school. All my swirling, all the shame, all the “see, you just ruined your kid” stuff came crashing over me.

The only thing that’s helping is to remember the truth that, though I am these kids’ parent and that’s a very important job, I am not God. I have to parent out of my humanity and not my futile striving to be perfect. How might I nurture and support and love my kids without falsely believing that I must be their God, that I could somehow be all-knowing when it comes to raising them, that I must be perfect or I am a failure?

And, taking this one step further . . . might I be able to forgive myself for being imperfect, for being human?

So here’s my prayer for myself today (as the swirling is still with me) and for you (as some of you are living with a low-level ache):

God, PLEASE show up for me. Please step into the places where I am feeling pain and fear. My big feelings tempt me to want to take over, to try to do your job for you, to take matters into my own hands, to believe that I have ultimate control. Please help me breathe. Please help me to be still and know that you are God. Give me words to pray. Help me to stop striving and thrashing and swirling. Bring me peace. Soothe the rough places. Be God for my kids today, especially that sweet one who is struggling. And please be God for me. Amen.

Is there a situation in your life currently where you are believing you must take on the role of God?


august in pictures

As I have shared, August was a well-traveled month. In just those 31 days we saw Ft. Lauderdale, San Diego, Lake Tahoe, Michigan, and made our way back to Bahrain. Here are a few random moments. Enjoy!


This shot is just a great example of the desert beige of Bahrain. So you can see why the green green green of places like Lake Tahoe and Michigan were so poignant to me.


Steve and I enjoyed the Labor Day holiday at the beautiful Al A’ali mall. It’s a gorgeous work of art with beautiful shops. What could be better?


The architecture of the Al A’ali mall is such a stark contrast to the charming red barn that lived right across from where we stayed in Michigan. It even housed real live horses and a tractor! Not just a prop, this was the real deal!


I love this picture of Grammie and Luke and Lane. My kids adore her, and I love the way she is forever whisking them off on some kind of adventure or another. This time . . . wading through the water at sunset.


For some reason, this is one of my very favorite pictures ever taken of Elle. We now have a 6 month old in our house (so grown up) who is eating solid food and loving every bite. She has even decided she might want to sit up now and again on her own. She continues to be all joy (and by that I mean she sleeps through the night!). :)


We also have a ballerina in our midst! Miss Lane has started ballet class and — as you can see — she couldn’t be happier about the whole arrangement.


This one you’ve likely seen already, but I couldn’t resist sharing it again as it just makes me so happy. Luke out in the wild. Where he belongs! These Middle Eastern-hot days keep us inside far too much, and I find myself reliving our glorious time outdoors this summer. So thankful to have had the opportunity to travel. And, also, so thankful to be together here in Bahrain.

This is such a random assortment of shots, but it tells a story to me of going and coming, of adventuring out and returning home. As we settle into the fall’s rhythm, I am grateful to get to be these kids’ mom, my guy’s girl, and to get this wild life.

As summer closes and fall begins, what are you finding yourself grateful for?