Category Archives: faith

An awkward white response to Charleston

I sit here like I think a lot of white people do, horrified, but still afraid to say much of anything. My words are awkward, my knowledge limited, my worldview tainted, well, white.

What happened in Charleston was horrible. Terror. Racism. Evil. Committed by a person who had some sinister and horrible beliefs that were unfounded and were wrong. There aren’t enough words to describe how wrong it was, to walk into a black church and tell the congregants they were needed to be killed because they were black? How could this young man, in this day and age, believe the lie that black is subservient to white?

It was wrong. I hate that it happened.

Yet I am blown away by the responses of the victims family members when they faced the killer in court.

“We forgive you.”
“We have no room for hate so we must forgive.”
“Take this opportunity to repent.”
“We pray for your soul.”

It pains me to know that people who exemplified Christ in life and in death were murdered. What kind of faith do these families have that their response is one of love? I, too, am a follower of Jesus, but I do not think I would have had my wits about me to forgive my kin’s killer publicly so soon. Eventually that would be my goal- to forgive- but I know me, and I know to would take me a while to get there.

I read the Beatitudes this morning… and I paused at verse 3- “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God.”

Are not the poor in spirit those who were humbled, marginalized, oppressed? They turned to the Lord for their strength. Could the families in Charleston’s immediate response of obedience- to forgive and to pray for their enemy, the one who took the life of their family member- could that response be possible if they were not a part of the black community? A community who’s history of being oppressed, or being marginalized, but of having great hope in the Lord gave them opportunity to practice forgiveness and grace over and over and over in everyday life. Is this learned behavior passed down from generation to generation to let go and let God? Do white people, as a whole, even white Christians, practice forgiveness and grace a fraction as much as these humble and heartbroken families in Charleston?

I don’t like to talk about race or racism because I am painfully aware of how ignorant I am in how racism plays out in everyday life across our country, or even my own town. I confess that I just assume since I am not racist and that I teach my children that we are all of equal value regardless of skin color, nationality, ethnicity, etc., that the whole situation is not my problem. I guess I was wrong. This is a problem we all have to own.

I don’t have a lot of friends, yes I have a couple hundred on Facebook, but seriously, there are only a couple who are really my close friends that I actually see in real life or communicate with beyond “likes” and “shares.” They are white. I have a long distance friend who moved away who’s husband is black and they have two children, and I have a dear old friend from my nannying days who is black who also lives hundreds of miles away. My kids go to school in a suburb where there are many nationalities, and there are one or two kids in their classes that are black. I had a few friends from my track team in high school that are black too, but in my high school life seemed rather segregated. It was weird, I would approach a friend on the “black wall” in the quad, and I felt like I was getting the evil eye from everyone else there, I thought they were thinking “Whats this white girl doing over here?” Maybe I was wrong, maybe they weren’t thinking that at all.

I’m sheltered. I get it. I know very little about what it means to be black, or African American, heck I don’t even know what these friends’ preferences are in discussing their race. I don’t discuss their race. They are just friends to me, I don’t think about their race or their children’s race or if they get pulled over more often, thus my inaccurate belief that this isn’t my problem. I try to contact them when crazy stuff like this happens, like Freddie Gray, like Michael Brown, because I don’t WANT to be ignorant, I want to hear from someone who knows.

Despite my awkwardness in asking about the elephant in the room, I always think that it’s better to say something with a heart of love than to remain silent. I don’t want to read the news and the pundits and the bloggers, I want to hear from real flesh and blood people that I know and love. Firsthand accounts are always so much more powerful and an actual conversation so much more productive in creating understanding.

I hope we all have the courage and grace to have these kinds of conversations with other races in our communities. We can’t keep pretending this isn’t our problem.



Filed under faith, thoughts

Why I read and watch things three years late

A little while back on an evening where bedtime for our kids crept well past nine, we actually sat down on the couch and watched tv, you know, instead of flurrying around getting ready for the next day’s events and promptly passing out. Keith surfed the channels and stopped at msnbc, which was airing a documentary on trafficked teens in Detroit.

I was amazed. I had heard and read a little about trafficking and modern day slavery in the US, but I’ve never seen a whole show about it. Captivating. Heartbreaking. Unbelievable. I couldn’t wrap my head around what was happening to these girls.

Naturally, I tweeted about it, to which my smart Alec and ridiculously well aware, read, written and published little brother responds… @danamarie262 Sis… That aired originally three years ago.


We had a little playful twitter banter on how the only current events I know of are who has used the potty properly that day and that was that.

It’s true. I live in a bubble. I don’t watch the news hardly ever because I have three small children with me every second of the day. The things on the news are hardly appropriate for children to watch. Bombings, scandals, beheadings, all sorts of things that are horrific for me, let alone our seven, five and two year old. So the tv stays off.

The books I read early on in parenting were those that would help me to SURVIVE sleepless nights, and decidedly not go-change-the-world books.

The books I read now are about three to seven years past publication date. Sorta current, right? UnChristian, The Next Christians, Interrupted, Love Does, to name my most recent reads that do not fall into the parenting category. Because let’s face it, I’m a mom and that’s my biggest job- to make sure I am not screwing up my kids, to teach them that God loves them even though their mom might have screwed up (ok, ok I probably will fail them somehow, using the word “might” is too optimistic) and, if possible, set up these little ones for some sort of success in life. Thus, parenting books will likely always have a solid place on my nightstand.

I suppose it is fair to say I am isolated from many world events. I just don’t have the time to keep up with everything. I try my best, I read when I can, I read opposing viewpoints when possible… But let’s face it- I have hardly any time to myself! It’s impossible to be amazing at everything all the time, so I just settle into mediocrity at a bunch of things.

I think what I struggle with lately is this notion of productivity above all else. There’s this call to arms to find your passion, your calling, go, be, do, lots of things! But guess what? I have three children and no free daycare and I kinda like being around my kids all the time anyways. The only thing I’m going and being and doing is being a wife and mom. And volunteer for my kids school. And volunteer in the church nursery. And a bunch of other things that will never put my name in print.

So I plug along. And read. Three years late. But I’m still reading. Still thinking. Still asking questions. Still struggling for answers.

I suppose that’s the best I can do.

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On flunking 2015 goals before the end of 1Q

I was ambitious. A little too ambitious. And I’ve also been a little lazy.

My easy resolutions, or, rather, habits that I restarted in December have been mostly on point. Because hey, it’s not that hard to sleep 8 hours a night and keep a tube of lipstick or lip color in every.single.purse and pocket I own. The walking the dog bit has been hampered by the never ending polar vortex- we have a Yorkie, not a Huskie, and little Miss Mercy isn’t a fan of the exteme cold.
She basically just freezes up and refuses to move when it’s too cold or if she can’t get through the snow. I guess I can’t blame her. It has been hovering around zero degrees for weeks.

Here’s the status report on my list. Overall, I’m hoovering just above flunking. As you’ll see, I’ve nixed some on the list and tweaked others. Keith has some fancy project management name for this, like agile project manage my or something, so I am going to pretend that’s totally what I am doing, and add his project color coding status (RAG- Red Amber Green). You know. So I seem productive.

My goals for 2015 are organized into six categories: Faith/ Personal Growth, Marriage, Mothering, Creativity, Fitness, & Others.

Faith/ Personal Growth- Amber- not quite on track, but moving in the right direction.

  • Wake up early and read bible while riding my stationary bike for 21 consecutive days in January (once I kick this awful cold)- ummmm I got a cold, then Sydney got the stomach flu, and then we all got colds again and I voted for sleep instead of extra cardio. I have, however, been faithful in getting up by at least 6 to read my bible. I’ve been trucking along with the If:equip groups weekday readings as well as my own bible study homework. So I guess this is sorta a win. Am I keeping this goal? Ehhhh ok I’ll try again in March to incorporate the bike riding, but I’m separating the goals into faith/ personal growth and fitness. It’s too hard to keep track of a multi tasking goal like this.
  • Finish reading all the half read books on my Kindle- read a minimum of 10 minutes a day- I am soooo winning at this! I totally read a little bit every day, I finished one book, am rereading another and started a new one (ugh, I know I am a serial book starter! But I needed to read Love Does for a Valentine’s Day project!)
  • Use prayer app daily- schedule just 5 minutes a day- I’ve been using the prayer app to keep track of things, but I am not consistent in spending purposeful time in prayer every day. 

Marriage- Green

  • Plan a weekend trip for 1st quarter- we’re waiting for a sale at our favorite inn, so this is on hold.
  • Plan a date night per month- I actually think we did this in both January and February! We are usually pretty broke in the beginning of the year- as we have several family birthday at the end of the year, plus Christmas and the traveling we did to visit family this past year. We don’t have a line in the budget for babysitting. I wish we did! Even just for me to be able to go to the eye doctor ALONE! But it’s not feasible and we’re at the mercy of free babysitters, aka, my mom. Hopefully she’s up for another sleepover next month, even though I am pretty sure she doesn’t sleep a wink with the kids over.
  • Workout together once a week- this has been happening on and off, depending on schedules and sickness with the kids. We worked out together last Monday and did a push up contest the other evening. Ha!

Mothering- Amber

  • Take Savannah to a painting class- the family classes at our local paint place are on Sundays and I haven’t found one that works with our schedule and that we like. I keep looking!
  • Visit science museum once a month- Yes! We visited the science museum as a family in January and with some friends in February. 
  • reinstitute chore packs and cleaning Saturdays- ehhh… we’re still working on this. There’s always a birthday party to go to on Saturday or something so I never seem to get everything done, but the kids are definitely taking their jobs to help take care of our home and their stuff seriously.
  • develop a homeschool/ enrichment schedule for Luke- in progress

Creativity- Amber

  • Participate in the 10 day Do Over Challenge – from John Acufftotal flunk, I don’t even know if I can do over the do over. I think I might nix this one!
  • Sew one article of clothing for myself per quarter- on track to make two items this quarter- a pair of handknitted socks and a sweatshirt/ wrap/ cardigan
  • try the “Year of Nothing New” challenge for clothing- I bought a shirt from Target. Then I remembered this challenge and RETURNED IT! Even though it was SEVEN BUCKS! Go ME! Then my two favorite pairs of jeans ripped in some rather unfortunate places in early January and they were deemed unwearable, but I have not replaced them.
  • write 50 blog posts this year- ehhh… maybe? I’m at about 5, so I have some work to do. But I am starting to figure out that I can write a bunch of stuff when I have time, and post it or edit it later!

Fitness- Red

  • Cut body fat to under 20%- holy hell, how am I going to do that? Because, carbs.
  • Participate in #30daysnocheats with Jen, starting January 5th- so losing. Lets shoot for March.
  • Help 2 people in their fitness journey- working with one who is having some amazing results!
  • research personal training certificate- no progress


  • Host an IF:Table- nope, not yet
  • Host a monthly craft night- actually I think this is halfway happening, though not terribly organized, my friend Cyndi and I get together to do some things every few weeks, and it is fantastically fun.

At the end of the 1Q, I’ll be rewriting my goals for the year. Being an agile life project manager and all. Ha. How are everyone else’s goals coming along?


Filed under faith, Fitness, home life

On Goal Setting for 2015

I don’t always set goals for the new year, but this year I felt inspired to do so.

I usually stick to my 3 resolutions every year- walk the dog every day, sleep 8 hours a night, and wear lipstick- and I restarted those on December 1st and have done pretty well. I like the combination of practical and fun resolutions that don’t require huge changes as I believe that one’s life is comprised of both big and little things. Small changes and habits can pay dividends.

Why the lipstick? I’m not entirely certain where this idea came from, but somewhere along the way I heard that the right lipstick should brighten your whole complexion and your disposition. Combine this fact with my life as a stay at home mom who’s uniform is ripped jeans and a t-shirt, or yoga pants and a sweatshirt, and a little lipstick can go a long way in making my reflection a little more pleasant. Vain, maybe, but it’s an easy thing to do.

I’ve categorized my goals for 2015 into six categories: Faith/ Personal Growth, Marriage, Mothering, Creativity, Fitness, & Others.

So without further adieu, here are my 2015 goals:

Faith/ Personal Growth-

  • Wake up early and read bible while riding my stationary bike for 21 consecutive days in January (once I kick this awful cold)
  • Finish reading all the half read books on my Kindle- read a minimum of 10 minutes a day
  • Use prayer app daily- schedule just 5 minutes a day


  • Plan a weekend trip for 1st quarter
  • Plan a date night per month
  • Workout together once a week


  • Take Savannah to a painting class
  • Visit science museum once a month
  • reinstitute chore packs and cleaning Saturdays
  • develop a homeschool/ enrichment schedule for Luke


  • Participate in the 10 day Do Over Challenge – from John Acuff
  • Sew one article of clothing for myself per quarter
  • try the “Year of Nothing New” challenge for clothing
  • write 50 blog posts this year


  • Cut body fat to under 20%
  • Participate in #30daysnocheats with Jen, starting January 5th
  • Help 2 people in their fitness journey
  • research personal training certificate


  • Host an IF:Table
  • Host a monthly craft night

I’ll be posting monthly updates on my progress, a-la-moneysavingmom.

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Unwrapping the Greatest Gift

Ann Voskamp slays me. She did it with her book “One Thousand Gifts”, with her deep and lyrical daily writings and now she has again with this family Advent Celebration of Christmas.


How can one with a “happy mess of six kids” have such a quiet, holy peace about her? What are the secrets? Do tell!!! With our own mess of three (mostly) happy kids we do not always have peace. And there are certainly no angelic harps playing in the background at our home, as I would envision the Voskamp abode to be.

I love the way Ann so beautifully and gently points us to Christ, the true meaning of Christmas. The season of Advent, this waiting for Christmas, is one that I have admittedly overlooked in the past, beyond the candy in the door type advent calendars. But this year I want something more meaningful. Our older children (7 and almost 5) are ready for it.


So we began last night, with a “Night Before Advent” hot chocolate party. I printed up the banners on card stock from Voskamps site and strung them on some twine in the dining room. I picked up hot cocoa packets, fancy chocolate dipped cookies and peppermint sticks at the store and laid them out on the buffet along with some new fuzzy slipper socks for each of the kids.



And marshmallows. Big ones.


I lit a few candles, tuned my Pandora Radio to The Nutcracker station (much more calming than the “grandma got run over by a reindeer” station), and gathered everyone around. They felt like it was this big special thing, when in reality it was a simple,simple gathering.

Old Dana would have insisted upon making the banner from scratch, as well as the hot cocoa and cookies too. But practical and slightly wiser Dana decided that shortcuts were necessary and totally okay!

We read the introduction of Voskamp’s book together and I explained what the Jesse tree was, showing the kids the ornaments I had downloaded and printed for them to color each day to adorn our own Jesse tree. I initially thought that Luke would not be interested in coloring ornaments but I was mistaken. He said that he wanted his own set, so I printed up another set after he went to bed.

We put our two year old to bed after hot cocoa and snacks, and the rest of is played a round of Blokus before retiring for the night.




It was such a sweet and special evening. Oh, and I forgot to read the “Night Before Advent” Poem, so I read it to the kids after they were tucked in bed. It was so wonderful to just sit around together and talk about what Christmas really means and what we are trying to do this December. The only arguing came from the particular order in which we should play Blokus, thanks to my stickler-for-the-rules son.IMG_2197.JPG

I’m looking forward to this evenings first reading and activity. It takes some preparation, for sure, to make it all happen. I’ve got chicken roasting in the dutch oven already, nice and slow, the ornaments out to color when Savannah gets home from school. The kids will be able to pick their fun activity from our other advent calendar- to find all the Christmas books in the basement and bring them upstairs- once she comes home this afternoon. My mother is coming over in a little bit to help with the kids while I go to the dentist… it’s always something… some errand, some appointment, some rushing… but I think this intentional advent will prove fruitful amidst the busy-ness of the season.

What are you doing to focus on Christ this Christmas? What are you doing to avoid or alleviate the holiday stress? What can you scale back on to be more present this season?


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