PortoDolce - a sweet haven for a traveling soul

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Location: Indianapolis, Indiana, United States

September 20, 2007

Does this ring true? Maybe sometimes?

Once you give in to obedience, you're kinda screwed. So few people do it that you become God's go-to person and never get to enjoy life your way again. Which makes you wonder about whether enjoying life your way is a different path from the one that leads to joy and knowing God...

August 10, 2007

Drat! Don't read this!

Oops...I accidentally refreshed my blog feeds. So for both of you who have me in your feed reader, sorry for no updates in the longest time.

I guess the biggest news is that we're no longer at Sweethaven Cottage. While Ryan, the Housemates, & I try to figure out a new name for the new house, I'll see what I can get going on a new blog.

In the meantime, here's how I've been spending a lot of time lately.

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October 22, 2006

Into a new season

Hmm...it's been nearly (not quite) two months since I've written anything here. While I can't say for sure, I bet my Morning Pages are about as inactive as the blog. And I'm not sure if I remember my lock combination at the Y; it's been so long since I've been there for a decent workout.

So what HAVE I been doing?

Well, there have been conferences - the Emerging Women's East Coast gathering, then the big Emergent Gathering at Glorieta, New Mexico.

A presentation for the STC-Indiana chapter.

Getting ready for our Fifth Annual Fall Friends & Family party, which is coming up this Saturday (Oct 28). (Yes, you're invited. 3-11 PM at our place. Email if you need directions.)

Keeping up with the reading for JustFaith. And doing Sunday all-day reading marathons through the gospels.

Making new friends.

Helping out with the computer/admin side of Emergent Village cohorts.

Still, I miss my seasons of writing, fitness and strength, healthy and nutritious foods, spending evenings at the Tiki Barge with the neighbors. Ryan just signed us up for Netflix, but I'm not sure I'm ready for our standard winter season yet, either (winter is our "crawl into the warm bed at 6 PM with a pizza and watch a DVD" season).

With the transition to fall, it's time for a new life season as well. I'll let you know when I figure out what that will be.

August 30, 2006

Things to remember when you fly

So, I’m going to Chicago this afternoon to meet Ryan – he’s up there for some union work. I’ll be coming back tomorrow morning.
I had a minor packing delimma this morning. As I was packing my Victoria's Secret Very Sexy bra, it hit me that the thing has gel! So, in case you were wondering about your bras being confiscated, here’s what the TSA website says:
  • Gel-filled bras may be worn through security screening and aboard aircraft. (Huh. I wonder if this means that you can’t put it in your carry-on bag, though? Would you have to put it on over your clothes so that you are actually wearing it through the security screening?)

Other interesting items:

  • The only liquid/gels you can carry on are prescription meds, up to 4 oz. of eye drops, up to 4 oz. of saline solution, and up to 4 oz. of personal lubricants. (Good to know that terrorist threats won’t get in the way of people joining the “Mile High Club”)
  • In case you were wondering, you ARE allowed to bring your “toy transformer robots” on board the airplane.
  • Again, in case you were wondering, you are NOT allowed to bring a “cattle prod” on board.
  • Nor are you allowed to bring “cheese in pressurized containers” with you on board.
  • In the “heh heh, they said “tool”” department, you are allowed to bring your “tool” on board, but only if it’s seven inches or less in length.

Someone should make a documentary where they film airport security screeners responding to random objects on the first day that they recieve new directives. It has to be absolutely hysterical to watch them debate what to do with bras, "toys" (no, I'm not talking about "toy transformer robots"), and the other random things people try to take on planes.

August 21, 2006

Collosal blackberries

Ryan, my brother Jeremiah, and I spent last Saturday with my uncles at their lake house. I don't think I'll ever be able to convey to them how much I treasure the days we've spent with them over the past few summers. A day visiting uncle Steve and uncle Max is always leisurely...life moves on "lake time". We never fail to have great non-superficial conversations, learn about our family's heritage, eat simple\mouthwatering meals (last week it was fresh-caught bluegill with grilled potato casserole), and find time to nap on the porch swing, or swim, or read a book. We usually end up visiting the Apple Works orchard in Trafalgar.

On our last visit, we picked up some collosal blackberries. When I say "collosal", I mean as big as my husband's thumb; the size of small plums. Succulent. Voluptuous. Royal. Or, as the synonyms for "ripe" so perfectly say:



Extravagant and exuberant.



Juicy, lavish, luscious,


Sensuous, succulent

and wouldn't you know it,

Much like the time we spend with our uncles at the lake, they are truly a pleasure in life that I have done nothing to deserve and am deeply and truly grateful that I get to experience.

June 29, 2006

Quick updates that I can't read

A few quick updates about life at Sweethaven:

  1. According to The Artist's Way, chapter 4, this is my week to give up reading. I'm feeling very disconnected from the world already, since I usually devote way too much of my free time to reading blogs and news websites. I can't even microwave my lunch in the breakroom at work without being tempted to open the newspaper. Thank goodness I'm off work on the 4th when this week is up and I can get caught up on reading and correspondence.
  2. I had the worst dream the other night - the first time in my life I can remember waking up and being horrified by what I am capable of in my thought life. Again, I'm blaming The Artist's Way - the author warned that in allowing your creative spirit to come out and play, you might start to have vivid dreams. However, why in the world I would dream of attempting to hurt a kitten is a complete mystery. (In the end, the kitten did escape with no permanent damage. However, I have a feeling that Laverne and Shirley will never completely trust me again.)
  3. Tiki John has brought up the idea of my helping him write his life story. The funny thing about the timing of his request is that last Sunday, I had an inspiration to "write a best-seller". I even went to the closest bookstore to see what kinds of things the publishers are peddling these days (granted, I was in an airport so this wasn't much of an excursion). It looks like people (or at least people in airports) are either reading "vacation fiction", books about the economy, or self-help books. Tiki John has some amazing stories, AND he's got the rhythm of life/being at peace with the world around him thing down better than anyone I've ever met. I can see his biography being a fabulous blend of Jimmy Buffet-esque vacation adventures combined with "here's to the good life" wit and wisdom. He definitely has the stories - the biggest challenge I see with this one will be giving it the appropriate river voice.

June 20, 2006

This season's theme song

As long as Ryan doesn't get "juniored"* at work on Saturday, we're planning to make a trip to Tulsa this weekend to see Blue October in concert. I'm claiming one of their older songs as my theme song for this season of my life. It seems to really fit, especially as I'm working through The Artist's Way, trying to re-discover lost dreams and re-awaken dormant creativity.

Inner Glow
Like a storm cloud eager just to go wild...calm again?
Ask permission for the wrong to win?
Drop the bomb and get your story out and get it on!
In a haze, at the beginning of your days...
going to fall down,
gotta get back up
but at your own pace.
Got to fill your cup and find the way out of your own maze.
Yeah girl...what you said now!

Hide the rule book, throw it in the waste.
Look strong, like you belong, 'cause you do belong...
Whether right or wrong, you belong.

I'm on your side.
If you fail, at least you tried
to keep your aching, celebrating, wonder-making heart alive.

And pride,
Don't keep it all inside.
Don't keep your aching, celebrating, wonder-making heart alone.
Write your own song.

Whatever happened to our inner glow?
Whatever happened to the song, the soul, the me I used to know?
Whatever happened to my radio?
Whatever happened to that song?

- lyrics by Justin Furstenfeld, Blue October
* "Juniored" = on a day off work, the person with the least seniority who gets stuck working mandatory overtime if they are short-staffed for any reason. Typically happens when we have planned to do something really cool.

June 16, 2006

Sucking on my big toe again

The other night, I was sitting around Tiki John's bonfire. At a river bonfire, you normally have a few people you know, along with some folks who just happened by and thought it would be fun to tie up their boat and hang out for a while. Such a group it was...we were enjoying the new spring evening, talking, drinking some good beer, catching up on life, and getting to know each other.

Conversation turned to a guy who recently started dating a woman...only she happens to be married AND has another boyfried. The general sentiment was that this guy has lost his mind. Of course, I had to give my spiel about how I don't understand why anyone would ever date (or worse yet, marry) someone who is already committed to someone else. After all, if they're willing to leave someone else for you, doesn't that show that their character is the kind that would in turn leave you if someone new/better/more compatible came along?

Well...the fire died down and people started to leave. As one couple (who seemed very much in to each other) set off down the river in their boat, Tiki John said, "speaking of dating married people..."

Apparently, the guy in this couple had left his wife for the lady he'd been snuggly with all night. Open mouth, insert foot.

I tend to see most issues as either right, wrong, or just plain stupid. This experience reminded me that for any moral question, there's a living, breathing human making a choice. It's easy to look at the consequences of morally questionable actions without looking deeper to what motivates us to do things that we know, deep down, are bad ideas. I'm learning not to pass judgments on issues--affairs, abortions, unemployment, inappropriate lovers, debt, drugs--without trying to understand the real-life people who bear the consequences of choosing, or of not choosing, to participate in these activities. I'm slowly learning the compassionate response--that sometimes choosing the "immoral" option is less painful or harmful than doing what is "right".

Duct tape would definitely keep my mouth from running before my mind catches up. However, it makes you really hard to understand when placing an order at a drive-through window. Instead, I'll work on learning and practicing the art of putting my words through a filter of grace before spilling them out for all the world to hear.

June 14, 2006

Getting to know me

I'm new to this blogging thing, so I'm not sure if "About the Authors" are standard in the early posts of a blog. But just in case you're reading and are curious, here's a picture of who I am (painted with wide brushstrokes).

I'm in my early 30s, live in Indianapolis, Indiana, facilitate the Indianapolis Emergent Cohort, work as a technical writer for a software company, and have been fabulously married for 10 years to Ryan, who looks out for "the little man". I have three cats (Laverne, Shirley, and Kitty) who are gracious enough to allow us to leave them alone for extended periods while we travel (we can't wait to get back to Ireland and Africa). I like to read, write, run, eat good food, and drink good, dark beer. I enjoy extended conversations about topics that don't have a "right" answer, films that make you think, and Irish music. I am currently experimenting with life as a redhead. When I grow up, I want to be a bohemian sage/mystic...maybe even "crone", so I can become the stuff of scary legends for the neighborhood kids. I am involved in the Emergent conversation, and post on the Emerging Women's blog from time to time.

I am a Jesus-y person and I'm trying to live my life the way he taught, as best as I can figure out what that means. I grew up in church. My family attended a Baptist church in Crawfordsville, Indiana while I was young (complete with graded choirs, Wednesday-night potlucks, and the entire Bible portrayed through flannel-graph in Sunday School). Through my teenage years, I got to experience the spiritual drama which is Pentecostalism. I attended an Assemblies of God liberal arts college, where I studied English, Bible, and music, and attended a healthy church (though I'm not sure we can ever convince the pastor that it was a really, really good example of how people should relate to each other). Not having married a pastor, and not knowing what kind of job to get with said academic training, I found myself getting a Master's in Writing, focusing on the magic world of technical communications.

After all of this schooling, the husband & I found ourselves in Austin, Texas. We went to a large-ish non-denominational church for a while, at least until they disbanded our healthy, successful home group for not being "evangelistic" enough. Next, due to a lack of choices, we ended up at a Southern Baptist church...at least until they tried to relegate me to children's ministry. (Note to self: If ever in a Baptist church again, use Tech Writing skills to forge documentation that requires me to stay at least 50 yards from anyone under the legal driving age.)

Next adventure: Help plant a church in Round Rock (outside of Austin). Should've been uber-cool, right? Austin, all live music and sincere heathens and even public nude beaches—a spectacular place for church experimentation, yes? Oh, very much NO. Folks who were older and more financially secure than us decided that the area needed yet another Purpose-Driven church for suburbanites that met in an elementary school. Alas, too much attention on production left not enough time to focus on people. RIP, poor little baby church.

And now, we're back home in Indiana, enjoying our Sunday mornings out by our neighbor's Tiki Barge. It's Tiki, it floats on the White River, and it's a neighborhood pub in my back yard.

June 12, 2006

A dream glows

Sometime, my dream for our community glows like a firefly clasped in my closed hands. If you peek in, you can see the light. But it is nowhere near a city on a hill, or a lamp on a stand, or a lighthouse in the dark.

At 3:46 A.M. the other morning, I awoke to wonder if our community dreams were worth it. An unexpected guest made me realize that the reality that goes along with them will surely impact our sleep, our privacy, our life. The reality will be inconvenient and annoying. My dreams involve sunshine and happy times; arts and crafts and snacks. They don't typically dwell on the real characters who will dance two steps back far more often than they step to the front - an ever backward-winding electric slide.

But if I really believe that "The proclamation of the gospel is the incarnation of our communities", the reality that goes along with my dream should be what I live for - learning to find peace in the areas of discontent, learning to tolerate inconvenient differences of choices and life rhythms, learning to choose to put aside my view of how things ought to be and instead delighting in the moment of how things are.

I wonder - Will it make a difference to those around me if I am present and peaceful? Will it be contagious within the community?

May 30, 2006

Church...or not Church?

In my introduction over on the Emerging Women's blog, I hinted a little bit about our current "relationship to the body of Christ".

No longer slaves to the congregation, we build relationships around the neighborhood bonfire, pass out water on the local hiking trails, invite folks over for movie nights and theology pubs, and plan field trips to exhibits and experimental theater that might stretch our faith or show us something delightfully new about God. What we are doing is not church, but it's a mighty fine way of life.
I knew that this would raise some questions as to what we are doing is or is not church. So, I hope to throw out some things that happen every now then, and we can play "Church...or Not Church".

Exhibit 1:
Yesterday, I got to watch a golden-skinned god of a guy change out of his swim trunks into his street clothes. Full backside view. He had a gorgeous labyrinth tattoo, too, which was NOT on his bum. Can you imagine how awkward tracing THAT path would be?

Exhibit 2:
Today, I got to talk with a neighbor about health issues of undetermined origin, how he'll help his mother as she gets older, a friendship gone south, and the value of having change in one's life. This particular neighbor is more than likely moving away after tomorrow, though I feel protective of him and wonder what will become of him in the big, bad world away from the river community that is teeming with people who know his comings and goings and who are here to watch out for him.

Church...or not church?

May 25, 2006

The kingdom is for moo-cows, too

"For Jesus, the question wasn't how do I get into heaven? but how do I bring heaven here?
The question wasn't how do I get in there? but how do I get there, here?"
(from Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith by Rob Bell, p. 147-148)

During a recent trip to visit our Alma Mater, Evangel University, Ryan & I had the opportunity to join a group of students to help clean up the aftermath of some nasty tornadoes that had hit southwest Missouri. Our particular task involved going through the fields, picking up debris that could either interfere with planting/plowing, or that could be eaten by cows when they are set to graze. Cows are especially drawn to little bits of insulation that blows everywhere during strong winds. It looks like cotton candy goodness, all the puffs of pink stuck to dry grass and barbed-wire fences. However, as you can guess, fiberglass isn't good for cow innards.

I was amazed at how the simple act of walking up and down a field, filling a Hefty bag with little bits of insulation, could make me feel connected to the work of God in the world.

In picking up the mess, I was able to participate in, well, restoration. Cleaning my own bathtub at home doesn't produce anywhere near the same feeling of taking what was broken/dirty and lending my hands to God to help make it whole/clean again.

In doing the work with others, I saw a demonstration of normal people who put aside their own plans for a Saturday morning and instead taking up the burdens of their neighbors as their own. I saw community. And selflessness.

And that, my friends, is a little slice of the kingdom.

May 23, 2006

Come on in - the door's always open

Welcome to "Tales from Sweethaven Cottage".

I'm starting this blog to capture the stories accumulated and lessons learned during this season of our lives...living at the cozy rental cottage named "Sweethaven" on the White River in Indianapolis, IN. And while this house has been nicknamed "the cool-as-hell Casa on the Rio Blanco", we feel that "Sweethaven" better describes the easy rest and peace we feel here. It's a safe retreat full of joy and goodness. It's home.

If you plan to follow this blog, be prepared for some word dumps that are boring, sloppy, and self-indulgent. Those are for my benefit, not yours--and I don't have the wisdom to always know the difference. Lucky, lucky you have the opportunity to journey along with me as I do some self-exploration and figure out why I am where I am right now, where I'm going, and what I'm doing frittering away my unique gifts and talents as a technical writer/heavy sleeper/foodie/all-around lazy girl with undiscovered passions, hopes, and dreams. Hey, if you're doing the same thing, we can do it together! What fun!

I'll try to stay away from telling you what I had for breakfast. Mostly because "two hard-boiled eggs without yolks and half a grapefruit" repeated every day will get old...though I'm sure you'll be riveted on Fridays when they bring in doughnuts at work - oh, the drama! Will she overcome the siren song of sleep early enough to snag a coveted chocolate-frosted with sprinkles? Or will she be stuck with the last lone powdered-sugar cake doughnut, destined to wear a snow-white dusting across her bosom until she notices it in the restroom mirror after her 3:30 meeting?

I hope this little discourse (and hopefully discussion) will be fun. The best I can hope is that through it, I can maybe learn something meaningful...make some new friends...get to know my place in the world a little more clearly....and possibly even stumble upon something beautiful.

Don't be shy about leaving comments. I really will appreciate hearing from you.