friendly game of whatever {a summer series}

did anything ever happen impromptu during the summers when you were growing up? 

my parents would get a call from a farmer friend that they could come and pick corn from his field. my sisters and i knew what we were doing the next evening on the front porch. shuckin' corn! i was a pro with the husk, but those silks got me all frustrated! we'd eat a good bit that summer, freeze some and give some away. 

sunday nights after church we'd get crazy and go get ice cream at the dairy queen or meet up at the city sports field for a game of softball! word always got around.

impromptu is not my style, but i want it to be. okay. maybe impromptu with a wee bit of preparedness! 

you've been rocking intentionality all summer! here are a few impromptus:

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invite someone over. {a summer series}

someone different.

i've already pegged you as someone who enjoys hospitality, so having someone over seems like normalcy. 

but, who's someone you've thought about having over and pushed it to the back of your mind?

who's someone you know but has never come over to your home? 

who's someone you want to learn from?

what about someone who would love a home cooked meal?

is there a refugee family or someone new to town who could use a friend?

it still haunts me.

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sunrise or sunset. you choose. {a summer series}

the sun comes up at 6 am and sets a little after 8 pm. 

if we go up the hill, we can catch dynamite sunrises. If we go to the beach and karl the fog is away, the sunset just might beat the sunrise. I’m guessing we’ll score the latter considering we’re growing teenagers this summer. the plan is to go this week on the last day of school and watch the sunset. but i'm more of a morning person and what calls louder than the sun is devil's teeth baking company. i highly recommend the "special" - a homemade biscuit packed with eggs, cheese, bacon, aioli, and avocado. 

back to the sun. look at your calendar and plan a time to catch the sun rising or setting. check your weather app so you don't miss it! invite some friends to join you. this is a slowing down celebration of what the day can be and what the day has been.

back to the sun.

look at your calendar and plan a time to catch the sun rising or setting. check your weather app so you don't miss it! invite some friends to join you. this is a slowing down celebration of what the day can be and what the day has been.

is this the first time you've done this in your city? is it the last?

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cookies and cocoa

the best gifts are experiences. the ones you can't wrap up or put a price tag on. well, maybe you can, but the value far outweighs the expense. 

years ago we crafted cookies and cocoa as a way for our family to give something tangible, yet profoundly intangible to our neighbors. literally the one on our right and the one on our left. i'm not a baker or a chef, but can stir a sweet cup of swiss miss and follow directions on any recipe. 

when the kids were in those snug-as-a-bug-in-a-rug pajamas and when thomas the train was far superior to screen time, cookies and cocoa was born

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How will America gather for Thanksgiving this year?

How will America gather for Thanksgiving this year? How did America first gather? In the fall of 1621, the Pilgrims gathered with the Massasoit Indians to celebrate the harvest. It wasn't anything purchased from the grocery store, but what was hunted and grown and greatly prepared after much sacrifice and hard work. It was a union of what had been taught and what has been learned. It was a friendship forged.

It was the white man who had come to America. It was the white man who was accustom to celebrating the bounty called a harvest festival. It was the local Native Americans who taught the white man how to plant and grow and reap in a new world. Together they gathered. It was the local Native Americans that made room. That welcomed. Like any relationship, I can only imagine the beauty and the mess that unfolded. To share the land. To learn from each other. To be patient. To let love win despite the differences or trials.

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why can't life be like downton abbey?

{note: i just confessed in a previous post that this place was going to be stronger and more real! don't hate me!}

why can't life be like downton abbey with its glamorous estate set upon acres and miles away from town? with its castle like structure that boasts pride and class and influence?


why can't life be like downton abbey where writing correspondence and attending a hospital benefit are the to-do's for the day?

where you lounge with drinks in the library before sitting down to a feast in the dining room and afterwards go to the sitting room for more drinks.

where a nanny brings your kids to you when you want to see them and where the chaffauer drives you to the station and into town.

oh to have someone brush your hair for you at night and turn down your covers and dress you for dinner!

and oh the dresses for dinner! pure silk and lace and perfectly fit!

to communicate through hand-written letters or make a necessary trip to see someone because life works best when we make time for one another.

to be in an era where lightbulbs are the new thing and so is the telephone and radio.

where a hairdryer baffles the butler, but excites the servant girls.

where you stop for the afternoon to enjoy tea in a porcelain cup and sit down for conversation.

not a to-go cup with conversation being texted while you have a half-heard conversation in person.

where floral centerpieces are the norm at the dinner table, not the exception.

and to have this particular Granny around! oh Granny!

where various social classes mingle and hold each other up and rescue one another from fires and help pay for lawyer fees and doctor bills.

and the hats and accessories. the string necklaces and silk gloves, the hairstyles and attitude that comes with wearing such classy pieces.

why can't life be like downton abbey?


downton or present day, we cannot predict the future.

and the future looks quite different from the past.

my kids even know how i'd love to life the downton abbey life whether i was a servant downstairs or a lady upstairs.

and the past looks quite different from the present.

so instead of wanting what i think i've missed out on

or wanting what i think i must have, i choose to

celebrate the present.

celebrate the differences.

celebrate the changes that will come.

Lady Grantham said, "Makes me smile."

"We're going forward into the future, not back into the past." Lady Crawley said.

"If only we had the choice!" laughed Lady Grantham.

out of curiosity,

do you crave a season of life that was easier or simpler or kid-free or stress-free or financially better?

is there a part of us that can't move forward because we're afraid of what might be?

Carson was what i don't want to be...stuck in my ways. where i roll my eyes and throw up my hands because the future is gonna happen and not like i had hoped.

rather, i want to throw my hands up and say to the future, i'm a part of it and sending children in that direction and i want to cheer loudly for those who are shaping it and use my words to encourage rather than tear down.

life isn't like downton abbey.

it's far better.

for it's the past that fed the present

and it will be the present that feeds the future.

and i want you and me to lean in and step in and see ourselves as shapers.

be it a kind word.

a hand-written letter.

a trip to see someone.

learning from granny.

celebrating with all social classes.

sitting down for conversation.

making time for tea or coffee or a meal.

coming to their bedside when sick.

spurring someone on to pursue their dream.

it's what those of our past gave us.

and we should always be paying it forward.

what's something of the past that you enjoy in the present?

for's me and the kids taking home mounds of library books despite the fact that kindle and video games dominate our present reality. library books still have that smell even though the check out card is missing from the back insert. i'm over it...i think!

advent {a getting ready and a staying focused}

how do you make the most of the Christmas season?
how do you authentically embrace one of the two most celebrated events in the Christian faith that have such secular traditions?
 i've thought for years you can still have
 it all for your children.
that santa, frosty, and baby Jesus
 could all be unpacked from the Christmas bins below the bed
and put in their decorated place for a month.
one always is elevated.
one always is more talked about.
one always is more celebrated.
one always gets more glory.
but the magic and wonder and Christmas spirit that seem to unfold as the lights and ornaments are hung on the tree...
i have learned (as a parent) that all of this goes right back into the boxes as the new year begins. that unpacking tradition and memories are sentimental, but only reflect the past.
how can i expect our children to embrace what is 
and what is to come? 
how can we welcome in the Christmas season with joy and celebration that embed peace in our hearts 
and hope for the future? 
we observe Advent.
it's not just a day, but a string of days.
it not's just an ancient observance, but a present worship.
it's not a daily chocolate treat from trader joes, but a gratifying delight leading up to Christmas Day.
it's intentional teachable moments.
it requires preparation at home.
it insists on a parent's pure heart and leadership.
it's all about Jesus and putting Him front and center in the home, above santa and frosty.
here's how we do it.
we set up the Jesse Tree
for us it's a small artificial tree.
the tree is symbolic of the Branch growing up from the line of David, the son of Jesse. [Isaiah 11]
we prepare the Advent bags
the bags line the wall on burlap string attached with painted clothspins.
in each bag is an ornament that coincides with the daily readings and a way we will celebrate the season with purpose.
credit to ann voskamp for the ornaments and devotional.
we anticipate Christmas Day
each day we read the Scriptures.
we talk of God's plan all along since creation to redeem mankind.
we thank God for His Son and His love for us.
one of the kids takes down the bag and hangs the ornament on the Jesse Tree and reads what we will enjoy doing as a family for the day or a way we will give to others. 
all in the waiting.
all in the expecting of Christ's birth.
all together as a family.
Advent Calendar ideas  
i share with you our ideas.
i searched far and wide to copy someone else's
{as i am in the habit of borrowing other's really great ideas}
but found very few.
i write most of these generically that can be used in any home, in any city, but there are the exceptions. 
yet you can take the concept and make it fit your setting.
in creating these ideas or hearing some from you, 
about half are others focused
and the other half are family specials.

sing songs to the elderly

make our best friend’s cake pops
watch Home Alone together
meet some of the needs of a homeless person
play a family board game
play charades with Christmas carols
wrap gifts for others
shop for our family and those in need
share at least a dozen things we’re thankful for
read Christmas books
enjoy hot cocoa with our neighbors in our home
bake cookies for those that serve us (postman, garbage men)
tape quarters to parking meters
make gingerbread houses
drive around and look at Christmas lights
experience Union Square at night
family big breakfast
city/community project
intentionally do something kind for each family member
participate in church Christmas offering
read the Christmas story
Advent candle light dinner
host a family over for dinner
celebrate Jesus’ birthday
decorate and mail cards to those we love
sleepover by the Christmas tree
imagine together what all took place in the stable that night

we do not "do" an activity every day. this is a list we choose from.

life happens so we work into this Christmas season the very faces and places God has us serving.


*a note to us moms, especially.
the creative aspect might have been fulfilling.
the assembling and decorating therapeutic.
corralling our kids to participate in advent a task.
give this season to the Star, the Christ.
commit Advent to being worshipful, reverent, celebratory.
enjoy it all...
the wonder & the worship along with your family.
for this is all about what IS and what IS to come.

oh, for us all, it's the most wonderful time of the year. for He has come.

oh, He has come to us! 

the land of in between (3 of 3)


if only!


as if!


yeah, we all can dream!
not in this house!

this is why we take photos of our food and instagram them to our followers. because we ourselves are marveled at how quickly and perfectly the food is presented while we wait.

i would never expect any of my lovely family members to take photos of what i cook. come to think of it, i wonder if they even marvel at how quickly and perfectly the food is presented while they play and study and work?{ i'm blessed for they are really kind when they come to the table.}

while food presentation is not my forte, ben and i are striving to make meal time a happy time. a good time. an intentional time.

here's what's working at the pilgreen house...

meal time is not what we eat, but how we gather.

our goal is to eat our school night meals at home. that's monday through thursday for us.

ben and i work hard to keep our calendars free to be at home for meal time on these nights.

ben requires all the kids to wait and sit after i have taken a seat. {i really like this!}

we hold hands and pray for our time together and the food we are about to eat.

holding hands reconnects us after a full day.

praying, of course, reminds us Who provides and allows us to give thanks.

we tend to go around the table and ask about the high and low of each other's day.

our goal is that what we do at the table is reproduced when they have a table of their own
and that they would remember how we gathered more than what we ate! 

the table is central for conversation.

professional meetings happen over lunch and a cups of coffee these days.

companies take their clients out to dinner to discuss strategy and goals and new products.

the meeting wouldn't go well if the client slurped his spaghetti or if he made the meal time all about himself.

we are learning to listen and wait our turn to talk.

we are learning to ask questions to better understand their day or situation.

while baseball stats don't interest me, they interest others at the table, so i listen.

what tingley (kavita's doll) did for "school" is important for her to share, so we all choose to listen.

for there is coming a day when these skills will matter beyond our kitchen table. 

meal planning is multi-leveled and multi-skilled.

i plan our meals on a basic level with a reach for the next level occasionally.

this means that we eat spaghetti and grilled chicken and occasionally i'll reach for a cookbook and make something that requires fresh herbs.

here's how i keep it simple in the land of in between:

pizza (our local pizza place or homemade pizza on the Green Egg)

mexican (taco ring, fajitas, quesadillas, enchiladas)

burgers and chicken and veggies on the grill {because we can grill year round)

spaghetti or pasta and salad

breakfast night {because i don’t have time for pancakes and sausage for breakfast anymore)

fish/shrimp with green veggies

picnic night (we do this every thursday on the floor and watch a show together) this meal is anything we can eat with our hands.

you come to mind as i have had meals at your house or have seen your pictures you post or just know you and how well you cook. and i want to be like you! but until then, this works for us and i'll try your recipes and crack open a cookbook when i get a spare minute in this land!

we close and clean our kitchen.

obviously in this land we have kids who can help us clean, but not everyone practices this ingenious approach!

when meal time is over, no one leaves the room until every dish is loaded in the dishwasher, every crumb swept up and the table cleaned.

and that is a beautiful sight to behold for two reasons. one is that we all appreciate what goes into the meal by doing our part. two is that after tucking the kids into bed, i don't walk by and see dishes still mounted in the sink.

we close our kitchen from time to time.

to celebrate a birthday, to thank God it's friday, or to join friends for a meal.

but we do our best to plan for these.

so that meals out remain special and don't rob the bank.

despite what my growling stomach would say, meals at home are cheaper than meals out.

so in the land of in between, meal prep and advanced planning are crucial to the lifeline of our family.

we plan so we can truly enjoy time around the table...

be it our table or yours or the ones our kids will have one day on their own.

what do you do that is special at meal time?
how do you make life easier with food and family?

naming your home

every house had one.

homemade wood carvings.

modern fonts on slick boards.

i realize i was in fairy tale town.

but it is a real place, not just in my imagination.

and all the houses had one thing in common.

they had a name.

on a weekend to carmel-by-the-sea, a 4 hour picturesque drive from my city,

i determined to seek solitude and renewal.

but among my many distractions, i was drawn to each name.

robin's nest.

dream catcher.

tucked in. {cute, huh?}

legacy by the sea.


what would we name our home if that was the norm? to name your home.

i began to think. then rational thinking turned into dreaming.

because who really gives up brain space to this? oh yes. someone who is retreating and not connected to every social media outlet and has space to wonder around in the head!

what do i long for my home to be used for?

what am i trying to build within the four walls that provide refuge and unity?

what do i want others to experience when they step into our home?

my thoughts for the intentionality of our home have already become a reality. we just needed signage!

dwell {a post about home}

His Word in your home {a post about practically praying Scripture over every room in your home}

so in the Scriptures, specifically Ezekiel, there is a strong visual. God tells His prophet Ezekiel to pick up two sticks and hold them in one hand to symbolically unite the family.

Ezekiel, the prophet, heard God say this to him, "My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people." {Ezekiel 37:27}



they shall be my people

they shall dwell

I will make a covenant of peace with them

My dwelling place will be with them


the three pieces of red wood were from the original fence in the backyard.

our neighbors, upon our first conversation, said they would go in 50/50 to replace the fence.

so in our first attempt to be a good neighbor, we agreed and did all the work from hiring to scheduling.

i kept three old pieces for this purpose.



my prayer for our new dwelling place:

{written december 2011}

may You, O God, dwell with us. may You make our home a haven, a refuge from the world. may You fill our home with joy and peace and Your presence. our family invites You in. may hospitality abound. may laughter fill the air. may each person that steps in know they are loved, safe, and at home. come and dwell. our home is not complete without You. amen.

if your home had a name and naming our homes was the norm, what would yours be called?