Showing posts from 2011

A Love Letter

Dear Pre-Pregnancy Pants,
I can't stop thinking about you. I used to think you were drab and boring and plain, but I was so wrong! You have been so patient waiting in my closet all these months. I never appreciated you when we were together and now I regret the many ways I took you for granted. Winter is here and I miss you more than ever!

But I have a plan. And for the most part, I'm sticking to that plan. I have already reunited with two of you and I'm coming for the rest of the pile. It's just an uphill battle this time of, I don't mean to make excuses. Those peanut butter and chocolate Santas didn't sneak into my grocery bag - I bought them with my own free will. You're right. It's time and I'm trying. We'll be together again soon. In the meantime, stay where I can see you each morning. Remind me how close I am.

Hang in there, old flames. You are more than a New Years Resolution. You're my Valentine, too.

Love, Meta

It's been awhile.

Happy Thanksgiving! It's been awhile since my last post and that's becoming the pattern here at tangled up in grace. Work has meant a lot of writing lately and I think stewardship season and preaching are using all of my thoughtful word juice. Since November has come and gone, it's time to catch up. This time, I'll use pictures.
Jasper has outgrown most things about the baby stage. He knows how to manipulate us for attention now. He's scooting and crawling and pulling himself up on stuff. He can hold his own bottle and loves crunchy carbs like his momma. When he's not ready to fall asleep at night, he sits up in his crib and sings to himself, swinging his legs between the bars and twirling his nook in his fingers.
I took a vacation day recently and packed up all the baby stuff. The blessed Bumbo chair is gone. So is the Boppy pillow and most of our other modern baby supplies with silly names. As you can see, I was freakishly organized about his baby clothes. I w…

the great shuffle

I looked back at recent posts and realized a lot of my writing lately has been about rhythm. Each morning since Jasper arrived, our chaos is held together by a singular goal - we've got to get out of here on time. Each evening we burst back through the door, my arms filled with baby, groceries, purse and mail. Usually I'm holding something in my teeth or Jasper holds the keys. Today I realized that I've always lived in this rhythm at work, which is why it seems so familiar at home.

Being the pastor in a small urban congregation means I ride two currents each day. I urge my people out the door - go serve, go share, go invite! This place is for a quick rest before heading back into the world. Grab some gospel and get out there!

All the while, I'm inviting strangers inside - come see, come taste, come receive! I know our doors are heavy and our liturgy is high, but there is something here for you. And you have something to share here, too.

Today I attended the Ending Homeles…

thank you, autumn

my favorite things about fall

crunching leaves

the secular world speaks stewardship...
...sometimes even better than the church

the way jasper tugs at the ears on his monkey hat,
causing it to slide further down his face

walking by the river

every sunny day is a gift

scarves, tights, boots, sweaters

apples, sweet potatoes, squash

the earth smells sleepy

my birthday - and this year i felt really special

so much going on at church

coming home to the smell of a hard working crock pot

watching jasper discover wind and crisp air

holding matt's hand and leaning into him for warmth

they were amazed

Sunday, October 16 ~ Matthew 22:15-22Ugh. For several chapters now, Jesus has been slamming religious piety and pretentiousness while teaching in the temple and people are getting pissed off. The Pharisees send some of their religious students together with the far more political Herodians into the crowd armed with cheap flattery and an impossible question. You see, there’s no way Jesus could answer their riddle without committing major heresy against the temple or the empire – and they don’t care which way Jesus falls off the fence. They just want to be there when he does. But Jesus is no fool. He can smell their charade from a mile away. It would be like answering a knock at your door to find John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi standing there hand in hand, smiling and saying, “Well, that’s a great color on you. And you smell so nice! Say, we just have a quick question for you since we care so deeply about the way we represent you personally…” Gross. Jesus knows they’re hoping he’ll make a…

Hard but Good

Jasper and I took a quick trip to Chicago this weekend because my cousin Ross was getting married! While the rest of the family drove with our luggage, Jasper and I flew with just a diaper bag. Our trip there was so slick and he impressed all kinds of people with his travel savvy on Saturday morning.
Unfortunately, he was also developing a low grade fever and got passed around a lot. My Aunt Kris was going to babysit during the wedding, but we changed our plans when she had a last minute family emergency. My whole family was so flexible and accommodating - I was still able to enjoy most of the festivities and Jasper got plenty of sleep all day.
But Sunday was a different story. The poor guy was burning up and uncomfortable all night. I stumbled into the airport on 3 hours of sleep with a fussy boy in the front carrier. I loaded a plane and found my seat surrounded by people avoiding eye contact and leaning away from me and my crabby baby. I got the hairy eyeball from a woman reading a b…

Nice Hair

Dear Jasper,
You are suddenly very busy. You eat oatmeal and fruit in the morning, arms extended like airplane wings and your eyes so focused on the spoon. Your thighs are growing because of these simple solids and they're a perfect spot for raspberry kisses.
You have great hand-eye coordination. It took you awhile to get interested in using your hands for exploring anything other than your mouth, but now you know how to use your thumbs and you can even turn pages in the books we read. You sit up so well and are finally getting antsy to move around. Any day now...
We all get the giggles a lot. You have a sense of humor and think all kinds of things are funny. Rubbing noses, popping out from behind a door, tickling, flipping you upside down and pretend snoring all make you burst into laughter and I love it.
Yesterday we went to Target and I decided to put you in the front of the cart. While I had to turn corners at 2 mph, you did really well balancing and your head whipped around looki…


It's been awhile. Lots of little things to share and instead of choosing one to write about, I'll try to share several in Twitter form:
We started a book club at St. John's. Our second book is a historical piece about Benjamin Franklin's time in France and how he invented American foreign policy as he went along - sounds a lot like ministry and I'm glad to be reading something I never would have tried on my own.
I spent Friday night and Saturday morning in Chaska with really, really generous donors to Luther Seminary. I got to tell them about seminary and first call. I got to hear about their love for the church and came home inspired.
I went to a conference for local pastors and our interim bishop scolded us. It was awesome. He pointed his finger at a room full of pastors and told us to stop preaching from our heels. He told us to preach from our toes, unafraid and trusting the Word. Amen.
I was changing Jasper's diaper the other day and he squished his poopy butt…


Matt got home late last night after a long trip for work. When we heard Jasper at 6:30am, I got up and tried to find things we could do that don't make too much noise. This is his happiest, most active time of day and my goal was to wear him down within an hour so he'd take an early morning nap. I wanted to go back to bed, too.
At least that's usually my first thought on Monday mornings. I always rise thinking about my day off "Pre-Jasper". Mondays used to be lazy and quiet, but now they begin with a diaper change and making all kinds of noise in the kitchen before 7am.
Jasper was very vocal this morning, so we soon headed outside, both in our PJs, to find all kinds of neighbors out and about. His little cowlick blew in the breeze as we stood on the corner near our house watching traffic file into the high school parking lot. Cars, minivans, trucks and buses joined us slowly at first and then in a steady stream until the first bell rang. Kids walked down the sid…


Today has been a highly anticipated mental health day. I took Jasper to daycare bright and early. The rest of the day has been filled with get to's instead of have to's.
My only goal today was to read all three Marie Claire magazines that loomed unread on our dining room table this season. They were a sign of leisure lost and today was all about remembering how to relax.
You know you're having a good day when your stereo is pumping really loudly for the first time in ages and you get sweaty dancing around your living room. You know it's a beautiful day when you cancel the massage you had planned because it feels like too much structure and you'd rather be outside.
Today was one big exhale. I needed it and I'm glad I'm surrounded by wonderful people who reminded me to make room for it. Sigh. :)


I rarely cook and when I do, I tend to kill a recipe early by failing to follow instructions carefully. I had never used a food processor until yesterday. But since this baby food adventure began, I've already made fruit smoothies and guacamole. I'm totally hooked.

Now I know I'm supposed to want to make baby food because it's all about the baby. It feels so good to know exactly what's going into your child. True. It's so much cheaper than buying baby food. Sure. It's less wasteful than getting buried in dozens of little glass jars you might never use again. Okay. But none of those reasons got me off my tail and into the kitchen.

Instead, it was this lady!

My lovely sister-in-law squealed with delight as she pureed beets and their explosive purple color made her giggle. Cara adores good cooking, kitchen gear, old cookbooks and The Splendid Table. I could listen to her talk about food all day, describing textures and ingredients with such joy. We spent the afte…

The Kingdom of Heaven is Weird and Wild.

Sunday was our third week in the parables of Matthew 13. The kingdom of heaven is like a seed. It's like leaven. It's like a merchant or treasure. It's like a really big net. They are familiar stories, but sometimes when stories are familiar they lose their bite. Sometimes we peel right through them and forget to notice the weird stuff about Jesus and heaven and God's reign. And that's the whole point. I had two things to say about these parables on Sunday:1. While we usually associate Jesus' parables with abundance, Jesus chooses imagery here that seems unsustainable and fleeting. Weird.·A mustard bush grows wiry and strong like a weed, but at the end of the season it withers like every other annual, often turning to tumbleweed and dancing away.·Hiding leaven in three measures of flour sounds sneaky and uses enough to feed 100 people. With that small bit of leaven, she ruins her whole supply instead of making only what she needed…and unless she’s planning a bi…

on the road again

Things I learned (but already knew)
on this summer's road trip down the west coast:

1. Matt and I plan each summer road trip about nine months in advance. There's a lot of hype leading up to these two weeks away because our work schedules so rarely line up with time off. We both work some evenings. Matt works some Saturdays, I work Sundays. Clearing two weeks to be away together so far in advance makes us feel giddy about the plans we've made and the time we're securing for an adventure together. And that's always worth the hype.

2. We dream of buying a little land on a river or lake someday and having a simple cabin with bunk beds and an outhouse. After staying in yurts on the Oregon coast, we changed our tune. Now we want a yurt! It was a cozy way to spend a few nights. Jasper wore a warm hat and fell asleep early while we enjoyed dinner and an audio book at the picnic table outside. That simple "date" at the end of each day recharged our batteries - price…

A Living Lutheran Creed

More than 350 church leaders are planning to participate and invite others to join in. Spread the word and let me know what you think! Is this something you, your family or your congregation would do? Why or why not?

Lutherans often describe their congregations with words like 'friendly', 'welcoming' or 'hospitable'. Super and probably true, but I consider this to be part of our Lutheran problem. These are lovely but reactionary descriptions of God's people. They all require others to make the first move.

It's hard to initiate - to meet people outside, to tell our story, to be proud proclaimers when our (spiritual) heritage prefers stoicism and quiet humility. But maybe it would be easier and FUN to practice making that first move together.

What if a bunch of Lutherans - I mean a bunch - all make signs stating something we believe in and all stand on corners in our neighborhoods on the same day at the same time? What if church and community leader…

Good Goo!

Geez. It's been a month since I've posted and I've got some Lutheran guilt about it. Until I remember that blogging isn't a "should". I write when there's time and while there's still the same amount of time, it's filled differently.

I love this picture of Jasper's first dip in the kiddie pool. That serious, sultry look comes out quite often and I like to think this is the perfect game face for summer. Minnesotans take summer very seriously. Everyone has their weekends booked by April and our sad, pale skin begins to fill with freckles and sun spots by July. We are aggressive about being outside. We talk to compete strangers with passion about the sunshine, proclaiming that each day in the 70s and 80s is just PERFECT and GORGEOUS. Our happiness is laced with anxiety because we know these days are fleeting and we have to drink it in.

So that's what I've been doing. Vacation Bible School and Lake Harriet Worship and long stroller rides and…

The Bag Lady

This is the luggage I pack on a light day. If I'm working out, there's an additional bag of clothes. If I stop for groceries on the way home, there's even more to lug inside. Plus a kid. I am a bag lady.

I just finished listening to Tina Fey's Bossypants on audiobook and I can now relate to a story she tells about childhood with her dad: the legendary Don Fey. She remembers making a simple Saturday afternoon exponentially frustrating for him and couldn't understand why until she was a working parent herself. Having a productive Saturday afternoon can help me feel like a million bucks - like I have it all together and under control. That's the kind of facade I'm enjoying today.

You see, Matt doesn't work Saturdays for the next few months. Instead he played with Jasper when I went back to sleep at 6:30am. He mowed the lawn, went through his mail pile and admired his new rain barrel (ask him about it - he's smitten). I enjoyed a short walk with the Nugg…

Splish, Splash!

Sunday was May Day and the second Sunday in the Easter season. What a beautiful day for baptism! Some family gathered for pictures before the service. The font was, ironically, empty so my brothers and their ladies propped him up inside its marble frame. Jasper complied with this priceless expression. I don't know what it's like to be a PK, but I imagine it to feel just like that.

Matt wore a suit and the blue hairs thought he cleaned up nice. Jasper wore the baptismal outfit my brother Gabe wore. I wore a linen dress and sat up front until the baptism was over, Then I slipped into the sacristy and into my pastor duds. I had the classic Sunday-after-Easter text to work with: Thomas wants to see and feel the resurrection for himself. And while we really burn through this story hearing it every single year, I'm so glad Jasper's baptism is tangled up with this story. And here's some of what I had to say about that:
Jesus doesn’t razz Thomas and his demands because Thom…


I’ve noticed that some of our youngest friends at St. John’s are in the WHY stage. They are curious about everything and demand a reason for tying their shoes or taking only one donut or holding Dad’s hand before crossing the street. This stage can demand a hefty amount of patience from their parents, but most of these WHY questions do have a reasonable answer.It’s just that when several WHY questions are strung together, we continue backing up and backing up until there are only a few universal answers. The two I hear most often are because I said so and because I love you.Tonight we hear God telling people to do some pretty peculiar things and I can’t help but furrow my brow and wonder WHY?In Exodus, the Israelites receive really specific orders about choosing a lamb and how to eat it. They have to get their neighbors and calendars and kitchens involved before following yet another set of instructions about a trip – packing lunches and a suitcase. But WHY does the lamb have to be a …

Playdates and Posers

Sometimes moms can't help themselves.

Sometimes babies can't either.

Getting Our Feet Wet

At five weeks, Jasper and I boarded a plane for fun in the sun. Life is still hazy, but we decided to take our gong show on the road to Sanibel, Florida for a few days with family.

He did so well on the plane, but once boarded I realized it wouldn't have mattered if he screamed for all four hours. A flight to Ft. Myers during spring break season is jam packed with noisy and smelly children all screaming and wiggling the whole way. What's one more?

It felt good to sink my feet into the sand. I am an ocean child raised on the beaches of San Diego, so time at the beach feels more "coming home" than "getting away". We spent the first night standing with our faces into the sun waiting for the green flash with hundreds of other beach bums. I marveled at our numbers and was reminded of our deep need for ritual. The crowds hushed as the ball of orange sank and a collective breath was held as it disappeared. At the end of a day lived simply, everyone had gathered to …

Baby Steps

I'm getting a little bit more sleep. I'm gaining confidence in what I know and how to love this kid everyday. I'm biting my tongue when people share advice that feels condescending. I'm grateful for the cloud of witnesses listening to him and learning from him so they can help him grow. I'm proud of the way Matt and I are working together to make room for another life in this family.

Some days I'm lucky. Laundry and dishes happen. I get a chance to go through the mail or answer emails. Other days packages addressed to Jasper sit on the porch unopened because the whole day is consumed by this little person - his fits and his cuddling alike. Oh, who am I kidding? Those are lucky days, too.

These eight weeks at home with Jasper are flying by, but I take comfort in everything I've learned and the deep bond we already share. The thank you notes and vacuuming can certainly wait. Then again, if I wait for an unlucky day to do all those things they'll never happe…

Now I Know.

It has been one week and one day since we welcomed Jasper to this world. When they plunked him on my chest, I was overwhelmed by how familiar he looked. Yes, this was the person I had been feeding and holding and loving for months. This was the person who had been kicking my ribs and sticking his skinny little kneecap into my side since the weather turned cold in November. He even looked familiar.

I am humbled by how much I don't know about this baby thing, but I am also proud of the lessons I've already learned since last weekend. Here are a few of the things I now know. They make me feel stronger than ever.

1. Labor. Everyone says you just know when you've gone into labor. Not only can your body rise to the occasion, but it invites your brain along for the ride, giving you wisdom and confidence for the whole nine yards. I spent Thursday night and Friday tuned into my contractions, noting how they crept closer together and became more aggressive by evening. Every fiber of m…

Velkommen til verden, Jasper!

Jasper Wade Carlson
February 12, 2011 at 12:58pm
7 pounds, 6 ounces
19 3/4 inches

Can't Hurry Love

Last week Matt and I bought the biggest bag of clementines I’d ever seen. We let them spill all over our kitchenette table and wondered how we’d ever eat them all. “By the time we finish this bag, we’ll be parents!” But once that assumption was made, I noticed we were both eating two or three clementines a day.Now there are just two left and I’m about to peel one of them. Last week I was begging this baby to stay put until a funeral was over.We celebrated new life last Wednesday with a beautiful service and confident hymns.Since then, I have been waiting for a different celebration of new life – one that does not have an official time and date to print in the paper.Each day further convinces me that I’m terrible at “real life Advent”, the intense waiting and watching and wondering moments in life.I have distracted myself with wives’ tales about inducing labor all week, but have instead checked dozens of tricks off the list as defunct.Yesterday was my due date and I have decided in…