Sunday, August 30, 2009


I don't have any videos on YouTube, and if you search for me on Google you may be surprised to learn that I'm a Massachusetts senator (actually, that would be another Susan Tucker...).

Last week my friend Janna invited me to attend an Andrew Peterson concert on Friday. I have a confession: I only knew his name because I've heard her speak it several times. I'd never "googled" him (if I had, then the 600,000 results might have surprised me) or searched for his music on YouTube (which would have yielded 798 results).

So, I made my way to Lifeway to purchase one of his CDs - Resurrection Letters, Volume II - so I could "prepare," so to speak, for the show.

As soon as I popped it into my CD player, I recognized tracks one ("All Things New") and four ("Invisible God") from radio play. I discovered that each song is a beautiful blend of storytelling, music, and worship. Lyrics flow like poetry, delivered with the strum of a guitar. Tracks two ("Hosanna") and ten ("I've Got News") captured me and found themselves on "repeat" during my drive.

Part of our evening on Friday included dinner with Andrew prior to the show, a lovely invitation he extended to Janna, a new contributor to his Web site The Rabbit Room. As we waited for his soundcheck to end, I perused the product table and realized the scope of Andrew's talent: eight albums, two novels, and a children's book. I confess I was surprised (and a bit intimidated) to find myself sitting at the dinner table with him, Janna, two six-year-olds, and a three-year-old.

However, Andrew proved to be warm and engaging. Conversation flowed freely, and he showed interest in both of us, our lives, and our stories. I felt like I was sharing a meal with a friend and was deeply grateful for his welcome. At the end of our meal, we said our goodbyes and found our seats in the sanctuary. Moments later, he walked to the stage. He engages with his audience just as he does with two new friends over the dinner table - with authenticity and generosity. It was a beautiful show and a real treat. I thank him for his kindness.

If you are not familiar with Andrew's music, visit his Web site and check out Resurrection Letters, Volume II.

P.S. And to be completely honest, I do have one video (or at least a cameo) on You Tube - check it out. The Google search, however, will still come up empty.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Yesterday went something like this: unexpected a.m. visit with great friend, complete with comfy pjs and chai tea; first yoga class in months; long lunch at favorite restaurant with another great friend and Dr. Pepper; quick shopping trip in which I find an awesome pair of trouser jeans for $5 - yes, only $5; pick boys up from school; and then watch them depart with Tim for tennis lessons, leaving me with some quiet time in an empty house.

I had honestly thought earlier in the day, as I drove down Kingston Pike, that I am going to have to blog about this day. It was one of those times that felt like a reprieve from all of the wrestling I had been doing in my personal and spiritual life earlier that week. It was a gift. I felt the joy of deep friendship, physical restoration, great conversation, and small delights (chai, Dr. Pepper, a bargain). I thought that was what the day was all about until...

As Tim and the boys left for tennis and I closed the garage door, the phone began to ring. I couldn't have scripted it any better. I knew on the first ring who it was (see previous post, "Waiting"). My lengthy wait ended with that phone call, and the result was ... disappointment.

Hold on. That's not how it's supposed to go. The day is about rest. Friends. Small blessings. A light heart. Good news - that's what the phone call is supposed to deliver. That makes sense in the day's context.

What do we do when it doesn't make sense? When the light/dark, happy/sad, sweet/bitter come to you all at once? I'm no expert, but I will tell you what I did: I allowed myself to feel the disappointment, to acknowledge my grief, and to cry (hard). When my brain told me to pull it together, I instead listened to my heart and cried some more. And in the midst of the tears, I saw the soft place God had prepared for my disappointment - a day of rest, a quiet house, caring friends, a compassionate husband, tender and loving children.

In acknowledging this, I realized that the contrasts of my day could be best summarized as disappointment/appointment. To be appointed means "to be predetermined." I have no doubt that this phone call came right on time. Appointed also means "to be provided with what is necessary; to be equipped." I was ready for the conversation - to accept the response; to share my story, and to walk in the Spirit.

I am amazed by the juxtaposition of these things - how our hearts can feel so much, how our lives can contain it all, and how God works so beautifully, so deeply, and so graciously before, beyond, and in the midst of it all. I am overwhelmed by His provision - to handle the timing in my life and to equip me for whatever is to come. And I am thankful that He is present in the light/dark, happy/sad, sweet/bitter moments of my life.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

First Days

I'm sitting in a very quiet house. Less than an hour ago the boys hoisted their backpacks, smiled for the required photo, and loaded into Tim's car. A new school year has begun. Tim has already made his obligatory "all is well" call to me; the boys are busy unpacking and organizing their new school supplies; and I'm taking a trip down Nostalgia Lane. Indulge me, please...

Here's Reed on his first day of preschool: two years old, so little, but ready to go!

This is one of my all-time favorite pictures of the boys. It captures their relationship so perfectly. This was on the same day, as big brother Seth ushers Reed into preschool.

Just a few days later, here's Seth on his way to his first day of Kindergarten (2004-2005 school year). Notice that Nelson is going along for the ride. (Though Nelson didn't make the trip to CAK today, he still maintains his place of honor in Seth's bed each night.)

Here the boys are on the first day of the 2007-2008 school year. Reed is starting Kindergarten; Seth is starting third grade. I find that hard to believe, because Seth looks so different from this year to the next, but that's what my dates tell me to be true (I don't trust my memory!).

The first day at CAK: 2008-2009 school year. Reed is starting first grade; Seth is starting fourth. Obviously uniforms are now part of our school experience, but thankfully we've had no complaints from the boys. (And I personally love it - so easy!)

This morning: the start of the 2009-2010 school year. Reed is starting second grade; Seth is starting fifth (his last year in elementary school - impossible!!!). Even after struggling to fall asleep last night, they woke with good attitudes. We have a race each morning to see who can get ready first: Tim or the boys. Last year, we (I am part of the boys' team, of course) were undefeated. I am declaring that this winning record will continue throughout this school year too.

In our house, Dad is the one most excited about starting a new school year. We are blessed to have Tim, who wakes us each morning with cheerful enthusiasm. If it were left to me, I'm not so sure the boys would experience such a fun entry into their day.

One part of his morning routine is the belting out of various songs with gusto. We've requested a new repertoire this year, but he seems to be having difficulty coming up with songs that meet his requirements: upbeat (loud), cheerful (loud), motivating (loud)... If you have any suggestions, please send them our way. I don't think the boys and I can take another school year of his present selections. Thanks!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Missing the Music

In a Washington Post article titled "Pearls Before Breakfast," writer Gene Weingarten relays a social experiment that took place in the Washington, D.C. Metro. Internationally acclaimed virtuoso Joshua Bell played his $3.5-million Stradivari for 43 minutes. How many of the people rushing by would stop to listen? Would they recognize the world-famous musician or even notice the glorious music? Would they throw a dollar or even some change into Bell's violin case?

Weingarten writes, "Each passerby had a quick choice to make, one familiar to commuters in any urban area where the occasional street performer is part of the cityscape: Do you stop and listen? Do you hurry past with a blend of guilt and irritation, aware of your cupidity but annoyed by the unbidden demand on your time and your wallet? Do you throw in a buck, just to be polite? Does your decision change if he's really bad? What if he's really good? Do you have time for beauty? Shouldn't you? What's the moral mathematics of the moment?"

Of the 1,097 people who passed by only seven people stopped momentarily to listen and only 27 gave money (totaling $32.17). Only one woman actually recognized Bell and acknowledged him after his performance. The entire experiment was recorded by hidden cameras, and the video is astounding - click here to watch. It makes me wonder how many times I have rushed by a "Joshua Bell" and failed to notice the glorious music in my busyness? Do I have time for beauty?

My pastor, Chad, showed this video yesterday morning at church. He spoke about how busy not only our lives have become, but also our churches. So much so that we often miss what it's all about: loving God (connect with God), loving others (connect with others), and the command to "go" (make a difference). Sometimes, oftentimes, in the hustle-and-bustle of Sunday mornings we miss Jesus and the beauty he offers, the grace he lavishes, the music he plays.

Do we rush past, missing him altogether? Too busy serving, socializing, or slipping in and out to notice him. Or do we stop and stand transfixed, like the one woman at the Metro? Like her, I desire to stand in awe by my good fortune. To come into the presence of Jesus and surrender everything else. To let the symphony he plays envelop me, inspire me, and change me. To stop rushing by and to start listening for the music.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Day at Doe River

On August 15, we enjoyed "Family Fun Day" at Doe River Gorge with our friends, the Alves family. This was our third trip to DRG this summer, as we went to a Family Fun Day in June and then Seth went to summer camp there with several classmates from CAK later that month. We were blessed with a beautiful summer day on Saturday. Below are pictures from our great day:

Doe River Gorge features a lovely lake set among the hills. The kids enjoy all of the water activities, but they also enjoy just swimming around and digging in the sand.

Of course, "The Blob" is a favorite attraction. Above you can see Tim bouncing Andre off into the water. In the second photo, you can see Seth blasted sky high! I think it took his breath away.

After lunch, we enjoyed the train ride into Doe River Gorge.

Reed and Maya stayed busy all afternoon, either sliding into the water, digging in the sand, or climbing Mount Ararat. In the bottom photo, you can see Reed take a flying leap off of Mount Ararat.

Here are the four friends after their fun day at Doe River Gorge.

Friday, August 14, 2009


I've been waiting on a phone call for the past two weeks. Seriously. It happened like this: On July 31 I got a call I was hoping for but not really expecting (Do you know what I mean? The boy you like finally phones; the contest you entered notifies you of your prize; the company calls to offer you a job...). Of course, I wasn't home when the call came (Isn't that the way it always happens?), so I am eagerly listening to the recorded message when... Silence.

I'm not kidding. He's midsentence when the message abruptly ends. Nothing more. I don't know if it was a machine malfunction or if his cell phone dropped the call, but apparently he didn't know that his full message wasn't communicated because there was no follow-up call. I push "replay," hoping in vain that it was a mere glitch and somehow the full message will play this time.

It doesn't work. I rush to the computer to send him an e-mail and wait. And wait. I know he's been out of town. I've been out of town. So, I understand. And I wait. And I wonder, "What is this waiting all about?" I don't want to be too specific, but this whole scenario relates to a huge way I am trying to step out in faith and walk with God. So, I know that this waiting is about more than dropped calls and busy schedules. There's something important for me in it.

I know many friends right now who are waiting. Waiting for healing. Waiting for a spouse. Waiting for an answer. Waiting for a job. Waiting for a miracle. What does God have for us in the waiting? For me, I am learning to rest (He knows my needs and cares about them); to listen (He is awakening desire in these quiet moments); to pray (I never said waiting is easy); and to trust (He hasn't forgotten about me).

I'd love for my phone to ring today, this minute, this second. For the waiting to end. For me to know the rest of the message. And it may. I also know that it may not. It may be a quiet day with no calls but more waiting. I pray that in this time, I will draw near to God and seek more of what he has for me in the waiting.

Click below:

Back-to-School Blues

You know how some people dread the holidays? That's how I feel about mid-August, when it's time to buy new school supplies, wash the uniforms, ready the backpacks, and set the alarm. I don't want summer break to end.

I love these long, leisurely weeks. Our schedule is relaxed, the boys are home, smiles are abundant, and a spirit of peace and rest permeates our home. One of the simple delights of summer is the morning routine that unfolds.

This year it went something like this: Tim, ready for work, walks down the stairs. Cue Seth. He creaks down the ladder from his top bunk and pads down the stairs after his dad. Muffled conversation from downstairs, followed by "I love you" and the front door closing. Silence. I smile and sigh, and then fall back to sleep. Next, either I wake and go downstairs to greet Seth or I'm awakened by my favorite alarm, "Mom... ." Reed, our late sleeper, waits for me to come and greets me with bright-eyes and a smile.

It's a simple thing, really, so it's surprising that it generates so much sadness when I realize that it's almost over. But I will miss my early riser, so eager to see Dad off to work, and my sleepy head, who still wants me to come get him in the morning. Next Wednesday, they will become bleary-eyed school boys telling their dad to "be quiet!" as he wakes them early with a loud and cheery song.

As I type, Seth is downstairs watching cartoons while Reed still snoozes away. It's nearly 10 a.m. and I'm okay with it. In three days, there will be uniforms to don, homework to do, and schedules to keep. I'm going to enjoy the quiet of this moment for as long as I can.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Beach Bound

Every summer since Seth was born we've enjoyed a beach trip with my family. On our way to Litchfield Beach this year, we began our vacation with an overnight stay in Charleston, South Carolina. Tim and I have fond memories of our first trip to Charleston with my parents when we were dating sixteen years ago.

Of course, a lot has changed since that first trip to Charleston - including us! (I can't believe how young we were.) This time around Tim didn't have to share the bed with my dad. We also had our two guys in tow, showing the expected level of interest in the sweetgrass baskets, open-air market, and architectural styles: "How much farther to the car?..." Below you see our fearless leader mapping out our journey before we hit the cobblestone streets.

We had a lovely walk on Saturday evening, despite the heat and the occassional grumbling. We knew that the boys would enjoy our destination on Sunday: Patriot Point and the USS Yorktown. You can see it in the background in the following picture of the boys and me.

Tim was excited to take the boys on a tour of this aircraft carrier since he spent the night on it once as a boy scout. He remembers that sweltering night aboard the ship and how the scouts came up on deck to get relief from the heat.

Here the guys are about to board the USS Yorktown. We enjoyed a tour of the entire ship, even taking our turn to imagine serving as its captain, but our favorite part was looking at all of the planes on the deck. Reed got a bit tired of Dad's history lessons, so he made his own fun. In the end, boys will be boys, so all three of them became gunners for the Yorktown.

Beach Bums - Part 1

Our 11th annual beach trip - can it be? We began taking this yearly family vacation when Seth was just three months old ...

Now, the rattle has been replaced with a Nintendo DS; the baby bottle by a Coke Zero; and the stroller by a bike. Seth, age 10, and Reed, age 7, are both competent swimmers, expert sandcastle builders, and budding boogie boarders. This was the first year that Seth and Reed ventured into the ocean to play in the surf. I think Uncle Barry's coaxing encouraged them to try, and they both loved it.

This year we ate more meals "at home," which made it easy to come in from the beach or pool and come to the table. This meal, pictured below, was one of our favorites - a traditional shrimp boil.

The place where we stay, Litchfield By the Sea, has a fun pool, which offers this splashy playground and a lazy river. Here the boys wait to get dumped on by one of the large buckets overhead. 3...2...1...splash!!!

Last year Aunt Beth and Uncle Barry invited us to try bowling. It was a first for our family, but we had so much fun we went again this year. Thankfully everyone showed me some mercy and allowed me to bowl with the boys on the "bumpered" lane. Seth rallied during our second game to bowl a spare and a strike in his last frame, claiming first place.

We did buy two boogie boards for the boys to try in the surf. Reed enjoyed giving it a go, but Seth prefered bouncing in the waves with Uncle Barry.

Of course, it's not a beach trip without digging several deep holes in the sand and building one fantastic sand castle. Here is the 2009 Tucker sand castle:

Uncle Barry brought along two boxes of his Star Wars collectibles to show the guys. They were all impressed!

Thursday night was our last with Aunt Beth and Uncle Barry, as they left on Friday morning. We were blessed with a beautiful sunset and a full moon on that evening.