Thursday, December 3, 2015

Things Three Year Olds Don't Grasp About Christmas

Uninflated Inflateables
"They broken? How they popped? You fix them? How they no working? How they lay down? Aww... They dead? Why they there?..."

A Non-White Christmas Time
"It's Christmas time?!? It's snowy outside?!? Where's the snow? So, it not Christmas time yet?"

Why the Entire 16 oz Bag of Chocolate Bells Can't All Be Eaten In One Sitting
"...But Grandma George gave me this present! This for me. Her say I can eat them! They mine! All them mine!!!"

The Cost of Batteries 
"Mom, you fix this? How this broken? You put new batteries in this? You fix ALL the [million trinkets that are supposed to blink or flash or sing] things?!"

Santa Claus
{Someone innocently asks him if Santa is going to visit his house:} "Santa coming today at dark nap?!? Why he not come now? It not Christmas time yet? It not snowy outside? It IS Christmas!!! Santa coming NOW?!!"

Pumpkins That Haven't Been Taken Down Yet
"Mom, how those pumpkins there? Her not have Christmas? It's not snowy yet? That a scary pumpkin? That a Christmas pumpkin?"

How to Eat a Candy Cane Like a Human
*Receives candy cane from parent: wrapper is open with an acceptable amount of candy revealed, allowing the rest of the wrapper to suffice as a handle preventing the spread of stickiness.
*Takes a few licks.
*Tries peeling the wrapper back.
*Wanders away from parent to not be caught peeling the remaining wrapper off. 
*Leaves pieces of sticky wrapper on carpet while licking EnTiRe length of the candy cane {which is only possible if switching hands with candy cane to access part where hand just was}.
*Touches everything possible. 
*Accidently ingests a fuzz ball that was transferred from sticky palm to sticky cane. 
*Sets disgusting, hairy candy cane down {most likely on dad's favorite seat on the couch} to work on retrieving the fuzz ball. 
*Parent responds to the sounds of attempted hair ball removal. 
*Unanswerable questions asked regarding the state of the candy cane while fuzz ball fishing occurs. 
*3-year old breaks candy cane while trying to uncement it from its resting place. 
*Melt down commences over broken candy cane...
*Approximately 27 minutes of power play, time outs, tears, scrubbing, lecturing, lost tempers, and candy cane disposal {after approximately 2.5 minutes of candy cane enjoyment}

Secret-Keeping Skills
Toddler: "Daddy! We got surprise astronauts for you!!!" 
Dad: "What?"
Mom: "Buddy, that's a surprise for daddy. Don't tell him about it!"
Toddler: whispering into dad's ear with his hot little breath {while eyeing mom from the corner of his eye} "Daddy... We got surprise astronauts for you..."

Other People Opening Presents
"But where my presents at??? How it not Christmas time for me too? It not snowy? It's IS Christmas time for me! Those my presents!!! How he opening presents? NO!!! I want it to be PRESENT TIME FOR ME!!!!...{public meltdown ensues ensuring all strangers assume this brat comes from a materialistic family} 

The Astonishing Nativity
"Look at that tiny barn! That Jesus barn? How Jesus that baby? No! Babies don't sleep in barns! How there angels? They say {deep voice attempt} "Don't be 'fraid"! Jesus is God. God is the boss? He a good boss."

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Random Things That Stress Me Out

People Running in Denim
Is someone chasing them? They seem to be at a relaxed jogging pace, but they're wearing jeans... Even when the person is clearly participating in the same 5k as me, but she's in denim shorts, my heart races faster. Chaffing much?

The Pressure of Picking the Exact Correct Size Tupperware for Leftovers 
I can't handle a big ol' plastic container with an insufficient amount of food to fill it. Enough so that I'll actually risk the smaller size with the possibility of realizing it's a scoop too small. This, of course, is way worse as now you're talking an extra dirty dish and another gamble in the Tupperware drawer... Aye aye aye...

Kids Not Sleeping
It doesn't just apply to my own minions. I worry about the melt downs strangers are going to have the next day if they're still shopping at Walmart two hours after I put mine to bed. The possible tantrums and lack of self control that I won't even be around to witness make my stomach tight. I just want these strange kids to succeed at life through appropriate bedtimes!!!

The Mixing of Athletic Pants with Dress Shirts
Could you not decide? If you want to play a sport, you will clearly ruin that shirt with sweat. If you want to lounge around, you will clearly be hindered from comfort by the collars and buttons. And what is the appropriate type of shoe to wear with an outfit like that?

Public Speakers Who Say "Just a Few More Things" as They Near Their Ending Time
How many is a "few"? Is each point going to take as long as the first few you just spent your lecture time making? Even if they're good points and I'm am without a pressing appointment I start to doubt my ears abilities. 

Loafers Without Socks
I've worn loafers. How is this a thing? You're definitely getting blisters in those stiff, stuffy dress shoes. Your feet must be swimming in sweat to the point that they're sliding around inside there... Gag!!!

Messes in Movies
Someone is going to have to clean that up! I'm glad Kevin bested the robbers, but it's possible he did more property damage than the family who left him alone would've lost to the theft. The only good part of the movie Jumanji is the moment when they finish the game and everything goes back to normal magically...

Guys in Their 20's Who Grow Mustaches 
I automatically assume you grew it as a joke. Then the gracious Holy Spirit reminds me that there are all sorts of opinions other than my own. But I don't know how to proceed (and assume you don't either). I panic. I just wish I knew if you were as serious about your facial hair decisions as men in their thirties...

Live Orchestra Performances
I've played in my share of symphonic winds concerts. I appreciate classical type music in certain settings. I recognize the skill and discipline and grace these symphonies require... I just wish someone was singing or dancing or acting something out to the beautiful music. More sophisticated people will (and should) totally disagree with me on this. But it's not even a boredom thing... I'm just anxious because I don't know how long all these songs in the program are, or even what song we're currently enjoying... and I'm severely doubting my sitting still skills are enough to last this (that ability is sadly underdeveloped in my person)!!!

Not Knowing Where the Facilities Are
I don't need to know exactly where the bathroom is. I possess a grown up amount of bladder control. But if I'm out somewhere and need to find a bathroom... I'm in trouble. If I know where it is and how to get there, I'll make it. If there is an ounce of doubt... Let's just say if I don't know where I'm going, I'll just go where I am...

Figuring Out How To End Blogs

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Things moms can get away with...

Asking other humans about the specifics of their bowel and bladder happenings...
"Do you have to poop? Or just pee?"
"Did you wipe?"
"Who farted?"
"Do you have to go bad enough to pee on the side of this road?"
"Who didn't flush?!?"
"Have you tried pooping? It might cure your current ailment."

Singing in public...
If you're happy and you know it clap your hands! Even if you're grocery shopping, you don't care. Your voice is out of tune, you're in the walmart restroom... If you're happy and you know it sing out loud!

Smelling weird things on purpose...
Butts, shoes, milk, armpits, dirty clothes, lunch meat (multiple times), mystery spills, breath, car seats, anonymous brown substances, wounds, cloth diapers out of the dryer...

Making up universal laws on the spot...
... "That's why toothbrushes do not belong near rear ends."
... "That's why toenails should never be allowed to grow that long."
... "That's why you don't throw pepper!"
... "That's why you shouldn't lick the table."
... "That's why pogo sticks aren't allowed up there."

Squirreling away mobile food stores...
At any given place or time I could feed 4 children for a day. 3 days if I have access to my van. For a day and a half the menu would even be surprisingly balanced. Granola bars, fruit strips, breakfast bars, peanut butter crackers, jerky, dried cranberries, skittles, fruit snacks, cereal... Add to that the sandwiches, apples, and frozen yogurt tubes I threw into my purse for that day's lunch... And remember the sippy cups galore (some in the early stages of cheese making...) and that's an unacceptable amount of food to have on a person!!!

Complaining about staying home...
It is way more challenging than we imagined when still in the public work force. The lack of deadlines to motivate procrastinators. The void of acknowledgement to itch egos. Gone are the time clocks where "off duty" is an option. How easy it is to spiral into focusing on the emotional toll bringing up tiny humans demands. But there is more than these... There is NO dress code! No meetings to plan meetings. No corporate run around. No public, too small refrigerators. No office drama... And deeper still... There are those lives. The ones still fully controlled by their limited understanding and unlimited selfishness. There is love discovered and sacrificed deeply for. There are the moments we see that we will cherish in our hearts onward and upward. An environment that wears away our selfishness and self-dependence... where a more true self and home and work can be discovered... Where my weakness leads me to call out for a strength from a God who is concerned with my monotonous daily grind. In our expression of the hardships may we not stop short of recognizing the joy and privilege the momentary title of "stay-at-home" awards us. 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

9... Going on 18

We're halfway there. You entered this world nine years ago, and nine years from now you'll be entering college or a licensing program or the work force or mission field... If the Lord wills, of course. 

i can't help but feel a pressure. This age. Your listening ears. That giant heart... You have an incredible thought process that hasn't yet ruled me out as a fool. You want to learn and [if just for this moment] you listen to me. But how can i tell you all the important things? How can I saturate your mind full enough of Truth and wisdom to survive a possible mother-daughter teenage relational drought?

What is it right now that your formative self most needs to hear and learn and know... ?

You were created. 
There is a God, who in His perfection, dreamed you up and made you come true. And He is still creating you. It is He alone who defines beauty. Refuse to compare all the different flowers in His bouquet... for it is their differences that compound the beauty. Hear from your Creator daily in order to be brave enough to open your mind to His idea of beautiful. 

Your value differs from your purpose. 
You are valuable because you're one of God's dreams come true. That is already established. Embracing that God-given value will empower you to work hard at your purpose. Knowing God and making Him known. This means hard work, serving others, dying to your own wants and feelings in exchange for those of Jesus. Don't get this confused. You don't need to serve or work or "succeed" in order to have value, you can serve and work and succeed because you are valuable. Know this even without the trophies for showing up...

You will be wrong. 
You will be so incredibly totally convinced you're right, but you will realize you were completely wrong. You will try something you expect to be gifted at and bomb. Failure happens. It's vital and not to be feared. Try again. Apologize to those you argued with. This is how you learn. This is where toxic pride can be stripped away. It doesn't feel good, but with the Right One walking with you, you will survive and thrive through it. 

... i'm getting too long winded...

Don't watch much TV. 
Play outside in all the weather. 
Get to know your neighbors. 
Smile at those you pass. 
Battle to save your kiss... It's worth it. 
Stand for what is right. 
Speak up for those who hurt. 
Chew slowly so you can taste your food longer. 
Life isn't about you. 
Avoid bikinis. 
Listen as much as you talk... with God and with people.
Give praise generously (Don't be a "story topper").
Feelings lie. Follow the Holy Spirit instead of your heart. 
Avoid caffeine dependence for as long as possible. 
Be (lovingly) honest even when it hurts. 
Don't aim for that which is easy.
Accept the consequences. 
Dont over-apologize...
Forgive freely. 
Love sacrifically. 
Don't trip near a boy who doesn't truly love Jesus... that fall will hurt...

Be you. Walk close with Jesus. Shine. 

Your life will be intense, painfull, thrilling and impactful. 

i'm incredibly excited to walk through the rest of it with you!

Monday, June 22, 2015


Sometimes you cry because so many people you love and so many you don't even know are hurting. 

And sometimes you lie on your living floor wetting a letter the dad wrote from prison with your tears, while four of his babies sleep in your house... On Father's Day.

The heart break is sometimes too big for tears when you think about the damage done in making orphans and the pain of loving them. 

And sometimes you have too many sisters with too many heartaches to know how to do anything more than keep showing up.

Sometimes you regret buying tissues from Aldi's because they can't handle adult tears.

And sometimes the parking lot to Panera Bread is just the right spot to sit in your van and cry before going in to buy your bagel. 

And sometimes you just don't want to wear the adorable pumpkin suit...

And sometimes your mind just spins at how you could possibly make a difference when every house on every street of this enormous city is full of hurt... And there's just so. many. cities on this globe...

And sometimes you fight with strength not your own to cling to words that aren't your voice saying "keep opening your door... keep sharing your food... Keep saying "hello" when you pass... Keep hugging... Keep inviting... Keep destroying your normal... Keep praying... Refuse to stop hoping."

... And keep crying... Because sometime is coming when your Savior will take enough time with His hand on your cheek to brush away each tear that has fallen here...

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Dear Mother Martyr

Dear Kim...
Commit not to be deceived here. There are martyrs in this world, but for today, you are not one of them. You, my lovely self, are a mother... And there is a big difference. 

You are surrounded by life. The messes, the noise, the fullness, the constant. These are just what young life feels like. 

It is hard. It always has been. It is a job. Work hard. 

It is fun. There can be laughter. Memories are forged here. Play on purpose... Especially when you lack the energy to do so.

This is your stage... You have a small, select audience. Show up. Speak life.

This is your calling... Don't compare. God never ceases being good in His sovereignty. He wants you here.

This is a home... Not a jail. Stop coveting the freedom of "leaving". Your husband is going to work... It is not as glorious as you are imagining. This is simply a passing season.

This is the day the Lord has made. It is not the same as yesterday. Choose expectation. He will not disappoint. 

You are not alone... Those feelings are strong, but not true. You work beside a world of other life-givers. Cherish the moments your paths walk together. 

You are not failing... It's a fast from the god of accomplishment you've sacrificed to for far too much of your life. You just need to believe real, true world-changing, Kingdom work is being done in the diapers and dishes. Faith (perfected faith) is what He's after.

You are seen. Your faithfulness is in the attitude with which you meet this sticky repetition. You don't have to conjure up hope, Jesus walks with you and gives freely. He is the forgiveness you need for all the temper tantrums (your own and your children's). He's the strength and the song in the exhaustion. 

Death is nearer than the repetition of the everyday will allow you to see. "We are all just walking each other home" after all. Some will arrive there in this moment. Some will approach it so slow and steady the change from infancy to adulthood will seem strange and startling. 

This is just what it feels like. Don't lie down in drama. Choose a smile. Cry your tears. It's life. Give and maybe you'll just be astounded at what measure He pours out from this little self of mine. 

You are a mother, don't act like a martyr. 


Death by Repetition

We don't see them grow... That's the problem. We know they grow, but they look the same every (early) morning. 
So does our to-do list. 
So does our mess. 
The same activities making the same mess requiring the same (stinky) work. 

There's no deadline to motivate procrastinators. There's no clock out time to count down to. There's no measurable outcomes to mark off... 

Just a juggling routine on a tight rope with no audience. 

What's the right balance between no schedule chaos and over scheduled exhaustion? What's the sweet spot of alone play and being an active mom who makes memories? When is the right moment to intervene in sibling arguments? How much work outside the home verses in the home? What's the right schooling option for this family? How much responsibility is enough for all their ages?

What is the answer? We're all just making this up as we go...

The sheer amount of things that need done combines with the knowledge that you're just going to have to do them all over again, further fueled by the feeling that no one cares if it even gets done can make it very easy to spiral into parental depression... Losing sight of the vision of a unit of life and settling for surviving until the next benchmark. 

They are growing... We just can't see it. 

The repetition of our daily existence leads us to look at our ability to arrive somewhere on time as the utmost in success. That's something we can accomplish. That's something we have a goal and a plan and a deadline to meet. Except we just canNOT actually achieve this. We can not get all the socks and all the shoes on all the feet with all the zippers zipped all the way up with all the last minute poops taken with all the things packed in all the bags and all the bottoms in all the right seats with all the buckles clicked and all the traffic planned for to meet the deadline with success. Never. It doesn't happen. So we regularly feel like failures... As if the messes and bickerments and lost tempers weren't already chanting loudly enough in our ears... 

We don't see the big picture unless we fight to see the big picture. 

We need to heed the awed exclamation of the survivors of toddler years, and grade school growers, and teenage phase warriors... "It goes so fast". 

We need to battle to grasp the truth that the repetition tries to hide... They are growing... We just can't see it. 

We need to find a strength beyond our own to enable us to repeat the same action, and correction, and conversation, and instructions over and over and over with grace... Knowing that it's not lasting forever. 

We need to seek a rest in our weariness instead of seeking to avoid that which leads to weariness and forgiveness for all the times we fall... 

For if we do not fight these fights, we will have many years of repetitive longing... Longing for a moment to return to the repetition that we feel so very trapped in this moment... Longing for the benchmarks we wish to arrive now to have taken some more time... Regretting...

Instead, let's be so present, so real, so engaged in this time that we can let it pass with more peace. Not because we do it perfectly, but because we parent deeply. 

They are growing. This is changing. This is hard. But it's so very worth the repetitive battle to dwell presently in this time. This hard, sticky, trying, emotional, time... Believing what we aren't clearly seeing. 

Press on warriors. We are parents. And they are growing...

"Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 
Take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Lessons in Moving

It's not been a lack in housekeeping skills... It's been a presence of a social life. 

Having extra stuff is NOT convenient. Generousity is a blessing to both the giver and the receiver. 

God's beauty is everywhere. 

There are blessings that top the close proximity of Target... Like developing friendships through making the hour trek together. 

Some cities have secret rules about invisible lanes you can drive and park in... Cleveland is one of those cities. 

There can be woods in the city!

Regardless of whether on a 1 acre, creek possessing, country lot or a three car wide cement slab, my kids can make up awesome games to play outside. 

States have different landscaping styles. 

Porches are nice no matter what the scenery. 

Good churches are everywhere... But feeling at home at them takes time and vulnerability... Both which are hard to invest when you're missing people. 

Google maps is my friend. 

Investigating new coffee shops is super fun!

Not knowing where to go out to eat because there are so many choices doesn't actually feel much different than not knowing where to go because there's so few... Although ending up at many different places is fantastic!

Close proximity Starbucks is a threat to a budget. 

Metal detectors don't seem to phase new kids. 

There's a sweet moment when you walk into the building you've been working so hard to settle into and you think "I'm glad to be home." That moment is a blessing. 

Forging friendships with people who speak different languages feels awkward. 

More choices is harder...

"These kids here yell more and do sassy head movements." (Hannah's observation)

This world is not our home... It is ALL just temporary. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

What's The Thing?

What's the thing when you're a great mom when you're not around your kids?

What's the thing when you spend money and energy buying things for your kids to just fight with you about putting away?

What's the thing where you have a college education, but you skim through a library book your kid wants to borrow to make sure there aren't "too many words" to actually read?

What's the thing when thinking of what's for dinner becomes galaxtically harder than it ever should ever be allowed to be?

What's the thing when you find your offspring adorable and intriguing and incredible but spend the majority of your time with them calculating how much longer until they sleep again?

What's the thing where grocery shopping alone somehow became comparable to a vacation?

What's the thing where you can literally feel guilty about how your child eats, drinks, sleeps, talks, doesn't talk, poops, learns...?

What's the thing when you vigorously defend the thing you're only attempting as your best shot in the dark?

What's the thing where you're an actual grown up and yet you hide in the closet to eat chocolate because you don't want to share?

What's the thing when you bite your tongue while chewing and can't for the life of you figure out why you were ever chewing that hard?

What's the thing when the sound of your own child's cough makes you completely irritated?

What's the thing when you caNOT wait for date night, yet when the sitter actually shows up you can't formulate a single idea of what to do? 

What's the thing when you are awake and going by 7:17 AM, yet can't make it on-time to a 10:30 appointment?

What's the thing when you catch yourself yelling "stop screaming at each other!!!" at the top of your lungs?

Oh yeah... Parenthood. It brings out the selfishness, pride, shortcomings, and tendency to run late... No sin will remain hidden under layers of sleep-filled nights and clutter-free living. This job brings out all the junk we thought we had together among the land of the self-responsible humans. It's hard. We will mess up... But then there's always that thing... The thing where it says that if we "confess our sins He is faithful and just and will forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness"!!! And that other thing that says that in [all] my weaknesses His strength will prove perfect... So let's chuckle a bit, apologize a lot, and keep living the example of forgiven weakness. 

...And let's tone it back on the chewing intensity, for Pete's sake. 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Words i Need to Hear

i celebrated Mother's Day 2015 in the most luxurious way i could've imagined... Well, the second most luxurious... A tropical vacation could've topped it... (Nevertheless) i celebrated with a DAY OFF! 

(Fathers of young children, learn from my fantastic husband... Your wife probably wants a day off and now, possibly, a tropical vacation...)

i walked out of the house and did whatever i felt like doing. My day might have included a long run in the woods (i found woods in Cleveland!), wandering Marc's, Starbucks and sushi, writing and feeling guilty that on the day that is set aside for celebrating the miracle of motherhood, i spent fleeing the responsibility of the four young humans who make me a mom. 

A responsibility many women long desperately to have... Or to have again. 

But the feelings are feeling right now in my life. And i find that even in the joyous, and definitely in the normal, i feel on the verge of suffocation... and space allows a deep breath to inhale. 

So today i expanded my lungs and my thoughts cleared enough to look at the imaginary suffocation threat... And i discovered that when my nerves are raw from blessings and struggles alike, this is a time when i'm thirsty for Titus 2 women...

i need someone to teach me how to love my kids.

When the feelings don't match the happenings... And especially when they do. When my insides feel worn out and all the solutions to energize fizzle out upon real life returning. When insecurity is relentless and comparison feels involuntary...

i need to hear from you...

i need to hear...
- that your kind, functional, God-fearing grown children made you want to run and hide at times. 
- that it felt like your special needs child was literally never, ever, ever going to communicate without howling frustration, the very moment before something clicked. 
- that sad days where you still found moments to smile were counted as victories. 
- that you were just making this whole parenting thing up as you went, too...
- that home school was as all consuming, never ending and hard for you... Even maybe just sometimes. 
- that fast food was a part of your children's diets and they grew up healthy in spite of that. 
- that overwhelmed is just a feeling. One that is allowed to be felt regardless of how much "more" other people are handling. 
- that grown ups still are thankful for the skills that childhood chores taught. 
- that there are tactics to quieting the lies and choosing truth. 
- that school decisions are not terminal.
- that amazement at who your kids are resided in the same place as the shock of their ridiculousness in you too. 
- that perfectionism does not have to be passed down from me. 
- that sometimes home school felt like choosing which age group you would presently neglect. 
- that you took time away from your kids and they were benefited because of it. 
- that fights are often necessary to improve communication and deepen intimacy.
- that the comparison game is one worth refusing... Regardless of how much of a struggle it may be to reject. 
- that sometimes feelings are thick and sticky, but that doesn't change love. 
- that this is maybe just what parenting is supposed to feel like sometimes...

i need to hear this. Because sometimes "knowing" isn't loud enough. And from the outside most of y'all look like you are rocking this mom-thing. (For instance: i know people who have graduated from home school (with younger siblings even)!!! i'm completely mystified how that could happen...) 

Maybe my sadness over our recent move makes my feelings less permeable to my knowledge. And the "unsettled" feeling makes us all a little more prone to tantrums. i don't really need the feeling to go away. i just need to know that it felt this way for you, too. So please, in this moment, feel free to share all the yuck that you survived. Even though your perspective proves how quickly it passes, some of us are in the long days of it all. 

And there are words we need to hear...

"In the same way, older women are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not addicted to much wine. They are to teach what is good, so they may encourage the young women to love their husbands and to love their children..." Titus 2:3-4

My Mom the Cheerleader

My mom is a cheerleader.

i heard stories about her cheering when she was in school.

i witnessed her cheer for my sisters' track meets, soccer and basketball games when i was growing up.

And she cheered for me and my teams during my games.


Maybe every insecure junior higher thinks her parent is the loudest cheerer in the stadium...

But i heard my mom cheer louder than every other person out there.

Even louder than the coach.


And i needed those shouts of encouragement.


In my adolesent ultra-awareness i feared that my mom's cheering would draw attention to the fact that i hadn't started the game, or that i wasn't the fastest runner, or the most confident player.

When i wanted to disappear after dropping a pass or missing a shot my presence was illuminated by emphatic cheers to shake it off and reassuring encouragement that i'd get it the next time.

My mom's cheering left no place for me to hang my head and hide.


Her cheering opened up all the space i needed to try again,

and again,

and again...

until i got better.

Maybe i never became the best player on the team, but i pushed forward to achieve my goals and realize that improvement in itself was a challenge worth pursuing. 


i didn't know it then, but i needed my mom to cheer the loudest,

because i felt the smallest.

My mom's cheering was an undeniable sign that she thought more of me than i was convinced was there.

It proved to me that she saw value in me when i couldn't see it.


i needed a fan.

i needed a cheerleader.

i needed my mom.


And i still do.

She now cheers for me as a wife and mother and just for being me.

And when i feel like i'm failing as a mom, or struggling as a wife, or just not so sure of myself in general...

my mom is my cheerleader. 

"Her children rise up and call her blessed. Her husband also praises her: “Many women are capable, but you surpass them all! ” Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord will be praised." Proverbs 31:28-30

Friday, April 24, 2015

Remember New

i remember...

My excuses:
The cost,
The timing,
Leaving my normal,
My fear:
The unknown,
The language barrier,
Lack of clear purpose, 
My struggle:
The flights,
The move,
Life's upheaval...
Spiritual Battle:
The changing group,
The uncertainty,
Limited faith in my ability to impact...

The prayer,
The specific answers,
The leading of His faithful voice,
His provision
To GO...

Now i remember new...

The boys:
Who they are,
Where they've come from,
What they dream...
The team:
The laughter,
The tears,
Family serving family...
The beauty,
The Buddhas,
An amazing culture seeking assurance...

We played together,
We sang together,
We ate together,
We hugged and we laughed,
We were together...

i learned:
To serve more passionately from their example,
A new definition of family that is not so puny,
That the daily grind of family life can change the world...

We built relationships instead of buildings,
We were served far more than we were allowed to serve,
We marveled at how the magnificence of elephants and butterflies pales in comparison of the smiles of the boys experiencing them,
We experienced the inexplicable realization that just being is incredibly powerful...

And i will forever remember new because of my travels with Remember Nhu...

... Now it is your turn...

Friday, March 20, 2015


Things that make my tears fall lately:

- Reese's Rainbow kids who are aging out. 

- Blogs about moms being judged instead of supported in their extrodinary situations. 

- My last scheduled work out with Jane the Consistent. 

- The fact that 6,000 people will die today because they don't have access to clean water. 

- Brice surprising me by coming home early. 

- The fact that our new house doesn't have a coat closet. 

- Mic weeping over the movie "Haichi" (some stories shouldn't be made into kids' movies...)

- A land survey. 

- Being out of control over the "when."

- Watching some of our amazing Highland dancers fling. 

- Praying for dinner with my MOPS friends. 

- Phone conversations with my momma. 

- My kids' sadness.

- Facing the idea of being out of the country during this move as a reality.

- And twice during "How To Train Your Dragon 2"

... Just thinking about our actual moving day...

My nerves are a bit raw. Life is a bit full.  Trusting God to hold me even when I don't hold it together. The pain that leaving is causing is proof of the deep love God has blessed us with. These people... This place... Those kids movies. 

"I will not offer to my Lord that which has cost me nothing..." (2 Sam 24:24)

Monday, March 16, 2015

To Those Who Come After...

The House...

Our hope is that you fall as hard for this castle as we did. 

May your dinners be interrupted by "sunset breaks" no matter the season. 

May your ears hear the giggles from the swing set. 

May your imagination run wild with little ones in the blue house. 

May your bladder hold strong in the middle of the night when the deck shifts loudly due the cold weather (especially when you're home alone).

May your heart be refreshed in quiet times with the Lord on the front porch from Spring through Fall. 

May your driveway continuously be full of vehicles bringing friends and family to share life with... And may those friends not turf your yard too badly.

May your toes dip into the brisk creek as you collect stones or catch crawfish. 

May your directions include the color of your mailbox for ease of location. 

May the lightening bugs take your breath away as they illuminate the trees like millions of twinkling Christmas lights in the summer. 

May your stress melt away in the spa tub.

May you get to know the neighbors who will treat you like family... They all seem to enjoy pumpkin muffins, don't be shy. 

May your marriage grow through evening talks on the deck. 

May the mowing of the lawn help improve your fitness level. 

May the full moon always light your treks up the driveway to put the trash out. 

May the pear trees produce fruit, even the one on the left, which never gave us a single pear.

Make it your own. Use it to serve others. Decorate even cooler than ever happened with us. Replace the old, build the new...

May it be your home... On this temporary journey of life. 

Enjoy it well. 

The Youth Group...

You have the privilege of serving those who are hungry to serve. 

May your games of "Scramble" be injury free... Even if certain sponsor's bladders may feel the pain. 

May your teaching be anointed with power and effectiveness. 

May the note-takers encourage your heart. 

May their questions keep you humble and aware of your constant need to continue to learn. 

May your adventures take this group to places they've yet to see. 

May bonds form thick through laughter, tears, late nights, sweat and heart to hearts. 

May your frisbee games be enjoyable and your volleyball games be kind. 

May you be filled to overflowing both by this body of Christ and to spill into this body of Christ. 

May the Lord's boldness lead your group out into the community. 

May the liability forms and payments for trips be returned in a timely manner. 

May you find deep friendship inside and outside of this church. 

May you walk in the freedom you have to be who you are, how you are, all the while allowing the Holy Spirit to shine through it all. 

May you continue in your calling of caring for the people of God together with all the Church. Seeing Jesus Himself build His church, raise up His leaders, bring His healing and growth. May our ministries be partnerships of family to the glory of God. 

May you be blessed by the love of the people of God in The Alliance Church of Elkins, WV. 

Enjoy it well, faithful servants. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

An Experiment In Peace

So, we're moving states...

Leaving what's beloved and secure and spacious for the unknown city that we are discovering our love for. It's an adventure. It's exhilarating. It's breaking my heart. And it is happening. 

But peace is happening, too. Calm and flowing into all the space where worry has grown my entire existence. It's consistent in this change. It's stable through the doubt. It's present when the tears fall. It's definitely from God, Himself, as it surpasses my understanding and exists beyond my ability to feel peaceful.

It's so other, that I almost feel like I'm only conducting an experiment. As if I woke up and said "What if I tried NOT worrying?" Like, still sold a house, and bought a house, and raised support, and boxed a 6-person family up, and had Brice travel for a few months, and cried and cried and cried over good-byes, and did all the paperwork, and gave homeschool a shot... But did it without stressing in my mind. 

I have no answers as to the "how" or even "when" this will all work out. I don't know what it will look like or feel like. But the truth keeps speaking to my ears "this is beyond your control, and that's ok." So I stay still. I know that He IS God. I wait for Him to make Himself known among the nations. I watch His Holy Spirit do this in and through me. His thing in His way in His timing.

I'm not even sure why I'm able to test the "peace instead of worry" theory at this time. Maybe it's the history that proves God's presence through past, stress-filled moves. Maybe it's the "Breaking Free" Bible study that has proven my worry to be a cancer in my being. Maybe it's the practice in having no real control over the daily functions of my two 2-year olds that constantly provides opportunities to decide between peace or stress... Maybe...

Yet He presses deeper. Removing my denial little by little so trust can grow. This IS happening. This IS sad. This IS exciting. This IS of Him. And if nothing else, this is showing me that peace CAN be real... And surely that is worth it all and more. 

Consider this your invitation to join the experiment. "Peace I leave with. My peace I give. I do not give as the world gives. Do not allow your heart to be troubled or fearful." ~ Jesus (John 14:27)

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

On Beauty and Trees

What a silly, empty wind we chase named "beauty."

Our shackled eyes see through lenses of fear, 



unrealistic goals...

and we wrongly assume everyone else's eyes see the same.


Nothing, besides other humans, do we seek to label in this way.

Straining to force individuals into a pre-determined mold we call "beauty."


Imagine the futility of wasting our God-given time, 


and energy 

searching through the woods to compare & lable the trees.

Judging and belittling until one alone stood as the 

"most beautiful."


For how can one tree be more beautiful than the others?

Each one shaped by God... 

Ever changing,





Shining with glorious color in the autumn.

Baring their strength in winter. 

Heralding signs of new life in spring.

Offering rich brightness & shade in the summer.


We decorate the prickly ones,

swing on the large ones,

tenderly care for the small ones,

& dream under them all. 


It is, in fact, the uniqueness of the individual trees arranged as a group that creates the beauty of the forest.

Beauty of one is not threatened by the beauty beheld in another.

Each beauty is extremely different

standing together, 

all shapes, 




A sturdy bouquet of the creativeness of God. 



Do we dare to believe that God displays even more beauty in each & every person whom He has dreamed up?

Those He personally knit together in His own image?

Are we brave enough to reject such a deep seeded lie that there is a competition in which we are all pitted against one another...

a belief that our worth is at stake?

For that truly is a lie. 

Let us stop the tired comparisons

that harm ourselves & every other person,

and stand together...




"For we don’t dare classify or compare ourselves... in measuring themselves by themselves and comparing themselves to themselves, they lack understanding." (2 Corinthians 10:12)

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Mom Uniform

I have a uniform I wear to work. 

Since I'm my own boss (unless you count the two miniature dictators whom I serve daily), it's a self-inflicted uniform. 

Here is why I wear a stay at home work uniform:

1) It deferentiates my sleeping time from my awake time. There are days don't leave my house (it's splendid and torturous depending on the moment). This was rare when babies came single file, but since we doubled the number of children in a 8-week span two years ago I've been known to hunker down & arrange rides for the social members of the family. Taking off my flannel PJ pants to don my sweat pants signifies that I am not going to climb back in bed. Added bonus: it allows my husband to know that it's been one of "those days" when he arrives home and I'm not changed out of my PJ pants. 

2) It saves time and mental energy. 
I have an overwhelming hate of having to change clothes. So I choose clothes that I can clean, mother, work out, and run errands in. This eliminates jeans, anything white or expensive or fashionable. I also am constantly attuned to any piece of fabric that is making me slightly uncomfortable. Therefore I decide in the morning to wear clothing that respectable people change into after a long day of looking presentable. That way I don't have to think of multiple outfits or change later. It's ingenious if you think about it. 

3) It saves on laundry.
I wear dirty clothes. It's as true as it is sad... But it's tremendously helpful at keeping my expectations realistic. Every morning, Theo wraps his little arms around my neck and squeezes me with heart-melting hugs while he wipes his boogers on my shoulder. I can not write the words expressing how much I enjoy my morning squeezes from this little guy... If I were trying to maintain living in cleanly clothing, I'd be frustrated right off the bat (which may or may not occur most Sunday morning when I wear my "real" clothes). So I typically repeat the top layers of clothing for a couple days. That way they start out with "unidentifiable" stains on them. Yes, it's gross to say out loud, but it happens. This is evident in the discrepancy between amount of laundry I produce and the amount of laundry I do. 

3) It's Awesome. 
Some stay at home moms miss having stuff to get dressed nicely for... I'm not one of them. Since I was in grade school, comfort was not worth sacrificing to look cool... I have much photographic evidence. As previously stated, the fact that I can wear sweat pants every day is my most favorite thing about my job!!! I mean, besides my children, of course... I revel in the fact that I don't have a dress code to follow. Although I do have a few guidelines I try to stick to:

- Don't use sweatshirt thumb holes while changing poopy diapers... I don't wear that dirty of clothing!

- Long tank tops under my sweatshirts help keep my back covered through the constant up and down off the floor. (Is it just me, or are they making sweat pants with less fabric in the butt? I can't be the only mom with all the right junk in all the right places?!?)

- Don't wear the same color sweat pants and sweatshirt. It's not a true uniform. Unless your spawn are also wearing matching jogging suits... Then go right ahead, coach!

- It's ok to purchase cute looking comfy clothes. They will be well used. Worn multiple days in a row. Sweat in, snotted on, cuddled up to, seen on you by your family and (sometimes) other humans... It's ok to have ones you like.

Those are my twisted thoughts on fashion. 

Now you can feel a little more permission to freely dress how best suits your life. 
I wore this sweatshirt for the entirely too many days in a row last week...