Tuesday, December 31, 2013

And I Read (2013 Edition)

In January

I looked forward to my theme: "That's What He Said."
I started writing a "just for fun" kids' novel.
Haydn's retests showed him having made HUGE progress.
Incredible homesickness plagued me.
David came home to start his homeschool journey.
I started Project Life.
I turned 31.
A set of my photos was published in Lunch Ticket.

And I Read

1000 Gifts by Anne Voskamp^
True by Katherine Hannigan
Crazy English by Richard Lederer*
Peeled by Joan Bauer
Hero by Mike Lupica**
Sources of Light by Margaret McMullan

In February

I began moderating Thursdays on Middle Places' Facebook community.
1-2 mile walks became a daily habit.
There was dental work.
I began daily turning my "writing career" over to Jesus.
We studied Henry VIII in our history book.

And I Read

Quit It by Marcia Byalick*
Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot*
Incendiary by Chris Cleave
The Lost Art of Mixing by Erica Bauermeister
Dave Dravecky by Dave Dravecky*

In March

We had snow.
Tara Mock kept me sane via text.
We took a field trip to the Brooks Museum in Memphis.
I stretched my daily walk to three miles.
I was a guest blogger at Middle Places.
Haydn turned 11 and got his Hogwarts letter.
We started the PEERs program at the Autism Center.
We visited SC and had an awful family-wide stomach virus

And I Read

A Haydn biography*
Love Songs by Sara Teasdale
Griffin and Sabine by Nick Bantock
What Was She Thinking by Zoe Heller**
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
Extra Credit by Andrew Clements**
The Midwife of Hope River by Patricia Harman

In April

Corey sent Rosie and I to see Chonda Pierce.
Dana mailed me books. Yay!
We began sponsoring Nathali through Compassion International.
I took a novel-writing class.
I fell in love with Scrivener.
My gelato habit was, at least, cheaper than a flight to Seattle.
Haydn started baseball practice for the season.
I went gluten free, temporarily.
David helped my friend, Desi, with graduate school work.
My story was part of Josh's World's End project.

And I Read

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling**^
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
Room One by Andrew Clements**
William Shakespeare: Poetry for Young People*
Chomp by Carl Hiaasen*
The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle
The Gone and the Going Away by Maurice Manning
The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg**
Story of the World: Volume II by Susan Wise Bauer*
Strip Tease by Carl Hiaasen
Help, Thanks, Wow by Anne Lamott
I Am Not Joey Pigza by Jack Gantos**

In May

David had a choir performance at church.
I lost 5 lbs.
There was a med switch.
I went shopping with my friend, Suzanna.
Haydn finished 5th grade.
David finished 3rd grade.

And I Read

Colin Fischer by Ashley Edward Miller*
Red Letter Revolution by Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo
Who Was Leonardo Da Vinci by Roberta Edwards*
Absent a Miracle by Christine Lehner
No Talking by Andrew Clements**
Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech**
The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket**
Who Was Queen Elizabeth by June Eding*
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
The Reader by Bernhard Schlink

In June

We remembered Nattie on the 6-yr anniversary of her death.
Corey was commissioned as an elder in the United Methodist Church.
We were "flocked."
I dealt with some unexplained extreme arm pain.
The boys went to VBS (Haydn's last year).
I fell in love with Firefly.
I spent an entire week with Leila.
Haydn played an All-Star baseball tournament.
I hit 16 lbs lost.
We did a nature walk on the Natchez Trace.
Mandy bought her wedding dress.

And I Read

The Glass Wives by Amy Sue Nathan
The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis**
Holy Ghost Girl by Donna Johnson
We End in Joy by Angela Fordice Jordan
The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor**
Hoot by Carl Hiaasen*
The Gunslinger by Stephen King
Poemcrazy by Susan G Wooldridge^
American Thighs by Jill Conner Browne**
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me by Mindy Kaling**
Nootka Rose by Sam Hamill
A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donal Miller

In July

Corey took the youth on a mission trip to Epworth Children's Home.
The boys and I stayed with my parents in SC.
I ate the most delicious miniature wedding cake ever in the history of the world.
I went shopping with Kimmi, saw a movie with Ashley and spent time with Rebecca.
There was a lot of rewriting.
I put new flowers on Lynn's grave.
The boys and I were paused in a drive by a horse loose on the Interstate.
Rhonda took me to work for Take Your Poet to Work Day.
We introduced the youth to Mr. Bunky's.
The boys went to Camp Lake Stephens.

And I Read

The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson**^
A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans
The Reading Promise by Alice Ozma**
Nation by Terry Pratchett**
Lost and Found by Andrew Clements**
Troublemaker by Andrew Clements**
The Sky Beneath my Feet by Lisa Samson
First Light by Rebecca Stead**
Stones from the River by Ursula Hegi
Someone Else's Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson

In August

I was still revising and rewriting Tornado.
We started back to homeschool.
I created a couple of handwritten poetry volumes.
Peyton completed sketches for Tornado.
I reviewed a handful of books for NetGalley.com.
There were Starbucks dates with Rachel.
A notebook was filled with a handwritten story.
I started teaching myself to speak Spanish.
I fit into a pair of size 6 jeans.

And I Read

Miss Anne in Harlem by Carla Kaplan
The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood
I Was Told There'd Be Cake by Sloane Crosley
100 Best Loved Poems by Philip Smith*^
The Pentrals by Crystal Mack
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams**^
Bitter Like Orange Peel by Jessica Bell
Jim Thorpe by Carrie Golus*
The Library Card by Jerry Spinelli*
Hero Tales by Dave Jackson*
Still Writing by Dani Shapiro
Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

In September

I turned in my manuscript and FORGOT PAGE NUMBERS.
There was a massive need for cough medicine in my life.
I wrote an author bio I actually like.
With my passport application process complete, Israel started feeling real.
I returned to the labyrinth and fed my soul.
My mornings began with cuddling my neighbor's baby girl.

And I Read

Highway Cats by Janet Taylor Lisle**
The Anatomy of Wings by Karen Foxlee
Ketchup is a Vegetable by Robin O'Bryant
In the Woods by Tana French
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Rules by Cynthia Lord**
The Likeness by Tana French
Coming Into Eighty by May Sarton
Faithful Place by Tana French
How Did You Get This Number by Sloan Crosley**

In October

Haydn spent a week with his grandparents in TN.
Our cat was diagnosed with cancer.
I spent a lot of time on Pinterest, pinning scenes from Israel.
Our government closed the Grand Canyon.
I got my first pair of prescription sunglasses.
The boys and I made butter beer.
I began working to break my youngest kid's video game addiction.
Cymbalta withdrawal kicked my tail.
The boys and I chose Doctor Who themed Halloween costumes.
My new MC wouldn't talk to me.

And I Read

Sappho's Leap by Erica Jong
Broken Harbor by Tana French
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume**^
The Bread of Angels by Stephanie SaldaƱa
Memories of my Melancholy Whores by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Perfect Game by Fred Bowen
The #1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
Looking for Alaska by John Green
Feed by M.T. Anderson
My Own Miraculous by Joshilyn Jackson

In November

I got a new definition for "Abundance."
I got to pick some Christmas happies for a friend in Cambodia.
Parenting was especially difficult.
We visited schools and made a decision about Haydn's 7th grade year.
Dad had a successful gallbladder surgery.
Corey bought me 1/2 lb Reese's cups.
I taught youth Bible study.
We drove to Huntsville for a delightful Thanksgiving.

And I Read

The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness
One Breath Away by Heather Gudenkauf
No Easy Answers by Brooks Brown
Second April by Edna St. Vincent Millay
A Few Figs from Thistles by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Renascence and Other Poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli^
Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume**

In December

We painted a banner at Family Advent Night.
I got rid of almost half of my clothing.
Sapada invited me to Invitation planning meetings.
I watched all of Game of Thrones: Season 1.
There was a lot of praying over my kids.
Christmas wrapping galore was completed.
I fell down the stairs. Ouch.
I worked out a major plot issue.
My friend's husband was shot and killed near my home.

And I Read

Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker
A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin

Total: 117
Kindle: 31
Audio: 27
Paper: 59
Rereads: 9

*Read-alouds with my boys
**Audio Books

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Gale Stauffer, Thank You.

My friend's husband died yesterday. He was a police officer. He was shot and killed a few blocks from my house. I heard the sirens. I stood at my window, watching for who knows what, thinking about what might be happening out there.

Later, I stood at the command center where the Sheriff's Department and the FBI and the Highway Patrol and, I believe, some US Marshalls, were gathering. The huge FBI bus was parked outside. A friend and I were arranging food and opening doors and just trying to offer hospitality to these men who had lost one of their own and were still there, doing their best to keep us safe. 

I opened Twitter while leaning on a wall during a quiet moment. A friend had tweeted, asking a question that made me angry. At first. It made me angry, but it also made me think. All evening, I thought about it. All night, I thought about it. This morning, my answer hit me hard with the words of Scripture. 

The question was, paraphrased: why do we elevate the death of an officer over that of a civilian?

My gut response was, as I said, anger. Gale*, my friend's husband, died defending my neighborhood. I could almost see his last stand from my upstairs window. 

My gut response was correct, but I had to let the emotion ease off before I could coherently express what I meant by that… how that relates to all officers, not just this one who died so near my home. Is an officer's life more important than someone else's?

And there it is.

Everyday, when a police officer puts on that uniform and slides behind the wheel of that car, they make a decision. They consciously decide that MY life is more important than theirs. They rush to respond to tragedy and fear, because they believe YOUR life is more important than their own. 

And that is why 
we elevate 
their deaths. 

The first shall be last and the last shall be first.

Everyday, Gale Stauffer decided to be last so we could be first. And he died for us. 

That sounds a bit familiar to me. Wasn't there another man who thought His own life less important than ours?

We elevate them in death, because they humbled themselves in life.

And that, my Twitter friend, is Jesus with skin on.


So the last will be first, and the first will be last. (Matthew 20:16)

For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. (Matthew 23:12)

When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” (Luke 14:7-14)

*Another officer was injured and is in critical condition. I do not know his name, but we are praying for he and his family. Thank you also, sir. Thank you.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Sunday Poem: Only Me, Only Mary

Sometimes I watch him
this child of mine,
a son nailed high
by the demons inside
us all, skin
bloody shredded
by his own
people, by his own
by his own
by his own

I watch him bleed
the salty drops
of blood and metal
rust in the palms
of his hands, and I
only want
to save him.
I want to be
his savior.

But I am only me,
only mother,
only Mary
at the foot
of his cross.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Mary's Lap, His Throne

If you know me very well, you know I'm not a jolly Christmas elf. I grumble about the tree starting before Thanksgiving. I love giving gifts (it's my love language) but I hate stressing over them at a certain time when we are "supposed" to give gifts. I overthink them when they are semi-required. I pressure myself - no one else's fault at all. People shop on Thanksgiving and I want to maim them, because it means my mama has to work. Over all, you would not think me a fan of the holiday.

You would be wrong.

Eventually, Corey will bring the boxes up from the garage and we will put together the tree. That's been done now. Yay! And every year, I think, "That wasn't so hard." But, more importantly, among the blue Rubbermaid storage containers, there is a brown box labeled Willow Tree. It is not the Willow Tree nativity most of my friends have, though that is a beautiful nativity for sure. I'm not much for wee knick knacks. They read as clutter to my brain. Pieces disappear. I forget them. So, this is not that.

Instead, I have this set. According to the site, it is only $45, but it used to cost quite a bit more. It also features a stable-like piece that can be purchased separately. The part of me that is a minimalist skipped that. There's a story here.

I worked for Cokesbury for a while, and we sold Willow Tree pieces. I liked them, the simplicity of the art. When you stick to simple, you actually cover more ground. I could find symbols that spoke to me in many of the little statues. Then came Advent. The Holy Family was displayed. It cost a lot of money. I am frugal (ahem, cheap) so I chose to admire it in our window and leave it be. But I kept coming back to it, and one day it was on sale. Willow Tree was NEVER on sale, so there was some mistake somewhere, but it was indeed on sale.

90% off.

That was that. The Holy Family journeyed home with me.

The stark quality of the set is what drew me. No anachronistic wise men cluttering up the scene, no shepherds interrupting a tired mother postpartum. No animals. No hay. No nothing.

Just a tiny family, a new family, a seed planted in hope.

Mary, holding God in her arms, kissing God's cheeks, smelling God's sweet baby scalp, cradling God to her breast. This is what I ache for at Christmas. Joseph beside her, protecting her, guarding his most precious treasures, following a dream and a mercy. 

I have my own Joseph. I didn't earn him in the fashion of Mary, no virgin births for me, but he is my Joseph nonetheless. He is the man who stood beside me, protected me, guarded me as his treasure when the world and the enemy and my own mind sought to tear me apart. He guarded first one son and then another. He became a wall around us all, to hold us in, to keep fear out. 

I love Advent. I love this side of Christmas, the quiet side, the little cove of divinity formed by Mary and Joseph, their bodies the only palace my King needed here on earth, Mary's lap His throne, Joseph's pride His crown.

I slide the Holy Family from the brown box, remove the Styrofoam that shrouds them 11 months each year, and I clear a space for them in my kitchen.

I clear a space for them inside my heart.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Friday Felicities: Dec 6, 2013

My blue binder from Target
Written prayers
Kindle library books
Knocking items off the Christmas list
Our Emmanuel banner on the wall
The sound of the boys laughing
Phone calls from Leila
Cheri made it home
My fab boots

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Currently: The Crazy Stable Close at Hand

Current Books: I just finished Game of Thrones and have book #2 on hold. I am anxious to get it. I didn't even think I was that into the story until I had to wait to start the second book. Now I'm a crazy person. Just give me my book already. Aigh! In the meantime, I am reading 7 by Jen Hatmaker and the boys and I are still working our way through The Book Thief (a reread for me). In the car, we are listening to The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (also a reread for me).

Current Playlist: My Corinne Bailey Rae station on Pandora

Current Shame-Inducing Guilty Pleasure: Daily browsing on Zulily

Current Colors: Kentucky Blue

Current Fetish: Coloring my Praying in Color Advent calendar

Current Food: My tastebuds are all messed up on this med, but I made some amazing black bean chicken wraps this week. Hubby is still raving over them.

Current Drink: Starbucks Refreshers. Pomegranate is my favorite.

Current Favorite Favorite: Being an INFP and learning more about myself and others like me.

Current Wishlist: Here ya go: Amazon Wishlist, mostly books, but also a pretty new Otterbox and a Hobo purse. I want to get a few new blouses and scarves too. I am doing a HUGE clean out and analyzing what I have in my closet, getting rid of a lot and deciding what I actually need.

Current Needs: Quiet. Solitude.

Current Triumph: Completing my jail visit and getting so much good information.

Current Bane-of-my-Existence: Whining and complaining in my children

Current Indulgence: Procrastinating on the Christmas tree. I know I need to deal with it, put it up, etc… I just don't enjoy it in the least and it feels like a waste of time and energy. But, the kids and the husband want a tree. Gr.

Current Mood: Mostly good. I tend to feed on the moods of those around me, however, and my kids are grouches today. I am trying to hide from them and keep my happy but they like to drag their grumps up the stairs and deposit them at my feet.

Current #1 Blessing: My husband, my kids mostly getting along (today not included), and, yeah, not breaking anything when I fell down the stairs.

Current Outfit: Dark wash jeans, light pink Camp Lake Stephens tee, silver studded black boots

Current Quote: “Be patient. Do the best with what you know. When you know more, adjust the trajectory.” ― Jen Hatmaker, 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess

Current Photo:   This is a giant burlap banner our family painted together on Family Advent Night at church. It will hang by our tree.

Title taken from: The House of Christmas by G. K. Chesterton

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Sunday Poem: Name Me

Emmanuel, God with us,
What would You
Name me?
My mother called me
For flowers, for
The musical sound
Of letters linked
And lyrical. 
She named me precious
In her heart. 
Do You
Name me
The same?
Emmanuel, God with us,
Name me Bountiful
And Beautiful. 
Name me Fallen,
Mostly, Jesus,
When my days grow short
And my road closes in
On You,
Name me Beloved. 
Name me Hoped For. 
Name me


Friday, November 22, 2013

She No Longer Wears White

The girl is beautiful.



She stands near the road in a white dress. She's ready for her wedding day, but she's a young bride. Inexperienced. She is spinning in her dress, showing her friends the lace around its edges.

The man is just driving through, but he notices her. He notices her dress.

She is beautiful.

Her friends disperse when he approaches. But she's too happy to think bad thoughts. She only smiles up at him.

Later, she is in his car. And she is crying.

Maybe he stops along the way. Maybe he has his way with her.

But maybe not. Maybe his greed is stronger than his lust, and he keeps driving.

When they stop, the sun is gone. The girl is led through the darkness, into a building she's never seen before. She no longer knows where she is. On the drive, she could not see the scenery fly by. Her eyes were blurred by tears. Her dress is still white. It stands out in dirty surroundings.

The man leaves her there. Another man has handed him a fistful of bills. His greed satisfied, for now, he disappears.

Many years pass. The girl is sold again and again. She has slept with every man in the village, except the good ones. Then again, maybe some of the good ones also. Maybe even good men sometimes do bad things.

When women pass her on the street, they look the other way. She cannot get water from the village well when others are there. She goes in the heat of the day.

She no longer wears white.

Now, you tell me, is this the pretty girl's fault?

Did she do something to deserve her plight? Should she be blamed for the sins of the men who share her bed? Does the slave bear the responsibility of her servitude?

The Church is the Bride of Christ. He clothed her in white. He will wed her when the day comes.

She has been stolen. She has been sold by many hands, taken into many beds, used for evil ends.

Now, you tell me,

Did she do something to deserve her plight? Should she be blamed for the sins of the men who share her bed? Does the slave bear the responsibility of her servitude?

Maybe it isn't her fault.

Maybe it's mine.

Friday Felicities: 11/22/13

Friday Felicities

Modern Family with the hubster.
Book signing and dinner and coffee with girlfriends
The perfect gift for a friend
Retreat on the horizon
Letter from our Compassion child, Nathali
Audio books on car rides
My Carolina Girl long-sleeved tee
Hummus crusted chicken
Thanksgiving plans

Friday, November 15, 2013

Currently: Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness

Current Books: I've been immersed in a few volumes of Edna St Vincent Millay lately. I also read No Easy Answers by Brooks Brown. I have a few books on hold for my Kindle. Nothing is calling to me though. Oh, I read The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness, and it was pure gorgeousness. Poetry in prose. Delicious.

Current Playlist: "Mary Jane's Last Dance" has been on a few times recently, in the car. It's my Make-Me-Happy-Right-Now song.

Current Shame Inducing Guilty Pleasure: Filling our DVR with Doctor Who specials.

Current Colors: Kentucky blue

Current Fetish: Millay's poetry and making the lines make sense for my new story.

Current Food: My taste buds are all wonky from a medication. I'm craving sweets and really junky food. I need to get it under control.

Current Drink: Starbucks Refreshers. The new med has stolen coffee from me. *cries* So Refreshers are helping me not get caffeine headaches.

Current Favorite Favorite: My hubby. He gets me. Even in my crazy.

Current Wishlist: a new winter wardrobe for my new size, lots of books, uninterrupted writing and resting time.

Current Needs: My tastebuds to return to normal.

Current Triumph: My character is finally talking to me. She's becoming a real person. Hallelujah!

Current Bane-of-my-Existence: Being drained. I'm an introvert spending all of my waking time with two children. I just need some solitude on a regular basis.

Current Indulgence: Buying a few kinds of tea, trying to find something I like.

Current Mood: Tired but good.

Current #1 Blessing: My husband and my friends. And my upcoming trip to ISRAEL. Can you feel the excitement radiating off of me?

Current Outfit: Jeans, purple fitted tee, green jacket, studded boots.

Current Link: Stephanie hit the nail on the head for me today.

Current Photo:

Title from: To Autumn by John Keats

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Showing Up

I am craving a God encounter.

Do you get that way? Do you sometimes feel a bit empty and think about deserts and droughts and empty wells?

I was feeling that way earlier this year when I penned these words as the start to a poem:

I'm terrified of living
in this desert.
I am cacti,
reaching my prickly arms
skyward, begging,
oh Jesus,
let it rain.

Months later, I am still sitting on the sand, struggling towards oasis. Sometimes, I’d be grateful for the shimmer of mirage.

So I am plotting. For now, short trips to walk the paths of labyrinths, and – for later – a few days in a monastery, where the walls breathe prayer and Facebook does not beckon from my phone, where there are no children needing my attention and no calendar insisting I be somewhere else. I am plotting to encounter God.

Because sometimes you have to plan these things.

I didn’t grow a relationship with Corey into a marriage by sitting at home, not answering my phone, expecting him to magically get to know me and fall in love with me and want to be with me forever. No. I made an effort. I called him. I wrote him letters and poetry. I hid love notes all over his apartment so he would find them at random times.

My best friend didn’t become my best friend without some work on both our parts. It took opening up and sharing the deep things, the things we feel shame over and the things that make us proud. It took hours spent doing what looks like nothing much from the outside but translates as quality time in our relationship. We live three hours apart, so we plan time together. We work it around her work schedule and my homeschooling and the various other activities that take up our time.

I encounter my husband when I choose to. I encounter my friend when I choose to.

That doesn’t mean every planned encounter will involve angels singing and God’s purpose for my life suddenly made clear, vivid before me like a vision. No, there’s no guarantee. But there sure is a better chance of a beautiful moment when I…

When I what?

When I show up.

I spread out my hands to you; I thirst for you like a parched land. Psalm 143:6

Friday, November 8, 2013

Friday Felicities: Nov 8, 2013

Friday Felicities

Corey's schedule being so flexible 
The welcoming atmosphere at the school we visited today
My neighbors
Daddy's surgery went well
A light at the end of the tunnel
Photobook designing
Notebooks and G2 pens
1/2 lb Reese's cups
Teaching youth this past Weds

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Jobs That Are Easier Than Parenting

  • Calcutta Sewer Cleaner
  • UN Negotiator
  • Air Traffic Controller
  • Brain Surgeon
  • Coal Mining
  • Alaskan Crab Fishing
  • President of the United States of America
  • Prison Warden
  • Ice Road Trucker
  • Crime Scene Cleaner
  • BP Publicist

Okay okay okay.

This post is meant tongue-in-cheek. I am not belittling these jobs. Just the opposite. They are some of the hardest jobs imaginable and I don't want to do any of them.

But today, this week, with the refereeing of boy fights and the big decision making and the unable-to-fix-it-all-ness of life…

Parenting feels like the hardest job.


I keep seeing my kids as adults, discussing all of the mistakes I made in raising them. And I agree with these imaginary grown-up children. I find myself trying to explain to them, this is hard.

It is so hard.

When they fight, it is impossible to know who started it anymore. Where does one argument end and another begin? Who was copying who? Who looked at who funny and made a face and then laughed when he got in trouble?

I'm exhausted.

I love my boys. If I didn't, this parenting thing would be a whole lot easier. I wouldn't care so much about raising them right, making sure they know and feel how loved they are, helping them become the amazing men I know they can be.

God bless you mommies everywhere.

Now, back to my striped shirt and my loud silver whistle.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A Blog About Lice Shampoo

I have a new friend. She lives in Cambodia where she helps care for women and children rescued from slavery.

Including sex slavery.

That's some heavy stuff right there, but it didn't hit me how heavy until I read her Christmas list.

See, a group of us are gathering items to send in a big ole Christmas box to Cambodia. Can you imagine spending Christmas so far away from home and family? What sorts of things would be on your list? Mine might include:

  • G2 pens
  • Reese's cups
  • Dandruff shampoo
  • Burt's Bees chapstick
  • Books galore
  • Thick socks
  • Hair clips
  • Writing paper

And, yeah, some items like that made my friend's list as well. She needs a new hairbrush and wants iTunes gift cards, etc… She also wants stickers and small games she can play with the girls there. All good stuff. Understandable stuff.

But she also asked for lice shampoo.

And this has wrecked me for days.

I will be going about my normal day and suddenly think, "Lice shampoo" and then I'm crying. It happened on the way to church Sunday morning, listening to my first world kids complain about first world problems. I cried and cried and tried to explain why, but they are kids. They just don't get it. They can't imagine purposely going into a world where lice is a part of daily life for the people around you, where you have to deal with lice in order to fulfill your calling, to help those who need your help so badly.

My friend hugs girls who need hugs.
And, sometimes,
those girls have lice.
And having lice doesn't make them
less worthy of her hugs.

I am a girl. I had very long hair for most of my childhood. I went to school with other kids. More than once, I brought home lice. Then, once I was old enough to pay closer attention and not pick them up, my sister was in elementary school and she would bring them home. The result? For years, every time my head itched, I checked for lice. And I have a dry scalp so my head itched a lot.

A whole lot.

In other words, I know about lice shampoo.
I know about stripping your house and spraying
and giving up stuffed animals you loved.
I know about notes home in backpacks and
holding your head upside down for
what feels like hours while
your mother runs a fine-toothed comb over every solitary strand
of my long

I know about feeling dirty even when you aren't.

I carried a fear of lice into adulthood. I was nervous going to hair salons, convinced I would have picked up lice somewhere and the hairdresser would shriek and point at my head. And then everyone would turn and look at the girl with lice. And the whole shop would have to be sanitized and I would be humiliated.

And I would have to go home
and deal
with lice.

When I had boys, I thought, "Praise God for shaved heads and please no lice."

So far, so good.

But I remember.

And when I saw lice shampoo on my friend's Christmas list, it just undid me.

It is still undoing me.

I look around at my abundance.
I look at my children,
not likely to be sold into slavery.
Not likely to even miss a meal or
not get the toy they most want for Christmas.

And, sometimes, all I can do
is cry
over lice shampoo
in Cambodia.

Monday, November 4, 2013


Middle Places


That's the theme at Middle Places this month. It is also one of David's vocabulary words this week.


It came up in one of the Proverbs I studied for Small Group Sunday. I've been reading Proverbs in the original Hebrew, thanks to Blue Letter Bible. 

I was surprised when I looked up the word used for "honored," as in "to live an honored life" and found it means heavy, weighty, burdensome, grievous… and, yes, also glorious.

One of our girls suggested Mother Teresa as an example.

Yes. How right. How true. 

Mother lived a heavy life. She carried people's burdens, weighty burdens. Her love, His love flowing through her, brought Him glory and her life is honored in our memories.

But it was never easy.

An honored life must first be a difficult one.

There will be abundant blessings, and sometimes blessings wear ugly masks. They whisper words like cancer, dying, lost, hopeless, divorce, betrayal, depression…

They whisper…

"I am grievous."

But they carry abundance in their arms. Their scarred faces crumple into tears of joy.

My mother and my neighbor are both facing situations I cannot fix for them. No one can, really. Or, the people who seem to hold that power are choosing not to use it.

And there is pain there.

I can chauffeur kids and send up prayers and tell my mom I love her.
But I can't be the solution, and it is hard. It is hard when, in the midst of abundant blessing, there is also abundant pain.

Both from the hand of God. Correct? Rain on the just and the unjust. Drought to them both. He giveth and He taketh away. And it can be hard not to hate Him for it. Hard not to love Him for it. Hard to grasp any sort of understanding.

I glory in His abundance.

But I also cry.

I also cry.

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