A Pause of Thanks

I’m taking a pause this week so celebrate the gift of family. This means opening my computer as minimally as possible, laughing as often as I can, eating more than I probably should, and choosing to embrace the craziness of the holidays.

We spent two nights in the great outdoors camping with friends – or, well…Lee and the big kids spent two nights sleeping outdoors. I came home the second evening to stay with the baby. It was a mighty sacrifice I made for her, choosing to sleep in my warm, comfortable bed instead of on the cold, hard ground.

Motherhood is sacrifice, man.

Today, family will sweep down upon us, and tomorrow we eat TURKEY!

I love Thanksgiving. It’s such a non-fuss holiday, isn’t it? That’s probably why it gets so easily overlooked. But what a great day! We sit around, eat, and enjoy family. No place to go, no errands to run. Just family and food.

So in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I will be taking the rest of the week off. But I’ve written several posts lately that I’d love for you to check out if you’re in need of a little light reading. *wink*

1.) Merry and Bright: Tips for Enjoying the Holidays

The holiday season can be hectic and overwhelming. I’m over at Extraordinary Mommy sharing a few tips to help you enjoy the upcoming weeks.



2.) Baba Yaga: Part I

Have you heard of Baba Yaga – the witch who lives in the forest in a magical house? She’s truly terrifying, and I’m enjoying stretching my fiction chops over at Short Fiction Break with this short story series.


3.) Dear Son

There is so much out there bombarding our children these days. It sometimes makes my head spin. And now that I have a boy in middle school, I find myself increasingly aware of the dangers. This was my love letter to him over at Extraordinary Mommy.


Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Eat Turkey! Play flag football! Enjoy family!

Yay Thanksgiving!

Looking Back, Looking Ahead

I’ve never been very good at stepping away. Perhaps one of my greatest flaws is my constant fear that I’m missing something. I’ve been this way my entire life. And, lucky me, I produced a child who is exactly the same.

We don’t like to miss a good time.

This week I stepped away. I unplugged as much as I could, and I just entered life fully and completely, and a crazy thing happened when I did this:

Life went on.

I don’t think I missed anything of great significance, and as far as I know not a single person really missed my online presence. Funny thing, this online realm. You feel like what you do is so important, and if you’re not doing it you’re somehow letting people down.

The pressure is something else.

We had a sweet week as a family. Cancer changes everything, which means our time was spent truly relishing the little moments – those precious down times when you just sit and enjoy one another’s company. There were things I could have said, but not many things I needed to say.

I just needed to be.

We are hosting “K” again this year, and it’s totally different the second time around. The first year was spent doing every fun thing ever imagined to give her an experience she’d never forget. This year is real life, and real life is a lot less exciting. That’s produced more stress than I thought it would, but this is the part of ministry that we often forget about.

The hard part – the part that requires you to love in the quiet, not with experiences or things, but with words and time. Cooking in the kitchen, reading books, watching movies. Loving someone in the quiet is actually much harder to do. The constant pouring out is more exhausting than I imagined it would be.

Plus there’s that baby we all have to deal with.

And by deal with, I mean snuggle. Oh the snuggles – they’re simply the best at this age.

As I head into the New Year, I’m looking over some of the posts from this past year that have impacted me. The benefit of blogging is you have a record of the good, the bad, and the ugly. It’s always fun for me to go through each month and try to pick one or two posts that I particularly enjoyed writing, and then share them with you all who have so faithfully taken this journey with me.

Happy New Year, everyone! Praying a full and blessed 2015 over each of you right now as I type.


Without further ado, I hereby give you 2014 at a glance.

January: At the beginning of 2014, I was still blogging at Minivans Are Hot. We also went camping with friends right after the New Year, and this post from that experience still makes me laugh. My husband, man. He is always good blogging fodder. 

February: This was the month that I announced my pregnancy, but the post that got the most traffic, and resulted in a few nasty emails, was this one when I called out the real issues behind the Sochi Olympics. 

March: I finally moved here to my new site, and this post was one of my favorites from that month as I began to better understand my realistic child, so different from dreamy, creative me.

April: There are a couple of posts that I really enjoyed writing this month, so I’ll share two. The first is when I destroyed the magic of childhood and revealed to my first born the truth about the Tooth Fairy and Santa Clause.  The second is when I revealed that we were, indeed, having another little girl.

May: There are also two posts from this month that seemed to resonate more than others. The first was when I shared my reasons for not putting my son’s first solo on Facebook. That pesky quest for fame seems to be something we’re all cautious of. The second was when I shared my own adventures in risk taking (sometimes foolish adventures), and my hope that someday my children will be risk takers, too.

June: This was the month we found to about my father-in-law’s cancer. We’re still learning this lesson as we walk this unwelcome path. 

July: I didn’t write much this month. I took a much needed break as we were on vacation, and I did something crazy. I READ BOOKS. Like, actual real-life books with paper and stuff. I read the entire Divergent series this month, and I wrote this post to explain why I won’t be letting my kids read that series for some time. 

August: This is the month that I called out Victoria Osteen’s heresy, and I got called lots of super fun names on Twitter. 

September: Not much happened this month. You know – I just had a baby. Here is the post I wrote describing how pregnancy dreams and severe impatience just about did me in. And here is the story of Annika’s birth.

October: This is the month that Annika took over my blog (wink) and for 31 days she wrote all about this scary life on Earth. So young, and already a prolific blogger…

November: The post when I told you there was a colony of roaches LIVING INSIDE MY MICROWAVE. They’re dead, by the way. There isn’t room enough in this house for me and them.

December: I haven’t written a lot this month, either, but what I’ve written I enjoyed. This post about Lee’s philosophical musings on Michael Jackson, however, might just be my favorite.

So there you have it! Another year of blogging under my belt. I’m looking forward to the New Year as I continue to grow and learn as a writer, as a mom, and as a wanderer in this big, scary world.

Have fun tonight, everyone!!


Underprepared and Living To Tell the Story

I am a preparer. I like organization, and I like things to run smoothly. I am also a parent of four rowdy children, which means I am constantly and forever being forced to slow my roll and accept that my life will not be organized for the next 20-ish years.

And given the spacing of my children, I will likely have grandchildren by the time I send my final child out on her own, so the idea of me being organized ever is almost laughable.

I also just threw up a little in my mouth at the idea of myself as a grandparent. In my mind, I AM STILL IN COLLEGE!

All of that is a lead-in to the fact that the walls of my home are caving in on me, and there simply isn’t enough time in the day for me to get ahead of all the crazy. I’m trying to embrace the season of now. I really am. I am trying to let it go.

Idina Menzel gave me the chorus of my days



Tomorrow night we will welcome “K” back into our home. We truly cannot wait to have her back with us. When we first got the email saying she could return, I felt a surge of panic. Because of her age, it took a long time to confirm whether or not she would be able to return, so we were told only on Thanksgiving that she would be coming.


I’m still not prepared, and Idina and I are singing our tune hourly. Let it go! Let it go!! Turn away and slam that door!

I haven’t slammed any literal doors…today. But I have let go of a few expectations. The first is that I will have a clean house. I won’t. It’s just not going to happen. This place is a bit of a pit, and the amount of work needed to get it into the shape I would prefer it be in is more time than I have between now and tomorrow.

I’d need a couple of clones and a few stiff drinks.


I’m getting done what needs to be done to make this a sweet time for our family. I got “K’s” room ready, and I’ve moved Sloan’s clothes into Landon’s room. I’ve got all my Christmas shopping done, and I have a loose plan of what we’re going to do between now and Monday when we fly to Arkansas.

I’m going to consider all of that a Christmas win, and let go of the desire to completely declutter all living spaces inside this house. When I get in this sort of a tizzy about the clutter, I end up doing foolish things – like accidentally giving Tia’s beloved Lovey Bear to Goodwill.

Which I did a few months ago and she hasn’t let me forget it.

A couple of nights ago, I actually dreamed that woodland creatures came into my home and cleaned it out for me. There was a bunny, a fox, a few birds, and a pack of mice, and they organized the whole house from top to bottom.

I woke up from this dream both happy, and a little confused. Clearly I’m a little out of my mind these days, yes? And the truth is, if that actually happened in real life, I would FREAK out, not for the obvious reason of woodland creatures cleaning my home, but because I am so ridiculously terrified of both mice and bunnies.

(The bunny thing is strange, I admit, but they do, in fact, scare me. They’re so unpredictable, and they stare at you with their beady little eyes like they’re going to pounce on your face at any moment. My children have been informed that we will never have a bunny…ever.)

So the house won’t be perfect, but we are preparing room in our hearts for another memorable Christmas. That will have to be good enough for now.

Because bunnies aren’t allowed, no matter how well they might be able to organize a closet.

Am I the only one who goes a little crazy when life feels out of control? Does anybody else feel this way…or dream of animals cleaning for them? Anyone? Anyone? 



The blend of familiar chords filled the room, and I closed my eyes. It had been a long few days, and I felt the weight of life squeezing my throat tight. I was tired, my eyes so heavy, the knot in my neck pulling my head slightly to the side.

“Joy to the World, the Lord is Come. Let earth receive her King!”

The melody washed over and through me, and I didn’t sing. I just listened. I was too weary to add my own voice, so I just let the song envelope me.

Christmas songs bring comfort. They are so familiar, and they carry with them years of memories, of happy times and joy filled moments. In a season of weary fatigue, the words and the melody felt like rest.

This Christmas will be a different one for our family. A bittersweet Christmas, indeed. The cancer of a loved one forces us to take it slower this year – to cherish the moments more sweetly – to look for the miracle of healing because that’s all we have left.

I believe He can speak life and health back into my father-in-law’s body.

I trust Him to be good whether or not He does.

We also have the awesome privilege of bringing our sweet “K” back to us for Christmas. How mysterious God is to ordain these two events in such a way. How awesome is His power to dictate that we should feel both immense joy, and desperate sadness, all at the same time.

“Let every heart. Prepare Him room. And heaven and nature sing.”

I’ve written about Love before, and I’ve pondered the beauty of suffering. Walking in faith is easy sometimes. It’s easy to say “I believe” in the face of great joy and peace. But when the soul cries out without the promise of an answer, faith becomes a wrestling match.

Like Jacob with the angel, I tussle with my Savior. I call Him Sovereign, and I question His actions. I praise His goodness, and lament His silence. I waver, then accept, then waver, then accept.

“He rules the world with truth and grace. And makes the nations prove. The glories of His righteousness.”

When the wrestling is finished, I hobble away, and still His Love pulls me back. You don’t wrestle with the Savior and come away unscathed. But the scathing is like a healing – the fire burning away the parts of me that cling to this world, the selfish pieces of my heart that seem so firmly attached to the things I can see and understand.

I don’t understand cancer, and I can’t see the glory of heaven. I doubt, and I question, and I wish that pain wasn’t so…painful. I open my eyes and look at the Christmas decorations up front, and it hits me that the story of Christmas has to be true. If it isn’t, then what is the point of my wrestling?

I battle because I want to believe, and the wrestling points me to Christ every. single. time.

This Christmas will be bittersweet as we cling to the One who came to earth as a humble infant. He was the One they prophesied about for hundreds of years. He was born in a manger, and His birth set into motion a life that pointed to a Creator. He would grow into a man who died on a tree so that I might live.

So that our family could have hope in the face of uncertainty. So that we could hope for a miracle, take comfort in the knowledge of heaven, and cling to peace when life feels foggy.

“And wonders of His Love.”


He tugged on my sleeve and motioned me down. I leaned over, and his lips pressed against my ear, sending a shiver down my spine. He’s the one with the freckled face – the one who is asking a lot of questions, and seeking for the answers. I felt his hot breath, and my heart leapt with a fierce love.

“Is Jesus real?” he whispered. I glanced at his big, blue eyes, so full of wonder and hope, and the lump in my throat dissolved. There are so many things I don’t know – so many questions that feel unanswered. But not this one. The answer to this question is Joy to the world.

I lean down and press my mouth against his ear, and he pulls his shoulder up with a tickled grin.

“Yes,” I breath. One syllable, filled with conviction.

He grabs my hand and smiles, his nose inches from mine. “Good,” he whispers.

And I nod, because he’s right.

It is good.


Hope Is Slow – #GivingTuesday


It’s been two and a half years since I boarded a plane to Tanzania. Two and a half years since I walked through the red dirt and cried, the images of abject poverty almost too much for my heart to comprehend.

It’s been two and a half years since a spunky toddler with a big, wide grin led me by hand with such confidence through the rocky streets that I knew she must frequently walk those paths alone.

Two and a half years ago, a little boy named Moses taught me the meaning of pridethe good kind of pride.

Two and a half years ago, I learned that Hope is Slow, and that is, perhaps, the most valuable lesson the Lord has taught me. I’m still grasping hold of what that means even today. Hope is so very slow, and I get weary in the waiting, but God in His Mercy is not bound by my impatient timeframe.

Hope may be slow, but it is alive.


The work that Compassion International does worldwide is humbling. I’ve seen firsthand the impact this ministry has on communities, the hope they are bringing to families living in poverty, and I have wept.

Hope is Slow.

Today, Compassion is participating in #GivingTuesday, and together you and I can help spread Hope. In this season of giving, when our hearts are soft and pliable, let’s join together and make a difference.

Today we have the opportunity to raise $25,000 so that Compassion can build a Child Survival Program in India. Did you know that nearly 1 in 3 infant deaths worldwide occur in India?

I didn’t know that either.

Hope is Slow. 

Over 2 million children under the age of 5 die each year in India. In the small community of Gujarat, where many of the mothers are teenagers, most do not have the resources needed to provide for their children.

Today we can change the lives of an entire community. We can reverse the trend of hopelessness, of illness, and of childhood death. Opening a Child Survival Program in Gujarat means:

– training and preparation for young moms to help care for their babies

– helping mothers learn to read and write

– giving children a safe place to learn and grow

– ensuring lifesaving medical care for babies and moms

– proclaiming the hope of God to families living in poverty

Today, as we step away from the blessing of Thanksgiving, and move into the beauty of Christmas, we have the chance to bind together and offer Hope. We can wrap it in love, and breath new life into a community that wonders if Hope is real.

It is real, friends, and it is actively moving through willing hearts across the ocean, and into the arms of young mothers who are more accustomed with fear than they are of Hope.

Will you join with us today? Your donation, no matter the amount, will change a life. Together, in just one day, we can make a huge difference. 

Changing the world is entirely possible. Like Hope, Change is Slow. It takes time and patience, and a lot of faith.


Won’t you be a part today? Will you give back according to the abundance of your riches? Will you place your stake in the sand today and declare that there is no place for hopelessness in this world?

To donate to Compassion International’s #GivingTuesday campaign to build a Child Survival Program in Gujart, India, click this link.

After you’ve donated, take a moment to share this on your social media channels. Help us spread the word so that we can link arms with others, and together we can make a huge impact.

Thank you, my friends, for being a part of a movement of Hope. You made a difference today. A big one.

Hope may be Slow, but it is Alive.

While the fires burn

“We’re moving.”

I was in sixth grade when my parents sat my brother and I down and broke the news. We were leaving snowy Wisconsin and headed to St. Louis. As an eleven year old girl with a flare for the dramatic, I was certain that my life would end as we pulled away from our home. If I remember correctly, I collapsed on my bed in tears and moaned that my LIFE was OVER.

Then I called Missouri “Misery” for months.

I was super pleasant.

Despite my preteen attitude, St. Louis quickly became home. It’s hard not to love that city. It’s beautiful and hilly. The people are friendly, and the landscape is diverse and lovely. Though I attended college in Texas, and Lee and I spent our first two years of married life in Dallas, St. Louis would remain “home.”

We eventually moved there and it became our literal home. Our older three children were born there. We have such dear friends that still reside there – friends who are more like family in our hearts.

So it hurts to see a piece of my city in flames. The fires burn, and fights erupt, and I wish I could wrap my arms around the entire city and hold it tight. St. Louis is better than what we’re seeing on the news.

I have so many thoughts swirling regarding the events that sparked these protests. I hesitate to share too deeply because there is so much chatter out there already. I’m not going to say anything that hasn’t already been said, and others have spoken more eloquently than I ever could. So I will refrain.

I’ll work my questions out in secret, because sometimes we need silence. Sometimes we speak louder with our mouths shut. So I’ll do my part by not further adding to the online clatter. I will simply hold tight to the love that I have for the town that I will always call home.

And as we head into Thanksgiving, I’m ever mindful of how very much I have for which to be thankful. I am surrounded by people who love me.


I have a baby to snuggle, and she is quite snuggly.






So many blessings surround me. Yes, there are unanswered prayers, and there are unmet desires and requests that linger, but if I sit back and catalog all the good, I am desperately thankful for this life that the Lord has given me.

I’m also thankful for my firstborn who started his first blog this week. He is my child who is the toughest to parent, but who has the biggest heart. He does everything big, and his desire to help people in need ministers to me constantly.

He titled his blog One Can – One Life. He wants to encourage young people not to be afraid of serving and helping those in need. He would love it if you followed along as he highlights ways that we can give and serve in our local communities, and in the world.

While the fires burn, and hearts are hurting, perhaps we could take a cue from an eleven year old with a huge heart and look around for ways to help someone in need today. A graceful word, a hug, an understanding heart – these can go a long way to easing broken hearts, a balm to wounded souls.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I hope it’s blessed weekend for all of you.

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