Adventures in Giving

I feel very strongly that teaching my girls about providing for those who have “not enough” is so important. Not only is it important in teaching them selflessness and how to focus their attention away from themselves and what they want, don’t have, or are mad/sad about, but it is important to teach them about loving others. All kinds of people. People who smell different. People who look different. People who act different. People who talk different. I want to teach them to love like Christ loves. I want to teach them to see people, know their stories, recognize needs, and do something about it.

That being said, every year as a family we fill a bag full of all kinds of traditional thanksgiving foods and provide a complete Thanksgiving meal to a family who may not be able to afford or provide it for themselves. This is a family thing where we all go to the grocery store together to buy the items and pack them in the bag together. I spend time explaining to the girls why we do this and how it reflects Christ’s love. Today was the day we were to fill our bag. In my mind it was going to be a glorious time of togetherness. It was going to be beautiful. Picturesque.

In my mind it looked like this:

After a wonderful relaxing day of togetherness we would choose somewhere to go out to eat as a family. We would all be showered, smelling good and looking beautiful. My girls would have bows in their adorably styled hair. I’d have jeans, boots, a sweater, and a scarf on. My hair would have the perfect amount of body and soft curl to it. I’d have make-up on, but just enough to look like I didn’t really have much on. After a quiet, uneventful dinner at a restaurant, we’d go by starbucks. Hot chocolate for the girls, pumpkin spice latte for me. We would get out and casually stroll into Sprouts Market, starbucks and shopping list in hand. As I’d read off items, my girls would calmly take turns getting cans off of the shelf. We’d talk about how much the family we were buying the items for would enjoy them and enjoy a carefree thanksgiving meal. After we got home we would fill the large bag together and pray over the family. There would be pumpkin candles burning in the background. There would be laughing. There would be hugging. There would be teachable moments. It would be an evening my girls would remember forever.

In reality it looked like this:

I have been a bit under the weather and felt extraordinarily like crap the last few days. It was Saturday and my children still woke up at 6am. From that moment on, my girls sat in their pajamas in front of the tv. All day. Until it was 6pm. I’m not sure what they watched but I think it was Casper at one point. I stayed in my pajamas and in my bed with unbrushed teeth, hair, etc all day. ALL DAY. I watched cheesy Christmas movies on Netflix. In November. ALL DAY. I knew we needed to go to the store, but my husband had some stuff to do so I told him to go do everything and we would go after dinner to the store. At 6pm I became real with myself and knew I wasn’t actually going to get up and cook something so I told the girls to go change into some sweats and put some shoes on. I changed out of my pajamas into other pajamas (yoga pants and a sweatshirt) and some flip-flops. I brushed my teeth. I put on no make-up. I had horrible dark circles under my eyes- partially from exhaustion and partially from old mascara from a few days before. My hair—I took a shower on Thursday morning and let my hair air-dry, so it had been thrown into various curly, messy buns since then and resembled less curl and more birds nest mess—was thrown into a messy bun that defied all other messy buns. They only headband I could find to push the fly-away hairs out of my face belonged to my 6 year old daughters. It did not have a bow on it, but it was covered in rhinestones. We piled into the car and drove through McDonalds for some of those heavily processed chicken nuggets everyone always posts about. We met my husband at Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart on a Saturday night….along with everyone else on the planet. We met my husband there and he got McDonalds to eat as we went through the store. My children turned to look at me and it was as if I could see a gleam of red in their eyes and instead of Heaven coming down, Hell came up. They hung on the basket, fought over who got to get what and put it in the basket, screamed about not being able to push the basket, cried for more processed nuggets because they didn’t get their fill the first time, and did pirouettes down the aisles as other customers dodged them with annoyed looks on their faces. At one point, my teenager called me to ask permission for something so I was on my phone….while pushing the cart….and holding the list….and pen in my mouth….raleigh wanted to see how long she could go without moving if she held onto the cart and let it drag her, so she was literally sprawled out behind the cart on the filthy floor being dragged by the cart…Riley was shouting to get my attention about something but I was on the phone so she kept getting louder and louder. Toby was 10 steps behind trying to inhale his bag of fried-up goodness from McDonalds. Bless them. Bless the other customers who did not call CPS on me. Bless Wal-Mart.

While I did talk to my girls on the way to Wal-Mart about what we were doing and why, we didn’t talk about the family while we shopped. It wasn’t calm. It wasn’t even pleasant. When we finally got home everyone went to their rooms. We didn’t pack the bag together. We didn’t sit merrily as a family and pray over the family that would receive it. There were no candles. There was no Starbucks. We didn’t look pretty…or like we even had a home or running water. It wasn’t picturesque and I’m pretty sure that memory will not be dancing around my kids’ heads for the rest of their lives.

Someday it won’t be like this. Someday I’ll shower every day. Someday going to the store with my children will not be comparable to hell, the absolute worst possible place imaginable. But you know what? When someday comes, If I haven’t at least tried, as messy as it may be, to teach my children about loving others and blessing others, then getting them to understand the importance of it at 15 or 16 will be next to impossible. Tonight I tried and while in my mind it was a huge disastrous Danny Tanner moment fail, God knows my heart. He doesn’t ask us for beautiful. He doesn’t ask us for picturesque. He doesn’t ask us for perfect. We aren’t perfect, we are messy. And you know what? Tomorrow is another day, and maybe after we’ve all had some rest, some fruit, and hopefully a shower, we can come together as a family and pray over the recipients of our bag. He will still be there to listen – He’s kind of cool like that.

What I know

Listen, I know I’m not 80 years old with the wisdom of someone who has lived through 20 presidential campaigns. That being said, I do know a lot about a lot. I’m a worldly, fairly well-traveled, highly educated 31 year old who has lived through her fair share of both fantastic and horrible things in life. I’ve never been dirt poor, but I’ve seen it. I know what it is like to feel invincible and also to feel lower than the scum at the bottom of a wet barrel. Here is some of what I know to be true:

– Life is hard sometimes.

– Parenting is hard. Being responsible for another being (or two or three —or 10 if the shoe fits) 100% of the time is hard. Holding the responsibility of developing their moral compass and ability to see and appreciate humor is overwhelming.

– Marriage is hard. Anyone who says marriage is easy is out of their flippin’ mind. Becoming one with someone is not easy. Sharing a closet with someone is not easy.

– Being someone’s kid is hard. Their decisions affect you long after the “I’m 18 and an adult” thing happens and there is nothing you can do about it.

– Being a friend can be hard. Pouring enough of yourself into friendships to keep them growing deeper and deeper can be hard. Finding people with whom you share a wicked sense of humor is a challenge.

– Taking care of your own crap and still finding time/energy to make the world a better place…caring for the homeless, sick, and parent-less is hard.

– Decision-making can be hard. There are always at least two choices, many times more. The path is not always clear.

– Death is hard. Losing a child, friend, parent, grand-parent is hard. It sucks. There is grief…even for the most well-adjusted people.

– Pushing through the fall season of there only being crappy horror movies in the theater is hard. Who really enjoys those?

– Eating healthy food is hard. I mean, some scientist really hit it out of the park when they developed the junk that qualifies food as “junk food” because it tastes really, really good.

– Consistently carving out time/energy for exercise is hard– even for those with degrees in the field. The “don’t want to” can be real.

– Always doing what you are supposed to do is hard.

– Holding your tongue is a real struggle, especially if you are verbally gifted. Sometimes the filter wants to be broken.

– Coming to terms with our own sin is hard. Pointing it out in others is easy, but doing enough self-reflection to recognize and be broken over our own is hard.

As much as I know all of that to be true. As much as I have lived all of those struggles at one point or another- or all at once- I know this to be more true and more powerful than all of that combined:



He wants abundantly more for us than we want for ourselves. He loves us more than we can ever imagine loving another person. He is there. always. forever. When things suck. When you are knocking life out of the park. He is there. When you fail. When you succeed. He is there, without fail.

and He is good.

Cleaning up the Crap

There are some things one should never face before having a cup of coffee. My general rule of thumb is that I shouldn’t face anything or anyone before having that first hot, savory cup of creamer with a dash of coffee in it. So many times….too many to count….I’m called upon out of a dead sleep to deal with things not because I’m most qualified….not because I want to…but simply because I hold the coveted title of mom. There are things you don’t even think bout when you are young and stupid and daydreaming about becoming a mom. You daydreamed of snuggles. You daydreamed of first soccer games. Weddings. Family bike rides. You didn’t daydream of the 3 am wake up call you get when someone vomits all over the carpet. Nobody else gets that call. The mom ALWAYS gets that call. The mom gets all the calls.

I’ve written before about my feelings on the whole “I puked and need someone to clean it up at 3 am” debacle. I honestly never thought there could be anything that could make my blood boil and steam come from my ears like being woken out of a dead sleep at 3 am to go sop up someone else’s vomit. I was wrong.

This morning at about 5:30 am while I was peacefully dreaming of rainbows and daisies, or maybe it was shopping and Robert Downey Jr, I get woken up by adorable blonde-haired, blue-eyed little girl giggles coming from upstairs. Those giggles were immediately followed by screams and I vividly heard, “THIS IS AN EMERCENCY. GO GET MOM, STAT” They didn’t say, go get DAD. Why is that? Why is it always mom they come after? I don’t get it. Is there an invisible cape around my neck that I’m just not aware of? I mean, I know that I know a lot about a lot of stuff, but not everything. Especially not what I dealt with this morning. This was definitely not my area. For dear friends, I do NOT know how to make a rapidly over-flowing commode stop over-flowing. I know there is some valve that shuts off the water, but honestly half-asleep at 5:30 am after sprinting up the stairs in the dark, I couldn’t even tell you for sure what world I was in, let alone perform heroic plumber duties. Every third blink I still saw Robert Downey Jr’s face, so I just stood there blinking as brown water gushed onto the floor and then onto the carpet under my feet. See, the only thing worse than an normal over-flowing toilet is an over-flowing toilet after someone awoke at 5am with an upset tummy. As I felt the cold, dirty water seep between my toes and the aroma of my child’s poop rose to my nose, so did my blood. My eyes seriously could have popped out of my head. I felt it. I had lizard neck….you know where you are clenching your teeth so hard that all the tendons/muscles in your neck stick out? Good mommies don’t ever scream at their children, but especially not at 5:30 am. So, we just look at them like a freaky Godzilla to get our point across. Thats what good mommies do. I think it came across LOUD AND CLEAR this morning.

At this point I was fully awake. The water was literally soaking into the carpet halfway down the hallway. As I waded through the water to grab the plunger, I felt like I was wading through a river of roaring rapids to get to a drowning child. It was intense. I swear to you the distance between the doorway and the toilet grew by like 100 feet. I plunged like my life depended on it and then I heard the most beautiful sound: draining water. I had done it….I had saved the day all before 6 am. So, there I stood, looking like a washed up rat. I had gone to bed the night before with wet hair. My hair is naturally curly. I’m a wild sleeper. Think a matted mix of medusa and pippy long stocking. In the 50 yard dash up the stairs I only managed to get my glasses halfway on my face. My pajama pants were wet up to my knees and therefore sagging like a bad 1999 rapper. It was sexy.

As you well know, stopping the water flow is only half the battle. Once the adrenaline rush stops you get to clean up the mess. After all, you are mom. So, there I was, on my hands and knees in my kid’s poop water, surrounded by 12 sopping wet towels. There was silence in my house. I think they all knew. One word might push me to the point of a straight-jacket. On a good note, I like to strike while the iron is hot, so I used the opportunity to clean the dust off the baseboards in the bathroom with the poopy wet towels. You just never know when you’ll get another chance to get it done, you know? Carpe Diem. I’m a rockstar like that.

So, 2 loads of towels, some clorox wipes, and a change of clothes later, it is 8 am. My girls are off to school and I’m pouring my second cup of coffee.

I thought my days of poop dealings were over after the horrific potty training days of spearing poop on my living room floor with princess crowns. Not so, my friends. Not. So. Today is proof. Proof that no matter how old your kids get, you are always going to be cleaning up the crap. Let’s all go cry now.

The Mocha Club

My 31st birthday is in a little over 2 weeks. For my birthday this is what I want you to know:

Something I ask myself often: What do I REALLY want to imprint on my children in this life? What is my mark on this world? What will my children remember me by? I want them to remember laughter because I think it can heal so many wounds and bring so much joy. I want them to remember recipes……well, at least the ones worth remembering. I want them to remember holidays and traditions. I want them to remember fun. Bike rides. Summers at the pool. Music and dancing….my ability to think of a song for any phrase spoken in the English language. But if I died tomorrow….what would I want to make sure they had ingrained on their hearts?

1) Loving Christ.

2) Loving others.

About 10 years ago I spent 4 weeks in Africa. I spent days and days in so many different schools teaching AIDS education, but the precious moments didn’t come when we were teaching. The life-altering moments came when we were just sitting around talking to the kids. I don’t know if you know…but I’m kind of a novelty in Africa. White skin. Blonde hair. My hair was wildly popular among the young girls in the schools. I would sit down and 30-40 girls would take turns just playing with my hair for hours. Me getting my hair played with kind of has the same effect as when you scratch a dog’s belly. That whole uncontrollable-zone-out-leg-shake thing happens. So, obviously I was more than happy to just let them enjoy it. While they would sit there they would just talk to me about their lives. Y’all, I cannot even find accurate words to describe how their stories broke my heart. These girls, 8-10 years old, told me of how they are able to attend school. It costs money to go to school there. They had no money. What they do have is men with money who are willing to pay for their schooling. Sadly, it comes at a price. Those men, sometimes relatives, would be waiting for them every day when they came home from school to rape them. Every. single. day. They spoke of it like it was normal. Story after story from these babies about traumatizing things. Things that should scar them. Things that should break them, but still they smile. Still they dance. Still they have joy. I have never struggled so hard to maintain my composure. I just felt sick. sick for them. I felt helpless. helpless for them. At the end of that 4 weeks I felt changed. I felt a love for these people – a desperation for these people.

Swaziland girls

Fast-forward 10 years. I’ve thought of those girls so often since then. I’ve wondered about them…wondered where they are….if they escaped that life and survived. The daily grind here in good ole ‘merica…it took over my life. On any given day my life is like this:

4:30 am wake up

5:15-6:15 gym

6:30-7:25 get the girls up and out the door for school.

7:30-8:00 shower. maybe. on a good day, but we’ll throw it in for kicks.

8:00-11:00 do laundry, clean toilets, wash dishes.

11:00-1:00 meet my friends for lunch

1:00-2:30 go to the grocery store, dollar tree, kohl’s….or any other black hole where time and money go to die.

2:45 pick the girls up from school

3:30-5:30 take the girls to whatever extracurricular activity is on the calendar for the day

5:30-6:30 cook dinner/eat

6:30-7:30 homework/showers

8:00 girls to bed

8:01 pm me to bed.

wash, rinse, repeat. day after day.

My life is so….so…..pathetically about me. Where in there do I ever look outward? Where in there do I ever love others (outside of my family)? Where do I show Christ’s love? Where do I do anything, even minutely, to make the world better?

Enter The Mocha Club. I’ve heard of The Mocha Club at concerts before….and heard it again at a couple of weeks ago at the Parachute/Matt Wertz concert in Houston. There are a slew of amazing bands/artists who are involved with this organization and talk about it at their shows. Here is the premise of the Mocha Club: For the cost of a few mochas (or tea….or iced coffee…or fraps…or <insert starbucks drink of choice here>) you can impact the world. I LOVE me some coffee. I’ve always thought Pumpkin Spice Latte’s could fix anything in the world and it turns out they can: The Mocha Club has several project areas it supports:

1) Clean Water: There are 1 billion people worldwide who do not have access to clean drinking water. Mocha Club’s clean water solutions are freeing individuals from this devastating situation by providing water that is safe and free of disease. We work to create holistic and sustainable water solutions by training and equipping community members to keep up with basic well maintenance to ensure clean water flows for years to come.

2) Education: Should where you are born determine your opportunity for a life of basic dignity? Providing education for a child can determine a completely new path for his or her life – and with your help, we can reverse the trends of injustice and poverty that lead to a lack of education in Africa. We support education projects in several countries, addressing each country’s needs individually. Amongst others, we’ve built schools in Ethiopia and Kenya. Because a lack of education often leads to unemployment, we’ve also helped fund job-training centers in South Africa and the Kibera slums of Kenya. In Africa, employment can equal the ability to feed your children or not. Together, we help provide a holistic approach to vocational training through small business loans and job skills instruction. Join Mocha Club members who are helping to provide opportunity and restore dignity to children and adults in Africa.

3) Economic Freedom: Women and children are often the most exposed and abused victims of injustice, especially in the war-torn areas of Africa. In Nazaret, Ethiopia, Mocha Club helps rehabilitate women who were forced into a life of prostitution as an attempt to escape poverty. The “Economic Freedom” program provides spiritual, emotional, and psychological counseling and helps these women find alternate means of income to support themselves and their children. By joining the Mocha Club, you, too, can help restore communities like those in Ethiopia by providing health, safety, and hope.

4) Health Care: Two major killers in Africa are HIV/AIDS and Malaria. Africa is home to 66% of the world’s HIV/AIDS population. In some countries, 1 in every 3 people carries the AIDS virus. This translates to approximately 5,500 people dying every day from AIDS, leaving behind an aftermath of orphaned children and desperate economic instability. Malaria is responsible for as many as half the deaths of African children under the age of five. In Africa alone, this disease kills more than one million children a year – which translates to a shocking 2,800 per day. The life-saving medications for these diseases cost just a few dollars a month – not much to you and I, but far above what the average African can afford. That is too expensive for much of the population of Africa

5) Orphan Care: HIV/AIDS, disease, and war have taken the lives of countless parents in Africa, and that has left orphans for us to care for. We have orphan care projects in Sudan, Ghana, Kenya and Zimbabwe where we provide the children with safe housing, protection, and complete care – food, education, spiritual direction, medical attention, and vocational training. For example, in Sudan, children are left to fend for themselves, often alone in the desert or the bush. The number one cause of death has been wild hyena attacks in the Darfur area, where orphans continue to be vulnerable to attack by wild animals and slave raiders. Mocha Club has responded by helping build a safe home for 400 boys and girls in Darfur so they can live in safety and receive the care they deserve.

I love beautiful things. I’m drawn to beautiful things. Beautiful images….beautiful skylines….Beautiful homes….beautiful clothes….beautiful shoes in particular:


That is maybe 1/3 of my shoes. They are all beautiful. They all complete a look. I have a serious weakness for beautiful shoes. I like beautiful things. Those things in and of themselves are not wrong. Those things become a problem when all I do is focus on those things and getting more things. I’ve just become tired of it – overwhelmed by it. I’m reminded of the completely changed life I can provide for someone in Africa for the cost of ONE of those pair of shoes. I’m reminded of the faces of those girls who told me their stories. Yet, I’m not doing ANYTHING….except getting more shoes.

So, I’m done. Not done admiring shoes, but done doing nothing. I’m doing something. The legacy I want to leave: Loving Christ, Loving others….I’ve got to model it. There is a big, big world out there with a lot of hurting people who need help. I can’t do everything, but I can do something….and right now it starts with giving up the cost of some starbucks each month….and volunteering with the organization….maybe even going to Africa to see the progress being made. In my dream world I’d move to Nashville and work for them. For now, now I give. I give to this:

As an early birthday present to me, I ask that you to go check this incredible organization out at ….look through the artist profiles for videos of them actually there…bringing updates of the good being done through small sacrifices. Too many great videos to share in one blog. And then go here: and join me in giving up something so small (as little as $9/month) to make such a big impact on the lives of those in need. After you sign up, if you wanted to buy me some shoes I’d totally be ok with that too.

If not this, do something. Do something to look outside yourselves and make an impact on the world around you. It’s what we are here for.


Humor is my mainstay- it is where I’m most comfortable. I’m goofy, sarcastic, and love humor in a dorky kind of way. I know that mostly I write about my crazy kids and the ways they keep me feeling appropriately alive and crazy because many times I have to laugh at it to keep from being overwhelmed by it.  I love that other people love laughing with me about it and if one other person can laugh and not feel alone in it then I feel that putting it all out there is completely worth it. Parenting is tough….and rewarding…..but in this stage of life it is just mostly tough. The only thing I’ve experienced that is tougher than parenting is life. I am 3 weeks shy of having 31 years of experience dealing with life and while I feel I’ve gained some kind of  perspective I still definitely don’t have everything figured out….or even part of everything figured out. Today, instead of bearing my soul about my kids…..I’m just bearing my soul for therapeutic purposes. Writing has proven to be an effective form of therapy for me. There is a Tolkien poem in “Lord of the Rings” that I just haven’t been able to get out of my head lately.

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.

Obviously this speaks a lot to the plot of his book but oh my goodness I feel it speaks to my life right now too. I’m really, really good at appearing to have it all together. My life theme is fortitude….and I truly feel there is not anything life can throw at me that I cannot push through. That being said, beneath it all, man I am so broken. (Mom and Dad, I’m fine, no need to worry or call) I do not like to cry. For someone who pushes through things, crying is often the breaking point of no return. For the past few months I have felt God stirring something in me and now I feel like He’s brought me to the point of complete brokenness. I’m crying a lot. Everything makes me cry. Not in a “I need medication for depression” kind of way because I know that feeling…no, this is different. This is a different kind of crying. This is a tender, scared of the unknown, I know something is building, broken kind of crying.

Not all who wander are lost. I’m a secret wanderer. I have never in my life felt more lack of direction than I do right now. I know I’m not lost because I have Christ, but man oh man am I wandering. I’m wandering for purpose. I’m wandering for my place. I feel this strange sense of greatness inside of me…that God is going to do something BIG and something GREAT through me…but no matter the angle I come at I just can’t put my finger on what it is. Even those who know me best probably wouldn’t paint me as a wanderer, but while everyone around me sees direction and togetherness in me I just feel lost. I have several degrees. My first bout with college produced a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Christian Studies with a focus in Children’s Ministry. PLUS a minor in mathematics. I was all over the place.  Not too long after I graduated I went back to school and took more math classes and became certified to teach math for grades 4-8. I never felt a pull to teach. A few years ago I went back to school and got my Master’s degree in Kinesiology. I have no immediate desire to do anything with that degree either. All of these areas interest me but None of that stirs my heart or my soul. I feel no direction with any of that, despite my best intentions to make something of it.

Growing up my oldest brother Grant and I didn’t really get along. It seemed like we could not have been more different. He was annoyed by most things about me and I was annoyed by most things about him. Something really crazy and beautiful has happened in the last few years…we’ve discovered we are completely and totally alike. See, Grant is a wanderer too. He craves change in the same way I do. We both feel restless in life a lot of the time. We are both deeply passionate people…a little emotionally guarded until the bandaid gets ripped off…and what I’ve discovered in the past few years is that we both feel a little lost. We both crave adventure. We both crave a lot of things that aren’t conducive to our lives. We both feel the same inner something that we can’t put our fingers on. I’ve got to say that I LOVE that I’m not alone. I’ve found a friendship in him that I honestly never knew would serve as such a grounding force for me. It makes me feel a little less crazy and a little less alone. He gets me. He understands when I say I have a longing for SoCal in the Spring or Nashville in the fall or NY in the winter. He gets that I want to pick up and just go, but also want to stay. He understands the struggle that is wanting to turn around and just leave it all…for wanting new….and different….and the stimulation that comes with change. He gets my soul.

Deep roots are not reached by the frost. My roots are in Christ. That’s about all that is the same with me. Something extraordinary happened about a few years ago. I found me. I found my voice. I discovered exactly what I believe, not because it is what I was told to believe growing up, but because in my heart I know it as Truth. I discovered that aside from Christ not a whole lot about me is the same as it was in the 20+ years before because a lot of it was who I thought was socially and church-appropriate for me to be. Sometimes thats the struggle for kids who grew up being in church all the time- we frame ourselves by what we’ve been told is good. I feel a bit like a stranger in my life because I built a life on who I was and now I’m different. I became less afraid to be me. I became more real. I became less afraid of admitting there is dark inside of me. There is a lot of dark in there. There are things that I struggle with deep in my soul that I hate. There are choices I’ve made and things I’ve done that I hate. I HATE my sin. I specifically HATE my sins that I can’t shake…sins that keep finding me. Things I think…things I feel deep in my soul.  The frost of wandering. The frost of sin. The frost cannot reach my roots that are in Christ, but I still feel the chill.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken. This is where I am now. I feel like a pile of burnt ashes. God has broken me down to nothing. He’s waking a fire in me. Its a little scary because I know it involves change of some sort. I feel it coming. Change for me is great, but the life I built doesn’t just involve me. It involves a family. I desperately want to do right by them and be all the things I’m supposed to be for them, but I’m craving more. There is so much good to be done out in the world. So many opportunities that stir my soul but how does that fit with being a full-time wife and mom? Something always gets neglected. Someone always gets neglected. For a while now, my relationship with Christ has been the neglected one. It has been there and been important, but it just hasn’t received the attention from me that it warrants or deserves. I know better. I want different. Life just overwhelms sometimes.

A light from the shadows shall spring. Shadow. Thats kind of what I feel like I’m in. Being broken isn’t fun. It isn’t comfortable. I’ve felt brokenness before and each time such growth and beauty came from it. Each time before it came from some specific situation: whether it was realizing that this really great, Godly man I was dating wasn’t going to be my husband as I previously thought and for no horrible reason other than i just felt it in my soul that he wasn’t right, or the brokenness that came from my parents’ divorce. Those were specific life shattering experiences that altered my course and left me with no choice but to rely on God. I’ve never been broken like this for no good reason before, but I know my God. I know there is purpose in it. I know the light will come…I just have to hang in the shadows for a while.

Renewed shall be blade that was broken. I want to be on the other side. I don’t like being broken. I don’t like being weak. I don’t like not knowing how it will all play out. It is uncomfortable, but I TRUST. I think it is probable that I have trust issues, but I do trust my God that His plan is perfect. I’ve always thought I knew what that plan looked like but where I’m at now I can’t see the path. Because I can’t see I just have to trust that this brokenness is for refinement. It is for me to be renewed. It is in preparation for the change He’s bringing.

Friends, if you are there too, I encourage you to hold on. Be still. Listen. Seek Him out. His plan will play out and it will be perfect.

I’m a total music geek. Music penetrates my soul like nothing else in my life does. I like ALL kinds of music. I’m all over the place. As a christian sometimes there is pressure to listen exclusively to Christian music but I don’t get that. God speaks to me through all kinds of music, just as He does through all kinds of people and situations. An artist I’ve been listening to since college recently got a lot of action on my playlist because I went to his concert. He is not an artist under a Christian label but he is a Christian who is an artist. His name is Matt Wertz and he is mostly known for his amazing songs about relationships, but my favorite songs of his are those about Christ, His love, and life’s struggles. He’s an all-around fantastic artist and I HIGHLY recommend you check out his music, but more than that I get the impression that he’s just a genuine, transparent, good guy. All that being said, I’ll leave you with my current favorite song of his that it is absolutely being used by Christ to speak to my heart:


Listen, y’all. Parenting is hard. It is constantly changing and just when you think you have a handle on it your kid goes and matures the tiniest bit and it throws things all off again. I’m sure if your go-to way to process things is emotionally, then it is exponentially more difficult. I do not have that problem. I don’t know if you have see the movie “The Holiday”, but Cameron Diaz plays a character who literally cannot cry at appropriate times. That is me. I try. Man, I thought for sure first day of kindergarten for my monsters would do it. Even though all I felt was joy, I anticipated at least one tear. I practiced what it might be like. Nothing. I assure you that despite what my precious friends say, I am not devoid of emotion altogether. I feel things. I just think first, feel second. Sometimes this is incredibly awkward, like when sitting at a women’s conference and they show a video about anything baby, father/daughter, puppy, <insert anything lovey-dovey/traumatic here> and every.single.lady. is crying…….except me. every. stinkin. one. My best friends stare intently at me through blurry, tear-filled eyes with the hope of seeing a single tear glistening on my cheek. It won’t happen. Not about that stuff. I’m too logical. Where it happens? Movies. It’s ridiculous. Movies, for me, are a complete and total escape. I know they aren’t real. I like that they aren’t real. I cry in movies. “The Fault in our Stars” OH.MY.GOSH. I didn’t think I was going to survive. My friend had to get proof that it actually happened, and just so you know in baring my soul here I’m being completely honest… you go:


I don’t mean a little cry….I mean embarrassingly bawling. Red puffy eyes. I can’t even think about that movie. So, back to my original point: parenting. Not everything about me is awesome, just ask my husband, but one thing I think is super awesome is that I absolutely, without a doubt, do not parent from emotion. Hear me when I say this because not having a grasp on THIS is a downfall of society: WE ARE GIVEN CHILDREN TO RAISE SO THEY GROW UP AND LEAVE HOME. That is the purpose. It isn’t to bring you joy, though it may sometimes. It isn’t for you to have a best friend. It isn’t for you to have something to do. It isn’t so you can forget everything about yourself and pour all of everything you have ONLY into this little being. You are doing a disservice to your children and to society when you get in the way of the purpose. Every single moment is preparation for them to leave. I know you don’t want to hear that. It may make some of you sad. I don’t know about you, but I want my kids to grow up to not need me. That may sound harsh to some of you, but it is the truth and I believe it to the core of my being. I want them to take this world by storm, even if it is half-way around the world, and know CONFIDENTLY that they can and will succeed. I want them to be fearless. Do you know how you raise children who are fearless and confident? You let them do things YOU are afraid of. You don’t hover. You don’t protect. You let them explore life (with some boundaries) so that they fail. Let them experience danger. Let. them. learn. how. to. problem. solve. without. you. Did you catch that? LET THEM PROBLEM SOLVE WITHOUT YOU. If you never let your child/preteen/teen figure some stuff out on their own, how in the world do you think that overnight they are going to magically know how to do that at 18? 

Education and information can be fabulous things. Technology has done wonders for us. It has also turned many of us into over-protective, hovering, scared-out-of-our-mind, paranoid freaks of parents. I know there is bad stuff out there. I know some things are dangerous. Hear me: NOT EVERY STRANGER WANTS TO KIDNAP YOUR ANGELIC CHILD. NOT EVERY STRANGER WANTS TO MOLEST YOUR CHILD. CAR ACCIDENTS HAPPEN. You cannot protect your child from everything and you know what? It is absolutely NOT your job to protect your child from everything. Create a GENERAL safe environment? yes. Protect like a rabid watch dog? No. Do not convince yourself that you are supposed to do God’s job. God gave you those kids and He will darn well take them when HE is good and ready. IF you live your life in fear that you will lose your kids or something bad will happen to them, then that fear will be projected onto them and that is how they will view the world: Fearful and paranoid. Someone very well may kidnap my kids while they are playing outside. Someone I know and trust may molest my child. My kids may die in a car accident. As devastating as that would be… is truly well with my soul. My God is bigger than all that and My God is bigger than fear. He knows what comes before us and HE IS IN CONTROL. ALWAYS. Hear me when I say this: Don’t stop being AWARE, but stop letting FEAR dictate your steps. Some people, even my best friends, think I’m a little extreme on this, but I would rather my children learn to live confidently and fearlessly than never let them play outside with each other or their friends unattended because someone might drive by and might take them from me. I have vivid memories of playing hide-and-go seek in my neighborhood in Kingwood, Texas when I was 4. I remember peeing my pants several times because I was NOT going to come out of hiding to go to the bathroom. Sacrifice to win. But you know what? My parents were NOT outside with us and we survived….nobody took us…..and even better? WE THRIVED BECAUSE OF IT! So no, I will not take that right of passage from my kids because I’m afraid. I’ll teach them to scream if someone tries to take them. I’ll teach them how to punch a man in his junk so they let them go. I swear to you we have HAD that conversation. They may look angelic with the blond hair, blue eyes, and toothless grin, but try to kidnap them and they will do some damage to your crotch. I give them healthy boundaries: do not go past the bike trail at the end of the street. They violate that and they lose the privilege to play outside for a while. I step to the window every 30 min or so to make sure I hear voices, but other than that I do what I need to do inside. I would rather my kids learn to live life confidently and fearlessly than to NEVER let them know the joys of a slumber party. Seriously guys….with all the girl drama, no sleep, junk food to our ears, cheer-leading stunts in our pajamas, hair and make-up, and skits/shows….slumber parties were some of the MOST FUN TIMES OF MY LIFE. I’m going to take that experience from my kids because someone might molest them? No. I absolutely, positively, without a doubt WILL NOT DO THAT. What I will do is be aware of who the parents are. I will talk to my children about private parts being private as they streak through my house after shower time and do the naked dance. (it happens. daily.) I will teach them to scream as loud as they possibly can if anyone EVER tries to touch them inappropriately. We practice this. Now, Prepare yourself. What I’m about to say may send steam coming out some of your ears. You may literally want to get in your car, buckle appropriately, and come to my house to tell me your thoughts. Don’t. I’m firm on my stance. Ready? Buckle up self-professed seat belt nazis cause this is going to rock your world. I ABSOLUTELY will not miss the opportunity to let my children put their chest strap behind them so we can have an impromptu family dance party in the car when the Happy song comes on. While the car is in motion. I dance and drive. at the same time. Yep, you read that right. My children are not always buckled appropriately. Yep, I know we could get in a car accident and they could fly through the window to their untimely death. Or they could FOREVER remember family dance parties in the car. We do this:

1454765_747976662229_27064181_n   and this: 994035_748053193859_283266701_n and this: 1535656_764735058269_2033993969_n  and a million other things I don’t have pictures of because I WAS LETTING THEM PLAY AND DISCOVER ALONE. Do you know why we do these things? so that we can do this: 



I want my kids to make mistakes so that they learn how to overcome them. I want my kids to experience failure so they learn how to overcome it. I want my kids to experience loss so they learn how to process it and overcome it. I want them to experience pain so that they learn how to condition their minds to suck. it. up. and move on. I want them to be prepared to GROW UP AND LEAVE ME.

Now, my children are almost 6. As they get older they should need me less and less. Don’t cry over this. Don’t try to stop it. Don’t spend your days depressed that your life’s work is fading away. LET THEM GROW UP. We are not encouraged to do this very often. Even schools don’t encourage this. I know that the schools have to do what they have to do because parent’s fail MISERABLY at teaching their kids responsibility. I am a schools best friend they never knew they had. The twins are not the only children I have ever raised. I’ve done the teen thing twice now. HARDEST. THING. I. HAVE. EVER. DONE. Teen girls have such a ridiculous spectrum of emotion and can go from one end to the other in less than 5 seconds. You can’t understand it. You won’t understand it. Don’t try. The biggest gift you can give your teen is the gift of responsibility and letting the chips fall as they may when they fail miserably with responsibility. They will learn. Learning is good. Even if it is hard….it is good. You forgot your folder on the floor of your room? I’m sorry, I truly am. That is horrible. YOU better talk to YOUR teacher and let her know what YOU did. Maybe she’ll show you grace….if not, take your failing grade like a champ. IF I AM GOING TO PUT MY 16 YEAR OLD BEHIND THE WHEEL OF A CAR then I absolutely, positively am not going to monitor her reading progress for AP History. Not going to happen. Ever. She is a big girl. Nobody is going to monitor her reading progress in college. Take care of your own stuff. Know what needs to be done and do it. If you don’t, your problem is not with me, it is with your teachers. It is with your life. You don’t keep up with your school work and make good grades….you don’t get into college. You don’t get into college….you don’t have the tools to make a living. Sucks for you. Be responsible. I am your cheerleader. I pray over you to do well. I pray over you to make good choices. I give you healthy boundaries. At this point in life I should not be holding your hand through your daily tasks. If you don’t let your kid learn to fail and overcome it, they will end up living on your couch at 25 because they do not know how to function in the world. Take a gander at this:

“Today, some 29 percent of 25- to 34-year olds either never moved out of their parents’ home or say they returned home in recent years. Among 18- to 24-year olds, that figure is even higher – 53 percent of young adults in that age group live at home.”

No. Just No. NOT. HAPPENING. This should not be an option. The response should be: I’m sorry. FIGURE IT OUT! A night in a shelter would hopefully humble them because some people ALWAYS sleep there. Working drive-thru at Mcdonalds all night after working all day at the kitchen at Chili’s will ONLY MAKE THEM BETTER. I promise you. They will figure it out. Y’all, I would have rather lived UNDER A BRIDGE than moved back in with my parents. Not because I came from a horrible family…my family rocked. It was because I was an ADULT and I knew I needed to get AND keep my crap together. It was not my parents’ responsibility to pay my bills. It was not my parents’ responsibility to give me a place to live. Listen, when my kids move out I’m throwing a party. You are all invited. It is going to be HUGE and FABULOUS!  I’m not celebrating because I’m saying good riddance and don’t love them. I’m celebrating because I have done my job….and hopefully done it so well that they want to move to Australia to be a really cool something or other. I’ll go visit. I love a good beach vacation. 

The point? I know you are thinking there MUST eventually be one. The world will not be sensitive, and kind, and accommodating to my grown children. The world will not cater to their every need. The world will be hard. The world will be unfair. The world will sometimes be scary. The world will also be beautiful…and adventurous….and full of amazing, endless opportunities. If my children are groomed from a young age to approach life shoulders back, arms stretched out, eyes lifted, with me BEHIND them…..not beside them holding their hand with tears streaming down my cheeks….not in front of them paving their way by knocking dangerous or unpleasant things away with my kitchen broom while wearing my football helmet and knee pads…BEHIND them cheering “YOU CAN DO THIS…I KNOW YOU CAN”, then they will be CONFIDENT and FEARLESS. They WILL do great things. Or they won’t….and that will be on them….and I’ll invite them to sip a margarita and tell me all about it while lounging in my pool for the day….then I’ll pray with them, give them fabulous advice and send them back into the world to try again. 

Things I have learned this week

This week has been weird. really weird. I have learned a lot about myself this week. First, taking a week off from the gym to let my body rest/heal may be good for my old-woman-injured-body but it is TERRIBLE for my mind and for my 29 (I’m claiming it, out loud, a LOT for the next 2 months) year old external body. By that I mean, I have never in my entire life consumed as many calories in a span of 5 days as I have this week. Yesterday, for instance, I had ice cream twice. One replaced an entire meal. the other was a dessert….at lunch. I also, in the same day, ate 4 brownies. and chick-fil-a. and a large vanilla iced coffee. separate from my coffee at breakfast. Now, repeat that 4 more times and that has been my week. I’ve learned that exercise keeps me focused. It keeps me not depressed. It keeps me energized. It keeps me social. It keeps me from eating my entire pantry in a single sitting. It also keeps me from killing those I live with, which brings me to another thing I learned this week. MY CHILDREN ARE NOT HOME-BODIES. By that I mean, they absolutely cannot for the life of them lay around and do nothing. They cannot entertain themselves. They MOST CERTAINLY cannot do nothing together. The fighting, OH THE FIGHTING!!!!! Because I’ve felt yucky all week (could it possibly be because I ate myself into a calorie-coma?) we haven’t substituted gym time with any other activities, so we have been home. NON-STOP. Hours upon hours of togetherness at home. The only escape I have is my room. Like the fantastic mother that I am, I let my children have free reign on the Wii remote to watch netflix in the hopes that they will leave me alone to watch my mind-numbing, pointless shows. Before you “Oh My Gosh, she lets her kids watch whatever they want on netflix” me, it is set to the Netflix kids, which means they can only watch whatever KIDS shows they want. So HA!, shut it. I feel that Hannah Montana is totally educational. It teaches problem solving, real-life family relationship management, sarcasm, and humor. It encourages an appreciation of the arts. It is old-school Miley cyrus, you know back when she had hair and wore clothes. My children, though, both have the attention span of a gnat. combined. Every two minutes they would come in my room to pick at the dog. Or ask for food. Or ask where we were going today. Sometimes they would have clothes on. Sometimes not. If I locked my door so they couldn’t come in they would stand there and kick it…or bang on it until I opened it, sometimes screaming and asking if I was “ok in there”. I WAS BLISSFUL UNTIL THE GNATS STARTED KICKING MY DOOR. To be fair, we did water-color painting together….and eat together. You can present me with my mom of the year award later. So, I learned we need structure. We need activities. We need the gym. My children need school. My dog needs another home. That is the other thing I learned this week. I should never, ever, ever get another dog. No matter how “adorable” the fluffy little black puppy on the sidewalk is…TELL ME NO! As many of you already saw, Charlie, our not so miniature Schnauzer did this yesterday: Image

This is our leather chair. Our beautiful leather chair. Charlie is NOT a puppy. He is 2.5 human years which means 17 in dog years. He SHOULD NOT BE CHEWING THINGS. He has NEVER chewed anything in our house. Flip-flops left in the back-yard? yes. Ripped trash left in the back yard into a million tiny pieces? yes. But NEVER anything IN our house. He’s obviously heard my motto: Go big or go home. Well, he went big and now, if my husband has his way, he will go home too. Another home.

I also learned that Peter Parker’s mutant spider escaped and made a home in my oven. It then took up residence on my not cheap, but not particularly tasty gluten free pizza….that was in the very hot oven… for over 15 minutes before I found the very much ALIVE mutant spider crawling on it. This was the last straw. It called for serious action. Desperate times call for: Image 

Ice cream for dinner. A small chocolate chip mix from Braum’s to be exact. Could this have just been my “end of summer mommy melt-down”? possibly. Have I finally just completely lost it and gone certifiably nuts? only time will tell, but I’m guessing not because I ordered the small mix instead of the large. For now, I am still married. My children are still alive….AND in my custody. My dog, Charlie, is still a member of our family, albeit in his cage 23.5 hours of the day. 

I learned that while my back, shoulder, feet, and muscles may feel better after a week away from the gym, my skin, children’s lives, marriage, mental health, and metabolism very much need it. All my formal education on exercise and nutrition proved true in 5 short days. Good, healthy food and amounts of food is good for the skin, body, and mind. Daily exercise is essential for not just the health of your body, but for the health of your mind. They both help fight off fat and fatigue, dun-lap bellies and depression, migraines and murder. 

Go exercise and eat an apple, trust me.