Monday, October 10, 2016


To the Teacher Who Had the Misfortune of Opening Our Car Door in the Morning Drop-Off Line,

Oinking.  Yes, that was oinking you just heard spilling out of our minivan, followed by fits of laughter.  But it's okay - my dear children were just imitating their mother.  I am very mature and proper, obviously.

It's my oldest child's fault, really.

She was talking about starting Chinese class at school, and it reminded me of that time we went to a large Chinese New Year celebration when she was a toddler.

How I had been taught how to say "thank you" in Mandarin by our dear friend and host.  And how I "Xièxiè"ed so much, that the ladies in the serving line finally told me I didn't have to say that Every. Single. Time. they loaded food on my plate.

I am nothing if not (over) polite - especially in foreign languages.

Then there was the roasted pig. With cherries for eyes.  (I don't know where they grow Goliath pigs, but this one had it's very own table.  Not that he cared.)

I really wanted to be a gracious guest and not refuse the cherry-eye offered by our friend to my cherubic 18 month old, plucked straight from the poor porker's eye socket.

(Did I mention I was a vegetarian? And seeing a whole pig laid out on the table was a bit much for my stomach. I was going to cruise on by, but no such luck. It didn't help that now, with one less cherry-eye, it appeared to be winking at me. Back off, man.)

And how I cheered on the inside when angel-baby accidentally dropped it on the ground, while on the outside dutifully lamenting the loss of eating such a delightful treat. "Awww, oh no!  That's okay, sweetie.  Here, have a (non-pork-or-body-part-related) sucker instead . . ."

Fast-forward to our morning school commute, and relating the story may have led to a reenactment on my part in the car of a pig with cherry-eyes.

Which may have led all my children to hold fists up to their eyes and oink like there was no tomorrow (quite accurate for a cherry-eyed pig, actually).

And then the door opened, and we were oinking and crying for laughing so hard.  You smiled politely, bless your heart.  They just really don't pay your sweet soul enough for what you endure each day.

So, yes, that was oinking.  And if you overhear my child talking about a cherry-eyed pig wearing a fanny pack?  Well, that's a whole other story.

Actually, I will just go ahead and apologize for whatever you hear tumbling out of our car tomorrow and every day thereafter until June.  Thank you for your service. You only have 15 more years of our family attending this school . . .

"That Mom" in the blue minivan

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Here's a Crazy Idea

So, in the name of trying to let go of control and let the Spirit lead more, I've been trying this crazy experiment around here.

Listening to the Spirit's nudges.

And then following them.

Ground-breaking stuff, yes? I know - it should seem so obvious.  But knowing you should do something and actually doing that thing are two entirely different critters, and I have felt quite convicted lately about my knowing vs. doing.  What good does all the thinking, learning and growing do if I keep it all in my head?  

The Spirit has been making this point lately in the most beautiful, loud, yet gentle ways possible.

For example, on Monday, I chose to listen to His prompting to text a friend and see if her sweet girl could come play with us for the morning.  I had to shut out all the reasons why I shouldn't - it was too early, they probably already had plans, maybe I'm too tired, etc.  Well, it wasn't, they didn't and I had an unusual amount of energy.

It seemed to me a simple win-win for the mommies - entertainment for my sweet girl so I could get housework done and a break for my friend stuck at home with never-ending construction and workers.

But, as the Lord's usual MO goes, He took it and multiplied it into SO much more.

Watching our two sweet ones play and giggle genuinely did my heart good - they were equally hilarious and just plain adorable.

When they sat down to lunch and both wanted to pray? Precious.

When they both thanked God for their "good friend" next to them? I think my heart exploded and I immediately praised the Lord for being so faithful in bringing us amazing, godly friends.

My heart was so full and my good, good Father had used two 5 year olds to fill it up.  Isn't that just like Him?!

When we returned our little guest to her home, my friend explained how she was able to have an extended conversation and prayer with another friend in need - something that probably wouldn't have been possible during a typical morning.

See what God did there?  He took such a small step of obedience and used it to bless FIVE people.

And please hear what I'm saying - this is not about my obeying, that itself only comes from the Lord.  It's about how He's teaching me that letting go and trusting Him doesn't always look scary.

In fact, sometimes it means He is wanting to show off His beauty, faithfulness and love for us.  He just needs a captive, willing audience first.

So, here's to crazy experiments, Spirit nudges, small obedience and a big God.

And, also, five-year-olds.  Definitely five-year-olds.

Because? I think I want to be five when I grow up.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Fear, Control, Trust and Lessons "Learned"

“You know, hon, what I think I’ve really learned this summer? During this whole season we just walked through? That I need to just let go, to stop trying to control everything. God’s in charge and He has it all worked out!"

My confident assessment of a lesson well-learned came on a gorgeous September morning as my husband drove us through Starbucks. Having just dropped off our three young daughters at their Mother’s Morning Out program, we were on our way to the first sonogram of an unexpected, but very joyful, pregnancy.

We were more than ready to put the past several months behind us. That summer of 2012 was one for the books. If it’s true that when it rains, it pours – then we had just come through a hurricane.

But loose ends had tied up, situations had resolved and the storm had passed. I happily sipped my decaf mocha and enjoyed the beginnings of fall in Georgia as we drove.

40 minutes later, belly covered in goop and our eyes anxiously watching every movement on the sono tech’s screen . . .Wait, back up - did I just see what I thought I saw??? Nah. . .what are the chances?! Sono tech: “Did you two just see what I saw?!” Stunned silence followed by outrageous laughter, because really – what other response could there be when TWO tiny, beautiful heartbeats appear??!

And approximately 7 minutes after THAT….

”Hon, HOW is this going to work??! What if I have to go on bedrest? Who is going to take care of the girls? ALL of our family is in Texas!! A schedule. I need to make a schedule of who can help and when. Oh my goodness, people are going to be in our house ALL the time and they will see what a horrible homemaker I am. I need to clean. TWO newborns?? Plus the THREE kiddos we have?? I can’t do this….God got the wrong girl because there is no way …. CRUD - we have to get a new car! We can’t fit FIVE kids in my Pilot . . .or your Cherokee . . .Where are they going to sleep? SLEEP – we need TWO cribs . . .two carseats . . .two of everything . . .I just gave away all the baby stuff! ALL. THE. STUFF. Will the girls be okay? Will they love them? Will they feel neglected? How am I going to mommy FIVE young children??? And did you SEE how much protein they want me to eat every day?? How am I going to do THAT?? Don’t they know I’m a VEGETARIAN??!!”

Seems like God wasn’t actually through with that whole “give up control and trust Me” lesson after all.

But here’s the thing. SPOILER ALERT: He IS in charge and He DID have it all worked out, even if I couldn’t see it yet.

As the next 8 months unfolded, we watched as God stepped in and provided everything we needed, every single day.

Friends encouraged us, laughed with us, and listened to all my fears and doubts without judgment.

I spent a good deal of my pregnancy in a state of denial, so when I was 30 weeks and still hadn’t cleaned out the cluttered spare room for the nursery – an amazing friend stepped in, cleaned, moved furniture, hung curtains and created a beautiful space. (While I sat on the floor with a mostly glazed-over look.)

When a schooling change was needed for our oldest, that same friend stepped in and homeschooled my daughter along with her own. Needless to say, that was her most favorite school year EVER.

The teachers at Mother’s Morning Out always had kind and encouraging words for me at drop-off and pick-up. Every. Single. Day.

Two of my dearest friends were like second mothers to my girls. Carpool, hugs, playdates, lunches, dinners – I have no doubt my girls felt loved and secure no matter whose home they were at.

Our home group was our family away from family. And it was through one of our precious friends there that we met the most amazing nanny that quickly became an essential and much loved part of our family. They even pooled resources and paid for her to come an extra day each week so I could have more time to rest.

The nanny. I just cannot even. Let’s just say that I could not have custom-ordered a more perfect fit for our family. She was more than I could have even hoped for and a tremendous blessing to us and our girls. I think that may be a whole other post!

All that baby stuff I had given away? Came back to us ten-fold through such generous, kind hearts! Strollers, swings, diapers, clothes, blankets, gift cards – we lacked for nothing.

So to go back to my fears . . .Someone to take care of the girls? Check. Baby gear and clothes? All taken care of. Car? We were able to trade mine in for a minivan for very little out-of-pocket. Nursery? Done.

God was pouring out manna for us every single day. My response, however, was right in line with the Israelites . . .

“You have got the wrong girl. I. Cannot. Do. This.”

Even after such pouring out of blessing upon blessing which so evidently pointed out that God was more than capable of taking care of us – I still had my eyes upon my own strength. Which was woefully inadequate and I knew it.

My greatest fear was that I would simply crash and burn. That I would not be enough to meet all the needs around me – my girls, the babies, my husband, the house. And when I crashed, I would take everyone down with me. It whispered to me EVERY DAY a long list of “what ifs” and “you can’ts”. And I believed them.

On one account, I was right. I was not enough. In fact, I cannot count how many times someone would (with very sweet intentions) tell me, “Well, God doesn’t give us more than we can handle.”

And I wanted to scream “YES. Actually, YES, He does. Because I CANNOT handle this on my own.”

Thankfully instead of a scream, what normally came out was a self-deprecating laugh and “Actually, I think He does. That way I have no choice but to depend on Him.”

But admitting I had no choice but to depend on Him? That meant trust. Like REAL trust. Not a summer camp fall-into-my-arms trust exercise that at worst might result in a few bruises. But a real “If you don’t show up then this will be a disaster” kind of trust. And that level of trust requires that whole giving up control thing.

Yeah. Back to that again.

Fast forward to a beautiful Wednesday morning in April. We left our 3 girls with my parents who had been able to drive in from Texas to help (and maybe also love on two new sweet grandbabies). I was a nervous wreck – epidurals scare the crud out of me and this would be my first C-section. My fear wheeled right into that operating room with me. Nothing like a sterile, white room with 6 people in scrubs and masks plus no feeling in half my body and no sight past the screen draped across my chest. In case I had any illusions of control, they all flew out the window at this point.

But, then.

Then, courtesy of my husband, one swaddled beauty appeared on my right and her sister soon followed on my left. The joy, relief and awe was inexplicable. If there was ever a case for a Creator, it was confirmed, underlined and highlighted as I took in these two masterpieces, so marvelously knit together.

The recovery room? The joy and laughter spilled out over and under the dividing curtain – so much that other nurses kept peeking in to see what the commotion was all about. This was one of those “Mary” moments – one that I treasured up in my heart.

My husband was able to stay with me night and day, thanks to my parents and our amazing nanny loving our girls so well in our absence. I had read ZERO books on having twins. And since I wasn’t nursing (no judgment, kthx) I just really hadn’t thought through the logistics of feeding two babies ON MY OWN. My hubby was with me - we would each feed one, burp one, change one . . .we had man-to-man coverage and it was working great.

The little voice kept trying to remind me that I would eventually have to figure out how to do all that on my own – Brad would return to work, parents would have to return to Texas and unfortunately the hospital nurses couldn’t come home with us.

But I kind of did that mental equivalent of sticking my fingers in my ears and going “la la la I don’t hear you!” Staying in my pretend world was working pretty well so far.

What happened next was almost a holy moment, an orchestrated whispering from my good, good Father that He called me to this and He would equip me for this – that this was no mistake.

The babies were nice and calm, I was comfortable and resting and it was a good time for my dear husband to grab a quick shower. No problem.

Until one woke up. And then the other. And they were HUNGRY. And I all but panicked.

But it’s just me here!! What do I do??!! Feed one, then the other? But they are both screaming! I don’t want to call a nurse just for this!! PANIC and fear were having a good ol’ time with me, reminding me that I couldn’t do this.

Mom instinct (otherwise known as the Holy Spirit grabbing my face with both hands, looking me in the eyes and yelling, “Get a hold of yourself, woman!”) kicked in. Before I knew it, I had fashioned two little “nests” out of pillows in front of me on my bed – to keep them secure and their heads inclined. With a bottle in each hand, I watched as my two little birdies quieted down and contented baby gulps filled the silence, a realization took over.


(This is where God gets a good laugh at me finally grasping what He’s been trying to tell me for 8 months.)

Please, let me leave no illusion that the days, weeks, months and years that followed were by any means easy. Reality of life with 3 young children and 2 newborns set in. I had my share of breakdowns. From crying until I made myself sick, to a good dose of post-partum depression and going semi-catatonic on the kitchen floor because I could. not. do. it. any. more.

But my good, good Father – He provided something EVERY single day that encouraged me and got me through those times.

An unexpected nap. Some good quality time with the bigger girls. A friend to offer to hold babies so I could shower. Coffee chats full of laughter. A phone call. Even just the overwhelming feeling of joy – in the midst of fatigue – that TWO tiny new lives had us all completely in love.

That first year is still kind of a blur to me, but I know we made it. All my fears? Completely silenced. And now those babies are a week shy of turning THREE. What in the world?!

I’ve always thought that God makes the best visuals to accompany His lessons for us – butterflies are a beautiful picture of a changed life in Him, Spring reminds us that He makes all things new and the ocean serves to compare our smallness to His majesty and vastness.

I like to think that I have two of my very own walking, talking visuals – currently playing dolls in the next room. Reminders of God’s goodness, faithfulness and His incredible patience with my unbelief. That I indeed CAN do all things through Him who gives me strength. That fear has no hold on me when I trust His loving provision.

And control. I can indeed give up control and trust Him. Although I have a feeling this will be a lifelong process for me, I feel like I’ve grown by leaps and bounds.

But I’ve also learned enough not to declare a confident lesson learned and done with.

We all know how that went down last time. ;-)

Monday, February 22, 2016

I Can't Blog From My Phone and Other Excuses

God has this funny way of calling bluffs.

Sitting alone in the woods on a gorgeous spring-like January morning, I was wrestling and talking some things out with the Lord.  This "quiet time" during our ladies' retreat was the thing I needed the most, but also the thing that I've been avoiding the most in my daily life.  The constant motion around here eventually became a good excuse to stop being still enough to really listen. 

Among other things, my extended blogging hiatus was really on my heart. I was sensing that He was calling me to start writing again.  I felt a little like Moses telling God all the reasons why I couldn't do that - including the fact that our laptop had crashed and, as we do almost everything on our phones anyway, replacing it just had not made sense.  And surely the Lord knows that trying to blog from a phone is insanity defined. As my excuses kept rolling out (and sounding increasingly ridiculous) I finally just flat out told God, 

"Okay, fine. If you want me to write, then I really do need a computer again.  So. If a free computer comes my way then I will take that as it's time to start writing again."

Because somewhere along the way, the truth is, I lost the courage to write.  And when our laptop displayed the blue screen of death, it was a convenient excuse to let writing fade away.

Besides, life is busy. I spend my days walking in circles trying to remember why I'm holding a stuffed lamb in one hand, scrubbing sidewalk chalk off the rug with the other and reminding a child to please stop barking so loudly when I think my original goal was to make dinner.  So putting together regular, coherent thoughts?  Right.

Also, it's a very different online culture now than when I first started blogging 10 (!) years ago.  We live in a culture of outrage, where one misinterpreted post goes viral and suddenly the newest public enemy number one is wondering what just happened.

For somebody who rrreeeeeally doesn't like conflict, this is a daunting prospect.

What if somebody doesn't like what I say?  What if I accidentally offend someone?

And also there's the whole "Do my words really matter?  Really?  There are like a bazillion blogs out there and if there's nothing new under the sun, what does my little blog really add?" thing.

I know.  Welcome to my head.

Well, you know what?  All that mess swirling around and around in my mind? That is playing to my fears and letting the enemy get a foothold.  And who wants to live like that?

Not. Me.

Not anymore.

(At least not this morning.  It's a daily battle)

So I guess it was a "putting out the fleece" moment for me.  Sure, we could theoretically buy a computer and I could start blogging again.  But I wanted to know that God was in it.  That this was something He was really speaking to me about.  Not as a test of Him - I know He can create a computer out of an ant if He wants to, for goodness sake.  But as a test of my hearing Him - was I really hearing Him nudge me that strongly toward writing again?

Fast forward a couple of weeks from that January morning declaration in woodsy solitude (which I told nobody about, by the way) and my precious dad is over at our house helping me out with something one morning.  When out of the blue he says,

"You know, I have a laptop that I'm not using anymore.
You're welcome to have it, if you want it."
I'm pretty sure God was getting a good kick out of this moment.  Suddenly, I didn't have an excuse anymore.  God heard my mustard-seed, "here's my fleece", like-a-computer-is-just-going-to-show-up-but-God-can-do-anything, oh-but-what-if-he-does prayer and took me up on it.

Grateful?  Absolutely

Fearful?  Totally.

Because now I had to keep my end of the bargain.  Don't get me wrong - writing is something I love.  I really do.  It's putting it out there for other people to read that's the problem lately.

But apparently God is doing something in me through this.

He is ruler over lame excuses, over fear and over what "makes sense".

So (deep breath and put down the stuffed lamb and scrubbing cloth)....

Here I go.