The days are long…

7811_10151515238697149_1930052226_nMy Facebook and Instagram feeds are overflowing with proud faces, all basking in the glow of cap and gown, pomp and circumstance, diploma and accolade that come with graduation. Pre-K graduation. Yes, those little 4 and 5 year olds are about to embark on the real world and take the place by storm.

It won’t be long before those little ones are smelling up the house with their pre-pubescent funk – of the physical and emotional variety. And then the next thing you know, Continue reading

When did this happen?

There are people who know you better than you know yourself. You know those people, right? A best friend, a longtime co-worker, a spouse or other family member. You know who your people are.


These nuts are a few of “my people.”

I have just begun to realize that my daughters have become two of “my people.” I knew it was bound to happen. I just didn’t think it would happen so soon. And I didn’t think they would realize it was happening before I did.

I’m one of those people to my mom. Or at least I think I am. I remember riding in the car with her on the way to drivers ed. It was before school, early enough for her to drive me on her way to work which was a rarity. Maybe that’s why it sticks in my memory or maybe it was the conversation. My mom is a saint and she never gives herself enough credit for being the amazingly strong person that she is.


Me & my Mom at Disneyland. My love of Disney comes honestly.

So, in this conversation that dark morning, my mom said something like, “I should have done…” It was an expression of regret about something. I don’t remember what that something was, I just remember that she thought she “should have” done something else. And, in the wisdom of a snotty nosed 14 year-old, I remember almost yelling at her, “Shoulda, woulda, coulda, whatever! Just do it!” Seriously, I was so smart wasn’t I? But somehow I knew that my mom was capable of much more than she thought she was.

Though I was a complete jerk at the time, it is that conversation that has helped me as an adult to understand my mom better than she understands herself. It took me a long time to realize that I had insight to her that she didn’t even have of herself – that she should be more forgiving of herself, for one thing. I wish I’d realized this before I hit adulthood because I’m pretty sure that would have made me a better person – at least a better daughter.

Fast forward to my own girls. There is nothing like traveling together to help you get to know someone better. My oldest and I have had the privilege of doing that a lot lately. And I realize that she knows a lot about me – the good, bad and ugly. And she usually smiles about it when she points it out. For instance, she knows what will set off my tactile defensiveness and she seems to be completely intrigued by this crazy part of me. She knows that I have a bizarre fascination with how things work and why people do what they do.


One of my favorites. Warms a momma’s heart.

And my younger daughter, well she shows serious signs of getting me, too. Just yesterday, she turned to someone and said she “needed a Dr. Pepper” and that she realizes why I “need” one when I do and she said it in such a way that it warmed my heart.  She understands why I go nuts when someone does a bad parking job. And this girl understands exactly how to make me run faster at the end of a race.

And yes, they both know what makes me use curse words – which is probably not the reasons you may be thinking. They know that I could easily cry at the drop of a hat and I’m pretty sure they know why I usually don’t succumb to the urge to do so. They are beginning to get me better than I get myself – and most days I need that kind of understanding from people in my life. Who doesn’t? 

When did this happen? I’ll admit it is a bit sobering because it means that they are growing up. And I guess that it also means that we will figure out this whole “adulting” thing together.  I thought they would have to drag me kicking and screaming to this season of life, yet I think I’m ok with it. So, let’s do this…but let’s take our time, shall we?

Deciding who wins.

Our family has always held travel – everywhere from other parts of our state, to developing countries, to the “great sites” of the world – as one of our core values. Travel may seem like an elitist thing to value. And maybe it is. We don’t take for granted that we have the resources and opportunity to travel that11885325_10153195094177149_4024024933767817571_n not everyone has. Yet, seeing how the rest of the world lives, meeting people from around the globe, and debunking the “ugly American” stereotype (or at least we try our best to do so!) are ways that we can make a difference in the world.  Again, I hear it. There is some sense of pretentiousness to it.

Our hope is that, through travel, our daughters will grow to have a different view of the world than they would otherwise. Though the world seems small the moment a pop up on our cell phones notifies us of explosions in Brussels just minutes after they happen, the reality is we inhabit a world full of variety, disparity, and vastness. It may sound trite but it’s a big world and it is difficult to understand this big world and its people if we stay in our cocoon and never spread our wings to explore it.

Over the last 24 hours, I’ve read and listened to conversations about the risk of international travel. I’ve had friends who have asked if we want our daughter who is studying abroad to hurry up and come home or if our younger daughter is still making her trip to Europe next week. I’ve been asked if I am worried. Yes, I am. But not so much for my daughters’ safety. I’m worried about us. All of us. I’m worried that we will give in to fear and in so doing, we decide who and what wins. And it isn’t us.

Here’s the deal. Yesterday morning, just as news of the second explosion in Brussels came in, I was boarding a flight to Paris on my way back to the US after visiting our daughter who is studying abroad. At the same time I was boarding my flight, I learned that my husband was involved in a road rage incident that involved a man waving a gun at him and at someone in another car –  less than a mile from our home in our little suburban neighborhood. Terror can strike anywhere and in many forms.

Both of these incidents are incongruent with our view of how the world should be. These events fly in the face of all that we hope to teach our girls through travel.  It seems we have been confronted with the need to make an unwelcomed choice.  And so, though we are not risk takers, we have made the decision to do our best to not live in fear and to not let terror – at home or abroad – have the final say. I don’t know. Maybe we are foolish, but something tells me this is about more than our personal safety.

Of course, we all have to make our own decisions about where we have to draw our own boundaries and we must respect and encourage one another in the process. But make no mistake about it – we get to decide who wins. My hope is that we can all be bold enough to help each other be brave in the midst of all that world might hurl at us. I feel like we owe it to our children and to the world.

I’ll have cows with lunch.

I'll have cows with my wine.

I’ll have cows with my wine.

Have you had one of those moments, I don’t know what they call it, but I know it must have a technical name. That moment when something or someone reminds you so distinctly of something or someone else that you can almost feel it – like deep inside your bones, straight to your core, mind-blowing FEEL IT?

It is more than this “gift” that my youngest born and I share. I think that thing is called “olfactory memory.” When you smell something and it reminds you of something else. My daughter smells a certain smell and immediately thinks of specific places in Walt Disney World. I smell bacon and I’m a 3 year-old transported to my grandmothers black and white kitchen, standing behind my mom, hugging her legs and tracing the yellow patterns in the red carpet with my eyes. Yes, my grandmother was an avant-garde decorator in her day.

But this feeling is more than that. And it happened to me one day in the middle of buying a lunch of cheap sushi in The Fresh Market store.  It was a pretty tumultuous time at work – which also means in my life, because the two are inextricably bound together in this crazy, by the grace of God kind of way.  I was feeling overwhelmed at that moment, angry, hurt – and maybe add a little disappointment in there for good measure.

And somewhere between the deli cheese and the gourmet chocolates it happened. I wheeled my mini-shopping cart (you know the kind, that is designed to pick up a couple of items, but usually gets so overcome by all the pretty items that are just clamoring to go home with you that things start spilling over the sides and into someone else’s space?) so, yes, that kind of shopping cart. I wheeled it straight into the shins of an elderly woman who was minding her own business nonchalantly passing through the wine section. Of course this led to the explosion of my cart and my overpriced box of crackers ($6.99 for crackers??) flew onto the floor.  I thought I was going to lose my cool right there next to the gruyere.  Just as my eyes went from the floor to this woman’s face I did, in fact, lose my cool. Something about her was my grandmother. Something about her. Something about her made my eyes immediately fill with tears. She smiled at me and then she moved on. Something about her.

Don't hate me because I had a pony.

Don’t hate me because I had a pony.

Trying to collect myself, I jerked my cart to the right and then ran straight into them. The cows. The most beautiful cows on the label of a wine bottle. Would you believe me if I told you that something about them, those cows on a wine bottle, reminded me of my grandfather. You see, he was a cattle rancher. So many of my days growing up were spent at the feet of my grandfather, rustling through fields feeding cows, delivering calves, counting them over and over to make sure not one was lost. Loving these big bovines like they were puppy dogs – calling them by name, rubbing their ears, feeling their lick on my face (that part is a little different than the feeling of a puppy tongue, I’ll admit). And  when I see cows like the ones on that bottle, I’m pretty sure that my grandfather isn’t far away.

It was at that point, that more than loosing my cool, I was overwhelmed by this strange sense – this incredible feeling of embrace. That kind of feeling you have when you are a small child and you’ve been riding for hours trapped in a car with your older brothers poking and prodding and wrestling for the valuable backseat real estate until you consider the merits of opening the window and hurling yourself out, but just in the nick of time you pull up into the driveway of the place that is, without a doubt – even though you don’t live there – the place that is home. And you jump out of the car, your box of Lemon Heads spilling out on the concrete, and you run to the front door but before you get there it is already flung wide open and waiting there are the four most best, biggest, fabulousest arms reaching to scoop you up before you can even leap off your feet to get into them and those arms embrace you.

That kind of feeling.  Just from an old woman who sacrificed her shins and some cows on a wine bottle at The Fresh Market. And let me tell you. That is exactly what I needed to feel.






Labor pains of life

signI promise I won’t make this a habit, but I have something on my mind. And I warn you, this post is pretty personal and involves some graphic stuff. So look away now if you need to.

Yesterday, I received a phone call that I didn’t want to get. It was telling me some news that I dreaded to hear and that, to be honest, I really thought would never come even though I had been waiting for it for the last year and a half. No one was dead or sick or even angry, but there was pain and a person I care about involved. I wish I could be more direct with you about it, but you will just have to trust me.

So, after going through most of yesterday with this on my mind and heart and after sleeping on it, I woke up this morning thinking about labor pains. Yes, as in childbirth. If you have delivered a baby you know what I mean. Every movie scene where a woman is in labor and she wants to rip someone’s head off or she is channeling that chick from The Exorcist? Yes, labor pains. Thanks for that image, Holy Spirit.

It is like running  long distances for me (you knew I would throw running in there somewhere, didn’t you?). It totally sucks at mile 11, but I know that it won’t last forever and I WILL cross that finish line even if it means dragging my raggedy-self across it. But for me, labor pains are better than running pains.

In my case, at the end of labor there was something utterly amazing to show for it. At the end of labor there were these amazing people. They changed my life forever. They made me a better person even in the midst of exhausting me, and giving me gray hair, and making me do things I really didn’t want to do otherwise. At the end of labor, I was transformed for the better into someone different than I was when it started.

Now, here is where it gets graphic, but I’m laying it out there. In the middle of the night, I realized that the church I serve is in the midst of labor pains. We have had an interesting last year and a half. There are times when I step back – sort of like when a woman in labor feels as if she is having an out-of-body experience – and wonder if I’m seeing it the way it is or the way I imagine it all to be, but it is often hard to tell.

And just like labor, there are times when the contractions recede, giving you a moment to catch your breath, only to then be flooded by another wave of pain.  That phone call yesterday was a wave. But somehow in my heart I know that the gut wrenching pain signals that something is happening and that this whole labor process will soon be over. And when it is, there will be something amazing to show for it.

We don’t necessarily will-fully choose pain in our lives.  Sometimes it is given to us by others. Sometimes it looks like divorce or a life threatening illness or an unwelcome job change or perhaps something we can’t name.  In whatever way we experience the pain – at the moment when we are certain we can’t push anymore – if we take a deep breath and focus our attention not on the pain itself, but what the pain may bring at the end of it, we just might find ourselves transformed closer to who God is calling us to be.

But let’s be honest. There are moments when we would opt for an epidural. That doesn’t seem to be an option at the moment, so I’m counting on God’s grace to be sufficient.

Thanks for listening.

Tchotchke Wisdom

So I have set a goal for myself to write here at least once a week as a part of the #TypaAChallenge. How hard can it be, right? Well, it must be fairly hard because I have yet to get the hang of it! Despite the fact (truly – the fact) that on multiple occasions every week I have butterflies in the stomach saying, “Oh, this would make a rich blog post!” I just can’t seem to get it together to reveal these pearls of wisdom to you, oh faithful reader (yes, I mean all 4 of you.).

Which leads me to wonder: what the heck do I do all day? I’m mean seriously. I have, in the last 23 minutes, developed a real complex about this. I’dont mess it upm wishing that I had one of my mother-in-laws Xanax right about now because I’m on the verge of freaking out. You see, I’m the one who savors the moment, takes it all in, appreciates the passing of time. I like to take the long road home – even get lost once in a while just for fun. And all I’m thinking right now is to get it done. Stop wasting time. It is as if my propensity for OCD and my ADD have collided.

And so, I’m looking at the little tchotchke (honestly, that’s how it is spelled) on my kitchen counter that says, “This is the day the Lord has made. Don’t mess it up.” and I’m wondering exactly what that means.

If it weren’t for me, the average marathoners would be in last place…

In honor of everyone making resolutions to get out and run more…this one is an oldie but a goodie. Keep running!

really you must be kidding

So, it is a cold & rainy morning and I’m going to pick up the race bags for the whole family for this Saturday’s 5K.  You see, Don registers us all for a 5k every month.  It is fun for the whole family.   The only problem is that I have not been very motivated since last month’s 5k to do much running.   Oh, I got my excuses:  It is cold/raining/ozone depleted outside today.   I’m swamped with work/home/life/mindless blogging at the moment.  My hips/feet/head/tonsils (so what if they were removed when I was in 2nd grade – ever heard of phantom pain??) hurt.     

And, to make matters worse, after the last 5k I was heckled by my running clan that I was a slow runner – despite the fact that I did beat a 5 year old boy who was trying to outrun me at the last minute to the cheers of the onlookers (the little turd

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