Thursday, December 19, 2013

With You

So………it's been awhile.

Maybe you thought I forgot?

I didn't.

I never do.

But maybe I take for granted the person I love most.

You came into my life quite unexpectedly.

I had been searching for what seems to be my whole life for YOU.

I had almost given up hope and I thought I was fine on my own…….or at least I pretended to be because everyone says once you stop looking they will come to you.

And so I stopped.

And you appeared.

In your dopey smily face tie and matching suspenders, looking all out of place and rather noticeable in the all-female world of my elementary school.

I was first grade.  You were tutor.

Remember the crush you had on the guidance counselor?

Thank goodness she took a pass and I stepped in.

That seems so long ago and yet…………

Here we are.

Three kids.

Ten years.

And many more to go.

You are my first love, my first real love.

And my last.

You are everything I had hoped for and so much more.

I have watched you grow into the man you are - a preacher man, a teacher man, a man others look up to, a father that others watch, a man who lives each day for his family.

You speak truth, you live truth.

I know that you think you are no big deal and that is part of what makes you great…..the fact that you point others to Him and not to you.

You are my rock.

You are my safe place.

You are the one I want always to come home to.

Thank you for living this life with me.

We are on an adventure, no?

I can't say this is where I thought we would be but no other place I would rather be.

You and me.

Me and you.

Another ten?

Another twenty?

I am a greedy woman.

I want at least fifty more and well, you know me.  Eternity?


That's what I want.

With you.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


I prayed over a friend the other night, a friend I love who has children I know and love.  It's one of those friends who sees you more in your jammies than she does in regular clothes, the friend that you honestly don't care when she sees your house a mess, the friend where you walk in her house because you know you are always welcome, the friend that you know will last.

And so when I prayed I found myself resisting the words because I didn't want her to think that I was guiding a big decision that she must make.  But I prayed them anyway…….words that were a combination of what I see and, surely, what God sees in her, in her children, in her family.

You see……….my friend?

She is fierce.

She is loyal.

She has a strong voice.

She has a strong sense of justice.

She is one who does not walk away.

Yet her heart breaks easily.

She is easily hurt……..even when she says she isn't :)

She loves much.

And her children?

The same.


Not because she has sat them down and taught them these things but because she LIVES these things.

And probably I have said these things before and, most likely, I will say them again.  But they matter. It matters that we recognize that our influence comes from our lives.  So many times we get caught up in the pretty and the organized and the well said and the lessons taught.  There are blogs and websites and debates and OH.MY.WORD. that pinterest (yes, yes, I know it's a good thing and helpful and all that for the healthy and rational………but face it mothers are rarely healthy and rational at all times - guard your hearts against the perfection found on a page, rarely is it reflected in the every day, in the 24/7 business of motherhood :).

And so today as I walked into my girl's room and looked at their dry erase board hanging on the wall……well, I had a moment.  One of those mommy moments when I might have cried a happy tear or two and felt that proud swell of my mother's heart.  For on their board I saw what they had written…….

"I'm thankful for………."

And their board was beginning to be filled with their thanks.   The childish, first time scrawl of my four year old writing "ANNIE" nearly broke me.

And I walked out and saw our "path" in our dining room.  I had this GREAT idea from the bible verse "A voice of one calling: 'In the wilderness prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God." - Isaiah 40:3  We were going to have quiet time EVERY NIGHT during December, our abiding month and then write things out on our construction paper path………..didn't happen.  But it did happen some of the time :)  And Nico always has something for me to write on the path.

"Lead on the path by the light of Jesus."

"He will like my gift."

I remember feeling anxious about the not knowing how to TEACH my child to hear from God.  I mean it seems such a crazy thing, a far out there type thing and yet it happens.  I wanted so much for my kids to experience JESUS and GOD and feel that peace and hear the words.

And it's happening.

Not because of a lecture we gave about hearing God.  Not because we sat down and taught a carefully crafted lesson but because we LIVE it and are surrounded by people who live it.  They have walked in on prayer times, on adults sitting at the knees of another, praying words that God has given.  What seemed slightly weird and kooky to me just a few years ago is regular life to them.

So what's my point?

Don't worry so much.

All around me I see women, men who are ordinary people leading extraordinary lives.  They are using the gifts God has given them.  There are parents who battle for their kids who are raising kids who know how to fight the good fight and  stand up to make a difference.   There are parents who treasure and create beauty in their homes and in their lives; they are raising their kids to recognize and value our God as creator.  There are parents who give generously with their time, money, lives and these parents - oh kids, please know that every time your mom or dad is away they are wondering how it is affecting you - and they are teaching their kids that "you before me" is the only way to live.  There are parents who go to work each day, not loving what they do but loving who they do it for and they are teaching their kids the value of sacrifice and supporting their family.

Oh my.

You are teaching so much.

Your children are learning so much.

I stand in awe of the lives I am able to witness every day.

And I am so encouraged and blessed that my children are able to witness them too.

For I am not everything my friend is - not in the same way.

And that's ok.

We aren't just parents to our own.  We belong to one another.

And so I am joyful on this day that together our lives are making a difference.  I am joyful that our lives are able to speak for themselves and we don't need to rely on perfectly scripted lessons or perfectly crafted moments.  We simply need to rely on Him…….and, well, it helps to have one another.

So thankful for my fierce friend and her not so easily contained heart.

So thankful for the others who have joined us, who are teaching our children how to be generous, how to love well, how to pray, how to stand strong in the word, how to go against the grain when it counts, how to forgive, how to have grace, how to speak truth gently and lovingly, how to experience joy, how to worship, how to have fun, how to be trustworthy, how to work hard and so much more.

You are a gift.

You are part of the reason I don't worry nearly as much as I might have before.

So don't worry so much, just LIVE who you want your children to be.

Oh and it helps if you have some AWESOME people join you along the way………

Thursday, December 5, 2013

I Believe

"Comfort, comfort my people, says your God."

Yes Lord…….comfort is what we need.  Comfort is what we seek.  This world seems so hard and unfair and unexpected………except we come to expect the tragedy, we come to expect the world to break open and we fall through, we fall down, we fall to our knees, O God.

God, we seek your comfort……..

"A voice of one calling 'In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.  Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.  And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together.  For the mouth of the Lord has spoken."

God…….God………the valleys are seeming low, the ground is rocky, the rugged places surpass the smooth and straight.  Come, Lord Jesus, come.  I want to see the valleys raised up, the mountains made low, the rough patches smooth………Lord, I want to see GLORY.  I want all to be revealed…….I want to see your ways, your plan, your heart in this place.

Lord, I am calling out……making a way for You because there seems to be nothing else to do.  I cannot make right the things of this world without you.  Nothing makes sense without you.  And so I trust and I have faith and I don't try to explain away what I can't know…….instead I look forward, one step at a time and I call out to you.

"A voice says, 'Cry out.' And I said, 'What shall I cry?' 'All people are like grass and their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field.  The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the Lord blows on them.  Surely the people are grass.  The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever."

Oh Lord.

I am crying out.

My heart is crying out.

My plea is for you, Lord.

My plea is for this world to be made yours again.

I have felt your breathe upon me, Lord.  I have seen evidence of the fleeting nature of this world.

Lord, I know that you are good.  I know that you love.  I know that you endure forever.

But today…… I feel the breath and I feel the withering and I see the falling.

Let me see evidence of You.

"Do you not know?  Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the creator of the ends of the earth.  He will not grow tired or weary and his understanding no one can fathom.  He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

Oh, Lord, I know.

I have heard.

You…….I cannot fathom.

Nor can I try.

Give strength to the weary.

Give power to the weak.

Lift up those who cannot stand on their own.

Give foundation to those who are falling.

Renew them, Lord, renew them.

We are tired, Lord.

We are weary.

We are stumbling in this world.

All we can do today is make way for you.

Today I clear a path, I make a space and I sit.

I wait.

I trust.

I believe.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Morning Talk

(In the girl's room getting ready for the day with Fia and Francesca)

I am helping Francesca get on her clothes which consist of a skirt, leggings, turtleneck and shirt......she starts gagging when she puts on the turtetneck.  Why this surprises me I don't know........the child gags at almost every meal.  Thankfully she doesn't throw up and the turtleneck stays on.

Fia's contribution?

Fia: I throw up a little in my mouth at school.  The food comes up and stays in my mouth and I just swallow it.  It's ok.  


Never knew that.

(Still in the girl's room)

Francesca is twirling around with a monkey that Zia Maria gave me.  Yes, my sister-in-law gave me a stuffed monkey.  She was referencing the fact that her cousin asked where the monkey was when I started laughing one day early on in my relationship with Joe.  To her credit she didn't realize it was the new girlfriend in the room that was laughing.  The story stuck and I was known for my monkey laugh since then.  Charming, I know :)

Fia:  You know Francesca that is really mommy's monkey.  Zia Maria gave it to her.  It's yours now but one day you can give it to your daughter and then she can give it to her daughter and then we will all be dead.


Another gem.  Who knew that Zia Maria was buying an heirloom monkey that would live on after we were all dead one day.

(Walking into the kitchen)

Nico:  M-O-M!! I CANNOT CRISS CROSS IN THESE PANTS! SEE! SEE! (As he is yanking at the inseams of the pants......for those of you not in the know he is referring to criss cross applesauce - the appropriate way of saying indian style now)

Mom:  Ok.  Could you have told me that without yelling.

Nico: Sorry.  Yes.  But MOM why did you put these jeans out for me?

Mom:  I. didn't. know. (I tend to speak very slowly and calmly when the children get in their hysterical something is bothering me and feels out of control mode.)  Why don't we go see if there are some other pants we can find, ok?

Nico:  Ok (sigh)

Mom:  Oh here are some but wait they don't match you shirt, let's see if we can find other pants so you don't have to change your shirt.

Nico:  Why do they have to MATCH?

Fia:  Oh she always wants EVERYTHING to match (as if this is something akin to torturing small, fluffy kittens PLUS have you seen my children?  Hardly fashion plates and most of the time Francesca doesn't altogether match because she adds accessories or clothing items at the last moment that makes her look like a homeless diva or Madonna in the 80s after a really, really rough night.).

Mom:  Here.  I found some other jeans.

And the morning continues with basketball class, jewelry making and more in the basement.

How's your morning been?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

To My Girls.........and Jani, a warrior mother.

One day, far from now, you will find yourself in a home, a hospital, a building........and you will be holding a baby.

Oh my girls.

I hope so much for you on that day.  I hope that it went easy and the way that you wanted it to.  I hope that your precious babe is healthy and screaming loud.  I hope that you and your husband feel that sense of joy and excitement that your father and I felt on the day that each of you were born.  I hope that I am there.........well after all the bloody and horrible bits occur......I apologize if you are disappointed in your mother for not being one who thinks the birthing process is beautiful.  It just isn't.

And if for some reason none of the above is true.......just know it's a day and just like a wedding doesn't determine a marriage, a birth doesn't determine a life.  How you got into the world is not so important as how you are cared for and live in that world.

And, girls, I want to talk to you for a moment about that first year.

It will seem like the BIGGEST, MOST IMPORTANT THING EVER that you just had a baby.

And it is.

It will be to you.

It will be to your husband.

It will be to your family.

But it's one day.  And the year that follows is just one year in a string of hopefully many, many years to come.

And so I want you to remember that what happens in that year is important in that you need to feed your baby, they need to sleep, they need lots of love, they need to have shelter and be clothed.  You need to hold them and comfort them when they cry.  Make sure you change their diaper lots and wash their tiny, little selves.  Help them to sleep safe, ride safe and play safe.  Read books to them.  Kiss them.

Do all those things.



How you birth them, feed them, diaper them, sleep them, comfort them and keep them is up to you, my loves.  And if by chance someone makes you feel as if you are LESS because of how you accomplish those things.........walk away, girls.  Just walk away.

We, mothers, have a tendency to get so wrapped up in our world and our crusades and our soapboxes and our precious babies.  We care so much about our little ones and, to be honest, are scared.  We are scared that we aren't doing things right, that we aren't making the right decisions, right choices and so we have to BELIEVE in what we are doing and sometimes that means we hurt others or ourselves with our fervent beliefs.

Motherhood makes you sensitive.

Motherhood makes you strong.

Motherhood makes you crazy.

Motherhood makes you rally for your child which has become your cause.

Motherhood makes you certain..........until you aren't.

And so my sweet girls never mistake any method of birthing, feeding, diapering, scheduling, loving, caring, sleeping, keeping as holiness.

It's not.

It's just the first year.

Begin motherhood, not in battle AGAINST other mothers.  But begin motherhood in battle WITH other mothers.

Because honestly?

You will feel as if you are battling those screaming, little creatures that you take home with you from wherever.  It will be a battle to sleep them, feed them, clothe them, and continue to like them (The saying is DO always love them but liking them is another story).  And you need other warriors in the battle with you.

Warriors who like your children when you don't.

Warriors to call and laugh with when your whole day has been tears and peeing pants and throwing things (and that's just what I was doing...........)

Warriors who will bring food or drinks or distractions.

Warriors who watch your kids.

Warriors who look beyond the mom debates and see to the heart of the mom.


Find your warriors, girls.

And BE a warrior for other moms.  Be the safe place, the honest place.

And I will be yours.

I love you.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Hot? Probably not...... :)

This past week we were at a birthday party - a birthday party with old friends, celebrating 2 years of their beautiful, crazy-fun boy.  One of the girls walked in and just shook her head and said, "What.  What is it?  You  Did you lose weight?  Did you cut your hair?  What?"

Ha.  Still giggling over her words.

We met these wonderful people - so many of them - about three years ago.  Three years ago when my babies were all still at home.  Three years ago when they were all newly married and bright-eyed and wearing funky, cool thrift store clothing or clothing found in a mom's/grandmother's closet or bought in some far away land when they were traveling/living there.  They would walk into our house, to church and they would be rested and they would have just exercised that day or spent time cooking/reading/hanging out/cleaning/working ALONE, no little ones following them all the live long day.   Then there would be Joe and I with our littles - 4, 3 and 1.  We were never rested.  We were rarely alone.  We never exercised anymore.  Our tribe was loud and lovable and eager and always messy.  It was like we were some other breed of creature and I still appreciate how welcomed we were.

Ha.  I still giggle at the picture we made and the misconceptions of the ones without little ones.

(One of my favorite stories from that time - which we tell over and over - was the first time we met most of these people.  It was at a get together at the Barger house.  We were some of the only ones with kids.  We were sitting down at this table with our three kids and Francesca gets "the look" and starts choking.  No biggie.  She did it all the time, still does quite frequently.  We run her over to the side of the deck and let her throw up in the bushes and then sit down and finish our potluck.  Not everyone else was so unfazed by this......or the eating habits of a 3 and 4 year old.  Not to mention Joe finishing the mess of food from the children's plate...........the same childless woman at that table?  Now pregnant with number 2.......number 1?  Yeah, she sat on my lap Monday night, stuck her finger up her nose and pulled out a little present.......I nearly vomited.  How, indeed, the tides have turned :)

And so now.........the newly marrieds are the newly babied :)  They have little ones, are pregnant with their seconds and the tides have turned.  And every time I see this wonderful woman and she exclaims over me and says what happened and what have I done with myself?

Oh my.

I got some sleep.

I have some space.


I don't chase anymore.

Everyone goes to the bathroom/dresses/feeds themselves.

The little ones help cook/clean.

We have dinner conversation.

My kids and I can play things we BOTH enjoy.

I can say, "HEY.  Mom needs a little time.  Go play." AND THEY DO.

So what happened?

It's not the bangs.  It's certainly not the body.  It's not anything.  It's just.......well........

Life happened.  It went on.  Babies got bigger.  We entered a new phase.

And it's good.

Just as good as the one before.

And just as good as the one to come after will be.

And, I don't know, I just want to encourage those of you in the midst of that phase that it's ok.  It's ok to be tired and wear your jammies all day.  It's ok to not feel great and to resent the little ones and lose your patience, at times.  It's ok to have laundry that's piled up and dishes that are never done.  It's ok to not be ok.

I once cried at Christmas because my brother bought me all these clothes from Banana Republic - dry clean only, pretty clothes that had no place in my life at that time.  They didn't fit my body, they didn't fit my life and I cried.  I cried because my mom had gotten me a matching jogging-type outfit and it did fit.  It fit my body and my life and I thought that was just going to be it.  Me in a matchy-match pink and black jogging outfit for the rest of my life and there was going to be no more room for pretty clothes and white tops and cool jeans.

And I know that there are moms out there that do white tops and pretty clothes and bright smiles through the baby years.  They look great and the love that time and they get sleep and they just do it somehow.

I wasn't one of them.

I loved my babies and I was a good mom and I played and I created and I got through and did it well.  But it wasn't always pretty and it wasn't always fun and I cried and I laughed a lot because nothing gets so bad that you can't find a way to laugh in the midst of it all.

And so I just want to's ok.  Whatever you are feeling, whatever you see when you look in the mirror, whatever is happening behind closed doors at home with the little's ok.

You'll survive.

They'll survive.

And you will have a TON of great stories at the end of it all.........

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Snowflake's Journey

Once upon a time a tiny, brand-new snowflake descended from the sky.  It was carried gently along on the breezes, fluttering here and there, before gently landing upon the ground.

There it was cloaked in a sea of white obscurity among the other tiny snowflakes.

Until one day.

On that day a pair of hands reached down and, ever so tenderly, picked that snowflake up.

He examined the tiny snowflake.  This snowflake was now not so new.  It was slightly damaged from the skyfall.  It was wondering at it's life course, here among so many other snowflakes, some bigger and more beautiful and more pronounced than itself.  For it was just a tiny, little snowflake among so many others.

But He saw it's beauty and uniqueness.  He spoke to this tiny snowflake of His wonder of her beauty and purpose and how she was created to be just as she is, a tiny snowflake with six points and all the unique designs she carried within her and upon her tiny snowflake frame.

And there came a day..............when she believed His words.

She had always believed in Him.  She had seen evidence of Him throughout the world she had fallen into.  There were much bigger things which had no explanation other than the one provided by those big hands that enveloped her.  She believed, easily, in Him.

But that day.............she believed in herself.

On that day she believed He could use her to do special things.

And so it began.

Another leg of this snowflake's journey.

She began to notice that other snowflakes were being plucked from upon the ground, the hands shaping and molding them to her.  Some were big, some were tiny, some looked kind of like her, others did not.  All were uniquely made and beautiful, as snowflakes are known to be.  Not any one snowflake was like any other.

They were molded and shaped by those hands until they resembled something bigger than themselves, something different than what they were alone.

And it took awhile.

Those hands needed time to smooth the rough edges and tightly pack those snowflakes together.

Until one day.................they formed a somewhat perfectly shaped, round ball.

And it was time.

He gently laid that ball back on the ground, the ground upon which He once had found all those snowflakes, plucking them from their white obscurity and creating them into something more.

And for a time it settled there.

Until one started to roll, slowly at first.  But this snowball had been placed on a top of a high, high hill.  And we all know what happens when a snowball is placed upon a starts to roll.

And, indeed, it did.  It's progress was a bit slow at first, as it neared the brink of that hill and begin to precariously tip over edge.

But from there it gained momentum.

It began it's journey down the hill, the mountain really.  As it began it's descent and gained speed it picked up other snowflakes along the way and the snowball began to grow bigger and bigger.

Now as happens with all snowballs and journeys down large mountains while so many snowflakes grabbed on and were packed tightly in..........well, others were flung off and made to start over, on other journeys in different places.  You can never quite know where you are going to land.  The life of a snowflake is as varied as it's design.

And so they went along...........speeding, sometimes slowing as they hit different bumps and turns and obstacles along the way, down the mountain.

Until one day....................there came the end.

They had arrived at the bottom.

And as that once new, once tiny snowflake looked around..............well, she was in awe.  She remembered the day she had been blown gently on the breezes, landing upon the ground.  She remembered feeling insignificant and small and overwhelmed by all around her.  She remembered the hands.  She remembered the care and love shown to her all the years and she remembered the gathering of the others.  She remembered the packing in and smoothing and being laid upon the ground, as something new, something that was created uniquely by those hands.  And oh how she remembered the journey down the mountain - how thrilling and dangerous it had seemed at times but how she would trade it for nothing in this world.  She remembered it all and because she did she was able to look back and see His hands in it all...............

How one tiny snowflake grew into a tremendously large, gloriously made snowball.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

A Gardener's Wife

I have been a gardener's wife for almost 10 years now.  The seasons have taken on new meaning as planting, sowing, harvesting have become common practices in our household.  I have fallen in love with the idea and the reality of growing food, of eating out of our own backyard and living as much as possible off our small plot of land.  And while so much of it has been commonplace and no longer quite as thrilling.............there is a moment that retains just as much excitement and anticipation as it did the first time.

Each year begins with the seeds.  They are planted with care, away from the extremes of the outdoors.  They are babied and cared for because we expect so much of them later.  We are careful - watering them with droppers and shielding them from too much cold, too much sun, too much of anything that can overwhelm them or hinder their growth.

Outside we break ground.  The soil is tossed about and the rocks are thrown about in an attempt to prepare the ground for our precious seeds.  

Joe watches the weather, watches the conditions and one day it is determined it's time.  It's time for the seedlings to go in.  They have grown with their time inside, being cared for and gently raised up from the seeds they once were.

And so out we go and gently the seedlings go in.

We dig small holes, filling them with water and oh so gently they are laid in the earth.  We fill in the holes, pat down the earth and walk away.

And there is this moment where you have to wonder if they will take to their new environment, to their new surroundings and if they will survive on their own.

For although you will be back to water them and pluck the biggest weeds that surround them, that care they knew before they were planted in the out of doors is gone.  They are to survive on their own.

And so the moment that still brings a thrill to me, that still generates whoops and shouts from us all at the Codispoti house is that moment when you look outside, when you enter into the garden gates and you see the first sign of fruit, the first sign of life that has sprung forth from what was once a seed.  That.  That is the moment that retains just as much excitement and anticipation as it did the first time.

It takes a great deal of faith and trust to walk away, to let what you so gently cared for go on it's own and trust that fruit will be generated.  

But that's the thrill.

That's the excitement.

Knowing you did all you could and having to wait, it's out of your hands and in the hands of the One who ultimately controls the seasons, the planting and new life.

And what a thrill it is when you see all that a small seed is capable of, you remember the tiny little seeds that spilled out into your hands and into the dirt.  You remember the seedlings that sprang from your love and care and attention.  And it seems incredulous to me that from those tiny seeds came rows and rows of bounty, spilling forth from the earth.  It seems, each season, a fulfillment of a promise.  It never grows old or commonplace, that time is always accompanied by a bit of awe and wonder.

And so I ask.........are you in a season of careful cultivation or of walking away? 

Are you witnessing signs of new life, growth or enjoying the bounty of your labor?  

Or are you just beginning to sow seeds?

Monday, October 21, 2013

What Matters

Sometimes you can get caught up in so many things, so many people and you forget.

You forget what makes your heart beat stronger, what joy looks like, what causes you relax into life.

You just get caught up.

Sometimes I worry that our children don't know, can't realize how much we love them, how much we treasure who they are and work to ensure that they know that home is a safe and loving place.  I count the minutes that we are away from them or working or preparing as minutes lost, at times.  It's hard to find the balance as a mom who once spent every minute with her children as they move on and into lives at school and at dance and soccer and having lives of their own, lived out in their imaginations as they play school and store and all manner of things.  And I they know?

And last night, after many long weekends and many  nights filled with activity and a roller coaster of a weekend, I found myself in bed with my three babes.  We curled up, cuddled up amid the blankets and the pillows........and my heart beat stronger, I remembered what joy looked like and I relaxed into my life.

And better yet I got to hear the words of my girl.

And I thought............they know.

This is what Fia chose to read last night at bed.  It's a story she wrote in school where they had to write about a time you had fun at an outdoor place.

"What makes me happy is seeing my family in the backyard.  We hear screaming alot.  Me and my family sleep outside in a tent.  Reading with mom is fun in the backyard.  I love to swing underneath the monkey bars.  My mom and I like to do homework in the backyard.  Me and my sister and brother play in the treefort outside.  It is fun at home with my family.  Everyone loves to see my grades and Nicos grades.  We like to watch the birds and listen to the birds.  It is exciting outside with my brother and sister.  I help my mom with the strawberry jam and planting with Dad and picking carrots.  Rassberrys blueberries tomatoes and beans.  Friends come over and we love to play and climb on the treefort and swing on the tire swing.  It is fun in the backyard."

Oh my girl.  After a summer spent outside and on the go - trips to camp, amusement parks, family vacations and more - this is what you write about.  And I think, yes.  Me too, my girl, me too.  Home is always the best place, the happiest place.

Thank you for reminding me what matters.

And this morning my heart is beating stronger, joy is in place and I am beginning to relax back into life.

Thank you, Lord, for these children that you have given to me.  They remind me every day not to look down on anyone because they are young.  It is through them that you speak so clearly to my heart.

Breathing deep and feeling grateful today.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

What if He Does?

I was reading Daniel this morning........and as always I am bowled over by the faith of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.  I mean you expect miraculous things to happen in the Bible, you sort of become immune to all the fantastical things that happen because IT'S THE BIBLE.  I grew up knowing the stories of Noah and the Ark, Jonah and the whale, a baby born from a virgin......all things I believe to be true and actually to have happened but, still, you become used to such things after awhile.

But I have never become "used" to the faith of these three men.

"Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego replied to the king, "O Nebuchhadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter.  If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king.  But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up."
            - Daniel 3:16-18

Doesn't that just take your breath away?

BUT EVEN IF HE DOES NOT...............

They refused to worship false gods, false images.  They refused to defend themselves.

They accepted whatever was going to happen to them.

They were thrown into the blazing furnace..........

And lived.


What they thought would happen, did indeed happen.

Which led my thoughts to which is scarier?

When He does deliver or when He doesn't?

There are times when you would give anything for the deliverance and we have all been in situations like that - sickness, disease, longing for marriage/children/fulfillment and you think PLEASE GOD, PLEASE, PLEASE HELP ME and you want nothing more than to be rescued, to be saved from the hurts of this world.

And then there are other times...............

Times when you see a certain path, a certain way that things could go and may small faithful steps can lead to bigger things and bolder things and you think...........MAYBE?  Ummm, well MAYBE you could deliver on this promise, this picture that you allowed me to glimpse?

Or maybe we will just chalk this up to a fantastical vision that is just my imagination running amok because, I mean, for real,'s just me.  You  Little old housewife, mom, loves to cook and be in my kitchen me?  The one who still feels like throwing up every time I have to speak in front of people whether it be 2 people or 100, yeah, you can just NOT deliver on this, ok?  I will STILL have faith, God, even if you do fact, I will make sure that my faith is greater if you do not.  How's that for a deal?

Or not.

I have learned over the past few years not to dismiss the fantastical, the miraculous, the unimaginable.  I have learned to focus not on the ark but the man.  To look at Jonah running away and fearing the task before him instead focusing in on the incredulousness of the whale swallowing a man.    The Bible is made up of people, regular, ordinary, everyday people with an extraordinary God.........and sometimes they had extraordinary faith but also sometimes they were just scared and reluctant and not knowing what to do.

I get that.

But I also get that it's not about me and it's not about what I can do but what God can do.  And the other night I sat in bed and I caught a glimpse of what might or might not be what the future might hold and it slammed me back against the bed.  My mind was racing and all the while I was thinking, no, no, no way.  No.  That is so not going to happen.  No.  NO.  Oh my gosh.

My breathing picked up, my heart was racing and I started to race through the logistics, the hows, the whys, the when, the no way is this possible or even likely and we would have to do this and this and this and, seriously, WHO ARE WE?

And then I stopped.

It's not mine to know how or why or when or even if..........I will have faith if He doesn't but I will have  faith even when or if He does.

In the mean time.............I will take the small faithful steps as they come, looking to Him for guidance and reassurance and living each day as it comes..............

and quietly, secretly, half hoping HE DOES.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

My boy.

I fall into bed and fall asleep, holding the book I meant to read.........sleep overcomes the desire to read and the clock reads 7:30 and I am gone.

And so I wake just a few hours later, wide awake........thanks to my 4 hour nap that was supposed to be a full night's sleep but ended up being a nap that ended with wide eyes in the middle of the night.  How I came to be this person that mimics a baby's sleep patterns I do not know.

Oh, that's right.  I have kids.

And so the morning came, after another few hours sleep.......I heard the running feet of my darling little one.  Always the first to wake, always running, always looking for momma.

She crawls on my lap for a moment and then asks for light and books.  We have read 101 Dalmatians now every morning...........if the movie ever seems long, the book seems longer :)  But I have wised up over the years and I condense the first time reading a book, rather than trying to do it the third or fourth time through when they realize there are missing words.

The others come stumbling out and it's a mess of breakfast, fast cuddles, calls to dress and brush teeth and get in the car.

I am tired already.

And even though there are no kids home today there are tables of apples to be made into sauce, a dinner to cook, a village to prep for, cheese to make and all various sorts of thing that are better done when no one is at home.

And I want to enjoy my relaxing day in the kitchen - cooking and canning and prepping - but I am tired.

And the weekends have been fun but long and the calendar is chock full of appointments and people and meetings and lists and I think that I just want to take a breather and not do anything.

But I am one of those people that it seems like there are things dangling over me even when I am still and I think of all that needs to be accomplished - my own little mobile of tasks, spinning over my head.

And so are my thoughts on the way to school........when I should be praying with my kids and looking forward to my day of silence.........

And from the back I hear Nico........Mom?  Mom?  You know what?

No, what buddy?

I think that our tree fort should be a family tree fort.  Because that's where all my memories know, me and Sierrah fighting with knives and jumping around.  That was fun.  We jumped all around.

And from Fia.........yeah, and where we put on our show at village?

And from me..........oh and what about the talent shows that we've done?

And from us all there came a stream of memories surrounding the fort that was built by a man who loves his family and had great visions of the summers to come, with children filling the backyard.

We all helped, huh?  Daddy built it and we helped and painted?

And when we made the pulley?

And what about when we hung decorations?

And the plays we put on with JJ and Caris, when we made the elves?

And so we joined together and remembered.

Fia suggested we make notes and signs to hang on the fort, where we write our memories so that we can keep them there to remember.

And then I remembered.

I remembered that I love this life.  I love these children, so much so that it squeezes my heart tight and wrings from me all those anxieties and lists and tiredness.  My heart instead is filled with memories and love and the sweetness of a child's words.  A child who makes poetry with his thoughts and ideas, his tenderness evident beneath all the punches and forever movement that comes with being a boy.

How fortunate I am that I forgot to pray because God met me in the moment with my children - hearing my heart, not needing the words.

If you are tired today, if you are run down and feeling worn out - not having the words to speak but needing the relief that comes with prayer, with being loved, with being heard..........look for the ways that God is hearing your heart.  Listen to the words of children.  See the the evidence of His creation surrounding you.  Take a moment and see all the miraculous ways you are blessed, notice the extraordinary in the ordinary.  I pray that your eyes are opened and your ears can hear because He is there, always He is there..........He meets us in the tired, weary moments........when we don't even realize that we are seeking the peace that comes only from Him.

Love you all.

Thanks for sharing in the place where so many of my memories are found........

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Changing the Question


Sometimes I feel like a two year old.


My impulses drive my life, at times.  So many of them are under control until they are not.  Some are hidden.  Some are not.


I hate that life seems like a list of rules that grow longer each year as our lives pass quickly before us and we are older, our bodies and lives reflecting the years that are passing.  Our actions seem to have more noticeable consequences attached to them as the years go by.


Exactly.........why not me?  And I hear a voice saying..........well, you can.  You know that, right?  You can do all that, buy that, eat that, drink that, have that.  Go ahead.

"Everything is permissible for me - but not everything is beneficial.  Everything is permissible for me - but I will not be mastered by anything"
                         - 1 Corinthians 6:12-13




So the rules aren't really rules just because?



And in my mind there is this shift................and I have to think it's the shift that takes place in any child's mind when they realize that all those years their parents harassed them and made these "rules" and kept things out of their reach.........they were doing it out of love and not spite.  That part of growing up is learning to live in complete freedom, recognizing the boundaries that separate you from a life well-lived and life simply lived in the moment.  That boundaries are there to protect and enhance life not to keep out everything good and fun.

And for me food is the perfect example of this and has been a lifelong struggle.

I am a person that loves to look to the future and I love ideas and seeing the big picture but as I live out my life I am a very IN THE MOMENT type person.  Decision making is often done by looking to the next second, the next minute.  I am guided by emotions and can get carried away by the moment.  I have a hard time seeing the consequences of my actions and even when I do I can dismiss them in sight of my temporary satisfaction.  Instant gratification could be my middle name.

Can you see how this would hinder my relationship with food?

I am around food on a daily basis.  I cook, on average, 19-21 meals a week.  I am in the kitchen more than any other room in the house.......besides my bedroom......and even then some weeks I bet it is close.  I love food.

But for a long time I have had in my mind lists of rules concerning food.  What to eat, when to eat, how much to eat.  And I can get angry with the best of them about the unfairness of people being able to cram whatever they want down their throats and not see any evidence of it on their body.  I can feel shame at what I have eaten.  I can spend a lot of time thinking about food - what I want to eat, when I am going to eat, how much I am going to allow myself to eat.  It can be a battle, at times.

But this past week reading through 1 Corinthians I thought to myself..........oh my word, I have been asking the wrong dang questions!!!!  What is wrong with me?  Why have I allowed myself to be such a child about this?  Why have I not grown up, how could I have not recognized the freedom given to me?


Instead of WHY CAN'T I HAVE THIS? The question should be why do I WANT this?

I have the choice.

I have the freedom.

It is all permissible.

But it is not all beneficial.

And for much too long I have been a child......... staring at the boundaries that have been given not recognizing the freedom I have been granted.

For the past week I have been making decisions based on how will this feel, what will this look like 2 days from now, a week from now?  Will my temporary pleasure outweigh the long term consequences?

And weirdly enough the answer is no.

And then I look at whatever decision is before me......and almost in disbelief........think why do I WANT this?

I don't.

I want the temporary relief that it provides but when I think about the long range effects....I think no way.

And this attitude, this changing of the question from WHY CAN'T I? to WHY DO I WANT TO?, this shift can apply to so many decisions in life.  It's amazing the capacity we have to do harm to ourselves, to our lives because we WANT and we don't recognize that we deserve MORE than temporary, superficial pleasure that serves to do more damage than it serves to deliver pleasure.

"Lord, you have assigned to me my portion and cup; you have made my lot secure.  The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance."
                          - Psalms 16:5-6

And so I ask..........where are your boundary lines?

Where do you need to ask the question WHY DO I WANT THAT rather than WHY CAN'T I HAVE THAT?

Where do you need to recognize the freedom presented by the boundary lines rather than constantly pushing against them - allowing yourself to be mastered by something that is permissible but not beneficial?

And will you make the shift?

Thursday, October 3, 2013

People Not Projects

I've been on a sermon kick again - listening to the words of those wiser or, at least, braver than I.

It's a good thing for me to do - to fill my head with uplifting, encouraging words, words that lead me to think and grow and listen more carefully.

I love being challenged.

I love hearing voices of those I know.  Sometimes it makes me laugh to hear their public self knowing what I know about their private self.

And as I walked and listened this past week I was reminded.

I was reminded that my call is to love people - to walk alongside, to build up, to get to know, to invite along, to simply love.

So often our agenda is one of.....let me help, let me change, let me make better, I want to MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

Now none of those are bad things and Lord knows we all could use a little help, a little change and some betterment.

But if that is your goal..........what does that say about the person you are suppose to be loving?


To me it says that I am a project.  I am something to be worked on - someone is going to step back, stare me down, make some judgements and then make improvements.

Then I will be all good and new and BETTER.

THEN I can join or be part of or be different.

It says to me that I am something to be fixed.

It says that I am something that can be finished.  Done.  Crossed off.


OR.................You can love.

You can walk alongside, you can listen, you can ask questions, have dinner, play with their kids, call, text, e-mail, see the person they are, the person they want to be.................and do so without expectation.


You mean I can do all that stuff and pour into and invest and love and lay down my life and time and energy and may make a difference..........or it may not?

Ummmm.............that sucks.

Yep.  Yep, it does.

But here's the thing......people aren't projects and they don't have an end date, a completion rate or a set of tasks that need to be complete and then you are DONE.

You are never done with people.

And people are messy and complicated and will need to be pulled up, lifted up, encouraged and love in a myriad of ways..........every. single. day.

And you know what?

Chances are you aren't going to be offered a little mini-me to pour are going to be offered someone to love that needs love.


You don't get to choose.

It's the neighbor who doesn't like you.

It's the super annoying mom with the even more annoying kid.

It's the person the next office, room, cubicle over that grates on your every last nerve.

It's the person who thinks THE EXACT OPPOSITE OF YOU IN EVERY WAY.

It's the family who seems to be the antithesis of who you want your family to be.

And listen........I am saying this to me.   I know that I am just as guilty as anyone else of wanting to choose who I love and who I pour into and who I have into my house.

I want to choose.


Too bad.

You are called to love.

You are not called to easy.

You are not called to simple.

You are not called to a life lived alone.

You are called to a life of discipleship.

And guess what else?

It's a lot easier to live a life of projects and not people.

It's a lot easier to fill our time with lists and projects and tasks and say LOOK AT ME.  I AM SO AWESOME BECAUSE I CAN COMPLETE ALL THIS STUFF.  I love a room that's been cleaned, a meal that's been cooked, a curriculum written, a village planned, a good deed done, an event planned.  I love those things because they are done and over and I can point to a job well done.

The reality, though, is that all those things are just things and they are good things and I love that I get to do them and they lead me to relationships and people but they are not the sum total of what I believe my ministry ministry is people.

My ministry is being carried out in parks and houses of other people and over the phone and through e-mails and coffee and prayer and time spent being present even when no one else is looking and it doesn't fit on an agenda.

And it's something that I need to be reminded of every day.

My tendency is towards tasks.

My tendency is towards completion.

My tendency is towards easy.

My tendency is towards simple.

My tendency is towards projects.

But my calling?

My calling to to love.

My calling is to the complexity of relationships.

My calling is to people.

Join me?

Sunday, September 29, 2013

There's A Mouse in the House

So here's the thing.........I have this little, tiny, hopefully slightly hidden fear of.........


Well, and mice, too.


And I don't want to give him a cookie or a glass of milk or do any fun things with him like they do in that book where the mouse is cute and funny and all that.


I never want to see him again.

I scream and fling my body about in the most odd and jerky movements possible and then hit the floor whenever I see him.

You may have seen this before if you have ever been around me when I am surprised or scared suddenly.

God forbid anyone ever throw me a surprise birthday party......I would pee my pants and fling my body to the ground therefore scarring every person there.


So that mouse got me thinking about my fear of failure.

Because, you see, I think that mouse is kind of like my fear.

I try to grab ahold of the fear, I contain it, I trap it or I try to keep it at bay, chase it away, forget it exists and move on with life.

But you know what I am sitting here thinking about?



Joe has it contained (he swears it can't get over the lip of the dividing step between the entryway and kitchen (I am allowing myself to believe him).

I am imagining how small it is and how it can't hurt me.

I am trying to forget about it (that small, black, disgusting, horrid creature that only lives to make me suffer).

I am trying to move on with my life and get some sleep (yet here I am typing this out instead of sleeping.)

Because you know what?

It's still in the house, just like my fear is still present and alive and very much wanting to EAT ME ALIVE........well, maybe that is an exaggeration but you get my meaning.

In doing everything BUT crushing the heck out of my fear and getting rid of it I am letting it still control me.

I actually asked myself tonight........what would happen if I was a crushing failure in a particularly important area of my life?  What really would happen?

I don't know.

I mean......I think about what would happen if that mouse would crawl into bed with me and bite my toe or something..........and I think I would DIE.  I certainly would probably kill my poor husband because I would scream so loud and claw him to death but would I DIE?

Stop exaggerating, Mandy.

Get a grip.

So what would happen if the village we led sucked one week, I mean really people decided not to come back sucked?

What would happen if my kid acted like a BEAST and if was ALL MY FAULT because I messed up and I needed to step up my game or let go or something else?

What would happen if I said the COMPLETELY wrong thing at the completely wrong time?

What would happen if I messed up as a granddaughter, a daughter, a mom, a wife?

What would happen if my house was trashed and someone happened to stop by in the midst of the mess and tired kids and tired momma?


Stop exaggerating, Mandy.

Get a grip.

That fear, like the mouse, seems so elusive but the closer you get you realize that it's really this tiny, little creature that you can trap, try to catch, keep at bay and forever run scared of OR you can get up close and personal and stare it down and say......






So what's it for you?  Failure?  Mice?  Or something else?

What do you live in fear of and when are you going to get up close and personal and stare it down?

Friday, September 27, 2013

Composting: A Photographic Essay (Otherwise Titled: Don't You Wish I Was YOUR Neighbor?

I always feel slightly self-conscious when posting things about what we do as parents, as people, as Christians.  Blogs don't give full pictures, just glimpses of a life and when the glimpses are all pretty and slightly perfect then the full picture is lost.  

So balance is called for.........yesterday I spoke of lopsided Christians and today I want to make sure I am not a lopsided blogger - swinging too far towards perfect or too far towards utter hopelessness :)  Although my husband would say that this is utter hopelessness..........I would point him to yesterday's post and remind him what an AWESOME mom I am for the 5 minute car ride to school every day.  In my mind that outweighs my rather eccentric composting tendencies.

I apologize to Ashley in advance...............

There is where my husband would like me to do our composting.  See the big, lovely bin?  It's....I have no idea how many feet from our back door, mathematical estimation is not my strong suit........somewhere between 5 and 500 feet from our back door.  A mere stroll in the lovely fall weather.  The best thing about this is that it keeps animals away from the composted food and makes us all feel wonderful about being responsible people who don't throw all their trash into landfills.

Here is another preferred composting option - right inside our own garden.  It's equal distance away from the back door and you don't even have to slide open a drawer thingy or anything - just dump it right over the fence.  Easy would think.

Here is another option.  This one right out the back door.  Now my patient and sweet husband has very, very nicely explained to me time and again how putting the compost in the bucket and then COVERING it with another bucket would help IMMENSELY in keeping animals away from this method of composting so that it doesn't get spread across the back door.  Another benefit to the double bucket is that swarms of insects, flies and such don't WHOOSH towards your mouth every time you open the back door.  I just like to focus on the fact that the compost made it out of the house..........and landed somewhere in the vicinity of the bucket.  YEA ME!

Now this is my husbands LEAST preferred method and my MOST preferred method.  I call it the open and shut method of composting.  I simply open the window to the backyard, dump the compost out and then shut the window.  VOILA!  It's gone.  It's not in the house and I didn't have to leave the house to do it.  Not to mention the unlimited capacity of the plot of land right outside the window.  My favorite time to do this is right after Christmas.  We JOYFULLY fling Jesus' birthday cake out the window and say HAPPY BIRTHDAY JESUS! and let the squirrels eat away.  It is VERY festive.

You can see how the compost has really been helping the weeds just grow, like........well, weeds.  It's really amazing.  You could almost say that the weeds cover the compost and so it's totally ok that I throw food out our back window.

Joe doesn't agree.

I tell him I am a work in progress......whoever thought I would compost or recycle or anything like this?

ABSOLUTELY NO ONE, that's who.

I hope you have enjoyed this photographic essay and have even learned some new ways that you, too, can be AMAZINGLY green.

Oh and one more thing about all things backyard..........have you heard of lawn confetti?

Yeah, didn't think you had.  I made it up just yesterday but I really think it will catch on.

What you do is have your children do art projects outside and then you leave them in the backyard for weeks on end until that have become just dry, withered pieces of paper scattered in your yard.  Then you mow.

And, yes, that's right.

Mow right over those babies.  No need to stop the mower and bend down and pick those bad boys up.

Let them DECORATE your lawn for you.  Watch the confetti spray right out the back and sides.  It's a thing of beauty.

Beauty because it is your precious babies artwork that is scattered so lovingly over the yard and the beauty of not wasting a single moment of your precious time bending over and picking those papers up.

Have a glorious Friday!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Two Questions

Who'd you bless today?

This is an often asked question in our house.

Our hope is that our kids recognize that life isn't just about them.  It's not just about having fun and what they get out of school, an activity, an outing.  It's about blessing others and showing love to others  that they may experience the love of Jesus, the light and hope of Jesus.

We talk in the morning on the way to school and over the dinner table and before bed about ways that they have blessed others or ways that they might try to bless others.

Sometimes it works.

Sometimes it doesn't :)

But the question is there, planted in their minds.........who'd you bless today?

I added to it the other morning.  We were in the car, saying our morning prayer before school - praying for other village kids and their schools and that all our children be blessings to those they saw today.....and I felt that something needed to be added.

I felt that being a blessing was only one side of the coin and so I added a phrase, a question.

I asked that God open their eyes to who is blessing them, who is loving them today.  I asked the children to be on the lookout for people who are showing THEM Jesus.

I want them to be able to identify the blessings that they have in their lives, the people that are helping and loving them.  I want them to know that they TOO need to be blessed and that they are not above receiving love and care.  I want them to feel the love of Jesus in their life and I want them to know that it comes from being in community, from letting others in and not just doing it all by themselves.

Life isn't about giving and giving and giving until you are dried up and done's about opening yourself up to receive blessings so that in the overflow you may bless others.  And it's important to me that my children recognize that, that they see the all the many ways they are blessed and out of the overflow they are eager to share with others.

Only giving is just as seductive and dangerous as only taking.  Only giving leads to inflated ego and sense of self, it isolates you and leaves you lonely, it causes people to become bitter - asking where is MY due?  Only giving is a trap of the self-righteous.

And it's not one I want my children to fall into.

And so we ask.............who blessed YOU today? alongside who'd you bless?

You can't have one without the other or you become a lopsided Christian.

We are meant to bless and be blessed.

So................who'd you bless today?

Who blessed you?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

I Am

I am 36 today.

And just like any other number - whether it be the number on a scale, the number of friends you have or the number of likes you have - it's part of who I am but not all of who I am.

I am a daughter.

I am a sister.

I am a wife.

I am a mother.

I am a friend.

I am a painter of windows - pumpkins, rainbows, ghosts, hearts - we do it all.

I am a laugh out loud, throw water in your face, mess-makin' kind of gal.

I am a quiet, keep to myself, read a novel a day, sometimes introvert.

I am a quick to think, quick to talk, quick to act type leader.

I am a homebody living three streets from my childhood home that dreads ever leaving this place.

I am a obsessive consumer of Diet Vanilla Cokes from Sonic.

I am an avid watcher of Parenthood, Downton Abbey and Nashville.

I am one who craves interaction and dialogue and meaningful discussion, I thrive on debate.

I am one who would rather look ten years ahead rather than ten minutes ahead.

I am a dreamer.

I am a writer.

I am a rather dramatic soul at times.

I am a child of God.

I am a weepy, emotion-driven worshipper centered on Christ and His love for us all.

I am a dancer.......when Aretha Franklin or Carole King is playing.

I am strong when I need to be.

I am a Wenger, Kossler, Codispoti mix.

I am 36 today........and surprisingly?

I am proud of that number and all the years I have lived, thus far, to be who I am.  Every year has gone into this year - making me who I am and growing me to be this person.  I am far from done and far from perfect.  And so I look forward to the next year and all those that follow..........wondering who will I be in ten? fifteen? twenty years from now.

Now I ask............who are you?

Just When You Think You Are an Awesome Parent.......

8:47pm Monday night - I am watching Downton Abbey (oh my word.......that starts and I am transported to a different time and place and I am sucked into the vortex of 1922 England.   Seriously, it's somewhat jarring to me when the credits come on and the black screen replaces the beautiful scenery of the Abbey......what? where am I?  what on earth am I doing in this bed wearing my tattered, old pajama pants and hair wrapped up in a towel and who is this young child peering at me in the darkened room......where is the abbey?  Mary?  Tom?  Mrs. Hughes? Mr. Carson?  Where did you all go?)

Nico (holding an ENORMOUS book of science experiments from the library......his other book choices?  Several Scooby-doo, a book about scoliosis, an atlas and a book about ohio - all picked out with quite a bit of care and deliberation) :  Mom.  Mom.  Mom.

Me (waking from my DA fog):  What? Yes.  Ok.  Ummmm, what?

Nico:  Mom, you have to see this experiment.  Can we do it?  Can we try this?

Me:  Ok, show me, buddy.  What did you find?

Nico:  It's a really good one........with birds.  See.  Right here.  You need a whole bunch of stuff.

Me:  Ok, buddy.  I think we have all this stuff, we can do this.  It's a homemade bird bath.

Nico:  Well, we would need a grown up to fill the water every day.  That would be you, mom.  You are home all day.  We aren't.  Francesca will have school, too.  So you can fill it up.  Well.......until you are dead.  I will probably be in college (All the while please picture that my precious boy whom I cherish has a big smile on his face and is taking this all very seriously but in that goofy, excited way he has when in the midst of planning and creating).  I will be grown up and then I can take care of it.  I probably won't even remember you............we will be so far apart. (more rambling about me being gone and him carrying on without a care in the world)

Me:  Huh. (thinking of that little boy who still requires cuddle time in the morning when he wakes up, wanting to curl into me while he adjusts to the HARSH, COLD world........far apart, not remembering me, WHATEVER.......oh he will remember me......I start plans of my own..........)

Nico: (more talk of planning and what he is going to do..............)

Me:  Well, that's a good plan buddy.  We will have to work on that tomorrow. (both of us will........operation remember mama will be in full effect)

And the other one.....................

Francesca: you think I should be when I growed up - God or a horse rider?

Me: (stunned silence)

And as always in moments like this with Francesca.........I wonder how we ended up with a mini female version of Uncle Anthony.......... :)  Oh, by the way, the silence did end and I told her she couldn't be God, there is only one God and she wasn't it.

I am not sure that she believed me..............................

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

It Starts With You

Today I met with a of the few that I allow behind the curtain......I was going to contact her but she beat me to it with an early morning text that came, I am sure, the moment she read the blog.......and we walked and we talked.

She asked me how I was on a scale of 1-10 (how I love people who get right to it) and I said about a 6, I think.......maybe a 7?  Then I laughed and said something along the lines of I am not sure I know how to say I am lower.  She laughed and said that my 6 was probably someone else's 4.

I said I am not sure what's wrong......maybe nothing.  I don't know.  It's a weird thing.

I think I need to just say the thoughts that come into my mind late at night.  I need to just give voice to the lies so they can be exposed for what they are.  I know that's what it is.......I think.

She listens.

And I felt myself getting a bit choked up, wanting to cry a bit but we were walking and I don't really like crying (except, apparently, EVERY SINGLE TIME I am at church) and so I made myself say the words.

And here's the thing.  It wasn't anything too awful.

Those words?

They lost their power once they were brought into the light.

They were exposed to truth and love in the form of a friend.

And in an e-mail (he read the blog after I was asleep and I have to admit sometimes we communicate through e-mail......judge if you want :) my husband said ok......we are going behind the curtain.  We are talking this out tonight.  And although he didn't say it I know he means business.......he loves and cares for me so much better than I love and care for myself, at times.

So tonight I will have an opportunity to say the words again and hear them spoken out loud and I will be able to identify them for the lies that they are.

We can give so much power and life to the things of our mind and the things we keep in the dark if we are not in relationship with other people.


These things that I spoke out's nothing new.  It's the same old stuff.  I know them to be lies.  I know these things are meant to keep me down and quiet and to stop me from growing and being light to others.  I know this.

And yet it doesn't matter.

On my own I will start to believe the lies once more.........

And the anxiety comes and is stirred in the night and I wake up feeling uneasy and tired and done in before the day begins.

UNTIL...........someone listens.

UNTIL............someone says I see you.

UNTIL.............someone says that is crap.

UNTIL.............someone takes the time to stop and love.

I want us to love each other like that.  I want us to lay down all the lists and the tasks and the stuff that needs to be done today and really listen to someone and love someone.  I want everyone to have people that go behind the curtain with them, that won't wait to for someone to call them but they will be on the phone ARE you......really?

Because here's the thing tasks and lists and things are easier to deal with and manage than people.

People are hard and they disappoint and they will do the same things over and over and over again until you want to bang your head on the wall or, even, bang their head on the wall.

Tasks are accomplished and completed. When you put the laundry in the wash it stays there.  When you wash a dish, you dry and then put it away......done.  It's not complicated.  It takes a bit of time but it's simple and easy.

People are anything but simple and easy.

Maybe we shy away from relationship and commitment to others for that reason.

Maybe it's easier to devote time to a task then to a person and so we fill our time with tasks.

But how about today we add to the top of our lists a phone call, a text, a short visit.

You shouldn't have 20 of these people.........remember Jesus?  He had 12.

You aren't Jesus.

Start with one.  Just one.

My friend?

We spent 45 minutes together today.  That's it.

And that 45 minutes?

It changed how I viewed myself and gave me room to breathe and space to remind myself of who I am.

And you know what?

I am pretty awesome ;)  Just ask my friend.

Who's your one?

It starts with you.

Make the time.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Behind The Curtain

Here I am..........again.........

Awake when it's still dark and way too early and my mind is racing and my body is already tired from all the things it will have to do today and all the people it will have to care for and tasks it will have to accomplish and I wonder why I can't sleep.

I wonder why sleep eludes me and why when I wake in the dark that my thoughts first turn to who I am not and the very worst parts of me and the weight that never leaves - whether on my heart or my flesh.

I think of that movie in childhood......the one I never fully watched because it was scary and oh my that lady on the bike and her cackling.  I can still see her and hear the music and feel a twinge of something uncomfortable, something not quite fear but close to it.  The monkeys and the little men and the witches - both good and bad.

But what I remember now, in the dark of night, is the great and powerful wizard.  And I think how brilliant the author of this book is that he is able to see inside all of us and realize that we all have a little man,woman standing behind a curtain and we want to project this great image, this powerful image but really we are just this tiny, normal person.  Just a regular person with all the same fears and hang ups and such that accompany each person in this life.

And I am great at pulling back the curtain so that you get a glimpse of me.  You get a glimpse of the insecurities I face, the thoughts I have, the things that cripple me in the night.  But it's just a glimpse, enough for you to know that I know I am not perfect, that I have my faults and I struggle, too, with all that I am not and am.  But then the curtain gets placed firmly back in place and the smile goes on and the clothes try to hide and the body keeps moving and the little man inside is forgotten or a least shoved aside in pursuit of daily life.

And oh my there are those of us who are GREAT at the pulling back.  We sweep aside our curtains with such flair or noise that it's the pulling back of the curtain that people are taken with, the action and not the actually person standing behind it.  If you are one of these people you know what I mean.  Our great reveal is accompanied by a laugh or a story or drama because we have steeled ourself for this moment, for this reveal and in doing so the tiny person behind the curtain is overwhelmed by the reveal.

I wonder what true vulnerability looks like and if we have allowed time and space for it in our lives.   I wonder if in all our busyness and urge to good things, the right things and love and take care of one another that we are missing what's good and real and important.

We are missing the opportunity to not just pull back the curtain but to have someone step forward and, no don't close it just yet.

Can I step behind this curtain with you?

Can I take a moment to just sit with you?

Can we talk?

I just want to listen.

I want to see.

I want to see the real you and I won't shy away.

I promise.

But, of course, we do shy away and promises are broken and people are hurt and curtains are slammed shut and we go back to life as it was when we are hurt by those we love and want to be loved by.

But how about for today we don't.

We don't shy away.

We don't slam shut.

We don't walk away.

Instead we invite.

We listen.

We see.

We stop.

We love with our ears and with our eyes and with our hearts.

So today take a moment and think of who in your life needs you stop and see the person behind the curtain.  Take a moment and think who are those people for you?  We don't expose ourselves randomly and to everyone we meet........then you would be a flasher :)  Not everyone needs to see all of who you are and all your stuff.  But we do need a trusted few who know everything, who know the REAL you, who see and love all of who you are.

I have my few and most likely I need to spend a moment with them and talk.  Really talk about what's behind my curtain, what drives me to wake at night and what thoughts keep racing in my mind and not brush off my night waking.

"This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.  If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin."
                                                    - 1 John 5-7

Who are your few?

What needs to be brought to light?

Love you all.  Thanks for showing up for my reveals and glimpses.  I am off to sleep for an hour or two before the day starts......I have a feeling I will be able to sleep a bit better now.

Sunday, September 15, 2013


Ahhh.......that preacher man and now a music man and someday I will find the words to incapsulate the formidable Suzi but for now she defies description so broad is her range of amazingness that I will simply call her my friend.........these people......they leave me weepy and filled yet yearning for more and feeling tender in the presence of the Lord.......

For they are not mere humans but vessels for the Lord........they speak and sing and live in a way that they reflect the Father.......

Each Sunday I leave a building but more than that I leave a body, a people that are filled with the Holy Spirit, a people that are filled with a Love that surpasses what mere humans are capable of.....

It's a weird and perplexing thing to leave church exhausted and stretched out and tingling and wanting it to last forever and yet seeking a place to rest and search your heart for the words that God left there for the hours that you were there.

I love my church.  I love the body of the church that incapsulates the message and person of Jesus.  I love the preacher man and music man and Suzi because in them resides the yearning to serve the Father and love a big Love that defies any other description besides Jesus.

And sometimes I talk big and I act big and I am loud and too much and I can speak with conviction and force but I spoke in whispers.

God show me a picture of the Holy Spirit as a quick but graceful wind moving throughout the room......whipping in and around and through His people..........and all around the fears and anxieties and messiness of the people were being wiped from them, being gently washed from them.....

And then the forceful nature of who God is stepped the form of a mortar and pestle.......He took those fears and anxieties and all the messiness and ground it down into a fine dust..........and there it was blown away in the the quick but graceful wind moving through the was ground down and blown away.........

And all through the sanctuary I walked and spoke to His people......reassuring them of who He is and who they are and how amazing they are and what amazing things they do.......their words, their beauty, their faithfulness, their love...........God whispering words of love in the ears of His people........

Because it's not enough to identify fears and anxieties and's not enough to ground them out and down and blow them in the wind...........we must then become filled with Him, filled with the message of His love and acceptance..........

And so today I want to whisper words of love and acceptance and worthiness into your lives and tell you that He loves you with an unending, unconditional, unwavering kind of love.  That when you look into the mirror, into your heart, into your life that what you see is exactly as it should be........that you.  you alone are enough.  All this striving and trying and yearning and wanting will kill the you that you are if not accompanied by the LOVE of God.

And it's not worth it.

Achieving perfection in one area will leave you dry in another.  Striving to be more and do more and accomplish more will leave you empty.  Yearning to be different, to make a difference will leave you with the same person you started with.

So just stop.  Stop.

Look in the mirror.

Really look.

See the beauty, the amazing beauty of exactly who you are.

I's there.

Because you see.........preacher man? music man? Suzi?

They are pretty people.  They just are.  But most of the time.........I forget.

I forget their outer beauty in light of the LOVE they shine..........the LOVE they shine that comes not from them or their deeds or their accomplishments but that comes from GOD.

They SHINE his LOVE.

Preacher man's words.

Music man's melodies.

Suzi's life.

All a reflection of the beauty and knowledge of the Father's Love.

I want you to know that each one of you carry this Love.  Each one of you is loved beyond measure.  I wish for you today, I pray for you today, to hear the message of the Father's Love for YOU.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

A New Season

I love today.

It's raining and dark outside........making the inside seem all the more cozy.

Don't get me wrong, sun is good.  I like warm weather.  I like being outside.  I love to eat all my meals in the backyard..........until I don't.  

It's a bit exhausting to me when it is sunny ALL THE TIME.  When it's warm and nice I feel we HAVE to be outside, we have to take advantage of every moment and soak it all up.  There is food to be pick, the lawn needs to be mowed, it's another HUGE part of the house to take care of and be in.  Plus there are countless parks, playgrounds and activities for the outdoors that seem to call me name in those summer months and I feel the need to visit them all and do them all.


Oh when it is cool and rainy and dark..............books call out my name, there are tv shows to watch (I know, I know tv is so taboo these days.....but I love it........"The Goldbergs" made me laugh just this morning as I cleaned the kitchen :), there are games and toys that sat all summer long waiting to be played, there are blankets to wrap around us all and there is more time to sit and be and be together.

I love it.

I think there is this inner lazy person that longs to break free of the ULTRA PRODUCTIVE person that I have become.  I used to spend A LOT of time lounging........A LOT.  But then came work and a house and a husband and kids and it seemed that to have any down time you needed to really capitalize on every spare second you had.  I still read a lot and I certainly get to watch my favorite tv shows but it takes on an almost manic quality.  I tend to DEVOUR to the end because the clock is ticking and there is always someone waking up, getting home, needing something, etc.  My shows are watched too late at night or while doing something else.  There is very little time when my mind is still along with my body.


I am entering a new season.  One where there is more space and time and quiet.

And I am loving it.

But unsure of how to approach it.  I am so used to moving, moving, moving.........doing, doing, doing........making sure that everything gets done and every second is used to reach the goal of........... what?  I am not sure.

It used to be dinner on the table, house reasonably cleaned, laundry done and kids played with.  That was the goal.  That was it.


I don't know.

The season of babies, that season of littles and always moving and going and doing.....well, that season seems to be coming to a bit of a youngest turned 4 yesterday and the olders are at school and QUITE happy to be there (Nico actually asked if he could have a school themed birthday party and do all the fun things they do at school at his party.......I LOVE YOU MRS. B).  When they are at home they still want to be with me and have my attention and "what are we going to do mom?" but it's much different from just a few years ago.

And so now I have to confess I am at a loss at how to slow down a bit.  It might be why I don't sleep and why I wake in the middle of the night still and why my body has not adjusted to this new season of life.   I fill my days still with constant activity and I am loathe to sit down and just read or take a break when they are gone because I feel it's cheating somehow.  How can I justify such laziness when I should be cooking, cleaning, exercising, doing laundry, working on church stuff, calling people, organizing, etc.?

Oh Mandy.

You weirdo.

Go back and read your blog.

Is anyone looking?

Is anyone judging?

Is anyone thinking any less of you for reading a book in the middle of the day when you have no kids at home?

Do you remember what you said you were going to do when all your kids were in school the first year?

Do you remember what you thought when you were down in the trenches with all the littles - covered in food stains, constantly wiping butts, chasing Nico, feeding, dressing, creating, playing, not sleeping and surviving?

You said that you were going to read novels, take naps and breathe.

That you would deserve it and you were going to enjoy it.'s slowing down and getting cooler and moving into a new season.

What are you going to do?

Pretend it's summer still or enjoy the dawning of a new day, a new season?