Monday, December 8, 2014


Some days I want to go back.

I want to go back to the not knowing.

I want to go back to the days of innocence, the days of guarantees.

I want to submerge myself in the here and now and not think of the tomorrows.

I want to unknow what I know, I want to unsee what I have seen, I want to erase images that are seared on my mind.

Information is a dangerous thing.

Stories and lives are powerful things to peek in on, to witness from afar.

We live in a world of information.

But some days I want to go back.

I want to go back to the not knowing.

My boy came in last night, not able to sleep.

We were always strict NOT IN MY BED parents, here in this house.............back in the days of innocence and guarantees.

Last night I said...............crawl in and we slept side by side, an arm dangling over a waist, a leg intertwined, a head curved into a was a guarantee for the night.

How I want to hold him forever.

For there was a boy.  Not one I even know.  Rather one I read about in a blog and then followed on Facebook and through Google found information on.

It's been a few days now.  Days which I have followed his story, peeked in on his mom.  One mom checking in on another, anxious at the outcome.........hoping........maybe?  Wishing for something to happen that never will.......but wishing all the same.

This age of information is a tricky one.

It lead me to this story, this mom and her son but not to the ending I wanted.

He died last night.

Thirteen years old.

A soccer player.

Big smile, big cheeks.

Loved by his brother and family.

A brain tumor snatched him from this life.

Today is a day I want to go back.

Back to the not knowing, the innocence, the guarantees.

I want to go back.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Don't Miss It

So I have mentioned before...........THE JOB.

I love it.

The mom job, of course.  But also the churchy job.

I still default and tell people that I am a mom a lot of the time when they ask me what I do.

I don't know why.

I think I value more what I do with my kids than what I do with the outside world.

I think that I feel more "me" as a mom than I do as anything else.

I don't know.

But I do get to meet some amazing people as the result of my job.

People who bless me with their words, with their work, with their life.

Today I got to meet one of those people.

20 years he has worked in this world, it's a family thing.  Passed on from father to son.

He has a passion for serving people.

He has a knowledge of this area and talks of the city with care.

He realizes the need to educate people.  He said that his goal is NOT to keep on meeting with the same people over and over again, enabling them but his goal is to educate and help them and have them not rely so heavily on him, rather they will have learned to help themselves.

He told me he is on call - 24 hours a day.  That we could call him at midnight.  He might be groggy and not as coherent but that he would answer and be ready to help.

He's not taking Christmas off.

He said people are just as vulnerable in the city on Christmas day as any other day - he has a responsibility to them.

He spoke with such an earnestness and passion.

He took more time than he needed to explain things, to teach me.  He went through detail upon detail.

At one point I knew that he had something hard to say and he took such care to be kind.

I was just in awe of this guy.

It was an unexpected gift to my day.


And who was the guy, you ask?

Randy, the Roto-Rooter guy.

I was standing there in my ancient Ugg boots, an old bulky blue bathrobe and my dirty winter coat being taken to church by my plumber.

My job?

It's flexible.

I got to stay home for a service call.

Good thing I didn't go to church that day.

I would have missed the message.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Car Talk

Remember those days?

Those days when your kids babbled or cooed or were just learning to speak?

It was cute, right?

And oh..........that first word, the first mama, the first "I love you" melts your heart.

But you know what else is great?

Car talk.

I love car talk.

Well, most of the time.

Sometimes the VERBOSITY of my children can get to me........I HAVE NO IDEA WHERE THEY GET IT FROM.

But much of the time I love car talk.

It's unguarded talk - they can't look right at me and I can't look right at them.  It's time when we are all in one place with nothing to do - no toys, no screens, no distractions, no work, no other people.  Just me and them.

And so the other night we are in the car and the talk begins.

Fia:  B******** asked me out today


Me (in an utterly calm voice):  Oh.  (Pause)  What did you say?

(One of THE BEST pieces of advice I have ever gotten was from Suzi - NON-REACTION.  No matter what your kid says to you, what word, what idea, what thought - NON-REACTION.  It has opened a million doors to some of the best conversations I've ever had with my kids)

Fia:  I told him no.


Me:  Oh.  (Pause) Well, that seems like it was a good decision.  Third grade still seems a bit young to be going out with someone.  How did it make you feel when he asked you, though?

Fia:  It kind of freaked me out.


Me:  What happened next?  What did he do?

Fia:  He asked out a bunch of other girls.  EVEN THE NEW GIRL, Mom.  She just got here, like, last Friday and he asked her out.  Finally A****** asked if he would stop talking if she said yes and he said he would so A***** said yes and he stopped talking.  He still likes me the BEST, though.  He only likes the other girls a little.

(I am starting to see how even though it FREAKED HER OUT that she might still appreciate being the one who is liked best..............hmmmm................might have to have further talks about this.......girl to girl)

Nico (from the far back):  I would tell him NO.  NEVER.  That it is REALLY INAPPROPRIATE.

Like I said.

Car talk.

It's awesome.

Then we came home, had some dinner and Francesca said she was going to put on a dinner show.

So she did.

Splits and all in the kitchen while we ate.

It was really INAPPROPRIATE :)

Friday, November 28, 2014

Promise Me

Promise that it will be me and you.  Me and you against the world together.  Against the children together.  Against the insecurities and the long nights of sleeplessness.  Against the norm, against the ways things "ought" to be.  Against the bad decisions and the hard decisions.  Me and you.  Together.

Promise me.

Promise that your arms will always hold, always encircle, always protect.  That your words will sooth and love and build up.  That your presence will be the always calm in the sometimes storms.

Promise me.

Promise that the person I have to be, the person I choose to be, the person that is on display for the world is not the person I have to be for you.  Promise that you will always love my naked self more than my made-up self.  That stripped down, laid bare Mandy is the best version, your favorite version and you'll treasure it as only yours.

Promise me.

Promise that when I do the grown up version of a kicking and screaming tantrum - when my silence is heavy and my spirit is angry that you'll see past the facade and look to the heart.  That you will recognize the core of who I am and know.  Know that I'm scared, that I'm tired, that I'm frustrated, that I'm anxious, that I'm hurt.  Know that I need you and always will but sometimes choose to push you away.  Forgive me.

Promise me.

Promise that I can throw water at you and say inappropriate 6 year old boy words and sing off key and talk too much and laugh too loud and flick spit in your face and cunningly, sneakily serve you tuna and you will laugh with me.  That we won't ever grow up and be "proper" adults that there will always be some words that are funny, some things that cause us to dissolve in laughter........even if it's just how funny the OTHER person thinks it is.

Promise me.

Promise that we'll talk.  We'll discuss.  We will always dream.  That we will never grow tired of our children's stories, that they will continue to amaze us and challenge us and make us laugh and we will talk of it.  Promise that while silence can be comfortable it never takes over our lives and that we will be the old couple at the restaurant still talking and laughing and dreaming.

Promise me.

Can you?


Promise me?

I love you.

I promise you.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


I love water.

Not drinking it, of course.

My drink of choice is always Diet Coke.


But I love being IN the water.

I love the feel of it on my skin.

I love the weightlessness of being immersed in the water.

I love how relaxing it is to feel it pouring over you and sweeping away the cares of the day.

I love water.

Today I was swimming - swimming laps so that I may become a bit more weightless, my body stronger.

And for a moment I didn't love the water.

I didn't love how hard it was to push against the water to propel myself forward.

I didn't love how tired and achy my body felt after I had already been on the treadmill and now was in the water.

I didn't love the obligation of the water.

I didn't love that I would close my eyes and veer out of my lane.

Nothing about the water was weightless or relaxing or delightful.

I was immersed in the OBLIGATION and STRIVING and PUSHING of myself.

I was not immersed in the water.

As I began to realize this I began to push less, I relaxed into each kick, each arm movement and let the water propel me forward.

I began to feel my body give way to the water.

I began to feel the rush of water pass me by........rolling over me and creating that feeling of weightlessness.  I began to glide more than push myself.

My body, rather than achy and tired, felt more and more restored by the water.

And I realized that is how I act towards God sometimes.

I make him an obligation.

Something to push against.

Someone who expects ME to propel myself.

I take my eyes off of Him and I veer and I get mad at being off-course.

I STRIVE and I PUSH and I act out of OBLIGATION.

But, ultimately I am not immersed in HIM.  I am immersed in SELF.

It is when I relax into Him, when I allow HIM to propel me forward, when I allow HIM to restore and renew and allow HIS presence to wash over me.........

Well, then I begin to experience weightlessness.

Weightlessness which comes from not being burdened by the cares of this world.

Weightlessness which comes from being fully loved.

Weightlessness that comes not from obligation but from a desire to be restored.

Weightlessness that comes not from self but from GOD.

Dear Father, let your presence wash over us today.  Let us experience the restoration and weightlessness that comes from fully immersing ourselves in YOU.  Let us be propelled forward not by our own strength but by yours.  


Thursday, November 20, 2014

My Job

This job?

It's hard.

It comes with so many demands - on my time, on my emotions, on my strength.

It drains me and leaves me empty, at times.

What started out as dreams and imaginings and YES! I can't wait to do this thing........well, that first burst of excitement gives way to the reality of what I signed up to do.

It's just a lot more work than I expected.

There are some days when it's just repetition and sameness and OH MY WORD do these people love to talk.  It's a lot more listening than I imagined.  More care than I imagined.  TONS more patience than I imagined.

By the end of some days I am frustrated and irritated. 

I wonder if what I am doing matters.

I wonder if I made the right decision in taking on this new life, this new job.  

I wonder if everyone wouldn't be better off if life had stayed more of the same.

There are days when I miss my old life.

BUT..........then I think.

I love these people.

I love this environment.

I love the atmosphere.

There are the perks of flexibility, time off when needed (I love the guy I work with - he's incredibly understanding and aware of when I have hit my limit) and I have a lot of creative control and input into what goes on.

It's good.

I DO love it.

And on the bad days?

I remember it's a job.

It's not meant to be fun ALL the time.

I don't do it because it's "fun".

It's work.

It starts off intense, round the clock and then gives way to a lighter load.

It may seem mundane at times BUT................

It's important.

It matters.

It is worth the time and the energy and the effort.

It's worth the hard days and the bad days.

And sometimes I kind of suck at it.

But it's a job.

And that will happen.

I just get up the next day and try again.

I pray more.

I love more.

I give grace more - to myself and those around me.


Because being a mom is the most important job I will ever have.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Mommy Moments: Part 2

Sometimes I forget.

I forget the lessons I learned in the early days of motherhood.

The why of why I named this blog Mommy Moments instead of Mommy Life.

It's easy to get lost in the ENTIRETY of motherhood, to become overwhelmed by the sheer responsibility of it all.

I get lost in the pure numbers of it all - the minutes spent away, the minutes wasted, the minutes gone wrong, the minutes done wrong, the minutes that seem to slip away sometimes with me barely even noticing that the clock is ticking on the in-house days I have with my babes.

But yet.............there are moments.

Moments of a girl sitting on the edge of a bed, legs crossed, fingers slipping golden hair behind delicate ears and she talks.  She talks endlessly and with the mouth of a child, the tone of a child but the words of someone older.  She talks of art class where there was free art today and she talks on and on.

I ask if she preferred free art or art class when there was a project.  I was certain I knew the answer but I asked to hear the response.

I was right.

Oh my girl.

She likes the art project where there is structure and things you are suppose to do and then you can do your own thing within the boundary of the project.  Free art leaves way too much choice and blanks to fill in.  She talks on about such things - using her own words not mine.  It's lovely to hear and I drink in the moment.

Then there are the moments of my boy............I marvel at his size and his strength every day.  How big he's gotten.  How he has opinions now on hair (bangs always, gel on rare occasions, mostly always trimmed and neat would be the preference) and clothes (always athletic) and girls (he likes the loud ones, the ones that act more like boys and only as friends).

I love that he cuddles in the dark of morning or night, that he seeks out comfort only when we give him space.  Those are the moments I treasure - the whispered conversations with an almost grown boy about school and life and friends and how I love his words and explanations of things.  He sees things that most don't at his age - he names everyone's best friends in class using everyone's last names and explaining the whys of the relationships, he explains his frustrations with getting things wrong and being angry and so much more.

I just marvel at who he is when he lets himself go.

And oh my girl.......the last and the oh so typical of being the last.  The clown, the jokester, the always rumpled, always slightly disorganized last.  Her moments save us from ourselves at times, they save her from complete disaster.

I hear just her voice and I smile.

We've had people ask about her "accent" - her Jersey-like, full of drama accent.  It seems to be fading a bit and I will mourn the day it ends when "purrrrse" becomes the ordinary and clipped "purse" - how I love her words.

But her moments are filled with well-timed phrases - such as when we were cautiously watching "Maleficent" waiting for the kids to be too scared and thinking that we would have to turn it off.  The battle begins and the horses charge and there is yelling and screaming and Maleficent begins to rage and it's all a bit overwhelming and you hear......

"I LOVE her."

And just like that the entire tone of the scene changes for us all and we laugh and any hold the images might have had on any of us is dispelled because of a Jersey-like, full of drama accented girl.


Just moments.

But sometimes moments are enough.

Because when viewed through it's entirety motherhood can break you, make you feel not enough, make you question what you do or say or decide.

Motherhood is so hard, at times, because who has it all figured out?

Certainly not me.

BUT.............I have my moments.

Moments that shine.

Moments that last.

Moments that fill me up.

Moments that make me laugh.

Moments to cherish.

Moments to store away.

Moments of greatness.

Moments of perfection.

Moments of sweetness.

Mommy moments.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Just Right

The cold air blows.

The trees become more and more bare as the leaves make their slow and gentle way down.

Just fits.

Just right.

Snuggle in tight.

The sky darkens at such an early hour, beckoning, almost demanding that you make your way inside.

The garden browns and starts it's gradual decay back to the ground.

Just fits.

Just right.

Snuggle in tight.

The squirrels dash about maiming and destroying all the Halloween pumpkins left on stoops and doorways in the back.

The children find once again the toys that had remained untouched and almost hidden throughout the warmer months.  Legos, jewelry kits, dolls and more make their return from dusty closets and forgotten spots.

Just fits.

Just right.

Snuggle in tight.

Candles are lit, soup is made, bread rises on the stove........the smells of darker, colder days are here once again.

Tea is made nightly, blankets make a reappearance and books are consumed at a rapid pace as the inhabitants of the house settle in for the night.

Just fits.

Just right.

Snuggle in tight.

Comforters are stacked high on beds, cozy jammies are donned earlier and earlier and children slumber later and later.

And with the warm months behind us and the cold ones quickly approaching I wrap my arms around the one I love just as sleep overtakes us both and once again I find........

Just fits.

Just right.

Snuggle in tight.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Small Acts of Bravery

I watched my eldest walk up to the big doors of the high school today.

By herself.

The morning was filled with a big, sit down breakfast with the family - homemade biscuits, scrambled eggs, oatmeal with brown sugar and blueberries, apples and hot coffee.  We talked and ate and then settled in on the couch to watch Wild Kratts and SciGirls on the computer.  The decision had been made to spend time with the family - in jammies and lazy - rather than rush around to get ready so I can walk my girl into the school for ballet.

So I did a drive by, drop off.

She looked so tiny.

It's a weird thing to not follow in, sign off, be with her every minute until she's released to another adult that we can set eyes on.

It seemed to me to be a small act of bravery for my girl.

The one who cried every time I left her when she was a baby.

The one who hid behind my back for so many years when approached by ANYONE.

The one that left gym on the first day of kindergarten with a "tummy ache".

And I thought of how often these acts go unnoticed by those around us.  That we take for granted the small acts of bravery that happen each and every day.  In our own lives we bypass them in favor for the more public, more vocal, more seen acts of bravery.  

Why do we do that?

All those small acts of bravery might one day add up to ONE BIG ACT......but what if they don't?

Does that make them any less valid?

It's funny to me that the stories we study so often when we are young are the BIG bible stories......Noah building the ark, Moses standing before the Red Sea and leading the people out of Egypt, Jonah and the whale, David and Goliath........the BIG names, the BIG acts.  They get top billing in our childhood bibles and classrooms.

And there is nothing wrong with that.

There is so much to learn from those moments, the stories of those people.

But as I get older and dig deeper and read more often and listen more..........well, I begin to think about the small, nameless acts of the New Testament.  The blind beggars shouting out to Jesus, the four men lowering their friend through a roof to Jesus, the widow's offering, a man bringing his son to Jesus to heal and so many more.

These nameless, small acts of bravery.......the shouting out, the giving of all they have, the caring for a child, the helping of a friend........these small acts of bravery?

Well, they all led to Jesus.

Every single one.

We remember them, we read about them because they represent faith and trust and love.

And I think about YOUR life.

I think about all the small acts of bravery that happen every day in YOUR life.

When you show up rather than texting, e-mailing, calling or messaging because you KNOW that someone needs Jesus with skin on and words just aren't enough.

When you walk into a school, a conference, a meeting and you speak for your child, trembling because you know you are the one that will have to fight for them.

When you choose to fight for a marriage and sometimes it does look like fighting but at the end of the battle you find yourself still linked together.

When you teach your children to battle for others, to love the unlovable and as you do so you know there will come a day when that won't be the easy path.........yet you know it's the right way, the right thing.

When you give and you are weary and tired and done in and you wonder if you have anything even worth giving..........but then you see the smile, you hear the words of a changed life, you feel the love that comes from giving.

When you kneel and cry out, the words tumbling from your mouth, from your heart and you think that only brave thing you can do today is to lay before God and cry out.

These small things............these acts reminiscent of the nameless, small acts found in the New Testament?

Well..........they draw you closer to Jesus.

When I am witness to such things, I am reminded of your faith and your trust and your love and it spurs me on.

Hope your day is filled with the witnessing of small, every day acts of bravery that lead you closer to Jesus.

Friday, November 7, 2014


I was sitting next to a friend the other day........talking, chatting, asking what's new.  They told me of an opportunity on the horizon for an acquaintance and while my words were positive, my face most likely was not.

Because while my words were somewhat positive, my thoughts were..........well, snarky.

Snarky in that I didn't quite see what my friend did.  I didn't see possibility and what could be, I saw the here and now and the "funny" bits, the over the top bits, the.....yeah, totally don't see it bits.

But not my friend.

They were kind and laughed and said yeah, I get it.  I know there's room for doubt.  But I love this guy.  He's got what it takes.

So rather than meeting snark with snark or rebuke or disappointment there was once again that love my friend has for so many.

I think how easy it is to get off snark has been elevated to a high form of humor.  How it's used to group people together but exclude others.  How it blinds us to see what's possible, what's real and shines the light on minor details, small words or phrases, people's faults rather than their very best qualities.

And I get it.

To be brutally honest?

It's fun.

It's fun to point out flaws and joke about them and say it's harmless and just in good fun.

It feels good to be part of one group over the other, to build up self and cast down the rest.

It's EASY............some faults are GLARING and it is SO HARD not to laugh.  I mean, it's almost as if they are ASKING FOR IT, right?

There are whole v shows and websites and blogs devoted to such things.......where the only purpose of such sites and shows are to make fun of other people, to point out flaws.

It's disheartening...........yet I am easily sucked in.

I want to not be sucked in.

I want to not participate in the snark.  I want to read, listen or watch and instead of going for the jugular I want to go to the heart of what people are presenting, what they are offering to the world.

I see my babies walk out this door and into their school each morning and I pray for the snark to end. I pray that the world will look upon them with eyes of kindness rather than eyes of criticism, gleefully waiting for a misstep.  I pray that they are exposed to people who see possibility and not all they AREN'T right now.  I pray that all their words and actions and clothes aren't picked apart but praised for what they are.  I pray that people go not for the jugular but for the heart - for my kids, well, they have heart.

And rather than picked and poked at and left as scrap?  I want their hearts made whole.  I want them to come alive to the possibilities that God has for them.  I want them to know all the AMAZING, WONDERFUL things that can come from being heard and seen and known.  I want them to value the voice that they have.  I want them to take on life confidently.

But it starts with me.

The adult.

What they see, they mimic.

What they hear, they repeat.

What they live with, they live out.

What is done to them, they will do to others.


Time to end the snark.

Time to look with eyes of possibility.

Time to bypass the jugular and go to the heart of who people are.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

People Before Mission

This is a phrase I find myself repeating quite a bit in my new job.........


I say it a lot but I forget it a lot, too.

Because, in reality, PEOPLE BEFORE MISSION is not the WHOLE story behind the phrase, huh?

The WHOLE story behind the phrase would be PEOPLE (who agree with me/are healthy/are whole/who have the same mission/who get on board/who aren't complicated/who don't require hard work) BEFORE MISSION, right?

I mean who REALLY wants to do the hard work of actually being with people before they even get that there IS a mission?

Who wants to jump in the trenches with people who think "the mission" is dumb or stupid or wrong?

Who wants to put people who have strayed from YOUR mission before the mission?

Who wants to take the time to love and care for and hear out the people who just don't get it?

No one.

Not really.

We talk a good game but living this crap out is hard.

I looked at my son this morning and told him that one day he will remember these moments - these hard, I want to shake you, I can't believe you are my spawn, why won't you just act LIKE A NORMAL HUMAN BEING moments - and he will realize that it wasn't me being calm in these moments but it was God.  That this calm voice, this calm manner, this not throttling him was because of God.

And I forget that when I am with adults.  I forget that the whole idea of PEOPLE BEFORE MISSION are the moments in time when I am fully reliant on God for my response, when I look to him before I look to myself.  When I look to Him and say........ok, what should my response be?  What can I say to this hurting, angry, lost, lonely, confident for all the wrong reasons, running too fast person?

What would I say?

Oh my.  No one should hear that.  Occasionally people do.

It's rarely my best self or even a good self.  Luckily those people love me.

But how about the people who need love from ME?

I HAVE to look to God.

I have to still my own thoughts, quiet my own reaction, my own response.

I have to listen and ponder and relax my shoulders and not tense up with the need for the RIGHT answer.

I have to have a GOD response not a ME response.

I would gladly put MISSION before PEOPLE.......almost every time.

But maybe...........just maybe........people ARE the mission.

Feeling thoughtful today...........................

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


Recently Joe and I went to conferences for all three of our kids.......that's right, all three in school.  It's glorious and wonderful and weird and sometimes sad but mostly good.


To be honest we weren't sure what to expect.  We were on the fence about sending Cesca to kindergarten so we were wondering how that was going.  Nico has been a challenge lately at home.  It seems we did THE MOST HORRIBLE THING IN THE WORLD by not conceiving, adopting or picking up at the store another boy child.  WHAT ON EARTH WERE WE THINKING?!?  Obviously, we weren't thinking solely of Nico's need for another human to play sports with.  So there's that.  And, well, Fia........she's a first born girl.  No surprises at conferences there.  We were just hoping that she was participating more.


Turns out?

Our kids save their VERY BEST SELVES for school.

What the heck?!?

Turns out Francesca listens, is very quiet and serious, has lots of friends and works hard.


You mean that child who SCREAMS and CRIES at the drop of a hat at home?

The one who when the tv gets turned off at Grandma and Grandpa's house after ONLY ONE SHOW will open her mouth wide enough to fit an entire cantaloupe in and SCREAM at the injustice of JUST ONE DISNEY SHOW (This is when all the judgy parents and childless people will say then she would get NO tv........I know this because I used to be one.  Judge away, my friends, judge away.  I encourage your blissful ignorance :)


Turns out she's just a superb little kindergartener and we made the absolute right decision sending her.  Thank you, Mrs. B.

Then it's off to Nico's conference............surely we will have some news at this one.

Mrs. Frantum sits down and gets a bit teary-eyed as she tells us how HELPFUL and KIND and WELL-BEHAVED Nico is, how he is the kid that will help anyone without asking, that when a girl spilled her water bottle and everyone else was in line ready to go that Nico ran to get paper towels and wiped it all up without any asking him to.  Also, he is so willing to help kids with their work, that Mrs. Frantum will pair him with *ahem* a "challenging" student (ie an irritating one - my words not hers......she is the nicest teacher and would never say such a thing, truly) and he will help without complaining.


You mean that child who gets up in the morning planning out how to torture and IRRITATE his sisters to no end?

You mean that child when you ask him to wipe up a mess on OUR floor will ask where we keep the towels and say I CAN'T DO THIS?!?

You mean that child who rolls his eyes and challenges us on every front and will scream when frustrated?  THAT CHILD?



Then it's off to Fia's conference..............I'm almost scared.  What if SHE'S the problem student now?


Mrs. Cook has nothing but good things to say.  She works hard.  Pays attention.  Has great grades.  All of it.  Whole package.

No surprise but certainly not indicative of the eye-rolling, brother-baiting, emotional roller coaster we experience at home.


Turns out our kids?...............well, they're a lot like we are as adults.  I don't know about you but I save my VERY BEST SELF for when I am around those I know the least or the ones that are "grading" me, for my boss, for the people I work with, for those outside my immediate circle.

My family?  My close friends?

Oh my.

They could have some stories for you.  Those unguarded, emotional, tired, cranky, every day moments.......those moments are set free in the presence of those I love the most.

And this actually isn't a post about oh why don't we treat those we love most the best?  Why do we save it for those we love least?

Well, because it would be weird.  I hardly want to encourage acquaintances to start EMOTING all over me and around me.  Can you imagine?  What if we began to treat everyone like we do our family, our close friends?

There has to be so much TRUST and LOVE to expose our less than best selves to people and when we do that?  Well, that is when we are challenged to grow, to change, to become the BEST version of ourself that we can.

I am so glad that my kids are doing well in school.  I'm glad their teachers see their BEST selves.  But I'm also glad that they feel safe and loved and trust us enough to show their LESS then best self at home.

Home can the place where they can just be their self - any version of self that they are being at any given moment because ultimately it is not their BEST self that I's ALL of them that I love.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

It Doesn't Get Easier

Ahhhh...........hello my few and faithful.

I know that I have been absent for awhile.

It's been a time of newness and growth and all those highfalutin' words that simply mean absence from reality.

All my thoughts and dreams and poetry are spent on figuring out things and being systematic and the new preacher man today slammed me to a wall when he asked if I do anything without agenda?





No, I don't.

My life has been filled with chess pieces being moved here and there and it's good and it's been amazing and I love it and still.........

I wonder what became of the girl who sat at the computer and poured her heart out and wondered if she was a good enough mother, a good enough wife?

How often do I ask those questions now?

This new age, this new era I find myself struggling with.

My kids are older and blessedly in school........hallelujah and praise the lord.


But I am not so good at this parenting thing past 5, past 6.

I wonder who are they, how are they.............I wonder am I doing enough, am I talking enough, am I protecting enough, am I letting go enough?

It's a constant and it's a whirlwind and I miss the crazy days of being at home, all day, every day, all of us in one space, in one time, of one mind.

My kids were my own when they were little and our days were filled with laundry basket fun and bulding block fun and cooking all kinds of craziness fun.

And yes I remember those posts where I was done in and frustrated and tired and wanting a bit of freedom in the midst of ALL. THOSE. KIDS.


Hmmm.................I wonder if we all have an age at which we excel and I wonder if the age at which I excelled has past?

I hope that I can keep up and read up and play up with the kids I have now.

The 5 year old, the almost 7 year old and the 8 year old going on 30.

Thank the good Lord that I am not alone and that I have an army of people that surround not only me, but my children.

I am calling upon them as I enter into this battle with my children.

This battle that consists of peers and heartaches and inadequacies and anger and overconfidence and so much more.

It's a scary, scary world out there.

One in which I am ill-equipped.

But I have my team and I have my God and, daily, do I called upon them.

Who's on your team?

Who do you call upon?

Parenting is not for the faint of heart, rather for those that are willing to battle......DAILY.....for those that have been placed in their care.

Monday, June 30, 2014



I'm, like, "in ministry" now.

It's official.

I have a title.

I'm "on staff".

I actually get paid (it's not a lot but it's more than I was making as a full time wife, mom, cook, lauders, maid, etc. :)

It's weird.

It feels uncomfortable, at times.

I think, maybe, because I didn't grow up in this environment.  I didn't seek this out.  I wasn't educated in the many ways that churches can be run.  I feel a bit like THE MOST AVID attender of Broadway just snuck behind the curtain and is seeing how the magic happens...........and sometimes it's not magic.

It's work.

Just because it's work that revolves around God and His people doesn't make it any more special or different than the work I was doing before............and that was a weird thing to realize.

And in pursuing this life inside the church walls and inside the hearts and the minds of the people who are out doing God's work I find myself wondering....................does any of this matter?

Does my part matter?

Funnily?  Weirdly?  Unexpectedly?

I never doubted that my part mattered when I was at home surrounded by my little ones, kissing my husband hello or goodbye ( maybe once a month I would remember to kiss him and greet my Joe as he LOVES when he comes little to ask and yet, I selfishly stayed on the couch reading books to my kiddies or folding laundry or whatever seemingly important task I was doing.......oh my, this will be what haunts me when we are old and gray and I am wishing for one more day with my Joe...........) and keeping my home.

All those wonderings and questionings from stay at home moms?

Never doubted.


I was probably annoying to many but I was convinced of my place in this world and in my life and I LOVED it.


Hmmmmm........not so convinced at times.  It's scary.  It's unsettling.  I wonder what He thinks.

I fear that when I am absent from this screen and this space that I have listened so intently for His desires for others and for the spaces I speak into and the people I love and the things I am doing that I forget to just listen.

Just listen.

And hear.

Not speak.

But listen.

In the quiet moments.

In the still moments.

In the chaotic moments.

In the running moments.

In the spinning around and around moments.

Do I hear?

Or am I busy trying to figure things out on my own.

So much of my time is filled with the figuring out and the gathering of information and the pouring into that I wonder where that mom went with her hair pulled back, wearing an old stretched out sweatshirt and black "exercise" pants, playing with her kids with blocks and water and paint and mess who's mind would wander while her body was present.......and in those moments God spoke.  He filled my mind with words and thoughts and pictures and HE SPOKE.

It seems crazy now.

That time.

That easy, hard, exhausting, resting time.

I don't miss it.

And yet...............................

I wonder.

Lord, let me have ears that hear.  Eyes that see.  Let me still my body, my heart, my thoughts so that I have room for You.

Let me not be so busy working for You that I forget loving You and listening to You and knowing You and learning from You.

Thank you for loving me in every season.

I love you.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

My Babies No Longer

Do you remember the first feeding, the first smile, the first word, the first step?

Do you remember all the firsts of your babies?

If it's not as clear as it once was and the names and the faces get mixed up as time goes on…..well, I certainly remember the awe and wonder.  Even this mama, a self-proclaimed NOT LOVER OF THE BABY YEARS, remembers the wonder and the excitement.  


I remember, too, thinking at some point that the firsts are over and babyhood is behind and the wonder is almost up.  My last and craziest is four, almost five and acting older then the others did in many ways.  We are done with naps and my boy just announced he was too old to cuddle and there is much more independent play and friends reign supreme in our house.  The favorite person ranges from Steve (yes, our 60-some year old neighbor who calls to tell of baby birds hatching or will talk endless and patiently to a four year old) to Destiny to Stephen to Annie or, well, really any Mullins relation that happens to wonder over.  Parents are no longer the end all be all of the world - the imaginary world or real, depending on the mood or the day.

And yet……………

I find there to be so much more wonder and awe in my world than before.  

Surprising, isn't it?

It, to be honest, took me unaware.  And maybe it's an eye-opening, heart-opening season for me - one that is teaching me that there is beauty in all ages and stages of life - even my children's lives.

It's happening more and more often that I stop and I stare and I sit and I pay attention or listen or look and I find that my babies are not babies but these real-life people with real-life thoughts and concerns and ideas and opinions.  And I wonder how did we get from talking about letters and numbers and shapes and what would you like for snack and yes, you are wearing those socks and no, you can't do that and yes, it is SO YOUR BEDTIME and please, please let mama have a moment to………

THIS.  Ahhhh, the magic of THIS time and THIS stage.  This time when we stop dead in the middle of the day, in the front yard where we are pulling weeds because a question is asked and lo and behold an answer is given and it leads to this strangely grown up conversation.  I want to take a step back and say wait, wait!!  Let me get the camera!  I want to record every moment of this, every word you are saying. Is this happening?  Are we TALKING?  It was the most incredible moment.  And I know our yard looks like crap and the weeds are everywhere but listen, people, when you are laying down roots and watching them take hold you don't have time to mess with the earthly weeds.  And so we stopped and we sat in the sun and we TALKED.  It was glorious.

THIS occurs when you watch this HUGE boy-child at the dinner table scarfing down food and asking for more and proclaiming your food the best ever and can he have more.   I can't tell you how many times I have stared at this boy and wonder WHEN DID HE GROW?  But grow he did and can I tell you?  He and I are allies in this house of sensitivity and seriousness.  I will always allow that the others are better.  They just are.  They are more aware.  They are better behaved.  They, most likely, will never offend anyone.  They know how to act and what the rules are and will never cause serious discomfort.  They are the better people.  My boy and I?  Well, we say the wrong things………AND IT IS SO FUNNY…….if only to us.  And my love keeps warning me that NOT EVERYONE WILL THINK IT'S FUNNY.  And so I try to temper the silly with the serious but it's so hard when we get to laughing and their seriousness just makes it all the more funny.  

THIS occurs when you are in the car and everyone is tired and there is much talk OVER and OVER about the same thing.  My patience is wearing thin and I am about to lose it with the one in the back - that boy-child whose temper sometimes can boil over and WHAT IS THAT ALL ABOUT?  My goodness.  The issue?  The I can't possibly every forgive you for this?  He did not go to Safety City last year.  MY WORD.  SUE ME.  WE ACTUALLY TOOK OUR KIDS TO IDLEWILD PARK AND SPLASH ZONE AND STORYBOOK FOREST.  Apparently this is AWFUL because my boy did not get to ride a tricycle around a made up city in an unair-conditioned elementary school building for 2 hours last summer and IT HAS RUINED HIS WHOLE LIFE or so it seemed for those MANY, MANY minutes in the car.  So just as mama was about to turn around and throttle her beloved child…………..her other beloved child, that last, unbelievably magical, always messy, always unpredictable one who is, indeed, going to Safety City this year?  Well, she says in the most dead-panned of voices………."I'll take a picture for you."  And such is the beauty of the last.  Those birth order books have it right………oh my is she silly and always she makes us laugh……"I'll take a picture for you."  We laughed out loud.  The mood broken.  Classic.

So I am learning, as I am sure most mamas do, that time is precious.  ALL TIME.  That being a mama is a forever job and a forever joy.  And yes, it's not all good.  It's not all perfect.  As evidenced by the fact that I am happily sitting on my parent's porch writing this…….not tucking my precious ones into bed but tucking myself into a comfy chair and basking in the stillness.  But oh my……..these glimpses, these moments, these firsts………..I treasure them.  

I am reminded so often that there are many things that I love and am passionate about and am willing to sacrifice so much for but there is nothing that grounds me so much as my husband and my children.  They are my glimpses of what God must feel when He views us.  They are my peek into what Love is. They are my joy.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Middle Place

There's beauty in the middle place, isn't there?

It's not the beginning.  The beginning where you think that you have it all figured out but inside are terrified because you don't KNOW.  And all I can remember about the beginning is wanting to KNOW.  I wanted to KNOW so many things - all those things of where am I going to go to college?   what job will I have?  will I EVER get married?  what about kids?  where will I live?  who will I be? who will love me?  who the heck am I?  It's almost as if there is TOO much possibility at the beginning and not enough knowing.

The middle is the space in time when you get to look back at how far you have come, where God placed you and why it has worked and led you to the now of your life.  Or maybe it's that you placed yourself somewhere and God worked through that and you arrived where you are now.  No matter.  Now you can look back and see the shaping and molding of who you are now - the crushing times, the carving times but also the first steps and the first wins that led to NOW.

NOW being the middle place.  Not middle aged quite yet..............but no longer are you YOUNG to anyone but your parents or the little old ladies in grocery stores that smile while staring longingly after you and your parade of children.

NOW is the space where you allow for a bit of now knowing because you have the ability to look back and know that all is temporary and shifting and that life is predictable only in that it is completely unpredictable.

NOW is knowing it's not forever and so you treasure it a bit more rather than wishing it away for what comes next.

NOW is relaxing into who you are a bit more rather than chasing after who it is you want to be.

NOW is a narrowing of the options, a refining of what your life is to be, what matters most.

NOW is knowing you don't have it altogether but not EXPECTING to have it all together.

NOW is a bit of perspective.

But, perhaps even more exciting, still there is the space and place that is to COME.  Because you are in the middle you realize that the now of your life is good and important but it's still a building block, a step for what's to come.  You still get to dream and imagine what's next and you get to be a part of it all.  And NOW you know that there will be crushing and carving and hard stuff but there will also be the wins and the PHEW I made it and I made it BIG moments of life.

So tonight I allow myself a look back............a look back at my plans, my ideas of what NOW was going to look like, my uncertainty, my dreams and my fears.   And I can't help but think I can't imagine my NOW without YOU.

You being Jesus who saved me, who loves me, who never leaves me, who counters every question/doubt/insecurity with the FORCE of His love and mercy.

You being Joe who loves me for exactly who I am, who gives me space, who saves me from myself even when I am kicking and screaming and wanting to DO IT ALL BY MYSELF.

You being Liga who sees me in such a better light than I ever see myself, who loves my kids, who loves me, who will continue to give and give and give because her heart is compelled to such a life.

You being Jason and Suzi who see me not as I am but as I could/can be, who because they trust me I learn to trust myself, who never seem to tire of my thoughts and questions and ideas.

You being Ashley who is always a phone call away, always waiting to hear another story, always remembering to ask after my family, how do you still know me after one year together and more apart?

You being OH MY WORD my crazy, crazy brother who knows me more than anyone because of a shared history, a shared language, shared years together..........what would I EVER do without you?

And oh my there are so many YOUs and maybe that's the part of the NOW that I treasure most - this ragtag community pulled from the many different spaces and places of my life.  Maybe it's not so much the perspective, the early buds of wisdom, the being ok with not knowing..........maybe it's that it's easier not to know when surrounded by YOU.

So glad to be sharing the middle place with YOU.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Rescue

It was dark and cold.

It was lonely.

It felt like the end.

Only he wasn't ready for it to be the end.

It was supposed to be the beginning.

Only it seemed like it had been forever since..............before.

Before when he was up on top.

Before when he was in the light.

Before when he was walking with his father.

Before when the world seemed filled with possibilities and adventure.

But now it is after.

And after is down here.

Stuck in a hole.

Dropped from above.



After a bit he began to dig.

For he knew that he must get out and so he dug.

He focused on what was happening, on his surroundings and came to the conclusion that he must save himself.

And so he dug.

With tenacity and fervor and desperation............he dug.

And as you can imagine he did not get very far.

But he kept his head down.

He kept on going.

He knew he could do it.

And so he dug and he cried out and he exhausted every single resource he had within himself.

He was bruised and battered, sweat pouring from him, mixing with the dirt that had begun to layer his body.

He was unrecognizable from the young man he was.......the young man from before.

He lay down.

He was too exhausted to move, to dig any further.

He felt as if he just wanted to give up.

And so he lay down and his body, his will seemed to give out and, he not so much fell asleep, he gave in to sleep.

It seemed to be days later........but in reality it was hours...........that he awoke.  He was still bruised and battered and covered with dried and caked on mud but he had discovered within him a small something........maybe it was hope?

And instead of looking down and around at his surroundings............he began to look up.

And he listened.

And he heard.

It was the voice of his father.

The father from before.

The one that he thought had abandoned him.

The one he thought that had forsaken him............was here.

He couldn't see him from the depths of this hole but when he looked up he could see a glimmer of light and heard the faint whispers of the man he had always known and who had always loved him.

He spoke words of love and joy at hearing his son's voice once again.

And then his words were ones of action.

Step by agonizing step he told the boy of what to do.

There were stones to be moved and crevices to discover.  There was a way out.  But it wasn't easy.

It wasn't a quick fix, a mighty rescue from above rather it was a struggle to get up and out.

But this time he had hope and the voice and love of his father from above.  He was no longer looking down - defeated and battered and left on his own.  His father was here.

So inch by inch he made his way up.

He refused to look back down.  He refused to give in to the temptation to do it all on his own - fast and with his own strength.  He had made that mistake before.  He forced himself to go slow, to listen. He would stop and listen for instructions as what to do next, where to go, how to take the next step.

And at long last.................he was there.

He was out.

He was back to the before.

And there was his father, just where he was when he had fallen.

His father had seen the approaching hole, had seen the plunge down and had witnessed the horror of his son falling.

He had cried out to him but his son had not heard them during his desperate attempt to rescue himself.

But here they were.


And oh what a glorious moment that was.

There was much rejoicing and grasping of one another.  Tears of joy poured down their faces, their feet seemed to almost leave the ground as they danced about.

And that day the son learned that even in the darkest, coldest moments of desperation his father would never leave him.  That even during the times he could not see him, could not hear him.......he was there.

For the father told the son of the many times when he had peered down and he could recount each second of his son's entrapment in great detail.  He told of the hours the son had slept and promised him that he never once closed his eyes, rather he stood watch and stood guard from above.  Never once did he rest.

And the son knew.

He knew then how great a love his father had for him.

He was never forsaken.

He was never forgotten.

He was never left alone.

He was loved.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Breaking the Silence

It's been awhile.

There are a quite a few reasons why - some good, some not so good.

When I get overwhelmed or things pile on I tend to put my head down and focus on details and getting things done just right and the things that I want to get right are the things that people see.

I quit Facebook..........again.

It's good for me to do that.

But when I quit Facebook there are no eyes on my blog so it doesn't seem as important or necessary or like something I want to spend time on.

And, well, it takes a while to write a post.  Not a long time, usually, but still time and time is something that seems more precious as it marches on.

And yes I squander it on things that don't matter and things that aren't the best after the sun sets and the eyes are not on me and my brain shuts down.  So I have been letting hours drift by as the pictures on a screen move by and my mind seems at rest for once during the day.

But oh my how deceptive that is for while my mind is at rest it seems it is being infiltrated by the images and messages that are being flashed at it.  And while I can't see myself ever giving up the wonders of the pictures on a screen (oh Parenthood how you break and lift my heart with every episode), I realize that perhaps my time might be better spent elsewhere...........some of the time.

And so I find myself sitting here on a windy, warm spring day watching words flow across a screen rather than pictures, writing rather than cleaning or folding or putting away.............and it feels good and right............even as I know that very few will ever see them.

I thank my friend who knows me well who sent me words this morning reminding me that February 20th was the last time I sat here like this.  She knows it's a sanctuary of sorts and wanted to remind me of that.

I need sanctuaries.  I need places where I go to find Jesus.  I need silence and stillness and my thoughts to be on Him and what He is telling me rather than what others are telling me.

I have realized of late how much I influence my children and that what they pick up from me is not always what I say or even what I try to act out in front of them.  I wonder about that nature vs. nuture thing as my fears and insecurities are played out in front of me in people smaller than I, people unable to hide who they are from those around them.  How amazing it is to see, this guilelessness of children.

And what I see is that it is not the rule following nature of my husband being played out in the lives of my children.  Rather, at times, I see the people pleasing nature of their mother at work in their lives and hearts.  And it's disheartening.  I see them follow rules not because they believe in the absolute authority and rightness of the rule.  I see them follow rules because people are watching and they are wondering what they are thinking of them.

Oh my babes.

I'm sorry.

I look back on the last few months and I see how the time and energy that I am putting into things comes, sometimes, from not wanting to look foolish or wrong or stupid in front of people.  I see how paralyzed I become being in situations that aren't comfortable, that are new and I scramble to figure out what is required, what I am to say, how I am to act.  It takes all my energy and focus NOT. TO. MESS. UP.

And I let slip the areas where no one is watching.

I let slip the things that, in reality, matter most to me.

I let slip the moments that have made up this blog for so long.....not just the mommy moments, but the wife moments, the God moments, the soak up this life moments that fuel me.

So my babies.............I will try not so hard.

I will learn to let go.

I will learn that those moments in front, in the new, in the uncomfortable are reserved for the glory of God to shine through and not the glory of your momma.

I will learn that the approval of others can never be the measuring stick for my worth.

I will learn to turn off, shut down, back away from anything that threatens to consume areas of my life reserved for you, your daddy, the Father.

I will do this not so much for myself but for you.

I want you to walk in the freedom that comes from walking in the Light.

I want you to experience life untethered from other's expectations, untethered from your own unrealistic expectations.

I see...........I see how you are watching and learning.

And if all else your daddy.........and your Father.

I love you, my babies.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

LET IT GO (More than just a Disney song......)

Promise me you won't laugh?


I listen to "Let It Go" EVERY.SINGLE.DAY.

I haven't even seen the movie.

But I listen to the song and something breaks open inside of me and I cry.

My husband, my son?

They don't get it.  Nico groans openly each time he hears it blasting through the house.

My girls?

They love it.

They grab blankets or scarves or robes and place them over their head and when it's time to let it go they THROW those coverings off and stand tall.  They stomp their feet and raise their hands and start to run.

They get it.

Oh women how many of us are weighed down by things that are not of God?  Things that push and pull and weigh us down until we are too heavy to even move, weighed down by the burden of perfection, the burden of unrealistic expectations, the burden of who we THINK we should be, the burden of what we perceive to be the perfection of others, the burden of everything WE ARE NOT.



This life of burden is not what you were meant for.

"Then Jesus said, 'Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls." - Matthew 11:28-29

You are meant for so much more.  I watch that video and I see the heroine gain confidence and freedom with each note, each step.  I see what she can build, what appears when she unleashes who she was meant to be, what she was created for.  I see her come alive and throw off what she once was and something in me cries out with JOY.

Because I have been that girl.  I have been that woman.  I have been weighed down and covered and still I am susceptible to that burden.  But this past week I read through Matthew 10 and I read......

"The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master.  It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters."  - Matthew 10:24-25

These were some of the words spoken by Jesus as he was sending out the twelve.  The student is not above the teacher........was Jesus expecting perfection?  Was He expecting them to do it all.....alone?

"At the time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you."  - Matthew 10:19-20

Was He expecting them to do BIG things always?  HUGE things?  EARTH SHATTERING things?

"And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones, who is my disciple, truly I tell you that person will certainly not lose their reward."  - Matthew 10:42

Why do we strive for perfection before doing anything?  Is something only worth doing if we can do it better than anyone else?  If only we can do it so it's PERFECT?


It is ENOUGH for us to be LIKE Jesus.  No one should BE Jesus.


Throw off the weight of unrealistic expectations.

Throw off the weight of perfection.

Throw off the weight of other's accomplishments.

Throw off the weight of needless preparation to the point of becoming paralyzed by fear.

Throw off the schemes of the devil and put on the armor of God.

"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Therefor put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand." 
                                                                                                  - Ephesians 6:10-14

When you think that you have to be the good girl and fade from sight......that is not from God.

When you think that you are NOT ENOUGH.............that is not from God.

When you think that you have to do it all alone...............that is not from God.

When you think that you aren't DOING enough............that is not from God.

When you think that you have to be SOMEONE else.............that is not from God.

And make no mistake about it, women, we are in a battle.  These are the battles that we wage and they are not against flesh and blood.  And we must, we must battle these thoughts and these feelings that come so easily to us as women.  We battle not just for ourselves but for our daughters and for our nieces, for our friends and for their daughters.  My heart breaks to think of any, any little one not receiving the gift of knowing that THEY ARE LOVED.

They are loved beyond measure and without comparison by a GOD that is BIGGER AND MIGHTIER than we could ever imagine.

And so let us plant the words........the words that come from GOD.










Let's throw off the devil's schemes and put on the armor of God.

Let us reclaim the hearts and the minds of women around us.

Let us reclaim our own heart, our own mind and not give in to the temptation of thinking we are not enough, that we can't.


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Well……SOMETIMES I Can't…... ;)

So………'s the thing……..remember my THING with banks?

Well, I kind of have a thing with car dealerships/repair places, too.

They overwhelm me.  I don't get the terminology.  I don't care to…….I would drive my car until it stopped running if it were up to me.  Noises?  Don't hear them.  Red lights?  Don't see them.  Stops and starts, resistance?  Don't feel it.

Now this is not the RIGHT way to be, I am just explaining ME.  How I am.


Not the RIGHT way.

Also?  I get lost.  EVERY. SINGLE. DANG. TIME.

Why do I still go?

Oh the comfy couches, the coffee, the stillness, the peace, the wifi, it's just really a fabulous place to be.


So today………I WAS PREPARED.  Today was the day.  I was going to have an awesome car shop experience.

Yeah, not really.

It started off well.  Joe put my car keys on top of the coupon and paperwork that I was suppose to take. He had a list of things that needed to done written out.  He said NUMEROUS times….so you will have to look up the directions to get there, ok?  Ok?  Yeah, whatever.  Got it taken care of……..who CAN'T look up directions?  How condescending…………

Ummmmm.  So yeah.

It turns out I CAN look up directions………..just not the right ones.

I am driving up to Akron and I am thinking there is just not something right about it but maybe mapquest was taking me the back way………(like there is such a thing.  Yes, mapquest…..I would like to take the BACK way today)  Anyway, while nothing looked familiar I had utmost confidence in my directions and my ability to get there……because I LOOKED UP THE DIRECTIONS.

My confidence wained as I pulled into a COMPLETELY unfamiliar parking lot.


I got out of my car and went in and tried to explain to the girl that I was pretty sure that I was at the wrong place but that my husband made the appointment and reminded me to GET DIRECTIONS.  WHICH I DID…….using the coupon he left.  So maybe I was at the right place?


She referred me to another guy where I had to explain my story again and he was gracious enough to print out MORE directions to the rightful Vandevere where we always go.  You would have thought I would recognize the street name and realize that I was getting directions to the wrong place….but then YOU would be wrong, too :)

So I get BACK in the car and attempt to follow the directions……… wrong veer later on those GODFORSAKEN highways in Akron and I am LOST.  The trip that according to MAPQUEST was supposed to take 9 minutes has now reached far beyond that estimate.

Throughout this whole ordeal I am calling/texting Liga and she sends me directions (even after I tell her that I am fine that I, miraculously, found the road I was suppose to take…..all roads seem to lead to 77 at some point….., she sends me directions.  Which turned out to be a BRILLIANT move on her part because I did INDEED get lost again).

I eventually make it to the RIGHT car shop and I succinctly explain why I was a tid bit late (yes, apparently it takes SOME PEOPLE over an hour to get from Canton to Akron).

And then comes the part of every visit that requires a great amount of dignity………..where I look that car shop man right in the eye and…….

Hand him the sheet of instructions from my husband.

What's even better is when he asks for clarification on some of the things and I just stare back.

Ummmmm……….what's on the sheet?  Then that.  WHATEVER IS ON THE SHEET.

Finally I am released to the couches and my diet coke and my computer.

It's awesome.  I fall under the car shop spell for over 2 hours as I catch up on e-mails and write a blog post.

I feel a tap on my shoulder and it's time to go.  I pay and then he asks me is there anything more I can help you with?

Ummmm, yes.

How do I get home?

Now it's his turn to stare at me……..where are you from?

I have to get back to Canton, I tell him.  He gives me directions and I am on my way.

And I actually am on the RIGHT way…….what a relief.

Then the phone rings.

Hmmmm……I pick it up.

It's Mike from the car shop.


I hear a chuckle.

No, he says.  We just have the wrong paperwork, we need to exchange papers.

I say, Mike is there ANY WAY we can do this without me having to find you again because I don't think that I can.

Well, apparently, Mike is the NICEST car shop man in the world because he is bringing the papers to me.  It turns out that he has a funeral just south of Massillon today and if I still reside at the address on my paperwork then he can just bring them to the house.  I just need to leave the papers in the mailbox for him.  Oh and, he says, if you see a white Sedona pulling into the driveway don't be worried it's just him and he will just drop them in the mailbox.


You have made a Vandevere shopper out of me for life!




Yeah.  I am talking to YOU, again.

I just wanted you to know I AM SO EXCITED.  I can hardly stand it.


You see.........well, there is ALL THIS STUFF going down in my my life and in my tiny part of the world and I have ALL THESE IDEAS.

(This is when if you are the YOU that is living around me, you start getting a bit scared :)

And I kind of just wanted to see if  YOU had any ideas or thoughts or dreams that you are dreaming....

Because you see I have been SO BLESSED.

I was born into a family where my parents, from day one, have told me that I CAN DO ANYTHING.  I mean I knew that I couldn't.  I knew that I wasn't going to take the world by storm with my swimming, singing, acting, academics, beauty, etc.  I mean I knew that.

But they seemed to have NO IDEA.

And so the idea was planted in ME that........well, maybe?  Maybe I can?

Then I met along the way a few college, on the streets of SW Canton :), in a Village....and, for some reason, they thought I was AWESOME.  I was built up.  I was loved.  I was encouraged.  And oh, my friends?  We ALWAYS laugh.......and I learned that life was good and people outside of my family could love me fully, too.

And I thought.....yes?  A small, maybe-filled yes I can....but what?

Then I met my love.  And part of discovering the true love of my life is that he looked at my with eyes that didn't want to change rather they wanted to cherish.   In loving me, he gave me the confidence to believe in who I was, in what I could do.  He thought I was AMAZING and at that point.......well, who was I to disagree?

And so my yes, I can became a bit louder.  I began to allow the dreams and the thoughts and the ideas to be verbalized.  I began to write.  I began to say silly things, impossible things because.....well, maybe?

And somewhere in the midst of the family foundation and the friends and the love, I found a Father.  A Father who, with words and with experiences and through His people, began to show me what HE saw when he looked upon His daughter.   And He showed me that all things are possible but maybe not quite in the way that I thought they are.  That "all things being possible" isn't a free pass to heal every disease, to end every hardship, to make all things exactly as we want them but maybe it's more complicated than that, more mysterious, more giving us the freedom to dream and imagine and then do..........I don't know exactly.  But I do know that He took that gift that my parents, my friends, my love gave me  - that belief, that love, that knowledge of who I was - and He turned my small, timid yes into.......

YES, YES I CAN!!!   All those dreams and ideas and thoughts and imaginings..........well, I don't know if they will happen or come about but I am not going to let them die in my head, in my heart.


Failure not an option?


Failure is never even trying.

Failure is thinking you can't.

Failure is not recognizing dreams and ideas and thoughts as life and possibility and beginnings.

Failure is thinking you are not good enough.

Failure is giving up the dreaming just because you aren't in a season when you can DO.

Failure is letting your NO be louder than your YES.

Failure is missing opportunities to tell others YES to their ideas and dreams.

You WILL make mistakes.

You WILL have to try again.....and again......and again.....and then again.

You WILL have to keep saying yes.

You WILL do the wrong thing, say the wrong thing.

You WILL be made stronger though trials and hardships and discomfort. doesn't mean that you have FAILED.

And so today I want you to know that I BELIEVE in your dreams and your craziness and the words that God whispers to your heart but you are quick to dismiss because too many people have said NO to you or told you things about yourself that just aren't true.



Oh the way............this is kind of a dangerous road to get on......because you see?

Your dreams?

Your ideas?

Your thoughts?

Ummm.......well, once you start?  Once you find your voice and you take a step?

Well, there's the next step and the next step and the next and one day you will find yourself in a place that goes WELL BEYOND your dreams and your thoughts and your ideas and you will wonder HOW ON EARTH DID I GET HERE?

And you will look back and realize it all started with an inkling of that thought that formed in your mind when you first said YES.

So..............will you say YES?