Wednesday, September 30, 2015

14 Hours

14 hours ago I sat on a darkened porch lit by white lights and lamps............there was praise music playing and the atmosphere was one of peace and joy and God present.

14 hours ago I scrawled colorful words on a canvas that spoke of a good and gracious and loving God.  Words that pointed me to Him and reminded me that He is FOR me and WITH me.

14 hours ago I was with God and with others as we sang and prayed and laughed and talked on a rainy night while our children slept.

14 hours ago I was restored and ready and knew that compassion and love and mercy and forgiveness and grace was mine.

That was 14 hours ago.

Then I came home.

And I remembered that the next day was picture day.

But, listen, I was RESTORED, people.  I was filled and I felt at peace.

Yes, I came home and there were no lunches packed and clothes weren't laid out and folders not gathered and, yes, the eldest needed to take a shower in the morning but NO MATTER.  It could be done tomorrow.  For God is good and gracious and compassionate and loving and I can reflect that in my life especially to my darling children.

It's like I completely forgot every other picture day EVER.  It's as if I forgot who I was.

Fast forward to this morning.

7:30am:  I arise refreshed and looking beautiful (It's my story, it can go however I want it to.) I float out to the living room as if walking on clouds and carrying sunshine with me.  Nico is perched on the couch covered in a blanket and playing on the Kindle.  Girls are still asleep.

7:40am:  My coffee is made and pancakes are cooking.  I begin to make lunches and gather folders - still in the fog of goodness from last night, confident that this day will be a beautiful one.  Francesca comes out, mumbling and whining, as she grabs me around the waist.

7:50am:  Fia comes out and we sit down to eat breakfast.  The pancakes are hot and fluffy and delicious.  The day is still on track.  We talk about the day ahead, everyone is pleasant.

7:55am:  The first crack appears.  I look over at my eldest.  The need for a shower is real.  I say you have to get a shower as soon as you are done eating.  "WHY?!?"  This is always the most ridiculous question to me.  Why?  Why do you have to clean your body?  Why?  It's PICTURE DAY.  "So?" she says.  Your hair is greasy I reply.  Nico agrees and to prove his point reaches out and touches it.  The compassion is waning all around the table......................

7:56am: Fia begins to chew her pancakes VERY SLOWLY.  She knows all the passive-aggressive moves.  I tell her she better get chewing and get in that shower NOW.

7:59am:  Fia is in the shower and now it's time to tackle the outfits.  I start out confident.  we have eaten, folders are ready, lunches halfway packed and we still have about 55 minutes til we have to leave.  WE GOT THIS.

8:04am:  WHY DO NONE OF THESE CLOTHES MATCH?!?!  WHERE ARE ALL THE CUTE OUTFITS THEY WORE THE FIRST 3 WEEKS OF SCHOOL?!?!  Clothes are all over the floor.  Nico is sitting on his bed REFUSING to wear the one pair of non-athletic shorts he has and now it is a thing and this is a thing that I WILL WIN.    "I AM NOT GOING TO SCHOOL."  Ok, I say.  Fine with me.  "I AM NOT LEAVING THIS BED.  I AM GOING TO SIT HERE."  Ok.  Fine with me.

8:10am:  I find a dress for Francesca.  It looks adorable.  She hates it.  I give in on this one because it's pretty fluffy and fancy and I get it.  I pick out another one that's sparkly and pink and has comfy material and looks awesome.  Plus she can wear her new dark pink sweater with it.  She looks beautiful.  EXCEPT FOR ALL THE TEARS AND SNOT STREAMING DOWN HER FACE.  "WHY DO I HAVE TO WEAR THIS?  It's TOO fancy!  I DON'T WANT TO WEAR THIS.  MOM.  MOM."  Then from Nico in the other room "Just sit on your bed and refuse to go to school, Francesca."

8:11am:  Francesca is still crying and screaming.  Nico is sitting on his bed.  Fia gets out of the shower and is standing there dripping wet.  There is still no outfit picked out for her.

8:12am:  You are both going to wear those clothes.  If you choose to stay home THAT IS FINE BY ME.  ONE DAY A YEAR I ASK YOU TO WEAR SOMETHING NICE.  The compassion is gone.



8:15am:  Nico decides to just wear the shorts and an Ohio State jersey.  He decides it's not too bad.  The kid is smart.  He knows when the ship is going down.

8:20am:  Francesca is more resilient and keeps up the crying and snot.  I ask her ever so politely to leave the room because I CANNOT TAKE ONE MORE MINUTE.  I offer her the space of my room and ask her to SHUT THE DOOR.  She leaves.

8:23am:  We have 20 minutes til we have to leave.  Lunches aren't all the way packed.  Fia is still not dressed with hair wet and Francesca is a screaming basket case.

8:26am:  We pick out an outfit for Fia.  It's wrinkled beyond belief.  Out comes the iron.  I realize Francesca's sweater is a bit wrinkled and so I enter into the room of sadness and despair to get the sweater.

8:29am:  She is still crying.  To which I responded with compassion and goodness and mercy and kindness and said FINE.  FINE.  YOU WANT TO WEAR SOME WRINKLED, STAINED, NOT MATCHING OUTFIT.  FINE.  LET'S GO.  She nods her head.  I go to her room and throw out two random pieces of clothing and say HERE.  HERE.  WEAR THIS.  YOU CAN SHOW ALL YOUR PICTURES TO EVERYONE WITH THIS OUTFIT.  At this point Francesca's eyes are opened to the fact that mama HAS LOST IT.  She thinks that she will just wear the outfit she has on and take clothes to change into.

8:35am:  Ironing a sweater, dress and jean shirt.  Nico tells everyone to get in the car, he's ready.  How quickly he moved from the bed to getting into the car.  If you have ever met his teacher Miss D you might understand the motivation.  I don't think she has ever spoken above a whisper yet maintains complete authority.  I imagine she is looking pretty good to Nico at this point.

8:40am:  The girls are almost all dressed...........and now shoes.  OH MY WORD.  SHOES.  It's tennis shoes every day for my girls.  PLEASE LORD IN HEAVEN LET THIS NOT BE A BATTLE, TOO.

8:43am:  Apparently the crazy had hit a level that they were not willing to push.  Out came wedding shoes with tennis shoes and socks packed for later.

8:45am:  Fia's hair is still wet and lunches need to be finished.  We have to leave in 10 minutes.  WE CAN DO IT.

8:53am:  WE ARE OUT THE DOOR.  Everyone looks amazing.  Hair is shining, clothes unwrinkled, THE CLOTHES MATCH, Francesca's eyes have died down to a slight pink rather than angry red, we survived.

8:54am:  Everyone is buckled.  The radio is turned on and "Because I"m happy, clap along if you feel like a room without a roof, Because I'm happy, clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth, Because I'm happy clap along if you know what happiness is to you.............."  And we clap and sing and dance and smile and jam.

14 hours later I sit in a van..............with praise music playing and the atmosphere one of having survived and joy and God present.

14 hours later we sing loud and sigh with relief over getting through the morning and I apologize and we laugh.  And I am reminded that we are FAMILY - FOR each other and WITH each other.

14 hours later the van is filled with screaming as we pull in and Fia says SEE MOM not everyone is dressed and I scream and make exaggerated sounds of horror as I imagine a whole slew of kids showing up not dressed and everyone dissolves into giggles and shouts.

14 hours later I am restored and ready and KNOW compassion and love and mercy and forgiveness and grace is mine.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Author


The author's finger pounded the computer keys.  She was tempted to use her middle finger - proving the strength of her anger and frustration.


She had been at this for weeks now, months is she were to be honest.

She was working on her next book.  She had experienced a bit of success with her first effort, minor success with the second and was now working on her third book.  She never had thought of herself as an author before.  It seemed a bit too lofty of a goal for this ordinary girl........well, now woman.  Her aspirations were a bit quieter, a bit more personal and private.  And not everyone would consider being an author a worthy or unattainable goal, it's not something they would value or look upon as special.

But she did.

And now she was stuck.  She was stuck in the middle of the book.  Every day she would wake up and there was a plan to write a few pages and be done.  After all, she was a wife and a mom and in charge of meals and making sure there was just enough underwear for the day.......sometimes it was pulled out of the washer and worn wet but it was worn.  So you see there was time set aside for being an author and then there was time to be wife, time to be mom, time to cook and keep up her part of the house (Have no fear the author had a husband who wrote checks and made appointments and did bills and fixed things and it all sounds very 1950s but trust me when I say it's best for all involved.  There is no right way but there is a best way for each family and this is simply their best way.  It doesn't have to be yours.)

There was a time and place set aside for writing and she liked things to stay in their places.  It was more comfortable for the author.  The overlapping and intersecting of lives tended to complicate matters and make her head hurt.


Her head hurt when so many things piled up in a day and people and things and tasks filled to overflowing so she mapped out space and time for her tasks.

The problem was each day when she sat down to write she didn't know what came next.  She would sit down at her desk.  The kids were taken care of - sometimes by the grandparents, sometimes by books from the library and sometimes from every parent's best friend MEDIA - and she would have the quiet she needed to think and write and plan and her hands would be poised over the keyboard and she would write.

The words flowed and the ideas would come and the mental pictures would all be there.  She would write and write and write.   Her goal was a chapter a day.  Truth be told she would like it to be more but a chapter seemed the most reasonable to her - in light of her other responsibilities.  That was the plan.

The author loved plans.

Her blocked off time would come to an end.  She would go back and reread what was written.  It was always good.  Really good.  (I never said the author wasn't proud of her success or talent, it was just unexpected :) She knew it was good.

But it didn't fit.  It didn't work with where the book was, where she was at in the story.  It just didn't sound write.  She didn't have much experience with technique.  She had never studied writing or took classes or anything, it was more of a feeling.  A feeling based on years of reading - both the good and bad - that something was not right.  In fact, it was wrong.


That was where she was again today.


She was at her wit's end.  The kids came running into the room.  Today was a timer set kind of day.  Go read, play, run outside, BE AWAY FORM YOUR MOTHER and when the timer buzzes you may come and get me, said the author to her kids.

The timer had gone off.

It was time to for the author to turn into mom.  She went and got dinner started - filling the pan with water, turning on the stove, chopping tomatoes, cutting up spinach.  The kids got out the plates and silverware and began to ready the table for dinner.  Within 20 minutes dinner was on the table, dad was home and the house was buzzing with the noise of a family.  The book was left behind for a few hours as life continued and there was running outside and reading of books and readying for bed and other things involving a wife and a mom.  She talked a bit of the struggle of all the ideas and the writing of the chapter and the eventual pounding of the keys and deleting of the words but the immediacy of her family called attention away from the now far off possibility of a new chapter.

Later on that night as the author's husband was putting the kids to bed, though, the frustration was back.  The anger at not being able to move forward.  The irritation at not having a plan for what's next in the book.  It all came back as the noise and activity of the house died down.

She decided to call her editor.  She was sure that he would have some ideas or words of encouragement, some get up and go speech........something of that sort.  After all their futures were kind of tied together.  If she didn't produce, he wouldn't get the goods.  No chapters.  No profit.  She just needed some good old, hard-core motivation.

Hi.  Glenn?  It's me.  Penny.  Yeah, I was calling........well, yeah I guess it's a penny for your thoughts...........HAHAHAHA!


I know, I know.  I promised never to say that again when I called you.  Ok.  Anyway.  I'm stuck.  I can't get passed the third chapter.  I have all these ideas and thoughts and things I want to happen with the main characters but when I write it out.........well, it just doesn't work.  It's starting to freak me our a bit and I am getting frustrated and AHHHHHHH.  It just needs to happen.  I need that fourth chapter to be written.


What do you mean WHY, Glenn?  I can't finish the book unless I have a fourth chapter.  I really just want to finish this book.  The first book I wasn't even thinking when I wrote it.  It just sort of happened.  It was good but it wasn't great or anything, it was more just something I did because my husband convinced to just write everything down.  The second book was a bit more of an effort but it just seemed as if I fell into writing another one.  I want THIS book to count, I want it to be something that is GOOD.

Ok.  So what's the problem?  

GLENN.  WHAT DO YOU MEAN WHAT'S THE PROBLEM?  The PROBLEM is I can't get past the third chapter.  I have this plan and it's a chapter a day and that seems doable and reasonable and all that and it's just not happening.  I will NEVER get this book done if I can't get past the third chapter.

Ok.  So you want to write a third book?


And you want it to be good because you are writing it with the actual knowledge that you are an author now and it's not just dabbling anymore?


And it's not happening fast enough and within the confines of your neatly organized plan?

YESsssss.......I mean, Glenn, when you say it like that it seems a bit ridiculous. BUT IT IS SO NOT.  I just...................sigh.........I just..........I don't know.

Penny.  What made you want to become an author in the first place?

I don't know.  I don't think that I ever had that thought until after the second book.  An author.  It still gives me the shivers.  I don't know that I can even wrap my head around it now.  I just know that I love books.  I love how they make me feel.  I love that you can get wrapped up in them for hours.  I love that they inspire me.  I love that I can get lost in them.  I love words.  I remember that moment when I discovered that I can write.  That I can write things worth reading, only I am not sure I ever had the conscious thought that someone would want to actual read my words.

What do you love about writing, Penny?

It's exciting.  It feels like ME.  I'm good at it.  It allows me to be creative and dream and there are so many possibilities when you write.  A blank page is simply a canvas on which I get to create whatever world I can imagine.  It's so much fun.

Ok. So what's the problem?

It's almost as if the things that first made me fall in love with writing, with the idea of being an author are holding me back.  I hear myself answering your questions and I think that once I was able to fully see all the possibilities and all the blank pages and I was able to believe in my ability to fill them with good things I wanted to fill them all RIGHT NOW.  It's almost as if completing the book was more important than all the words and ideas and beauty found on each and every page.

Oh my.


I know.

Enjoy the book you are on, the page you are on, the words you are crafting.  There is a time to plan.  That time was before.  The before when you couldn't even imagine starting.  That time?  Remember that time?  You were so unsure of yourself.  You called me and you wondered if I had time to look at some stories you had written...........I thought you were going to hang up before I could even say YES.  You spit out the words and were about to put down the phone.  But I said YES.  Penny, your stories were lovely.  The words were filled with a tentativeness but there was beauty in those first words.  Now?  Now you have conviction.  You have the knowledge that YOU CAN.  You have some experience.  

And Penny?

You have TIME.

There's no pressure from me.  Go slow.  Get it right.  Pound away.  Delete a bit.  Edit a bit.  Dream a lot but don't try to skip ahead.  I will be here when you finish - in 2 days or in 2 years.  

SIGH.  GLENN.  Ok.  Ok.  I hear you.  Go slow.  Get it right.  Delete. Edit. Dream.  Don't try to skip ahead.  Thanks, Glenn.

Oh and Penny?

Yeah, Glenn?

This is just the beginning of the series...............I saw a contract with your name on it in the office the other day.  10 books, Penny, 10 books.  Just enjoy the ride.


Dial tone.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Seeking God in a Google World


So easy to come by these days.

What's the definition?

What have I seen her in before?

Where do they live?

Where do I want to live?

What's his name?

How do I  ____________ ?


At our fingertips.

On our phones.  Our laptops.  Our desktops.  Our Kindles.  Our every device.

Sometimes I forget what it feels like to wait.

Sometimes I forget to EMBRACE uncertainty; rather than reject it in favor of KNOWING.

Sometimes I find myself reaching for my phone, looking for answers that can't possible be answered by Google.

And it's frustrating not getting what I want.


They don't come.

They aren't found.

There is no way of googling "What do I do next?" or "What will my life look like in 5 years?"

I tried.

It turns out other people have done the same.

The answers weren't great.  Or helpful.

Then I remember.

To seek God first in this Google world.

To seek FIRST.

To seek FULLY.

To seek, not only answers, but seek HIM.

"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own."
                                           - Matthew 6:33-34

And perhaps I will discover that Google is NOT the ultimate search engine..........

"Search me, God, and know my heart;  test me and know my anxious thoughts."
                                           - Psalm 139:23


You know.

Help ME to know.

Know not the answers but to know YOU.

Help me to seek YOU first.

I love you.


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Summer of CRAZY

I am trying.

Really, I am.

Trying to stay grounded.

Trying to stay on task.

Trying to stay focused.


Until, well, I decide not to try so hard anymore.

I give in.

I relent.

I release.

I open wide my hands, my heart, my words.

No longer contained.

No longer within the confines of what is certain or real or probable.

No longer whispers.

Rather they are words that come unbidden.

They flow without ceasing.

Sometimes they connect.

Sometimes they are just thoughts of the moment.

Sometimes they are ones that have been stewing and simmering beneath the surface.

Sometimes they are accompanied by giggles.........because REALLY?!?




I don't even WANT that to happen.

(((giggle giggle giggle)))


This is the summer of BATSH*& CRAZY.

I made a deal with Joe.

One summer.

Three months.

Every thought gets spoken.

Every word heard.

Every dream brought into the open.

His job?




Don't dismiss.

Don't point out flaws.

Allow the dreamer to dream.

Come August my feet will hit the ground and we will run together.

This summer, though?'s time to get a little BAT^# CRAZY.

Join me?

What dreams do you dream?

No timetables.

No boundaries.

No doses of reality.

No "I can't"s, no "Come on, think of the _________(money, kids, time, energy)".

Come on, I dare you.

What are you scared of?

That they WON'T come true..........

Or that, just maybe, perhaps? THEY WILL.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Burr

There once was a burdock plant.

It grew along a path that many traveled upon.  The path was one of well-worn dirt, trampled down by years of hikers and joggers, bikers and walkers of the four-legged variety and an occasional baby buggy or two.  There wasn't anything hidden or secretive about this path, it was a favorite of many.

But the burdock plant went unnoticed for many years.  It's burrs unoffensive to the many people that passed them by.  They were content to watch the people as they came and went along the path.

In those unnoticed years they saw many things - they rejoiced as couples got engaged along their path, they silently cheered on the runners that pounded down their path, they watched children laughing and tripping and crying and running along their path, they even got to witness as few first moments - first kisses, first steps, first broken bones, first birthdays - they were there to witness many of life's little and big moments.  The plant was a place of love and comfort for the burrs which grew upon it's branches.

And so it went.

But as the years passed by the burdock plant grew bigger, it's burrs reaching out towards the path.

Until then they had been tucked away from all the people and the path upon which they walked.  They seemed to like it that way, it seemed easier to be spectators rather than participants.  It was almost as if it was easier to partake in the big, loud, colorful, chaotic world by allowing it to pass them by rather than become tangled up in the messiness of living in it up close and personal.  Better to stay at arm's length and watch than to be caught up in not only the joys and the firsts and the celebration but the pain and the suffering and the tears.

That is how the burrs preferred it.

Or so they thought.

One day a girl was passing by - short, slightly blond, large-eyed, very slight girl was passing by.  She was the sort that moved with purpose, not wasting time.  She was followed by boys but didn't really seem to notice them, they were an afterthought in her pursuit of life.  She had made a quick turn off the path to sneak in a leisurely smoke, hoping to go unnoticed.  And in that moment.................


A burr broke loose and snagged her sweater and was ripped from it's branches, ripped from it's comfortable existence of being a spectator and was now a participant.

Oh my.

It's first experience off the plant, in this big wide world was on the sleeve of a SMOKER.

She coughed through the first and then the second, got used to the third and rather enjoyed the fourth.  After that the path was pursued and off they went.  She learned a bit more about the girl she was attached to.............this girl?  She was smart and loud and could be a bit crazy.  She was certain and expressed herself with ease, perhaps a bit too much ease, but she was confident.  She loved fiercely and selectively.  

The burr could have stayed with her for quite a long time but the girl was on her way home from school and brushed up along a boy and the burr was passed along..........just as she was getting used to the girl.


She spent a moment staring wistfully back at the girl until she noticed that a piece of the girl's sweater stuck to one of her hooks and she rejoiced.  A piece of the girl would remain with her as she traveled on.

Now this boy..........hmmm.  He was different.  Not so loud.  Not so crazy.  Definitely NOT a smoker.  The burr's smoking moments were over.  And yet............he, too, was certain and he, too, loved fiercely and selectively.  He seemed to stop for a moment and look down, noticing the burr.  It was a bit frightening, to be noticed and looked at in such a way.  But he seemed to not find the burr irritating or something to brush away.  Rather he carried her with him, appreciating the beauty of her hooks and the bit of color left by the one who last carried her.  He continued walking, he was on his way home and home they went.

Oh my.

That first smell.  That first whiff of something heavenly, even today the burr remembers.  Even more so than the sounds of the family that emerged.  It was unlike anything she had ever smelled.......the delicious aroma of sizzling onions and garlic in oil, tomatoes simmering, bread baking, sausage cooking and so much more.  They descended the basement stairs together - the burr, still stuck upon the boy's shirt.

And the feast began and ended some time later, followed by the cleaning up and the saying good-byes, the kisses and hugs and ciaos.  The boy left.  Back down the path.  The boy and the burr on the move again..........and wouldn't you know?

A couple passed by and SNAG.

The burr was passed along.  This time, though, she knew.  She knew that a piece of the boy would be with her always, a hook had captured a thread of his shirt.  It was part of her, just as the girl had given a piece of herself to the burr before the boy.  Their threads woven together with the burr, the slightly more colorful, more adventurous burr. The burr knew a bit of her beauty having been noticed and looked upon with care by the boy from before.

Now this couple..........they, too, were different from the ones before.  They moved at a faster pace.  The boy restless to get ahead, the girl thinking it might be nice to stop and smell some flowers, read a bit of poetry but somehow finding their pace together - in stops and starts, in slowing and speeding up.  They seemed to look up a lot, as though finding their way not from the path ahead but from someone above.  The path was coming to an end, though.  Hmmmm............the burr wondered where they were heading?

Oh my.

Did you ever have that feeling?  That feeling of possibility, that feeling that of maybe? The burr swelled.  Or maybe she just imagined the sensation of feeling fuller than before.  They had walked into a beautiful old building, sun streaming through it's colored windows.  They walked in and around and up and down..........talking and dreaming and planning.  The burr caught bits and pieces of their conversation - enough to get caught up in the passion and the hope and the excitement of it all.

They went to go but then the boy noticed her.  He looked upon the burr differently than the last boy had.  Where the last boy saw beauty, this boy saw possibility.  He began to get excited about all the uses for such a creation - the hooks and the loose threads and such.  But the girl stopped him.  She took the burr from his hands.  She walked it over to the place where the sun was streaming through the highest window and gently lay the burr upon the carpet.

She leaned down and whispered, "Just look up."

And then she left.

The burr looked up.  She saw in the glass a picture of a man, kneeling, with long hair of brown and asking eyes dressed in a long white robe and a feeling of peace washed over her.  It seemed she had come a long way since being snagged off the path, off the plant that she once was so contentedly prepared to inhabit for the rest of her days.  She had traveled so far, carrying with her pieces of that first girl, the boy that came next and the couple that brought her to this place.

She lay in that sun-lit space for a while longer..............until.

Oh my.

The doors burst open, the people began to gather, the room filled with music, words poured forth and the burr was passed from one person to the next in the jostling of the family that filled the room.  It was unlike anything the burr had ever experienced - along the path or in it's travels of that day.  The burr was wrapped in so much color and texture, it's hooks filled.  It seemed as if the life of this burr was forever changed.

Oh and then.............that first boy appeared in the crowd.  He cried out as he spotted the burr on the round belly of a woman, a bearded man at her side.  He gave them quick hugs, gave kisses to their precious babe and wrestled with the others and grabbed onto that burr.  He snuck it into his pocket, this man that never throws anything away, to keep her safe.  He knew that while the burr couldn't always remain hidden that every created thing needs a place of rest and so he became that for this colorful, now adventurous burr.

He made the rounds to this big, bustling family.......the boy's good-byes are always long, a last word to be had, a last hug to be given, a child to tease or chase or love.......and then he stopped.  He walked over to the window where the burr had been laid gently down just hours before and together they looked up.

The boy smiled at the burr and said, "Let's go."

Monday, March 30, 2015

I Almost Missed It

I look up as my legs move along the length of the treadmill, over and over.

I look up at the screen that holds my attention long enough that I am willing and even enjoy subjecting my body to the dreaded exercise that it seems to need.

I watch as yet another young Duggar girl gets engaged and her family is joyful and there is a celebration planned.

A part of me, the cynical part, the part that dismisses different takes a moment to mock, silently, their ways of dating.

In particular the fact that they wait until they are engaged to hold hold hands.

Ridiculous, I think.

But then I remember that there is no harm being done, in this idea of waiting.  It's just a difference and to mock a difference makes me a bit ridiculous.  So I correct my thinking and am happy for them, in the moment, as  my legs move the length of the treadmill and life goes on and the Duggars wed and I finish the exercising of my increasingly, creeping towards aging body.

And then.


Just that same week.

My hand is down and I am with my youngest and we are walking into the library of her choice.   It has been months since we have been to the library.  A once weekly ritual of the stay at home mom has been replaced by school and the many activities of school-aged children.  And so it was a request made of my youngest on her weekend with mama that we go to her favorite library - the one downtown with puppets and pretend play and lots and lots of books.

My hand is down.

I reach towards her and we clasp hands.

Something that used to be a given, an every second occurrence as I herded young children here, there and everywhere.

But in that moment I grab her hand and it's almost electric.

I remember.

I remember that impact of a held hand and memories flood my mind.

It has been forever since my children needed a hand held.  Now they skip and run and walk forward or, in the case of my youngest, linger behind - stopping to notice everything, often wearily and dramatically sighing her discontent at the requirement she move her legs.

But I remember.

I remember the trips to the grocery store where old ladies would stop and stare and comment and smile and sigh and say, "You certainly have your hands full."  I would smile and something along the lines of how wonderful they were and how I love to have them with me or that they are such a help and we would continue on our way.

I remember parking lots where my hands, indeed, would always be full as we would link hands and walk safely and slowly to the car.

I remember library visits of children piled on top of me as we would read for almost an hour all the new books we would find.  We would delight in finding books that were a bit naughty, a bit funny and we would laugh out loud and put them in our bag to show daddy when he got home.

I remember trips to the museum where we would wear thin the same path.  Being members for eight years ensures that rarely is anything new but always it would be worth a stop to let legs stretch, to climb down the firemen's pole, watch the train go 'round and maybe if there was some spare change watch it go down the vortex or buy a treat at the vending machine afterwards.

I remember.

It was the four of us.

Hands full.

Never empty.

And I think........................maybe the Duggars aren't so crazy.

This hand holding thing?

It's precious.

I didn't quite realize how much so until the day it seemed to stop.

I have a bit of time with the last, the still baby of the family.

I am not sure how long, though.

The hand holding days are fading.

Somehow I missed the passing of this habit, I let it.......shall we say, slip through my fingers.

Perhaps now I will lag behind with the youngest more often.  I will hold her hand, not to catch her up but to slow her down.

I will savor my full hands.

And not think of the day when they will be empty.

Sunday, March 1, 2015


Sometimes the biggest dreamers are the ones with the smallest of lives, the softest of voices.....

The ones that stand aside, that fade into the background..............

That timidly begin to bring about change with the smallest of steps, the quietest of voices.......

It's the ones that dream while folding laundry, washing dishes, hiding in the shower, playing with toddlers and babies.

They write of their dreams late at night on low-trafficked blogs.

They talk unguarded passion over coffee, in stolen moments.........the magical moments of babies sleeping, toddlers occupied, children getting along and chores ignored.

They lay in bed for precious moments either late at night or early morning and their thoughts turn to WHAT IF?  COULD I?  MAYBE?

Until that day.................

Until that moment..............

When someone says YES.

And I have had that moment.

That YES moment.


Sometimes I forget the dreamer.

Sometimes I forget the impractical and become bogged down by the REALITY.

Sometimes I become enamored with getting it done and forget that it will NEVER be done.

Sometimes I allow my voice to become too big, drowning out the dreams of the forgotten hours.

Until.................unbidden, the dreams come again and I stamp out that voice that says.....




And I begin to dream again.

With my smallest of life, my softest of voice.....................

How about you?

Any dreams lately?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Because I Care About My Health...........and Cable TV

I pulled in the parking lot the other day and saw a guy heading in the door with a walker.

A few weeks ago there was a different gentleman walking inside with a cane, winter hat/coat on and jeans.

Perhaps my favorite moment is when I get there at just the right time and am surrounded by the older but not ancient 10am crowd.  There is a lot of yelling and cajoling and in particular there is one REALLY loud guy.

This is the guy that knows everyone.

He always introduces himself to any newbie (He spotted me RIGHT AWAY).

He yells clear across the room to his buddies and knows all the ins and outs of the building.

You almost want to avoid him but don't because he's genuinely a nice guy.

(Patrick Anderson, if you are reading this I am guessing this is exactly the way you view me at church :)

So why am I telling you all this?

Well, I finally found a gym where I fit RIGHT IN.

These are my people when it comes to exercise.

I love it.

I always said that when the kids went to school I would REALLY, TRULY begin to exercise.  I think I used to say this because it felt as if that day would never, ever happen.  It seemed almost impossible that a day would come when I would drop all the kids off at school and...........then..........well, I couldn't even think about what I would do the next minute.  I had grand visions of reading all day on the couch and binge watching tv shows while I hand-rolled pasta or made all kinds of different breads.

That didn't happen.

None of it.

EXCEPT the exercise.

But before you think I am some kind of total convert..........refer back to my gym buddies.

We have a lot in common.

We don't dress to impress.  (I did try to buy what I thought looked like gym's very bright and is made of gym wear material, it makes me feel a bit sporty but the shirt I wear most often is one I stole from Jen says something about a 5K on it...........I like to make people think I ran that reality, she gave the shirt to Francesca to wear as a "maxi skirt" when Francesca peed her pants at church and I had nothing to give her.......)

I have my own medical issues. (I routinely choose the treadmill nearest to the bathroom.  I usually have to get off at least once during my time to pee.  I pause my machine, slip off, rush in and out and get back on.  One time I didn't realize I had started it back up BEFORE getting on and I go to get on and totally tripped BECAUSE IT WAS ALREADY MOVING.  Praise to the mighty God above that I didn't actually fall.)

Going to the gym is a social thing.  (I go because I LOVE to hang out with my friends Stacey and Clinton and sometimes Randy.  The gym is the only time I get to see them and check in on how they are doing.  I mean, TECHNICALLY, we aren't REALLY friends because they don't know my name and I only interact with them via the tv screen and the conversation only goes one way BUT I love them and their passion for seeing women feel good about themselves.  They have never met a woman that wasn't beautiful.  I feel that Randy might pass out if he ever saw me in a wedding dress because that is how STUNNING he would find me.)

Just being at the gym is the end goal.  (I started getting a bit cocky in my thinking and from wearing my 5K Jen shirt..........actually ran 3 miles one day.........have been consistently running/jogging rather than just walking......I know this isn't impressive for many of you but BELIEVE ME when I say it is QUITE THE FEAT for I starting thinking........huh.  Maybe, I just might sign up for one of those 5K things that everyone is doing these days.  If I get the right person to do it with me I will FOR SURE finish........I can be a little stubborn/competitive.  This thought lasted right up until the day my regular treadmill by the bathroom was taken and I had to go into THE OTHER ROOM.  This is the room where everyone under 70 goes to work out - NOT MY PEOPLE. I once saw a woman with MATCHING workout gear on, I didn't know how to handle it.  Oh and they have a wall of mirrors - RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE TREADMILLS.  That is the day I decided that I was never, ever going to run in public.  OH MY WORD.  No one needs to see that.)

So that's my foray into the gym world, the wonderful world where exercise and cable TV collide.

It's kind of wonderful.

If you want to come and join the guys, Stacey, Clinton, Randy and I, we will be at the Hall of Fame Fitness Center.

Just look for the treadmill by the bathroom.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Choose Your Own Adventure

To my loves - my Heart, my Joy and my Adventure............

I have dreams for you.

I have hopes for you.

I pray prayers for you.

I want so much for you.

And yet.

I am not YOU.

My dreams may not be yours.

My hopes may not be yours.

My prayers may not be yours.

But my love is yours - never changing, never based on what you do rather based on who you are - my child - forever and always.

My time is yours - to fill with your stories and your excitement and your pride and your heartaches and your disappointments.......I will listen to it all - forever and always.

My home is yours - for growing up in, decorating, running about in, living in and in the future for visits and stays, a safe place to come home to - forever and always.

My arms are yours - for late night cuddles, early morning snuggles, for soothing hurts and calming fears, for one day welcoming your love and then your little loves, they will be waiting to be filled - forever and always.

For when you were born, my life got bigger.

My heart got bigger.

My dreams got bigger.

My hopes got bigger.

My life got bigger.

YOU are my adventure.

And as I watch you grow and love and live........I see glimpses of  YOUR adventure.

I see beauty that finds adventure in the pages of a book, in the helping and loving others.  I see you come alive when you are learning and then teaching.  I see the grace and poise you exhibit in so many situations.  I see how you have awaken to who you are and that your adventure is more of a quiet sort but no less of an adventure.  You dance and glide across a stage, silent but beautiful as you perform in front of so many.   You live, at times, this secret life where you thoughts are hidden and your desires are written...........until you find a quiet time, a safe person, a trusted friend........oh and then the words don't stop and once again it is beauty that pours forth in the guise of silliness and dreams and insight and more.  I love that you choose well and choose with care who you share your heart with.

How my heart swells to see you living a life of adventure - not my adventure but yours.

I am so proud of you, the one I call my HEART.

I see my rough and tumble, always moving, always wanting more and impatient for the next thing are a bit more obvious in your adventures, my love.  You careen down steep hills, wrestle with friends, tackle your momma and will sacrifice life and limb to block any soccer goal.  It seems soccer is, indeed, a contact sport when you play.  You run head first into life - sometimes thinking, sometimes not.  And have quiet moments of hearing from God and have a depth of insight that belies the rough and tumble boy you present to the world.  You are attentive and have a respect for those you trust, those in authority.  You are a perfectionist.  What an anomaly you are, my love.............I can't wait to see what it is you do in life.

And how my heart swells to see you living a life of adventure - not my adventure but yours.

I am so proud of you, the one I call my JOY.

And oh my...............that last.  The last, hip-shaking, Jersey-accented, LOOK AT ME, comfort-seeking, always messy, crazy girl.  You have never met a mirror you didn't love.  You sit at my vanity and peer into it, singing and posing and applying whatever it is you can find.  And when you apply make-up or nail polish or glitter or paint or accessories your motto is MORE IS BETTER.  You make us laugh, my love.  You make us shake our heads in wonder.  You make us crazy.  For you are a feeler - everything is FELT and it's felt in a BIG way.  Whether that emotion is love or sadness or hurt or disappointment or joy or excitement.  It's go big or go home with you.

And how my heart swells to see you living a life of adventure - not my adventure but yours.

I am so proud of you, the one I call my ADVENTURE.

So know, my loves, whatever it is you choose to do, whatever adventure you choose.......

My love, my time, my home, my arms..............

They are yours.

But your life?'s a choose your OWN adventure kind of story.

I love you.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

For Chris.....

For every dreamer...................there is a dream maker.

You know who you are...........

The ones that listen.

The ones that know.

The ones that plan.

The ones that are on alert.

For every dreamer has the ONE that makes it happen.

And yes.

There is a GOD.

And yes.

GOD loves.

GOD plants the seed.

GOD inspires.

GOD believes.

But the dream maker.......well, they LOVE the dreamer.

They SEE the dreamer and their passion is the dreamer.

They are the ones that take care of the kids as the dreamer goes out and does their thing.

They are the one that gives the space to the dreamer.

They are the one that is steady to the dreamer's sporadic.

They are the one that sees with God's eyes.

They see their Love.

They support their Love.

They aren't starry-eyed, they are realist and they realize that they are in love with the dreamer.

And so they dream, too.

And maybe it's reluctantly and with dragging feet and rolled eyes.

But make no mistake............

The dreamer CANNOT happen without the dream maker.

Thank you.

Thank you to all the dream makers out there.

Thank you for LOVING.

Thank you for recognizing BEAUTY.

Thank you for your SERVANTHOOD.

Thank you for loving our children.

Thank you for loving US.

Thank you for making things happen.

For every dreamer needs a dream maker.

Thank you, Chris.

The IF Gathering couldn't have happened without you.

Without you first saying YES to your dreamer.


It starts almost immediately............

Right after we pull out of our beloved family camp in Dunkirk, New York.........

The conversation begins about WHAT WILL WE DO FOR TALENT SHOW NEXT YEAR?!?

And it continues throughout the year.

Just yesterday we were in the car on the way to school and Francesca was saying that HER talent is art......and if you know Francesca you know and love the way she says "aaarrrrt" - her accent as dramatic as her personality.

She wants to stand on stage and paint a picture and then bestow it upon a lucky audience member.

Fia is singing and dancing at this time.

Nico MIGHT dance but he also might burp.  He might do a skit.  At one point he wanted to play the lego flute.

My children.

What's amazing is that these are the same children that are HORRIFIED when any attention is paid to them by most adults.  They shun the spotlight, they get embarrassed easily.   They are quiet and well mannered at school.  We've been trying to encourage their participation.  The teachers all believe that FRANCESCA is serious and shy and quiet.


But, yes, it's true.

So why is it different at camp?

How can these same children get up in front of a 100 or so people at camp and display their talents so proudly?

It's because it's a FAMILY camp.

It's a place where you walk onto the grounds and you are home.  You are with family.  Your entire family - all 100 or so people.  These are people that hoot and holler when ANY child takes the stage - whether burping the abcs, singing a song off tune, free dancing or performing a skit.

I think we underestimate FAMILY.

We don't fully comprehend the power of FAMILY.

The expanded definition and capacity of FAMILY.

The healing nature of FAMILY.

The ability of FAMILY to empower, to bring out the best in people.

The changing love that FAMILY gives to people.

How when we are with FAMILY we are free.

And when I think of the Church?

I think of FAMILY.

When I read on blogs or in articles all the things we need to change and think about and do in order to GET people to come to church and that the church is dying and we need this type of worship music and make sure your service is this and your preaching is this and you have this and that and all that............OH MY WORD, IT IS OVERWHELMING.

And I get it.

I do.

I like worship.

I love to hear a good message and I like to preach a good message.

I want my kids to know Jesus and I value what they do at church.

BUT, PEOPLE, if we can't offer FAMILY what are we offering?

We are offering a band-aid.

We are offering a Sunday morning experience not a daily walk.

We are offering a mere shadow of what the Church is supposed to be.

We are to be God's FAMILY.

We are to be brothers and sisters and mamas and papas in CHRIST.

We are to be FAMILY - wholly and dearly loved, clothed with compassion and kindness and gentleness.

I don't know about you but I want a Church where people are free and empowered and loved and changed and the best is brought out because they are with FAMILY.

I don't want to welcome people into church.

I want to welcome them their FAMILY.

Join me?

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Are You With Me?

For me?

The Church?

It's not a place of rules.

It's not a place for the good.

It's not a place for the perfect.

It's not a place for the whole and already arrived.

It's not a place of exclusion.

It's not a place that tells me what I can't do.

In's not even a PLACE.

Rather it's a PEOPLE.

It's a people that BELIEVE.

Believe that God is bigger and stronger than the things that crush us and tell us we CAN'T.

Believe that truth can exist and live in harmony with love.

Believe that perfection is only for God.

Believe that brokenness is the pathway to Jesus.


We can love the unloved.

We can heal the sick.

We can help the poor.

We can pray the prayers of a mighty God.

We can sing out in worship and adoration, foolishly and powerfully.

We can raise up a generation that equates the Church with love and mercy and justice and truth.

We can be the light of the world, a people that seek to shine LIGHT in every corner of their life.

We can.

Because for me?

The Church?

It's not a place.

It's a people and it's filled with people that I BELIEVE in.

The Church is a people and THEY CAN.

Are you with me?

Thursday, January 29, 2015

It's Not You.........It's Me

It's not you.


I know people say that and it's not sincere or real.

But it really is ME.

When I was first introduced to you..........well, it was with trepidation that I began our relationship.

You seemed a little too cool for me.

I know that sounds weird.

Because I am sure you wouldn't say you were "cool"........but I have always been a girl that would have no idea how to define that word, let alone BE that word.

So........well, you seemed "cool".

But gradually I became used to you, what seemed cool became the norm.

You seemed to be able to go anywhere, appropriate in all situations........fitting in wasn't hard.

So I began to take you to church, out with friends, to dinner, to family gatherings.

And, to be honest, you made me feel pretty.

You made me feel confident.

I loved how I felt when we were together.

I was comfortable.

Suddenly what once was a casual, once in a while relationship grew into something more.

And then..............suddenly............

It turned serious, almost daily.

But today I began to recognize something.

It's not good for me to be with you every day.

That first feeling of comfort and beauty and confidence have given way to something different. to explain?

The level of comfort you bring had led me to becoming TOO comfortable, to the detriment of the others in  my life.

Somehow the others........the ones that I used to have daily, the ones I relied on for dinners and outings and church and more.........well, they were tossed aside for YOU.

My comfort had become unhealthy.

And so I have to say goodbye..........not a forever goodbye, just a for now goodbye......maybe even just a for a day, a week goodbye.

It's not you.

It's me.

For if I don't say goodbye, if I don't begin to remember the ones that came before YOU......well, I won't fit into any of my clothes ever again.

Goodbye, my leggings.

I love that you have gone with me everywhere, expanding my winter wardrobe to include dresses and tunics and easy, breezy winter wear in a way I had never experienced before.

I love that you are the answer to never having to wear hose again.

I love that you are warmth in the cold Ohio winters.

I love that you have a waistband that never digs in, never accuses........but is filled with grace and forgiveness.

I love that you have given me options.

I love you, my leggings,

But I have to wear my jeans remember.

Remember the pain of a waistband that does NOT forgive.

Remember that there is a time and place for one size fits all..........but that sometimes size does matter and I have one size in my closet and have no desire or cold hard cash to change that size.

Remember that summer is always does.......and with summer comes less clothing and while I am at a certain point in life that it's a lot MORE clothing than it use to be.......well, there are still swimming pools and 90 degree weather and my leggings won't be appropriate anymore.......

So...............goodbye to our daily, constant relationship.

And hello to the reality of a life beyond leggings.

I will miss you.

But please remember.........

It's not you.

It's me.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Deja Vu

7:36am - Eyes open..........awake refreshed, having just spent 20-25 minutes drifting in and out of consciousness........thinking, dreaming, praying........hear the sounds of children in the living room (daddy, after having read mommy's blog, threatened that if anyone ever wakes mommy for silly reasons there will be NO KINDLE TIME)

7:37am - Head out to the living room........Francesca asks, "Mommy I didn't lose my Kindle time, did I?"  It's seems to be a moot point at this time seeing as how she is playing on the Kindle at that very moment.......but no, no lost Kindle time.  See how happy and relaxed mommy can be after 6 hours of sleep?

7:38am - I stroll out to the kitchen to determine what is for breakfast, decide the cereal left over from Christmas (my dad gets the kids each a big cardboard box full of cereal for Christmas because it's not something we usually buy..........don't ask, it's just us........not you :) and the bread from nonna's are good enough for today.

7:39 - 7:42am - I eat a bowl of Rice Krispies while I watch Nico and Francesca getting along, happy, using their Kindle Time together............ahhh, think life is good.

7:43 - 7:46am - Fia stumbles out for a cuddle, she sits on my lap.......I give her kisses and think happy thoughts about how lucky I am.

7:46am - Francesca asks to play a game and I say OF COURSE, let's play a game - I have food in my belly, I have slept, there is no pressure to move quickly, all is well.

7:50am - I hear a child's voice...........ummmm, doesn't someone have grandparents breakfast today?

What?  What's that you say?

Grandparents breakfast?


(I emerge from my blessed, relaxed, happy mommy fog)












(Fia, in the background - "Ok. everyone just has to remember their own breakfast, ok?  Just remember when your day is and get ready." She has resigned herself already to a mother that cannot remember anything)





I LOVE YOU!!! happened...........AGAIN.  I would like to say I am surprised.

But..........well, I am not.

Just last week it took us five days to remember to put money in Nico's baggie with his tooth.

Tooth fairy fail #1,074.

Our kids don't even bother leaving it under their pillow anymore.  They tape their tooth in a baggie on their light switch.

Nico swears the tooth fairy isn't real.......he just wants his money and rolls his eyes each morning as he reminds me that the money STILL ISN'T THERE.

I just tell him to try again tonight.

It isn't bad parenting.

It's called teaching my child delayed gratification.

Oh and responsibility............

Remember your own dang breakfast, kids.

Side note:  I learned from the master.  My mom?  I remember a time in high school........I had a HUGE crush on this boy from school........HUGE.  He drove a beat-up, rusted blue pick up truck and was kind of a jerk but could be sweet, at times.  Plus he was an under dog.  

I was a stupid girl. 

ANYWAY................HUGE crush.  BUT.........not an unlikely scenario, you know?

I come home.   My  mom says.........GUESS WHO CALLED?

My heart stopped beating.  OH MY WORD.  HE CALLED!!!!

I wait.  I try to act casual.  Ummm........who?

NO ONE she says.  She laughs.

The cruelty almost takes your breathe away, doesn't it?

I love that story.  It's probably the one time in life my mom messed with me like that and it makes me cackle every time I tell it -1) because it's funny and 2) because it horrifies my mom :)

Monday, January 26, 2015

Can't make this stuff up

7:36am - Whole body flails in bed, my eyes pop open to a child standing next to my bed.

It was a rude awakening to the day for a rude reason.........her Kindle time IS NOT up because she just started and HAS NOT used 30 minutes yet.

Apparently I had forgotten the world does not revolve around my need for sleep (I had just gotten to sleep 2 and a half hours prior........) and I need to pay attention to KINDLE TIME.

I asked for 5 more minutes.

7:37am - Pray for time to stop.

7:38am - Hopeful that it is still 7:37am.

7:39am - No such luck.

7:40am - Time keeps moving............shut my eyes to the inevitable.

7:42am - Belatedly stumble out to the living room and am greeted by my love on the Kindle, happily zoned out on some Smurf game.  I mumble something about making breakfast.

7:44am - Francesca stumbles out.......goes in for a cuddle and a hug while I am attempting to put together enough thoughts as to what we will be having for breakfast.......but AHHHH.......gets sidetracked by the screen in the living room and goes to sit next to Fia.

7:45am - The little man stumbles out, eyes shut, seeking the softest surface to land on and mumbles I get Kindle next............

(( Thank goodness for Amazon Free Time which manages the kid's time on their shared Kindle every day........30 minutes and it shuts them arguments, no whining, no is quite possibly the best gift we have ever given them for Christmas..........................))

7:50am - I heat things up for pancakes and eggs - coconut oil in the pan, a little butter on the griddle, get out the ingredients and over hear this........"who's breakfast is it today?  who gets grandparents day today?.........."

WHAT!?!?  WHAT!?!?!?  WHAT DID YOU SAY!?!?!?!

Kids from the living room..........grandparents day.  Remember?  Breakfast with grandma and grandpa?

WHAT!?!?!?  THE ONE AT 8 O'CLOCK?!?!?!?!?!


7:50 - 8:00am - It's a blur of activity.











OK!! GO! GO! GO!



8:00am - (((SIGH))) Ok.  We made it.


It is really slippery.

But we made it.

8:03am - (We pull up to the school.)  Um.........hmmm..........(Mr. Bob is putting ice on the sidewalk and a plow is just pulling up to the COVERED parking lot.  The covered EMPTY parking lot.) looks like there is no school.


8:05am - Back home to pancakes, eggs and orange slices.

Just another day in the Codispoti house.