There’s a Time and Place for Compliments…Everytime and Every Place

I’ve never been good at accepting compliments. When someone says something nice about my hair or my parenting skills my reply is usually self-deprecating or dripping with sarcasm. 

I have a hard time just saying thank you. I know. I know. It isn’t rocket science. 

My internal response to a compliment is either a feeling of pride, or else unworthiness. Those aren’t the most appropriate responses. 

I’ve been bothered by this a while.

Accepting praise can be awkward. Even when I’m the one who’s giving praise. By the reaction I get from people I brag on, I get the feeling I’m not the only one who doesn’t know how to receive compliments unless it’s just me that stinks at both receiving and giving them. 

This morning while getting my yearly check-up, a nurse named Kim reminded me how compliment receiving should work. 

Kim was great at the nurse thing. She was both knowledgeable and informative. But it was her ability to act professionally and treat me like a person (even like a new friend, maybe) that made me compliment her on my experience at Diagnostic Health. 

I waited for some weird exchange or a simple thank you, but she just said 

To God be the Glory

That’s it. She didn’t let me know that she’s not so nice on Mondays. She didn’t feel the sudden need to compliment me back with some empty impromptu observation about my earrings. 

And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.” Isaiah 6:3

And so the conversation fell right where it needed to. 

Yes. To God be the glory. Even if Kim so happened to have lost her cool with a patient last week. To God be the glory that she blessed me this morning. I get the feeling she’s a kind person, but even if she’s not that nice a person when a waiter gets her order wrong, she still brightened my morning to the glory of God. 

The habit of passing off a compliment is wasted opportunity to give glory to God. 

So give a pat on the back. 

Receive accolades. 

Don’t make a blunder out of a chance to recognize God’s blessings. 

to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:21

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Go Ahead and Carry Your Kid’s Backpack

I wonder if anybody else saw the lady in the green tennis and oversized tshirt with no makeup and an unfluffed hair helmet walking down Helena Ave this morning carrying her kid’s binder?

Yeah. That was me. 

I was only going to walk Rylie to the corner of 30th. She wanted to go the whole way by herself, but I wanted her to try a different sidewalk today; one that would allow her to avoid crossing traffic. When we got to the corner where I pointed the way for her to go, I could see she was struggling. Her backpack was stuffed with textbooks, a package of copy paper, her locker accessories and her lunch. She also held two boxes of tissues and her binder that she said she sat on yesterday to get zipped. 

So I insisted that she let me carry her binder to the end of the sidewalk. She accepted my pushy offer saying she didn’t want to get the “back sweats” before she made it to school (Darn you southeast Texas humidity). I walked, hot pink binder across my body, with my head down because of, you know, no makeup, weird clothes and carrying my kid’s stuff. I walked faster after I saw one of her old teachers and imagined her shaking her head at me mouthing the words “Don’t coddle that kid”. 

She’s going to carry her binder. Probably tomorrow and for the rest of the year. The rest of her school career. I want her to. I want her to be strong and independent.

But there will be days when she has too much to carry and I’ll make her load lighter. 

There will be times that she has that one heavy thing that I’ll carry for her myself because the weight is more than she should bear. 
It might not be her binder that I carry.  I’m learning that kids today, too many times, carry unnecessary weight. Rylie knows that there is war and that there are the godless who  behead men and set children on fire in cages. There are monsters who kill their own children. The news is hardly ever non-frightening, even the news in our own backdoor,  like the armed robberies happening right here. I can’t hide everything from her, but I can be more careful about what I let her see and what I let her hear. I can be cautious with my big mouth and harness my speech when I believe “the sky is falling”. 

I’ve carried things for the older ones too.  Certain temptations can be too much for their shoulders. As parents we have the responsibility of holding the pen to draw out sometimes unpopular boundaries. Our children will have plenty of time to face temptation and danger on their own. It’s still appropriate for us to say no, not just to them, but FOR them. 

No. A boy can’t come in your bedroom. 

No. You can’t have a passcode on your phone that I don’t know. 

No. You can’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know. 

No. You can’t drive to Beaumont by yourself yet. 

We can carry the larger weight of responsibility leaving them with a lighter load when it comes to making decisions. 

Corey ten Boom tells this story. 

“And so seated next to my father in the train compartment, I suddenly asked, “Father, what is sexsin?”

He turned to look at me, as he always did when answering a question, but to my surprise he said nothing. At last he stood up, lifted his traveling case off the floor and set it on the floor.

Will you carry it off the train, Corrie?” he said.

I stood up and tugged at it. It was crammed with the watches and spare parts he had purchased that morning.

It’s too heavy,” I said.

Yes,” he said, “and it would be a pretty poor father who would ask his little girl to carry such a load. It’s the same way, Corrie, with knowledge. Some knowledge is too heavy for children. When you are older and stronger, you can bear it. For now you must trust me to carry it for you.”

I realize the risk of being too sheltering. Knowing what things to carry and how long to carry them isn’t found on a checklist anywhere. If it was, I wouldn’t trust it anyway. Each kid is different; their struggles unique.  But all kids are in need of watchful parents who are willing to walk beside them and carry the heavy things. They need parents who rely on wisdom found in prayer that informs us what to hold and what to put down. 
And just remember. 

Even after handing over the stuff, we can always help our kids carry that which is heavy in prayer. 

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Love the Season You’re in

My niece will walk into her first classroom tomorrow morning. So will one of the second graders I taught. I tried to wish them a good year without half-sounding like their mom. I think I failed. As proud of them as I am,  I wish they were both still seven. 

This time last year I was a basket case. We’d dropped Hayden off at college in Huntsville. I spent a good month tearfully singing the lyrics to a JJ heller song whose chorus encouraged that there’s “an inch of daylight underneath the door”. 

Today it rained. I like songs about rain, but actual rain depresses me a little. The night before the first day of school brings out the ninny in me. I lament the fact that my kids have outgrown “Meet the teacher” and  Lala Loopsy and Spider-Man backpacks, but the truth is I complained about meet the teacher and school shopping when it came around every year. 

I have a terrible habit of hesitating at the threshold of new chapters. There’s only “an inch of daylight underneath the door” because I forget to take joy in opening new doors. I’m morosely looking backward at the door that has shut. 

I’m a tad bit envious of my friends who will drop their kids off at kindergarten tomorrow. Those days are long gone. They were fun days (except that the kids couldn’t tie their own shoes,  remember to brush their teeth or use a tissue to blow their nose). 

Kinder moms probably wish they had a few more years with their babies at home. Or maybe they secretly long for the days that their back won’t hurt from bending over the tub to wash the shampoo out of their five year old’s hair. 

 And my friends who just dropped their youngest off at college? I’m guessing they wish their girls were still at home tonight with them tonight like my girls are. 

Tonight the girls and I grabbed Starbucks drinks and drove by the middle school and high school campus  praying (with our eyes open) for the year ahead. 

We put on face masks.  We let them dry and then wrinkled up our noses to make tiny cracks on our green faces. 

We made queso and ate it for supper abandoning a health conscious meal. 

No matter how much I miss the ritual nights before the first night of school when I’d read I Love You So at bedtime, I know that in a wink I’ll look back to the season when I helped the girls combat jitters with face pampering and a Double Chocolaty Chip frappucino. 

Look back with fondness where you’ve been. But love the season you’re in. 

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For Forgetful Parents Who Remember

The fact that I’m “detail deficient” when it comes to my children has been brought to my attention. 
Rylie, our youngest, made her disappointment known after learning that I don’t remember basic facts from her birth. I can’t recall:

  • What day of the week she was born
  • What time of the day she was born or
  • Her first word

I’d say it’s because she’s the baby, but I don’t remember those details about the first two either. I am pretty sure the first word for all three of them was “da-da”. If that’s the case I’ve probably blocked it out. (Sour grapes or something.)

I could find out a few things if I looked at their baby books, the first two kids that is. I filled out the first five pages or so for the oldest and middle, I think. I just don’t remember where their baby books are. Rylie doesn’t have a book. 

I didn’t improve my “mom standing” today when I took the oldest to the doctor for a year old shoulder injury. I was filling out paperwork when I came to the lines requesting information about the injury. 

Which shoulder? Right or left? Circle one. 

I drew a blank. 

Rather than let him know I was clueless, I handed him the clipboard pretending my intention was to assign him the due responsibility of filling out his own paperwork. 

Minutes later the nurse came in asking about previous surgeries. Not only could I not remember which arm he’d had surgery on as a kid, I couldn’t even remember which part of his arm. Was it his elbow? His forearm? In my defense, the kid has broken his arm more than once. 

Do I have a little guilt about my poor stat keeping? 

I do. 

If only we’d had those cool giant party chalkboards where you record in beautiful artwork your kids’ favorite food, book and toy along with all their firsts.  But even if I’d had the cute chalkboards made, they would have never survived our moves. 

So what if I can’t remember all the frilly details of those first days and later big events. And maybe I can’t find proof that I paid attention to the details. 

I remember how captivated I was laying eyes on them when they each made their debut, whichever days those were. 

I remember the way Hayden, all wrapped up and new, looked at me when he heard my voice, like we weren’t strangers at all. 

I won’t forget the expression on Hallie’s tiny face, just minutes old. She was born with eyebrows that made known she would be a force not to be reckoned with. She was tiny, but I knew she would do big things. 

And Rylie. Her cry seemed to say “I’m here!” The real party can start now. 

In my forgetfulness there’s so much I remember. 

I’ll never forget the pain in my heart EVERY time Hayden broke his arm. Who cares if it was his left arm or right? I remember losing my mind when they were rolling him into surgery and that six-year-old blue-eyed doll called out to me “Mom…If I don’t make it..I love you”. 

I remember how terrified I was the first time he left our driveway behind the wheel as I stood in the yard paralyzed. 

I remember how proud I was of Hallie, our middle, when she walked into the “end of summer” middle school dance (her first dance ever) ALONE. We were new in town and she didn’t know a soul. 

I can recall how bemused I was when she wanted to be her dad for Halloween when being me would’ve been much easier and would’ve made more sense. 

Oh how entertained I was when Rylie (at age 4) told me she cut her hair because I wouldn’t let her go to Africa or China. She then freely confessed that she’d also “kicked Cameron”

Then there’s the time she faked her hearing and vision test in Pre-K leading the nurse to pull me out of class to encourage her to “try again”. The second tests she passed with flying colors to which she credited “A Christmas miracle!”.

Do I remember what date that was?  I don’t. 

Dates are convenient hooks on which we can hang our memories of events. 
Joan Lowery Nixon

Dear Children, Dates are just the days you touch our world; the details just filler. There are  way too many of both to keep track of them all. It’s the stories we remember; the ways you pull our heartstrings that we won’t forget. 

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Not Exactly Fasting in Secret, But a Secret I’m Learning about Fasting

But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Matthew 6:18

As I finished chewing an oversized bite of my six inch Spicy Italian sub last night, I looked at my girls and then had what I guess some would think was an odd conversation.

I asked them if they’d thought about maybe fasting one day this week.

Strange, I know.

Fasting, especially from food, isn’t my idea of a good time. We love eating.  All five of us Burdens. We plan birthday parties and trips around good food. Eating is one of our favorite pastimes.

But if you were at church somewhere on the First Baptist Nederland campus yesterday you know why I brought up fasting. Yesterday Jason preached on the unpopular subject and brought up some worthy reminders and good points.

  • Fasting is mentioned more times in the Bible than baptism.
  • Fasting turns us to prayer. (When fasting from something like food or technology, we hunger for those things we deprive ourselves of. In that hunger that we’ve resolved not to satisfy, we’re reminded that we need help. And we pray.)
  • The Bible doesn’t say “if you fast” but rather “when.”
  • Jesus fasted. And we’re to follow him.
  • There are dozens of mentionable outcomes  following characters in the Bible who chose to fast, seeking God’s strength and help. Just look to Daniel, those from Ninevah, Hannah, Mordecai and Esther, to name a few.  They fasted and through God’s mercy lives were saved, peoples restored.

Saying all that, I shamefully admit that I’ve yet to successfully fast. I get queasy when I don’t eat. I’ve tried technology fasts, but I always end up cheating. I try to keep my focus off of food or (in the case of a technology fast) away from my phone, but my mind stays fixed on those things. 

Years ago when Jason and I were practically youth ourselves, we lead a youth group.  We held a twenty-four hour fast with the focus on world hunger. We had a lock-in where we mostly distracted ourselves from hunger by playing games for hours on end. We prayed, but looking back, my focus wasn’t on the truly hungry and it wasn’t on God. It was a superficial fast that sought to get through twenty-four hours using the art of distraction. 

This week I’m trying again and I’m more hopeful.

This morning while still curled in the fetal position with my eyes closed in half-slumber, a bible verse came to mind.

 I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

Psalm 61:2

Fasting is only fasting when it’s accompanied by much prayer.

Fasting is only accomplished through a humble strength (weakness) that begs to be traded in for God’s strength.

Fasting will remain purposeless when that which we abstain from is only replaced with something else earthly in nature and we forget to fix our heart and our attention on God.

“Duh”, you’re saying.

Unfortunately, the effective giving up of things I find comfort in (even the temporary giving-up) is one area where my diet is still milk and not solid food.

That’s why my prayer this morning, and hopefully continuing on, is that God would “lead me to the rock that is higher than I”. …that as I feebly attempt to put aside my comforts to implore God’s help for my family, the church, our nation and a hurting world, he’ll come alongside lifting me to a place where my feet won’t stumble.

There I’ll talk with God, and listen from the firm place. I’ll not starve and stumble. I won’t sink in the sands of otherness.

We’re supposed to fast in secret just as prayer has a place in a closet. That doesn’t mean that the subject of fasting is a secret. Fasting is a subject worth practicing and it’s a secret worth sharing.

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That Time Our Kid Won the Day…for Her Little Sister 

At the risk of ruining all things good and pure I’m going to brag on the middle kid. Bragging makes me nervous because the person being bragged on usually does something dumb immediately following their accolades. Bragging is also pride’s loud cousin and nobody likes the loud cousin, but I’ve still got to tell you what Hallie did. 

First let me mention that Rylie, our youngest who’s soon to be eleven , has naturally, been anxious to enter the halls of middle school. I’m nervous for her. Those were the years of heartbreak, messy notebooks I couldn’t keep up with and girl drama. It’s when math got tough and the time I was introduced to Oxy Pads which didn’t phase the acne that was becoming comfortable on my forehead. 

It wasn’t all bad. I fell in love with my big hair and Rave hairspray. I roamed the halls between classes like a boss buying forty cent packages of Lance peanut butter and crackers from the vending machine at ten in the morning. 

With a pencil, numbers and some folded paper we’d learn our fortune. We’d find out if we’d get to marry Patrick Swayze or that kid in our class who was still three inches shorter than us. We’d learn if we would have twins or 100 kids. 

Hallie would tell you her middle school days remind her of her bad haircut, the unwelcome makeup lessons I gave her and her obsession with feather earrings and One Direction.

Middle school was and is a crazy time full of fun, mystery and challenge. And change. 

Hallie, our fifteen year old decided a couple of weeks ago that Rylie shouldn’t face the days ahead unarmed and uninformed. So she had this brilliant idea that we should make Rylie a middle school handbook. 

Sharing my impulsive gene, the moment Rylie was away at camp, Hallie and I went straight to the store and bought a notebook, some colored pencils and tabs. We set up workshop scrawling various words of advice and encouragement for Rylie.

  We texted a few family members and friends asking them to email us a letter or words to live by. We printed, and then glued those in. I can’t tell you how much fun it was to reflect on the “good old days” and even the experiences of those days that weren’t so good. We agreed that the “worst days ever” that we lived during those years have either dimimished in importance or have made their mark as a learning trophy. 

Here were some of the subjects in Rylie’s book:

  • Fitting in
  • Friends
  • Boys
  • Teachers/Grades
  • Big days
  • Your family
  • Secrets
  • When you’re lonely
  • When you feel far from God
  • When you need a laugh
  • When you’re insecure
  • Social Media/phone etiquette 
  • Embarrassing stuff 
  • General advice 
  • Scripture 
  • Coupons 

Today we took her to eat sushi and then gave her the book.

 I don’t have to tell you that it was a special time. Rylie has already asked us to write more about things like “Dances”. We plan on adding to the book.  

In the years ahead there will be fears, feats and foes; days of celebration and tears. But she’ll have her book. And she’ll remember that she has us. 

If you have a fun memory from your middle school days or a word of advice send it to me and we’ll add it in.

(If you know an upcoming middle schooler or a kid entering a new chapter this is something you can do for them too.) (Or ask us for a copy. We’d give it to you. Seriously. We think it’s that great of a thing). 

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The 411 on Phones and Kids

I never thought I’d say this, but I miss the old house phones. You know, the ones that were attached to the wall and not that convenient if you wanted to cook or fold laundry? Our phone was mustard yellow just like our shag carpet. It had a rotary dial. I always seemed to mess up on the seventh number causing me to have to hang up and start over. 

I had to sit in the dining room to talk. I’d wrap the curly cues of the cord around my finger until the squeezing would start to turn my finger purple as the circulation was being cut off. That was the only game you could play on my phone. 

I wasn’t allowed to talk for too long because we had a party line with two or three other families that lived near us in the country. It was easy for them to eavesdrop on my conversation because if they picked up their phone while I was on the line they could listen in unnoticed if they kept their breathing quiet. I know because I did that to them a few times. Their conversations weren’t that interesting. 

If they chose not to eavesdrop and to instead tell me to get off the phone, I did. Back then it was nothing out of the ordinary for an adult (not your parent) to boss you around. You listened. Your parents were (almost) always on the adults’ side back then even if the adults weren’t being that fair. 

Times have changed. Pretty much everybody has their own cell phone. Nosy neighbors, cords and buttons have disappeared from most phones. Toddlers know how to swipe the screen and grandpas jam to YouTube and take selfies. 

According to our kids Jason and I are pretty archaic. Our Sophomore just got an iPhone and our middle schooler doesn’t have a phone yet. I guess there are a few reasons for our mean-ness. Phones with the frills (which is what they really want) are expensive, time consuming and dangerous. 

That being said, we’re about to give in and buy the baby her first cell phone. She’ll be walking to and from school. She’s starting to go to friends’ houses. I don’t always know the parents that well. She’ll enjoy having a phone but the big deal is that her having a phone will make me feel safer. 

The good thing with this buying Rylie a phone is that she’s our third kid. We’re armed with phone rules. 

The bad thing with getting her a phone is that because we’re on the third kid we know she’ll break the rules. We’ve lost the naivety we had with the first and second kid. 

So here are a few rules and etiquette tips I’ll drop on her after she opens her box of independence at her  birthday party. 

  • If you call someone it’s your responsibility to carry the conversation. Say “Hello” and be ready to state your reason for calling. Ex. “Hi. This is Rylie. May I talk to Ty?”
  • Short phone calls are ok. Awkward pauses between you and the other person are a signal that the conversation can end. 
  • If you call and someone doesn’t answer, don’t call back again immediately. Leave a message and then leave them alone. 
  • Find a non-distracting place to talk. Don’t watch TV or talk to someone one else. Give the person you’re talking to your full attention. 

But let’s get real. Texting is the preferred way of talking these days. So remember…

  • Identify yourself when first texting someone so that they don’t have to answer with the awkward response “Who is this?”
  • Don’t text one worders like “Hey”. Have a reason for texting. 
  • Don’t be an obsessive texter. Just like with calling, if someone doesn’t answer, let it be. None of this “Hey”…”Are you there?”…”helloooo!!!”
  • Never use all caps. Unless you’re saying something funny or making a point in a non-rude way. Crazy people use all caps. DON’T DO IT!!!!!!
  • Think before you text.  Your texts should be true, kind and necessary. 
  • Text at a decent time as decent is defined by us. 
  • Keep in mind that your phone isn’t really your phone. 

This first phone will have buttons. It won’t be a smart phone. I’m still writing and enforcing those rules for the other kid and it’s exhausting.  I think smart phones should be saved for parents to give as a wedding gift. Then the possible consequences of having such a tool aren’t our responsibility anymore. 

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We’re Going Pants-Gettin

We’re hitting the mall tomorrow …again. Not because I like the mall, because I don’t. The mall ranks right up there (or down there rather) with going to the dentist and the OBGYN (the latter who I visited today and who somehow managed to fit in the “M” word again, menopausal). 

Our school supply list is about a third done. I’ve made a habit of buying the easy stuff on the first trip. This includes pencils, red checking pens and notebook paper (although you have to keep an eye out for college-ruled paper. It’ll sneak up and bite you when you’re trying to grab a couple of packages of wide-ruled). Who uses college-ruled anyway?

 On this shopping excursion, which I work to keep short, the cart leaves the premises when I get to the tough part of the list which includes things like -two black Expo markers (even though the bin in the store says that this year red and blue are in) and   -one large washable Elmer’s glue stick- that’s unnecessarily packed with seven other like its own.

 It’s usually when I’m ready to leave that my kid spots the “galactic kitten” backpack that we’re eventually going to fight over or the “Yo Gabba Gabba looking” pencil pouch that she’ll insist is the only one she can live with when there’s a cute suede one with fringe right next to it. I don’t like shopping, but if you’ve got to do it, stylish choices are important. We’ve a reputation to uphold. 

We are going to the mall tomorrow but Hallie, our fifteen-year-old says I can’t call it shopping. She thinks I’m some kind of monster just because I say things like “No!, Keep moving!, Focus!” when she reaches for a dress when we’re shirt shopping. 

Me shopping with the kids
That one time I was nice
Speaking of shirt shopping…

[This is a good place to say thank you to the Nederland dress code and Excel store which makes it easy-breezy to go “shirt-gettin”.] Been there done that (shopping trip number two). I got fourteen shirts in less than fourteen minutes. 

Tomorrow we’re going “pants-gettin”as Hallie’s decided to call it.  I had her take a picture of the jeans she already has so that we can just cut to the chase and get those, but new ones of those.
I’ll probably take the kids hungry so that they’ll be as ready to get out of the store as I am. If they’re cooperative I’ll take them to Chik Fil A. The drive through of course. 

Fellow Shoppers: May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy. Colossians 1:11

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Call Me “K”

I’m Kristi. Most of you know that. 

What you probably aren’t aware of is a few of the other names I’m known by. My uncle has always called me Krissy Brown. My dad called me “Pill”. I was “Fowler” in high school and then, years later, “Hayden’s Mom” (as well as Hallie/Rylie’s Mom). I’ve been “Teacher” and “Mrs. Burden”. My personal favorite would be “Ms. Jason”, a name I was called for six years by a dear man who knew how to make the best pies but never knew my name.  

None of these names outshine the name “Mom” though, who I’m (most of the time) fondly referred to by the “Burden four”, the kids and Jason. I got that name shortly after Hayden’s birth nearly twenty years ago. There’s no sweeter name for me

Except for “K”

Jason used to call me “K”, way back before I wore mama pants, at a time when I could talk on dates about something other than what was going on with the kids and the current state of the nation. He called me “K” while I could still buy cute sundresses from the clearance rack at “Gap” and then wear them without evidence of my “mom-ness” peeking out, especially around my waist. Back then we knew how to play an uninterrupted game of Forty-Two with friends and how to go the movies without worrying about what was going on at home or what the kids were doing (because we didn’t have kids yet). 

Then we became Mom and Dad. Not only to the kids, but to each other. 

“When are you getting home, Dad? We need to talk about somebody’s Math grade.”

“Mama, Can she spend the night with so-and-so?”

“Hey Dad…How about we stop wrestling ?”

I do love it, us being mom and dad.
 It’s just that it wasn’t my intention to be “Mom” to my husband. I’m the mother of his children, but I’m not his mom (although I did appoint myself his holy spirit for a few years). I’m his wife; that woman who sat out twenty-something years ago to “love and to cherish (him) until death do us part”;  not with leftover love after having expended most of my affection, energy and concern on the kids. It was never a part of the original plan to cherish him only on the rare occasion that we go on a date, or when we’re able to get away for a few days. My cherishing him was never meant to be put on hold until the kids are grown and out of the house. 

I adore that man.

 There’s not a day that I don’t look forward to him coming through the front door. But these days too often it’s to catch him up on “Kid News” or other news, rather than just taking in the sight of him. 

Our time is spent putting our heads together to come up with rules that improve grades and ways to entice the siblings to live more harmoniously. We take turns being the bad guy. We double-team too. We have a system that both works and malfunctions. It’s a system that both takes and DESERVES much work and attention; sometimes so much so that it’s easy to neglect the relationship outside that system, the one we have as man and wife. 

There’s room under one roof for the mom, dad and kids AND at the same time husband and wife. Not only is there room, the health of families depend on both of these relationships being nurtured. As crazy as I am about my kids, I want them to know they’re not the “end all be all”. We’ll never stop being their parents, but it’s in the plan for them to leave some day. I hope that Jason and I help them to fully look forward to the cleaving relationship intended in marriage if God blesses them with a mate. 

We haven’t done so bad. We have Friday lunch dates when we can and we send new age love letters in the form of texts. And he still holds my hand. 

This summer we had time for just the two of us. He started calling me “K” again. Then we came home and got back to “kid business” as usual. 

Yesterday I folded a pair of my most comfortable mom shorts and put them in the drawer. I’ll probably wear them tomorrow. But he’s still calling me “K”. The world is right. 

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We’re Back

This is my first post since the “Burden Sabbatical”.  We’ve abandoned our pumpkin coach/RV  in a pasture in Bosque County. My magic slipper is somewhere in a dirty old milk crate along with a dozen other pairs of our shoes dusted with Colorado dirt. It looks ordinary now; like it lacks the potential to climb mountains (or run down stairs at the stroke of midnight). It’s yet to be unpacked like the overstuffed bags on my bedroom floor. 

We returned to Texas welcomed by friends and family, sweltering heat, a couple of roach carcasses by the front door, a ridiculous pile of mail and a toilet that hadn’t been flushed since June the 7th.  My hair returned to its poofy, swollen evangelist-type state when we crossed the Texas line. Life has regained its familiarity. 

In the midst of getting home and immediately packing the youngest for camp, I’m trying to unpack a month’s worth of stuff. More importantly, I’m trying to unpack those big ideas we had up there in paradise; the ones we determined to live out as much as we could while we somewhat get back in the rat race. 

I’m wondering how these things will fit in a house that already has too much stuff. 

Speaking of fitting, I have no idea how I’m going to squeeze in all the appointments and summer cleaning I’m faced with that’s usually spread out over a whole summer…things that will now be jammed into a couple of weeks. 

How will I make time?

Cram in the return of tragic news of police shootings, more ISIS attacks and then the personal hardships of close loved ones, that we were somehow shielded from while we were away? 

How will my heart contend? 

Lame pun comes next. 

The Burdens are back and the BURDENS are back.

But this is what matters: We were given the opportunity to escape the noise and the crazy for much of June and July. It was a dream glittered with grace. I can’t imagine that we deserved such a gift or that such kindness could ever be repaid. It won’t be forgotten. Shampoo, unopened boxes of taco shells and pretty souvenir rocks gathered from the Rio Grande riverbed are still tucked in luggage, but I’m bringing out what I learned and was reminded of on our trip. I’m making garnered knowledge the centerpiece of this here house. 

  • Pursue peace and stillness and rest. Grab on to it every chance you get. Treasure it. And then tuck it deep inside. God, in His grace, will keep it there in deep parts when the world returns to its faster wilder spin. 

Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord. 

2 Peter 1:2

  • In all our days, before we do anything, packing or unpacking, may we fold our hands and take out our concerns, looking for guidance on what to grip and what to let go. May the things we get rid of afford us the time and gratitude to worship greater and to love and serve better . 

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed… 2 Corinthians 9:8

  • May we learn patience and trust. 
  • May we remember that pumpkin carriages and houses “stuffed with stuff” are built on and run on grace. 


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