Author Archives: Kristi Burden

About Kristi Burden

I always wanted to be a pastor's wife and a mom. God gave me the desires of my heart. Because that life looks different than it did in my head, I've been laughing (and crying a little bit too) ever since. God has given me exactly what I need; joy found in desperation for him and grace in my stumbling. My husband Jason was my high school sweetheart; I'm still enamored with him. We live in Nederland, Texas with our three children Hayden, Hallie and Rylie who keep me running around and praying...mostly praying.

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I didn't grow up on the mission field. Or did I ?

I grew up in church, a small one in central Texas where the two-digit attendance was posted in front of the sanctuary on a wooden board right beside the door that led to the nursery.

I learned much of what I know today right down the hall from the nursery in mission organizations led by my mama and other faithful and visionary women. This happened every Wednesday.

My friends and I, when we were old enough, walked down East McClain street from the school to church. From there we traveled to foreign lands that were painstakingly hand drawn on poster board with map colors and markers. We drank Kool-aid and ate assorted cookies that the church ladies provided on napkins.

Through storybooks we became acquainted with the customs in China and African cuisine. We prayed for men and women who were sharing the gospel of Jesus there and asked God that He would make himself known to the lost.

I can remember my mama, who hates driving in the city, making her way several times a year to the Christian bookstore in Arlington to buy more picture books and other resources which would bring South America to us if we couldn't travel there.

Here's the thing. My mom has never traveled to foreign countries to share the gospel. In fact, she's never left Texas for mission work. Her work was done inside white cinderblock walled classrooms. It was her creativity, passion and obedience to scripture that opened my mind to a world outside those walls, not a passport.

My mom isn't the only one who made much of the great commission. There was Ms Annie (and the other too many to mention ladies who served in the Women's Mission Union) whose hearts burned for missions.

I won't forget the first church where my husband Jason and I served. Several ladies three times my age took me into their WMU group. We ate lemon squares and drank tea in Mrs. Ekrut's kitchen while reading missionary names cut out of magazines. We prayed for messengers and other souls we'd never met, lifting up places we'd never been.

Yes, Sunday mornings have tucked the message of the gospel inside my heart. Women like my mama attached wings to that all important message.

I've been blessed to hold hands with orphans in Mexico. I've prayed with a woman who sat on the sidewalk in front of her crumbled house after Hurricane Katrina. I've picked up pieces of glass and concrete rubble from what was left of a church's foundation. I've jumped rope over a repurposed water hose and played games with lima beans in tin cups with beautiful barefoot girls in Kenya.

Each place held a strange beauty that caused my eyes to stretch open wider than before. More visible was the mission field in front of me, in my own town. And all this because women with no passport, but a vision, believed the gospel to be so powerful and wonderful it must be shared to the ends of the earth.

I was reminded of the overwhelming arch of missions this past weekend as Jason and I attended the North Carolina Missions Conference where we were able to thank the North Carolina folks for serving over 320,000 meals to our community after Hurricane Harvey. I was in awe of all the opportunities to serve and witness.

From mobile dentistry in the states to sharing Jesus to the gypsies in Romania, God's name is being made known.

While praising God for these works in an auditorium full of strangers, some, I learned, have gone abroad. Others, just like my Mama and Ms Annie and Mrs. Ekrut, have prayed and taught right where they are... for decades. They trust Jesus meant it when he said, "Go...and teach all nations... ". They have led us in classrooms and written checks, faith is their signature.

Work for the kingdom has largely been built on their backs.

I thank them. I thank the ladies who took me in early on in ministry teaching me the value of lifting up unfamiliar names and countries I still couldn't point out on a map. I thank my mama. Whether we go or stay, may we all be so faithful.

"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

My Mom:



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Sitting amongst a group of ladies a few years ago, I witnessed one woman making unkind remarks about a man who wasn't there. She continued to disparage the guy until one bold lady shook her head at her and told her the same thing I'd been thinking.

"You're being awful," she remarked, while gently reminding her how long she'd been criticizing this person undeservingly.

To my surprise, "lady one" softened. There were no more ill words spoken about the man. I might add, "lady one" and "lady two", were, and still are, close friends.

I have a lot of things I'd love to share that I don't. We all hold back the truth, now and then, for various reasons. Maybe we don't want to risk hurting someone's feelings. We may be sure that the truth will not be accepted or understood. The truth can throw a kink into relationships or cause us to be rejected.

It may be the truth when I tell my husband I'm sick and tired of him leaving his socks by the couch. It can be honesty that I'm speaking when I tell my daughter that what she's wearing doesn't flatter her figure. What if I tell that person on Facebook (that I don't even know) that the statistic they shared, on what causes the most deaths in the US, is flawed?

Is honesty always the best policy?

We've all heard these two great rules of thumb...

That thing that you're about to say:

Is it necessary?

Is it kind?

Experience reminds me to include this...

  • Is there timeliness in your honesty? Is it necessary to share what your sharing...right now? (versus when there is more privacy or maybe when the person you're needing to be honest with isn't exhausted or already defeated)
  • Do you love the person with whom you're sharing the truth? (Or do you just find it important to get the right information out there?)

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

1 Corinthians 13:1

Through the years a few adults have corrected (spoken truth to) my children when they were misbehaving. Most times I have been thankful. Other times I've been madder than an old wet hen. Sometimes their timing was off and it seemed their goal was to make a spectacle of my kids more than that they were pointing them in a better direction. A time or two I didn't feel they'd been the least bit kind. Often, something else was missing in their telling of the truth.

An important prerequisite to truth sharing, especially the difficult kind, is investment.

Hopefully we always respond to the truth, but we respond better when the truth we need to hear is coming from those who have poured into our lives. What reason do we have to believe a stranger? What weight should we give to words shared by someone who hasn't seemed to give two flips about us. (It seems as if their goal is simply to be right.)

Truth can feel like a withdrawal. The truth-teller is taking something away (a belief we had, our sense of comfort...our pride). Withdrawals are easier to suffer if there's a balance (of love) left over. Personal investment provides the proper cushion needed for speaking difficult truths.

As Christians we know the greatest truth. We are sinners in need of a perfect and gracious God. By no means should we keep this to ourselves. Instead we should share this valuable information patiently and lovingly.

Jesus is truth. He's also serves as the greatest example of personal investment, pouring out his very life for the sake of ours. Anything he asks of us, any difficult truth he asks us to swallow, he has more than covered with his steadfast love.

We can share the truth. Let's just give a little more of ourselves while doing it.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.

1 Corinthians 13:4-6



A sweet friend from church approached me last Wednesday night before prayer meeting. "I just need to tell you", she said. "Your Rylie has gotten so pretty and has grown up so much." She continued to compliment my youngest, bringing up a church presentation where Rylie showed her knowledge of scripture. I made a quick mental note. Don't forget to share with Rylie.

It's always a treat when people take time out to give compliments. Kids (and adults for that matter) seek encouragement.

Lucky for Rylie, she received two sweet doses of affirmation that Wednesday. Last week was Spring Break. It was also the Nederland Heritage Festival, a time when we throw our cash at vendors in exchange for burgers and funnel cakes and a pass for unlimited rides.

This year Rylie decided she needed to purchase a caricature of herself. I'm not sure why. Her brother and his girlfriend had one drawn at the festival the night before and we laughed our heads off at the absurdity of their large chins and nostrils the artist had sketched with bright colored chalk. Middle schoolers can be a caricature in and of themselves without having someone exaggerate their least favorite feature.

Rylie happened upon a different artist. I was relieved when she proudly exited the tent waving her drawing in the air. The artist had sketched she and her friend and they looked as cute as a button (well, maybe as cute as /two/ buttons.) She showed everybody with whom she even had the slightest acquaintance.

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She was so happy with the light in which the artist had seen her that she spent another fifteen bucks the next night on another drawing; this time of her as a perky baker. And again she was proud, confirmed in her identity. I was happy for her. There had been a collective voice whispering her value.

This event plays into something I haven't seemed to be able to get out of my mind lately.

I don't think today's children are suffering from a lack of compliments and pep talks. As a teacher I remember having a list of brag words to use on student worksheets and tests. I was never without a stash of stickers and stamps. High fives, hugs and smiles were limitless. Still, all it usually took to crater a kid's self confidence was one ill word or a small rejection from their peers. Beyond suffering an unkindness, kids (and adults) often feel unloved or like a failure just by how they perceive others view them, sometimes even when their perception is wrong. A big and frequent dose of kindness won't battle feelings of inadequacy on its own.

With recent school shootings and multiple suicides amongst school age children I'm trying to wrap my head around the mindset of those who are deciding that their own life, or the life of another isn't valuable. Mental illness and depression surely factors in such sad thoughts and harrowing decisions being made. As has been suggested, I do believe a history of being bullied or rejected is often a part of such desperate action. Throw in broken families, the horrors of social media and violent video games. We have a host of ways to place blame for the dejection plague.

A common reaction I keep hearing when young lives are needlessly lost is "We need to be more kind." That's true. I think the world will always be in need of more kindness. But "more kindness" won't fill the void that pains so many hearts.

The suicide epidemic is rapidly getting closer to home. Having personal knowledge of a couple of individuals who have either ended or attempted to end their life recently, I can assure you that those people were loved on. Many whose lives have spun into darkness and loneliness have been showered with affection and encouragement.

Healthy homes, therapy and medication, affection, encouragement, less access to social media and displays of violence can be vital, but they aren't the cure to loneliness and hopelessness.

I believe we've lost sight (if we ever had it) of our value. We live in a world where a human life that already exists is only allowed to continue to exist if a pregnant mother so chooses.

Popular opinion dictates value. As much as we hate to admit it, outward beauty, athleticism, intelligence and the things we accumulate are the things we flippantly designate as significant. We're not much better than Hollywood.

We like rule followers and those for whom success comes easily. For those lacking...those who struggle...we can be guilty of tossing morsels of kindness without truly understanding value in those the world hasn't deemed worthy. We offer sympathy as a solution.

We flash a smile or type a quick positive comment on Facebook. We encourage our kids to sit with the kid who sits alone while still sometimes hoping our kid will be accepted by the important kids. We add kindness upon kindness sometimes wearing ourselves out in the process. We forget that the wound of unworthiness is deep and in need of a greater touch.

Last week at the festival I watched the second time Rylie had her sketch done. She already knew what she looked like, still she sat in eager anticipation. "I want to know again. How do you see me?"

We'll never see others (or be seen by others) in perfect light. That's why we need to go and sit before the artist who formed us. He's waiting to show us the beauty and value we have in him. Each of us were so important to Him that he willingly gave his own life out of his deep love for us.

We need to recognize others who desperately clutch their canvas. Rather than paying them a quick compliment to cover an ill-drawn representation or offering to sketch them ourselves, let's point them to The Artist. And then point them back again. Repeat.

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Luke 12:6-7

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A sweet friend from church approached me last Wednesday night before prayer meeting. "I just need to tell you", she said. "Your Rylie has gotten so pretty and has grown up so much." She continued to compliment my youngest bringing up a church presentation where Rylie showed her knowledge of scripture. I made a quick mental note. Don't forget to share with Rylie.

It's always a treat when people take time out to give compliments. Kids (and adults for that matter) seek encouragement.

Lucky for Rylie, she received two sweet doses of affirmation that day. Last week was Spring Break. It was also the Nederland Heritage Festival, a time when we throw our cash at vendors in exchange for burgers and funnel cakes.

This year Rylie decided she needed to purchase a caricature of herself. I'm not sure why. Her brother and his girlfriend had one drawn at the festival the night before and we laughed our heads off at the absurdity of their large chins and nostrils sketched with bright colored chalk. Middle schoolers can be a caricature in and of themselves without having someone exaggerate their least favorite feature.

I was relieved when Rylie scampered proudly out of the tent waving her drawing in the air. The artist had sketched she and her friend and they looked as cute as a button (well, maybe as cute as /two/ buttons.) She showed everybody with whom she even had the slightest acquaintance.

She was so happy with the light in which the artist had seen her that she spent another fifteen bucks the next night on another drawing; this time of her as a perky baker. And again she was proud, confirmed in her identity. I was happy for her. There had been a collective voice whispering her value.

There's just one thing I can't seem to get out of my mind lately.

I don't think today's children are suffering from a lack of compliments and pep talks. As a teacher I remember having a list of brag words to use on student worksheets and tests. I was never without a stash of stickers and stamps. High fives, hugs and smiles were limitless. Still, all it usually took to crater a kid's self confidence was one ill word or a small rejection from their peers. Beyond suffering an unkindness, kids (and adults) often feel unloved or like a failure just by how they perceive others view them, sometimes even when their perception is wrong. A big and frequent dose of kindness won't battle feelings of inadequacy on its own.

With recent school shootings and multiple suicides amongst school age children I'm trying to wrap my head around the mindset of those who are deciding that their own life, or the life of another isn't valuable. Mental illness and depression surely factors in such sad thoughts and harrowing decisions being made. As has been suggested, I do believe a history of being bullied or rejected is often a part of such desperate action. Throw in broken families, the horrors of social media and violent video games. We have a host of ways to place blame.

A common reaction I keep hearing when lives are taken and lost is "We need to be more kind." That's true. I think the world will always be in need of more kindness. But more kindness won't fill the void that aches so many hearts.

The suicide epidemic is rapidly getting closer to home. Having personal knowledge of a couple of individuals who have either ended or attempted to end their life recently, I can assure you that the people I know were loved on. Many whose lives have spun into darkness and loneliness have been showered with affection and encouragement.

Healthy homes, affection and encouragement, protection from bullies, more kindness and less access to social media and displays of violence are vital, but they aren't the cure to the loneliness and sadness that plagues the hordes.

We've lost sight (if we ever had it) of our value. We live in a world where a human life that already exists is only allowed to continue to exist if a pregnant mother so chooses.

Popular opinion dictates value. As much as we hate to admit it, outward beauty, athleticism, intelligence and the things we accumulate are the things we flippantly designate as significant. We like rule followers and those for whom success comes easily. For those lacking...those who struggle...we can be guilty of tossing morsels of kindness without truly assigning these individuals equal value.

We flash a smile and share bags of the outgrown clothes we can't wear anymore. We encourage our kids to sit with the kid who sits alone while still hoping our kid will be accepted by the important kids. I know I can be guilty of such fallen behavior.

Last week at the festival I watched the second time Rylie had her sketch done. Already knowing what she looked like, she sat in eager anticipation. "I want to know again, she must have pondered. "Show me how you see me."

We'll never see others (or be seen by others) in perfect light. That's why we need to go and sit with the artist who formed us. He's waiting to show us the beauty and value we have in him. Each of us were so important to Him that he willingly gave his own life out of his deep love for us.

We all need to go back and sit with the artist and sees us how he sees us. We need to recognize others who desperately clutch their canvas. Rather than paying them a quick compliment for an ill-drawn representation or offering to sketch them ourselves, let's point them to The Artist. And then point them back again. Repeat.

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Luke 12:6-7

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Well, I gave into the racket called school Spring Pictures this morning. I've avoided it nearly every year before. The flyer gets lost in my junk mail pile and then I forget all about the opportunity to pay thirty-something dollars for two five by sevens and twelve wallets of my kid with her head tilted in an awkward position with her fist on her chin or else her arms folded on some picket fence.

I'm against spring pictures. The photographer sits you on a swivel chair or some crate and asks you to keep moving your head and shoulders until he can tell it feels one hundred percent unnatural...and then asks you to hold it. A couple of pictures are snapped while you force your eyes to stay open and smile nervously as your classmates watch while they wait in line behind you.

Pictures are supposed to capture an event like your birthday or at least your trip to Dairy Queen to buy a dipped cone after a hard week at school. Pictures should show personality...individuality, not pose A, B, C or D against a pulled-down mottled screen.

But I took my loss today. Our youngest, the one who sees value in those things l want to discard, asked for spring pictures and she's getting them. I tried to complain about the cost as I filled out my check for package H but my husband, with a gentle head shake, dissuaded me from using that liberty.

I straightened her hair and gave her an air kiss before she left as not to disturb the light layer of lip gloss she'd applied. She looked pretty and confident as she walked down the sidewalk despite the fact that I didn't share in her eagerness.

As unexcited as I am about this photo-op, here's what I hope for her spring pictures...and well, for her life. I hope she keeps her eyes open...wide open...as to experience excitement in things others might consider mundane or a thirty one dollar waste of time. I hope she smiles her real smile, the one that is convinced that life is good and beautiful and worth capturing, believing she is a valued part of it all.

May I learn to treasure the things she shows me, the things I've long forgotten or just somehow missed. And when her picture comes back weeks from now, beautiful innocence preserved, may I put that thing in a frame and look at it every chance I get.



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A cute decorative rug lays directly in front of my kitchen sink. Broad stripes of gray, coral, gold, and cream, zigzag across it. I'm glad I bought it, but it presents a minor problem. It picks up dirt and spilled food, advertising uncleanliness and stain to our kitchen guests. Going against the included tag instructions, I wash it, but it's grungy again in no time.

In the past year, since I've owned it, I've relied on a simple, but temporary solution. Once the rug is dingy-looking, I flip it over so that the presentable side is showing.

Somewhere along the way I decided to hide the dirt.

Not so long ago one of my children was standing near the rug while we discussed an important matter. That's when I heard something unexpected come from their mouth regarding a decision they were contemplating.

"I don't want the church to think bad..."

The crazy part is, this decision my child was considering was a good decision.  But then there was this overhanging fear that it might create questions in the mind of observers...that it would potentially reveal something some might consider less than picturesque, like the stains on the underneath of my kitchen rug.

We people...(I'll go ahead and say it)... especially we church people, have a bad habit of hiding our struggle. Our difficulties, our less than beautiful side, we keep in darkness. Church should be a place we're compelled to bring our questions to the forefront and our hurts and fears to light. Among God's people there should be no anxiety that the church will think bad.

The book of Daniel has a few reminders for when we're hindered by our fear of what our brothers and sisters in Christ would think.

1.None of us are strangers to struggle. Daniel and his friends were top notch folks.  To name a few of their mentioned admirable qualities, they were

well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve... Daniel 1:4

Still, they found themselves deeply troubled when Nebuchadnezzar called for the execution of all the wise men (which included them). I'm learning that even the church sages, and those who appear to have it all together usually have something surprisingly difficult they're either suffering or have walked through before.

2. Even God's most equipped and faithful servants are in need of Christian encouragement. Upon facing death, Daniel shares the troubling news with his friends and then immediately urges them to "plead for mercy from the God of heaven." Both Daniel and his friends faced the unthinkable,...death. Our trouble may be the result of injustice or a poor decision. Either way, we do best to call on our friends to plead with God on our behalf.   When you're in trouble do you confide in those God has placed around you? When your friends are in trouble, do you lovingly listen, guide and support them? Can you be trusted to bring their names before God with confidence while keeping it in confidence from others?

3. The darkness isn't all bad. Just remember...

  • You're not alone there.  In dark times God is with you.  He's placed people around you. The strongest friendships are forged in trouble. Pay attention to those who will be your eyes when you can't see, those who will hold your hand when a way out isn't in sight.
  • You're not intended to stay in darkness. Some of God's greatest answers are revealed in the dark. It was "during the night" that God provided Daniel with the answers he needed. Daniel and his friends were not only spared from death, upon Daniel's interpreting the king's dream, they were given high positions and other rewards.

The church is by no means perfect. We've all suffered a mishandled situation or an ill remark made by a brother or sister.  We may feel a degree of judgement from those who know the secrets we've tried so hard to conceal, but I believe more harsh judgement often exists in our automatic assumption that the church will think bad of us. That the church will fail us.

And so the pews are filled with private pain. So are homes where individuals and families preemptively decide that the church couldn't possibly be trusted with the truth of their past or what they currently face. I'm finding that suffocating fear and the self-seclusion we create hurts us more than when we put a little trust in God and those He has surrounded us with who are in Him.

If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.  Ecclesiastes 4:10

Let's remove our fear that the church will think bad...

Let's stop being the church who thinks bad...

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Let's be the church.  Let's be more vulnerable. Let's care for another and lift one another up.  Let's allow God to do the thinking.

"That's why I wrote this song to sing

My beautiful girl"

(The Girl -Dallas Green)

The morning started off just fine. I had a ten o'clock checkup and I was on schedule. The dishwasher was loaded, the house was picked up and I was on my way to getting dressed by 8:33. That's when I got a text from our middle, Hallie.

She'd sent a screenshot of a letter with information on her graduation planning/next year's class schedule meeting, a meeting that was nowhere on my radar. What would be the time for this conference? ...9:10 this morning; a short 37 minutes after I got the text... I still had to finish getting ready and drop something off somewhere.

I busted it to make it on time. At 9:06 I was speeding down Spurlock Street when I decided to plug my phone in to get two minutes of charge before getting out of the car at the high school.

Our car has the awesome feature of automatically connecting to the music app when you plug your phone in. Typically, a random song pops up bringing instant cheer to my cruising. Not this morning. Jason recently downloaded a bunch of songs from our cloud on to my phone. I have Jason's music, as well as some of Hayden and Hallie's music.

Today an unfamiliar song filled the car in that last stretch of Spurlock. It was a song about chasing dreams and sailing around the world.

Today reminded me that I can be a speedster. I can physically get where I need to quickly. My mind can rush to places too. Those short lyrics sent me into an emotional tailspin. I instantly thought about a four-year-old in pink plastic heels who turned her dress-up trunk on its end to make it into a pulpit where she preached. Just yesterday it seems she pulled out of the driveway with her hands on the wheel for the first time.

My girl is now on the cusp of her senior year. Where the heck have I been? For the remaining stretch on Spurlock, and the last lines of the song, I alternated my fingertip to each outer eye-edge in attempt to hold my earlier 12-second mascara application in place.

Walking in to the high school I saw one of our favorite teachers, Mrs. Jordan. She knew why I was there. Like a typical senior mother I told her it was Hallie's last schedule planning meeting and proceeded to wipe my eye corners again.

In the meeting the counselor asked questions about Hallie's major and where she desires to go to school. I thought to myself, we don't know that yet.

But surprisingly Hallie, like a songbird, chirped a happy and confident answer for every question that was asked. I wasn't prepared for all this, but maybe she is.

I think about you parents who are getting ready to watch your kids walk on stage to receive their diploma in just a few months. Since walking through this nearly three years ago with Hayden, our oldest, I've had a heart pang for those of you who have a list that includes "order graduation invitations". I've thought a half-dozen times about texting my neighbor. Her boy is a senior. My friend just posted pictures of her and her daughter at UT, the college she'll be attending in fall. I'm sad for my mom friends. We're approaching the final lap of high school with Hallie. Some of you are reaching a finish line of sorts.

I wondered this morning how I missed getting the memo for the meeting at school. It came as a surprise, as did the fact that this chapter is winding down. Honestly I don't know how much our level of awareness of the changing of days matters. It's not any easier when we know what's coming. We can't push pause.

All I know is that two lines from this morning's song are stuck in my head...

"That's why I wrote this song to sing

My beautiful girl..."

My pen has both furiously scrawled and made deliberate bold marks on her music sheet. Today I was reminded that there's a time to let my pen rest and just listen to the song she's been writing on her own. It makes my eye corners unstable, but it's really quite beautiful.

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I drove up Canal Street this evening just as dusk painted the sky in soft pink hues. I snapped a picture in my head, committing such beauty to memory. Our youngest Rylie was almost finished with flute lessons and I was on my way to pick her up. She received some recognition at school today so I cooked up a quick plan as I turned left into the high school parking lot.

She opened the car door and slid in the passenger seat, quickly taking charge of the music selection. I announced that I was taking her to get a cake pop and drink to celebrate today's good news.

While I drove she selected songs that we both knew. She cranked up the volume while we sang loud. We didn't care that we erroneously belted out every fifth word. We were unashamed at the moments we missed the notes.

We got our celebration concessions and decided to cruise what has become our mother/daughter drag from Helena Avenue down to the access road where we make our way to Spurlock and then around the school. A song from a show I'm familiar with came on. To my surprise she gave a solid summary of the show.

Projecting a voice of curiosity more than judgement I asked her where she'd seen it. I'd watched a few episodes but hadn't been in favor of some of the agendas that were pushed on the show. Regrettably she'd seen it on Netflix at our house on my iPad. She mentioned that the girls were talking about it at school and that she'd seen me have it on a time or two so had decided it was ok to watch it.

I told her that I'd quit watching the show because it wasn't appropriate. We established new rules for show choices and usage of the iPad. Here's the kicker. It went abnormally well! As I typically do when situations surprise me, I did an assessment.

I'd just been asking myself this week what boundaries I should set in keeping her straight. In addition to being her moral guide I've appointed myself her social/fashion coach. Just yesterday I pointed out a few things I found slightly bothersome; a laugh that was too boisterous. I also explained her inability to recognize when she was talking too fast, and too loud, and too expressively.

I was rescuing her from possible rejection by teaching her to be more peer pleasing I told myself.

I'm certain she was wishing someone would rescue her from me.

I believe a certain rescue happened tonight as I sang with her rather obnoxiously and off key. She was rescued from the weight of hovering expectation. We both plugged our own words into the parts of the songs we didn't know...and it was ok. It was a good rhythm, us singing, just for a moment unworried about whether or not we were getting it all right.

Too many times I miss the opportunity to promote security and freedom in this soul that's currently plagued by expectation everywhere she goes. I'm a watchdog around the clock making sure she never forgets to wash her face. I tell her that her navy shirt would look better with a lighter pair of jeans. I do her ponytail in the morning to avoid her attending sixth grade with less superior hair.

Home should be the place where they're safest not getting it all right. In addition to receiving necessary instruction and consequences, time with us should be time when our children can let their perfect pony-tailed hair down as much as our good sense allows.

Life is more harmonious when we look for times to sing with them, and not just over them. They just might handle things a little better when we have to put our hand back on the dial.



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Imagine hearing that there's been a shooting at your child's school.  You frantically drive to the school, your heart undecided if it's going to beat right out of your chest or if it's going to stop beating altogether.  That's what moms and dads faced today after hearing that there was a mass shooting at their kids' high school.

(Photo credits of wtop.com)

Two high school students, one fifteen year old female and one male, lost their lives today in Hickory, Kentucky. Nineteen students have been injured. I've read every update that has popped up on my phone screen. I can't imagine having been one of the students in the Commons Area this morning who ran to the nearest business for safety.

I can come closer to imagining what it must have been like to be a mom waiting outside the school this morning. She calls her child's phone.  It goes straight to voicemail.  She sends a text, "Call me". Her eyes scan the crowd and then dart back to the school, and then to her phone. She stares at the screen.

The Daily Mail talked to one mom, Heather Adams, who had already gotten word that her child was safe.  Seeing another distraught mother, she went to her and offered to help her locate her child.  Upon finding out the woman's son's name, Adams texted her own child to find out if the woman's son was one of the injured. Unbelievably, the woman's son ended up being the shooter who had already been taken into custody.  The words spoken next by this gracious woman provided an impact that I hope will change me forever. Adams stated,

“I held her hair while she threw up… She needed an ambulance.

She was going into shock. And I couldn’t get an ambulance there. I got yelled at by the police for calling for an ambulance… We got a firefighter’s coat to put on her.”

If we're honest, we, as a society, don't want to relate to this mom; this woman who birthed a gunman. She's not one of us.  Surely she abused him or bought him the gun, we surmise.  We need to believe she hasn't given him the love he needed. If none of those things, we know one thing. She's the mother of a monster,  a species unlike our own.

God bless this woman named Heather who stayed by her side. Thank you that in the midst of this dark tragedy she doesn't ignore the fact that this woman is a suffering mother; someone who wildly drove to the school just like all of the other mothers, barely able to breathe until she could be sure her son was ok. She never got that affirmation.

This story reminds me of one I heard just yesterday. Three teenagers from a neighboring county (who were too young to be driving) snuck out of the house where they were staying.  There was a car accident and one of the passengers, just fourteen years old, lost her life. In usual reckless fashion I read the comments.

Where were the parents?

Who gave them the keys?

This is why you raise your kids right.

At the thought of such pointless loss we fall to our knees and dig our fingers into the soil beneath us, grasping for a piece of solid ground.  We try to explain why it happened.  In the explanation we form, one thing is vital. We reason that this dark thing that has happened? ...it happens with children who don't have good parents. We often think the same with parents whose children get caught sexting or 'drinking and driving' or doing drugs.

Grave mistakes are made and terror is acted out only by children whose parents don't love them. Tragedy occurs because parents hand the keys over to their thirteen year old in the middle of the night encouraging them to go on a joy ride. These things only happen when parents don't teach their kids right from wrong. It only happens to the irresponsible and unloving variety of moms and dads. We tell ourselves such things because we fumble for peace.

My heart goes out to the families of the two children who lost their lives today.  I pray for the kids from Hickory high school, many of whom will likely sleep in their parents' bedroom tonight and will suffer psychologically for years to come. My heart hurts for the family in Mauriceville who will never kiss their daughter goodnight again. My heart is also torn for the family of this boy whose mind turned dark in a way we'll never understand. They're grieving their own loss.

Thank you to the lady in Hickory today who reminded us of that.

Lord grant us a heart big enough to love all those who suffer.



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I wear a number of hats, figuratively speaking.  (I have friends who are cute in baseball caps and winter beanies.  I'm slightly jealous because I look ridiculous in those.) The other hats I wear, for the most part, are the same kind you wear.

I wear the Wife hat, Mom hat, Daughter hat, Sister hat, and Friend hat. I'm comfortable in these forms of attire.  The hats I wear that I'm less comfortable with include being organizer...or speaker... I remember when I was asked to model for a church event five years ago. Hallie came down with the flu just days before the event. I had to back out. I was a little relieved.

Yesterday, in church of all places, another role I play was announced right from the pulpit.

I was called Satan.

My husband, Jason, not only found a way to talk about jelly donuts during his sermon. He managed to compare me to the Father of Lies.

"Any kind of jelly donut is good", he said. "Except for the lemon ones.  Only Satan eats those."

My oldest daughter, Hallie, leaned her body toward me as if waiting for a confession of what she already had occasionally suspected. "Yeah," I whispered. "Lemon is my favorite kind."

At least I'm in good company.  The book of Matthew has just finished telling us that Peter had declared Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of the living God. It isn't long before Peter has to go and mess that up.

Several verses later Jesus explains that he will suffer and be killed, and then also that he will be raised to life three days later. Then Peter rebukes JESUS, the one he just referred to as the Son of the living God. He tells Jesus, "Never Lord!"

This is where Jesus says to Peter,

"Get behind me, Satan! ...you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns." Matthew 16:23

How many times am I consumed by  human concerns rather than the concerns of God?

It's in parenting that I struggle the most with humanity, the extra special mom brand. (Maybe not quite as boldly as Peter) I tell God Nothis can't happen. I get right in front of him with my sword ready to cut off the ear of anyone or anything that threatens the health or happiness of my kids.

Like the Father of lies, I whisper falsehoods in my heart. I tell myself that the only way to fix a problem we face is to fix it myself. I might even pray and hand over the reigns to God. But I almost always take them back.

Without weighing my thoughts on the holy scale, I'm burdened by things that God would tell me not to give a second thought to, if I only listened.

So this morning I write to you as a mother, and as a friend.  I'm writing from my living room, still in my pajamas. I wore them while dropping my youngest, Rylie off at school this morning. I'm Satan in pajamas.

But I'm about to change.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:3