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’m guilty of being sucked into sensational news. I’ve passed this not-so-admirable curiosity on to my youngest who reads tabloid headlines out loud while we wait at checkout to purchase chips and bread. Thankfully, the reporting on a beautiful pod of orcas, or killer whales, has captured my attention over the last two weeks.

You've probably read, or heard, about it. Seventeen days ago, off of the coast of British Columbia, an orca named Tahlequah gave birth to her calf. The calf died shortly thereafter. The touching event that has taken place since has tugged on the world’s heartstrings.

Photo credit-People

“The whale, known as Tahlequah or J35, is one of just 75 Southern Resident killer whales left in the ocean, and her calf — which died minutes after it was born last month — was the group’s first live birth since 2015. Tahlequah has been spotted in waters off the Pacific Northwest multiple times over the past two weeks, often pushing her calf’s corpse through the water or swimming with it balancing on her forehead.

-Here's the kicker-

Other members of the pod have even taken turns carrying its body.”

(according to TIME)

In some capacity we can relate to this mother’s broken heart. We can understand her inability to move on from this insufferable loss.

It’s her pod, though, from who we can gain a valuable lesson. They’re not leaving her to carry her grief alone. Eventually her deceased calf will be abandoned to a watery grave. Not now. Her pod isn't choosing to distract her. They’re not encouraging her to move on. Instead, they’re entering into grief with her; carrying her sorrow as their own.

We’d rather there not be such loss, but we have no control over that. We only are in control of our response.

I’ve had more conversations than I can count, some recently, about the difficulty in knowing what to say or do when it comes to ministering to those suffering loss. The answer is that we never truly know what to say or do.

We can all recount a time when we approached a hurting soul. Maybe we practiced what we’d say, knowing no words existed that could provide healing in that moment. Maybe we hugged extra hard and long, willing our heart to communicate our pain on their behalf.

We might have made a casserole, bought a plant, donated to a Go Fund Me account, or sent a card. Whatever it is that we've said or done, it wasn’t so much about making them forget their sadness, as if that could happen. The note we wrote likely didn't have wisdom to make sense of their situation. Our casserole wasn’t about filling their hungry bellies, as if having their stomach filled eased their pain.

We entered into grief with them. We reminded them that they’re not alone. We offered them a little extra strength to get through the day.

We will never be able to eliminate someone’s grief. We can only hope that we’ll ease it by offering to walk alongside the hurting. We can help carry the unbearable load they bear.

Entering into grief with others isn't pretty. We grapple with words. We're often frightened by this darkness in which we have little light to offer. But sharing in someone's grief is deeply beautiful; and an act of love we're all called to.

Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Romans 15:1

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Some of life's most impacting conversations are short...and in the car. One of those happened today while on the way to the orthodontist and to get a meningitis vaccine for the youngest. We'd been talking about personal strengths and weaknesses. It was Rylie's turn to name mine as we intersected Nederland Avenue.

She was silent for seconds (that seemed more like minutes.) Was she able to think of any of my strengths? Was she wondering whether or not she wanted to say out loud what she thinks I'm not too good at? As we rolled up to Avenue H she casually mentioned my ability to know when they were having a bad day or a hard time with something. I'm perceptive. Check. Good.

She, then a bit nervously, explained my second strength, which in her opinion serves also as a weakness:

"You really want us to be happy. "

That's a good thing for us, she commented. But a bad thing for you, she got out before she changed her mind. She proceeded delicately, trying to explain, but I knew exactly what she meant. And she was right.

I do want them to be happy

-So I discipline them, careful, not to raise my voice. If I do raise my voice, or regretfully huff or roll my eyes at them, I profusely apologize.

Not only that, I explain, in detail, my every decision. You can't be out late tonight with an inexperienced driver because it's been storming and drunk people celebrating the fourth will be out on wet roads (add in 600 more words of reason delivered with a smile.)

I didn't get a fourth and fifth gallon of milk this week because...

Here's why it's totally reasonable for me to ask you to clean your bathroom...

When they're disappointed

-I share statistics that make sense

-I might let them skip a chore

-I remind them how much I love them

-I make sure to say yes to something after I've said no to something else.

I don't neglect to correct my children, I just soften discipline to a fault.

Without discomfort or disappointment there's little opportunity to mature.

I know that!

I've watched my kids suffer rejection and be treated unfairly without trying to fix things because I know that struggle grows them.

In a bold moment one time when wisdom wriggled up my tender heart and out my mouth, I told my oldest that I wanted him and to be happy (but that) his happiness wasn't my main responsibility. The idea was based on truth,

but I was lying through my teeth.

I have made their happiness my main responsibility.

I want them to be happy (most importantly)

I want them to be happy with me!

They can be disappointed with the rest of the world, as broken as it is, but be unhappy with me? I can hardly bare it.

I suffer the thought that they might not think I'm a good parent. What if they don't believe I care about what's best for them, but instead they believe I'm an uncaring, controlling dictator. What if they leave home and never want to come back?

Those thoughts interrupt appropriate parenting, the kind that, does in fact, disappoint and bring about temporary unhappiness.

Knowing is only half the battle. The problem for many of us sissy mamas is that we have to put sweat-producing, muscle-aching practice into what we already know. Our kids will continue to be unhappy with us from time to time and in and out of seasons. That might make us a little unhappy too.

But happiness truly isn't the goal...maturing to completion is... (theirs and ours). We better toughen up and get on with it.


...I will hold you in my arms

And joyful be

There will always, always be

A place for you at my table

Return to me -Josh Garrels

My kids love spaghetti. I’ve never been a fan, but I’ve become even less of a fan in recent years at which point tomato-based dishes started causing volcanic-like activity in my chest. I take a little yellow pill daily that promises to help unless I rebelliously partake of something like spaghetti. Still, I decided to make spaghetti on a morning with an already bursting at the seams schedule. It was a Monday morning at that.

And not just any spaghetti, I searched the internet looking for an award-winning recipe; one that would cause my husband and kids to arise and call me blessed.

One recipe I stumbled upon looked similar to the one my friend Kelly uses, in that the sauce has a hint of sweet and it boasts a strong presence of garlic. Most important, the sauce simmers for four hours. That has to be good, right? Proud that my kitchen was slowly starting to smell like oregano and garlic I took a load of clothes out of the dryer and then I stirred the pot. I quickly washed my hair, and then I stirred; certain that every turn of my wooden spoon would bring my family closer to a memorable experience around my table.

Around a quarter until four I popped two loaves of cheese bread into the oven; watching them closely for ten minutes. I wanted to make sure that they came out of the oven right when the edges were beginning to turn golden brown. Our middle kid, Hallie, a spaghetti lover, walked in the front door after work and joyously joined me in the kitchen. So delighted was she that spaghetti was on the menu that she filled the glasses with ice and got out the silverware without so much as a slight eyebrow furrow at having to help after a long day at work.

To make the dish even better I’d made homemade meatballs. My prideful smile was soft but unmistakable as I stirred the spaghetti noodles into the pot that smelled like love (to borrow a phrase from my husband.)

Something unexpected happened as my spoon made its near one thousandth turn around the pot, some six hours later after that first stir. The noodles I’d just added became uncooperative. Rather than marry with the sauce, they selfishly swallowed it up.

I grabbed the ziploc bag of extra sauce I’d already placed in the freezer and offered it up to the one package of noodles in the pot. I silently begged them to do their job and not embarrass me in front of my people; family who’d turned to spectators; critically, and now impatiently, holding their forks.

Defeated, I plopped a gloppy pile of spaghetti in each bowl hoping that the offering of their favorite accompanying bread would add points to a dish that I knew had fallen short of my expectations, and likely theirs too. I hadn’t even made a vegetable to go with it. My table was set with a meal that lacked appeal and nutritional balance. Once again my efforts had fallen dreadfully short in reaching my expectations. Honestly, I silently lamented not getting the outcome (I believe) my efforts deserved.

That seems to be a trend in life; carefully pouring myself into people and projects. I keep a tally on the time spent, passion poured out, and the fight I encounter along the way. I decide what I believe would be a fair result considering the cost I paid. This trend frequently ends in disappointment. Maybe most recently I’m suffering this disenchantment in parenting.

I long for the days when a sippy cup soothed thirst, exhaustion, or a skinned toddler knee. I remember fondly the magic of the youngest’s silk blanky and how scooping my son up in my arms protected him from danger. Him perched on my hip prohibited him from harm and it kept him from making messes, unlike the time I let him walk alongside the shopping cart in HEB. All it took was a slight extension of his chubby arm to send a row of potted plants to the spotless white tile floor, one by one like dominoes.

My soothing power has lost much of its effectiveness. My plots and attempts to scoop them up no longer removes most opportunity for mess or trouble. The truth is it was never about my ability. Every season and every success has been covered in his grace.

Our effort isn't enough to ensure we get what we work for. Our plans don’t always pan out. Our passion alone won’t heal. Our wisdom isn’t capable of holding all the answers. Things can still go awry when we’ve followed the recipe to the best of our ability. Not even the most zealous commitment level is sure to produce the results we desire (no matter how we tend the pot we’ve made ourselves wholly responsible for).

It is often in our most ardent, heartfelt attempts to do right that we’re brought to our knees in humility. We’re reminded that every bit of desire in us to fix and do good (without the grace of God) yields little fruit, if it doesn’t result in downright failure. It’s particularly in the midst of watching our children stumble, that God picks us up and wipes off our knees (or wipes our tears), reminding us that no matter how much we think our children need us, they need Him, and we need Him. Intent on maturing us in our faith, he helps us increasingly realize how little control we have other those things most important to us and those we love the most. He, however, is in control and he has good plans, plans that will work out.

And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8,9

We’re never so accomplished that we don’t need to be held. Our biggest failure might be not placing our children in the right hands.

May it be Him that we hunger for and may we always acknowledge that it's His table at which we dine.


I flounder between fixing things and waiting for the thing that needs to happen.

A classic example?...The bottle of catsup that sat on my kitchen counter for a day...

(I could do without catsup. My food is adequately flavorful sans catsup, thank you very much.)

Being that catsup continues to exist in my household, there's a simple rule here at the house. You get it out? You put it back up. If only it were that simple.

Yesterday someone felt they needed catsup on their chicken strips, which were perfectly good without it. Despite my instructions to put it away, there it sat this morning; a big reminder of my failure to easily bring about desired results.

This isn't a new problem. I've shaken my head at sock-stuffed shoes left by the couch, a backpack dumped two feet away from its designated basket, and a tube of toilet paper pointlessly taken off its metal roll by the toilet. That's the little stuff. There are harder things plaguing our residence that seek to consume me.

I stared down the catsup bottle as I prepared to go to church. It wasn't going to move itself. Despite a seemingly hopeless situation I had a few options.

1. I could call down said kid that left the catsup out and tell them to put it up (making them do it that second and then clapping sarcastically in mock victory at their accomplishment.)

2. I could pick up that hated bottle of Heinz and put it back in the fridge detesting myself for caving in once again; promising next time to just not buy more catsup.)

3. I could leave the catsup bottle there and wait for the accomplice to 1. notice her mess there on the counter, 2. repent of her actions, and then 3. put the catsup back in its place. Might I say I've tried this one numerous times. I dare say Jesus might return before that would happen.

Still, option three is probably best. My hope is that those I love will grow in their awareness of what is right and their desire to do what is right. My making them do right produces immediate obedience but it doesn't always increase their faithfulness. So many times, when I'm not watching, not harping on them, they go back to problem-making; leaving mess right in my midst.

Please don't think I'm still talking about catsup.

In error, I believe I'm the one to fix it all.

No, they're going to continue to do things that make me shrug my shoulders and ball up my fists in frustration. Where I'm really going with all this is that we're going to be witness to situations that our loved ones are in that make us silently shriek in fear and sorrow.

Some messes, even the messiest ones, are meant to be left alone. There's no need for a Houdini to make trouble disappear. The best solution won't always be accomplished through force.

Disappointment and defeat will offer to be our company while we wait for things to get cleaned up.

We've got to take our eyes off the catsup; our bottled up trouble. Give it a glance, but leave it there. Learn to wait. We can affect change but we can't necessarily produce it. Learn to hope for, what we can't produce.

Besides, we've got our own mess we're leaving on the counter while we're distracted.

...we’d better get on with parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus...—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross,shame, whatever.

When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!

Hebrews 12:1-3 (The Message)


Nadene Griffin moved out of her modest log house this Spring. She moved into Hospice care after ninety-three years of taking caring of everybody else. Nadene is my Meme.

She went to be with Jesus yesterday. I got to see her one last time (on this side of eternity) about a month ago. She looked terribly uncomfortable and drifted in and out of sleep in the bed which had become her final earthly address. It didn’t stop her from being the blessing that she was.

Her room, like every other room in her wing, only held two beds, a tray on wheels, her wheelchair, a chair and a television. Still, she told my mother and sister and I to get ourselves a piece of toast before we sat down (there was no toast.)

I noticed her paper-thin skin as I rubbed lotion on her tiny arms. She had little breath to ask about Jason and the kids though her eyes showed her intent to listen to the stories I had to tell.

After catching her up on my goings on, she remembered out loud that she'd never given my brother the peanut brittle recipe he'd asked for. Between her eyes fluttering open and shut, her mind went again to feeding those she loved as she directed us to check the food in the oven. Worn out, with little energy to spare, and a mind that was playing tricks on her, she was still serving. That's who my Meme was. She was a servant.

In the 1980's she and my Grandad hauled the oldest of us grandkids to campgrounds in Texas and Colorado. We piled into the back of their Chevy truck (with a camper shell) traveling hundreds of miles in comfort on a mattress that fit perfectly in the truck bed. My Meme fed us hot meals at camp. We were never without cookies (Her oatmeal raisin were the best.)

She taught us to serve too. One night the boys would be in charge of snacks (serving cookies and making Kool-Aid) while the girls prepared a devotion. The next night we'd switch. She was a fan of evangelizing and welcomed neighboring campers to our site.

It wasn't long before there were too many grandkids to take along. There were fourteen before the greats and great-greats were around. Not all of the grandkids may have gotten to travel with Meme and Grandad. There was still always plenty of energy inside the walls of her home.

Every Christmas she would have an entire wall full of stockings for the grands. She had notebooks where she would keep up with "who she was getting what". She took the whole year to shop and afford the bounty of gifts she provided.

Every Thanksgiving she served a houseful. Lunch at her house resembled "the feeding of the five thousand." There was always more than enough. Meme was ready for whatever came at her.

Meme was prepared to enter eternity too. She trusted Jesus and made it known that she wanted us to trust him too. We'll see her again someday.

Until then she's left an important legacy. She won't be remembered for a big house, or salon-styled hair, or fancy jewelry. That I know of, she never spoke before crowds or lead marches. But she taught us to serve. She taught us to look to the needs of others, never asking for any attention for herself. In her last days she reminded me that it's never too late nor is there too small a way for us to offer ourselves to one another.

She leaves behind more grands, great grands and great great grands than I have count of at the moment. I believe that there's a little piece of Meme in each us. That's a lot of love. We've got work to do.

Please pray for my Grandad. Their love story is one for the books and I know he misses her.

She is clothed with strength and dignity;

    she can laugh at the days to come.

She speaks with wisdom,

    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

She watches over the affairs of her household

    and does not eat the bread of idleness.

Her children arise and call her blessed;

    her husband also, and he praises her:

“Many women do noble things,

    but you surpass them all.”

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;

    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

Honor her for all that her hands have done,

    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

Proverbs 31:25-31


“Just hold him like a football.”

I’ll never forget those instructions you gave your bachelor buddies on how to hold our firstborn the day he arrived. I know I wasn’t sure what I was doing. You, however, appeared assured.

You were twenty. That's a year younger than our oldest is now. I can't imagine that we knew what we were doing. (I'm still not sure we know.)

As we celebrate you for Father’s Day I have to tell you just how much your assurance has come to mean not only to the kids, but to me. Here are a few things you continue to teach our family.

1.Kind of like you told your friends that October afternoon, you tell me to hold tight. Not all things look exactly like we planned or prayed. You’ve taught me patience and trust.

2.Let go. There are things we hang on to. You teach us there are things to let go of too. I'm learning to let go of what people think and not to worry so much about having unchecked items on our list.

3.Don’t complicate things. Some things can be left simple even if they aren’t easy. Not every thought and decision needs to be dissected, studied or analyzed.

4.Reign in the drama. Our kids aren’t perfect. We aren’t perfect. Neither are we doomed at every wrong turn. Not every decision is make it or break it.

5.Reserve drama for more fun ventures like using silly alternate voices when making the kids clean up or do a chore.

6.Don’t miss an opportunity to laugh (boisterously, or like a villain.)

7.Stay young. (You have more grays than I do, but you’ve retained a youthfulness in your maturity. I adore it.) The kids enjoy it too.

8. “Let your yes be yes and your no be no”... (Well you didn’t come up with that, it's scripture, but you’re really good at it.) You give a strong guilt-free no. I admire that. Thank you for steadying my wishy-washiness and calming my seasickness when I’m tossed about.

9.Don’t explain so much. (I’m tempted to explain this, but I won’t.)

10.Enjoy the kids. We teach them. We take care of them. We guide them. But if we neglect to enjoy them, we miss them for the God-given grace gift that they are.

I wasn’t so sure of your advice then, but looking back you were a natural. Designed to be so many things I’m not, you’ve not just been the other parent. Sure you’re a good father. What I’m trying to say is that you make me a better mother.

Happy Father’s Day!

Ms Marge always had bright-colored dangly earrings. Back in the day she was a radio deejay in Marlin, Texas. I found that out one day while she sat on my couch with one long lanky leg swung over the other.

When my family met her she was retired and lived in a trailer in our subdivision. She was hard of hearing, but she was a great listener. I'd like to say Ms Marge would drop by our house to visit me, but I know better.

Ms Marge was a dear friend to both of my daughters. Rylie, though only about three, would sit still on the couch right beside Ms Marge. With her right thumb in her mouth, her left hand was touching or else gently batting at whatever earrings Ms Marge was wearing. Ms Marge bought her her first apron and mixer. It was Ms Marge who inspired a four year old Rylie to become a cooker.

Hallie and Ms Marge had a dear friendship too. Ms Marge and a delightful crew of ladies from our church threw Hallie a surprise party for her tenth birthday. These ladies, the Ladybugs (as they called themselves), gave Hallie a ladybug necklace making her somewhat of a mascot. She was their Babybug.

Everyone should have a Ms Marge. Or maybe a Ms Irleen who invites them to her house weekly for a month to bake and decorate cakes. They could have a Ms Carolyn who steps in every year as an honorary grandma for Grandparent's Day and goes to lunch with them every year for a back to school celebration.

Every girl needs a Ms Ruth to give her special hugs who remembers her on her birthday and every Christmas.

A girl could use a solid, Christian college-age friend named Rebecca who texts them every now and then to check in and see how life is treating them.

My girls have been blessed with these dear friends, and many, many more. These ladies weren't peers and they weren't family. They chose to be a part of my daughters' village and their impact has been invaluable.

I passionately believe that every girl needs an older girl or lady to invest in them (who didn't have to.)

Its summer. Calendars are a little more open. So here's your chance...a worthy mission. Find a girl! She could be your neighbor, a girl at your church, your niece, someone whose mom works long hours (or isn't around at all.) Take her to get a shake or to go see a movie.

Better yet, I know a good book you could get her and read with her.

Share your life experiences. Listen to hers. Be the friend she didn't know she needed. You just might find a purpose you didn't know you had.

Just as a mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.

1 Thessalonians 2:7,8

I'm ordering shirts next Friday for Village Girls and ladies. They're $20 and super comfy.


This week we finished up our "Village Girl" Book Study. As I told a friend, I could sit down with a perfect stranger rattling on for an hour about how beautiful of a thing this group has been to me. My heart has tripled in size.

When planning our last meeting I told myself I was going to take a chill pill before we gathered. For this last meeting I wanted to hear the girls talk more and wanted to provide them with some free time to peg each other with Nerf darts in my front yard after we finished our six week session on kindness and other virtues.

But as the days got closer I knew I had to get one more lesson in, a lesson that they needed...Maybe it was something you and I need to be reminded of too.

A few months ago I observed something common. A girl I'm fond of walked up to a group of girls who were already deep into conversation. This is a tight group of girls I might add. They spend a ton of time together. When they're together they're surely in their comfort zone.

I quickly noticed that the girl who approached them began to pace the outer perimeter looking for a physical opening where she could stand amongst them rather than remaining on the outside. This was unsuccessful. She eventually walked over to two other girls who were talking. She joined that group and all was well (for as long as I watched.)

As I reflected on group one, it became apparent to me that they hadn't intentionally excluded the girl. Their circle was formed so tightly that they likely hadn't noticed her. This happens all too often.

After spectating, this whole great idea of something called a movable part began to form in my head. I later encouraged the girl who had chosen to join another group. By leaving the group that you weren't able to fit into, you acted as a movable part, I cheered her on. You found that there was another place where you fit nicely, but that doesn't mean you should stay just there. Be a movable part rather than a stationary part of a group or circle.

In the days leading up to this last Village Girl meeting, I decided that all girls needed to be reminded of the value in being a movable part and I knew just the way to show them.

I ran to the mall looking for a single glow stick necklace. Instead, Target provided me with a tube full of fifty glow stick bracelets...EVEN BETTER. I used one as a demonstration and handed out the others as a reminder.

Not letting any imagery go to waste, we talked about how a glow stick is still a glow stick when it comes out of the package, but it increases in purpose after being broken and shaken. Much like a glow stick, our own lives are something to behold when we've been broken and yet we become increasingly light-giving in spite of (actually because of) the shaking we endure.

-Back to being a movable part-

I attached a glow bracelet using the connector provided.

Here you have a circle, I told them. This represents the comfortable group of peers we hang out with. An extremely valuable part of this circle is the moveable part, the piece of plastic that joins the circle. You can settle on being a permanent part of a circle or you can choose to be this piece right here.

By being a movable part, you can open up the circle and invite an outsider in.

By being a movable part, you can remove yourself from a circle that has become unhealthy. This can be necessary (at least temporarily) when the group you're in is participating in something like gossip or in unkind treatment of someone inside or outside the group.

By being a movable part you can traverse and become parts of different groups as is fit. You might find someone alone or discouraged. Use your movable part to form a two person circle. As you relate to new people you'll learn new things. You'll become bolder. You'll become more compassionate as you hear about others' experiences. Your life (and the lives of others) will be richer for for your finely-fashioned flexibility.

Being a movable part isn't always the most comfortable choice, but it's the right choice. Jesus had his twelve, but loving on the least and the lost and the far away was his mission. He taught these close friends to do the same.

Come follow me...and I will send you out to fish for people. Mark 1:17

Talk to your kids about the importance of being a movable part. Encourage them to branch out. Teach them the value of being friendly in a world full of people who could use a friend. Make sure your own friendliness reaches out, finding purposeful ways to connect.

May the Lord make your love increase

and overflow for each other

and everyone else. 1 Thessalonians 3.12


My Target run Saturday turned into a grueling two hour stint. I was on a mission to grab a few things. Here's the list.

I knew each item would be easy to throw in the basket, with the exception of two things: wonder and a dress.

I had no idea what wonder was supposed to be. Autocorrect changed whatever it was I'd needed. For the life of me I couldn't remember.

The other sure to be difficult item I was shopping for was a dress. I don't like wearing dresses (which is likely odd for a preacher's wife.) In addition to finding dresses uncomfortable is my thought that there seems to be a junior section and then a business dress/mumu section. I just can't make myself do any of those.

After shopping for more than two hours I got everything on the list except for a dress and the mystery item, wonder. In place of wonder I got a bag of M&Ms and a package of Snickers that were on sale. It seemed appropriate at the time.

I checked out and rolled the shopping cart back into line before getting behind a small family who insisted upon walking horizontally (where I couldn't get around them.). So I walked behind them out the doors and into the parking lot.

In classic fashion I fumbled for my keys at the car even though I'd placed them in the blue zipper bag in my purse in effort to make them easy to find. My bags were getting heavier and more bundle-some as I searched.

I opened the car door, relieved, only to be slapped in the face by a paper that decided to escape its home in the backseat. The wind obliged the escapee's decision to flee and sent it up and out of my grasp. I had to immediately choose what I'd do.

Would I try to untangle the bags (which were wrapped around my wrist like a maze) so that I could chase the paper down?

Would I run after the paper, bags in tow?

Would I shrug and go about my business as usual, putting the bags in the seat and then leave?

Not having a desirable option I just stood there emphatically and watched the paper gracefully floating beyond my grasp (which I guess means I littered, but try to stick with me here.) It was clear to me that it was out of my reach. No amount of grappling would have enabled me to have stopped its flight.

I was helpless to my circumstances. Something was happening beyond myself, so I did the thing I could...I watched. And I was in awe.

My husband Jason and I celebrated our 23rd anniversary yesterday. He and I have always took time to celebrate one another...on Fridays, in flirty texts and with goodnight kisses. The years are still flying by.

I wrote a note on my daughter's lunch this morning reminding her that she's on the brink of seniordom. It's not a surprise to us.

The other two children are changing quickly even I though I keep excellent records of their height, and their latest goings-on.

Time passes us by even when we chase it, trying to force it to cease, or at least pause.

There comes a time when we realize that we're the only one's we can still. Sometimes our only choice is to watch beauty as it slips through our hands.

Maybe wonder was supposed to be on my list after all.

You is smart. You is kind. You is important.

If you've seen The Help, you remember these lines. Aibileen Clark recited these words of love to the child whom she was responsible for taking care of . The child's own mother was dismissive. A little blond toddler with unkempt hair, the little girl appears to be lacking nurture and words of affirmation from her mama. We would never be that kind of mom.

We want our kids to feel loved and able. So we make mention of the beautiful things we recognize in them. Compliments are easy to give and they don't cost a thing.

Or do they?

Long ago I'd decided that I wouldn't compliment my daughters on their beauty. I didn't want their appearance to be something they focused too much on. I didn't want them comparing themselves to other girls. I didn't want their opinion of themselves to depend on good hair, the perfect waist size or a pretty face. Beauty that has value, we know, comes from the inside.

I did my best not to puff them up about how they looked. God has reminded us all that though man looks at the outward appearance, ... the Lord looks at the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7)

But us mamas? We're good puffers. If we're not filling them with one kind of empty words, we'll often fill them with another. It comes natural to us.

Destruction is natural too.

After my recent observation of a mess up, I'm doing a major clean up on aisle nine.

I have instinctive inventory of the things I admire in my girls. We all do. I'm aware of their character strengths... and I let them know.

In one of my daughters, I see a resilient strength. Her ability to fall down and get back up, seemingly unscathed, is something to behold. I made sure and told her how much I love that about her. Not just once, but every time she tried something and it didn't go as planned. I saw it as a way of seeing victory in loss. I know you didn't get picked..., but the way you just continue to smile and try for the next thing inspires me.

I felt confident in this genius style of parenting until the time she didn't get picked for something she'd worked hard for and then didn't tell me for a day. Even worse she told her dad first before letting me know about this rejection she'd experienced.

In asking her why she didn't confide in me she told me that she didn't want to disappoint me. A "broken-up her" didn't fit into my that's my strong girl narrative. And because of that she waited to find her own strength before telling me.

And so here we have another post that presents a problem more than a clear answer. How do we affirm and encourage our children without making them shaky, without them thinking... I am (a good kid/ a strong kid/ a kind kid) but sometimes I'm not. And when I'm not, it's not ok. I've got a reputation to uphold... I don't want to be a disappointment. My parents can't handle that.

Surely our kids know we love them. We love them in their quirkiness and cranky stages. We love them in their failings, especially then.

Our love for them is independent of what we love about them. We can be open with them about their strengths, but we have to be open with them about their frailty too. We have to let them know, that we know they're weak sometimes. And that that's ok. Time has to be spent without them being the focus of the conversation at all.

And of course we have to recognize our own frailty as parents, making sure that we allow God to inform them of who they are. He does such a better job of it.

Remember my affliction and my wandering, the wormwood and bitterness. Surely my soul remembers and is bowed down within me. This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. The LORD'S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. "The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I have hope in Him."

(Lamentations 3:19-24)