You'd never see me eating them now, but in early 2001, you'd likely find alfalfa sprouts in my fridge. I'd stuff them in a pita pocket for lunch while thinking about nachos during my pregnancy with our second child (our first girl.)

I didn't crave them. Yuck. I'd just decided to tolerate them because I was determined to mother like a rockstar, after having winged it with our firstborn. I winged it so bad as a first time mother that I drank lots of Big Red because I thought it had less caffeine than Dr Pepper.

Nope. This time I was going to do it all right. I'd have structured bedtime and rocking time and (just like I had with Hayden,) I'd read her so many books.

She'd be like one of those little doe-eyed porcelain Precious Moments figurines I collected in high school. I was going to raise a hug-loving little Mother Teresa in pink.

Nobody told me that alfalfa sprouts were a culprit for carrying food borne illnesses like e. coli and that pregnant women shouldn't eat them. Nobody warned me that daughters will hardly ever ask us to read aloud the daughter manual we wrote. Nobody taught me that a small, dainty-looking package such as Hallie would hold an uncontainable spirit. But on March 1, Hallie was born and I began a journey of learning.

From the get-go Hallie wouldn't want to be cuddled or coddled. As a tiny baby she hardly tolerated being rocked. As a toddler and preschooler she'd shoo me away from her self-initiated timeout and, later, her bedside when she was sick with pneumonia. "I love you, now can you get out of here?", she'd ask one night when I tried to crawl in her bed while she had pneumonia.

She was never a conformist. Along with a clothes rack of princess dresses, Hallie had a basket of high heels and accessories. She'd put on a Snow White costume, don the heels and then she'd put a crown on. Invariably, she'd wear it upside down. Once when I protested, she told me she was the mean queen. She wasn't mean though. It's just that not all princesses are frilly or aim to please. Some princesses are warriors; on a path unmarked by Disney or fondly told fairytales.

I'd teach her to be like me. I was thrifty. (A clearance shopper.) ...Someone who'd give the shirt off my back to someone who had no need or desire for my shirt. More than money, I'd spend myself, offering my currency unwisely. Instead, she'd belt out the lyrics to "I wanna be a rich girl" after hearing the song for the first time in her aunt's car.

It wasn't that she was stingy. It was more about her being in charge of what was hers. It was more about her giftedness in handing over all things wholeheartedly when she did give, not out of compulsion or manipulation. I would be unsuccessful in teaching her to be a little me. In her unwavering nature she'd make me into a better me.

She would be about as interested in letting me fight her battles as she was letting me give friendship advice or fix her hair. She took the big box of advice, styling tools and political opinions, and after making a few mental notes, ever so politely gave the full box right back to me.

I prepared for sugar and got a lot more spice.

She's now turning eighteen. She stands tall at 5'4; an invisible upside-down warrior crown on her beautiful blonde head that was born light brown. She mostly knows what she wants and doesn't fear the parts she doesn't know yet. She's fierce and fiercely loved. And it's a love that will never stop growing.

Our children. Yet not ours,

Whom no one can possess

For all the future holds

Good or Ill

They are their own

Unless dear Lord, unless

By miracles of grace and mercy infinite

They are possessed by Thee

And so become more their own

By being Thine

Minton Johnson


It seems to be the month of tryouts and contests. I don’t remember February being so stressful before.

Of course when our son, the oldest, was in school he tried out for all the sports teams. There wasn’t one big make it or break it moment, rather a series of “break its”. He survived, and just as science tells us that broken bones grow back stronger, so did he. I was just thinking the other day how grateful I am that his reaction to disappointment has matured.

Call me strange, but I was relieved when our middle, Hallie decided that she didn’t want to try out for anything; not twirling, not basketball, not student council or UIL.

Her indifference to belonging to a team (or maybe even her decision to abstain from risk-taking) kept me from the worry that she’d be disappointed when the results seemingly weren’t in her favor. Of course we both learned that you can’t avoid rejection. You often won’t be picked in life, even if you don’t tryout.

Rylie, our youngest, has a difficult nature in that she has her father's boldness and sense of adventure and my tenderness. This means that she tries everything (non-rhythm related) and then gets temporarily broken up when her attempts don't result in social victory.

UIL contests and track tryouts are happening this week. Some kids will take home an excellent ribbon or news that that they earned a spot on one of the relay teams. Other kids are getting in the car after school with a brave face to initially hide the fact that their efforts weren't enough.

I'm not sure, though, that the stakes are anywhere so high this week (and last) as for those who are trying out for the school's dance team or cheerleading squad. I've learned in nearly eight years of living here in Nederland that dance particularly (and I suppose cheer too) come in size 4T. The hope to dance or cheer someday, before your entire community, starts young and grows wild.

I doubt many young girls dream of breaking the school's long jump record or earning a place on the school's science team, but many do dream of donning those famed white boots the Westernaires wear. Many a first grader practices a cheer jump in hopes of someday finding her place on the sidelines at football games. I get it.

I know so many faithful moms who give generously to support their daughters' dreams; taking them to dance class fifty days a year (many, double or triple that). They encourage their girls with a happy recognition of their giftedness. They do everything in their power to prepare them to be successful (as do moms of boys and non-dance girls).

Last week there were a lot of anxious and disappointed moms. This week's the same, because moms know that hopes and dreams don't always become reality. What we see as preparedness and giftedness isn't always reflected on the score card. Your kids name may not end up on the team list.

I don't have a daughter trying out, but I do know the sting of that rejection from my own middle school tryouts for drill team. I also suffered the weight of delivering disappointment to hopeful-faced middle school girls one year when I hesitantly agreed to serve as junior high cheer sponsor.

My heart goes out to those of you whose daughter has tried out, or is trying out. I can imagine that you're a ball of angst, or if your daughter received hard news last week, that you're still staggering from the blow. Your pain is equal to her fear or sorrow (or both) times two. A Mom heart, like the womb, gets stretched, and carries more.

Just know that I'm praying for you this week. I'm thinking, in my own relatively comfortable state, that these difficult hours will be in your rear view mirror in time. Your opportunity to respond to your daughter's disappointment or victory won't be nearly as long as the time you had to prepare them for tryouts. I'm praying that you'll use those important hours to re-instill in her the value she has, that stands with or without a spot on the team.

I'm hoping that you'll tow the line in showing her she's treasured without promoting a sense of self-importance, instead inspiring a gracious spirit inside your already gifted girl.

This might be your hardest, yet most important work yet.

Cheering for you and your daughter (awkwardly on the sidelines),

A fellow mom with two daughters full of hopes and dreams

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 1 Corinthians 4:7

1 Comment

Jason, my husband of nearly twenty-four years, has always kept marriage fun. I'm pretty nice, but also kind of mouthy. When he brings up a subject and sees my jaw drop open with a prepared message of objection he cuts me off,

"Submit, woman!"

He's also reminded me several dozen times that Sarah called her husband Abraham, lord.

Before I paint Jason with a wide brushstroke let me mention (for those who don't know him), that his lifestyle is one of constant sacrifice. He puts his families' needs before his own. He just seasons his speech with a bit of humor.

He's honestly so good to me that all I can logically do when he demands my submission is give him an exaggerated eye roll, and then I push up my sleeves so that we can figure out how he and I can work with each other, and for each other.

Submit has become quite the ugly word. Culture promotes the idea of "you do you". Climb the ladder. Concentrate on what makes you happy/successful. You do what you (alone) think is right. Just keep running your own hamster wheel, surely you'll get to your desired destination all...by...yourself.

We're taught to fiercely protect our own best interests as if God hadn't designed life to be lived in relationship. I know what's good for me. I'll choose my own path.

Scripture says otherwise.

God's word tells us,

There is a way that seems right to a man,
    but its end is the way to death.

Proverbs 14:12

The Bible is full of instructions on how to live. We're to live according to what the Bible says is good. We're also subject to showing others what God says is good, and doing for others what scripture says we're to do.

We know wives are supposed to live in submission. Husbands? Yes, them too.

Are we to live in submission to others outside our household? Yes. Yes. Yes. Scripture tells us we're to submit to our elders, to leaders (including governing authorities) and to every human institution.

Sounds a little confining...if we don't truly know what it means to submit.

The Greek lexicon tells us that the word submission has both a military and and non military definition. Non-military submission is defined as a voluntary attitude of

  1. cooperation
  2. assuming responsibility
  3. carrying a burden
  • Can we say we practice these three? Maybe. If we agree with (and like) the person we're submitting to.
  • A commentary on Ephesians chapter 5 described submission as living in humility; giving others what Christ says we owe them.

    Submission is commanded for those at the top and bottom of the food chain and totem pole/household/faculty etc. What we're giving up in submission is our own way and the notion that we're self sufficient.

    • In submission one speaks truth to another because Christ says we owe others the truth.
    • In submission, one listens.
    • Being subject to another, one learns and then gives biblically based direction. The other accepts that guidance.
    • In submission one selflessly offers a helping hand. And it's in submission that one takes it.

    We have to stop despising leadership and those in governing authority. True submission is a seesaw. We are subject to one another. In Christ's way, no one stays hovered over the other. We owe one another not what they demand, but what Christ shows us we owe them.

    No one's off the hook...thankfully. Because it's through submission that we each honor Christ and appropriately participate in changing our own life for the better. Submission improves the condition of our families' and makes an eternal impact on the world around us.


    (Photo credit: Daily Wire)

    Updated note to readers:

    I've received a couple of messages this morning. I'm afraid I might not have clearly communicated that I watched the video concerning the boys from Covington High in its almost two hour entirety. I'm very much in support of them; so much so that I've written emails and contacted the school voicing my support.  This post was intended to speak to our response, as believers, to controversial events. I believe that there are times we're called to get involved, and that our responses ought to always be seasoned with grace (unlike those who impulsively attacked these boys with name calling and threats.) We're all often guilty of either responding emotionally or turning our head the other way to these kinds of situations., to those things we strongly believe. 

    Last night my family went to the movies; something we never do on a Monday, but we'd been waiting for the "Glass" sequel and took the first opportunity we had to see it. I'd barely got comfy in my luxury lounger when I noticed that my son and his girlfriend were shining the light on their phone underneath their seat.

    He had dropped his phone under the chair and was having a hard time reaching it. Undaunted, I stuck my hand under the chair and patted around the dark, sticky floor, touching pieces of popcorn, straw wrappers and lost Mike and Ikes. I finally grabbed the sucker and waved it victoriously in the air at Hayden who'd gone to the row behind to try and reach it from a different angle.

    It was when I sat back down in my lounger that I realized my neck hadn't liked the way I'd contorted it to get to the phone. As the previews started, I was in pain. I grabbed the side of my head and pulled gently to the side; a stretch I'd learned in physical therapy years before. Those neck stretches saved me.

    I wondered if I should have stepped in to get the phone. I'm pretty sure at some point they would have figured out how to reach it themselves. Maybe my getting the phone was just the right thing for me because this morning it's serving as a reminder of what we have to do sometimes in a sticky situation.

    Have you read the news lately? Watched it? If you have you'll know that the world is in a number of fighting matches regarding "toxic masculinity" and racism (to mention a few things.) I've come to a point where I don't expect most media outlets to be honest. Some have become the guy at a fighting match who offers a fold up chair to the fighters in the ring so that they can smash it over their opponent's head. It disgusts me, but it doesn't surprise me anymore.

    What does surprise me are the responses I hear from believers (both people who mention their identity in Christ, and those who I know are Christ followers.) In the past few days I've heard people who I love boldly claim that someone who supports Trump can't be a Christian. I've read comments that, maybe unintentionally, lump all men together as being sex-crazed cavemen. Likewise, I've heard sad comments from conservative mouths that seem to put all immigrants into a group that more resembles wild animals than people searching for a better life. We can argue for them pursuing citizenship legally and still acknowledge their dignity.

    As ridiculous as I am, I got on Facebook again this morning and listened to an interview with four boys from Covington Catholic High (I hope that any of you who are aware of the incident at the Lincoln Memorial this past weekend have watched the full video. I know we still might come to different opinions.

    Regarding the Covington boys, there are people that are wishing that these boys would be raped by their priests, placed in a wood chipper, locked inside their school and burned, amongst other disgusting things. Hopefully there's not a single believer who would wish them (or the other parties involved) harm. The world needs more people who can be passionate without aggression or violence.

    I believe we can disagree on whether not these boys' behavior (to whom these comments were made online) was inappropriate. I would hope a place that all believers could come to an agreement is that threats are wrong, as is commenting that people who don't act as we think they should aren't Christian.

    If we think there won't be people in heaven who've supported Trump, or for that matter, Hillary supporters, then I'm not sure we're very aware of the magnitude of our depravity or of the saving grace of Jesus. I think we'd all be surprised if we really knew how many things each of us have wrong. We all have a long way to go in terms of repentance.

    Of course these conversations aren't best held from behind screens. They're better had around a table. We aren't called to join every debate or social media war. But, sometimes a light shines on a sticky situation and we know that it's our responsibility to get involved...to stand.

    When we do , are we standing up with a closed fist or are we reaching out in humility, maybe even on our knees, in love...even when it's an uncomfortable stretch?

    We will work with each other
    we will work side by side
    And we will guard each other's dignity
    And save each other's pride -
    "By our Love"

    ...and they'll know we are Christians by our love

    By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." John 13:35

    Tamales or hotdogs? I wondered to myself as I got in the car after church today. I wasn't sure if I had enough hotdogs to feed everybody who would be at our house so I called our middle kid, Hallie, who'd already had time to get home with our thirteen year old, Rylie.

    I asked,

    Would you look and see how many hotdogs are in the package in the fridge?

    I can't, she explained. We're at a raid.

    I smiled and told her to carry on and text me when she got home.

    Had you told me before this year that my kids would be out loitering, admittedly at a raid, I'd likely be upset, or at least confused. These days when they're running the streets together I know they're playing Pokémon Go, and I'm perfectly happy with it.

    In case you're not hip to Pokémon Go, here's how lifehacker.com describes it.

    In Pokémon, monsters roam the lands, and your job is to find, capture, and train them. Then you put them in battle against other players...The game works by using your phone’s GPS for your real-world location and augmented reality to bring up those cool-looking Pokémon on your screen, overlaid on top of what you see in front of you.

    ...me, that time I caught a bulbasaur...

    I haven't always been grateful for Pokémon. Thirteen years ago our oldest, Hayden found a Pokémon trading card (the original card game that started the Pokémon craze) at my grandmas house. There were several cards lying on the ground where an older cousin had left them. An older teenager, this cousin was moving on to bigger and better things and told Hayden to take those cards (and several others he had tucked away somewhere.)

    It's more than a decade later. Pokémon has made the move with us to three different houses. It's provided all three kids with hours of entertainment and plenty of questions to bug me with. Mama, who do you think is more powerful, a charmander or eevee?

    I still have no idea how to play, but I'll throw some terms to show you, and my kids, that I'm at least superficially aware of what they've been playing: •trainer •points •trade •water/fire/plant •energy •attacks •Pikachu, Jigglypuff (Jigglypuff just so happened to be a Pokémon name I heard no less than a thousand times on a worn out Pokémon episode.)

    There were cartoons, stuffed animals and DS games and an entire aisle in Target where you could buy trading cards in a foil pack or in bulk with a specially priced anniversary tin. I was glad when Hayden and Hallie were both in the phase at the same time and could occupy each other. The downside would be that upon graduating from the Pokémon obsession, he'd passed the love for all things Pokémon on to Hallie.

    Rather than delighting in unicorns or barbies, birthday requests during those preteen years included the Pokémon Ruby version for her Nintendo DS.

    Now we have Pokémon Go. And my girls go on raids where they temporarily ditch life's worries and demands, and in childlike innocence escape to a world where life plays by simple rules.

    They cruise to fast food parking lots and the Masonic Lodge. They go to the park and take walks while on the lookout for monsters they can battle...together.

    I don't know how much longer this phase will last. I don't know if I'll ever understand Pokémon and it's rules of training, and playing and winning. They don't choose to include me in it anymore. I'm just glad that it's been a part of my children's growing (most importantly alongside one another). It's a game that exceeds my understanding, but has earned my delight.


    Why is it that I always have the most to say when I have the least opportunity to say it? I'm smack in the middle of a dozen projects on the cusp of a new year.

    2019 is about to roll in and I think I'm ready for it. I've a host of things I'm happily waving goodbye to. I've a big collection of beautiful things (some of them hard things) that go in life's treasure box. In it are hard fought battles and lessons learned.

    Because I'm pressed for time here are three thoughts that are duking it out in my head, this last day of December.

    Find a new dream.

    I found this jewel yesterday in my youngest' room. I found a lot of stuff in there. More to come on that. But how ironic is this? Never give up on a dream just... And then she quits!

    Seriously though, not every dream will be realized. Do dream. Just keep in mind...Not every dream should come to fruition. Some dreams are for tucking away; thankful that they came and danced over you for a while.

    Consult the dream maker. His plans are wilder and far better than anything we could come up with. Stick with obedience and faith. The results will win out over any dream we can think up.

    You never know what's under someone's bed.

    I spent hours cleaning out my youngest' room yesterday. I mean we cleaned out the calf-high pile of junk in her closet. We cleaned off shelves and went through drawers. I sat near her with a garbage bag as she pulled out old water bottles and dusty divorced socks from the abyss under her bed. I consoled her as she parted with a number of her stuffed animals that had stitching where she'd cut them to practice her sewing skills...Maybe a future doctor?

    I invited my my husband, Jason to come see the progress today. He'll eventually go peek in the room, but he won't understand. If I showed him the eight garbage bags in the garage he might get a better idea. Still, he'll never appreciate the magnitude of work that was done on that room. Neither would you. Onlookers hardly ever know, much less fully appreciate, the blood, sweat, and tears that a person sheds to get through a mess.

    We do best to keep that in mind with those we come into contact, and those we pass up on our street and in the grocery store.

    Everybody's got a mess somewhere that's out of sight to you. They're living with it, either doing their best to ignore its unhealthy presence or else fighting it with all they've got, seemingly alone and maybe even ashamed. We're all busy, but we could all spend a little more time in contact with those around us. Maybe they'll let us see their mess and we'll be able to celebrate with them when it's overcome. Maybe we can even help them unite a sock duo in the cleanup.

    Tell your story.

    I know. I harp on this subject, but I can't help myself. God writes the BEST stories. The past week I was able to travel down memory lane. My Granny, who is in glory, was there in this old painting I found. Years ago it hung in a cheap frame in her bathroom above the tabloids that were stacked on the back of her toilet.

    I never knew she painted it. I honestly didn't give it much attention. It was just there. How many hours did she put into it? Why did she paint it? I wish I'd known to ask. For now, I'll reframe her painting and hang it up in my house. Maybe if I listen hard enough it will talk.

    I visited with my 93 year old Grandad on Wednesday. Man, does he have stories to tell! These days few of them are true. He told of traveling to every country on the globe and about being born in Paloduro Canyon.

    He told us as we were leaving that he was getting ready to travel again with the five star general. I listened intently because his story proved that there's still a twinkling personality (a sense of adventure) in that frail body covered up by a flannel blanket. And I partly listened out of regret that I let so many years pass without taking the time to really listen to all the things he had to say.

    So tell stories in 2019. And maybe more important, listen. Ask questions. God speaks to us through others and to others through us.

    More than anything, don't neglect to talk to Jesus and to listen to Him too. He takes what seems senseless and makes a new and beautiful song that makes our days a little more merry and bright, even though Christmas is tucked away.

    See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? Isaiah 43:19

    Happy 2019

    There were 300 miles left to go. We'd already driven through a few towns. We were practically the only ones on the usually crowded highway. It was still dark and the fog was thick.

    Every few minutes headlights were visible. Christmas lights, the large bulb kind, were strung across two poles towering over a fireworks stand on the side of the road. Beside the stand was a small marquis advertising Roman Candles for New Year festivities. Restaurant signs in town added blurs of color in the otherwise fuzzy night palette.

    It was early Christmas morning. Most everyone was still in bed; any visions of sugarplums had quit dancing hours ago. But we were wide awake; moving ahead, our sight sorely limited. We trudged on though darkness surrounded us.

    Darkness. It's a word that we're unlikely to talk much about but at Christmas, but darkness was, in fact, the setting for the first Christmas. Darkness can become our Christmas setting too. Fires claim houses. The news of a car accident taking three young lives (and forever changing the lives of others) seizes the whole town. Cancer steals the life of one who brought so much light into this world. Loneliness makes its presence known.

    It's not that such tragedy and heartache isn't so difficult in July. It's the fact that Christmas brings about merrymaking, and merrymaking and bright colored packages stand in stark contrast to unbearable loss.

    "It makes me feel split in two." I told my friend. Even when safe in our own boat we're surrounded by a world of sorrow. We're still tender from a battle we recently fought. We're crushed at the hurt around us. Darkness and light battle it out.

    "How does anyone live their days without hope?", we wonder.

    Hope is what keeps us afloat. There are dotted blurs of light placed on our path reminding us that there's something out there beyond the abyss. It won't be dark forever.

    The sun is sure. We trust in its presence even when it's warm rays aren't felt, or seen. The coming of Christ is something we can trust in too.

    He entered the darkness. And as the choir sang at candlelight service, darkness fell. Sure a degree of darkness visits us with each twenty-four hour rotation of this temporary globe. It invades our heart as it takes from us those things we love. But the darkness has been overcome. Someday it will be gone for good. There's singing under my breath this morning.

    All is well all is well 
    Angels and men rejoice 
    For tonight darkness fell 
    Into the dawn of love's light

    We're offered an eternity without darkness. Until then there are flickers of light all around us.



    I, at least briefly, think about the shepherds every Christmas season. Usually it’s either when I’m putting out my dollar store nativity or else when I’m putting a certain ornament on the tree. My friend and fellow kid's choir leader, Lisa, gave me the shepherd ornament to remember the Christmas play we did one year. Hayden was the shepherd for our children’s Christmas musical when he was four.

    He was given a few instructions for his minor part. He was told where to stand. He was reminded to sing. And he was encouraged to smile. His biggest part was one line that he was supposed to say when “the angels came to visit.”

    “Let us go to Bethlehem and see this child.”

    Eighteen years later I still distinctly hear him saying those words in his tiny hick voice. (Probably because we'd rehearsed them a hundred times.)

    Did he really know what he was saying? In the midst of practices and our arranging the cattle and sheep, and the angels, and Mary and Joseph, did I give much thought to why sheep herders were the first to hear the news?

    Luke 2 tells us about the shepherds. We're not given their names or their genealogy. We're not told how many of them there were. All we're really told is that the field they were in was in the vicinity of where Mary and Joseph and newborn Jesus were.

    And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. Luke 2:8

    The shepherds hold a special place in the Christmas story, but here's what I'm thinking.

    1. The shepherds likely didn't recognize they had a calling an hour before the angel visit. (I doubt they found themselves saying, "Jethro, something feels different about tonight." or "Do you ever wonder if you're meant for something more than sheep watching?"

    2. They might not have been nobility, but they had responsibilities; responsibilities that took a backseat to worshiping Christ's coming (Luke 2:16 says, "They hurried."). They dropped what they thought had mattered (in their case, their livelihood) to take part in the important event. They also spread the the word (when they had seen him) in such a way that all who heard were amazed. Were they eloquent or gifted storytellers or was it just such a good story?

    3. Did they even comprehend who He was? Using a parent/teacher tactic the angel took great care to describe in three ways who it was that had been born in that manger (for those who didn't get it the first time.) Born to you is the:

    • Savior
    • Messiah
    • Lord

    I wonder about the names of the shepherds. Did they know much about the prophecy? Were they good shepherds? Were they good men?! Were they worthy of being chosen to be the first visitors and then heralds of the best news ever, short of the empty tomb news?

    I'm not sure any of that matters as much as the simple fact that there in Bethlehem a savior was born...and to no credit of their own... the shepherds were nearby.

    Because of his coming, we all have a nearby Jesus. That, in and of itself lands us a calling that takes priority over any other purpose we might think we have. Who He is exceeds our comprehension, but we have an inkling.

    What will we do with His presence?

    What will we do with what we know of Him?


    It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness... it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope...

    -A Tale of Two Cities

    2018 was a good year. If you're connected to our family you might be interested to know (or be reminded) that:

    • Hayden graduated from LIT and now makes enough to not only buy milk for himself but also is making enough to have bought himself a new(ish) truck and is putting back good savings. He found a sweet girl who will (most of the time) laugh when he's picking on her and seems to like him enough to stick around even for the jokes she doesn't like.
    • Hallie is a senior and has been accepted to Texas Tech, (though we're rooting for Lamar). She's getting some great work experience getting and giving quotes at a local insurance company. She has wonderful friends (something I prayed long and hard for) and a nice boyfriend. She's my beauty consultant and I sneak in her room and use her makeup when she's gone.
    • Rylie, the baby, is a teenager now. She involves herself in just about every school and church club and activity that she can. Throughout the years, and especially this year, she's suffered not making the team a few times, but in typical Rylie fashion she laments and then picks herself up by the bootstraps and tries the next thing (This is probably one of my favorite things about her-even though it causes me some serious grief and stress.) Band, Bullpup Believers and church youth activities have been a source of real joy and success for her.

    • The siblings are starting to go beyond loving each other. I noticed this year that they're really starting to like each other and seem to prefer to hang out with each other versus hanging out with me. It feels slightly injurious, but hey, if this continues maybe I'll have time to take up knitting next year. Nah, but maybe I'll have time to read a book.
    • I'm still crazy about Jason and I think he still likes me even though I'm kind of crazy. He stays busy, but I believe in the purposefulness of his long hours. He gets paid for doing kingdom work. How awesome is that? He loves God and loves people and I love watching him do what he's good at.
    • I'm still trying to write when I get the opportunity. I started a book this past January about letting go of control. Ironically, no book yet, I'm still gripping the pen. (I need some more work.)

    Like every family there are jagged pieces to our puzzle. Sharing just the good stuff, quite frankly, doesn't do justice to the work of Jesus in our lives, particularly in the hard things.

    This year has had plenty of trials that honestly had me pleading for mercy.  Do you write in a Christmas card that in the past twelve months the family spent too many nights without eating supper together and suffered a hard diagnosis (beyond our ordinary ills)? There were friendships that went by the wayside, losses, several fender benders and car trouble, kid trouble, silly disappointments and tough, valid disappointments too.

    There's reason to share the tough stuff too.

    Contrary to a good song, Christmas has never really been about our days being merry and bright. Christmas comes to remind us that life without true light is, well, so very dark... even with its annual brags of beautiful growing families, accomplishments and other graces.

    So Merry Christmas to you if you've had a year without much trouble, but the wish goes out to you much more if in this season, you're reminded of loss and heartache.

    The light shines in the darkness, (I say especially in darkness...) and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5

    We all have reason to celebrate, and more important, cause to worship.

    May you see a great light this season.


    The Burdens

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    One of my favorite parts of teaching was reading my student's journals. I'd give them a prompt, What would you do with fifty dollars?, and then delight in their answers.

    I'd find that Jenna would use fifty bucks to buy "a casel and a hors". Reading their writing revealed their skill and knowledge level. It also opened up the well inside their heart.

    I loved getting a glimpse into what was important to them. I can clearly see my oldest (Hayden's) journal page one day when asked about what he would do over the weekend in his second grade class. He drew a pretty impressive jet cruising the globe. He still has an interest in geography and has an incredible knowledge of, and passion about, current world events.

    We write down what's important to us...things that matter...the things we don't want to forget.

    In our earlier years we might have scrawled Kristi loves Jason on our biology notebook. Now birthdays and appointments go on our calendars. We shoot a Hope your test goes well! text to a loved one.

    I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that God saw to it that we have a whole book declaring we matter, but I landed on a particular verse while reading a Psalm that prompted me to grab my pen and start underlining. It's worth gaining our attention.

    In Psalm 56, in response to having been a fugitive, David, passes along words I believe we would all do good to remember when we're overcome with sadness or pain or hopelessness or fear...

    David cried out to God,

    Record my misery;

    List my tears on your scroll-

    Are they not in your record? Psalm 56:8

    A friend called me up yesterday right in the middle of her busyness. She'd known that I'd been struggling with some anxiety. She also knew I was carrying some sorrow for loved ones. As I shared my burden for suffering family members she had me wait while she searched for a notebook and a pen. And then she did something that was truly a balm for my tender soul.

    She wrote down the names of those I was hurting for, and every concern that went alongside the corresponding name.

    She was recording my misery; writing down my worries; the important, heavy things weighing down my heart. And just like when I tell my daughter to help me remember an orthodontist appointment she has on Thursday (because it's a sort of weight sharing), my dear friend lightened my heart because she took my concerns upon herself. Like those things we write down that we deem important, she wrote my sorrows down...

    One chapter before David makes mention of the list of tears our God keeps on a scroll, he beckons us to wisdom.

    Cast your cares upon the LORD and he will sustain you... Psalm 55:22

    How good is a God who cares enough to make record of our deepest pains and puts friends in our lives who will do the same?