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To The Survivors, I See You.

I believe that we’ve all been through some stuff.
That every person on the earth has seen a little life. 

It comes with the territory of being born.  We live in a beautiful, but busted-up world, so we all experience varying degrees of brokenness and loss.  No one gets to skip it.

The human body’s ability to overcome is remarkable.  Our bodies HEAL THEMSELVES.  That right there is stranger than fiction.  When we cut or scrape or burn our skin, IT GROWS BACK.  Some of my loved ones have survived polio, cerebral malaria, strokes, terminal cancer, and everything in between.  Some are surviving MS, lupus, and Parkinson’s every darn day.

Our bodies are marvels, but compared to our spirits they’re still the weakest link.   The things the human spirit can overcome are astounding.   Every time you walk down the street, you are brushing shoulders with survivors of grief, war, poverty, addiction, loss, hunger, infertility, abuse, betrayal, homelessness, and persecution.  You share the air with these survivors, you share your neighborhood.

As a race, we are surviving moves, and change, and parenting, and marriage.  We are surviving VBS, and bedtime routines, and student loans (STILL), and Wal-Mart after work, and dating in the 21st century.   Amirite?   We are surviving jobs we hate, but must do, for now.  We are surviving in the wake of unimaginable, unforeseeable, unfair personal tragedy.  We are surviving the battles in our own minds – against jealousy, anger, and insecurity.

Here is what I know:  I know that sometimes, usually from across a table, I look another person in the eye, and I see it.

There’s a spark of recognition when the survivor in me sees the survivor in them – and in that brief-but-transformative moment, we are standing together, arms around each other’s shoulders, surviving.  We almost always smile.

This is the beginning of the #SurvivorSeries that I’ll be blogging for the next few weeks.

We are all, in some way, survivors.  It would be such an honor for you to come, read, and share your thoughts and stories as we go.   For the next few weeks the survivor in you is going to see the survivor in us, and we’re going to stand together.  We are going to laugh, cry, limp, and dance our way through – together.

(If you’re in my real life circle, there will be coffee – because I laugh, cry, limp, dance, ORGANIZE, and CAFFEINATE myself through all crises big and small.  Like breakfast.  And Sundays.)

Cheers to you, survivors.  I see you.


A few things I’ll be writing about surviving this month:

-Not “doing what you love”
-Parenthood – specifically bedtime, mealtime, and other valleys of the shadow of death.
-Getting “The News”
-A move (or, you know, SEVEN MOVES IN SEVEN YEARS)
-A breakup

and the things that carry us, like:

-and Love.

See you soon!

The Survivor Series giveaway is still live!  Share a #survivorseries post for a chance to win $150+ in coffee, music, books, and other survival essentials.  Click here for details.

You guys, I wrote some books!  They’re really good and if you buy them and read them I will bake you cookies.*  You can get it on Amazon, from Barnes & Noble, and in bookstores August 1.  


*and eat them myself because you live too far away.


Real Beauty

Good morning, friends!

Here is a round-up of some of my all-time favorite thoughts on real beauty.   Some of these influenced the second chapter of my books, all of them have influenced me.  I hope you’ll save them and savor them when you have the time.


(All images are pinned to and sourced on my 10 Things Chapter 2 Pinterest board here.)

Lupita Nyong’o's acceptance speech:

“And my mother again would say to me, “You can’t eat beauty. It doesn’t feed you.” And these words plagued and bothered me; I didn’t really understand them until finally I realized that beauty was not a thing that I could acquire or consume, it was something that I just had to be.”   (link)

The Aunties, by Anne Lamott:

“”I was not wearing a cover-up, not even a T-shirt. I had decided I was going to take my thighs and butt with me proudly whenever I went. I decided, in fact, on the way to the beach, that I would treat them as if they were beloved elderly aunties, the kind who did embarassing things at the beach, like roll their stockings into tubes around their ankles, but whom I was proud of because they were so great in every real and important way.”  (link)

Swimsuit Ready or Not, by Shauna Niequist

“I’m not going to give in to the cultural pressure that says women’s bodies are only beautiful when they’re very, very small.  I’m going to take up every inch of space that I need, even though our world is obsessed with the idea that women should only take up just the tiniest bits of space.   I’m going to practice believing that I am more than my body…”  (link)

The Danger of Always Looking at Ourselves, by Karen Swallow Prior

“But therein lies the paradoxical power of beauty. It has the power – whether because we possess it or because we lack it – to trap our gaze forever upon ourselves, like Narcissus. At the same time, it also has the power to draw us to the ultimate source of all beauty. We are, after all, made in the image of God, which bestows us with the kind of beauty that Dove can neither give nor take away. As image-bearers of God, our gaze should be directed toward the source of that beauty rather than the reflection. We can treat the beautiful as idols, and thus as the endpoint of our gaze. Or we can treat beaut”y as an icon, the means through which our gaze is directed to God.”  (link)

Why Dove’s “Real Beauty Sketches” Video Makes Me Uncomfortable… and Kind of Makes Me Angry, by Jazz Brice

“Dove was right about one thing: you are more beautiful than you know. But please, please hear me: you are so, so much more than beautiful.“  (link)

Beauty Routine, by Glennon Melton

“Today I will FILL UP WITH THIS BEAUTY. I will SEE this beauty and really NOTICE IT and smell it and hear it and roll around in it and soak it all up. I will allow all of this beauty to become a part of me- to BECOME ME-  and by the end of the day I will be so freaking beautiful from the inside out that folks will stop and stare, probably.  If you do not feel beautiful then FILL UP, Precious Sister.”   (link)


Aaaaand, why I don’t tan:


Modesty is Not A Feminine Virtue

This week we’re talking about modesty over on my FB page, because it’s a topic I discuss in the first chapter of my books.

The books explore a very specific slice of modesty (the way we dress) for one reason:  that was the first point on my list of “Things I Want to Tell Teenage Girls.”   In the book I talk about things like:

-Expressing yourself with fashion, and dressing intentionally.
-Rejecting the idea that the sexualized parts of women’s bodies should ever be the source of frustration or shame.
-The superpower that is femininity.
-Rejecting the notion that women are responsible for the thoughts and behaviors of men, and rejecting that “modesty” is somehow a tool to protect ourselves from degradation.
-The difference between attention and respect.

I suspect that this chapter might find itself a little bit controversial, but I stand by what’s in there, and I think it’s important.

That said –

It would be a serious oversight, not to mention offensive, to end the conversation there.  Because modesty is not a “feminine virtue.”   And for crying out loud, it’s not about clothing.  The catchphrases coined by the uber-conservatives hoping not to be viewed as misogynistic are way off, too.   “It’s not about hiding,” they say, “it’s about revealing dignity.”

Except, no.  It’s not.  We have to stop insisting that modesty is about “revealing dignity” and “having self-worth,” as if people who feel comfortable in clothing we wouldn’t personally wear simply don’t value themselves enough.   Real modesty isn’t about “revealing dignity” because it isn’t about revealing anything.

Here is what modesty is:

Modesty is humility applied.
It’s humility in a tank top, wisdom in jeans.
It’s a healthy dose of it’s-not-about-me as you go throughout your day.
Real modesty is meekness, which is a human virtue that begins on the inside, and, as we mature, is unstoppably, unavoidably reflected in every area of our lives.

Modesty is about killing that thing inside of us that wants to steal glory, revel in attention, and to see ourselves hoisted onto a pedestal.  The pedestal of “hottest” or “wealthiest” or “most hipster” or “most fit” or “most chic” or “most anything.”

Modesty is about stepping out of the way so that The Thing You’re Living For gets to stand in the spotlight.

Dressing provocatively is certainly one way of drawing attention to yourself, which is how the word “modesty” initially got attached to the idea of COVERING EVERYTHING UP.  But that’s not what it means.  That is one possible implication.

It is possible, and frankly a lot more common, for a PERSON (not just a woman) to have all their assests covered, and still be shouting “NOTICE ME!  NOTICE ME!” with their clothes and their lives.

Notice my bank account.
Notice my trophy spouse.
Notice my business success.
Notice how cute I am.
Notice how cultured I am.
Notice how MORAL, and RIGHTEOUS I am.

There’s nothing wrong with being noticed, but it works better when we notice each other instead of noticing ourselves.  There’s less competition, more connection.  There’s less looking in the mirror, and more looking up and out and forward.  There’s more appreciation of the beauty and gifts and skills around us – because when we aren’t preoccupied with our own hooting and hollering, we can finally, finally see it.

Real modesty happens when we side-step out of the spotlight, making space for the things that we’re passionate about to shine.  The stuff that’s bigger than us.  The stuff that matters more.

For me, that’s the gospel of Jesus.

Here is the question I’m asking myself this week:

What would it look like if I made one small, practical change to live more modestly?  To stop trying to draw attention to myself for whatever reason?

I’m a little tender about it, because it’s forcing me to examine all the places I try to be the center of the story.  It’s so ugly, glory-hogging.  But it’s tender because it matters.  Humility, modesty, selflessness – these are holy, sacred things.   They matter, and I’ve decided that pursuing them is worth the discomfort it costs.  I’ve got to look my own ugly in the face.

Will you join me in considering?

How might it look to live more modestly on social media?
How might it look to speak more modestly?
To spend money more modestly?  Not just necessarily less, just different.
How might it look to “church” more modestly?   Oh, snap.
And, yes, to dress more modestly.  Not frumpily, not puritanically, not to hide, or to shame, or to protect boys.  But to draw less undue, self-indulgent, and, often, not-the-healthiest attention to ourselves.

Comment and share with the hashtag #realmodesty.


Sunday Confessions

Last week I wrote about the Sunday morning alter egos of kids, and the abject horror that ensues between the hours of 7 am and 12 pm.

You don’t even know.

Unless you are responsible for kids in the altered state of Sunday consciousness.   Then, YOU KNOW AND I’M SORRY AND LET’S GET TOGETHER AND DRINK*.

*Coffee.  Because bedtime is still a long way off and Imma need to be on my A-game.

Shortly after I posted that blog, my youngest child managed to break an “unbreakable” dish filled with oatmeal.  As I wiped up the slime, taking care to avoid the billion shards of “unbreakable” dinnerware, I thought, “Pride cometh before the fall, CORELLE.”

The following Sunday.  Mercy.  I’ll give it to you à la Jeff Foxworthy.

It Might Be Sunday Morning If:

1. It might be Sunday morning if you come downstairs to find the bottom third of all sliding glass doors covered in green crayon scrabble.  And an empty sleeve of Ritz crackers, an empty bag of chocolate chips, and an open honey bear on the counter, all sitting in a pool of honey.

2.  It might be Sunday morning if you pull a pair of jeans out of the hamper and say, “If anyone mentions it, I’ll say I spilled it ON THE WAY to church.”

3. It might be Sunday morning if the smoke alarm short circuits, just because, and blares until he feels heard.

4.  It might be Sunday morning if you have to SHAKE OUT THE BLANKETS, LOOKING FOR TURDS.

5.  It might be Sunday morning if you break a sweat walking to the car.

I know that I am not alone.

Last year, I texted my friend Megan a Sunday Confession every week.

It started with a picture of what my bed looked like after I tried on every single article of clothing I owned.
Then me putting baby powder in my hair because I was out of dry shampoo.
Then wearing my husband’s dress socks because I couldn’t find my navy nylons.

Over the course of several months I texted her a picture of me filling in the scuffs on my boots with a SHARPIE.
My good hair-day selfies.
Henry’s cranial injuries du jour.
The state of my kitchen after my children fed themselves breakfast, like ravenous wolves with no sense or opposable thumbs.
And a lot of “Reasons My Son is Crying.

So this is something I’ve been thinking about for a while – and now I’m doing it, and I’m asking you to take the plunge with me.

I’m hijacking the hashtag #Sundayconfessions.

Instead of just texting my friends, I’m going to LET YOU INTO THE MADNESS.

If you have kids, you will laugh. You will cry.  It will speak to you.

If you don’t have kids, we haven’t forgotten.  We know that our lives were insane before kids in the house, and that they will be insane after the kids leave.  Please show us some real life.  Give us real talk.

#Sundayconfessions will be exactly ONE MILLION TIMES AS FUN if you play along.

Did your cat uproot all your potted plants this morning*?  #Sundayconfessions!

Did your todder jam up the faucet while the bath water was running, causing water to rain from the light fixtures in the kitchen*?  #Sundayconfessions!

Did your daughter sing the chorus to Pitbull’s Calle Ocho in the church nursery*?  #Sundayconfessions!

Did you spill something?  Break something?  Did you take a selfie as a grown adult because you were feeling JUST SO FLY?  Did you eat brownies for breakfast?  Give the kids coffee?  What did you have to resort to to get out of the door this morning?  We want to know.

We want to encourage you.  We want to let you know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE.  We want to laugh with you, cry with you, and hold a little space for real life on Sundays.   Tag your pictures, statuses, and tweets with #Sundayconfessions, and let the games begin!


*This actually happened to me. 

7 Things That Happened In Nashville

I went to Nashville this week and this is what happened:

1.  I ate a lot of things.  Maybe all the things.  I ate barbecue.  I ate pancakes.  I ate burgers.  I ate ALL THE SWEET POTATO FRIES.  Things my editors know about:

    • Books
    • Places to eat in Nashville.

2. I slept in a hotel.  On sheets I did not have to wash.  I spent 10 whole hours in a silent room, with no one touching me.  It was the new heavens and the new earth.

3. I did a little interview that will become book trailers for Enough and 10 Things for Teen Girls.   When I told my daughter that this was what I was traveling for, her exact words were, “If they put it on Youtube, I’ll be so impressed with you.  Because if they put it on Youtube, that means they want to share it with a lot of people.”  She thinks very highly of Youtube, bless it.  Nobody tell her.


5.  I missed Kristen Bell and the CMA fest by a day.  But whatever because I saw Kelly Clarkson.  Nashville experience, complete.

6. I sat in an airport terminal, sipping Starbucks coffee, and unashamedly reading Harry Potter (because Harry Potter is like comfort food.  He is sick-in-bed reading.  He is beach-reading.  He is what I read to congratulate or console myself).  So I sat there, reading HP and sipping coffee and no one was touching me, or talking to me, or telling me about their bodily functions, or asking me to open things, and I thought, “Why do people hate waiting in airports?” 

And thus was born my new business endeavor.  If you are a business traveler who is SO OVER being a business traveler, 3 days before your next trip I will rent you my three children.  Madeline is drama and words.  Sam is two…and potty-training.  Henry requires constant, vigilant supervision.  They cannot eat, sleep, pee, or experience happiness by themselves.  After caring for them for 72 hours, you simply drop them by my home on your way to the airport.  I guarantee the most sacred, holy, Zen airport experience of your entire life.  I guarantee that no airport drink will ever have tasted so indulgent, no seat will ever have felt more luxurious, and that no gate attendant’s voice will never have sounded so PLEASANT, and GENTLE, and MATURE.  I personally guarantee 100% satisfaction or your money back.  Creeps need not apply.

7.  I am back with my babies now, and I am so, so happy.  I squished all their squishy arms, I kissed all the places on all their faces, and I plan to spend the rest of the day making sure they don’t drown each other in the baby pool outside.


Forcing My Own Hand

I am really great at doing the right thing when the right thing is my only available option.


I am awesome at not buying brownie mix.  I can’t remember the last time I purchased the stuff.

I am less awesome at not eating brownies.  I CAN remember the last time I ate brownies for breakfast, lunch, and dinner – it was the last time I bought brownie mix.

In sum, I am THE BOMB at not eating brownies…as long as there are no brownies around.

The times that I’ve been the most disciplined and put together in my life were not thanks to me – they were thanks to a total lack of options.

I don’t think of myself as a very disciplined person.  Homework was never really my jam.  Neither was balancing my checkbook.  I could take it or leave it, and by that, I obviously mean that I left it.  Disciplined people are the kind of people who can see brownies and think, “I am only going to eat one of those.”  Disciplined people can mind-over-matter stuff.  They can, say, just GET UP when the alarm goes off.  They can stick to the plan.  ANY PLAN.

I am the pits at that breed of self-discipline.  What I am is a pretty decent self-scheduler.

I am learning to organize my life in such a way that makes the right things easier and the wrong things tougher.

(Actually, I believe it’s nearly impossible to make a wrong thing “tough.”  Our natural bent towards selfishness and pride, coupled with rationalization and THE INTERNET mean wrong things are only ever just a few side-steps away.  Perhaps a more accurate statement would be:  I am learning to organize my life in such a way that makes the right things more convenient, so I have less excuses not to do them.) 

I learned this about myself my junior year of college.

I had one weird, terrible hour between classes, with nothing to do and nowhere to go.  (This was before the time of the iPhone – I call it the Scholastic Period.  Triassic, Jurassic, Cretaceous, Scholastic.  During the Scholastic period, I did not have cat videos, Twitter, or Pinterest at my fingertips.  Dark days, indeed.)

One day, I thought, “Hey, all those things I wish I had mental space to pray about?  Maybe I’ll go do that for a minute.”

And I did.
And I did it the next day, and the next day, and the next day.

For ten years I’d been trying to bully myself into spending time in prayer and meditation.

I tried guilt (which sounds a lot like, “He died for me, I’ll live for Him!” or “He gave everything, I can at least give 15 minutes in the morning!”)

I tried mountain-top camp experiences.

I tried coffee.

I tried Bible study books.

Nothing ever stuck for long.  I understood the value, I wanted to be the kind of person to JUST GET UP.  Or JUST DIG IN.   But it wasn’t working for me, and not for lack of trying.

The same could be said for my (lack of) exercise routine.  It’s not that I didn’t see the value.  It’s not that I didn’t WANT IT.  It’s just that whatever thing is inside of self-starters and internally-motivated go-getters – I do not have that thing.

I tried running.

I tried videos at home.

I tried 5 am bootcamp with friends.

No dice.

But in 2005, that one wonky hour became sacred time in my day.  I read my Bible EVERY. DANG. DAY.  I prayed for my friends, for myself, for my future, for the world.   That hour changed my life.  The next semester I intentionally scheduled an empty hour into my day.  Turns out, I CAN have a consistent quiet time – as long as I have literally nothing better to do.

This year I GOT A CLUE from my sacred hour, and applied it to my exercise routine.  I sat down and brainstormed how I could possibly make it work with 2 young boys at home all day, and not a dime to spare on a gym membership or childcare.

I’ve Instagrammed about our morning walks, and lest anyone think for a second that I have my !@#$ together, allow me to illuminate:

Maybe the mom exercising at the park at 8:30 in the morning is not actually put together. Maybe she was forced by the inconsiderate thugs running the public school system to be out the door with three kids by 8:00 am.  Maybe she rolled out of bed and fed them granola bars in the car.  Maybe she can only leave the house once a day without having a nuclear meltdown, and THIS IS IT.  Maybe the only way she could ever reliably get her unmotivated butt outdoors with her kids is just to do it ON THE WAY HOME. At the park ACROSS THE STREET.  Load them up, walk a few miles, go home, commence day of surviving in the house.  In other words, maybe she’s me.

What I’ve learned about myself is that my best shot at not going completely off the rails is to intentionally structure my life so that the right things are easier and the wrong things are harder.

It’s like pushing a chair in front of the stairs to keep babies away from the edge: if they really have a mind to get down there, they will – but it might just slow ‘em down long enough for you to save the day.

I’m not great at self-discipline, but I’m learning to save my own days.  I’m getting better about self-scheduling; that’s where it starts for me.

I can’t tackle things when they’re big; I get panicky and I tap out.  But I can manage them when they’re small, when they’re on the way home and everyone is already wearing pants.

Maybe this has been the real secret to self-discipline all along.

Maybe not.  But either way, it’s working for me.  I don’t buy brownie mix.  I walk in the morning.  I read and pray in the carpool line.

Still trying to find a good slot in the day for laundry-folding.  If I find it I’ll let you know.  Not looking good.

How do you pursue self-discipline?  Do incentives and motivations work for you?  Or are you more of a self-scheduler?  

Wherein I, the Flee-er, Fought

I am having a time-stands-still, remember-it-forever, validating parenting moment.

Just now, when given the option to write or braille her homework, Madeline chose braille.

That means that right this second, I get to acknowledge that I chose right for my child.  Too often parents don’t.  In fact, we almost never do.  We don’t know what would have happened had we chosen, taught, or encouraged differently.  We just know that we’re doing the best we can, and somehow, against all odds, kids mostly turn out okay.

I fought for braille.  And I’m not a born fighter.  When it comes to fight or flight, I’m a flee-er.

So many special needs moms are bulldogs.  They call, and fight, and advocate.  They march into offices and make fusses.  They say, “This is not acceptable.  You must do better for my child.  My child is a hero and an overcomer and he can do one hundred times more than you are presently imagining.  He deserves more and better from this system.”

As much as these moms are my friends and my sisters, I often feel less-than when I’m around them.  I find myself thinking, “I am not a bulldog.  I am not a fighter.  I don’t have what it takes.”

But I fought for braille.

I fought the system.
When they said, “Maybe she would do better in a special needs classroom,”  I said, “That is not even close to her least restrictive environment, so absolutely no.”

I fought the odds.
When they said, “We can’t give her that many hours/that summer instruction/that specialist,” I said, “That is unacceptable.  I will do it myself.”

I fought really well-meaning friends and family.
They said, “You know, she can SEE the page.  She doesn’t need braille.  Technology!  iPads!  Magnifiers!”  And I said, “Braille = literacy.  She can choose when she’s 18.  Until then, I choose.”

I took classes.
We brailled grocery lists, and Christmas cards.
In every school, at every meeting, at every pass I said, “More hours.  More braille.  Equal time, equal exposure.”
I blindfolded her when she practiced.
People wondered if I was forcing it.

People said, “She can read the words.”
And I said, “But she won’t be able to read them in 2nd grade.  And H-E-DOUBLE-HOCKEY-STICKS if I’m going to wait until she’s 3 years behind to start teaching her the alphabet.

I fought for braille.

And tonight, when given the choice between print and braille, Madeline chose braille.

She chose it because it is easier for her to form letters with her fingers than it is for her to form them with a pen.

She chose it because she could.  And she could because she learned.  And she learned because I fought.

This is what she wrote:

I cannot even.

And listen, I may have fought, but I only fought because of the amazing, passionate, dedicated educators that fought alongside of me for the good of my child.  Educators that pulled me aside and said, “I can’t say this as a teacher, but as a parent…”  And, “You didn’t hear this from me, but…”

If I fought, it’s because they equipped me to fight.  They gave me the buzzwords, the loopholes.  They gave me the courage; they EN-COURAGED, truly.  They texted and called and emailed.  They said, “Fight for Madeline.  Keep fighting.”

Our teachers and vision teachers and braillists and specialists are our heroes, and this success is theirs, too.

I cried tonight.  I cried because I got to see the  fight pay off.  It’s not theoretical anymore.  It’s tonight, right now.  My baby knows braille, and she likes it, and she chooses it, and I did a good thing.

As the great philosophers of The Fray said, “Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same.”


Illustration by Lisa Congdon
I think that honesty is the door through which lies every good thing.

Health, help, connection, intimacy.

Honesty is the door through which lies every real thing.

If you want something true, you’re going to have to walk through that door.  The door of telling the whole truth.

It’s terrible that honesty is also the hardest, scariest, most painful thing.  I hate it.  I did not sign up for this.  I hate that honesty leaves me exposed and raw and gritting my teeth, bracing for the fallout.  I hate how it opens me up to judgment and ridicule and hurt.

But I love how it opens me up to mercy.  And connection.  And sleeping at night.

We tend to believe honesty will isolate us – that if we tell the real, honest truth everyone will jump ship, lest they be marred by association with our dirty selves.  But that’s the fear talking.  Honesty never isolates as much as lies do.

It’s the lies that build the wall.  It’s the omissions that lay the bricks.  It’s the giving up’s and the rationalizations and the self-preservation that walls us into solitary confinement.  It’s the hiding and the masks that chain us there, in the dank loneliness.  We are like Poe’s poor Fortunato, thinking we’ve found a cask of fine amontillado, but instead we’ve found our tombs.

I hate this, but I believe it.

If you want to be healthy, tell the whole truth.
If you want help, tell the whole truth.
If you want camaraderie, tell the whole truth.
If you want intimacy, tell the whole truth.

Anything less might work okay, but it isn’t real.  If you have to hide things to be loved, YOU aren’t loved, your image is loved.  If YOU want love – to be seen and known and loved for WHO YOU ARE – you’re going to have to tell the truth.  You’re going to have to let someone see you.

Donald Miller said it this way, “Telling the truth is the slow, mundane, difficult route to a meaningful life.  Anything less is cheating.”

I’m trying to tell more truth to the tribe of people that I do life with.  To have the courage to start conversations that matter.  To, as Teddy Roosevelt said, tell the truth, even if my voice shakes.  To be vulnerable, which, as Jon Acuff noted, gives other people the beautiful gift of going second.

I want to be full of grace – yes – but also full of TRUTH.  What a sloppy, messy collision – grace and truth.

Jesus was full of grace and truth.  And of every other good, real thing that I need.  He’s what I’m after.  And the real, applied, lived-out Christ-life lies through the door of humble, radical honesty.  Just like every other good thing.

Tell the truth, tell the truth, tell the truth.

Bubble Violence and Sunday Morning Demons

The 3 Irrefutable Laws of Motherhood are:

1. It is harder and better than you think.

2. People only stop by unannounced when your house is STRAIGHT NASTY and you are bra-less at 3:00 in the afternoon.

3. The entire universe conspires to keep you out of church on Sunday mornings.  Sunday mornings are, ironically, the sixth circle of hell.

However much hitting, punching, glass-shattering, appliance-breaking, things exploding, tantrum-throwing, food-spilling, and violent diarrhea you think is inherent in parenthood, triple it.  And on Sunday mornings, triple it again.

My children are overachievers.  They adopt their Sunday morning alter-egos on Saturday night, like overly ambitious Black Friday shoppers.  They want to make sure they have time to fit in ALL THEIR CRAZY.

A few weeks ago, Henry went to church with a large Band-aid straight across his forehead, connecting his eyebrows.  It was covering up the fresh gash that maybe could have used a stitch, but we judgment called it and figured he’d be fine (third kid).

Tonight, we were blowing bubbles when things got violent.  If you don’t understand how bubbles can turn violent you have less than or equal to one child.

So my kids are inching closer and closer – in order to be the first in line cluster to pop all the bubbles before his/her siblings – until they are all standing there with their fingers shoved INSIDE the bubble wand, and soapy syrup is running down their arms and all over my legs, and they are giggling like scary little Christopher Nolan versions of The Joker.

So I said, “EVERY ONE BACK. UP.”

And they did.

Until I blew the next wand-ful of bubbles and they stampeded towards me, shrieking and waving their hands in the air like they just didn’t care.  And Henry, Henry is one year old by the skin of his teeth.  I saw it happen in slow motion, like watching Mufasa get sucked under the hooves of crazed wildebeests.  They knocked him over forwards, then straight trampled him as they leapt around in their unbreakable bubble-trance, COMPLETELY UNAWARE that a LITTLE PERSON was underfoot.

That was the end of bubbles, and now Henry has a cut on his eyelid.   His left eye is all puffed up and pink, and he’s going to church AGAIN looking like Rocky Balboa.

You should also know that Madeline had to give herself a schizophrenic pep-talk to pipe down during story time tonight.  I am not making this up.  After the fifth interjection on the FIRST PAGE, I snapped, “MADELINE.  STOP TALKING.”

And she said,

“Okay, I can do this.

No, I can’t.

Yes, yes I can.   I can do hard things.

No, I can’t do this.

Yes, I can be quiet.”

I stared at her, unable to make sense of what was happening in front of me.   She has to have a conversation WITH HERSELF to mentally prepare herself to stop saying every single thing that pops into her brain.  You don’t even know.

The moral of this story is that I need something warm and chocolatey in the most serious way.   And that moms with herds of offspring should get preferential parking at church.  Because we have done mighty battle.  We have exorcised the Sunday morning demons.  We SHOWED UP.

And also, the childcare workers should just turn a blind eye (PUN INTENDED) to my little boxer tomorrow.  He’s fine.  He just had a nice Saturday evening blowing bubbles.

Are Sunday mornings your craziest mornings too?   Why do you think that is?    What keeps you showing up?  

Because He Lives (& Yoga Bird)

In light of Easter, I wanted to share with you a meditation I wrote for Yoga Bird last month.

The significance of the resurrection is so infinite – we can talk about the love of Jesus, the cost of sin, Jesus in our place, God’s power over death, the ultimate apologetic on which hinges the entirety of the Christian faith…

…but for me, this is where the rubber meets the road.  The resurrection doesn’t just matter because it was miraculous.  It matters because Jesus is alive.  A dead god can’t help you any more than a box of rocks can.   But a living God – a living God sees and loves and sustains.  Easter is the biggest deal because a living God is the biggest deal.

“The days are uncertain, to be sure.  When I think too long on Hollywood, or the beauty industry, or sex-trafficking, or congress, it is difficult to feel much of anything but despair.  I can’t imagine anything more daunting than being asked to raise a girl in our culture – until I think of raising boys.   And vice versa.

Then I realize that I believe Christ to be big enough for anybody, anywhere, no matter their plight or their hurt or their sin – but not big enough for me.

Not big enough for my parenting deficiency, not big enough for my immaturity, for my short-sightedness, for my brokenness and pride.

Of course he can redeem a life shattered by abuse.
Of course He can sustain through unimaginable loss.
Of course He can bring joy and peace to a life entrenched in the daily ache of poverty.
Of course He can lift the drug addict out of the pit, He can lift the alcoholic out of the mire, and set their feet on solid rock.

But me?  And my kids?  And my depressingly average, messed up life?  I don’t know if He is big enough for that.

This is, of course, insanity.  It is illogical and untrue, but I believe it – my worries betray me.  My despair tattles.

“In what way am I damaging my children?”  I wonder.  “What will they say about me in therapy?  Will they turn out okay, in these uncertain days?  Will I?”

There is a song – a hymn – that I sang in a little Baptist church in Alabama.  I sing it now, too.  On almost every single one of these uncertain days:

“How sweet to hold a newborn baby
To feel the pride and joy he gives
But sweeter still the calm assurance
This child can face uncertain days because He lives.

Because He lives I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives all fear is gone.
Because I know He holds the future,
Life is worth the living just because He lives.”

Corrie Ten Boom said, “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”   The days are uncertain, but God -  God is certain.  He is the most certain thing there ever was.  He is the Rock of Ages.  Immutable and unchanging and certain.

And He is for me.

He is alive, full of power and grace.  His arm is not too short to save.  He is for me, and this child can face uncertain days because He lives.  Some days “this child” is my child, and some days it’s me.  But here’s what I know – we can face uncertain days.  Oh, what blessed power and hope!  We can face uncertain days!

We can face uncertain days because He lives.”

(You can listen to the meditation here.  My words have been put to original music, and every meditation includes a time of silence and reflection.)


Besides blog and books, I have a few other projects going, one of which is writing meditations like this one for Yoga Bird.  Yoga Bird is a wellness website that offers on-demand yoga classes with Christian meditation.  I first subscribed a few months ago and poked around the site for over an hour – there is a huge library of poses, beginner and advanced classes, quick office breaks, a blog, and a library full of meditations (which are nice for a quiet time too, if you want to switch things up).

If you want to go exploring, here is a coupon for 10 free days!

Other cool thing:  They beautiful heart behind Yoga Bird is my very dear aunt.  You will love her.

And for the curious, this welcome video explains what they’re about:

We can face uncertain days because He lives.  Happy Easter.