On Easter.

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Last week I talked about having a ridiculously hard time with being gracious with unexpected change, with trusting that something would be ok that was a little bit scary to do and how strong the idols of security and approval were on my heart.

After that post published, I didn’t really feel any better but I went through with what I had committed too, even though it was scary and super risky and opened my eyes and heart to a whole host of other issues. But there was forward progress and grace and love and memories that would not have happened otherwise. I had been dwelling on Isaiah 30:12:

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it’”

 

This is the way. Walk in It.


Oh, friends. How I wish that was it.

Today I was reminded (yet) again of those idols. We had a well baby visit for our little bit and I scheduled it knowing that we were squeezing it in but also that the county required it of us ASAP. I don’t know if you’ve ever cried before the doctor came, but yeah. One of those days. Two of the kids were fighting over a 1/2 inch tall shopkins toy. One was totally checked out listening to a book on tape and the baby wouldn’t sit still long enough to get measured by the clearly overwhelmed RN. Add to that one kid trying to escape out the window (one old enough to know better) and another one throwing the paper roll all over the office and it was just time to be done. In all of that, I had the cutest little all smiles 9 month old and gave him a nice little shot in the leg to top it off.

Any chance I had of impressing the office of what a nice little foster family looked like was gone. Not only did I lose control of what felt like everything, I lost respect (status/approval) too.

On the way home my daughter asked a question that jabbed right at my heart- “when can we see A and L again?”

Crap.

The last time we were in that office altogether, in that room with that provider, was in fact with the girls. The wound of losing two sisters opened up for that little one way more than she could handle. It wasn’t about me or about my parenting style or what I did wrong or could’ve done better. She was wounded and it was showing.

Which reminded me I was wounded too.

Tired and worn out and wishing God would just stop working on my heart. Feeling vastly unqualified to do this job. Unqualified to parent other people’s kids. Unqualified to parent my own in the midst of pain. Unqualified to teach Sunday School on Easter Sunday. Completely unqualified to run a ministry. Unqualified to run a household or create anything that resembles a welcoming atmosphere. Unqualified to be any sort of wife let alone a praying supportive loving one.

I was listening to a podcast today with Sally Lloyd Jones where she talks of planting a seed in our children’s heart. How the very nature of planting seeds means that we have no business with what happens to it after the fact.

This was fresh in my mind while my kids were fighting in the back seat (again).

“Can you please turn off your audio book for your sister”

No. It’s not fair. 

“I know it’s not fair. I’m not asking for fairness. I’m just asking that you serve your sister by turning it off and be just a little bit like Jesus for the next 10 minutes until we get home.”


What if that is exactly the point? It’s not fair. Our wounds aren’t fair. It’s not fair that my kids have experienced what they have. It’s not fair that the kids we love have experienced it either. It’s not fair that going to the park with people we care about results in strangers leaving the park out of safety concerns. It’s not fair that they get stared at or whispered about. It’s not fair that my job is one of the most undervalued in the country. It’s not fair that no matter how hard I try, I can’t make my kids willingly serve anyone.

If I’m honest, I would really love for Easter to be over. I’m over the panicked phone calls my husband gets about technology at all hours because of “Jesus.” I’m over the easter egg hunts and the bunnies that have nothing to do with the Cross. I’m over that image of the cross and a sunrise and something about the hope of Jesus that crops up EVERYWHERE. I’m looking at you, churches of the U.S. of A. You know what image I’m talking about.

He was wounded for us and this is how we react to it. Panicked that we’re not reaching the community, mixing messages of crosses and eggs and roosters and bunnies. Making sure we fill all the seats so that our friends can hear about the hope of Jesus on April 16th.

I get it. It’s one of two times a year people are willing to walk through those terrifying doors.

But, today, worn out and tired, while my kids are tearing apart the couch, swinging off my curtains and dumping veggies straws on the floor that I just swept; today I want to ask, why are we so drastically limiting God?

What about last Thursday when people we loved desperately needed to know that they were loved- that we would risk our comfort and security for them to know it?

What about all the millions of seeds we plant in our children by pointing them back to Jesus every possible chance we can get? And what seeds are they then planting that we will never ever see?

What about the example of doing something well, as vastly unqualified as we are because we have Hope?

Saying yes because he is right behind us.

This is one of the great messages of the Bible: God chooses the weak things of the world to shame the strong, the foolish and despised things to shame the wise, even the things that are not, to bring to nothing the things that are. That’s how God does it.  -Timothy Keller, Counterfeit Gods. 

That’s just how he does it.

On Control

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Hi Friends. This post is a struggle and a bit vulnerable. If you aren’t a Christian, I’m so glad you are reading my words but please know that it might not make sense culturally and I hope you can still take something from it. If not, just keep scrolling. If you are a Christian, I only ask for grace.


I’ve been reading through Counterfeit Gods by Tim Keller this month. I’ve made it through chapter 1 so this will be a completely comprehensive post about it. He says:

 “When anything in life is an absolute requirement for your happiness and self-worth, it is essentially an ‘idol,’ something you are actually worshiping. When such a thing is threatened, your anger is absolute. Your anger is actually the way the idol keeps you in its service, in its chains. Therefore if you find that, despite all the efforts to forgive, your anger and bitterness cannot subside, you may need to look deeper and ask, ‘What am I defending? What is so important that I cannot live without?’

As I’ve been reading, the issues of control and security in my heart seem to be sticking a somewhat ugly head out. How many times have I been angry because of what didn’t work out as it should? Because the house is a disaster? When the kids don’t like my super fun plan for the day? Or when I can’t control my opinionated daughter/calm a toddler mid tantrum/ get the baby to sleep exactly when I want?

The very fact that 1. it makes me angry and 2. my happiness is dependent on it shows me a lot.

 I had been thinking through this post a lot and how recognizing those two ‘idols’ have made it so much easier to depend on God to meet my needs. How it’s made my day-to-day easier and more joyful when I’m not depending so much on my circumstances.

I thought what a great, encouraging post. It isn’t snarky or rude or short. It’s not my go-to advice of “it sucks, sorry.”  It’s not overly vulnerable and tosses people to a really good book if they want to know more.

I had a few more quotes, a nice little wrap-up, and a picture.

Check and Check.

Lauren is awesome. 


All it took was an email with a foster care related schedule change and something with just enough of a safety concern to send me spiraling this evening. My heart racing. Anger at something that should’ve been scheduled months ago. Fear that something will go amiss. Sadness that we don’t have this situation figured out quite yet. Denying that it’s going to happen. Wanting so desperately to get out of it somehow but also knowing just how important it is. Feeling completely frustrated that my morning tomorrow is gone. F*$%.

“Something is safe for us to maintain in our lives only if it has really stopped being an idol. That can happen only when we are truly willing to live without it, when we truly say from the heart: ‘Because I have God, I can live without you.'”

Oh man, you guys. How often have we said we can’t do something because we feel like it’s too hard. I almost said no to this whole extravaganza. With the premise being healthy boundaries. Funny how we can use that one if we want.

How often have we thought that the world would end if we lost (insert husband, kids, house, etc).  What Tim Keller is saying here is not to be taken lightly- those words change everything.  Can I live without…. because I have God?

“When an idol gets a grip on your heart, it spins out a whole set of false definitions of success and failure and happiness and sadness. It redefines reality in terms of itself.”

If I know that God wants me to love my neighbor (Mark 12:31) and to invite the poor and cripple and blind and lame into my home (Luke 14) and that his grace is sufficient for all the muck (2 Corinthians 12:9), it should, in effect give me some peace about tomorrow.

But I’m not sure I’m willing to truly be comfortable tomorrow without my idea of control or my idea of safety and security.

Losing those two things still make me angry and frustrated. No matter how amazingly awesome Tim Keller puts it.


Which is why I’m going to keep reading, praying and processing and get back to you.

False Definitions of success and failure, of happiness and sadness.

Whew. How’s that for a wrap-up? 

(insert cute puppy pic)

On Stuff

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Like, items in your house, stuff.


 It started November 2015 after I read Mari Kondo for the first time. Tossing any and everything that does not bring joy into our home.

 I threw away, in the trash, 30 bags. I originally donated another 30 bags in a few weekend trips with my husband’s old truck. I’ve taken a car full (approximately 4-5 trash bags + miscellaneous other items) every month since. Every. Month. 

That, you guys, is a crap ton of stuff. From a 1600 square foot house.

I will admit that I’ve also spent that time scouring vintage markets and thrift shops for items that I love. I will admit that we have four kids. Plus an additional two that were living with us for 6 months. We live and work and educate here in our home so chances are we will accumulate a lot.

But still.


A few weeks ago I made my monthly trip to the thrift store. But this time it was different. I was sad.  I didn’t entirely know if I should take my stuff back and put it in the closet, wait to give it to someone or throw it in the trash. It’s the first time through this whole process of decluttering that I felt this way.

Some were mugs that didn’t”match” my new minimalist kitchen. Some were appliances that took up too much space. Or ones that we never used. There were a lot of girl clothes that weren’t going to get used with two boys coming up the ranks. And maybe that was part of the sadness. Are there really no more girls coming? Are matching white mugs that important? Why did we buy this if we never are going to use it ever? Will the new owners find joy in it or will it sit in a garage unused?


I don’t know when I’m going to feel done with this project. When will I stop trying to make our home joy sparking and acknowledge that the joy is, in fact, sparked?

I think my problem is that I keep thinking that at some point I will feel grateful for what I have and we can be done. And yet, 15 months down the line I still don’t. 


Some days I look around and see the stories in what I’ve curated. The signs made by old and new friends. The refinished chairs we bought from a sketchy neighborhood in Boulder. The free hutch and buffet that don’t match. From a grandmother of a neighbor. I wonder sometimes what she was like. What it looked like in her house. I look at the collection of items from hikes the kids find. The couch that took weeks to decide on even though it was the first one I saw. The vintage coat rack buried in a flea market in the perfect yellow that matched the mass-produced pillow cases I splurged on. The table my husband built. The pallet he hung in our kitchen. The cabinets he designed from scratch and fretted over for weeks. The beetle kill mantel that he magically hung with the right exact screws in the right exact way. The lighting fixture he designed that I didn’t know I wanted but now I can’t imagine being without.

And the books. I could write a whole post on the books. The Reading Primer from 1910. The copy of Daniel Boone I found for $1 in a pile of cheap paperbacks. The Burgess Flower Book I bought in Portland. The 1894 copy of Historic Boys I bought in Williamsburg. The copy of Heidi with all color plates from 1938. The 1920 Burgess Animal book my Instagram friend from Kansas found at an estate sale after I told her I had been looking for quite some time. The stories they must’ve seen.

The stories they still tell all these years later.

Stories apart from the words on their pages.

And yet, I still don’t feel it. The gratefulness. There’s too much stuff. Or maybe, better said,  not the right stuff. Clutter and mess and trinkets of no value.

I think that many times we see a lack of gratitude in the process of accumulation of items. Say, at Christmas when our kids want all the toys. Or at the mall when we just have to buy some random thing that we don’t have money for. But I’m wondering if what I’m feeling- what I’m describing- this lack of gratitude in the midst of giving- makes sense. I’m giving away more than I’m accumulating but I still feel burdened by a sense of ungratefulness.

Maybe, what I’m trying to say is, if I do in fact have a heart that is grateful, we would have run out of stuff to give away a whole lot sooner. Maybe my constant buying of things that bring me joy is missing the point entirely.


I don’t think I have much wisdom to depart on this subject other than stating here, in this space, that I struggle with gratefulness beyond what I have ever freely admitted. 

Tomorrow is the first time we will be practicing Ash Wednesday. Ever. We are spending the Lenten Season learning and growing and praying. Offering gifts of our time and gifts of our money. Feasting together in anticipation. I am eager to start and learn right alongside my littles. Struggling through these ideas. Of gratefulness and joy and making a home and stuff and money and contentment. Working through things of Virtue and Character.

I hope you’ll stick around long enough to see where we end up.

On Abortion

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Yeah, I am going there today.

I was going to write it last Saturday. The day of the Women’s March. I chickened out. If you are reading this, I found some gumption. I will do my best to be kind. I pray that you will also.


My blood pressure rises just hearing the word. See I am a Christian. I am pro-life. I am also pro-choice. Maybe that makes you mad. Maybe I can’t be both. I don’t know. Maybe it’ll make sense at the end of this. Maybe it won’t. Grace will cover it regardless.

I’ve been sad all week. I saw my friends march in the Women’s March. I saw the leaders deny a spot for the pro-life movement. I saw anger on the side of those that felt that all lives matter. I’ve watched the pro-life movement plan marches around their causes. I’ve seen anger on the side of the pro-choice movement. I’ve watched dear friends get into arguments online. I’ve watched on the sideline as acquaintances talk about losing momentum in their social media followers. I’ve seen very little of anything to do with Christ and that’s why, this particular post, is written to those that follow him. If that is not you, please know this is not written for you.


This has to stop.

Did you know legal abortions have declined over the last three decades?

That the number of providers has also declined?

That rates are increasingly concentrated for low income minority woman?

Did you know that access to healthcare, preventative services and education can keep those numbers down?

Do you know what doesn’t keep those numbers down?

Guilt and Shame.


I am the mama of two boys that could easily have been one of those statistics. I have been asked more than once what we will do if their birth mama gets pregnant again. I will say this once- and I will say this loud-

They are all welcome here.

All. Of. Them. 

No questions. No guilt. No shame.

I am not in a place to share her story. It is not mine to tell. I can tell you that our baby is here because she knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that he would be loved beyond measure. That he would be treated as our very own because she already saw us do it once. Because that’s how we have treated her as well.

Can you honestly say that your signs and your marches make her feel that way? Do you honestly believe that social media will help save the lives of those “55 million” children you seem to care so much about?

Sitting by the creek with a homeless child of God, listening, caring, loving- that certainly does.


There were 402,378 children placed into foster care in the US in 2013. One statistics states that in 2012 there were 397,122 living without permanent families in the system. The average wait time for them to find those families? 3+ years.

If 7% (SEVEN) of the world’s Christians adopted an (one) orphan, there would be none left.

If we, Christians, can’t be trusted to truly love the 100,000+ kids in foster care waiting to be adopted, who can be?

If you were pregnant, without much hope hungry and poor, would you trust the Christians to take care of you and your babies? Christians, would you trust yourselves?


If the biggest factor for women is access to health care and preventative services, and you don’t seem to trust planned parenthood one bit, are you willing to step up? Will you pay for their birth control?  Do you know who “them” even are?

Because if you aren’t, you have no right to hold that sign.

Are we training our young men to be courageous warriors that respect women, not just as objects but as God’s creation, as his treasured daughters?

Because women don’t just randomly get pregnant.

Are you willing to feed these children? To clothe them? To tell them every day how much God loves them and cares for them and doesn’t hate them. Are you willing to cry with them? To raise them? To meet their physical and emotional needs? Are you willing to treat them as Christ taught us to? When he talked to the woman at the well. When he tossed the tables at the temple. When he spoke time and time again about widows and orphans and the poor.

Are you?

Are you willing to stop with the guilting and the shaming?

Because the last I read, guilt and shame had very little to do with Christ.

Grace upon Grace upon Grace does.

Mercy does.

While we were still sinners, in the midst of our sin,

that.

Remember that one?

Cause it wasn’t written for them. It was written for us.


As far as I am concerned, there is no place for those signs and those infographics and the prevention of resources or any of this hullabaloo in our roles as followers of Christ.

There is plenty of space to meet actual needs with the resources we have. There is room for honorary aunts and honorary mama’s and friendships that cross cultural barriers. There is room for walking alongside our sisters as they fight and struggle. There is room for raising our boys to be men. There is room for our men to be involved in this conversation in the first place.

If we’ve learned anything from the Bible, let it be that our trust need not be in governments or governmental policies. In decisions in the supreme court or by our state leaders.

I’m pro-choice because my hope is in one thing alone.

I’m pro-life because we are all part of God’s workmanship.

I will keep fighting and feeding and holding. I will drive to the creek when I really don’t want to. Our home will be open to the least of these. We will mess up, most days dramatically, but we will keep trusting and keep trying.

Until we are all there, Christians, there is no room for our American-White-Middle Class rhetoric.

By all means, march away. But know the world is watching.

On Breastfeeding (Or, On Depression. Also, on Beauty)

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I sat at a coffee shop with a friend recently. She told me (and I can’t remember the context) that I was, in fact, a writer. I told her that was silly. And then, in what I can only imagine is true writer fashion, told her about all the things I had in mind to write about. This topic was one of them. The end point of this article is the result of that conversation. I hope you enjoy.

I hope you enjoy.


When I was first pregnant with our oldest I read an article in a pregnancy magazine about perception on public breastfeeding. It said (this was 10 years ago) that 75% of people felt that nursing in public was inappropriate and made them feel uncomfortable. I shared it with Joe who immediately agreed. Poor guy. I’m pretty sure I ranted for a while after that one. But it stuck with me and when B was born, I wasn’t sure what to do. I think in my head I would just hide away in a hole whenever he was hungry. So I did. We couldn’t afford formula so I plugged along, nursing in half confidence but not aware of any other options. I’ll never forget being at a work party with a 3-week old baby and, not finding anywhere I could go, went to the car to nurse. In the dark by myself.

Fast forward a few years and I had nursed both my babies way past the one year mark and most definitely in public. I had gained confidence in my approach to mothering and, what proved most valuable, finding a group of others like myself.

My daughter never had a single drop of formula.

And, for that, I was proud.

I think many of you can see where this is going. Our first placement came and I went to the store, kids in tow, to find the formula aisle of the store. I found a bottle and hoped that I would make it right. I knew I was “sometimes” mom and that was ok. I did my job without thinking twice.

“Oh, that’s so sad you have to give him formula!” –on one of our first outings

“is the formula any good? where does it come from? I mean, foster care” –a few months after Voxx’s placement.

Doubt crept in just a little bit at a time. Until, one day, at a family camp with our newest little one, I found myself hiding the Similac bottle so those mamas wouldn’t see.

I’m not proud of that.

Along this journey, I found out that there are a million and one awesome adoptive mama’s that have found ways around the formula conundrum. And that doubt, those insecurities kept building. These mamas have spent hours rounding up donated milk. They have appealed to the state to get milk from the hospital. They have induced lactation in their own bodies and nursed those babies as their own.

And I, I never even asked.


A few months ago I did ask. So we tried it.

And it sucked.


I don’t know what I was hoping for. But God certainly had a lesson in humility for me. Humility and compassion. The medicine I was on started a depression that went hard and deep. I couldn’t feel happy.  I was spending every hour either pumping or feeding (formula still, mind you). My kids were left to fend for themselves after finally getting through a season of self-fending. My toddler was a mess. Tantrums lasting upwards of 2 hours. And my marriage- well- it was holding on by a super fine thread.

So we stopped.

The point I am trying desperately to get to is this: For me, stopping the medication helped me feel back to normal. For some of you, taking the medication makes you feel normal.  For others of you, deciding to take that that medication means you can’t nurse. And what I want you to hear is that- that is more than ok. Taking care of your body because you too are human is not just good- it’s beautiful.


I saw a post on social media that was something along the lines of “fed is best.” You can only guess the hullabaloo this caused. Breast is best. There is no comparison. You are a failure as a mother. You are poisoning your children. There is no such thing as good formula.  It was bad.

I am so grateful that even though we have a way to come, nursing in public is generally supported. I am grateful that we can see as a society the beauty in a mother feeding her children. Those images of the mama and baby nursing and the tree of life connecting them? Beautiful.

I am so grateful we have scientists that struggled to find the right combination of minerals and vitamins to not only keep our kids alive but to thrive. I am grateful that our country will make sure that newborns have food via programs like WIC. Regardless of race or income. The powder that we mix with clean water to nourish our babies? It’s time we start saying what it truly is- a beautiful mystery.

You know your homebirth perfectly documented. The moments in your home surrounded by only those that care deeply about you while you bring a new soul to this side of the earth? Beautiful.

You know your c-section. The one that wasn’t planned. Or the one that was. The one that the doctors used their knowledge and professionalism to bring your baby into this world? It’s time to stop saying “I’m sorry” when we hear that story and start calling it something else- What a beautiful story.


To the father feeding their child on a regular basis. In the middle of the night, night after night after night.

To the mama pumping and pumping and pumping for her baby that won’t latch right. Doing this because she knows, somewhere, that it’s worth it.

To the mama sitting in the NICU, hearing those god forsaken beeps over and over and over. Those cords. That IV. Those nurses.

To the mama whose heart is broken beyond relief.

To the mama whose heart is stretched more than she thought possible.

To the mama in wait. Waiting and waiting and waiting.

To the papa desperately searching the aisle for the right can of formula.

For the mama’s heart broken on a thread of hurtful words in the middle of the afternoon.

all little, teeny tiny inklings of beauty.


If we stop and look, we can start to see the beauty in all the things the world tells us are wrong. The things that suck. The things we aren’t proud of. There is beauty in my biological children’s story. There is beauty in my adopted children’s stories. The point is not that it’s just there, but when we see it, when we really truly see it, we won’t be quite so quick to hide in the car. We won’t be nearly as ashamed of the branding on the bottle. We will be better mothers for it. Better fathers. Better friends when we lift up their stories as something of value regardless of ideology. It’s not about being a nursing mom or a bottle mom or a homebirth mom or a c-section mom or a homeschool mom or a public school mom.

It’s about being a human. 

The tiniest sparkle of a beautiful story.

On Trade-Offs

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I recently read through the book Essentialism by Greg McKeown. In a paragraph that sums up the essence of his book he says:

“Essentialism is not about how to get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done. It doesn’t mean just doing less for the sake of less either. It is about making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy in order to operate at our highest point of contribution by doing only what is essential.” -McKeown

It is about making the wisest possible investment of your time.

It’s a book written for business folk, not necessarily the stay at home crowd. My husband laughed just about every time I quoted some business model from the book. It didn’t take me long to see how our home could run better.

In one of my favorite parts, the author states:

 “As John Maxwell has written, You cannot overestimate the unimportance of practically everything.” -McKeown

I’ll let that sink in for a minute.

We all make trade-offs with just about everything we do. If we decide to sit on the couch and watch tv, the trade off is a productive evening. If we decide to work at home, the trade-off is rest. We decide to do the dishes so that we have clean ones when we need them. We make a decision to go to the store and shop for fun. The trade-off is the amount of money in your savings.

Not entirely rocket science.

I think when I started realizing that the countless decisions I make in a day matter to my long-term goals, making those decisions became that much easier.

When I do the dishes, I make the decision to not spend time with my kids. When I read to my kids in the middle of the day I am making a conscience decision to wait to rotate the laundry.

And that matters- because- well- perspective.

It’s not about what I didn’t do that day but about what I did do. 

I read to my kids. We played outside. We made scones. We walked along the creek. We worked on felted leaves. We had dinner together at the table.

Not: My kitchen is a disaster. We don’t have any clean shirts. So and So got into a fight with whomever. We didn’t finish practicing instruments. We didn’t mop the floors. Dinner is cereal, again.

While the reality is both those perspectives are true, the first one has a much different focus. And, let’s be honest, it’s not nearly as defeating as the second.

“Essentialists see trade-offs as an inherent part of life, not as an inherently negative part of life. Instead of asking, “What do I have to give up?” they ask, “What do I want to go big on?” -McKeown

Most of you reading this are not executives at a huge company. We are Moms and Dads. We are homemakers and foster parents. We work part time and full time and go to the store with our kids in tow. We run small businesses and raise not so small army’s of children. We look at pinterest and IG and drink coffee before 4 and wine after 5.

What do you want to go big on? 

Do you want to read to your kids?

Do you want to model hospitality?

Do you want them to learn an instrument?

Do you want them to speak a language?

Do you want your kitchen clean?

Do you want sparkly floors?

Do you want financial security?

Do you want snazzy looking kids?

We can’t do everything and anything all the time. You can though, pick one or two of those things on the list.


I overhead a conversation at a party recently. “We are just so busy. I can’t believe I did that to myself again. We have soccer and gymnastics and (insert activity) and (insert another activity) and (insert the cherry on top activity.) It wasn’t said with sadness or embarrassment though. It was almost a celebration. Which did, in fact, make me sad.

“What if we stopped celebrating being busy as a measurement of importance? What if instead we celebrated how much time we had spent listening, pondering, meditating, and enjoying time with the most important people in our lives?” -McKeown

I think that’s what I want. What I want to go big on. A celebration of the time I spent listening, on the floor, playing with my kids. The time spent writing and thinking. The time with my husband. The time I spent with my friends.

There are trade-offs. It means my house will rarely be clean. It means my kids will miss out on sports most seasons. It means we trade off money in our account for a sitter and drinks. It means we say no to a whole lot more than we say yes too.

I don’t want you to put us on a pedestal. It’s Sunday and my floors are sticky, my sink is full and I haven’t looked at the calendar for the week. I went to the store and totally forgot to buy coffee for the morning. I am feeling as frazzled as frazzled can be. Knowing I have four kids to feed and educate and love on in the morning. Ones that don’t care how much sleep I got or how much time I would like to “think.” One’s that will most certainly care that their mom didn’t get her coffee yet.

But I know that when I remember that almost everything is unimportant, I can focus on the actually important parts.

Some days, it’s cleaning the kitchen, yes.

But other days it’s a stack full of picture books.

It’s just never going to be both.

I’ll leave you with one more quote:

“Essentialism: only once you give yourself permission to stop trying to do it all, to stop saying yes to everyone, can you make your highest contribution towards the things that really matter.” -McKeown

What really matters right now?

Do that.

On Homelessness

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Or, alternatively, on being “Home Free”


I will never forget the first time I heard the term “Home Free.”  We were in the hospital, meeting our new little bit, checking in on Mom, and introducing the siblings. Bio Dad said it in passing.  How they identified their living situation, not as a political statement, just as a descriptor.

How ridiculous, I thought.  Just a fancy word for what it is- living on the street.

As in, free from mortgages and rent and an address. Free from taxes and jobs and adult responsibilities. You can laugh. I certainly did.

At least until I saw the birth certificate. Under “address” it said:

“Home Free”

No joke.

A very intentional, very deliberate, very vision oriented way they live their life.


I’ve had a handful of experiences helping in shelters serving food. A handful of times that I’ve had “care bags” in my car ready to give. I’ve been the one to hand out cash on occasion. Hot coffee if it’s ridiculously cold out. Candy if we have it.

I’ve also been the one to ignore. Look away. Pull into the lane farthest away. Lock the doors.


I think, for those of us that live in White Middle-Class America, we are missing quite a lot of perspective.

They are our “mission field” They need our help. They need food. They need a leg up. They fell on “hard times.”

Or they are to be avoided. They are dangerous. Drug Addicts. They are irresponsible burdens on our society. They waste our taxpayer money.

They. 

You know the ones. The ones that aren’t Us. 


A few months later I had the chance to just sit with her again, my friend this time.   We were talking about how she was doing. How the weather was. How much time they had before it got too cold. She wanted me to know that the hospital misunderstood her when they asked how much she smoked while she was pregnant. She wanted me to know how much she hates the “soul stealing” drugs. She was hurt beyond measure by relationships in her family. She talked about her “habit” (a legal one in the state of CO) and she talked about other people’s “habits.” I learned that you can get by on $20 a day if your habit is Marijuana. $80+ if it’s cocaine. I learned which neighborhoods she avoids. I learned that, apparently, you can ask someone  what their habit is and chances are they will tell you. She said it’s usually good to do that before you give them money. That it is a totally acceptable question to ask. She said she usually earns quite a bit more money by telling people it’s weed. (Take what you want from that). I learned that cigarettes are crazy expensive and they are rationed.

I learned that the new rules in our county on a ban on camping weren’t affecting them so much. As long as they don’t get caught “nodding” they are good to go. Her friend did- just the other day.

I learned quite a bit that day. But most importantly, I learned something that I wasn’t expecting,

She was happy.

She was so glad to see the boys. So happy to give me a glimpse into her life. To have an “outsider” listen. She didn’t want money or food or a ride anywhere. I didn’t ask- boundaries and all- but she didn’t ask either.


I don’t know what if, or how, these words will impact you today. I write them sitting in an expensive coffee shop, drinking expensive tea, typing on my expensive computer. I’ll probably go to the store and buy food even though my fridge isn’t empty. I’ll drive my expensive car that costs a ton to fill up with gas and I won’t even blink.

But I do want you to know that nothing will ever change if our perspective stays the same. This mattered to me because she is my friend. Because he is my friend. My home free friends that live by the creek in the summer.


Those small things matter. The meals. The money. The warm beds in the middle of winter.

There are individuals who ask for help and we should jump at the chance to help them.

And there are individuals that are dangerous.

But when we see them as what they are- what all of us are- a beautiful masterpiece- it stops being about us- and starts being about HIM.

Grace and Perspective. Vision and Clarity. Freedom. Unlikely friendships. I can only hope that we can live in the same very intentional, very deliberate, very vision oriented way. They have a lot to teach us. I pray that Grace shines through our conversations and time together. In our emails and pictures. In our years together.

Home Free.

I like it.

On Wherever You Are

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I have grand plans most Tuesdays.

It’s the day I take off my “homeschool mom” hat. Today I was going to write about homelessness on the blog. I had planned on mopping,  scrubbing the downstairs bathroom, and putting away the laundry. I was also going to do yoga, take a shower and finish my knitting project. Collect money for book club and finish the last touches before tomorrow was high on the list. Oh, and make the pizza crust for dinner. (+ do the dishes, put away the vegetables, figure out what smells and find my 5-year-olds shoes)

Ha. It was a nice thought.

I’ve been on the couch with a newborn watching The Goldbergs and typing one handed for 2 1/2 hours.

So dear friend, wherever you are right now, be there.

There’s nowhere else you are supposed to be. 

On Adoption

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“He looks just like you guys! That totally worked out!”

I  have no business writing anything today.

I’m exhausted.

And by exhausted, I mean, well, exhausted.

This week we got to do the thing we’ve been waiting 18+ months to do. To legally, permanently, offer up our home to the boy that was born to another woman.

The one that looks just like us.

((Which, for the record, is not a “worked out” thing, whatever that is supposed to mean.))


I wish there was a word that meant both congratulations and I’m sorry for your loss.


Adoption is hard.

It’s like a pregnancy where you don’t know the due date for, that takes 2 years of your life, and stretches your heart way beyond anything stretch marks or labor could do.

Foster Care is hard.

It’s like adoption only you aren’t their forever family, you have to do all the crap parts of parenting, and you never really see how stuff turns out.

Parenting is hard.

It’s like running a small army of humans that all have very distinct ideas of what it entails to be in the army, that had no choice in the matter of joining in the first place, and have to get along regardless.

Three days before we finalized V’s adoption, we welcomed his biological five-day old brother to our home. I kinda thought we would be out of the system by now. Or at least with a plan. Not coordinating court ordered visits with the same bio mom the day of his brother’s adoption.

Starting from scratch before we even finished.

A friend at church asked if it was easier to parent a newborn not having to go through the labor part. I told her it was, in some ways, and it wasn’t.

I’m hungry all the time. I’m not sleeping. My hair is falling out. My pants don’t fit. I don’t know how to make dinner or transport everyone somewhere. Normal, new kid in the family stuff.

Only it’s with someone else’s kid.

Withdrawing from drugs that shouldn’t exist.

Too small to fit in the carseat.

One I missed out on holding for 5 days. Never felt his kicks or hiccups. One that lost everything familiar in one foreign car ride.

So I guess, my heart hurts more. And that’s different.

They, the social workers, always ask at some point, are you sure?  are you guys up for this?”

Not really. No.

And yes, yes of course.

What I told his mom months ago.


I’m not sure what I wanted adoption to feel like. Or what it really does independent of all the new stuff and the tired stuff and the back in the system stuff.

Love is Love.

Wherever they came from. For however long they are with you. And wherever they are going.

That, I do know for sure.

On Running

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It’s been a while since I raced.

And by “race” I mean paid $40 to put on a bib and run behind a whole bunch of people way faster than I ever will be towards the music and beer and pie and iced espresso.

The last race I ran was a half that I downgraded to a 10K. Drove to by myself, raced by myself, and left by myself. Never saying a word to anyone. I slogged up the hill. I slogged down the hill. I turned around in time to start getting passed by the leads in the half. I leapfrogged run/walking with a few other desperate to finish women. I heard the music. Saw the balloons. Sprinted ((well, hobbled a little bit faster)) to the end. Patted myself on the back and drove myself home to eat and sleep.

It was horrible.

And I can’t help but think about doing it again.


The last six months in Foster Care were more or less that race.  We slogged through wishing it to be over and dreading the finish all at the same time. Struggling up the hills, struggling down the hills. Run/walking the entire way. Exhausted. Trying to finish strong but out of breath and out of steam and out of motivation to make it to the end.

  But we kept going. Kept walking knowing the music and the cheering and the balloons are so. very. close. We just can’t see them yet.

and then, before we know it, we are in our car, headed home to eat and sleep and process what the hell just happened.


We sent our girlies off last week. With bags of clothes and books and toys. Albums full of pictures. Memories of a season with our family. We sent them off to be reunited with their sibling.  Something long overdue.

I’ve been dreading the feelings of being “the other foster home.” Of playing a part in kids moving from place to place.  Nervous about how to handle comments about our constantly changing family.

  A family that did respite for us a few weeks back said the thing I was truly, honestly, dreading.  “I’m glad things aren’t so crazy anymore for you.”  They had all five kids on a Sunday afternoon because the county thought it would be good initial childcare experience. Ha!  I feel like, maybe, just maybe, we were a bad place to start.

I mean, I AM so glad things aren’t so crazy anymore, but I feel like I get to say that, you know? I’ve been processing why I’ve been dreading that comment and why it stuck out so much for me in a weekend full of encouraging, just the right thing, comments.

 It was our crazy and maybe in a sense, I liked it. And in another way, I miss it. And in a third way, it feels too oddly quiet around here and I hate it.

To bring back the running analogy, it would be like if someone at a water station came up to you after a race and said, “wow, it was hot today.”

It was hot. You are right. Thank you.

It was crazy. You are right. Thank you.

I don’t miss the driving or the meltdowns or the sibling rivalry. The early morning wakeups or the lack of spontaneity. But I do miss our girlies and I would be lying to say that I don’t. We worked really hard with them. We helped get them to a point where they could be ok together in one home. Gave our friends enough time to be in a place to say yes. We loved them in every possible way you could love someone.

It was insane, but I still miss it.

We did it. We made it to the end of a season. The end of a race.


I guess, now, we get to do the water station and comment on the heat. That’s one of the pluses about not racing. And maybe a good reminder to be nicer to the water station people. They most likely have a ridiculous race coming up too.