Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Gift I Gave Jesus, And What He Gave Me in Return

It's been one year today.

For three months I had been moping around, grieving the death of a dream to adopt from Haiti. Nathan had been trying in his own gentle ways to point me toward foster care and domestic adoption. But I was resistant. 

I didn't think I could open my home and my heart to that kind of potential heartache. All the unknowns. All the problems. All the complications. All about me. 

But as last November crept up on December, God began to knock. And when I cracked open the door, He blew right in.

Nathan had requested an information packet about foster care and adoption from the Department of Human Resources the August before. It collected dust for a few months as I clung tightly to my reasons for not filling out the application.

At one point I finally threw it away. 

Forgotten and dismissed, I plunged into the Christmas season with no idea that it was going to make it's way right back into our home.

As the first week of December came and went, I began to consider what gift our family would give to Jesus for His birthday. Usually it's monetary. A lump sum to foreign missions, presents for needy families in the area, or some other endeavor that involves making His name known or giving to the least of these. We were still tossing around ideas when an application to foster/adopt through the state showed up in our mailbox. Unrequested. 

One year ago today chills covered my body when I saw the manila envelope in Nathan's hands. In that same moment I heard Christ whisper, "This is what I want for Christmas." And my soul shifted.

He was asking me to say yes to foster care. Asking for the gift of my trust and this home and our future. He wanted what He always wants. My willingness to follow Him anywhere, into any unknown, with only Him as my Shepherd.

A year ago today I gave Jesus exactly what He asked for and said yes to foster care. We didn't lay our heads on the pillow that night until we had filled out the entire (lengthy!!!) application. When I finally snuggled under the covers, I experienced the sweetest peace knowing I was giving Jesus what He wanted for His birthday. 

But how on earth could I have known that by offering that one gift to Him, He would give me 10,000 in return?

Because ya'll, it was me who got the gift.

I got the gift of kindred spirits while traveling this rocky road with other foster parents. I got to rejoice over their placements and intercede when their hearts broke. I got deep deep friendship.

I got the gift of water walking with Jesus. As we stepped out of the boat in every conceivable way; with our children, our finances, our future, our time, I got to hold the hand of the Master and know the satisfaction of doing what I thought humanly impossible.

I got the gift of a 5lb bundle of pure sweetness to hold and love and squeeze and rock. I got to pray over him at night, to feel his little body on my chest, and to nuzzle his tender cheek. 

I got the gift of watching my biological children dote over a new sibling. Of seeing them be proud as peacocks when others adored him. Of witnessing their growth as they gave up much and took on more to make room for this new one. 

I got the gift of his first smile, his first giggle, his first crawl. I got to see his uncontainable delight when I walked in the room. I got the gift of his preference. 

I got the gift of showing him off to others, of hearing them make a fuss over him, of picking him up from the nursery, and taking him home with me when day is done.

I got the gift of loving him so much that I fear losing him. And the gift of knowing the love of the Father more deeply because of it. 

I got the gift of his presence in our lives. I got the gift of more of His presence in my life. 

But unlike the gift I gave Christ, I deserved none of it.

I didn't give to Him to get something in return. But it just goes to show that anytime we offer something to Christ, we are the ones who benefit from it. 

That gift I gave Jesus a year ago, I'm so much richer for it.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Not Into Normal: More of Me than You Might Want to See

Today I decided to dig out the journal from 2013 and walk down memory lane. You know, since there's nothing else to do around here and all. What with the three kids and the two dogs and the laundry and the two dozen toys my son wants me to replace batteries in and the party I'm hosting TOMORROW NIGHT. 

While enjoying the denial zone and reading through my little green leather journal, I ran across this entry from August of last year. (Yes, I write in a journal every day. Yes, I'm going to let you read it. Yes, you'll know the extent of my mental instability afterward. Like me, anyway, please.) I remember being in such a state of unrest and confusion. That feeling that God was calling me to something else...but what?  For those of you who feel like you're on the verge....

"Went to the grocery store and talked with Jenna on the way home. For a brief moment I felt "this is how it should be." Run errands. Take care of things at home. Do normal stuff. 

15 minutes later I'm reading Jen Hatmaker's blog about the trials of bringing home Ben and crying into my lunch plate. 

I am so not into normal. I've dabbled in normal and found it terribly...not for me. It gives me the ibbie jibbies. I want to blow the doors off of normal

Meanwhile, I vacillate between the urge to contact Jen Hatmaker and beg her to tell me something helpful (cause I'm sure she's got time for that) and telling myself to quit obsessing over whatever "this" is and unload the dishwasher. But I don't want to unload the dishwasher. I WANT _______?

Dare I say it? Something big. God sized. A little scary. Water Walking.

All that really matters to me, Jesus, is what you want me to do. Do we adopt? Domestic or international? Are you sure? I'm not. I feel selfish wanting more. And I feel like a glutton for eating both those pieces of chocolate. 


I think we have success in the "not normal" part. Cause there ain't nothin' normal about this here foster care thing. Reading that entry reminded me how when God's got a mind to do something unusual in your life, He often gives you an appetite for it even before you know the name of the meal. 

His ways continue to astound me. 

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Spoiled American Thankful List

Let's end this holiday on a lighter note...

I am way yonder, seriously, VERY thankful for:

1) My bed. Ya'll. I really like my bed. O the glory of that bed! We went all out and splurged on the king sized foam top deluxe version. Worth. Every. Penny. (You were right, Nathan.) Life is hard. Beds don't have to be. Dear bed, I love you and never want to leave you. When the kids are grown, we'll spend more time together. I promise.

2) Coffee. Really, it's the only thing I like about the mornings. And quite frankly I find it difficult to be spiritual without it before 9am. If only little elves would make it and bring it to my bedside table before I wake up...

3) Cheap Entertainment. As in the Burger King two blocks away with a play place. It's loud. It stinks like kid sweat and funky socks. But hey, the children are happy and contained. 

4) The DVD player in my minivan. Should we consider travel time family time? Probably. Should I be directing their little eyes to the beauty God created around us? Absolutely. Should we be memorizing scripture and playing fun travel games? Right again. Do I push play to keep those little boogers off my nerves on extended trips? Oh yes. 

5) Pacifier clips. Sheer genius. Nuff said.

6) eGift Cards. Because I can remember at 11:45 pm that it's your birthday and still get a present to your inbox before the day is over. Bam. Take that procrastination.  

7) Public school teachers. I considered  homeschooling for 45 minutes. I still get cold chills just thinking about that terrifying day. Behavior charts. Organizational folders. Schedules. Not to mention the actual educational part. Thank you thank you thank you teachers for taking my kid 7 hours a day and preparing him to be productive member of society. You are #1 in my book.

8) Cheesecake. With coffee. In a restaurant. 

9) Velcro shoes. We just taught my 6 year old how to tie actual laces. Oh the agony. Actually, my husband did most the training on that. Because apparently I'm incapable of teaching my children anything practical for actual life. Thank you, Sketchers for six sweet years of velcro light up shoes before we had to endure the hardship of laces. 

10) Athletic pants. Because jeans are so restrictive, don't you think? Ah the relief of pulling on pants that don't remind me of my muffin top, big hiney, chunky thighs. Sorry world, you see me in my i don't care sweats far too often. But oh the glory of not shoving my bottom half into clothes made for Barbie. 

*What would you add?

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Thankful For a Year Like This

O God, 

As I reflect on the past 12 months, have I ever had so much to be thankful for? 

I'm thankful for water walking. You've led me out into the deep where this heart had the chance to sink. But I've known the surge that comes with finding you faithful. That place where trusting you is the only option. Have I ever known you so sure. Found you so able. Praise your Holy name, you keep me above the waves and show yourself gloriously capable. Others wonder how. I know the Who. 

I'm thankful Your plans are not my plans. A year ago I was still moaning the loss of my dream to adopt from foreign places. Today I hold a baby born down the road from mine. Sweet Jesus, your plans are good. I'm grateful they can't be thwarted, even by my stubborn ways. Thank you for moving my heart to be in tune with your own. 

I'm thankful you quiet me. When I'm on the floor in a heap because he might go back, you cover my form with your hand and transmit peace unthinkable. I could not have known your help if I had not known this pain. I would not have experienced your calm if I had not known this storm. 

I'm thankful for children who astound me. Every time they dote on him, or love on each other, or act like our family is normal, I'm reminded that your plan is big enough to include all of us. That you have made it well with their souls, and not just mine. That you will care for them, just as you do me. Thank you for working in my children, and drawing them into your ways. 

I'm thankful you do not let me walk this road alone. Thank you for church ladies who hold him in the nursery and tell me they pray for him the whole time. Thank you for family that has made our mission their own. Thank you for a husband whose heart beats and breaks just like mine. 

I'm thankful for the way you exploded my spirit with your love through a butterball giggle box that drools like a leaky faucet and breaks my heart with his grin. Would I have known how badly you wanted me if I had not feared losing him? Bless you Jesus, for giving me a greater glimpse of your relentless love. Seeing you more fully is the delight of my life.  

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Mom's Night Out Anyone? A giveaway.

Here's the scene:

The New Chick was up multiple times in the night. 

I wake up in a daze realizing I overslept.

Bleary eyed and half brained, I stumble into the kitchen to find my six year old has already fixed himself a bowl of cereal.

And spilled it all over the table and floor.

I determine he must have chosen a mixing bowl instead of a cereal bowl because on my honor there are 5 cups of cheerios and one gallon of milk dripping from the table to the tile.

Que The New Chick to start crying. Also the whinny insistent 4 year old wanting me to peel an orange. And the husband asking me where to find the car insurance papers.

My neurons aren't firing so I just stare at them, wishing for the coffee that isn't yet made. When the puddle of milk mush Cheerios hits my toes, something triggers and I finally start to get into gear.

Wipe the floor. Shovel food into the baby's mouth. Pour more cereal. Peel the orange. 

Go get your clothes on! Brush your teeth!

Look in the drawer under the microwave. 

Where is your back pack? Where are your shoes? 

Why haven't you brushed your teeth yet!?

Hurry, son! You're going to be late!

While helping him with his coat I notice his hair is sticking up like chicken feathers. No time for that. 

Throw out the words "I love you" while pushing him out the door. Hoping desperately he knows I really do despite the chaos of the last half hour.

Door closes.

Deep breath in. Exhale. I think he made it on time.

Put the madness behind in order to move on to the rest of the day.

Door opens. Blond chicken feathers and big blue eyes peek in.

Mom, where's my lunch?!


In honor of Mamas who survive mornings like this, it's time for a giveaway. 

Picture via

How about two hours of escaping from your own life and relating to someone else who doesn't have it all together?

A break from reality and permission to laugh at the hilarity that is being a homework helping, shoe finding, poop wiping, snack fixing, check kissing, keeping it together Mama. 

To win, simply subscribe by email

If you already do, share this post on Facebook and comment below that you did!

The winner will be chosen Friday, November 21 at 12:00 est. 

I wish I could give every one of you an actual night out. But since I'm not Oprah, a two hour movie for one of you will have to do!

I hope you win!

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Monday, November 17, 2014

Supporting Foster Families: 7 Ways You can Pray

The response to The Other Mother has been thoroughly encouraging.  One of the most touching aspects has been the number of people commenting on social media that they are praying for us. 


If you've ever walked a difficult road (who hasn't?) then you know what it means to hear that others have your back in this powerful way. 

I believe that interceding on behalf of others is especially tender to the heart of God. When we come before His throne, selflessly pleading for Him to act on behalf of another, I just wonder at what kind of pleasure it must bring Him. 

Maybe you know a family who fosters, but aren't sure how to pray. Here are 7 ways you can pray for foster families:

1) Pray that foster moms and dads trust God with the future of the children in their care. It's a daunting task to consider them not being under a trusted wing of protection. Pray they remember that God sees those children and that He cares. Deeply.

2) Pray that biological children can adjust to new siblings when they come, and say goodbye when they leave. These kids deal with emotions and situations that are hard for little hearts to handle. Pray they learn to look to God when dealing with change and heartache. 

3) Pray that parents have the strength they need to meet the daily challenges of fostering. Raising children is difficult. Raising children from hard places is extra difficult. Throw in multiple trips to government buildings, extra doctor's appointments, and visitations with birth parents...It can quickly become a draining lifestyle. Pray that foster parents get the rest, support, and energy they need to accomplish the tasks before them. 

4) Pray that families trust God with the potential heartbreak of foster care. There is nothing like looking at a child you love knowing they might go back. The weight of that ever-looming grief is heavy. Ask God to help moms and dads have peace, believing He will carry them through.

5) Pray that foster families make the most of the opportunity they have been given. The gospel is the most life changing thing they can give a child. Pray that families show the love of Christ and speak the love of Christ. Pray that the hearts of the children would be soft to Jesus, and that the Gospel would take root in their young lives. 

6) Pray that biological children embrace a lifestyle of protecting and providing for the vulnerable. I have often worried that by deciding to foster, my two kids would become embittered. Pray that God helps families to make fostering a family mission. Pray that it would strengthen rather than weaken the faith of the biological children. 

7) Pray that God would raise up more foster families. The need is great. Few things bless the hearts of foster families more than hearing of new foster families! Pray that God would call more Christ-following families to open their homes to displaced children. 

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Other Mother

Since day one, many have asked about The New Chick's biological mom. And for all seven of the months he's lived in my house, I've put off writing about her. But, there is a season for everything, and a time for every purpose under heaven. 

The first time I saw her it was in the Chambers County Courthouse. I looked up from admiring the five day old baby who was snug against my chest, and saw her walking toward us. I knew her by the tears pouring unchecked down her face. She humbly asked me if she could hold him, and I began to wonder at the world I had just entered.

As I unswaddled all five precious pounds and placed him in his mothers arms, I realized this entire endeavor was going to require more of my heart than I had expected. I felt all at once tremendous pain for her, and ferocious protection over him. 

Those two emotions would only swell with the passing weeks. At times they were at war within my soul. 

Someone commented on her right after he came to us. They posed a question, that was really more of a statement, along the lines of how could anyone do what she has done. The person went on to make her out as a total sinner, and me a total saint.

I just blinked and ashamedly said nothing. But inside was a raging inferno.

There is nothing fundamentally different about she and me. The only thing that polarizes her life from mine is that I was given a gift when I was 6.  

The gift of the Holy Spirit when I got adopted by The King.

Without that gift I would have been her. I would have chased this world and let it have it's way with me. I would have made costly decisions; looking to all the wrong things to make me feel happy and all the wrong people to make me feel loved. I would have given myself to a man way too early and gotten pregnant and had a baby. 

It would have been me watching the social workers walk out of the hospital with my first born son, still sore from giving birth to him. 
It would have been me wondering where they took him.
And who was holding him. And what was going to happen to him.
It would have been me facing every parent's worst nightmare.

It would have been me.

But Jesus.

I won't lie. There's another side to my feelings about her. It's not jealousy. Or competition. It's more like looking at her and wondering if I will be her in a few months. 

I fear the pain she's already lived through.

Handing my baby over to the social workers to be cared for by strangers. Wondering where he is and if he needs me. Missing his firsts and wanting him so desperately it hurts. Fearing that he's wants Mama, but can't have her.

I hate the notion that her success will mean my greatest loss. And just as much I loathe the idea that if she fails, I somehow win. 

Because if he goes back, I'll curl up and die for a while. But if he stays, I'll grieve with the knowledge that she'll do the same. Either way, pain will be thick. 

It's true that she and I are very different. I was adopted and she wasn't. She brought him into the world and I didn't. I know him in ways she doesn't. 

And every time I say "Come to Mama" I am reminded that there is another.

But in this we are the same. 

She and I are both the other mother.

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Sunday, November 9, 2014

How to Love an Orphan

It's been almost a year since this young man stuck his lanky legs under my table and ate my spaghetti.

I'm talking about the one on the right. The cutie on the left rejects pasta in every form.

But that handsome Haitian, he melted my heart when he gobbled down my cooking like it was something special. In actuality, he had my heart two years earlier when I first saw him in this picture. 
My husband showed it to me after returning from a trip to Haiti early in 2012. He and Bill Howard, the director of Alex's House Orphanage, had taken a detour on the way to the airport to visit the mass grave where thousands were buried after the earthquake. 

They found Renel and his brother Remy there, at the grave of their parents, begging for food. 

Every day those two boys, 11 and 8, left the tarp they lived under and walked an hour down the mountain to the mass grave. 

No food. No water. No watchful parental eye supervising. No future. No hope. No nothing. 

Except that the eyes of the Lord were on them. 

After a series of events that only He could arrange, those two children who were once hungry, now go to bed well fed. They have beds and clothes. They go to school and play soccer. They have people who love and care for them. They hear about the love of Jesus. 

This Jesus who loves them so much he sent a group of men to start a Christ-centered orphanage in a dark and poor Haiti. Men who could no longer pretend those children weren't there, and who answered the call to provide.

If you've known me more than 30 minutes you know I love me some Alex's House. I love their vision. I love their love for children. I love that they want to rescue more off the streets of a harsh Haiti.

If you want the chance to be a part of what God is doing through Alex's House, here it is. 

Buy a $10 ticket. 

That's it, ya'll. $10. Most of us spend that much a week on our cable bill.  

The $10 ticket gives you the info needed to bid on a ticket to the Alabama vs. Auburn game. But really, it's not about winning tickets to the hottest game in the Southeast. 

It's about loving on this kid. 

And these kids. 

It's about making sure Alex's House has the funds they need to care for them, and more like them. 

So here's how to love a Haitian Orphan. Click the Paypal Donate button and send in your ten bucks.  Comment below with your email address and I will send you the info on how to bid on the Auburn vs. Alabama tickets. 

Even if you have no interest in the game, it's $10 folks. 

My readers are the best. I love doing kingdom work with you.

*If you sponsor a child at Alex's House, tell us which one! Do them a favor and share this post. 

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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Spending More on What Matters

I enter Walmart for the third time in 32 hours. 

We need one thing: face paint to transform my son into an army man for a school function. I head to my target and throw two tubes into the cart.

Since I'm already here, I might as well grab some camo pants to pull the costume together. I blaze a trail to the clothing section. 

A reminder text from a friend, "Don't forget we're having soup at church tonight." No way are my kids touching that. Better swing over to the grocery section and pick up a couple of Lunchables. 

On the way to check out, I notice the new fall scented Glade plug-ins. My house has been smelling seriously funky lately. Artificial pumpkin spice would be a welcome change. Toss it in and get out before anything else finds it's way into the cart.

I went in for less than a dollar's worth of stuff. 45 minutes later I leave after spending over $2o. Anybody?! Multiply that scenario by 3 times a week and we're talking big money here. 

Looking at my receipt later, I thought of the verses that keep playing like a broken record in my mind:

If you spend yourselves 
in behalf of the hungry,
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your light will become like the noonday sun.
Isaiah 58:10

Considering how I spend my money, I'm investing myself on behalf of the wealthy, and satisfying the wants of the privilegedBecause to the world, my family is the wealthy. We are the privileged. 

And if you are reading this, you are too.

If your family makes $48,000 a year (the median in the US), you are in the top 1% of the world's population. That means you are richer than 99% of the world. Even if your income is half that, you are still in the top 2.24%.

Image via

It's not even the fact that we're so rich that has me disturbed these days. It's that they are so poor.

29,160 human beings died of hunger TODAY. An estimated 22,000 of them were children. 

I look at mine and wonder what kind of agony it would be to watch them die of starvation. I close my eyes and my my mind because my heart cannot even go there. 

Already burdened with this image, what am I doing buying more junk that my family does not need? I'm not against face paint or plug ins. But when the accumulation of worthless rubbish robs my budget of the ability to help others who are starving, there might be a priorities problem.

According to worldometers, a real time world statistic website, 179 million dollars was spent on weight loss programs in the last twenty four hours. 

Ya'll, when we're spending that kind of money every day to shed the weight of our excess food problem, while 22,ooo children die of hunger...

I can't even.

And here's the part that really gets me. It's never taken so little effort to make a difference. We have the ability to read about the overwhelming need and in the same breath click a button sending funds to aid in alleviating it. We have the wealth and helping couldn't be easier. So, why isn't this poverty problem getting smaller? Could it be because our greed keeps getting bigger.

Jesus help us.

Does anyone else have the sense that we're really missing it? I do too. But I don't want to keep missing it. I want to start spending less on the worthless clutter our culture convinces us we must have. And more on what matters.

Like helping children take their next breath and live long enough to hear the name of Jesus.

Picture via

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Home is Not a Place

When I was just a little girl, I longed for nothing more than to put down roots in the same small southern town where my family has lived for generations.

Love for that place and it's quiet, predictable ways convinced me there was no where on earth, save there, for me. Besides, every person I cared anything about dwelled between it's borders. I couldn't for the life of me think of a reason any sane individual would want to leave.

I assumed that safety and happiness were only found in the familiar surroundings and beloved faces of that sleepy little spot of earth. 

But as I grew so did the dreams God planted in me. Sooner than I would have guessed and earlier than Mama preferred, He began to call me out from that haven. One small step outside it's protective borders, and then another. Until I found my feet wandering all over God's green earth, and sometimes farther. 

And although I still adore that blessed little town and hail it as the dearest to my heart, I have discovered a truth that lets me leave securely: 

Home is where He is.  

Home is where He sends us. Where He keeps us. Home is where He calls us us. And sometimes where He drags us. Home is in the city and in the country. In the lush of South Alabama and the brown of New Mexico too. 

Dear ones, there is no place where God is not. We fool ourselves and idolize places when we believe that happiness lies only there, in that particular spot. Scripture would preach us another sermon. There is no place sweeter than His presence, and His presence is not tethered to a location.

Home is living fully right where He plants us. Embracing whatever with whomever He surrounds us. Home is simply being with Him. 

So let's be people who love where we're from and stay there if God so desires. For those He has called out, may we go back often and keep a sacred spot in our souls for where we started. 

But no matter where we find ourselves, may our deepest roots be in Him and not the dirt of this earth. Because home is not a place, it's a Person.  

Monday, October 27, 2014

Bracelet Giveaway

While at the Allume conference, I was captured by a sponsor table laden with eye catching ornaments and jewelry.

After looking into the non profit organization selling them, I was even more motivated to buy! Ornaments for Orphans gives men and women in impoverished countries the opportunity to work making beautiful handmade items. This offers them the chance to earn an income and make rent, feed their families, and send their children to school. 

Ornaments for Orphans then sells the pretties, using the proceeds to enrich the lives of vulnerable children who are at risk of starvation, trafficking, abuse, and abandonment. It's win win, ya'll! 

I spent every dime of shopping money I took to the conference at the Ornaments for Orphans table. Convicted that I should share the jewelry wealth, it seemed appropriate to give a piece away on the blog. I let the Just Beth Facebook followers decide which one. (You should "like" it...I give stuff away.) Ready to see what you chose? Drumroll please...

You did well. It's gorgeous. I might have tried it on just to see how it looks...

Are my arms really that hairy??

Are you ready to win it?

Just add your name to my Follow by Email subscription list, then comment below telling me you did. Easy peasy.

If you already follow by email, share this post on Facebook and leave a comment below that you did! You'll be entered to win, too.

The winner will be chosen Wednesday at 12:00 pm EST. I hope you win! 

*Disclaimer! Ornaments4Orphans did not solicit this post. I just like buying a giving their stuff away. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Quirky Side

I am tremendously excited to be attending the Allume conference next weekend! 

The women who attend fly in from all over the U.S. and Canada. Most are stepping out on a limb and sharing hotel rooms with other gals sight unseen. As in, never met face to face. Although you can be sure we've all been stalking each other on Facebook, Twitter and blog pages. 

So far my roomies seem pretty normal. Most people do until you get to know them. Since the weekend is short and we'll be on the fast track to friendship what with sharing a potty and all, I figured we should just cut through the superficial "get to know you" stuff and air our peculiarities on the front end.

 In an effort to dispel any myths about my degree of normal-ness I give you
10 Things You Could Care Less to Know About Me. 
Be blessed. 

#1) I have never not burned the bread for dinner. Toast...french loaf...tender yeast rolls. It doesn't matter. I burn buns. Every. Single. Time. My dear husband has begun to request crackers and untoasted loaf bread. Too bad he didn't get a real wife.

#2) I have been known to develop relationships with fictional book characters. More than once while reading Redeeming Love, I caught myself praying for Angel. And Hadassah in the Mark of the Lion....I considered naming my first born after her. But then he was a boy, so we went with Titus instead.  

#3) My favorite shoes are a pair of navy loafer Crocs. Three weeks after I got them, I left them on the back steps to dry after working in the yard. Enter naughty puppy. Now my Crocs look like this:

I still wear them anyway. Nearly every day. All over town. And often to church.

#4) Decisions. Oh the angst of decisions. Is there anything I hate worse than decisions? Menus at restaurants stress me out. Picking out a new purse? Stress. Beach towel? Stress. Please do not EVER ask me to choose where to eat. I will not divulge the amount of time I have spent trying to decide what to wear to this conference. Like it even matters!?

#5) In my quest for frugal living, I've attempted to make nearly every store bought item we like to eat from scratch:

  • Homemade Butterfinger bars. (Don't waste your time.)
  • Homemade granola bars. (Easy and totally worth it.)
  • Homemade Cheezits. (So much work I dared my family to eat more than two at a time. No repeat performance.) 
  • Homemade flavored coffee creamer. (Tasteless disappointment.)
  • Homemade baby food. (Simple and cost effective.)
  • Homemade Oreos. (Actually I have the recipe but never followed through.)
In the end, my motto is "Don't they sell that?" 

#6) I like to eat dessert after the kids go to bed. Even if I offer something sweet to the rest of the fam at dinner, I wait until 8:30 pm to eat my share. And if there's not a sweet treat in the house, I indulge in a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios. I see it as my reward for surviving another day. 

#7) I sleep with a box fan running on high every night. Even in the dead of winter. It's not about temperature control. It's about noise reduction. This chick is a super light sleeper and without some white noise I hear every dern thing. I usually travel with my beloved sleep aid. But for this particular conference, I'll just be packing the benedryl. Don't throw stones. You'll like me more if I sleep.

#8) Until a few months ago this whole writing dream was a closely guarded secret. I've been a boarder line nervous wreck over letting people in on it. Just ask my husband.

#9) I love the sound of my children playing...OUTSIDE. Their darling little voices quickly escalate in this no carpet house. It doesn't take many decibels to push my limits. So for the love of mama's ears, go play in the great out-of-doors! 

#10) I sleep in the nude. KIDDING! I'm a pajama pants and t-shirt girl. It's late and I couldn't think of anything else.  

There you have it ladies. Looking forward to next weekend!

*How about the rest of you? Tell us one of your quirks...

Monday, October 13, 2014

Lord, This Is What I'm Giving You Today.

Lord, I tend to want to hold on. To hoard them near myself for safe keeping. But it's an illusion. The only safe place for anything that matters is in your hands. So this is what I'm giving you today;

My mind - May it constantly dwell on what is true and right. Help me to train it toward constant gratitude. Protect it from the enemy who wants to poison it with subtle lies and faithless thoughts.

My heart - May it beat for you, loving you first and best. Let it treasure what your treasure, and make it broken over what breaks yours. Knowing the mouth speaks of what fills the heart, pour it full of you. 

My husband - May he want you more than anything else on this earth and may his satisfaction come solely from you. Let him lead with humble confidence, knowing you are his King. Help me to remember you have given him a great weight of responsibility, and to respect him with this is mind.

My children - May they be soft to the gospel and eager to walk in your ways. Give me the wisdom to train them in the way they should go. I don't want to embitter them, Lord, so let my parenting be done in love. They are yours, therefore help me to shoot them out straight and strong in you when the time comes. Remind me to trust that they are in your constant care.

My dreams - May they find their root in you. Forbid that I should chase what would draw me away from you. Rather, cultivate that which will take me to the depths of you. You alone know all that churns in this heart. I trust that what you purpose will come to pass, and that no plan of yours can be thwarted. Help me believe that you love me like a father, and that you care deeply about the desires of my heart. 

My Future - May I rest in the fact that my times are in your hands. Nothing will happen that you have not ordained or allowed. Help me remember that I need not fear the future, because you promise to be there with me. Through mountain high and valley low. My life is yours, do with it as you please.

What do you need to give God today?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Dear Minivan Mama

I saw you today in a minivan not very different from mine. 

You were waiting for traffic to clear so you could turn left into the parking lot I was leaving. Looking straight ahead into your van, I had the perfect view of the exchange that was taking place. 

That thing where you look in the rear view mirror to yell talk sternly to the kids in the back. You were doing it. And then the tell-tell forehead into the hand. I didn't need to hear the words to imagine what was going on:

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Mom, she's touching me!

Mom, he's looking out my window!

Mom, I need to make an animal habitat for school. By tomorrow!

You had the look of weary exasperation. I recognized it because I was wearing it myself. Just 5 minutes before I had been that parent who made true on the threat and pulled over because the kids were fighting. Again. Over a green mardi gras necklace.

As I watched you clutch the steering wheel and take deep breaths, I wondered if you were thinking what I was thinking. 

Am I going to live through raising these children? If so, are they? 

Why do I get so frustrated? Shouldn't I have more control and energy for this?

What I'm doing isn't working. Is it my fault they aren't better behaved, more respectful, kinder kids?

There we were. Two mama's in minivans. Struggling with this mess of a thing called motherhood. 

That half a minute glimpse into your van put a tiny smile on my face, though. I saw myself in your struggle and felt a little less alone and a little less crazy. I wanted to hug you and say "Solidarity, sister! I'm on your team." It was instant camaraderie and I longed to invite you to coffee so we could lament together. Because this thing is hard, and we need each other. 

You finally got the clear and turned left, passing right by my van. For a brief second our eyes locked and something passed between us. 

It felt a lot like understanding. And it was wonderful.