Monday, March 31, 2014

Screaming Over Spilled Milk

The milk was cold but my blood was boiling.

White dairy liquid leaking down the front of kitchen cabinets, spilling into cracked-open drawers. A silky pool slick over granite counter top, soaking into cereal boxes.

Soggy cardboard.
Sticky tile.
Wasted nutrition.
Yelling mama.

Ninety seconds ago I stepped away from the boy nicely seated at the table waiting for his second bowl to quickly go help his brother who had already finished breakfast and been excused.

It could not have been longer than 90 seconds.

I stroll back in to this.

"I'm sorry, mama, that I did that," Elias stammers.

But I can hardly hear his raspy three-year-old voice because I'm instantly yelling too close to his big deer-eyed face.


But I can hardly hear him explain how he just wanted to do it all by himself like a big boy because my blood pressure is pounding too loud in my ears.

It's milk. And I'm screaming.

I feel like Paul:
"I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do."
It's milk. It's a mess. Yes. But it's milk.
My three old knows better. But he's three. He made a mess. But we was not malicious.

I know this, but still I'm furious. 
So now I'm both angry and ashamed.

I send the perpetrator to time out and grab my camera praying that framing up this mess will help me re-frame my furry. Praying I can put my perspective in check with each camera click.

I check instant images that appear in preview on the back camera screen.
I take in the wonder of gravity...laws of nature pulling each drip to the ground.
I marvel at the display of momentum...tiny drops making big splashes.

I breathe.

I remember what my pastor preached yesterday. The truth that answered Paul's same predicament:
"There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus..."
My anger does not define me. 
Keeping calm would not have justified me. 
"...because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death."
I grab bath towels and I sop up the spilled milk.
I thank Jesus.

Thank you for your sacrifice.
Thank you for paying the price of my sin.
Thank you that YOU did the work and now I can live free.
Thank you for spilled milk.  

I've written before about how a whole day of good parenting can feel wiped away by one bad mom moment.

This morning my sin threatened to take me out before the day barely began. Threatened to demean who I am in Christ. Threatened to distract and discourage me from the ways I do love, nurture, and train my boys well.


I threw the milky towels in the washing machine and gave thanks that the washing of my sin has already been done.

Friday, March 28, 2014

10 things I probably shouldn't share on social media

Here's ten things you probably don't know about me, and probably don't need to.

1. Sometimes I eat old Cheerios off the floor when I'm too lazy to walk to the trashcan. Gross? Yes. Time saving? A little.
2. Rude sales reps threaten to bring out the worst in me. They make me want to pump my tongue full of venom and unleash my wrath. Like the lawn fertilizer guy who came to my door this morning. When I nicely told him that we are renters and not interested in his product, he sneered, "So, you rent the house but not the lawn? Have you seen  the weeds infesting your grass?" I politely replied that lawn care is just not an investment that we're interested in right now. But it took full will power not to release the Snarky Reply Red Dragon. I still think back about that pet store owner I wanted to zing and wish maybe I had. #naturalzinger #byGodsstrengthtonguetamer

3. Sometimes I bribe my boys to take long naps by promising sips of my afternoon coffee. Bribery doe not fall within my parenting philosophy. Nor does offering my children legal, addictive stimulants. But every day all three of my boys nap at the same time (even my 5 year old!) and it's a glorious hour of quiet that I need. Plus, I only use all natural coffee creamer with no artificial flavors, chemicals, or dyes. So that makes it better, right? #andnohydrogentatedoil #tippingbackthepgoodmomscale #survivalparenting

4. Long toenails totally disgust me. #idon'tknowwhy

5. I feel annoyed when people don't email me back. Acknowledgement of receipt. That's all I'm asking for people. #yesiknowyouarebusy #yesiknowi'mnotthatimportant

6. I printed the wrong day on my wedding invitations. I am a writer. I use to be a full time editor. I hand tied bows on 150 invitations. And somehow 150 times I did NOT see that I wrote Sunday, July 29th. We got married on a Friday. #horrifiedbride #daggertoeditorialpride

7. I don't like cake. I really REALLY like pie and brownies and scones. Muffins and cookies and cinnamon rolls are amazing. But I don't like cake. Except for cheesecake and pound cake and angel food cake. #maybeidonttknowwhatcakeis #maybeidontknowme

8. I compulsively believe that toilet paper should be installed with the loose end cascading OVER the roll. NOT lost under it. If I'm at someone's house and their toilet paper is facing the wrong way I'm often tempted to reverse it. Sometimes I actually do. #controlfreakwithoutimpulsecontrol

9. My husband and I sleep with separate blankets. And they happen to be old 80s quilts from his childhood. Affection is one of my top love languages, but I am NOT a cuddle-up-sleeper. I have loved sharing life with my man for the last eight and a half years...just not my blanket. #uglycozy #dowhatworks #happilymarried

10. I started using hashtags before I was on Twitter. Long before I ever composed a tweet, I fell in love with the hashtag. Zest up a Facebook post. Turn  regular text messages into witty banter. Add layers of meaning or humor to your message. #writersspicerack #twitterscontributiontomankind

Now, maybe sharing these details of my life on social media crosses the TMI line. But maybe the problem with this post isn't too much information. 

Maybe the problem is the wrong information.

I have recently been pressed in by what the Bible says about the weight of our words and the responsibility we have to wield them well. Now I'm not just referring to how we're supposed to steer clear of profanity or blasphemy. And I'm not just thinking about gossip or slander or judgmental accusations.

I'm thinking more about how our words are mighty.

How our words have the power to build up, inspire, challenge, and uplift. Our words can encourage, offer hope, and point toward healing. Even in conflict our words can be thoughtful, careful, agents of restoration, beacons of peace.

I often share on Facebook the ridulously cute and silly things my kids say. And I'm all for posting adorable pictures of the little brood that captures my full delight.

But I've also used social media to vent about another or toot my own horn. I've dabbled in divisive conversations and stuck my nose in other people's business.

But that's not how I want to use my words.

If my words are going to be prideful may they point others to the One I'm proud to follow.

If my words are going to be provocative may they provoke people to want to know more about Jesus. 

If my words are going to be petty may I count them worth less than a penny. And cast them aside.

Words are mighty. So might we all use them to lavish others with kindness and compassion. Might each word be humbly uttered with gentle patience. Love. Peace.

Whether we shout it from the rooftops or whisper it in someone's ear, might we use our mighty words to bless all those who hear.

*   *   *

Joining Lisa-Jo's amazing community who use their words so well, as we all write this week are on the word Mighty.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

How discarded denim can change lives. Sole Hope: An invitation to help.

My chair was comfortable and my coffee was hot. My eyes were still casting dark shadows from my red eye flight the night before, but tired or not, I was ready. Ready to embrace all the writer wisdom, craft encouragement, and soul-sister fellowship this first full conference day had to offer.  

Bring it on, God! I thought.

The large room pulsed with servers bustling and 450 women buzzing with Allume excitement. I swallowed my last bite of egg and sausage as the big screen on stage flickered.

The video rolled.
The whole room stilled.
Silent save for uncontrolled gasps echoing under ballroom chandeliers.

2 minutes and 51 seconds. I was completely undone.

Tears streaming down my freshly made-up cheeks. I could barely swallow the huge lump in my throat. All I could think was: Who am I, God? 

Who am I that I was born in America? 
Who am I that I don't have to watch my babies suffer like this? 
Those could be my boys. This problem could be in my village. 
Those children could be my neighbors. 

They are my neighbors.

The beautiful blonde woman from the video appeared on stage before us and shared more of the Sole Hope story. She told us how we could easily help by hosting a Shoe-Cutting Party: collect old jeans, gather a group of friends, and play a crucial role in providing shoes for kids in Uganda. Kids the same ages of Asher's children. Kids the same ages of mine.

"Nobody can do everythingbut everybody can do something."

Her words hung in the air. Took root in my heart.

God moved in incredible ways at Allume. But as I flew away from Greenville, South Carolina back home to Glendora, California, I knew that one of my biggest "takeaways" from this writer's conference had nothing to do with writing.

But everything to do with God's story.

The plight of jiggers is real. Children in Uganda are being robbed of their childhood by sand fleas. And it is totally preventable.

I may feel like my finances are already stretched and my time already has too many demands on it. "I could call it someone else's problem or I could do what I could to help the situation." Asher Collie said it. She lived it. I knew I had to, too.

Nearly five months after Allume, I found myself once again in a crowded room of women, choking back tears while watching the Sole Hope video.

Choking back tears for the 100 women gathered in our church Worship Center, wielding scissors in their hands and conviction in their hearts to do something.

Something to be the hands of Jesus to little ones He loves.
Little ones He sees. Little ones He has not forgotten.

We spend two and a half hours on a Monday night tracing and cutting out simple patterns on discarded denim.

Old jeans turned into new hope.

300 pairs prepared!

The unneeded, never-worn extra from the back of dresser drawers becoming the needed, just-enough for the soles of children who have never worn.

New shoes from unused pants.
It's not rocket science but it is revolutionary.
A radical change for the lives it touches.

And it's not just the children who are given a gifthope through medical relief and new shoes. It's the Ugandan shoemakers who are given skills training and a jobhope of providing for their families. The mothers and caretakers who are given educationhope of preventing future suffering from foot related diseases.

It's me. It's my sisters. We are given the gift of servinghope that our American-born blessing, our State-side surplus is for a purpose.

There is joy in being part of God's story.

Last Monday I saw it all over their faces. I felt it deep in my heart.

God. is. moving. 

He's letting us be a part. The blessing of it is beyond words.

You, too, can join this story!

Host a Shoe-Cutting Party! $15 buys a party kit with everything you need. Our event was huge and amazing. But gathering a few girlfriends is just as meaningful!

Go to to learn other ways to get involved.

But what else, God? I ask.

Having a Shoe-Cutting Party, collecting medical supplies, and giving monthly to come alongside Sole Hope in their mission of offering HOPE, healthier lives, and freedom from foot-related diseases through education, jobs, and medical relief are incredible ways to serve.

But I have sensed something more.

Felt another Bring it on, God! bubbling in my heart.

So I must quickly paint the picture of what else I see God doing...

Remember Allume? The conference where I learned about Sole Hope? The week leading up to our church Shoe Cutting Party, Logan Wolfram, Executive Director of Allume was actually in Uganda with Sole Hope. She and other bloggers were loving kids and telling their stories.

The day of our party, Logan wrote about how her heart got wrecked from holding a precious child whose feet were wracked with jiggers. Her emotional pain only outweighed by the writhing physical pain of the one getting parasites dug out of his feet.

My heart was wrecked from just reading it.

Then, the day after our party Allume announced their new ongoing partnership with Sole Hope through their Outreach House. Now known as the Allume Wellness Center, this special place provides medical care from an on-site nurse for kids from remote villages with extreme cases of jiggers. Children whose feet are infested with more than 100 jiggers can not be fully healed in a one-day clinic.

The deeper the disease, the greater the hope needed.

Do you see what's happening? Do you see how the God of the universe is working all things together for the good of those who love Him?

You and I can be a part of providing greater hope!!
A place of joy and healing. Through Pure Charity we can donate to the Allume Wellness Center and impact the lives of children whose futures may otherwise be lost.

Every Yes! helps.

Every dollar counts.

Click here to donate now.

Nobody can do everything—but everybody can. do. something.
The Outreach Center now known as the Allume Wellness Center takes in the kids with the extreme cases of jiggers in hidden villages and cares for them beyond what a day clinic can cover. At the Wellness Center they are cared for by an on-site nurse and given much needed medical attention. They receive continuing education about jiggers, given new pairs of shoes made from your jeans, and returned to their village with a new sense of hope. - See more at:
The Outreach Center now known as the Allume Wellness Center takes in the kids with the extreme cases of jiggers in hidden villages and cares for them beyond what a day clinic can cover. At the Wellness Center they are cared for by an on-site nurse and given much needed medical attention. They receive continuing education about jiggers, given new pairs of shoes made from your jeans, and returned to their village with a new sense of hope. - See more at:

What something can you do today?

*     *     *

I want give a special thank you to Mindy Rogers, Carolyn Carney, Lee Fischer, Natalie Ensor, and the rest of the amazing women of Cornerstone Bible Church who God raised up to fan the small spark in my heart into a blazing fire for His glory. I love you and am so very grateful for you.

**Original photos, or used with permission from Sole Hope and Rob Lee. Thank you!**

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Great Unexpected Joy Gift

I remember waking up from a groggy half-sleep and seeing the wonder in his eyes.

Peering over the edge of the bassinet. Still practically a baby himself. He saw his brother for the first time. It was a sight to behold.

My usually can't-sit-still toddler was captured frozen in awe of this new life. A newborn baby probably seemed strange, foreign to his 19-month-old mind. Yet, I'm convinced I also saw a look of knowing in his eyes. A gaze of love.

I know him. 
We are part the same.
I love him.
We are meant to do this life together.

The pain and fatigue of being 48 hours post-delivery were great. But the joy of that precious moment was greater!

Over the last three and a half years, many of my most-blessed moments have come as I stand witness to the love my children have for one another.

The unprompted, tender kisses. The surprise snuggles and cuddles.
Exploring the world, embracing adventuretogether.

My mama love for my boys is beyond what words can hold. I'd give everything for them. My very life if I had to.

Before ever giving birth I knew this love would change me. What I didn't expect was how much my babies' love for my babies would shake me. There is something different, something deep and magical about watching them shower love and show kindness to one another.

Brother giving his last pretzel to the one who dropped his in the sand.

Grabbing hands to run together in playground glee.

Big brother comforting little one during doctor office trauma.

Freely saying, "I forgive you," to the one who caused the goose egg on his throbbing head.

Yes, my boys fight and bicker and bug each other enough to make me lose my mind!

But their love always wins!! And my mama heart-joy runneth over.

And I see with new eyes...

And I wonder with new conviction...

How must God's heart overflow with joy when He watches His children show kindness, shower love on one another?

A long hug. An honest prayer. A hot meal shared. A hand to hold. A shoulder to lean on. Brothers and sisters loving enough to serve one another, to do life together.

I think of the years ahead and of course I want my children to love me. I'm their mother. But I think the greatest gift my boys could give me is to love each other hard and long and real all the days of their life.

I think it's one of the greatest gifts we can give the Father, too.