The Year Was…

The year was, oh I don’t know the year. I couldn’t even remember what I’d sat down to write until I’d stared at the screen for five minutes. The big girls are reading to each other, and I’m happily enchanted by the act. I might not remember the year, but I think I was wearing aqua marine eye shadow and skating to DC Talk’s I Love Rap Music.

I still love that song. 

Anyway, that year, someone made fun of my laugh, and I didn’t laugh again for a week.

Someone else complimented my hair’s highlights (oh, how I miss those days), and I thought about my hair all day. I probably flipped it a few extra times, too.

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will pretty much stick with me forever. 

The best thing that happened that year was when my grandpa attended my orchestra’s performance and was so impressed that he offered to pay for my violin lessons.

The most traumatic thing that happened to me that year (or, in that relative time frame) was the ameba incident.

We were supposed to make a model of a single celled organism for science class. I made an ameba out of a balloon filled with water and shaving cream. It was slinky and fun to handle. I instantly knew that I had an “A” as my project was passed happily around the classroom. I had to ask for it back, actually, from the boy who was directly behind me. It was time for our reports, and I needed it for my presentation. He reached forward and I caught it gently. But as soon as both of my hands were on that slippery little ameba, it burst all over my lap.

Their was a collective gasp, then a pause, and our usually cranky science teacher gently guided me, and my sopping wet blue jeans, out of the classroom. “See if they have any extra clothes in the office,” she said.

Of course, they did have extra clothes in the office…clothes reserved for just such horrifying early teenage experiences. The secretary heartlessly handed me a sweat suit. A bright red sweat suit that was approximately twenty sizes too big. Walking around naked would have only been slightly more embarrassing.

As I walked the long mile back to class, I was just sure of what awaited me. Laughing and pointing. I’d seen Saved by the Bell. I should make a bee line to the nurse’s office. But I knew better than to delay the inevitable.

What actually awaited me, though, in that room full of junior high boys and girls who were all but strangers to me, the new girl, were empathetic smiles and nods. And when the boy behind me exclaimed, “Thanks, it smells so much better in here, now!” The whole class giggled and agreed.

As I walked home in my Santa suit, having avoided all audible insult, I felt like I had dodged the proverbial bullet. I thought maybe the teacher had told them a story about my having a deadly disease or something…but whatever the reason, I was grateful. I’ve never handled teasing very well.

I’ve thought about how the rest of the school year would have gone if the dramatic movie scene, playing over and over in my head as I turned the knob of the classroom door, would have been what actually happened that day. How well would I have bounced back, I wonder? Would brutal teasing have led to further introversion which would have led to more teasing? Instead, that year left me thinking of myself as a loved and protected violinist.

I think a whole life is set in motion, or often stunted, by those little things that happen in a moment. Quick compliments as well as quick insults can change, especially when we’re young, how we view the world and what we think about ourselves. When people treat us like we’re valuable, we value ourselves. When people demean us, over time, we usually begin to think we’re less than we are. I suppose, then, we could truly change the world by simply saying (in word and deed) to as many children as possible, “Jesus loves you. I love you. And I want to see you accomplish His plan for your life.”

Most of the world’s children have bigger problems than a bright red sweat suit and whether their classmates will laugh at them. We live in a time where I believe the majority of the world’s children are being abused, ignored, or are physically or emotionally starving. Satan tells these little ones, every single day, that they are less than those who have. Surely God would bless you if He cared.

Of course, we know that God doesn’t work that way. We know the poor and abused will be with us until the Kingdom of Heaven rests firmly on this earth. And until then, we have the job of pulling it down.

Would you take a minute, please, and watch this sweet video (which will resonate with all parents…all people). Dr. Wess Stafford, Compassion International’s inspiring founder, and the reason Compassion is my ministry, has something to say to you.

If you’re looking for a way to bless a child with an everlasting moment, please visit the Compassion website and have a look around. You can sponsor a child, write to a child, or give a one-time gift that I guarantee will be multiplied and used to extravagantly love children while furthering the Kingdom of Heaven. At Kingdom Twindom, we use a third of our ad money to sponsor three precious little boys in India and Nicaragua. Let me tell you, positively, that a letter closed, “from your loving son” is worth all the money in the world. So take a moment, think about something you can sacrifice for one of these little ones. Squash the lies of the enemy, and tell a child how special they are.

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Damsels and Superheroes

Did I tell you that Baby Bear asked me to teach him how to fly and how to stick to walls? When I informed him that I would, sadly, be unable to help with these pursuits, he looked at me like I shot his dog. So, I held my hands in front of my head and “flew” all over the living room. Then, he looked at me like I was crazy. A few days later, he woke out of a dead sleep (or at least he woke me out of a dead sleep) and announced, “Ma! I really can shoot webs!!” And then he ran around the house shooting webs and making the obvious sound affects until about two o’clock in the morning. True story.

I’m second guessing his steady diet of 1960s Spiderman and Superman cartoons…even though his portrayal is cute.

He’s a fifth baby and is often allowed to befriend the television while I’m teaching his older siblings. I always intend to have him molding playdough or coloring or painting (and he normally is, at least for awhile), but it’s a fact (at least in our house) that a two year old boy’s attention span is usually aided more by superheros than anything else.

“To the rescue,” has got to be the most common phrase in our home (among the boys). It might just be, “Help! Save me!” from the girls.

Our boys are searching for damsels.

And our girls are happy to oblige.

A few nights ago, at bedtime, the kids asked for a “new” bedtime story. This is basically like a night at the improv but without the added pressure of potential boos and hisses. As long as the kids are represented in the story, it is guaranteed that they will love it and ask for an encore (to which I usually whisper, “Go to bed!”).

Because the girls have been unusually girly about bugs, lately, and because we’ve entered the “no boys allowed/no girls allowed” club phase, I decided to tell them this little tale…

“A long time ago…well, not very long ago at all (like, yesterday)…

[wild giggles]

Princess Wisdom, Princess High Tower and Princess Purity grew very tired of boys who stink and break up girl parties. So, they decided to wander very far from the castle where they would be free from pesky little brothers (Big Prince Valiant and the Brave Little Prince) and their toys.

[Agreeing whispers]

When they had wandered for hours, they began to feel cold…and a little scared…

[Shocked, slightly louder whispering]

The three beautiful princesses had just sat down to rest their tired feet, when Princess Wisdom spotted the biggest spider she had ever seen!

[Shrieks and laughs)

Princess High Tower exclaimed, “Oh, how I wish that Big Prince Valiant and the Brave Little Prince were here to squash that awful bug! Princess Wisdom and Princess Purity agreed. Then, Princess Purity noticed that it was getting dark and she began to look around her.

“Princess Wisdom? Princess High Tower? Can you see the castle from here?!” They all shook their heads frantically and then collapsed in a heap and sobbed. “Big Prince Valiant and the Brave Little Prince!! Please come and rescue us!!” Princess High Tower wailed.

[Giggles, giggles, giggles]

Now, the three beautiful princesses had their mother’s sense of direction. Even though they thought they were very lost, they were not far from the castle at all. Big Prince Valiant and the Brave Little Prince heard them right away, as they were already outside and searching high and low for their long lost princesses. When they heard the screams, they raced on horseback to the girls’ side!! But they refused to kill the spider, because their mother taught them to only kill bugs inside the castle (and not outside, because that’s the bug’s home).

[Shaking heads]

And then, they walked their sisters to the front door of the castle…because, really, they were not far at all.


[Applause, applause.]

“Just one more. Plllleeeeeaase!”

“Nope. Goodnight. Go. to. bed.”

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Things I Have Learned From Noah…Cont.

Last weekend, we all skipped town and headed to Grammie’s. Oh, the gloriousness  of Grammie’s house with her amazing pillows and Starbucks espresso machine. I had sorta kinda planned to rest my typing fingers for the weekend. I didn’t really mean to take a longer break, though. Until this morning, I hadn’t even opened my computer, not even for Hulu purposes, for three whole days. That’s a pretty big deal, for me.

In my drafts folder is the recipe for one of our favorite breakfasts. I like it when experiments become family favorites. I’ll share that as soon as I get some decent pictures to go with it.

Today, I’m not sure what to say. It seems so boring, my life. I wake up, drink coffee, make breakfast, teach school, make lunch, teach school, clean whatever I have the energy to clean, spend a chunk of time on the www, make dinner, clean something else and then veg out for the rest of the night unless I have a writing job to tackle. I mean, I’m rarely bored, but you guys have got to be!

What I really enjoy writing about is my Savior, but it’d be a lie to pretend that I’ve been spending enough time in the Word to have any new thoughts there, either. I am enjoying logging into those wonderful sites like Light Source and New Life Live and letting others feed me, though. Are you ever too tired to feed yourself? [Raises hand].

Of course, much of my life is spent physically and spiritually feeding the five little blessings that keep me going (even when the exhaustion comes). Bible is my favorite subject to teach, and I love how much I learn in the process. Heck, I love what I learn from Veggie Tales!

Not too long ago, we studied Noah and the flood. That part of biblical history has always intrigued me more than others…for a lot of reasons. If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you already know that.

Things I have leaned from Noah:

  • Even if a Christian abandons the idea of a seven day creation, he/she still must accept that all human beings come from one single gene pool if he/she accepts the reality of the flood. That gives a big boo-ya to the very much lingering (even in the church) concept of racism, doesn’t it?!
  • Faith is obeying God, to the letter, when His instructions make absolutely zero sense. Thank you, Noah. I’ve turned to your example many times.
  •  God didn’t build the boat. Noah did. And if he hadn’t built it to God’s exact specifications, it probably would have sunk (imo). Obey or die. It’s not taught much in our churches, but it’s certainly a common theme throughout Scripture (OT and NT).

Recently, though, while revisiting the story, I was struck by a slightly different angle. And that is why God required Noah to build the boat…to take such a large part in his own saving, if you will. Obviously, this is just my own speculation, but I really feel like God is showing me how much He loves to partner with us. “Fully God, fully man,” that’s the way Glenn Packiam puts it in this inspiring sermon. God can reach down and heal or rescue, but He often works through people (doctors, fire fighters, policemen, mechanics, parents, etc.).

I’m sure that seems like a “Ummm, duh!” to most of you. I’ve spent so much of my life watching for signs and wonders, though (and I’ve seen some pretty amazing things), that I sometimes forget, and even despise, the miracles that God works through His creation to perform. Do any of y’all know what I mean by that? Have you ever felt like you had a lesser testimony because you beat an addiction through years of counseling versus an instant deliverance…or you were healed from cancer by way of medical intervention instead of a one-time touch from God…or your marriage was saved because you dug in your heals and refused to quit instead of coming home from a marriage retreat as two entirely different people?


I can’t speak for him personally, but I have the sneaking suspicion that our friend Noah would have a different perspective. I think he’d say that, sometimes, miracles are really hard work.

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Prefab Failure Days

When I was pregnant with my first set of twins, I was the best mother in the world. Y’all (who are now post-pregnant mothers) know what I’m talking about. I knew what I wanted for my children and even how many times they’d hear the Bible (in its entirety) by the time they were two. Oh, the glorious know-it-all ignorance of mothering pre-born children! I’d sit with my cup of pregnancy tea and detail my plans to my smiling and nodding mother. She was never one to burst my bubble when the world would do that quickly enough.

Y’all might as well know that I started post pregnant motherhood as a failure…a dangerously anemic, spit up covered, I-used-to-be-able-to-see-the-floor!—what-happened-to-the-floor?–Is-that-ME-that-I-smell?!  failure. My first two delightful little angels evacuated my uterus and proceeded to smack me across the face. I couldn’t believe it. The death of my expectations was heartbreaking. Tail-spinning. It was often difficult to breathe. I found motherhood, in its most basic form, to be natural and delightful, but every time I thought about what  it was supposed to be (and how I perceived others were doing it)…my throat tightened. And, for awhile, the disappointment (leading quickly to depression), caused me to toss all of my expectations (including the desire to exit my bathrobe) lest I would ever feel like that ever again.

Two years passed, then three…and, as I began to learn, the poster child for lounge wear wasn’t who I was, either. I was an arts and crafts loving, cute clothes wearing, homeschooling, gourmet cooking, cinnamon roll baking mom who would occasionally (often) fall on her butt…and would get knocked there a few times, too. I’m like an over-achieving fire that burns itself out and then waits to be re-lit. Steadiness is something God is developing in me, it is not a quality I was born with.

In recent years, I have lived through those times that would stop anyone cold and would render many useless. And because my life does not come with the option of sick days, vacation days, or personal days, I’ve known the bitter defeat of plowing head-on into a morning, determined to make it work, only to end up a screaming and then crying puddle on the bathroom floor. Failing, when you’re not allowed to fail, is one of those emotions far too crushing to survive without a Savior. And that’s good. But Jesus doesn’t simply live to lift us from the muck and mire. He likes to help us avoid it, too.

Now, I’m a year round home-schooler. We home school year round because I think three months off is a little counterproductive. But, probably more importantly, it allows us to have days where I wake up and make a plan to fail.

Failure days are my reset button. I don’t know what I’d do without them.  And, no, they don’t really amount to failing…not in the long run. They are simply days when I wake up doneundone. There have been desperate times when I’ve prefabricated entire failure weeks. I’ve stocked the freezer with chicken nuggets and added every educational video ever made to the Netflix queue. But, usually, I just need a day-off. Sometimes, I simply need a day where I’m not asking six year olds to redo their handwriting work or wondering why-on-earth the kids’ room gets messier when I ask them to clean it (and why this only happens when I’m busy with something else).

Last week, I woke up tired. As I held a steaming cup of freshly brewed coffee between my hands, all I wanted to do was drift back to sleep. My bed is the most seductive on those cold mornings when I’ve stayed up way too late the night before. Even when the fitted sheet has shifted in the night and the top sheet is now nowhere to be found, there is still nowhere else I’d rather be on those winter days where my thoughts are as dark as the morning.

I knew exactly what we needed to do on that Wednesday. But I also knew that, if we proceeded unchecked, we would all hate each other by the end of the day. I set aside my work, put away the school books, turned on our DC Talk Pandora station and pulled out our favorite games…

And, at the end of the day, after hours of cuddles, games, popcorn and movies, hot tea and story time, we (not just Mama) headed to bed with big smiles and “I love our family!”s. 

And that, to me, means success.

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It’s 12:43 am

Of course, it won’t be 12:43 when I finish this post, but that’s the time as I sit down to write it. I’m listening to the dishwasher swish and whir. I love that sound. I have to toss a pitcher of water in it to get the pump working, but once I do that, it works just fine. Does that remind any of you of anything? If it does, you’ve been reading this blog for a long time. Now we have inside jokes.

It’s 12:45 in the middle (ha) of the night. That means that I’ve just made my rounds around the house. I’ve checked the doors, started the dishwasher (when I start it earlier, the men and children turn up the t.v. to compete), checked the coffee pot, picked up little pieces of toilet paper that Mackey drags (nightly) from the bathroom trash, moved socks from beside the hamper to inside the hamper, wiped down the bathroom counter, and put caps back on two tubes of toothpaste.

I love the night time, when every one is sleeping and I’m alone with my thoughts. Of course, it depends on what those thoughts are. Tonight, they were a little on the self-loathing side. I made a gorgeous creme caramel (flan) a couple of nights ago, and we finished it off today. Papa Bear isn’t much of a custard fan, but the rest of us devoured it. I decided to tweak the recipe a little bit and [attempt to] give it a slightly cake-y texture (to hopefully include Papa Bear in the fun); so, I made a new one with the new recipe tonight. I was watching Beth Moore and whisking away. I really couldn’t imagine a better scenario. I poured the hot custard on top of the hardened caramel, and I lowered the pan into the hot water bath that was already waiting in the oven. I was happy. It’s the little things. Papa Bear picked out a movie, and I made a quick run to brush my teeth.

As I stood in the bathroom, a few inches from a fogging mirror (I’d decided to go all out and wash my face, too), giving myself a manual face lift and scolding myself for forgetting to buy hair die, a horrible message scrolled across the steamed glass…like something out of a horror movie.

OK, maybe not, but that’s just how my mind works, y’all.

“You forgot the sugar, you idiot.”

I wiped the glass and checked my eyes for any remembrance…any spark…that would assure me I’d added the all important sugar to the custard. Did I? Nothing.

I ran into the kitchen. If the caramel bottom was still hard, I could dump the custard back into the pot and try again. No such luck. I did spill quite a bit into the oven while checking, though. I tasted the mixture (which was slightly sweet from the one can of sweetened condensed milk), but not quite sweet enough to have the additional 2/3 cup of sugar. I reached into a high cabinet to pull down the sugar (that was already getting sparse when I made the caramel) and see if anything was missing. It wasn’t. I replaced the container, very stealthily, while holding a half-glass of red wine in my left hand.

I deep cleaned the kitchen on Saturday. Tomorrow, I will have to move the stove, again. In a mere fraction of a second, my little world went from clean to what can only be described as a massacre. Red wine and sugar. I bolted to the bathroom, leaving the mess, because I was wearing my favorite over-sized tunic at the time. I thought about crying, but I changed my mind. And I’m glad, because like all minor, whirlwind, I-think-I’ll-have-a-nervous-breakdown-because-I’ve-just-lost-all-sense-of-perspective disasters, it’s all over now…less than two hours later. Now, the kitchen is mostly clean, my top is soaking in the bathtub…

And I’m setting my alarm back a half an hour for tomorrow morning.

After all, I already know what’s for breakfast.


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