I hesitate to write this post, as it leaves me vulnerable and open and human and fallible. But such is me and what am I if not all those things? Fake? A parading facade that gives the illusion of whimsy when I am in despair? Let me be frank.

I learned very quickly after committing my life to Christ that I shouldn’t attempt to make too many long-term plans. Our little charmed life seemed to be turned so easily on its head in a moment’s notice. And because we have had a lot of adjustment, shifting, transition, and directional change in the past ten years, Michael has initiated checkpoints along the way.   Our checkpoints are simple. It will be a conversation over coffee, a lingering Sunday drive, a weekend away, in the front porch rocking chairs, or during a routine trip to the grocery store. The setting isn’t so much the point as the content of the conversation.

Our checkpoints must answer a few basic questions. Where are we going? How are we doing along the way?

The checkpoints have been vital to our marriage and ministry. Sometimes they result in seasonal themes like “Family” or “Focus” (<— current). Sometimes they result in additional checkpoints to dig deeper to the root of a problem. Sometimes they result in change. Sometimes they result in staying where we are and feeling confirmed in that position.

I am having the best summer. It’s not only because I am poolside most afternoons. (Although praise God and hallelujah – and I am so sorry for last Sunday when my son puked in the pool and you had to shut it down for the afternoon…) Or because I am hammocking in my yard with my summer fragrance of choice, OFF: Deep Woods. (You can tell your deet-free Avon skin-so-soft that our mosquitos eat repellant like her for breakfast. Give us the deet. Period.) Or because I am getting to reconnect with my friends and family, with whom I have spent precious little time over the past year. I am having the best summer because I am me again.

Michael looked at me with all the intensity that there is a few weeks ago and said, “I’m so glad I have my wife back.”

I am having this best season because I had one helluva spring.

I had been gone. Not physically, but in every other way possible. I had been distracted, stressed, consumed, anxious, and elsewhere for far too long. It was during one of our checkpoint conversations that I had to face the grim reality that my actions were not consistent with my priorities, and I got scared about that. Not the kind of fear that brings about a good fight, the kind of fear that paralyzes. That renders its inhabitant useless. I didn’t know how to escape. I just kept existing and my dearest ones around me just kept suffering.

It was a hard, dark time.

I wish I could say that I came to my senses and escaped on my own. I wish I could say that I willed myself back to the important and back to the present and back to myself. But I didn’t. I had been utterly and completely swallowed up, and the darkness in that pit kept me from finding my way out. The darkness just kept me there…deep in the recesses of its all-consuming command.

Until a checkpoint came.

And my people told me I wasn’t me. And then my people got me out. They rescued me. They got down in that pit with me, hoisted me on their shoulders – they have such broad shoulders – and carried me up, speaking Life and Truth to me all along the way up. Gently and caringly they strengthened me. Strengthened me enough so that when we got to the top, the only thing left for me to do was stand up and walk away from the pit.

And I did.

And it was the bravest, hardest, bestest thing I’ve ever done. That last little bit, where I stood up, required absolute surrender to the Holy Spirit. The End. It was not an action I could have executed without His power. Those standing muscles had been so weak, having been crouched down in that pit and all.

Some seasons are so very light, and airy, and whimsical, and holy, and sacred. Those are the best seasons. Some seasons are so very hard. Some seasons are marked by tragedy, grief, monotony, solitude, despair, fear, or consequences of your very own actions, to be just an absolute truth-teller.  Should you find your season a difficult one, can I give you this little blesson I have just learned five minutes ago and find very worthy to divulge? Let your people in. They don’t want to see you this way. It is sucking the life out of them and it is changing who they are, and that is not fair.  And that is not the holy heritage you are to embrace, nor the legacy you wish to leave.  (Side Note: Your people are not your Facebook Friends List) Your people are very few. Those who know why you’re in the pit. Those who are willing to get in there with you when you finally admit you need their shoulders. These are your people. They are safe, and that is an incredibly important part of this.  They are offering their strong shoulders. Take hold. As you ascend, your strength will return. You will feel the blood course back through your life-giving veins. And you will stand back up on your feet and will walk away from that damnable pit. You will call on the Holy Spirit to help you, and by God’s sweet grace, He will stand you up. But you, my friend, have to do the walking.

I dare you to have a checkpoint conversation. Ask yourself, ask your spouse, best friend, or sister, how you are doing. Ask the person who will tell you the truth. And let him tell you the truth. Let her. Are you going where you want to go? And how are you doing along the way? Be prepared for the truth. The truth may be that you are doing swell! Bravo! Keep up God’s good work! You may be slightly off your intended trajectory – that’s no big deal! Just veer back on the rightful path!

But if you are in a pit (fill in whatever your pit is: unhealthy relationship, job, unholy habit, bitterness, unforgiveness, greed, you get the basic idea) – let your people help you up. Let our God stand you up. And walk the swearword away from that stupid pit.


Remembering how much fun playing is as my legs throb tonight!


So…I don’t want to put Shaun T or Jane Fonda out of a job, but I think I’ve found the most effective workout routine.

Play with your kids.

Michael has deemed this summer a summer focused on our family.  We need it.  Our kids have sacrificed a LOT of time with us because of seminary and our crazy schedule.  We’re saying ‘no’ to things that don’t fall in line with our summer theme.  We’re dating our kids.  We’re dating each other.  We’re loving one another extravagantly and specifically.  Our focus is each other.  Fall will come and bring demands and pull us away to things that are important and urgent and worthy of our time, no doubt. But for now, we are focused on our family.

Last week at the pool I was sitting with a friend who had let her children bring those squirter toys.  You know the ones…that…

View original post 675 more words


My dad would tell you that he made mistakes as a father. But I do not have the energy, nor have I the want, to spend time thinking about what went wrong in my childhood. Instead, I have elected to think about what went right. And particularly what went right with my dad.

Though my dad has many unique eccentricities that endear me to him, (like the fact that he never cared about sports but absolutely loved nature, or that he has given me at least 12 Swiss army knives and noted their country of fabrication each time, or that he is a history whiz, or that he can make a garden salad that will put all other salads to shame) there are three things that stand out as particularly formative for me. And they are the following:

  1. My dad never told me for whom he voted.
  2. My dad taught me to pay attention to my gut.
  3. My dad never, never one time, spoke an unkind word about my mother.

These three things, I have come to realize, have helped to shape and form me and how I understand the world. Let me tell you why.

1. My dad never told me for whom he voted. He simply went to the ballot and pulled the lever according to his convictions. And then he went on about his business. He told me that I have that same right; that I don’t have to ever share with anyone my political preference. I have formed by own thoughts and opinions, based own my own critical thinking. Dad has given me space to discuss those things. He has challenged my thinking, but has not pressured me into thinking a certain way. I find this an oddly important formative truth. He didn’t teach me what to think about politics or social issues, but taught me how to think about them.

2. When I would (do) rant endlessly about whatever perceived injustice is accosting me or the world at the moment, my dad responds by saying, “pay attention to your gut on that,” which is entirely different than “trust your gut”. Trusting my gut takes away from trusting my God. Trusting my gut will fail me, as my feelings are as shifting as a wave tossed involuntarily about by the force of the great sea. Paying attention to my gut will allow me the space I need to critically evaluate my feelings with my thoughts. To measure them up against the Word. To seek God’s response. My gut is not always to be trusted, but it is something to which I should be attentive. Sometimes my gut is wrong. And sometimes it is not.

3. Though my parents are divorced, they have been incredibly amicable about the whole thing. I was never a messenger. They had three children together and that was enough for them to understand that they would have to communicate a bunch about life stuff. I had friends who had different experiences than mine, and it made for a very tumultuous adolescence. Additionally, never did my dad ever utter an unkind word about my mother. Not once. In fact, the opposite is true. My dad often said, still says, what a wonderful person/mother/businesswoman/spiritual leader/friend my mom is. It’s true. Perhaps he’s said nothing bad because there’s nothing bad to say, but I think it’s more than that. I think he knows that she is a part of us and we her, and so in belittling her he would belittle us. And he wouldn’t do that. He really loves us. And a fun little dividend? In a way, that observation raised my own standard of how I expected to be treated. I have expected to be respected, and I am. I married a man who would not speak an unkind word about me, not to my children or to anyone else. In fact, should a sweet child of ours speak back to me in his presence…well, he handles it with immediacy. That is not permissible.

And Daddy always checked my heart. He would simply say, “How’s your heart?” During their divorce he asked me that a lot. It was a brave question to ask an already overemotional tweenager in the midst of her parents’ divorce. But he asked anyway, and he always listened to my response. Sometimes I was angry. Sometimes I was angry at him. Sometimes I teared up and sat quietly, staring out the window as we drove down the highway to wherever we were going away from our home. I didn’t always have the words to respond.

He still asks me that. But when he has asked me that as an adult, I have almost always had a contented reply. Because of Christ – not my dad, not my husband, not my friends, my career, aspirations, my home or anything else – because of Christ alone, I have resolved my adulthood on the side of contentment and not despair. So when Dad asks me how my heart is now, I tell him. Exhausted and content. Enthusiastic and content. Directed and content. But generally content. If I answer that I am sad, or confused, or stressed, he texts me encouraging scripture and notes until I am through the rough spot. But I know how to recognize if it my heart isn’t right. If something is amiss, awry, off kilter. I know how to conduct a heart check. It is a practice with which I am well rehearsed. It is a practice that has saved my life, in more ways than one.

My dad has taught me more than how to buy quality products made in countries that pay their employees well, although thanks too for that little lesson, Daddy. He has taught me how to reason. And how to recognize and respond to myself. These blessons shaped and formed and continue to help mold me. They help me to understand my Savior as well…to think rightly and not only emotionally about Him. And to get right with Him, when I have wondered away. To repent and allow God the Father to restore my heart to the fullness that He intends for it.

Daddy, I am grateful to God for you. And my heart is good.


Happy Father’s Day


I attended a conference of sorts this weekend that was aimed at mothers with children. It was located in a city. And I, sweet reader, am a country dweller.

Cities make me nervous.  My fear is founded.  I have been lost and alone in both Chicago and Madrid, without a cell phone.  Both times I was too nervous to eat.  The feeling of being lost in an unfamiliar place is not a feeling I wish anyone to experience. And it does not get better with age. At least I now have Siri. Michael claims that the GPS makes the human race stupider. So be it. I will garnish my intelligence to feel the security that that little magical device provides.

In the country we have buildings with big wide parking lots all around them. In the city there are buildings with no places to park, except in another building – the dreaded dark, cold parking garage. The place where every Lifetime movie plot begins. Also, parking garages are made for Honda Civics and motorcycles. And this was a momference. We drive Suburbans, Yukons, Astro minivans and various crossovers. Also the occasional F-350 extended cab long bed.  The spaces are only wide enough for the vehicle to slide into, and then you have to go out through the trunk because there isn’t a viable alternative.

Finally, I got my crossover parked. On the third attempt. And promptly realized I was lost again. I spun around so many times in the upward ascent to the roof of the garage that I had become disoriented. No fear, I thought. Siri knows where we are. So, I loaded up the directions and approached the elevator.  The elevator was loaded with seasoned conference attenders – they were my people – and I promptly tried to turn Siri off so she wouldn’t embarrass me in front of the group of perfect strangers. In my hurry, I couldn’t figure out how to quiet her. Once you ask her to get you somewhere, she is committed. I finally shut my phone completely off, and followed my new friends to the conference.

Eleventy hours later, I exited the conference and was lost again. I had no idea where I parked…and there was no device to assist me! I had to rely on my faulty spatial memory.

Can I talk psychobabble for just 5 seconds?? The theory of multiple intelligence says that some people are good with words, some are good with music, some with art, some with dance, and some with seeing 3-D objects from multiple angles and orienting themselves accordingly. Let’s say, in a city, for example. I AM A WORDS PERSON. I was lost. 

Providentially, I at least had trusted friends with me. They drove me to the parking garage, and I got to the top, where my car was not! I was in the wrong garage. Feeling very, very small in a big, big city, I had my friends drive me to the garage around the corner, where I at last located my car. After paying my NINE DOLLARS to the parking attendant, I started for home.

Immediately, Siri tripped me up. She told me to ‘head north’…. I only know left and right. I don’t know north which is WHY I AM USING YOU – SIRI!!! Oh – we got into it. She drove me in circles for 15 minutes. With the one way streets and no turn on reds.  FINALLY, I was back on a familiar road. I was heading  home. I knew the way. It was away from the crowded buildings and heavy traffic and along the highway with trees, fields, and neighborhood dwellings. It was familiar and comforting and the security resolved all the dissonance that had been created by being lost.  I no longer had the anticipation of the next, as I settled in the present.

The most familiar hymn ever written includes the line, “I once was lost, but now am found.” It is the most familiar hymn for a reason. The writer, John Newton, knew the terrible unsettling feeling of being lost. And consequently the absolute security in being found. And it is a feeling that is as old as man and resonates with every man. And every mom. And every child and grandparent and everyone in between.

And the resolve that comes with being found is one that every person is created to experience. 

Grace does that. Grace finds you. Grace makes you feel found. It makes you head home and turn north, even if you turn south first. To all who are unsettled, to all who are lost, I pray you experience grace our Savior provides. The found-ness. It is like no other. It is like heading to the country after a weekend in the city…only infinitely and definitely better than that.

Searching for The God Within

THIS is the message for our generation. Come as you are, yes. But don’t stay that way. Repent. Be transformed. Grow. Fix your eyes on Jesus, the perfector of our faith. The answer is not within, it’s in Him.

Dim Reflections For Now

After about three months of focused reading of a number of ancient spiritual mystics and modern psychologists who would be called spiritual mystics if they were ancient, a clear message has emerged: if you haven’t discovered God, then you haven’t looked and listened deeply enough within your own soul. Discover your true self and there you will discover the God who accepts you just as you are. You need only now to accept yourself just as you are. You may even need to forgive yourself, but mainly just for not accepting yourself.

As much as I have gleaned from what I have read–there is a lot of laudable stuff on the woes of technology and the unexamined life–I cannot help but confess that in my own experience of the infinite inward dive I have never found anything other than an infinite inward abyss. Now it may just be that I am…

View original post 542 more words


Today is my little brother’s birthday. I don’t know when is the proper time to quit calling him little. Is it when he outgrows you? Outsmarts you? On both counts, he’s bigger than me now. When we were little he made me laugh. So hard. I’m not sure why, but I thought he was the funniest thing.

He also made me cry.

Those teenage years are so hard and unfair. The deepest times of despair were met with many tears.

But he still makes me laugh.


And he still makes me cry. Like the time he constructed a wooden shelter for a nest of brand new baby birds in the middle of a torrential rain shower. And by constructed, I mean he made an actual fixture and attached it to his actual wooden fence, so that the birds would have a home. He couldn’t bare to see them suffer. His is the most tender heart. When he was little, he often discouraged the killing of ants and other pesky bugs, as they were God’s creatures too. I scoured his Facebook page to find the picture of the bird shelter. I found instead that his pictures have four themes: food, family, nature, and faith. He has loved food his whole life. It’s always been an experience rather than an activity of daily living. He has relationships with sandwiches and sauces. And the messier the better. He still licks his fingers. He has a family. He is a father and a husband. He is such a good father and such a good husband. He lets his kids do the most dangerous things. But the same eye that he keeps on the sparrow in his back yard, he keeps on his kids. He loves the outdoors and always has. A landscape can capture his heart in an instant.

The best picture I found that encapsulates my brother is the following one, which encompasses all of the aforementioned elements:


I wasn’t there, but I can tell you what is happening. First of all, they have just eaten. You can’t see the food, but there is no doubt it was there. Do you see how engaged in conversation he is with my Grandma? Jeremy doesn’t small talk. Chitchatting has no purpose and he is annoyed through 100% of conversations without depth. Do you see one foot casually resting on his dog, Ringo? His dog is old. He’s not a brilliant creature, but he loves Jeremy very very much. And Jeremy loves his dog.

Do you see how he is reclined?

This is his element. There was a time when he couldn’t recline. He could never relax. An unsurrendered life is like that.

Jeremy’s life now is about creating spaces for community to develop. Participating in conversation, welcoming others into their home, eating (because that’s always going to be true), and walking with anyone who seeks to know the Savior that changed his life.

Jeremy, thank you for taking the time to walk with those around you. For loving others and providing space for substantive conversations, generous hospitality, and delicious food. My life is forever changed because you are in it; and it is forever better because you have chosen a life of faith. Thank you for that.

And thank you for roasting coffee. I literally could’t get through the day without you.

Love you,
your sister


Today Michael stopped on the side of the road to FaceTime me because he saw a giant turtle. I love animals. And I love to spot them in the wild. Michael gets it and humors me often. At closer look, it appeared the turtle was suffering, having been hit by a car. I asked him to move it from the road. He said that wouldn’t be the best thing for the turtle.

I trust Michael about these things.

My mom knew my Michael was a keeper when he bought roses for me and for her when our dog of 7 years, Cuddles, died.

She was right.

When I was 23 I bought a small house in the country and a small dog to protect me and keep me company. He was a rescue dog from the local animal shelter who needed a bath, a hair cut, and a whole heap of behavior training. I was ready for the task. I named him Fritz.

The first day I had him was wonderful. I had him groomed, bought him special food, and played and played with him as he was desperately starved for attention. That evening, Michael came to visit along with some friends, and as they were leaving, Fritz darted out the front door and was promptly struck and killed by a car.

They didn’t even stop.

In complete disbelief, I continued to look for my dog. It was so dark. I was sure that he had run into the adjacent field. I went in the house to find a flashlight. Michael approached me so tenderly and said, ‘The car that went by hit him, and he didn’t make it.’

He didn’t say much else. He simply listened to me cry while digging the deepest hole he could. It must have been 5 feet deep. It was such a deep hole. He dug for so long, assuring that nothing would disrupt Fritz’ resting place. When the grave was prepared, he wrapped Fritz in a towel and held him. Michael covered his fractured body and exposed his perfectly intact, freshly groomed face so I could pet him one last time. I asked again, ‘are you sure?’.

‘I’m sure.’

That’s all he said. And then he buried him and sat with me and listened to me cry. And cry. And cry.

That night I knew Michael would be a wonderful father. Wonderful fathers do really hard things, like bury the family pet. My own father must have conducted dozens of pet funerals in my childhood. (One time we hosted the class hamster for a weekend who had a litter of babies and then ate most of her litter. Second grade trauma.)

Since that time, Michael has conducted/attended funerals for cats, goldfish, dogs, and one time a raccoon that we thought was a cat. (It was a WHOLE thing.) Not to usher animal spirits into heaven, or any such thing, but always with the same resolve to provide comfort for the one who grieves their loss.

Last week I saw an elderly man on the side of the road with a shovel. He must have been in his seventies. He was waiting for a break in traffic to retrieve the family cat. I wondered how many times he had done that for his family. They live on a busy road.

Immediately, I was overcome with gratitude for my husband’s ability to do that really hard thing. It is a common thing but it is a great, hard thing. And for being the one who, even though he didn’t have the same connection with Nolan’s goldfish or my mom’s cat or my dog, provides unmatchable comfort for his family when they need it.

I don’t know why God gave us creatures. Maybe it’s a display of His creativity. Maybe it’s to teach us about empathy. Or responsibility. Or compassion. Or death. Or life. Maybe it’s that through them we know more about Him. Whatever the reason, the wonder of it all, for me, is a reminder of our humanness and His eternity.

And, today, a reminder to me that I married a really, really wonderful man.


When I was in 4th grade, I took dance lessons. Tap and Jazz to be exact. Kristi Stuckey’s mom would pick us up each week and drive us to the next town over to eat at Arby’s and then head to the studio where we would spend the next 2 hours highlighting my inability to keep a beat. I received extra support. I had to be tutored. For my extracurricular activity.

I only performed half of my songs during the recital, because I had a costume malfunction on stage. Bless my parents’ hearts for sitting through that 4-hour production. I danced for about 45 seconds of it. They didn’t sign me up the following year. And I didn’t ask.

When I was 21, I had an unhealthy obsession with fame. My life-long bestie, Erin, and I drove to Hollywood in an attempt to meet some famous people and we happened upon the Tonight Show, where we attended a taping. You may not know this if you don’t have these same connections that I have, but before they begin filming they attempt to ‘warm up the crowd’. They asked for volunteers. We were selected. As we headed down to the stage, my mind flooded with possibility. Would we play a game, be interviewed, be given a car?? It was Hollywood, for crying out loud.

But not Oprah.

They wanted us to have a dance off. On stage. In front of the entire crowd. Please try to harness the level of discomfort you feel for me right now and multiply it times a billion. That’s how it was. (Side note: Erin started dancing at age 2. AND she had natural talent to match her seasoned expertise. Plus she’s just all around cooler than I am.) I was in 4th grade again, in front of a much less forgiving crowd. I was actually booed. People do that.

Last summer I went to Jamaica. And if had any shred of dignity left, it was stripped of me when I was instructed to lead the clapping name game entitled “To the Rhythm”. You guys. My Jamaican co-leaders were so annoyed with me. And rightfully so. I couldn’t make my hands and my voice match the rhythm. And they tried desperately to help me. They even held my hands and clapped them together for me a few times. Eventually, they let me assume ‘other responsibilities’. Bless.

So. Just about everyone in the world knows I can’t dance.

Except my children.

I had a frustrating day. I woke up late and, after promising the boys I’d take them to the book fair, realized half way to school that I’d forgotten my pocketbook. ‘Maybe I’ll come at lunch,’ I told them. After dropping them off I realized I needed gas. So I pulled off the interstate, which takes about 10 minutes, and pulled up to the pump. When I realized for a second time, that I REALLY DIDN’T BRING MY PURSE. So, again, I tried to begin my day…but in my frustration, which is somehow born in pride of keeping it all together, turned the wrong way on back on the interstate. UGH. Then my meeting ran long, and I didn’t get to the school at lunch. (THEY EAT AT 10 SOMETHING – WHY???). So on and on my day went until I got home, where my children so warmly received me, despite my failures at getting to the book fair at all. Michael took them instead, and all was well. And they were thrilled with their books.

So thrilled, in fact, they wanted to have a dance party.

And this is something we do. And it is exactly how you would picture us looking based on the aforementioned description. Like a Seinfeld episode, but with 5 Quakers. Ridiculous.

And their are no 4th graders.

No dance instructors.

And no Kevin Eubanks.

My children love to dance. And they love to dance with me. And so they do and I do too, and laughter makes the humiliation bearable; it is ridiculous and freeing all at the same time. We dance like David did, with all our might (2 Sam. 6:14)…with pure joy in the Lord. It is uninhibited. Undignified. Wonderfully humiliating. Pride is not compatible with the Coats family dance party, which makes it all the more necessary for me to participate.

God hates pride (Proverbs 6). And I can’t think of a better way to practice the removal of it than to dance it right out of me.


This morning I woke up to a nice little pudge in my belly, which I have unaffectionately begun to refer to as “Christmas 2014”.  My people are just too good in the kitchen.  My brother is home and so dinners are meat with a side of meat.  And everything has its own butter based dipping sauce.  And every meal requires that you eat seconds.  Because food that good is meant to be devoured until it’s gone. Also my mother-in-law made these delightful things which involved a bacon, cream cheese and generous mounds of brown sugar all nestled in and around a jalapeño pepper and baked just long enough to make you angry that they weren’t already in your mouth.  I simply called them “breakfast”, three days running.  I coupled my  breakfast poppers with pecans which were coated with several layers of cinnamon and refined sugar as well as homemade cheesecake that I would fist fight you for.  My sister-in-law also had a creamy buffalo dip that I hid from Michael so I could eat it all by myself.  I bought heavy whipping cream for my coffee only because it was Christmas and I felt obligated to use it in place of it’s more slender cousin, half-n-half.

Going back to work today DID NOT EVEN HELP.  I brought the leftovers with me, which I enjoyed alongside all the candy that people have given to my children. YES, I ATE THEIR CHOCOLATE.

I actually think that eating fast food might lower my caloric intake.

The obvious goal here would be to get rid of “Christmas 2014”.  However, that would require scales and numbers and a thing called a diet.  I went on a diet one other time in my life. It wasn’t good for the people around me.  So, I’m going to try to just eat less than a football player’s portion and hope things even out before March.

Besides all that, I do not ever make New Year’s Resolutions.  I’m not a very good ‘maintainer’, which I have come to accept, so I generally just try to keep right on doing what I was doing in December. My goal is always the same: To love God and love people.

Even though I try to steer clear of resolutions, I feel like God is whispering something to me.


Everything to which I am committed gets a little portion of me, and lately the things that are non-urgent seem to be taking more time than I honestly care to give.  I must prioritize my time.

All the clothes and gadgets and toys and shoes have consumed so much of my home, there is scarcely any room left.   I must prioritize my space. 

The luxuries that are considered ‘must haves’  by the Jones require energy and resources to purchase and to maintain. I must prioritize my finances.

I don’t have a goal or a number or a limit to assign any of these categories.  It’s not about a number.  I am simply to prioritize them.  

When I look at how I spend my time, it is to be a reflection of my purpose.  Does my calendar reflect my goal to love God and love others?

When I look at how I use my space, it is to be a reflection of my purpose.  Does my home and my office space reflect my goal to love God and love others?

And when I look at how I spend my money, it is to be a reflection of my purpose.  Does my checkbook reflect my goal to love God and love others?

I started with my space.  It was bogged down with things.  I went through the closets in total Tasmanian-style purge mode. I don’t know where it all came from. But I can tell you where to pick it up: GOODWILL INDUSTRIES.  I’ll be dropping a load off in the morning.

My space already feels so much freer.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy,and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven,where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21

I’m tackling time next. Me and the calendar have a longstanding love/hate relationship.  But God is clear.


“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it.” Joshua 1:8

How can I meditate on the His Word day and night when I fill up my time with so many useless, meaningless things that will not make a Kingdom difference?

And what about my money?  C.S. Lewis’ words from Mere Christianity haunt me:

“I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare.”

He gets his lesson from the widow to which Jesus refers here:

“Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, ‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.’” Mark 12:41-44

I am so thankful for having been able to quiet down the past few weeks to hear Him whisper.  I am so looking forward to giving Him more time, space, and resources. I can only imagine my obedience in prioritizing for Him will result in a blessing that cannot be purchased or consumed. Or maybe it will be a jalapeño popper.

I’m good either way.







Dear Moms of teensy tinies who traveled this Christmas,

Let me let you in on a little bitty secret….


Traveling with little ones is the ultimate test of a parent’s will and resolve. How important is that family gathering? How will you get there? What will transit behold?

I don’t mean to be a know it all, but I have done it all. Arranged traveling around naps and nursing. We have peed off the side of every road for a 500-mile stretch. We have scooped them out of their beds at 2am, and driven through their sleep time. We’ve left late at night and arrived at the destination upon their waking, losing days of sleep to avoid the torture of entertaining three rowdy confined creatures. Timing is everything with babies and if something is even slightly askew, the whole trip is vulnerable to devastation of epic proportion.

One time we were traveling home on the Fourth of July. Zachary was 3 months old. We had so many diapers and nighttime pull-ups in our vehicle we scarcely had room for our shoes. He had an ear infection (like he ALWAYS did) and was particularly fussy. He had finally settled down and we were making good time in no traffic on a stretch of highway with no curves. All was quiet. All were resting peacefully. Until we saw the patriotic lights behind us. They weren’t fireworks. We were getting pulled freaking over. I desperately tried to convince Michael to call 911 and simply explain the situation. “If the operator is a mom, she will understand. We can probably just pay the ticket by debit over the phone. There really is no need to pull over.” He didn’t think I was serious. But I was. As a heart-attack. My heart-attack. I appreciate our law enforcement and all, but that day…WHEN HE WOKE UP MY SLEEPING BABY….

I have been soooooooooo exhausted as a result of traveling. The packing, planning, organizing, and executing a family vacation is worthy of a Lifetime Achievement Award. I pack outfits by days, in birth order, and sometimes in multiple suitcases for multiple locations. My sister-in-law just executed a 12-day trip in two countries, the detail of which included such intricate things as mailing my mom her van key (long story). Is that incredible? Mama has skill.

We just got home from a Christmas trip, hauling back with us a wrecked vehicle on a rented trailer and loot from FIVE Christmas celebrations. THAT’S RIGHT. FIVE. Times three boys. The amount of remote control boats, Skylanders, and AA batteries we toted is enough to supply radio shack for a year. Luckily my hubby excelled at Tetris as a child, because he had our car packed with zero amount of space wasted. And we could access lunchmeat from the cooler at the first mention of hunger. Our extra cargo has slowed our average travel time by an hour. BUT…not to worry. Our kids are traveling champs.

We started them young. Nolan was 11 weeks when we made our inaugural parental road trip. On an 8-hour trip, he woke once, when we stopped. I fed him, changed him, and he slept the rest of the way. So obviously we thought we could handle anything. The second child was slightly different. The screaming seemed endless, and I would take him out of his seat for no reason. I became able to change a diaper without dislodging him from his seat. The dexterity that resulted is resume worthy. The third one came and at 8 weeks, we drove to the mountains and forgot to strap him in his seat at all. He was tiny. We felt awful. But now he’s five and tracks our miles, alerts us at each state crossing, and never ever complains.

Kids are incredibly resilient. It’s the parents who are less so.

They will fall back into routine after a weird off day. They will still eat their vegetables because you will offer it to them without the threat of a giant gingerbread house lurking nearby. They will not be damaged for life because you lost it on I-95 over a spilled sippy cup of purple Gatorade. Let me test-i-fy.

I PROMISE it gets more fun. I PROMISE it is worth it. I PROMISE they remember. Today’s trip was long, but almost effortless on my part. I am NOT KIDDING. My kids are road warriors. Yes, we let them watch movies, but y’all, only about half the time. We played the alphabet game, three different ways. Nolan read an entire novel. Josiah made me a bracelet. And Zachary, about 15 minutes from home, said he wished he could sit in my lap. Obviously, I became a booster seat. (If you think I would turn that down, you are out your mind.) That was when he said, “Let’s talk about Christmas…”

Though he received infinity gifts this year, I asked what his favorite gift was. Do you know what he said, WITHOUT HESITATION??

“Mom, I think family is the gift.”

His response, pure, thoughtful, and certain, was the sweetest gift I received this season.

Moms, it is worth the effort in the end. Stay strong. They will get bigger and have bigger bladders and bigger attention spans. And you will survive right through this really hard phase and it will be but a blink.

In the meantime, make it bearable for yourself by not setting unrealistic expectations, always packing extra wipes, and unapologetically stopping for coffee, as the crises require.

A Mom who’s been there