(Written in February, posted in November…there is no storm today!)

Yesterday, in great anticipation of Snowmageddon 2014, I studied in the library rather than my office. There is a beautiful view from the windows out to the water, and I perched myself facing outward so as to alert the campus upon the first flake’s appearance. I felt it my duty as the midwesterner in the building. The whole of North Carolina was out of sorts because of the impending storm. They were calling for inches. PLURAL. The last time we had this much snow I was 7 1/2 months pregnant with Zachary. This happens never. Or every 5 years. But mostly never.

I couldn’t keep my eyes off the birds.

A whole flock had descended on campus, apparently to ride out the storm. They were working so hard. They were flying from the ground to the trees in hasty, calculated, determined fashion. They did it for four straight hours, without stopping.

They were getting ready.

A less calculated flock was at Food Lion in Archdale. I was one of ‘those’ people, who, unlike the birds, had not gotten ready. There were lots of us. One poor man was wondering aimlessly about with a bag of bread in his hand looking helpless. He knew to get bread, but beyond that, he was lost. The cashier was nearly in tears explaining that she was just trying to ‘serve the customers’ and some of them had been so mean to her. Bless her heart. The manager was darting to and fro, sweating, and looking worriedly from the parking lot to the long lines and back to the parking lot. Bless his heart.

It’s not their fault we weren’t ready.

I had actually made a half-hearted attempt the day before. I went to Target, but only ended up with brownie mix and some Valentine’s candy. Hardly what was going to sustain the masses over the next three days.

Others were ready. The schools let out fully 24 hours before the first flake fell. READY. Businesses posted their quitting times online and on TV. READY. The local hardware store ordered extra sleds, which I purchased (the morning of the storm). READY (and business savvy). All 2 of North Carolina’s salt trucks had worked hard to get the roads covered. Bless ’em. READY.

The fullness of my under-preparedness didn’t occur until after my stop at the store. The snow accumulated so rapidly, that 20 minutes made all the difference. It was a mess, a whiteout, a slippery blizzaster. I’m one of those drivers that is really questionable to be on the road anyway…but in conditions like that, well.

‘so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left.Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.’ Matthew 24:39b-42

The Word says He will come like ‘a thief in the night’. Which can be translated ‘like a snow storm in the south’. There will be those who will embrace His coming. Who were ready. And there will be those who aren’t.

Our lesson today comes not from the grocery patrons, but from the birds.13952232-458091







(Image from





A few months ago I was talking to a friend of mine. She said this to me:

“You just always seem like you’ve got it together.”



And then today a co-worker said the exact same thing.

I am beyond befuddlement. I do not know who they see. So let me set the record straight.

No. I. Don’t.

Every single day is a monumental struggle. Last night, for example, Michael made dinner early because sports make life impossible, and then had gone outside to put something something fluid something something necessary something something vehicle, leaving the children with my portion of the dinner. When I walked through the door 20 minutes later, they had obviously eaten it. And then the deprived ones cried of extreme hunger pangs less than an hour later while I was trying to eat my off-brand Cinnamon Life sitting on the toilet overseeing bath time while another complained about homework requirements for a solid hour.

This is my life. NOT together.

Every morning I intend, set my alarm for, and plan to wake up 45 minutes before the rest of the family to have my devotions and quiet time.   Every morning, I program my alarm to say things like, “You need to wash your hair today. GET UP!”, or “You have to pack for your trip to Kentucky, GET UP!!”, or “Nolan has a math test and needs extra protein at breakfast, GET UP and make him an egg!!” Every morning, the coffee maker is programmed to fill the air with the aroma of freshly brewed coffee by 5:30 am. And lately, every morning, I tell the alarm to stop it. And I snooze my way through the 45 minutes of quiet that I desperately needed before the day begins.

And then it does.

Waking up is not only hard on me. Every morning Zachary claims that he has woken up both blind and lame and is unable to proceed with any task. He dramatically army crawls up the stairs, lays prostrate at the top, and waits for mercy from a parent. Josiah lectures us about not having put him to bed early enough the evening prior. And Nolan begins each day with a proposal to restructure the education system to suit his personal needs. Michael and I have an unspoken agreement not to speak before at least a half cup of coffee. We typically stumble towards each other and acknowledge that the day has begun with an armless embrace.

The flurry ensues and though we have been technically awake for 2 solid hours, we are ALWAYS rushed to get out the door. And IF we manage to get out the door without forgetting the reading book that was last read ‘while I was jumping on the trampoline’, it is always later than I had originally intended. Then, while dropping them off, I am writing a check for a fundraiser/school lunch/field trip/school picture that I didn’t order but they sent anyway and that my son cut out and framed before I could tell them I didn’t want their manipulative forty-five dollar ‘proof set’ thank you very much/school carnival. At this point, I typically spill coffee somewhere because I can’t drive, put on makeup, write checks, and manage the coffee simultaneously.

And my whole life smells like a wet soccer cleat. It’s all the vehicles, the closets, the bathrooms, everywhere. There is this demonic spongy layer between the inner and outer lining of the cleat that absorbs sweat and dew and makes a mixture of death that hovers and spreads and lasts. I’ve tried to kill it with every Pinterest plan there is. NO. It is the devil himself manifest in an odor. And if your Pinterest plan worked, it’s because you are desensitized. My nose is my superpower and THE SMELL PERSISTS.

We recently had family pictures made. I have posted them on social media.


We look like we have it together, don’t we? BUT LET ME BE CLEAR. Behind every single perfect family photo is an argument about adjustable waist corduroy pants. And underwear. And smiling. And all the things that make family pictures family pictures. Remember, we post the HIGHLIGHTS.

No, I don’t have it all together. And I regret projecting that I do. Because moms, let’s stop looking around and finding our faults in other peoples’ momentary glimpses of perceived perfection. Her perfect pig-tailed daughter probably eats her boogers when no one is looking, and her son does not enjoy the Ralph Lauren seersucker shorts with argyle socks…no matter what the picture projects. He doesn’t. She gave him candy to keep him from tantruming in public. I know because I have put my kids in that stuff. And they looked great…

The only thing I have together is a group of girlfriends that really know me and tell me to hang the cleats out the car window, forge the homework packet, and let him go commando to relieve myself of at least one argument. It’s my fellow soldiers  in the trenches that keep it real with me. Next time you see her, and are wondering about how she has it ‘all together’, ask her to have a cup of coffee with you. I bet she tells you about her struggles. I bet she is grateful someone asked. I bet you find a friend and start to bear one another’s burdens. And perhaps you will live out the incredibly cheesy, although true, cliché…

We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.



There has never been a longer walk than the one I just made from my baby’s kindergarten class to our minivan in the back of the parking lot.  Michael has asked me to please stop calling him a baby, and I cannot.  My mom still calls me her baby, and so I have resolved that my babies are my babies forever.

Last night Zachary said he wasn’t ready to go to kindergarten.  I almost told him he didn’t have to.  I almost quit my job.  I almost decided to have another baby.  The boys suggested it the other day, and I thought about what it feels like to pick up a new born and watch them squirm and stretch and then nestle back into my chest and stomach and then look up at me with reassured eyes and how that is the most exhilarating feeling in all the world and how I cherished every snuggle I was afforded in those early days.

And then I thought about how those early days were eternal days that never ever ended and how I thought everyone who said ‘they are growing so fast!’ was a lunatic because no they weren’t.  They were growing so slowly, and I was feeling every single millisecond of their growth because I was with them always and they were so needy and so dependent and so loud and so messy.  All I ever did was wipe things.  Ever.

The night we brought Zachary home from the hospital was the longest night.  He cried all night long.  We couldn’t figure each other out, and so I woke up my husband.  I almost made him take us back to the hospital because I thought something cannot be okay with a baby that cries this much.  A baby’s cry unsettles me to my innermost being and there is no other focus until the baby is pacified. It was the longest night in the history of the world.

That was five seconds ago.

It was a blink.  You were right and you are not lunatics.

And that is the reason I felt compelled to help a mama in Wal-Mart last week.  I was picking something up for work.  In my work clothes.  With no children.  She had a baby strapped to her chest, a toddler licking things from the ‘please touch me’ section of the checkout aisle, and an older child who was attempting to help, but making more work for the mom in the meantime.  I had been her.  And I sensed she had been me, once in the professional world but taking a moment to embrace this other parallel universe.  I walked over and asked if I could please load the bags in her cart, as she was struggling to work around the baby carrier and give commands to the licking toddler. She looked relieved and grateful and almost in tears.  And I said it before I thought about it.

‘It goes by so fast.’

And she probably thought, ‘No it doesn’t you crazy working mom who got a shower and peaceful drive to work this morning.’

But it does.  It is a blink.  The early years of motherhood are quick and painful.  They are joy and sorrow and struggle and fun and long and fulfilling and exhilarating and endless and so so so so so very fast.  

When I woke Zachary up this morning (he was on the floor because he occasionally insists that it is more comfortable than his bed), he asked me to hold him for a minute.  As I cradled his long heavy body in my overwhelmed arms, I prayed a prayer of thanksgiving for the gift of his sweet childhood.  Of his innocence. Of his babyhood. Of his potential and possibility. Of his soft skin and his blue eyes and his telling smile. 

And I whispered in my mind, because the words wouldn’t come:

‘I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.’





(Quote taken from: Munsch, R. N., & McGraw, S. (n.d.). Love you forever.)


Our legs moved slowly through the palpable heat as we ascended the slight hill to the modest meeting house for worship.  Slowly, because that is the only speed left after a full day of travel including a four hour layover and customs and three additional hours of relentless curves and holes in the road.  The night before proved quite restless as the anticipation of the week ahead took over my thoughts and won over my will to sleep.


The service began slowly.  The Pierce family would fit in so well here.  Start times are  more a suggestion than a rule, and there is no one getting bent out of shape over lack of punctuality. We must have Jamaican roots.  There was an attempt to move the air around to provide some relief by way of an oscillating fan.  A few dogs sauntered in and stretched across the tile floor.  I was tired.


The service officially began in song.  The minimal chatter was silenced with the melodious solitary tune of a woman, who I gauged to be in her seventies.  The sound was sweet and deliberate, and she was swiftly joined by the congregational choir that surrounded us. The only instrument was a tamborine. I attempted to join in, but a hard lump had formed in my vocal chords instead. The emotion of returning to this country nearly twenty years after my first visit, the experience of which impressed so heavily on me as to choose a career path, coupled with exhaustion and the realization that I was really going to be away from my kids for nine days was more than I could bare.

Worship had begun.

The next two and half hours were filled with song, exhortation, silence, prayer, teaching, a baby dedication (bawled my eyes out, y’all) and a direct charge from the pastor not to come down here and complain about this heat. Duly noted.  The closing hymn was Have Thine Own Way, Lord, which was also played at our wedding and since we were also celebrating our ten year anniversary – I was an out and out mess.  I was concerned I would cry the entire trip and accomplish nothing of any meaning because of my over sentimental self.

Have thine own way, Lord.  Yes, I thought. For this trip, and my life, have Thine own way.

Once I finally pulled it together, we began to distribute flyers (which really means we told everyone verbally) to advertise a sports camp we would hold there later in the week.  Walking through the community was such a reminder of how overly complicated we make things in our country.  Three boys (the age of mine) took turns climbing way up in the trees  for prized ginup or a mango.  We hover so, I thought.

We left the community to return to our homestead for the week.  We were staying in another meeting house in an urban area on the upper east side.  A slightly different connotation should be established for the Jamaican upper east side.  According to the 2014 Index of Economic Freedom, Jamaica’s per capita is about a quarter of that of the U.S. and the unemployment rate is almost double.  But what they seem to lack in economic prosperity, they more than make up for in cultural expression.  And besides all that, God seems to have heaped the majority of the world’s natural beauty right smack on the small island nation.  And we loved every molecule of it.  Whether it was stopping mid afternoon to dip our sweaty toes (yes, even your toes can sweat I discovered) in the ocean water or picking every mango within reach, we were enamored by the intensity of tropical beauty that surrounded us the entire week.

IMG_6643 IMG_6632 IMG_6657 IMG_6656Go ahead and die.

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Your breath is gone isn’t it? Taken away.IMG_6499 IMG_6452

In a stroke of brilliance on the part of our mission coordinator, we were more than visiting this site to offer our aid.  Yes we led a sports camp for 4 days.  But we led the sports camp together with our Jamaican Friends. The real mission experience was the coming together of two distinct cultures, unified by our Savior, to support one another in the Commission entrusted to us by the Savior Himself.  We bunked together, cooked together, cleaned together, rode in those vans together, relaxed together, worshiped together, ate together, and served together alongside our Jamaican Friends.  We had coffee together, ok?  We were able to experience the result of decades of partnership between the North Carolina and Jamaica Yearly Meetings.  It was so evident the investment that has been established there.  It is my humble opinion that any other mission experience is inferior.  When cultural, social, and economic boundaries are shattered, I think we get the closest to the Kingdom this side of heaven.

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I love this girl so much. My devo partner for the week.


I don’t know how to explain how close we were without this picture: cards, corn rows, and cuddles.IMG_6570 IMG_6577

Miss Pauline.  My hero. IMG_6547

Morning praise. Jamaican Joys.IMG_6549 IMG_6502 IMG_6492 IMG_6480

The one with the football is at least 60.  She outran us all. 


There are 26 people in this van.  There isn’t more love than that.IMG_6449

Worship on the riverbank.  I adore this circle.
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The charge I come home with is one that should ring familiar to my Christian brothers and sisters.  The mission field is everywhere and always.  No one is really exempt from cross cultural mission or local mission or familial mission. We step onto the mission field every morning when we step out of bed.  If you are a stay at home mom, your home is your mission field.  If you work in an office, the office is your mission field.  If you live in a community, your community is your mission field.  If you go to Wal-Mart for milk and fabric softener and you are standing a line that is 37 buggies long and the lady in front of you is looking despondent and helpless, that is your mission field for that moment.  And if you feel a tug on your heart for a region of the world that is far far away, that is your mission field.  Because sometimes your mission is the next country over and sometimes it’s the boy next door.  We are called to be ambassadors for Christ for as long as we are in this world to the very ends of the earth.  Everywhere and always.

That Christ’s mission may be paramount in my existence, my heart cry is this:

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Thou art the Potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Search me and try me, Master, today!
Whiter than snow, Lord, wash me just now,
As in Thy presence humbly I bow.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Hold o’er my being absolute sway!
Fill with Thy Spirit ’till all shall see
Christ only, always, living in me.

Have Thine own way, Lord, that all my come to know you.


I stood in the aisle trying to find a card that matched my husband or my dad for Father’s Day.  The cards either had a grill or a golf club.  The one card I did pick up and read pitted the poor recipient as the butt of the joke.  It said something like “The thing I like best about you is your taste in women.” Wow.

I left.

You really missed the mark, greeting card industry.  There’s more to dads that what you are giving them credit.  Yes, they like meat and sports, but I’m surrounded by dads. I have a husband, a dad, a granddaddy, cousins, a brother and countless friends that I get to watch being fathers.  And I see more. I see more than a grill master or a sports junkie.  I see more than a beer-guzzling, careless, uninvolved, unrelational, passive workhorse whose only role is ‘provider’.  Let me tell you what I see:

I have seen his eyes gaze tenderly and anxiously at his newborn.

I have seen his knuckles white, clutching the steering wheel with all the weight of the new responsibility of driving this living being home from the hospital.

I have seen his hand steady the bike, cautiously letting go and sending him on his own way.

I have seen the approving nod and thumbs up from the bleachers, the only one for which the jagged-tooth grin begs.

I have seen his steel frame twisted in grief.

I have seen his misty eyes as she twirls at the recital.

I have seen his protective glance over his home, and his double checking the door is latched before bed.

I have seen his heart swell and overcome with compassion when his child is in pain.

I have seen him pierce right through to the core when he asks, and genuinely cares to know, “how’s your heart?”

I have seen him rock them to sleep, carry them up a mountain, change their diapers, read them Scripture, warm their bottles, toss them in the air, wipe their noses, calm their fears, apply their band-aids, stroke their hair, pray for their needs, scoop them away from danger, wrestle ’til they hurt and giggle ’til they cry.

I’ve seen men who accept the call to fatherhood, and live it out with patience, integrity, and purpose.

That’s what I’ve seen.  And this isn’t new-age mumbo jumbo where men are all of the sudden jumping in and helping more with the kids.   It’s no surprise that men are relational.  In Genesis, God saw that it wasn’t good for man to be alone.  And they were instructed to be involved from the beginning (Deut. 4:9, 6:7, 11:19), teaching their children and bringing them up in the way they should go.  I think Paul especially knew the importance of a father in the life of his children:  “Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged” (Col. 3:21).

I’ve seen that.  I’ve seen them put the courage in their children, bring them up as they should go, and teach them diligently as they walk along the road.

I am so eternally grateful for all I get to see.  Dads, watching you father is a joy unspeakable.  Thanks for all you are.


I learned a swift lesson about the freedom we enjoy in this nation the day we picked up a Cuban refugee family from the airport.  Reading about the perils faced by those living in restricted nations does not compare with beholding their relief upon their first taste of freedom. There he sat, staring at the bleak and desolate Carolina December landscape, with tears streaming.

“We have made it to free soil,” he said in his native tongue.  He gave an assuring look to his wife, whose smile is as bright as the sun, and gently rested his arm across her shoulder and touched that of his son. They had made it to freedom. My friend nearly choked on the words as she translated for me, as I was struggling to understand their dialect.

The words etched on Lady Liberty’s statue manifested before my eyes in that moment:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

There is no telling what they have had to endure.  I’ve never been comfortable with the phrase “I’m proud to be an American” (because of Gal. 6:14).  Glad, yes. Grateful, abundantly.  It’s not that I’m unpatriotic.  Pride insinuates that I have had some part in acquiring my birthplace, and that is not the case.  I simply had the good fortune to be born here, and not elsewhere.   To that I owe gratitude to my ancestors from Germany and Switzerland, who braved the Atlantic and left their countries to seek new opportunity in this new nation.  And subsequently I owe a debt of gratitude to those who have served to defend that freedom and that opportunity in the hundreds of years since.  Like my father’s father, whom I never knew.  He died long before I was born.  To his service, and those like him, I owe an untold debt.

I am deeply and humbly and abundantly grateful for the freedom I enjoy as a citizen of this great nation.

Recently I saw a Facebook post that said, “Memorial Day: It’s not about the Barbecues.”  But may I submit that it is about the barbecue, the parade, the family gathering?  May I be so bold as to suggest that gathering together and enjoying the company of our loved ones is precisely what they were fighting for?  Are not the carefree smiles of our children a gentle reminder of the sacrifices made?

Today, we pause briefly to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice.  We wave our flags, visit the cemetery, attend a parade, or gather with our families.  A pause. But the greater chance to pay our respect for their sacrifice comes in all our tomorrows.  May we live our entire lives in such a way to honor those who gave their lives for ours.  Let not their death be in vain!  Let not our freedom be in vain!

The Christian clause here is obvious:  With that great freedom, comes great responsibility.  For to whom much is given, much is required (Luke 12:48).  It is my humble belief that we followers of Christ must use this gift of freedom for His glory.  We have the great privilege to proclaim His name freely! Without threat of imminent death!  May we not take that liberty for granted for a single moment!  And may we not miss the opportunities that abound to proclaim Him to those who are still captive.  For there is no purer freedom than that which is found in Christ (Rom. 8:2, John 8:32).

For freedom, we thank our country.  For being set free, we thank our Savior.

I am infinitely grateful for both.

May my life be a reflection of my gratitude….by offering both a lifted lamp and a saving Light to any  ‘yearning to breathe free’.


When I took a pregnancy test in May of 2005, I was sure the double pink line was faulty. The first person I called was the 1-800 number on the back of the EPT box.

‘Uhm…so there is kinda a really light pink double line. What does that mean?’

‘You have indicated a positive result.’

‘Yes, but the second is really light pink.’

‘Ma’am, you have indicated a positive test.’

‘Are you sure? Am I pregnant????’

‘I can only confirm that you have indicated a positive test. You should contact your physician.’

And in one fell swoop, I became a mom.

Suddenly, not being able to stay awake through lectures at school started to make sense. I thought the exhaustion had been coming from driving 2 hours (one way) to attend full-time graduate school, reading endlessly, and working on my clinical hours were the reason I felt narcoleptic.

Turns out, growing a human takes it out of you.

For the first 9 days, I didn’t eat pizza. Or anything medium rare. I felt an incredible need to eat copious amounts of spinach. I stopped drinking caffeinated coffee. I started taking those terrible pre-natal vitamins (the true culprit of morning sickness). I added to my list of reading, What to Expect When You’re Expecting and The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. I started having those crazy pregger dreams where my baby would come out with teeth or as a 2-year old.

Because I lean on the anxious side, my obsessive thought patterns tried to run a bit rampant during those 9 months. Praise be to God who created the earth that I have friends. Poor veteran-mother-Mendy was trapped in the car with me on all those drives to school. She answered all four hours worth of questions. So did my mom. So did my neighbor.

This motherhood journey is tough. I am constantly evaluating my parenting methods. Although the even-tempered ‘calm with explanation’ sometimes is replaced with ‘frantic with threats’ (but only when we’re late for church, of course). And then I’ll feel like such a failure as I explain to a friend,

‘I’m ruining their lives…’

‘No you aren’t. You’re offering varied life experiences so nothing surprises them later on,’ Adair will respond.


‘You probably are. Just write this down. It will be much easier for the therapist later on,’ Mendy will say.

Or, on especially daunting weeks…

‘I can’t remember when I last showered,’ I’ll admit.

‘Oh, me either,’ Kelly will reassure.

Thank God I have support. No one should mother alone. The job is too big. The responsibility too great. The sleepless nights, constant demands, endless laundry, insatiable appetites, and the calendar could conspire to take down even the strongest of women.

Not to mention the fact that we stand in the midst of a war that has been waged for their very souls. For crying out loud.

But God made it so that generations are not isolated, and we can call on our mothers before us to guide us and give wise counsel. God made it so that we live in clusters and we can call on our friends to figure out how to count by base tens in 2nd grade math (because what in the world??). God made it so that we would have a helpmate in parenting and so he gave us a husband to handle all of the energy that comes out of their inexhaustible bodies.

God knew we were at war, so he gave us an army.

If you wish me Happy Mother’s Day this Sunday, please know that you are recognizing my entire army of people. I stand on the front lines of this battlefield with a battalion that is prepared to face anything that may come its way. I can’t imagine having to go to this war alone. There is just no way.

Today I honor my fellow soldiers: Thank you. You are in the trenches with me and you lighten my load and share my burden. Thank you. Thank you to the teachers, the prayer warriors, the moms, the dads, the aunts, the great-aunts, the sisters, the cousins, the counselors, the coaches, the brothers, the friends, the grandparents, the church family…the list is endless. Thank you for enlisting in this war and standing with me. Thank you for shoulders to cry on, hands to help me, the reality checks, the perspective checks, the prayers, the calls, the teaching, the laughter, the comfort, the support, the understanding, the love, and the coffee breaks. Thank you so much for the coffee breaks you guys. You are one amazing army.

Be blessed today.

Happy Mother’s Day


My mother’s side of the family is inflicted with a terrible condition.  We get tickled and laugh uncontrollably at desperately inappropriate times.  We’ve suffered long and hard with the affliction, to no avail of the torment.

We are a family who has spent more hours in the pews of churches than I care to count.  We gather often and always join hands in prayer before a meal.  We have been passed on the legacy of music, helping others, and the serious study of God’s word with fellow believers.

And in each of the aforementioned settings, we have combatted bouts of hysterical laughter to the absolute disgrace of anything sacred or pure.

One such instance was just a few weeks ago.  I was staying with my cousins in Durham for a few nights while I attended a conference.  It was on a night that their Bible study gathered, so they invited me to attend.  I hadn’t met any of their friends so the leader asked me to introduce myself.  I said “Sure! I’m Christi Anna and I’m Kim and Kelly’s husband.”

So, apparently I was looking at Kelly’s husband when I said this, and instead of ‘cousin’, I said ‘husband’.  Well..that was it.  Kim and I struggled to regain composure throughout the entire study.  I was so tickled, I didn’t even ever correct myself. Mass confusion.

This scenario plays out in a variety of  ways.  Sometimes the only trigger is being together. The most troubling aspect of this affliction is that the more inappropriate the setting, the harder it is to regain composure.

The scene: Christmas, 1998.  Candles are lit, decorations are hung, table is set.  Super cool teens decked out in Abercrombie attire stroll in late.  Grandmother begins to read a devotion the Lord laid on her precious wonderful heart about the joy of the Christmas season.  Jason and I get tickled for no apparent reason and the absurdity of our disrespect propels the laughter to an all-time high.

We are scum of the earth.  Desperate for her forgiveness, we return to beg for mercy at her feet. Apologizing profusely, feeling absolutely miserable that after all of the hard work she put into making Christmas special; we laughed through the most meaningful part.

The scene: Thomasville Friends Church, 1991. The six of us cousins are singing a song my Grandaddy wrote entitled, “Jesus, a Lover of Sinners”.  Someone put gum on someone else.  We got tickled and couldn’t really finish the song. My Grandaddy, y’all.  Could we be worse?

The scene: Anytime in my adolescence.  I was overly dramatic and emotional. <shock> When I was passionately expressing my opinion to my mother about the color of dress I needed to have for the spring fling or how immaturely my brothers were behaving, she would outright giggle at me.

I get it now.

The condition has been especially difficult in parenting.  Michael has had to ask me to leave several discussions with our children on account of my laughter.  Sometimes their defenses for their behavior or their facial expressions or their choice of vocabulary strike me funny.  And I’m no use at all in the discipline.  I know it. He knows it.

If I feel a bout coming on, I duck my head and try to keep my body from shaking.  It takes strength.  I have suppressed so much laughter that I actually have somewhat defined abdominal muscles without engaging in a vigorous workout routine.

As mentioned, the condition is genetic.  We get it honestly.  My mom and aunt began telling stories about their days at John Wesley and singing in the choir.   As representatives of the school.  And of Jesus.  They told of the time my dad came in on the wrong note with great zeal and volume, to their absolute shock and to the end of anything holy.  They were preforming an EASTER cantata.  The crowd decided to release Barrabas, instead of the savior of the universe, and my aunt was cackling in the tenor section.

Serendipitously, I now teach at the same institution.  I wish I could say that there is a professional exemption from this illness. There is not.  One of my students was leaning back in his chair this semester during class.  I was giving a lecture on social reform.  The chair gave way and he hit his head on the back of the cinderblock wall.  I was initially concerned.  Once I saw there was no bleeding, I started giggling.  I regained composure, but 10 minutes later burst out laughing again….mid sentence.

And now my kids have it.  Josiah has an especially debilitating case.  He’ll say, “I know I shouldn’t be laughing, but my body won’t stop. I really don’t think [people falling, people farting, any word associated with the bathroom] is funny.”


Maybe I will outgrow this.  If I look at my genetic history, however, it seems unlikely.  My Grandmother used to complain that Granddaddy would have bouts of laughter during the night, which shook the entire bed, waking her, because of something that happened during the day.  He would giggle and she would roll her eyes.  It was frequent.

I have this solace.  At least laughter is positively correlated to longevity. My Granddaddy is 93 years old.  And a cancer survivor.

It is as the Proverb says, I suppose, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”

So, in the words of a really cheesy product, “Have you laughed today?”




Today was such an odd Easter for me.

I LOVE holidays.  I don’t want to say I live for a special occasion, but I kinda do.  And Easter.  WELL.  As a follower of Christ, there is NO BETTER DAY!  Victory!! Triumph!!  Death is defeated!!! THIS DAY!  A welling up in my spirit happens every Easter and there is joy beyond compare.

So, the fact that I woke up in a hospital on a plastic couch to the sound of oxygen and the never ending beeps of the never ending machines and a night staff who didn’t seem to notice that the Savior of the whole wide world was being celebrated literally all over the whole wide world….

I gathered my belongings.  I sipped coffee and chatted with my dad.  We shared some tender moments, prayed together, and I walked out of the room.  Tears welled up in my eyes as I turned down the hall.  I hated leaving him.  And I hated not being home with my boys.  Feeling so torn and absolutely overwhelmed by the sense of needing to be in two places at once, I headed home.

As I was driving towards the blinding sun on the interstate in almost no traffic, I started thinking about the body of Christ who were gathering this morning.  I drove by church after church after church with parking lots full.  I began to imagine the joy and could almost feel the sentiment of triumph as I passed through the countryside.  I thought about how in every church today, every single one, the message is the same on this day.  And that welling up in my spirit came over me as I said aloud….

Christ is risen, He is risen INDEED!

Dare I say that today, there is simply unity in the Body?  From Presbyterians to Pentecostals, to Quakers and Catholics, Methodists and Baptists…the same message rings out…


Although I spent the morning alone, I didn’t feel alone at all.  Indeed.  I passed by all those churches and felt like a part of each one.  I sensed a great solidarity and camaraderie and belonging to something so much greater than myself. From the little country church in the valley to the big church on the hill, I am your sister and together we have some Good News to share!

photo-22 photo-3


Indeed. In truth. In reality. Whether I have on my Easter dress or not.  Whether I am driving in my minivan or am surrounded by the Body or am in a hospital room or wherever.  It is still true, it is INDEED reality, that:

‘On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!’ Luke 24:1-6

Indeed He is!  And He reigns victorious. And today the cares of this world, the being pulled in too many directions, the distractions, the pain, the suffering, the ordinary all fall away for a time….to simply proclaim:


Happy Easter dear brothers and sisters.  It was a joy sharing this day with you all….



Michael and I were sitting on the couch having a conversation.  All the kids were home.  And we were having a conversation.  Zachary was in the room with us.  All of a sudden we heard from downstairs,

“Moooooooooooooom!!!!!!  Someone clogged the toilet with SOOOOOO MUCH toilet paper!!”

Zachary stopped what he was doing, looked intently at both of us (somehow), and confessed,
“It was me……..accidentally” (which is an incredibly overused word in our home).

You know that feeling when you find an unexpected $5….nay, a $20 bill in your old coat pocket? This was exactly like that.

Michael and I locked eyes.  Michael’s voice lifted an octave, “Zachary!! Did you wipe your own bottom????!??!?!?!?”

“Yes…” he replied tentatively.

“That is awesome!!!!” we both replied, holding hands and skipping.  Fairy dust fluttered through the air.  Angelic music and confetti filled the room simultaneously.  I remember trumpets.  I’m not sure that even learning to read gets so festive a celebration in our home.

Do you know what this means?  We are henceforth relieved of bathroom duty!!!  We have been in that business for the past 2,976 days.  What will we do with all the extra time, you ask? Write a book. Invent something.  Solve cancer.  The possibilities seem endless.

These days, I say to my kids,  “Kids, get in the car.”  And they do it.  Buckle and all.

They walk.

They walk upstairs.

They cut food.

They brush teeth.

They put on shoes.

They shower.

They zip, button, tie, unlock, lock, open, shut, close, turn off, turn on, cook…..things.

They’re growing up.  We seem to have entered into a new phase of parenting, almost suddenly.  Because my body was used as a jungle gym, a feeding system, a pillow, a home, and a carrier, I spent the first 8 years feeling drained and exhausted.  Meeting the basic physical needs of my kids was an all consuming, all encompassing, incredibly rewarding existence.

And now we have moved into the emotionally challenging phase.  There are constant arguments, explanations, exhortations, cautions, information, directions, discussions, and form completions.

Side note: Filling out forms may not be hard and emotional for some of you ultra-organized types who love to fill in a box, sign, seal, and deliver something.  But for me…it’s pure torture.  OH….with the ‘primary email address, secondary email…’  x 3 boys x 2 schools x 3 sports/season + the doctor’s office + the dentist.  How many places could I possibly have to put my email address???  You know you won’t use it!!  Next season/year/vaccination, you’ll print off a piece of paper and ask me to fill out a form!  PLEASE…take the email OFF OF THE FORM, PROGRAM IT IN YOUR COMPUTER and just email me (CHOOSE EITHER MY PRIMARY OR SECONDARY) for crying out loud!! Keep my records ELECTRONICALLY!  Why is paper even still a thing???

As they grow, we are navigating friendships, wrestling with theology, expecting self-control, and nurturing empathy.  These are difficult concepts and we stumble through most of it.  But in a very real and tangible way, our kids are growing and maturing.  Their little beings embody little minds that have the most amazing, complex thoughts.  They make predictions, assumptions, oppositions and decisions.  They don’t always make the right ones.  But when they make an automatic right decision, after having been wrong so many times before, it amazes me.

Our kids do not have independent access to any electronic device.  We have to enter the password each time they play.  The other day Nolan asked me to play his iPod.  I agreed and he handed it to me.  He immediately turned his head so I could enter the password secretly.  There have been so many times when he tried teasingly to peek, or indiscreetly tried to figure it out.  But this time, he just turned his head away.  This is a small thing, but I almost cried.

I wonder if our heavenly Father is as pleased whenever we deny the flesh?

‘But I say, live by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh. For the flesh has desires that are opposed to the Spirit, and the Spirit has desires that are opposed to the flesh, for these are in opposition to each other, so that you cannot do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, depravity, idolatry, sorcery, hostilities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish rivalries, dissensions, factions, envying, murder, drunkenness, carousing, and similar things. I am warning you, as I had warned you before: Those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God!

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also behave in accordance with the Spirit.’ Gal. 5:16-25.

When patience blossoms instead of outbursts of anger, peace instead of jealousy, kindness instead of selfish rivalries, goodness instead of hostility, self control instead of sexual immorality, and love instead of murder, we truly are living by the Spirit.  Just as my kids are growing and maturing in front of my very eyes, so should I be ever growing in the Lord.  Ever seeking to put away childish things and grasp for solid food in place of milk (Heb 5:12).  May my thirst for Him be as for water in a desert land.  May my pursuits all lead to knowing Him more intimately and making Him known to others. May I never be complacent in my walk with him, but growing all the more in His grace and knowledge (2 Pet 3:18). Amen.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to retrieve a Monopoly hotel from an unflushed toilet.

They’ve still got some growing to do.

And so do I.