Wednesday, April 30, 2014


We lived in a small town when we first got married. It was the same town I'd grown up in, the same place my parents lived. His parents lived there too. His sister and her kids also called it home and, though my brother was attending school at UCSD, his permanent address was there, in that town. Every single one of my grandparents were within 40 minutes as well as all of my aunts, uncles, and six cousins.

My inlaws moved when Garrett was just a baby.

That started the ball rolling for us.

And when Garrett was sixteen months old, we packed up and moved to Utah. To this ministry. To this life.

It's been six and a half years.

Still, I fight the twinge of jealousy when I see extended families celebrating holidays together. Or hanging out after church on Sunday. Or moms and daughters getting coffee together.

I fight the twinge of jealousy when people--who have large amounts of family within ten minutes--say, "I don't have anyone to watch my kids." Because my parents and Troy's parents--and all our siblings, probably, would LEAP HIGH IN THE AIR WITH SHOUTS OF JUBILATION if they got the chance to watch my children.

We had Troy's parents here for a week. They left on Wednesday morning and my parents got here on Thursday. They stayed until today. Some people seemed to think it was crazy that we were going to have house guests for so long.

No. Not crazy.


We got to have our families here for TWO WEEKS. (My parents are coming back for two days after visiting Idaho for a bit so the fun isn't even over yet.) We GOT to have our families visiting us.

I always thought I'd be away from my family and, over time, the new normal would take over and I maybe wouldn't really miss them. That isn't true. My home is here. My life is here. My church family is here and my friends are here. Here is where we are.

But part of my heart will always and forever be there.

Saturday, April 26, 2014


We got up really early on Wednesday and headed up to Primary Children's Hospital so that Garrett could have an MRI. He was AN AMAZING ANGEL CHILD the entire time. The nurses kept asking him if he wanted to stay to show the other kids how it's done.

First, he got the IV put into his hand like a CHAMPION. He never even flinched.

Then he got all snuggled down onto the bed, under warm covers.

They started the IV sedation and he just closed his eyes and went right to sleep.

He sniffed and wiggled a bit in his sleep when the nurse put the oxygen tube into his nose.

This looks so very much worse than it is. What it was was a very sleepy child getting an MRI. What it looks like is a very sick child being put into a space ship to be abducted by aliens.

When it was over, he popped right up, thrilled that one of his choices for fluids was root beer. Garrett's only allowed to have soda on VERY special occasions. Yes, sure son, sedated MRIs can fall into the category of special occasions.

We now have a vast quantity of images of Garrett's neck and brain. He does have a skull fracture, but apparently it's not a cause for concern. His neck is fine and the neurosurgeon gave him the ability to return to all activities he'd been suspended from. So, you know, he's back to climbing trees, zooming around on his bike, and generally looking for ways to end up back in the emergency room.

Monday, April 21, 2014

God & Grey's

I have a confession to make.

I'm a long time Grey's Anatomy fan.

That is certainly not to say that I condone some of the things that happen on that show. It's not to say that I agree with all the choices that the characters make any more than I agree with all the choices my friends make or all the decisions I've made in my own life, for that matter.

I've been incredibly interested in how the show deals with Kepner's character, given that she professes to be a Christian. As the years passed and Sarah Drew (April Kepner) gained more screen time, I started wondering if Sarah is a Christian, in her real life. I came to the conclusion that one of three things had to be happening.

1. Sarah Drew is a Christian.
2. Sarah Drew is an incredible actress.
3. Someone on the writing team is either a Christian or just does a phenomenal job portraying the Christian experience.

It turns out that Sarah Drew is the daughter of a Presbyterian minister. She identifies herself as an evangelical Christian. (I also happen to think she's a pretty darn good actress.)

I was finally catching up on last week's Grey's Anatomy episode this afternoon. For those of you that don't watch the show, Kepner and Jackson Avery recently got married. The trouble is that Avery doesn't believe in God. The fact that he's smokin' hot doesn't change the fact that they're unequally yoked. It's causing problems, y'all.

In Thursday's episode, Kepner and Avery were both involved with a pediatric deaf patient whose parents didn't want her to receive cochlear implants. Avery was angry that the parents didn't choose to give their deaf child a chance to hear. Kepner argued that because the parents had decided against the implants, it didn't disqualify them as parents, or make them bad ones. One thing led to another in their argument and suddenly their faith (and lack of) became the center of the heated debate. The following incredible scene occurred. WATCH IT.


I love that scene. I love the way that Jesse Williams portrays Avery's feelings--he loves her but just can't understand how she could place her faith in a God that he's certain doesn't exist. I love how Sarah taps into the devastation that believers feel when we want nothing more than for our friends, family members, spouses and children to find the joy, acceptance, and eternal security that we have in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Ultimately, a light bulb exploded in my mind when I saw this scene. I'd never thought of this spiritual tug of war as a game of ridiculous versus pity with eternal implications. But, suddenly, there it was. I think the non-believers--the atheists and even the agnostics--look upon evangelical Christians with sadness over how ridiculous we are. Anyone who could be so silly as to believe such an absurd fairy tale is clearly nuts. Guess what? I get it. It sounds nuts. It's so much easier to believe in science and medicine. And I'm not saying that from a place of sarcasm. If you've never seen the glory of Christ, a gaseous explosion is certainly more believable.

But, then there are those of us who have been led to faith. We know true peace, indescribable joy, and everlasting love. I think, deep down, we feel sorry for the ones who haven't met our God. We ache and yearn for them to meet Him. We know that in seeing a sunset, the freckled nose of a child, or a flower on the verge of blooming, we have seen the glory of Christ. I know that I shy away from really sharing what I believe because I want so badly to love on people and not to frighten them away with all the JESUS FREAK and the THUMPITY THUMP OF MY BIBLE. I want them to see Christ in me and I want them to want what I have. Because what I have is glorious and it's absolutely free for the taking.

So what I don't say to everyone I meet, but what I know, is exactly what Sarah got to say on Primetime television. "This is who I am at my core. This defines me." This is what I happen to hold above everything else. This is my hope. Because without it, there is no moral absolute. Without it, I have a few fleeting moments of breath and then I just cease to exist. Without it, I have nothing. With it, I have everything.

Without it, my eyes are veiled.

With it, I see the image of God.

2 Corinthians 4:3-4  "And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God."

Saturday, April 19, 2014


This guest post is brought to you by my husband, the love of my life, the man who puts up with all of my shenanigans. And lemme just say something right here and now. I tease this man mercilessly. I am sometimes driven straight up the wall, across the ceiling, and down the opposite wall by him. I promise he'd lose his very own head if it wasn't strapped down to the rest of his body by a conveniently placed spine and some ligaments in his neck. But if someone else says something about him, that individual had better retreat and do so quickly. Because he's my man and I love him something fierce. 


I was reading the boys their nightly Bible story. Tonight we read about how Solomon stopped worshiping only God and began to worship idols. When the story was over, I explained to Garrett and Matthew that the reason Solomon had stopped loving God was because he married many wives--most of whom did not love God.

I told them that someday, when they got older, they might want to get married and the most important thing was that the girl they wanted to marry loved Jesus. I began to list the characteristics that were less important than having a heart that loves God.

"You might like a girl who is very pretty, but loving God is more important than being pretty.

It is more important to marry a girl who loves God than to marry someone who is smart.

It is more important than if she is kind.

Loving God is more important than if she's funny.

Loving God is the most important thing of all."

The boys nodded as if understanding. "But Dad," Garrett suddenly interjected. "Mom is all those things."

"I know, Buddy," I answered. "Daddy hit the jackpot."

I don't know a whole lot. What I do know is relatively useless information involving stage directions, the Laban theory of movement, and Uta Hagen. But man. I know I love them. 

Friday, April 18, 2014


While having a discussion this afternoon, I discovered that my oldest child had watched a video in class of the Velveteen Rabbit. This then prompted a conversation in which I sadly discovered that my youngest had never heard the story. I own the book but it stays in my own bookcase for safekeeping--instead of the case that the boys have constant access to.

Obviously, I had to remedy that problem.

During the part of the story where the rabbit gets taken out with the picture books to be burned, Matthew became outraged. "HE DOESN'T LOVE HIS RABBIT ANYMORE!" I was quick to defend the boy, making sure that my own son understood that it wasn't the boy's fault.

And, of course, when I read the very last line of the story, I had to project the words up and over the lump in my throat. It doesn't matter how many times I read that book, the last line gets me every time.

"Why, he looks just like my old Bunny that was lost when I had scarlet fever!"

But he never knew that it really was his own Bunny, come back to look at the child who had first helped him to be Real.

Monday, April 14, 2014

It Changes the Meaning, Is All

My youngest son is voraciously devouring his Bob books. I mean, not at all literally. That would be a digestive nightmare. But he's reading them quickly and with wild abandon. Typically, he reads through one with little to no problems. But, alas, yesterday he came face to face with a book called Bow-Wow.

Bow-Wow is about two pet owners and their two dogs. One of the dogs bow-wows a lot and the other dog yip-yaps too often. The pet owners, Tim and Jan, tell their dogs to, "Shhhh! Sit!"

I feel like you already know where this is headed.

I explained the sound that comes when one reads the letters Shhhhh. He already knows his "th", "ch" and "sh" sounds so the lesson wasn't exactly a giant leap for mankind. He picked it right up. The problem was that his brain could simply not sound out the very easy, three letter word that followed. He had that shhhh stuck in his head already. So, at first, he read it, "Shhhh. Suh-ih-t," but then failed to repeat it as "Shhhh. Sit!" and instead said (you guessed it), "Sh-ih-t." But, seriously, it was totally and adorably phonetic like that.

As the book went on, he simply started recognizing the, "Shhhh! Sit!" as the word sh*t.

And. Listen. I tried to make it stop. I mean, I was laughing uncontrollably listening to him phonetically (and so innocently) continue to say sh*t. Finally, I said, "See, buddy, that word you keep saying, it's a naughty one." For some odd reason, my second born child is incredibly uptight about naughty words. In our house we don't even say pee, butt or fart because, apparently, we are Quakers. Or Puritans. Or nuns. But really because I just don't like the way they sound coming out of little people. I know, full well, that my high schoolers (heck, probably my third graders) are not going to walk around saying potty, bum and toot but it's been a good ride. Matthew always tells me when his friends say naughty words. And by that, he means that they said butt. So, when I told him that sh*t wasn't a nice word, he burst into tears.

"You're not in trouble," I explained. "You didn't know. It's just not a word we say." Then I explained to him how to read it correctly. We started over. When we got to the page where the first owner tells his dog to be quiet, Matthew boldly read.

"Sh*t, Tip."

"Sh*t, Jip."

Friday, April 11, 2014

Collared Boy

I don't even quite know where to start. 

If I started at the beginning, I'd probably have to say that back at the very end of December, Garrett had a substantial sledding accident. It involved him flying down a hill, gliding quickly on icy snow farther than he ever had, hitting the edge of a metal grate with his sled, spinning up into the air, and landing on the metal grate using only his head in an effort to slow down. He cried a lot. He had a goose egg. It went away.

If I started in the middle I'd say something about how he went to Disneyland and Knotts Berry Farm and rode all manner of roller coasters. I'd also tell of how he wrestled for five weeks this past winter and won every single match. I'd explain that during these things, he complained that his neck hurt. He turned it and popped it and cracked it. We told him to stop doing those terrible sounding things. Some days he didn't complain at all. Some days he whined a lot. It was never more dramatic than when he was doing homework and wanted, instead, to be outside playing. Eventually, I took him to the doctor. Mostly to get him to stop complaining about what I assumed was just attributed to the way he was sleeping.

If I started at the end, the story would be long. I would tell of the pediatrician who examined him, declared him just fine, told him to stop popping his neck, and sent us for a handful of x-rays just to cover all of his bases. I'd tell of the technicians circling a spot on Garrett's scan and talking in hushed voices. I'd explain that, as I left, I felt a little anxious. And I'd tell you that on Tuesday night, exactly an hour and a half past the time we left the hospital, I missed a call from the pediatrician.

The x-rays revealed a skull fracture. The pediatrician was sending them to a neurosurgeon for consultation. I'd hear back from him by noon on Wednesday.

Except I didn't.

I called three times on Wednesday trying to get answers. He didn't have any. He hadn't heard from neuro.

I called on Thursday. 

I got angrier and angrier that skull and fracture were being used in a sentence with my son's name but no one could get back to me. I annoyed the good people that work at our doctor's office. Finally, I left to pick Garrett--who hadn't been able to go to recess since I'd first heard the news--up from school. While I was gone, the doctor called. He reached my husband and told him that we needed to take Garrett to the ER for further testing. And so I did.

And we stayed there for five hours. To have two x-rays and an examination. He did his homework. He watched episodes of The Brady Bunch.

Then this happened.

He has a fracture on his skull but there is nothing they need to do about it. Apparently these things heal themselves over time. He also may have something wrong with a ligament in his neck. He has to wear the collar until he can have an MRI and be seen by a neurosurgeon. Only he was so embarrassed, traumatized and upset by the prospect of wearing the collar that he hid under the gurney for a full fifteen minutes. I eventually coaxed him out before they got there to fit him for it. When they walked in, he hid in the corner, kicking and screaming and refusing to come out. For those of you that know us in real life, let me explain to you that THIS IS GARRETT WE'RE TALKING ABOUT. Hiding in corners, kicking and screaming is pretty much par for the course in our every day lives with Matthew. (I'm exaggerating. A little.) But Garrett respects authority. He listens. He almost NEVER acts out in front of people. Which is why it took me by surprise that after the nurse and I wrangled him onto the bed, he then picked up the hard, plastic collar and chucked it right into the nurse's face. 

He was mad as a cornered badger, that one. Of course, he got a swift and stern lecture from me. (And, eventually, he apologized to the nurse and she got him a popsicle.) Not that I'm in to making excuses for my kid but he was terrified and starving. It had been ten hours since he'd eaten anything.

Finally, around 9:30, we were discharged. Our first stop was McDonald's for a very late dinner which we scarfed in the car on our way home.

This was my poor guy at 10:30.
In the hospital he wailed about school and how he couldn't be seen wearing such a contraption. I didn't want to pick that battle and fully intended to pull him out and do independent study with him until he goes off track at the end of next week.

"Please don't make me go to school!" he sobbed.

A few minutes later he blurted out, "WAIT! TOMORROW IS SPORTS DAY!" Oh the power of spirit week. He desperately wanted to wear a hat to school.

"Well, it's up to you," I said because I wanted him to have some feeling of being in control of something.

"I just cannot decide. It's a hard choice."

We decided not to wake him this morning and just see what he thought he wanted to do when he woke up. At 7:15, he bolted upright (he was sleeping on our floor because sorry but you put your kid in that terrible brace and then see if they don't become the most pathetic, heart string pulling, get anything they want, kid you've ever seen). He immediately grabbed his clothes.

And off to school we went. No one made fun of him. Everyone wanted to know what happened. I stayed for twenty minutes to make sure he was okay. I told his teacher he could come home if he so much as mentioned it. He never did.

He has to wait until the 23 of April to have the MRI and see the neurosurgeon, but THANKFULLY my husband was persistent and contacted a nurse in pediatric neurosurgery who contacted a neurosurgeon who said he doesn't have to have it on ALL THE TIME. Only some of the time. Hallelujah!

We'll know more about how to proceed on the 23rd. Until then, we keep him down as much as possible. Which should be fun.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


My oldest has always been a little, shall we say, anxious about the night. He's the reason there's a nightlight in our hall. He's the one who has ended up in our room approximately 11,000,002 times in his life while his little brother has appeared on a total of four occasions. We worked through this in the preschool years by rewarding him for staying in his bed all night.


At one point he went a full two months and earned himself a betta fish. That was two and a half years ago and that betta is still going strong. You'd think I'd have learned my lesson back in college when my own, aptly named, betta, Moby Dick, lived FOREVER.

Garrett was doing just great with sleeping in his own bedroom all night long but then extended family trauma happened and it sent my kid into an anxiety filled downward spiral. You make a decision as a parent, after careful prayer, thought and discussion, what, exactly, to tell your kids. For Matthew, the answer was NOTHING. Too little.Too oblivious. For Garrett, the answer was HE KNOWS SOMETHING IS UP AND SOME INFORMATION WILL DO. Except. Just. No.

Because now my otherwise calm, cool and collected child screams, "Bye! Mom! BYE! I LOVE YOU!" no less than five times between his spot on the blacktop and the door to the school. Which is roughly 25 feet. He looks longingly at me. He runs back, sometimes, to throw his arms around me. His eyes well up. There was, at one point,  a scene involving me attempting to pry his bony little fingers from the inside of the van, an angry dash into oncoming traffic and, eventually, him sprinting down the hall at school shrieking my name. (This is all getting better, mind you, and I've consulted a pediatrician and a child psychologist who both think that he's trending in the right direction and he'll escape all of this relatively unscathed. NOTHING happened to him so he just needs to process what everything means for all the people he cares about.)

In light of all this, however, he's taken a leap backward in his ability to stay in his own room all night. Most nights he's fine. But once or twice a week, he wakes up about the time I'm getting into bed and claims that he hasn't slept at all, he's so tired, and he must sleep in our room. Sometimes he crawls into bed with me and Troy carries him back to his own a half hour later.

Last night, he woke up. "I can't sleep!" he lamented despite the fact that he'd been asleep for hours. I scratched his back and told him he needed to stay in his own bed. That did it. He hysterically wailed and sobbed, moaned and howled until his brother woke up. I ushered the wailer into my room and, thankfully, I was able to quickly get Matthew back to sleep. Troy came in and we tried to get him to articulate his feelings. We've been doing a lot of that lately because communication and expressing how you feel about something is the only way that I know--aside from prayer and reading the word, of course--to properly heal.

"I'm just so tired!" he sobbed.

"Okay. How come you can sleep better in our room?" I asked him. I will not put words into his mouth or thoughts into his head but I was looking for because I'm afraid and I want you to reassure me that everything is going to be okay and I feel safer when I'm with you. Not that any seven-year-old, even one being raised in our incredibly-open-let's-talk-about-everything family, would be able to articulate his feelings that well.

"Because it's not as hot as my room!"

"Alright," I told him, still wishing he'd speak his true feelings, "you can stay in here and daddy and I will go sleep in the basement." He would NEVER, in his right mind, come find us in the blackened basement because he's terrified of the dark.

"Fine," he said. So Troy and I walked down the stairs and sat in our living room, staring up the stairs. Five minutes passed and that kid sprinted from our room back into his own, meow-crying like a lost kitten. We immediately went up.

Troy asked him, "Why did you get out of our bed? That's where you wanted to be."

"Because I'm scared of two things. The attic door..." he supplied. (There is an entry into the crawl space located in the boys room. The child is somehow convinced that something is going to come out of that space and get him in the night.) "And BATHROOMS!"

He couldn't possibly stay in our big bed all by himself. Not with that bathroom lurking so close by. It had nothing to do with the fact that we were no longer there to reassure him and keep him safe. No. Not at all. Troy stayed with him for a few minutes and then he was able to make it through the rest of the night in his own bed.

He used to be afraid of chickens. Now I guess we can add bathrooms to the list.

Sunday, April 6, 2014


Not long ago, we were out to lunch. Garrett asked me if he could have Hick to drink.

"I'm sorry, what?" I asked him.

"Can I have hick?" he repeated.

"HICK?" I questioned, looking at Troy. He shook his head slowly and raised his shoulders slightly, as if to say, Your guess is as good as mine.

"HICK. Yes!" Garrett said again.

"Oh," Troy said. "He means Hi C."

Reminds me of the time, as a child, when I didn't know that lbs was an abbreviation for pounds and pronounced it lilbles. Why I didn't just say libs, I'll never know.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Let Them Make Their Own Magic

If you've ever felt like an inadequate parent, READ THIS ARTICLE.

I think it's fantastic.

We've done some incredible things with our boys. Hawaii and Israel come to mind. But our trips to Hawaii have been incredible blessings funded, in large part, by my parents. Our trip to Israel was made possible, mostly, by some almost miraculous circumstances. And that trip, I'll admit, had me a little nervous. A biblical and historical tour isn't exactly something your average seven and four-year-old would enjoy. Our kids, however, were amazing. Ancient ruins became their playground. Israeli nature was, quite literally, their backyard for 12 days.

We're not rich--not by our own society's standards. Sometimes we have to say, "Let's wait until that movie goes to the dollar theater." And sometimes we actually can't go out to dinner. (Absurd thoughts for most of the world's population but not so absurd for Americans.) The kids have been to Disneyland, Sea World, and Knott's Berry Farm. But, as of now, it isn't likely that they'll ever experience the plethora of theme parks that Orlando has to offer. More world travel is probably not in their childish futures--although if any kids were cut out for it, it'd be them.

I don't entertain them all day long.

The other day it was just warm enough outside for my youngest to play--by himself--for more than an hour while I helped his brother with homework. Just a five-year-old and his old golden retriever, enjoying the grass and the sticks.

They watch TV. So did I. They play outside. In the front yard, even. They experience life in a way that could bring about their demise--climbing trees, scraping knees, blasting down the street on their bikes, scaling walls, riding snowboards and surfing. I don't want to look back on their little lives and think, "We were so busy just trying to keep them alive that we forgot to let them live."

We try to let them create their own magic. The article that I linked to sums up, ever so perfectly, why that is of the utmost importance.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


I swore I wouldn't succumb to the leggings trend. I hadn't worn them, you see, since 1991. Roughly. But then they just didn't go away. When paired with the correct top, they were downright cute. But I'm stubborn. So I bought Jeggings which are a cross between leggings and jeans. Sturdier. Less reminiscent of a time when I wore a lot of neon, multiple pairs of socks at one time, and large, poofy bangs.

But still, the legging trend didn't go away.

I bought a pair of thick leggings, with a zipper that goes partway up the leg, as a sort of compromise. I wore them. I had more people tell me they liked my outfit in that one day than the past three months combined. So then I did what any sensible person who likes compliments would do. I used a gift card and bought real, actual, tights-like leggings.

I wore them today.

It is still frigid here in the land of never ending winter.

And so, logically, when the wind hit my barely clad legs, I actually thought, for a split second, that I'd forgotten to wear pants.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Mop Top

Once upon a time, this kid begged us to let him grow his hair longer. He JUST HAD TO HAVE LONG SURFER HAIR FOR SURF CAMP. So, during his kindergarten year, he got his hair cut just before school pictures and we only trimmed it twice leading up to the summer. One "trim" involved a Utahn stylist having no concept, whatsoever, of what "surfer hair" meant and chopping almost half of it off. The other stylist lives and cuts hair in southern California, so he was in good hands. The end result was that it looked like this for camp. It was disheveled, it was kinda moppish. It was so blonde and so fun to run my fingers through. It was SURFER HAIR.
And, when we actually did it, it didn't look half bad.

But the deal was, when surf camp was over, we'd cut it.

And then, almost immediately, he began begging us to let him grow it out again. His mother missed running her fingers through it. His father did not miss it. At all. But the kid pleaded. The parents decided it's just hair. And the journey began again. Only, this time, he didn't start growing it until early November...a full two months after he started last year.

It hasn't been cut though...because we haven't been to California in a couple of months and I don't trust these Utah people with surf hair. You know, given Utah's lack of proximity to any notable coast. The salty shore of the Great Salt Lake does not count.

So it'll be interesting to see what it looks like come summertime.

The grow out phase is a nightmare.

These two pictures were taken roughly one year apart. The hair looks fairly similar. The teeth do not.

I fully anticipate that he'll beg to keep it long after camp. He'll have to demonstrate to us that he is actually a surfer because right now he's all, "SHARKS AND RAYS AND JELLYFISH OH MY!"

I'll tell you one thing. I'm tired of March being the month of disastrous mop hair. The growing out part is just a terrible bummer.