Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy 2016!

I don't really make resolutions. Resolutions, like rules, are made to be broken. It's probably a good thing I didn't make any a year ago because I wouldn't have kept them. In hindsight, 2015 was quite the year.

I'm a good little mostly German girl who doesn't usually cry much. Had I set a resolution last year to cry more, I would certainly have beat the tar out of that goal. I cried enough tears this year to last a good, long while.

If I'd set a goal to discover who my true friends are, I would have gone a long, long way in fulfilling that one, too. True friends are the ones who stuck right next to me when my heart was broken. They're the ones who tried to see me more when I was sad, instead of less. Sometimes they sent cards that said something like, "I see you. I'm proud of you. I love you." Maybe they said different words, but that's what they meant. Sometimes they gave me a good hug. Sometimes they just told me they were praying.

Had I made a resolution to improve my marriage, I would have done pretty alright. It wasn't in any kind of trouble before but it's better now. Sorrow rips people apart. And then, sometimes, it makes people stronger. We pulled our kids close and held each other tighter and, after the initial wave of grief, we loved each other in new and better ways.

I have no earthly idea what 2016 holds. I don't know what kind of life and death the year will bring. Sickness or health, who's to know? Prosperity or struggle? Joy? Pain? There is no crystal ball to show me the future. The only thing I commit to do is give control to my Lord and Savior and follow Him with great trust and expectant hope, knowing that, " all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

Happy 2016!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A Riveting Story

I have this cyber friend who has a gift for taking an otherwise regular day and turning it into a hysterical blog post. I don't have that gift. When my days don't have something hilarious happen in them, I sit and stare at a blank screen, writing a sentence or two and then erasing it. Over and over again.

Yesterday, my dad fixed something on our dryer, my parents took the kids to see a movie while Troy and I saw a different film and then we came home and ate ravioli. You're welcome for that riveting story.

I did stop at Papa Murphy's on the way home in pursuit of an antipasto salad. Upon entering, I found that they only had tiny chef salads that were not fit to feed six. I walked out carrying a dessert pizza. That's really neither here nor there until I inform you of the fact that our house looks like we bought a sugar factory. We have cookies and candies and sugary treats we found in our stockings. Add that to the stash of Halloween candy the boys are still working on and it's a recipe for diabetes. So Troy raised both eyebrows when I hopped in the car with the dessert pizza in my hands.

"We don't have enough sugar at home?" he asked.

"Well, the salad was too small and I felt bad not buying anything."

"WHY?" he asked in a way that suggested that I am, in fact, insane.

"I don't know," I replied. And I don't. I walk in to stores all the time and don't buy anything. There was no earthly explanation. "Also," I added, "it looked good."

"Well okay then," he answered me as though the world now made perfect sense.

And we ate it and it was good.

The end.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas and, Also, Circumcision

I just have a quick second and I wanted to wish the three of you that are still stopping by my blog a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS INDEED! Thank you for reading even though this year hasn't really been hilarious.

I do hope you have a memorable and peaceful day tomorrow and that you take the time to remember that this holiday is about a baby come to save the world. Teach it to your children. There's way too much wrapping paper and not enough true meaning of Christmas these days. Think on the nativity scene for a moment. Consider Mary. Think about Joseph. Worship the baby. They are more than just figures on your mantel. They are real. This story is real.

And, since the ole blog has suffered a bit and been lost in our year of tears, I leave you with this remarkable story.

Last night, we piled on the couch to watch The Nativity. We had to pause it every now and then to explain some things--especially to the youngest. Turns out, we'd never actually told him about circumcision. There comes a point in the film where little baby John the Baptist has to endure the aforementioned procedure.

"What is happening?" Matthew asked, concerned.

Troy paused it and thus began a conversation about circumcision.

I KNOW there are those of you that are adamantly opposed to circumcision this day and age and whatever, I respect your opinion. But these Bassham boys are, well, Jewish in this particular regard. Deal with it. So, after the explanation which involved a pointer finger and a napkin (YOU ARE SO WELCOME FOR THIS POST, Y'ALL. MERRY CHRISTMAS!), Matthew's eyes widened.

"Is mine like that?" he asked.


"Is Garrett's?" The line of questioning was a bit weird because he's pretty much seen what there is to see around this house.

"Yes," Garrett answered for himself.


"Uh huh," came the reply.

Then he turned and stared me down.

"Is your penis like that, Mom?"

"Well...I don't have a penis."

"Oh yeah!" he dissolved into fits of laughter. "I forgot!"

Friday, December 18, 2015

Navigating a Life Interrupted

Interruptions. They come in all sizes and shapes. All colors and shades. Good and bad. Though we wish to avoid them, every season of life seems to include a few--sometimes on either end of the same day. As we're coming up for air from the devastation of one, a fresh and exciting interruption takes our breath away, challenging us with new responsibilities, leaving us feeling inadequate and outmatched. They shock us; they shake us; they compel us to change. -Priscilla Shirer

I just finished leading an evening Bible study by Priscilla Shirer called Jonah: Navigating a Life Interrupted. When the morning Bible study teacher handed me the book, back in the spring, I knew it was a study I could get on board with. I was still reeling from the abrupt turn our lives had taken. We'd painted over the samples of pink with a bluish gray color. We'd started referring to "Kate's room" as the library. We'd disassembled the crib. We were muddling through each day as best we could. But sometimes, the grief was overwhelming.

I couldn't understand it. I still can't explain where all this grief came from and I felt like I wasn't entitled to it. I couldn't imagine how people ever live through the death of a child they've raised or a spouse taken too soon because, some days, I wanted to pull the covers over my head and sleep forever. My plans had changed. How would I move on? What would come of this interrupted life?

It was easy to know what life experience I'd be drawing from with my answers to the personal questions. Early on, Priscilla asked us to consider the following equation:

Insignificant Person + Insignificant Task = Interruption

Significant Person + Significant Task = Divine Intervention

I pondered this and decided that I believed it to be true. Our God asking me to walk through the loss of my child equaled a divine intervention and not an interruption. But that didn't seem to provide me with any kind of comfort. Instead, if I'm being honest with myself, it made me angry. He'd brought a situation straight to us, pulled us out of obscurity, selected us to be Kate's parents with the omnipotent foreknowledge that, once we were blissfully and joyfully all in, He would intervene and she would be taken from us. It was the hand selection that I couldn't reconcile. I asked over and over again what I was supposed to be learning and why the lesson had to hurt so much. Initially, I knew it was to bring him glory through my response but when praising Him didn't soften the blow, I struggled. I wanted the lessening of pain to be directly correlated to the amount of praise I sang out and that simply wasn't what happened.

I always complete the studies that I lead before I start teaching them. As such, the answers I give to the questions are relative to that precise moment in time. Months later, when I teach that particular section, the answers might be different. I hoped this would be the case with this Jonah study. I longed to return to each section, months after first completing them, with a new perspective. But, as the study went on, I found my frustration building. I was loving what we were all learning about Jonah but relating it to my own life was increasingly difficult. I was swimming through grief and my perspective wasn't changing. I knew in my head that our sovereign God is Lord of all and that His plan is always the right one. My heart was just struggling to accept it all. And then my eyes would become exponentially angry with my head or my heart or both and volumes of emotion would drain from them in stinging sorrow.

Through October and November, I climbed through Scripture and focused on what we learning and not on how it could effect me personally. On Tuesday, I began preparing for Wednesday's study. Closed in to a closet not more than two and a half feet deep or wide, I sat with my book on my lap and prepared the lesson. I turned, eventually, to the very last day of the very last week of the study, titled, A Fabulous Ending.

Jonah's final verses offer us a peek into the heart of God. He spoke more in this passage than He did throughout the rest of the book to share His thoughts and perspectives with the surly prophet. Whenever God's words are concentrated in a compact portion of Scripture, I sit forward to listen. -Priscilla Shirer

But God said to Jonah, "Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?"
"It is," he said. "And I'm so angry I wish I were dead."

But the Lord said, "You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. And should I not have concern for the great city of Ninevah..." Jonah 4:9-11a

In her commentary, Priscilla writes, "Jonah cared about a plant. God cared about people." Then she says the following. "Consider your divine intervention. What has it revealed to you about God's perspective, and what should be important to you right now?"

My answer from several months ago was simply: People. I remember writing it. I remember thinking that instead of being so inward focused on myself and my own pain, I needed to embrace the role I have within the church and the unique position I am in to pour into the lives of so many. More pouring. Less soaking. That's what I'd thought.

And that's a fine thought to have. It's a great goal and we should always be more outwardly focused than self centered. But I let the tears stream down my face in my tiny closet with the space heater and the post-it prayers on the walls. And, next to "People" I wrote her name...

Kate's mama. It was her body that held and lost Kate. It was her heart that broke. She was going to give Kate to us because she loved her and wanted the best life for her. After Kate was gone, Troy and I saw her. I fought my own grief for those brief moments and tried with all I had to minister to her. She just kept saying that she was sorry. Over and over again. I hugged her, held her, and shared Christ with her. I'm told that, in the months following Kate's death, she was lost in pain and despair and sorrow. I haven't had the opportunity to have any communication with her but I know that godly women have continued to pour into her life.

Two weeks ago, she surrendered to Christ and accepted Him as her Lord and Savior.

Thinking on this miracle in my prayer closet, it suddenly became clear. It was never about me. It was never about Jonah. It was always about the Ninevites. It was always about her. Her life has been one enormous example of why we need a heavenly Father who loves us so much bigger and better than anyone on earth ever can. I am convinced that it took the pain of losing Kate to realize how desperately she needed a Savior.

I don't know why God chose us to be involved and to walk this journey but I'd like to think He believed that we'd bring Him honor through it and that we'd help to point Kate's mama toward Him. I'm not comparing Kate to the plant in Jonah chapter 4. God loves Kate deeply and intimately. The miracle for Kate was that there is a Heaven to gain and she avoided the trials and terrors of this world completely. But she is the plant in that I have been completely focused on her and entirely consumed with what I was supposed to learn from the sudden blessing and then loss of her life. I was so busy clinging to my small space and grief and miracle given and taken that I forgot about the massive city behind me full of people--or at least a pair of them--who need the miracle maker.

God used Kate to bring her mama to Him. And maybe, in some teeny, tiny way, He used me.

On Tuesday, I sent the following message to our adoption coordinator:

"I just wanted to share something with you. Tomorrow, I will teach the final lesson in Priscilla Shirer's Jonah: Navigating a Life Interrupted Bible study. I started prepping for this study in June. At the beginning, we were asked to choose something in our life where we could clearly see that God had interrupted our plans. The goal was to begin seeing interruptions as divine interventions. Obviously, it was clear what situation I'd be using. What was a little harder was realizing that He brought a situation straight to us, knowing He would greatly interrupt or intervene once our hearts were all in. As I prepped for tomorrow and went over the lesson again, I realized that it's all so much bigger than me. I'd like to think He used us, in some small way, but all of this, all the hurt and pain, eventually led to the angels rejoicing in Heaven over another soul saved. Yes, I want Kate in my arms instead of the ground...but she is safe in the arms of her loving Savior...And for the soul of her mama, well, a year of pain is well worth a life saved."

She responded, "I love you, Kate's mom. You bless me and so many others for living the way you do..."

The repentance of the Ninevites was never about Jonah. Jonah just got to be a part of it. May I always remember, in my grief and my pain and my frustration, that maybe my life is being interrupted so that someone else can see the glory of the Lord.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Isn't There Anyone Who Knows What Christmas Is All About?

The following is an article written by my husband for our church newsletter. It's important. It's what I want my boys to remember. It's why we try never to have a "rip and tear" fest. It's why we don't get up before the sun to jump into our stuff. It's why our Christmas Eve service at church is the most important part of our Christmas.

Isn't there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about? --Charlie Brown


Trees and lights and shopping mall Santas. Family gatherings, exchanged gifts, frosted cookies and holiday dinner. There are so many things we associate with Christmas. But what is Christmas really about?

If you're reading this article, I'm sure you already know. You understand that Christmas is the celebration of Christ's birth. It is the day when we specifically remember the incarnation. We pause to reflect on the great gift of God to us. Himself.

But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. --Galatians 3:4-5

Jesus came to deliver us from sin and bondage. He humbled Himself so that we might be exalted. He suffered and died so that we might receive life. Christmas should remind us of God's love. It should reaffirm how far God was willing to go to save us.

And yet, we realize that this most important truth is often lost during this season. Even if we remember what Christmas is really about, the truth can be quickly addressed and set aside. Quick! Read the Bible story so we can descend into a gift unwrapping frenzy!

I've often heard Christians complain about financial hardship during the holidays. Money is just so tight. I don't know how we're going to have Christmas this year. I am sympathetic to the situation but the actual statement is incorrect. Our paper wrapped tokens and trinkets do not determine whether or not we have Christmas. Christmas is based upon the one gift--the GREATEST GIFT--given so long ago.

Before the tradition of giving gifts became mainstream, before stockings and St. Nicholas, before the Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer special was created out of Claymation, there was Christmas. There was Christmas because Christ had come.

I don't want you to feel guilty about participating in your own family gatherings and traditions. Enjoy some fudge and spend time with your family. But I do hope that the true meaning of the holiday isn't lost in the clutter. The Grinch could come and steal both our gifts and the roast beast and we would still be a people most blessed. We would be blessed because of the Love that God sent. It would be a day to rejoice and sing and celebrate. Because Jesus has come. God with Us! He has redeemed His people from their sins.

So, Merry Christmas.

Thank you, Jesus.

Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is both to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. --Luke 2:10-11

Monday, December 14, 2015

The Black Plague Cold of Death

Please don't misunderstand me when I say that I know there are actual dying people in the world. There are actual tumors and brain hemorrhages and accidents and awful things. So I'm not trying to compare my Black Plague Cold of Death to the people who are experiencing real death.

But still, I have caught myself the Black Plague Cold of Death, yo.

And the odds are 99 to 1 that it was transferred to my own body from the grubby, snot smeared hands of a tiny kindergarten human. Because I've been hanging out with them for eleven school days straight except for the one day where I was hanging out at the courthouse. It's always the same for me. My throat feels like I'm swallowing razor blades for a couple of days. Then my throat starts experiencing volumes of phlegm trickling down the back of it at an alarming rate. I don't sleep for two nights. Three if I happen to be REALLY lucky. Then I sleep and I am happy happy happy but I wake up with all the snot coming out of my face. I don't understand this pattern. It seems reversed, no? Shouldn't I have the snot in my face that then allows gravity to do its thang which will lead to Phlegm Trickle in the throat which will lead to a sore throat? How is it that my body works in reverse?

So, last night, I finally slept. But I woke up with drainage out the nose, sinus pressure, and, in general, a head that felt fuzzy and enlarged.

Off I went, however, like a good little substitute teacher, to a classroom full of kindergartners because I only get my long term pay raise if I'm there EVERY DAY. And, listen, I'd feel bad for all the germ exposing I'm doing but there is SO much snot coming out of all the faces that I don't even feel bad about it.

Yes. You read that correctly. I actually don't even feel bad. Because you know what I don't do? I don't pick my nose and then impatiently grab the nearest hand that isn't my own. I don't forget to cover my mouth when I cough. I don't wipe my nose with a tissue and then hand it to someone else to throw away. I don't cry so hard because my daddy left me at school that I shoot snot out of my nose and onto the table so that the teacher has to wipe it up. I cough into my bent arm. I blow my own nose. I'm not the one spreading this plague.


Anyhoo. Yes, I am on day five of the Black Plague Cold of Death. I'm counting down the days until I can plop myself down on the couch with the full intent of recovering. However, I'm currently hauling myself into a classroom with 29 kindergartners. Today, it was SNOW and FIVE DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS BREAK and WE STILL HAVE A SUBSTITUTE. The volume was at psychotic levels which was excellent for my fuzzy head. I couldn't talk over them because my voice is half gone. We made Christmas Tree crafts and did math and read a book about a Bad Christmas Kitty.

We survived.

But kind of just barely.

It should be noted that I really do like kindergartners very, very much. I just do not enjoy them quite as much when snot is rushing out of their noses. Or mine.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Jury Duty

In my life, I'd only once been summoned to jury duty. It was in California and I was able to get out of it by having my employer write a letter. In all my 16 years of being eligible, I'd only been contacted that one time. Until last month. I received a card in the mail asking me about my availability this month. I immediately explained that this was JUST REALLY BAD TIMING. I'm a substitute teacher who typically doesn't have an issue with scheduling conflicts. But this time I am doing a long term job. A job where the teacher has specifically trained me to run her classroom. A job where, after ten consecutive days, I'd earn more money, retroactively.

They didn't care about any of that. I received my official summons in the mail. This was the week. I would need to start calling the night before to find out if I was needed.

On Monday they called roughly 100 jurors. I was number 310. (Six consecutive days on the job.)

On Tuesday they called another 170. I was now 40 away from being called. (Seven consecutive days on the job.)

On Wednesday they didn't call any jurors. I held my breath. Maybe there wouldn't be any trials scheduled for the rest of the week. (Eight consecutive days on the job.)

Last night I called in. They needed all the jurors through number 312. THREE ONE TWO. I WAS THREE ONE ZERO. I'd missed the luck train by THREE. (It would have been my ninth consecutive day on the job and I'd have been one day away from earning my pay raise.)

So this morning, I reported for jury duty. I lost my pay bump plus I lost today's pay. I made $18.50 to appear at the courthouse. That's not really the same. Not really at all. Immediately, the clerk told us that there weren't any trials scheduled for tomorrow so we didn't need to call in again. I'D REALLY MISSED THE LUCK TRAIN BY THREE!!!

I don't feel well. It feels like I'm swallowing razor blades but there's no sign of strep or fever or anything other than the symptom of being a champion sword swallower. Still, I popped throat lozenges and hopped in my car. See, last night I was all annoyed and mad and inconvenienced and upset and threatening to do crazy things like only speak in lines from movies.



Or something like that.

But today, I decided to make the best of it. Then I found out the trial was only supposed to last a day. That's when I decided I really wanted to get on the jury. I was already there. I might as well get to do something. But, I knew they'd never put me on a jury. That was part of my annoyed demeanor last night. Can't I just phone in and say, "Hey, you don't want me, right? My husband's a Baptist pastor. My father is with the sheriff's department and my brother-in-law is a lawyer. So...I don't actually need to drive up there, right?"

And that's exactly what happened. With each question, "Do you know anyone in law enforcement? How about law?" the defense eyed me longer. I was afraid they were going to start thinking I was lying just to get out of it. PLUS it was a domestic violence case where some dude (who actually stared at me a lot and creeped me out) allegedly beat up his wife. They ended up stacking the jury with men because, you know, we women folk would probably be more sympathetic to the allegedly beat up wife. We can't possibly be subjective.

It was still an interesting process though. And I kind of wish I hadn't been disqualified by all the people I know. I swore that I wouldn't allow my judgment to be clouded by my contacts but, apparently, they didn't believe me.

So I came home and curled up under a blanket and am currently practicing the fine art of NOT SWALLOWING. And that's the story of how I didn't get on a jury today.

The end.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

The Dented Finger

When our boys get together with their best friends, chaos almost always ensues. They're 9, 9, 7 and 6. And they're BOYS. It's always sword fighting and Nerf gun shooting and THIS IS OUR BASE and GET YOUR OWN BASE and LET'S LOCK THE LITTLE BROTHERS IN THE BEDROOM and then THEY LOCKED US IN THE BEDROOM!!!

Last night, my best friend (who is also the mama of my boys' best friends) had us over for a most delicious meal. She invited our associate pastor and his daughter because his wife and other daughter are off  gallivanting around Haiti with my husband. (Okay so they're with a missions organization building homes and ministering to the Haitians. But still. Gallivanting.)

As the adults talked, the boys participated in the above mentioned chaos. At one point, a high pitched shriek rang out. "BEN!" my friend yelled at her youngest. As the shriek continued, he appeared, dressed as Indiana Jones and not yelling at all. That's when I realized it was one of mine. The scream continued and then subsided only to be replaced with Matthew's voice yelling unintelligible things. His finger had been accidentally slammed--and then stuck--in the hinge side of the door.

A long dent ran across it.

"IS IT BROKEN????" he repeatedly asked me when it was freed. He could bend it with ease so I assured him that it was not. He'd calm down for a minute and then he'd start writhing and sobbing all over again. At one point he wailed, "I just want dad!"

Eventually, his sobbing induced his seventh nose bleed in five days. Our associate pastor, Chris, who is horribly prone to nose bleeds, sprang into action and started assisting with the nose bleed while I held the writhing six-year-old. I finally announced that we'd have to leave because I just couldn't get him to settle down. "Can you carry me?" he cried.

"Hey bud, can I carry you instead?" Chris asked. Without responding, Matthew curled up on the ground in the fetal position. Apparently, it was a decided no. I heaved him up into my arms. By the time we got home, Matthew was calmed down and talking coherently to me. He climbed the stairs and put himself to bed fully clothed.

I'm a smart, self-sufficient, modern day, independent woman. I have people here who are more than willing to help when things go wrong. But I'll be very glad to have my husband back tomorrow. He forgets his wallet and his standard of cleanliness is beneath mine but he's kind of the super glue that holds this family together. We work better with him here, is what I'm saying.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Actual Adele

I'm embarrassed to say this, but I'm really late to the Adele party. See, when my firstborn kiddo emerged, larger than life and smaller than anything I'd ever held before, I decided to stop listening to mainstream music. I didn't want my toddler singing about getting laid or drinking himself to death. I introduced him only to faith based music. And, well, showtunes.

I don't live under a rock so, obviously, I've heard of Adele, and I've heard her hits. I'd just never really listened to an album. I only knew the other Adele. The one who, you know, was dubbed such by one John Travolta at the Academy Awards. And, it just so happens that the other Adele really loves the real Adele. I saw a tweet or two where the other Adele referenced the real Adele's music. That was neither here nor there to me because the other Adele also really likes Barbra Streisand and that hasn't made me run right out and collect all of the music ever sung by Babs.


I also watched that hilarious video where Adele showed up and impersonated herself and made her fans cry and I found her so endearing that I started watching some interviews. I saw one where she was asked about body image. She seemed genuinely dismissive and almost confused about the question. Completely comfortable in her own skin. Completely gorgeous even though she doesn't fit what we might call a conventionally desired body type. I couldn't understand where this confidence came from--especially in someone who hasn't yet hit thirty. I get that, maybe, it comes from money and incredible talent and stunning good looks. Still, I do have a conventionally desired body type and zero confidence because I feel like everything else is a giant mess. Money, talent, and stunning good looks--if suddenly bestowed upon me--wouldn't change the fact that underneath my clothes, in the depths of my soul, my self esteem is rarely high.

One negative remark. One judgement. One rejection. They negate a thousand compliments.

Adele's self-confidence about body image is incredible. And one that we ought all to embrace. Whether it's our face or our hips or our thighs or whatever's underneath everything that we wish was different. Then I saw her on SNL and she seemed genuinely humble. Humility + self confidence is a rare thing to find.

So I've spent the last day listening to Adele. On the one hand it stinks because I can't even begin to sing along. On the other hand, well, it's just become very clear that I should have joined the party long ago.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Warrior Diva

I'm not dead!

I know that's the conclusion you all jump to when I don't blog for more than a week. "Huh, welp, she must be dead."

But I'm not dead. I just took off to southern California for the holiday because my husband took off on a missions trip to Haiti. He is gone so now is the time for all the ax murderers to come over and kill me. I feel like I should warn you though, the littlest one is impressively strong for his age and, also, slightly violent. The older one has a penchant for war documentaries and is armed with both a Red Rider BB Gun AND an airsoft gun so, while he is not likely to kill you, he may stun you just long enough for us to get away.

Anyway, so Troy's in Haiti and I've decided that it is a darn good thing I'm not a military wife. Military wives, I salute you! He's been gone before but not without ANY contact. We can't talk or email or text or send smoke signals or anything. It's been THREE ENTIRE DAYS SINCE I'VE HEARD HIS VOICE OR COMMUNICATED WITH HIM AT ALL AND IT IS KIND OF KILLING ME SLOWLY.

I got home today and found little notes all over the house. I love yous in the bathroom and on the kitchen counter. More of them in the boys' room. Garrett almost cried when he was getting our vitamins out for dinner and he didn't need to get any for Troy. That led to me wondering if my absent minded pastor remembered to take his vitamins to Haiti and I landed solidly in the I HIGHLY DOUBT IT camp. As long as he remembered to take his Malaria medicine, I am not going to worry about a multi vitamin. And I don't see his Malaria medicine lying around so I'm crossing my fingers on that one.

We left this morning at 5:00 am and I drove through post Thanksgiving traffic, snow, and some kind of pinched (or otherwise terribly wounded) nerve thingy in my back and/or neck that alternates between being a dull ache and a burning sensation as though someone suddenly threw a fireball onto the very top of my spine. The only thing that relieved the pain when the fireball came on was lifting my arm up into the air and holding on to my own head rest. I'm sure it was a sight to behold.

But I got our crew home--one tired mama, two hyper children, one six-month-old golden retriever puppy, and a partridge in a pear tree. I made it in such good time that my friend said she was going to write a musical about it and call it The Road Warrior Diva of I-15. Or something like that. I don't know. It sounded just riveting!

I'll let you know about ticket sales as soon as there's a script and a score and a space to perform it in. I have a feeling though that we might have to shelf it due to lack of funding. It'll be a crying shame because it otherwise had such potential.

So, for now, I'm just sitting here missing my husband and humming would-be notes to a would-be masterpiece. But I'm alive, so it's all good.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

To My Children on National Adoption Day

I still remember listening to that voice mail...the one that said there was a birth mother who wanted to meet us.

I still remember standing in the middle of the mall in Oregon, hearing that she was a girl and she would be ours.

I still hope for the day when another phone call will come, when another mama has chosen us.

I remember getting ready for him, shopping for baby outfits with trucks and bears and baseballs.

I remember taking the boys to buy her outfits at Carter's.

I hope I get to buy hair bows and pink again someday.

I remember sitting by her side when our son was born. His chubby little body emerging from the only place he'd ever known into this wide world with all its possibilities. I cut the cord. I held my son.

I remember sitting by her side, just days after she'd birthed our daughter...still. We were empty. She was empty. No cord to cut. Later, I held my daughter, wrapped entirely in a pink blanket. And then I buried her.

I hope I get to hold another living, breathing child of mine and feel the magical moment of a life just beginning.

I remember the days and weeks and months and year of legal proceedings and prayer and despair and stress and devastation and joy and love. And then, the judge who officially made him ours. And it was worth it.

I remember the days and weeks and months of joy and pain and prayer and despair and stress and devastation and what ifs and whys and love. But then, there is a little girl for whom all has been revealed. Heaven is her playground. Our Father is her daddy. She is ours. And it was worth it.

I hold on to hope that there will not be death or months of legal proceedings. I believe that there might be just joy and prayer and love. And then a judge who will officially make her ours. And it will all be worth it.

This is adoption.

It is loss. Every time. For someone. Or for everyone.

It is hope. Every time. 

It is beautiful.

It is painful.

It is a picture of how our Father in Heaven longs for us to be His. How He waits for us. How He never stops pursuing us.

I would die for him.

I would trade my life for hers.

I would endure trial and tribulation for a chance to love another one the way I love these others.

People asked us what we were thinking. Some told us to consider the cost. We tried to separate our feelings, to look only at the little man in our arms. Matthew. Only, ever, Matthew. Does anything matter if we didn't do right by him. My goodness. What if we hadn't fought for him? He is worth every dollar. He is worth every moment. He is my son.

It would be easy to go back to that place over a year ago and walk away. The cost was devastating. And, ultimately, we lost her. I've tried to separate my feelings. But I held that little girl in my arms. Kate. Only, ever, Kate. Does anything matter if we didn't do right by her? My goodness. What if we hadn't taken the time to love her? To show the world that her life--however short--mattered? She is worth every dollar. She is worth every moment. She is my daughter.

What are we thinking? We consider the cost. We consider our climbing years. We try to separate our feelings. But ultimately, I cannot let go of hope. Only, ever, hope. Hope. Does anything matter if I let go of that? My goodness. What if I give up? If she is out there, somewhere in my future, she is worth every dollar. She is worth every moment. She is my daughter.

This is an adoption story--completed but always and ever changing.

This is an adoption story--completed but always and ever left wanting.

This is an adoption story--at the beginning, with nothing but empty horizons that we hope are one day filled.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

My Genius Child

I don't talk about Matthew's parents on my blog because I respect their right to privacy and Matthew's right to share what he wants, when he wants to. But, suffice it to say, those two must be geniuses. Neither of them were given the best opportunities or put into the best circumstances for optimum success. That is one of the reasons I take every chance I can get to help Matthew succeed. I want to be present and channel his potential into tangible success. I do it for Matthew but I also do it for them. I want their decision to place him with us to be validated.

Matthew doesn't really need my help though.


Parent teacher conferences were last night. Matthew's report card was glowing. I mean it. He's excelling at math and language components. He's reading well above where he needs to be. Concepts click in that child's brain faster than you can try to teach them. I think he has a photographic memory. He looks at his spelling words and then, when I quiz him, he says, "Oh! Yeah! I remember how it looked on the page." Then he writes it correctly. He gets most words right from the very beginning. His last math test was a solid A. So he's doing well in school, is what I'm saying.


Straight E's! And his teacher said he's a sweet kid and she loves having him in her class. (Granted, she has a couple kids who are also the stuff nightmares are made of so that might make Matthew look like an angel child.)

So I'm basically raising a genius who is somehow becoming well adjusted. I'm one lucky mama.

Adoption certainly has its struggles. It takes patience and love and tender care. But it is so full of blessings, it makes the tough stuff worth it. Pride is a tricky emotion. It can be sinful and self-promoting. It can also be a good thing. I am so proud that Matthew is my kid. I'm proud of the work he's done and the time we've invested to get him where he is. I'm proud of how intelligent he is and proud that he can say it takes all four of his parents to make him that way.

Two of them passed it on to him through DNA. Two of them sit and read and work with him. It takes all of us. But, most importantly, it takes a kid who is willing to put in the work.

That kid just happens to be one of my favorite people in the whole, wide world.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Promiscuous Wife

Have you any idea what it's like to be a senior pastor's wife? To mourn the loss of everyone who walks back through the doors because their experience wasn't enough or my husband wasn't enough or wasn't enough. It's hard. My heart breaks every time.

I doubt that anyone who has left our church because of "not enough" hangs around reading my blog but, if they do, I want them to know that we never rejoice in their departure. We mourn. Every time.

My friend moved to Texas and is struggling to find a church that preaches the Word without wavering. This is so difficult in this day and age and culture. I am so thankful that my husband doesn't move from the truth. In part, I already knew, but I am learning that it is very rare to find a body of believers committed to the infallible word of God.

As my friend, Abi, struggles to find a church and hears of those who had one and gave it up, she writes. She writes this. The Promiscuous Wife: A Culture of Church Leavers and its importance cannot be measured.

If something isn't enough, bring it to light. Ask if there can be more. Examine yourself. See if you can be more. Get involved. Do what you can. And know that we are trying. And if we're failing, it is not because we want to be. We desire success. We desire to see people coming to Christ. We desire to see them studying the Word of God with an insatiable appetite. We desire friendships and fellowship.

We never want to see you walk out the door.

To those who stay through financial ups and downs, through growth and decline, through our own personal pain, thank you. We truly could never do this without you.

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Heart Wants What the Heart Wants


I've been really confused about the direction God is leading us. For almost 10 months, we've been praying that He would bring us a daughter and that, if that isn't His will, He'd make it abundantly clear and He'd CHANGE ALL OUR HEARTS. Emphasis on the ALL. It was all just so evident with Kate. We'd ask, "Should we walk through this door?" and it would fly open. It seems like He prepared our hearts for more than this. It feels like He'd make it clear if He wanted us to be done. But feelings are fickle and sometimes He calls us to walk through a giant pile of muck because knowing Him more fully waits on the other side of the swamp.

I had an emotional breakdown a few weeks ago. Not an earth shattering breakdown, I just let the tears slide right on down my face, uncontrolled, IN FRONT OF PEOPLE.

I cry in front of Troy. And that's about it. I've said it before and I'll say it again. If you've seen me cry you can count yourself part of an elite group. The five of you are connected by the shared bond of my excessive eye water. You're welcome.

Anyway, I'd had these fleeting thoughts that...I might not want a newborn. I might not want to start this whole thing over again. I might not want to not sleep through the night. I might not want the poop everywhere and the diaper bills and the formula bills and the itty-bitty helpless bundle of depravity.

Maybe, I thought, God is changing my heart.

And I'm going to just be 100% frank here because I'm keepin' it real. That thought pissed me off. It started a good two weeks of me being irrationally angry that He might just change my heart after all. HOW DARE HE? How dare He answer my prayer?

I kept praying and trying to come to grips with what all that might mean. I entered into a time of deep grief because it also coincided with the anniversary of finding out that Kate existed and that we were actually going to get to be her parents and all kinds of things that happened to just be a lot of a lot of all the feelings.

But there I was, wondering if my desire for a baby had been taken away almost as quickly as it had been given to me which was, well, nearly instantaneous. And then two Sundays ago came. I was rehearsing with the praise team and, out in front of me, my friend followed her nine-month-old as she crawled around. That sweet little girl was born during the precise moment that I was holding Kate in the mortuary and something about that connection makes me love that little crawling baby even more. She kept trying to get toward the stage and her mama would herd her in a different direction. I stepped down, scooped her up, and took her up on the stage with me. Every baby I've ever met loves microphones. As I sang, the baby reached out for the microphone. She leaned her head against my own, her hair tickling my forehead. She smiled, big.

(There was also this one, in which I was doing something that I intended to be playful but which, in actuality, looks like I'm eating the baby.)

The honest truth is that I don't love the newborn stage. I never really have. Oh, of course I LOVE the baby. Who doesn't enjoy the brand new snuggles of the tiniest of humans? Who doesn't look at them and say, "You're never going to be this small ever, ever again?" Who isn't in awe of the miracle of life? But the zero to two month stage has never been my favorite. Not even when they were my own. At various times, I wanted to throw both of my children out the window when they were newborns because I DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU WANT. I HAVE FED AND CLEANED AND HUGGED YOU AND I HAVE EXHAUSTED ALL MY TRICKS AND WHY ARE YOU STILL CRYING? With Matthew, we added to that the fact that he slept ALL DAY and cried ALL NIGHT regardless of all my efforts to fix it.

But man, the smiley grins of a three month old. The way a five month old fits on the hip. The happy squeals of an eight month old. A nine month old trying to sing into a microphone. That's what I want. Still.

We've inquired on a couple other sibling sets. I've even done a little more research into international adoption (although financially, that one isn't really an option). I'm not trying to limit God. I also know He could very easily say, "Complete. Done. The end." But I definitely desire a baby on my hip.

I was reading a cyber friend's blog last week and I laughed until my sides ached. She has a preschooler. Any rational human being who has children in school all day does not want a toddler. Anyone who reads a blog about poop being anywhere BUT the toilet does not want a preschooler. However, I read this blog and wanted to do it all over again. I don't know why. It doesn't even make sense to me.

But babies singing into microphones and preschoolers having attitude problems and leaving patties of poop in places they don't belong is something my heart really does want. And my heart has a lot of changing to do if it isn't in the cards. So I'll keep waiting for clear direction and, one day, I will look back and see how God was clearly working through it all.

This I know is true.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Trifecta Plus One

My kids were off track for a month. A MONTH! Oh my goodness, you guys. do you know what's not a good idea? Having a first grader and a third grader go to school for six weeks just to turn around and take four off. That is NUTS. Anyway. They went back today. I went with them. I'm subbing in Matthew's class for the rest of the week because his teacher is still recovering from surgery.

A room full of first graders who just came back from what was, essentially, summer break in October. A substitute teacher.  So there was that.

We woke up this morning to snow falling from the sky. It kept falling all day long and, although nothing stuck, we had an inside day at school.

This was the trifecta of disaster.

Five minutes in to the day, a precious little girl was suddenly at my side, tears leaking from her eyes. "I threw up!" I glanced down. Her face was covered in barf.

"You sure did!" I exclaimed. "Come on, let's go."

A group of first graders (read: all of them) were congregated around the upchucked splatter. I walked the little girl down to the office. They called the janitor who, minutes later, brought an enormous carpet cleaner in to our room.

You try teaching six-year-olds who are fresh off a month of no school, are staring out the window at the SNOW, and then staring at the gigantic carpet cleaner as it chugs along, sucking up vomit. It's an absolute modern day miracle that we accomplished anything at all today.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Creative Counterpart

I read this book called Creative Counterpart by Linda Dillow and, y'all, it changed me. I mean, that is to say, I hope it changes me. It's revolutionized the way I think about my spouse and my marriage. I'm going to be teaching it starting next month and, while I know the cyber world cannot join my class, I cannot tell you how much I would encourage every Christian woman I know to go grab herself a copy now.

Run. Don't walk. IF you approach it with a biblical, open mind, IT WILL CHANGE YOUR MARRIAGE. If you think submission is a dirty word and you have no intention of truly exploring what it means, don't get the book. If you believe that submission is a beautiful dance of love and respect, GET THE BOOK! If you think belittling and degrading your spouse or parenting him is fun, don't get the book. If you believe that you should serve as his counterpart and not his mother, GET THE BOOK! If you believe that sex (OH MY GOSH, SERIOUSLY, MY BLOG IS ABOUT TO GO THERE. Dad, look away.) should happen biannually, don't get the book. Wait. No. Never mind. If you are down with twice yearly sex with your husband, you need this book more than anyone. Heck, I'm just gonna go ahead and say that if you think once a month sex with your spouse is enough GET THE BOOK! Men who are reading this, GET THE BOOK FOR YOUR WIFE. I'm not even kidding.

In my class, we will not be discussing our husbands' flaws. We will not be sharing intimate details about our spouses or our love lives. We will be looking at ourselves and at submission and being a consistent responder in all sorts of scenarios. If we do that honestly, we will all have the chance to improve our marriages. 

If I could make the class mandatory for ALL the wives in my congregation, I would. Obviously, I cannot do that. (And actually, we're introducing it in the Mom's/Young Married Class). If I could make reading the book mandatory for ALL the wives everywhere, I would. Is it divine revelation? No, of course not. Are there mistakes or things I disagree with because it was written by a human being? Yep. Are there things that are outdated because it was first published in the 70's. Definitely. But overall, it is worth the read and incredibly important.

There's a line in a musical (that is not a church friendly production) that says, "Love doesn't make us perfect, it just makes us want to be." That's what I want women to get out of this book. I want them to remember what their love was like when they were dating. Did she belittle her man? Did she undermine him or bite his head off or get exceptionally and easily annoyed by him? Or did her heart skip a beat when she saw him? Did she long for five minutes in his arms? 

I once had a woman pull me aside and tell me that she was sorry for the way she'd been treating me. (I honestly hadn't felt any ill treatment whatsoever so I was startled by the conversation.) She told me that she was jealous of me because of my marriage. Knowing the things we've gone through financially and personally during our marriage, I was surprised by this revelation. I think of things like the fact that my husband will have to work until he keels over dead because of our financial situation. I think of the stress of infertility and contested adoption and buried babies. She went on to tell me that I was so lucky to be married to a godly man. A man who puts God's principles first, who strives, above all else, to teach our children about the Lord. A man who cares for me the way God intended. When I saw my marriage through her eyes, I loved my husband in a fresh, new way. I'm a blessed woman.

That's what I want this book and this class to do. I want women to look at their own spouse and see his strengths and focus on those. The negative things, the things that bug and annoy, those can be turned over to Christ. Let God deal with your man's flaws. You focus on what makes him great. (Side note: This is a great way to approach ALL relationships!)

If you're here, and you fit the demographic of the class, come! It's at our church and starts on December 6. If you don't live here, buy the book and check back here for more posts discussing ways you can work to improve your marriage. Your spouse deserves it. (Even if YOU don't feel like he does!) YOU DESERVE IT.

Friday, October 30, 2015


Three weeks ago, I called our doctor's office to set up an appointment for our annual flu vaccinations. My husband already got his because he's heading to Haiti next month and it was included in his myriad of travel vaccines. Side note: I've asked him to bring me home at least one child from a Haitian orphanage. I even asked him if he could maybe take Matthew's passport and find a kid who resembled him.

That's what this has come to. International crime. (I might need help.)

I specifically wanted the mist because it supposedly works a whole lot better. I'm working A LOT (for a stay-at-home mom anyway) during the next four months and we need to keep the flu out of our house. I was assured that the mist would be available and so, yesterday, we trekked to the office.

And wouldn't you know it, there's a nationwide shortage of the mist and our office will probably not be seeing anymore of it this season and only the injection was available. That's fine. We're not needle babies or anything. It's just that I'd all but sworn that we were getting the mist and I don't like to bait and switch my kids like that.

"So, that's frustrating," I informed the receptionist as my nine-year-old made the mental switch from liquid up the nose to needle in the arm. He wasn't speaking to me. The six-year-old looked me straight in the eye and exclaimed, "Oh good! The mist tickles my nose anyway."

Our nurse friend from church came in to say hi and asked if we wanted her to stick us or the other nurse. As it turned out, our friend did mine and Garrett's and the other nurse did Matthew's. The youngest went first and didn't flinch or whine or complain. I went second. Garrett went third. He flared his nostrils slightly and then resumed talking to me.

This morning, Garrett and I woke up with sore arms and Matthew woke up in the best mood of his life. He is NOT a morning person. He never, ever has been. Since the time he was a toddler, I have lamented his teenage years because he ALREADY ACTS LIKE ONE. How much worse will it get? This morning, though, he was so friendly, sweet, and happy. I asked Troy if there was maybe something else in his flu vaccine. A mood altering substance, perhaps?

"What if that really happened?" I asked Troy.

He paused before answering. "Well, I can think of some other people I'd send in for a flu shot."


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

My Future Daughter in Law and the Bush House of Love

Garrett has never liked girls. Or he's always liked them. Something like that. He's always had girl friends but he's never had a girlfriend. This year he is finally admitting that he thinks certain girls are cute but he makes sure to insist that they are JUST FRIENDS.

Not Matthew. Matthew is a like a little, innocent Casanova. He's had a few crushes. He is always asking me how old he has to be to get married. He mercilessly teases his brother about liking girls.

They are the exact opposite.

Recently, Matthew and a girl from our church who we'll call Manhattan (because I feel like she needs a pseudonym, I really like New York City, and she may or may not share her actual name with one of the other NYC boroughs) decided that they are going to get married. This is not just your thirty second hilarious love story between young elementary school kids.

This is serious.

At least, if you ask them it is.

A month and a half ago, Manhattan told Matthew that she was going to marry a different boy because he had asked first. This led to Matthew literally sobbing his ever-loving head off in Troy's arms. Hysterical, hiccuping sobs. Troy's shirt was soaked as he tried to keep a straight face and mend his six-year-old's broken heart. "She ex-ed me out!" Matthew wailed. Troy explained they could still be friends and Matthew bawled about how he didn't want to be friends, he wanted her to be his wife. It was equal parts hilarious and gut-wrenching.

Her mom later told me that Manhattan had lamented her dilemma. There were two boys who loved her. Oh what a problem to have. She was with Matthew first. But then the other boy had proposed marriage and Matthew hadn't. In the words of Beyonce, If you like it then you should have put a ring on it. She had accepted the first proposal so she needed to stick with it.

But then something happened. I don't know what. I can't keep young love straight. Suddenly, Manhattan and Matthew were back together again. And they were taking it VERY seriously.

"Mom! I have to dress fancy for church because Manhattan is going to wear her fancy dress for me," he instructed one Sunday morning. Thankfully, his idea of dressing fancy is pants (of any kind) and a shirt with buttons.

We went to California for almost two weeks. We started our week off camping at Santee Lakes. Matthew discovered a kind of tree fort hollow and declared it his Bush House. He began regaling us with tales of moving Manhattan in to his Bush House. We threw concerns at him. "Do you think she'd like sleeping on the dirt?"

"I'll bring in some carpet."

"How about the fact that the rain will come right through and soak everything?"

"I'll get a tarp."

There was a solution for every problem. His face was determined, sure that he would one day move his girl into his Bush House. We asked him when he planned to move. "When she is 17 and I am 16."

"You can't get married that young," I reminded him.

"I know. We are going to get engaged when I am 20 and married when I am 21." So, apparently, they're just planning to play house in the bush for five years first. He told us about their children. One boy and one girl. My future grandson is Eric (one of Matthew's middle names) Rokie (I have no idea but the poor kid lives in Utah, the capitol of the baby naming apocalypse. He doesn't know any better). My future granddaughter is Delta.

"Can her middle name be Dawn? Because then I can sing to her. Delta Dawn, what's that flower you have on? Could it be a faded rose from days gone by?" My mom joined me. His eyes widened.

"Did you just make that up?" He then readily agreed to name her Delta Dawn.

I relayed all of this to Manhattan's mom on Sunday. She told me that that morning, she'd overheard Manhattan asking her sister if she thought Matthew would like her dress. I'm not making any of this up.

Sunday night the phone rang. When I answered it, Manhattan's tiny voice asked for Matthew. I handed him the phone. "Hello?" he said. "I don't even hear anyone!" he shouted at me. "HELLO?" Suddenly his eyes widened, "IT'S MANHATTAN...Hmmm...MOM?!! DID YOU TELL MANHATTAN ABOUT THE BUSH HOUSE? Well, Manhattan, I don't think you'll like it because there are ants."

I interjected, "You can call an exterminator."

"Oh. My mom says we can get a bug guy to get rid of the ants."

And then they proceeded to talk on the phone for ten minutes. He told her that they could live there but they'd probably have to come home to Utah to visit their families. He explained that he'd fish for their food in the lake. And Troy and I stood in the kitchen and cracked up.

Matthew brought me the phone. "She says she's done talking now. Goodbye, Manhattan!" He held the phone out to me. I spoke to my hypothetical future daughter in law and asked for the hypothetical other grandma of my future grandchildren. She got on the phone and we dissolved into hysterical laughter.

They are definitely taking this young love thing seriously. It is precious.

And so so funny.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Learning to Live Without

In a lot of ways, I feel like hope was a Band-Aid. Not eternal hope which is constant and sustaining, but the hope that allowed me to grieve my lost daughter and wait for another at the same time. It might not have been my smoothest move, to wrap this pain up in a bandage. I'm only just now realizing this.

Hoping for another child meant that I could have sad days and mourn the loss of Kate, but always through the filter of the fact that I wouldn't have some future child if we hadn't experienced the having and the losing of our first daughter. I figured that when we held our still-to-come baby girl, the pain of losing Kate would all be worth it.

I'd already lived this pattern twice. When Garrett was placed in my arms, it made infertility worth it. When Matthew was placed in my arms, it again made infertility worth it. After all, neither of them would be here if I could have snapped my fingers and had a positive pregnancy test the first time. (Or the thirtieth.)

When that future daughter was placed in my arms, it would make everything we went through with Kate totally worth it. This is what I told myself when I cried silently in a bathroom stall, overcome, suddenly, by grief. This is what I tell myself when one by one, my friends' babies are born happy and healthy and alive. Of course I want them to be born alive and well, but the stark contrast between seeing a warm baby wrapped in her mama's arms and remembering the cold bag I held with my own daughter inside is emotionally jarring. This is what I tell myself when I think about the fact that all I will ever have of Kate is a grave stone and the thought of what might have been. The struggle will make it worth it.

But I am learning that hope isn't a Band-Aid. It can't be. And the struggle isn't really worth anything.

Kate is gone. And I miss her. One year ago, we were praying and hoping that this little girl might be ours. Now, she is gone to Heaven but there is a stroller in the garage that I bought after Thanksgiving. There is a Christmas stocking in a box--but it won't be filled with tiny baby things this year. There are onesies hanging in the closet. There are diapers and formula and a crib mattress under my bed.

I thought it would be God's plan to bring us another daughter right away. And I would love her and we would visit Kate's grave but the ache would be healed by the presence of the baby who needed my devotion and attention. As it turns out, that wasn't His plan. We wonder, now, if it isn't His plan at all. Initially, we agreed to wait for one year. As that year draws to a close, and as we pray for clear direction, I am confronted with the fact that this might be it. And if this is it...

If this is it, then there is just grief. If this is it, we were hand picked out of obscurity to love Kate for three blissful months and then lose her because that was the plan all along. Either way, I am no longer at liberty to compartmentalize my pain.

Future baby or not, it has taken me ten months to realize that this grief is big and deep and wide and really, really ugly. It has taken me ten months to see that I have to trudge straight through it. I can't walk around it and I can't put a Band-Aid on it. I'm sorry for that. I know it makes no sense to those who ask, "How can you have been so attached to someone you never knew?" I know it boggles the minds of those whose silence during these past many moons has screamed volumes. But I cannot pretend that it isn't there.

I still believe, with all my mind, that God's plan is better than anything I could create on my own. Like Job said in chapter 42, verse 1, "I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. You asked, 'Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?' Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know."

I do trust the plan and most days, I really am alright. My laughter is real. My smile is genuine. But I just need you to know that some days, I'm pretending.

You learn to speak so calmly when/Your heart would like to scream and shout/You learn to stop and breathe and smile/You learn to live without/You learn to count the quiet winds/An hour with no unprompted tears/And not to count the deadly days/As they fade into years/You learn to hold your life inside you/And never let it out/You learn to live and die and then to live/You learn to live without
-Brian Yorkey

Friday, October 23, 2015

A Real Sob

I was relaying a story to my mom. I was quoting someone else and I said, "She said he's a self-centered jerk and a real S.O.B." I don't usually say things like that, it was just a direct quote.

My nine-year-old, who was in the room, pipes up with a know-it-all attitude, "Mom, did you forget that I know how to spell? He's a sob."

"You're so smart. He's a sob," I replied. Garrett left the room and then I laughed for about five minutes. I hope I'm raising that little speller not to grow up to be a sob.

Monday, October 19, 2015

California Travels

I'm in California.

It was blazing hot.

Now I'm wearing a hoodie.

We were camping for seven days. Three days at a lake and four days at the beach.

This is why I haven't been blogging.


surfing and boogie boarding and fishing and celebrating my dad's birthday.

Now there are going to be things like...

Universal Studios and ghost towns!

So to recap, there is one good thing about year round school and its TRAVEL.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Fishing in Manhattan

When Garrett was a teeny, tiny little embryo, I went to New York City for the first time. As a little guy, he enjoyed telling people he'd been to NYC. Two years ago, when we took him to Israel, we had a layover at JFK. We went outside for a few minutes. So now he tells people he's really been to NYC. In May, my mom and I took a trip to the city for a week. Garrett desperately wanted to go. He didn't get to.

I decided that, budget allowing, I'd plan to take him for a couple of days in a few years. When he just thinks I'm mostly dumb. Before he's a teenager who "knows" I'm a moron. I hadn't said anything about this to him though.

Today I had a conversation with him all about how I knew that he was getting to an age where being a kid is hard. I told him that he'd struggle with wanting to make the rules. I promised him that Troy and I do our very best. I said we sometimes fail but that we always have the very best of intentions. I said that if he could be a relatively good boy and listen to us and respect us, I would reward him with a trip in a few years--as long as his dad said it was alright and as long as we could afford it. I told him that I'd take him to NYC to see some of the sights and maybe catch a Broadway show. I really built it up as an incredible mother/son trip full of historical places and musical extravaganzas. Given his stated love for the city and previous desire to go there, I was a little surprised when he interrupted.

"Hey, Mom?"


"Are there any fishing hot spots in New York City?"

Sigh. "Well, buddy, I guess I can just take you fishing in the mountains if you'd rather."

So who wants to go to New York with me in a few years? Because I'm going to need a Magnolia cupcake after that big fishing excursion.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Off Track

In approximately 25 minutes, my kids are out of school for a month. A MONTH. I'm so sick and tired of this year round shenaniganery. We're just getting started. "Hey, here's an idea! Let's be done for A MONTH!" One of my two is struggling to nail down a couple of concepts. So, "HEY, HERE'S AN IDEA! LET'S BE DONE FOR A MONTH!" I totally get it that the teachers like this. I get that it refreshes them and they're ready to go tackle the next 12 weeks or whatever it is until their next break. But this is NOT GOOD FOR MY KIDS.

Maybe some kids thrive on this schedule. Maybe some parents love it and want it forever and ever. I have only seen it as a detriment to my own kids' learning. So if you happen to live in ALL THE OTHER PLACES IN THE COUNTRY WHERE THIS IS A COMPLETELY FOREIGN IDEA, consider yourself so lucky. Count your blessings and your stars or your sheep or whatever. I'll just be sitting here in Utah thinking all about how my kids will have a severely stunted summer because of this ridiculousness.

Okay. End rant.

The good thing about year round school is this...we can go on vacation when the world is not on vacation. This is a blessing. The one that I count over and over and over. So the boys and I will take off for California on Sunday. So there's that.

Which is cool.

Silver linings and all that.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Lock Down

I was sitting at the desk, counting down the minutes until recess. First graders were cutting out nouns and adjectives and gluing them in the correct columns. "BEEP BEEP!" the intercom alert sounded. I thought it was just for my class. They'd tell me that someone was checking out and to send him to the office. I was just about to respond to the beep with a, "Yes?" But immediately following, a woman's voice, stern and strong, came over the speaker. "Teachers! We are on lock down. Lock down now!"

In the next two seconds my mind processed a handful of thoughts. The first was that the teacher had failed to inform me that we were having a lock down drill. The second was that the office staff had failed to inform me that we were having a lock down drill. The third was that the woman's voice had been so stern that I wasn't entirely sure we were having a lock down drill. I walked very quickly to the door, pulled the magnet and tugged the door closed quickly. In the couple moments it took to accomplish that particular task, I saw two teachers doing the same thing. They did not look like they knew anything about it. They looked...concerned.

I flicked the lights off.

A sea of six-year-olds stared at me. I glanced quickly around the room and then whispered, "Get against the wall." I ushered them over to the wall where their backpacks hung. It couldn't be seen from the window by the door.




I put my finger to my lips. "You have to be quiet. I mean it. You can't talk." I whispered almost inaudibly.

"Is it real?" one child whispered back.

"I...I don't know," I replied.

I had no idea if it was real or not. And so I had no choice but to treat it like it was absolutely real. And I had no choice but to treat it as though it was the worst case scenario. "Our door doesn't lock," one boy said.

"What do you mean it doesn't lock?" I asked.

"It's broken. Even when we pull it closed, it doesn't lock," he said with panic painted into his eyes. So there was that piece of information gnawing at me as we sat still for ten minutes. The kids got bored and started giggling. I put my finger to my lips again and told them they had to stay quiet.

Suddenly, a shaky voice came over the speaker. "Teachers, you need to email me or text me.immediately. I repeat, email me or text me immediately." The voice sounded afraid, upset, only barely in control. And that's when I really began to believe that there was someone in the building. This person had reason to believe that there were teachers who were not okay, teachers who could not respond because they were hurt--or worse. They were taking inventory. Which teachers were able to respond?

I was not.

We were fine. But I didn't know who "me" even was. I don't have a district issued computer so I couldn't email. I could use my phone to text or email but it was across the room, past the window, and getting it was a risk I wasn't willing to take. If there was a psychopath standing at the window, waiting for sound or movement, I wasn't about to let him (or her) know that we were in there. Whoever "me" was, she was going to have to wait on the first graders in room 103.

The school was laid out exactly like the one my sons attend. Only the kindergartners stood between us and the front office. If someone went in through the front doors, it wouldn't be long before they reached us. I hadn't heard any confrontations or gun fire, but the upper grade levels are around the back and my first graders weren't being particularly quiet when the first announcement had come. If they'd opened fire on the opposite side of the school, I assumed it was possible that I hadn't heard it.

A few moments later, the handle on the door jiggled up and down several times. Several of the students gasped and I threw my finger over my lips again. Tears welled in kids' eyes. I was characterized by a calmness I'm still surprised by. I realized in that second that our door was, in fact, locked. I also firmly believed that someone was inside the school and they were trying doors.

As I tried to keep scared six-year-olds quiet, I had only a few thoughts.

If someone comes through that door or that window, I have to die trying to protect these kids.

PRAY! Ask for deliverance but also make sure you're ready to see Jesus today.


My family will never see me again. 

Aside from these thoughts, I was numb. I prayed that God would spare me but I also asked that He would welcome me into His presence. I thought of how I would lunge from my place on the floor and slam myself into the gunman. I thought about how much the bullets would hurt. I thought about my husband and my children. Eventually, I thought that the longer we sat there, the better chance we had. Certainly the cops were taking care of it by that point--and I still hadn't heard gunfire.

Suddenly, another jiggle on the door handle. I swallowed hard. Then, the jingle of keys and a woman poked her head inside. She looked around the corner, made eye contact with me and said that I could resume teaching. However, we were still supposed to keep our door locked and no one was allowed to leave the classroom for any reason. Then she turned and walked out.

In that moment, assuming that any imminent danger had passed, I exhaled. Adrenaline flooded from my body at a rapid rate leaving me shaking violently. I'd remained calm. Apparently I'm alright in a crisis situation. It's just after the crisis is over that I fall apart.

The lock down was never really, officially, lifted. Teachers kept their doors closed and their lights out. When the bell rang about a half hour later, I waited until other children filled the halls before letting mine go.

Then I marched down to the office and asked what the heck had happened. "Oh, well, there was a suspicious individual in the neighborhood so we chose to lock down." I explained that I was unable to respond to the announcement about emailing because I had no idea who was speaking and no access to a computer. As I spoke about that being a problem, I got the sense that the office staff thought I was overreacting. Had I known that the threat was outside, I wouldn't have had to jump to "worst case scenario" in my mind and in how I handled the situation. But I had no idea and the best way to take care of a classroom of first graders is to treat the situation as though it could have the worst possible outcome.

I assumed that it was a "no big deal" situation since the office staff seemed none too worried. But this morning my friend sent me a message and an article. As it turns out, the individual was located less than a block away from the school and was being pursued on foot. He was one minute BY FOOT away from the school. He is one of Utah's most wanted. Apparently he was extremely armed and dangerous. You can click here for the story.

Having now been in a situation where nothing really happened and I still feel like years were taken off my life, I cannot imagine what it would be like to sit in a room, listening to gunfire. I cannot imagine witnessing mass murder. I cannot imagine being asked to state my faith and then killed.

When it was over, I looked down at my arm. As an after thought, I'd grabbed my favorite bracelet before I'd walked out the door. It has select phrases from Jeremiah 29:11. He always knows the end from the beginning. And I'm so thankful that yesterday He kept all of us safe.

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord. 'Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'"

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Christmas in September

I'm having an issue. I took this picture on September 29.

I'm sorry but...what? ALMOST THREE MONTHS BEFORE THE ACTUAL HOLIDAY? We still have to make it through Halloween AND Thanksgiving before this holiday has its moment. We used to talk about Christmas in July. I'm fairly certain that in a handful of years we'll actually be able to buy all of our Christmas stuff in mid-summer, making Christmas in July an actual possibility.

So, yes. I stood there and I stared. And I blinked a lot. And then I took out my phone to take a picture because I thought maybe I was dreaming the whole thing.

Turns out, I wasn't. People are insane. Walmart is insane. Other stores that already have their Christmas decorations out are insane. That's all.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Raise the Light

If I'm being totally honest with myself, I'm three talents short of being a triple threat.

I can only barely act. I can carry a tune in a bucket but not much beyond that.

My dancing skills are 100% appalling. It's as if I'm made of wood and my joints are fused together. I wish I was exaggerating.

So, compared to your average Broadway star, I'm a zero threat. Compared to your computer programmer or school librarian, I'm lucky to be considered half a talent short of a double threat.

It's a shame.

Because I take care of business which is a talent that is lacking in a lot of artists. And I love the creative process. I love rehearsing. Over and over and over again until I get it as close to right as my limited talent will take me.

I used to think I would shrivel up and die if I couldn't perform--or, at the very least, be a part of the creative team. Life has proven that to be an incorrect hypothesis. God has given me other passions.

Still, I love the opportunity to watch live theatre, attend a concert, read a brilliant piece of poetry, or watch a dancer's body float fluidly across a stage. To me, in the loosest of definitions, art is the communication of the human experience through various mediums. I love to watch as someone else does something really bold or reinterprets a piece in a way I never would have imagined. I love, even more, watching an audience respond and, feeling in my own self, the awakening or recognition or cathartic revelation of something new or, at least, something shared.

I'd already seen Idina Menzel sing Radiohead's Creep so I knew what to expect. What I wasn't expecting was the audience's reaction. As she sang about wanting to be someone she's not, wanting what she doesn't have, being weird, lights began to flicker on.

There are so many reasons people fire up their lighters or, this day and age, their cell phone flashlights. Some say it's to pay tribute to a favorite song. Others say it acknowledges that the performer has been through something difficult. Still others say it's to recognize that the song is touching their soul.

I think it's all of the above. And I think it's a way to say, "See this light? I'm holding it and it's the only way I can think to connect with you and say, 'I get where you're coming from. This song is speaking to me, too.'"

She posted a picture last night on Instagram with the caption, "Sea of lights during #creep made me so emotional. Felt like a rock star thank you Utah. Thank you #radiohead.

This is just one angle. The lights wrapped around the venue. "I want a perfect body." "I want a perfect soul." "I wish I was special." "I don't belong here."

It was an incredible moment. Knowing that regardless of location, status, or fame, we all feel like a mess some days. From last October to this one, my life has been filled with incredible highs and the lowest of lows. I just keep putting one foot in front of the other. I just keep breathing in and out. But there are days when, even though I know I am loved and redeemed by an Almighty King, I wish things were different. There are days when my heart is broken and I feel like a girl, sitting raw and exposed on a stage, being watched and evaluated and judged. Sometimes, the only thing getting me through it all is the fact that so many lights are raised in support. Each of those lights represents the joys, pains, and journeys of a bunch of weirdos who all wish we were special. 

When I remember all that, I find joy even in the midst of the trial.

We turn on our lights. We turn them on and we say, "I see your cancer. I see your divorce. I see your loss, your fear, your unrealized dreams. I see that you don't always--or ever--feel special. And while I may not walk your particular path, I understand the journey."

This is why I chose to study theatre. I'm not the most talented, that's for certain, but I longed to get just a little tighter grasp on the human experience. And, in some limited way, I think I got it. May I always remember to raise my light so that I can really see you.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Whirlwind Wedding Weekend

My brother's wife's sister got married on Saturday. Holly and her new husband, Nate, asked Troy to officiate the wedding and they asked the boys to serve as ring security. Awhile back, I was making Garrett an appointment for a hair cut so that he'd look sharp on the big day. I explained to my stylist that he needed an appointment because he was going to be a ring bearer in a wedding. "Troy is marrying my sister-in-law's sister," I said. I glanced just in time to see her trying to hide her shocked eyes. 

I live in the right state, see. There really are people here who marry more than one wife. Why not a sister-in-law's sister? I quickly explained. "Wait. No. NO! Troy is going to perform the ceremony. He is going to marry my sister-in-law's sister TO HER FIANCE WHO IS NOT MY HUSBAND." 

We couldn't afford to fly and the wedding was in Temecula, CA so we loaded up our car on Thursday afternoon and drove to Mesquite. On Friday we finished the drive in to California about two hours before the rehearsal. Saturday was filled with wedding festivities and Sunday we hightailed it back to Utah so that the boys could be back at school this morning.

It was a whirlwind weekend.

My boys got to meet their cousin for the first time and they are both wildly smitten with her. As in, fight over who gets to feed her the bottle and howl, "I WANT HER FIRST! GARRETT HAD HER FIRST LAST TIME!" And, "SO, WHAT! I SAID IT FIRST!" And who wouldn't want her first? I mean...

Well, okay, so I'm only posting that one because it totally looks like she's doing the Friends alternate to cursing.

This little lady was the flower girl although she wasn't quite big enough to walk herself down the aisle just yet.

The flower girl's parents are my brother and sister-in-law...

My handsome husband cleans up pretty well. He also didn't call Holly a man at any point during the ceremony which is good because the same cannot be said for my poor sister-in-law. The officiant at their wedding tongue twisted his words and referred to her as a man not once but twice. It is now the standard by which all pastors are measured. "Did you call the bride a man?" "No." "Then you were a total SUCCESS!"

The boys took their job VERY seriously.

Nate and Holly were handsome and beautiful and adorable and all the things you should be on your wedding day.

Then we took more pictures and my boys made faces and said, "AGAIN?" and "ANOTHER ONE?" Except not in this picture. In this picture, Garrett desperately wanted a shot of him and his cousin all dressed up and then this older lady came up and shrieked that she just had to see the adorable baby (understandable) and she put her hand on Hannah even though I had my camera up and ready and she just left it there and wouldn't move it and Garrett got really mad about it but he's too polite to say anything so he just smiled like this instead...

Thankfully, I was able to snap this later.

We got pictures of my parents with their grandkids...

And pictures of the family together...

At the reception, Hannah had a massive poopy blow out all over my mother's dress. It was also, obviously, all over Hannah's dress. There was no way to casually exit the venue so we changed her right there, in a back corner, and then my mom and I scooted out so that she could change her dress (she'd had the foresight to bring a spare). The baby's dress had layers and layers of material and poop was smeared on what seemed like every single one. My mom changed her clothes while I rinsed and rubbed and wiped poop from every crevasse of that garment. We took pictures of the ordeal...

I feel like my brother owes me an ice cream sundae or something. But he owes my mom, maybe, the whole ice cream parlor because she was for real wearing his daughter's poop in multiple places. It was like a Lady Gaga outfit gone terribly wrong. But it was hilarious so it all worked out in the end.

Someone else took this picture and Hannah and I were in the background. It looks like my dress had a tag that was sticking out but it didn't. The color is not good and both baby and aunt look like we have a raging case of jaundice, but I really like it anyway.

When the boys agreed to be ring security for Holly and Nate, they sent them clothes along with badges and masks that made them official agents who would stop at nothing to protect the rings. For the reception, they got to wear the badges and the masks. It was hilarious and made it super fun for the kids.

It was a whirlwind trip to southern California and back but it was such a fantastic and gorgeous wedding. We had a blast and we wish Nate and Holly all the best.