Tuesday, March 8, 2016


We were playing Ninja Turtles, 'cause that's what you do when you have little boys. I was taking advantage of all the mom cred I could since I know that Donatello is the purple one and orange one is called Mikey. There are advantages to growing up with boys. Noah and Zeke were both pretending to be the blue and red turtles (Noah's code names: Fred and Luke, Zeke's code names: Superhero and Superhero). I was purple, and I think my code name was Mom. We decided that baby Simon would be Mikey. He didn't object.
Playing pretend is such a natural state for little kids, and it can be so hard as an adult. But for that night, I was "in." ...Let's be honest, not as in as when I was a kid, but definitely more in than I had been lately. We were fighting off monsters and defending our lodge. (I told them it was called a lair, but they were not interested in that.)
I am a natural follower, even when playing pretend with a couple of little children. I was following their lead on our quest to get the monsters.
We started to attack the bad guys, and in a split second, I went from the follower to the leader. I pretend-fought in ways I hadn't done in 25 years, and in ways my boys hadn't thought of before. As soon as they saw me do a roundhouse kick, they were attempting to kick the air (which apparently is not a natural skill for 3- and 5-year olds--they looked ridiculous). But they kept on copying me. They were mimicking every phrase and fight sound that came out of my mouth. And they did it so quickly--the words had no sooner hit their ears than they were coming out of their mouths. I couldn't believe the power I had in that moment to influence their thoughts and their actions.IMG_2665
I was struck by how eager they were to copy me. I was impressed that they didn't care how silly it looked or sounded--they just did it because I did it.

Obedience ...following... is sometimes like that.
Their imitation struck me this week, because our family has been reading through some Old Testament stories in our Bible storybook. Joshua fighting Jericho, Abraham being willing to sacrifice Issac, Moses leading thousands of people through the Red Sea: none of these make sense. None of these relied on the leader's past experiences. None of these were "normal" actions. And yet God delighted that these individuals followed him, obeyed him, imitated him in these ways.
Usually when God asks us to follow him, we don't really have the skills. We may have never done anything like it before (like a 3-year-old boy trying to do a roundhouse kick). As we grow to be adults, many of us acquire a reservation about doing things that we aren't good at or things that might make us look silly. But I have the feeling that God would much rather have our immediate, all-in imitation of him, rather than our calculated, reserved actions.
Today, I am challenged to imitate in two ways. I am challenged to imitate in the style that the boys do: wholeheartedly, without analyzing, and enjoying every minute of it. I am also challenged to chose to be imitating God in what I do, because I have three pairs of eyes that are looking to imitate me.
And you might find me playing pretend Ninja Turtles a little more often.

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1-2

Saturday, February 27, 2016


I woke up from my sleep gradually, but the feeling was still very real. Zeke, my second-born son, was estranged from us. In my dream, my heart hurt, and all I desperately wanted to do was be reunited with my boy. I was helpless, but refusing to give up hope. I held in my body a grief beyond words.

A dream like that is shocking, but when it’s the second one like it in less than a week, it becomes soul-troubling.
Who knows what was behind those dreams? Perhaps they were from God, warning me about days to come. Perhaps they were from the devil, working to plant fear into my heart. Perhaps they were the leftovers of whatever mishmash my brain had been sorting through from the day. 
I woke up to my alarm at 5:30, and climbed out of bed, heart still feeling like an open sore that needed to be handled with a gentle touch. I spent my first waking moments talking to God about what my dreams might mean.
And I didn’t hear a resounding, “Your Zeke will always be safe and will always be close to you.”  Not that I really expected that, but it would have been nice to hear.
I think every mom knows that, at some point, her heart will be broken by the kids she loves so dearly and passionately. 
I did sense that the Lord was using the dreams to remind me, once again, that He alone is my constant. He is the one relationship I have that will not disappoint or leave me brokenhearted.. 
And, once again, He reminded me to hold on to His kids loosely. 
I may have plans for Zeke: what I’d like to see in our future relationship, my excitement at watching how he’ll use his God-given strength as he grows. But God has even greater plans for him. He knows ALL of the ups and the downs of Zeke’s future. He sees all of that, and through them, he has designed a beautiful purpose for this little child’s life. …And it probably does not line up with the scrapbook-perfect timeline I have imagined. 
Zeke is God’s first… mine only secondary. He has been gifted to me for the short amount of time I have with him. This is a humbling and frightening and freeing thought for a momma.

Zeke woke up at 5:48 that morning. It was just him and me. Me and him. And I never thought for a second to scold him for coming out of his room so early. And you better believe that I soaked up that early morning snuggle and heart-to-heart conversation with my very special second-born son.

Saturday, February 6, 2016


I manage to get three boys, one carseat, two large canvas bags of groceries, one over-stuffed diaper bag, one plastic bag of wet pants, my phone, my wallet, and our snacks from the morning into the house. It’s 1:25 in the afternoon and I’m ready for some lunch and a little down time.

I’m unloading groceries with the baby on my hip because he has a fever, while warming up an oh-so-healthy lunch of taquitos for the older two. A cup of milk for this one. Peel the Cutie for that one. Some snuggles and kisses for the baby. Tell me about school. Please don’t use that tone with your brother.

My head is in the fridge and I hear the doorbell ring. It’s the neighbor girl. “Can Noah come play?” She never takes “not now” for an answer. I explain to her that he’s eating his lunch, and, no, he won’t be eating his lunch outside and, yes, he will come out when he is ready, and, no, it won’t be too long. And then I hear her sassy little voice: “Your house is messy!”
Really, Lord? I really do not need this right now.

Except I keep on hearing from him that I need to embrace this little girl rather than push her away.

How do moms navigate neighbor friends (or any friends that aren’t the best influences on your kids, for that matter)? How much do I lean forward and how much do I stand firmly back in how I want to parent my kids?

I do not have this figured out in the least bit. But this I do know: I will keep on lifting it up in prayer before the Lord. I will keep on letting her know what our family standards are. I will keep being present outside whenever they play together. I will work to love that little girl the way that I would want a neighbor to show love to my little boys.

And I will trust in the midst of it, that the Lord is good and that he has a good plan for this.

neighbor friends
"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others." Philippians 2:3-4

Wednesday, January 6, 2016


A dark cloud has settled in over Northern California this week. I hear the hard drips of water pouring off of our roof. It is 6:30 in the morning, without any real sign of sunrise in sight. It is dark. And wet. And I am very thankful for a good roof over my head, a working furnace, and a little bit of my husband’s morning coffee in my cup.
We here in California have experienced a massive drought over the last few years. The lakes and reservoirs have hit levels that are hard to believe for this Midwest girl. We’ve been taking shorter showers, cutting way back on watering our lawns, and trying to use every drop of water for a purpose before letting it get down the drain.
So this rain is beautiful. This cloud is lovely. It is heaven-sent, and I humbly give thanks and worship our Creator Sustainer for it.

But so often, in daily life, I want the dark clouds to go away. His judgement is clouded... She’s been walking around in a dark cloud for weeks... There’s a cloud hovering over this place. 
My husband and I had just said some of these exact things to each other this week. And we desired for those dark clouds we saw to go away.
And then I opened my Bible, and the Lord opened my eyes.
I was reading in bed, starting to doze off for the night, when these words jumped off the page at me:
“When the priest withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the Lord. And the priest could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled his temple. 
Then Solomon said, ‘The Lord has said that he would dwell in a dark cloud.’” (1 Kings 8:10-12)
The Lord is IN a dark cloud!?! So often I try to limit him to the light, to the joy, to the rejoicing. But he is much greater than these things. He is also in the dark clouds. He is working in the hard. He is active through the difficult. From the very beginning…
“The earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” (Genesis 1:2)
And again…
“By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way.” (Exodus 13:21)
“The Lord said to Moses, ‘I am going to come to you in a dense cloud, so that the people will hear me speaking with you and will always put their trust in you.’ … On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain.” (Exodus 19:9, 16-17)
As was the case in Moses’s time, most people were terrified of the dark cloud. They didn’t want to go near to it.
But that’s where God was!
Oh, how often am I terrified of the dark clouds in my life? How often am I captivated by the desire to have happy, sunshiny days every day? But day after day of sunshine brings a terrible drought. 
The dark clouds are good. God is there! The Lord is in the dark clouds of our lives. He is there in the hardest moments of parenting. He is there on days when we cannot seem to connect with our spouse. He is there when we feel as though we have been failing at our job. He is there. And his power is sometimes most evident in the cloud—so much so that it makes us sit back and tremble at his might, and at our frailty.

And if we are humble to open our eyes to his work, his dark cloud is refreshing as pouring rain to a drought-ridden land.