Search Results for '"Even Here'

IMG_5293“Turn off the video.”  Those are the only words I spoke while my husband had his phone set up to record our annual tree trimming. That: does not bode well. It means I knew I did not want my next words and behaviors to be saved in perpetuity on his IPhone. (I’ve learned that- in 25 years of assorted tantrums caught on film of all sorts. There are a few celebs who should also learn this lesson- justsayin. I’m not alone.)IMG_0001_5

I should back up…. I didn’t plan it to be a too-cranky-for-cameras experience. It was supposed to be all: cocoa and cookies and Christmas music and memories made and shared…. A scene that took two days to set up and 12 seconds for me to wreck.

We did have warm cookies. (Yes- break and bakes count.) We did have cocoa. (I even made it the old fashion way that doesn’t involve packets or freeze dried marshmallows.) We even had Christmas music. (Gotta love shuffle on a playlist. Ba-ru pa pum pum.) We also had: college kids who had to get to work, and had other things to do, an elementary schooler who wants to horse around, dogs that want to steal cookies and cocoa and cost us an expensive visit to the doggy urgent care… (they didn’t- but they tried.) We had a father in the middle of trying to close a sale. And: a mom that felt compelled to clean the Christmas tree room before the tree was put up. (For the camera- of course.)

I should have known we were at risk when I tripped over the beagle and into the china cabinet while furiously cleaning. I really do mean furiously. Here is the soundtrack from that cleaning binge….”Why can’t anyone else see what needs to get done, and DO IT? Why am I the only one who can run a vacuum? Why am I the only one who does anything around here???? Why doesn’t anyone put their crap away?” Yup. Furious. I moved furniture, cleared the way for all the Christmas stuff to be brought up and set out- all while having an everlasting gobstopper of a tantrum. The truth is- by the time we finally got to the trimming “party” I was sore, exhausted and frustrated.

It was my own fault.

Here’s the thing: the fury was partly fueled by my lack of boundaries and teaching my family to be responsible. (With a side of stress and probably a touch of PMS.) The rest was fueled by my desire to make everything perfect.

Instead of perfect, it was one mess after another. Including but not limited to: a cocoa-milk boil over on the stove. (Multitasking gone bad, again. I may never learn.) A pre-lit christmas tree with all the lights: burned out. A Pre lit Christmas tree with most of the lights burnt out. A rash of undetermined but probably Lupus/autoimmune  or nervous origin. Dogs that insisted on either going in and out and leaving muddy paw prints on my just mopped floor- or peeing on it. (Next flooring will be dirt colored. For sure.) And kids that wanted to get the show on the road so they could move onto their lives- because they have them. (As they should.)

Boundaries and expectations. The truth is-I didn’t have to make it so difficult. I should have asked for help. (I have great kids- they help when I remember to ask them- but they are not moms- they don’t always “see” what needs to be done.) I should have set reasonable expectations. I didn’t. And because of that- I had to turn off the camera to protect myself from becoming “that” viral video mom. The crazy one yelling at everyone to smile or, I’d kill them. And the one telling everyone to put ornaments on the tree- and then moving each one into it’s “proper” position. (I know, I know- if I were my kid I’d say: “Why bother?” too.. “if you’re just gonna move them after you MAKE us put them on…”)

The topper? Guess what the first thing I  had to do once we put up the tree was? Vacuum. Again. (Yes- fake tress drop needles too.) The next thing? Dishes. (baking cookies just adds to the mess I have to clean.. WHY do I do this to myself?) Then- the cocoa boil over goo had to be removed. (Truthfully- there is still some on there. Maybe it will burn off. If I’m lucky.) And I needed Advil. (to say the least. My neck and back can only handle so much in one weekend- and this was more than that.)  And of course- I had to re-dust. Because somehow, even though encased in enough plastic tubs to create a new Hawaiian Island if it were launched into the pacific…..everything still manages to be dusty when we bring it out. Every. Single. Year. And here is what the rest of the house looked like after I cleaned the “Christmas room”   IMG_5290

Which is exactly why I didn’t want the camera running. I did however get a few still shots that captured our day…..and guess what? Messy and cranky or not- they are still precious moment of real life captured with my family…. My real- messy imperfectly perfect- family. who loves me even when I’m cray cray. And Whom I love even though they are afflicted with dirt blindness, and cannot all pose for a decent photo to save their lives…. (Which I may have futilely threatened to get the shots I did…) 

From my messy house to yours: Merry Christmas- and- chill out. Enjoy the moments and stop trying to make the memories perfect… chances are you’re just like me- making everyone miserable. Unless- of course, I’m the only one….

Dear Lord- I hate it when I get caught in this loop of trying to make things perfect and not setting or maintaining boundaries…and then getting angry that my family isn’t mind readers… me learn lord. Help me grow. I need you.. even here- in the Christmas Mess. I love you lord- thank you for loving me- even at my crankiest and messiest. Amen



_DSC7688The scents of urine, hay, animal sweat, urine and feces filled our noses. Bray’s, squawks, quacks, baa’s and squeals filled our ears. Rough wood, the prickle of hay and the gravel-like feel of feed filled our hands. A parade of on-lookers filled our peripheral view.

“Peace” is not exactly how I’d describe the feeling of our trip to a local petting zoo for a birthday party. More like “chaos” and “cacophony..”  Overwhelmed by scents,sounds,  new experiences and smells children’s responses varied from tears and fear, to delight. Parents responses varied from shouts of “Keep your fingers away front the teeth.” to- “At least use hand sanitizer after you touch that.”  I think I saw one parent crouched in a corner, clutching a child’s blanket and rocking back and forth…. there was no baby involved… just a parent. Who’d lost it. Pretty much. ( It may have been me. Justsayin. Petting zoos make me nervous.)

As a life-long suburbanista- girl scout camp and childhood visits to a friends farm house and petting zoos are about the sum total of my barn experience. Girl scout camp involved horses and screeching pre-pubescent girls …. (Not peaceful.) Visits our friends farm involved much chasing of chickens.. (rather fun if you ignore the smell.)  squeeing over pigs and brushing of horses manes while trying not to get stomped under hoof.  Fun, but again: not peaceful.

As a mother of 3 boys, owner of 2 dogs and 2 cats- I often feel like I LIVE in a barn. (And, while I remember their births as taking place in nice, clean hospitals, I sometimes wonder if my children were actually BORN in a barn. They are genetically hard wired to leave messes and doors open. IMO.) With the exception of stolen moments in the early morning and late at night, my home is filled with video gaming college boys, 6th graders, nerf battles, lego battles and little knight stories…Not much peace. (It also kind of smells like a barn, with overtones of Scentsy….)

Barns do not produce peace. They produce poo. And noise. And chaos. And stink…with maybe quiet moments of peace…as a lamb lies nestled with it’s mother or piggies lie in a sleeping mass of pink.

And yet- over 2,000 years ago- a barn did just that. It produced peace.

There was braying and neighing and stink and wallow. There was squalor and chaos and a parade of on-lookers.

But, wrapped in swaddling clothes-amidst the chaos-  was born peace. A miracle on so many levels.

This year, I feel like my life is a barn. It’s drafty, it’s overwhelming, it’s noisy and to be honest? With the continued battle with my husband’s cancer along with the stress of life and family….. it’s been stinking. It’s been painful. Pain is not peaceful. There have been moments of peace.. (mostly on beaches:P)  But it hasn’t been peace-Full. I miss peace.

This morning.. I again read the story of that barn. I read of how peace was born into the world.. in the middle of chaos. In the middle of a tyrant’s slaughter of innocence….and I remembered peace.

I also remembered a teenager. One who’d already attempted suicide. (Sometimes a #fail is a good thing) One who was depressed and overwhelmed. One who was desperate for something.. and had been looking for it- in all the classic wrong places…. one who knew the chaotic effects of a parent’s substance abuse. A teenager who unexpectedly  found what she was looking for. In a barn. A barn that was on a stage at a children’s Christmas pagent….where she found what she was really looking for-


The peace  found in love, acceptance and  forgiveness.  The same peace that was born in that barn so long ago. Instead of peace wrapped in swaddling clothes- it was wrapped in her heart…tied with a ribbon of grace and  laid in the barn of her life.

She, is me.

And today, in the middle of this barn, I again found that peace. In the fact that the chaos of my worries can bring peace. Peace that I don’t have to be enough. In the fact that I don’t have to have all the answers. In the fact that God is more than able to get us through whatever comes our way. (And whether we like it or not.) In the fact that I’m not alone.

Peace born in chaos. The dichotomy of Christmas. The mystery. The miracle. The beauty.

My life feels like chaos…. But–I’m asking God to sustain that manger miracle of peace in my heart….and I’m praying he does the same for you.

Maybe chaos doesn’t mean God isn’t involved.. it means he’s again- about to birth peace….

Dear Jesus- I can’t pretend to grasp the sacrifices you’ve made in coming to earth, being born into chaos to bring us peace.. but I am desperate to embrace it. Even here. In the middle of the chaos that my life feels like. In the middle of this barn…. I pray for anyone who reads- who feels like life is chaos and that peace isn’t even a possibility- that they would find your peace- in the chaos. In the barn. In the manger, and at the foot of the cross. I love you Lord and trust you with all my what if’s- even here- in Jesus name- amen

The barn… 

Repost from last year…..but still fitting… some struggles  improve..(A year after my hubby’s diagnosis we are in an upswing… last PSA was undetectable. We now test eery 3 months….for now- cancer takes a back burner. but then…. new struggles develop. And we get through them. together.

Pity Party, Table of (at least) 1. That would be me- sitting there in my pity party ready hair-shirt and orthopedic shoes. (The orthopedic shoe part is a lie. I like cute shoes- even for a pity party. justsayin.) On those days when I sit at that table- the hardest part isn’t leaving the party…. it’s letting myself off the hook for attending.

I’m complicated like that. Most of us are.

Here’s the thing- Pity not a moral failure. When we think of OTHER peoples struggles and pain- we see pity as a part of compassion. When it’s directed towards ourselves- we see it as selfish. Or, maybe that’s just me.

Don’t get me wrong- cancer, chronic illness, loss, grief, all kinds of pain can cause us to become myopic. (Near sighted. Which: I actually am. But is not the point.) Our own pain takes center stage. We focus on it because it is so large, so (seemingly) all encompassing that we can’t see anything else. Forget about  not seeing the forest for the trees- somedays-we can’t see other people’s needs because of our own pain.

Come on, let’s be real, how could it not? Attending and acknowledging that self-pity is healthy and a necessary part of coping.

So is- changing your hair shirt for something cuter and more comfy- (I recommend faux-ga pants. Which is what I call yoga pants never worn to actual- yoga.) Putting on your cute shoes, a pair of glasses (if necessary to change your perspective- I recommend some awesome sunglasses- but that’s again: me.) and taking a look around you.

Not at YOUR circumstances- but at those around you.

The stranger next to you at Starbucks.

The OTHER patient at the cancer center.

The tornado victim.

Cancer tries to steal that from you. You don’t have to let it.  You also don’t have to let it paralyze you with  self-condemnation for a few moments at the pity party. Both are tricks cancer tries to mess with your mind while it tries to kill you or those you love. Cancer is a thief.

This week I took a step away from the pity party-without heaping guilt on myself.  And I took steps to change my perspective to something less myopic.

It wasn’t a big deal. It was actually- technically partly selfish. Part of my coping mechanism (besides cupcakes) is knitting. Monday was a Cancer Center day- and I decided last week that instead of thinking constantly about what WE are facing- I’d concentrate on others. So, I knit hats. Which was good for me… and for others. Bonus.

4 of them.

When we went to the U of M Monday- I dropped them off. You’d have through I was dropping off a donation of gold bricks. Apparently- not many patients/ families of patients drop off hats. (They’re of course- more often to need them.) Honestly- the lady’s gushing made me feel silly. It wasn’t a big deal just a few hours of knitting. That I enjoyed. and that helped me.

She saw it differently. She saw it as meeting the needs of someone else. she knew it would make a small difference in someone else’s suffering.

Some part of me did, too.

I left reminded that even at our lowest- hardest times… looking outward and finding some small thing to do for others- makes a difference. To us. And to them.

So I’m committed- I can’t control cancer. I can’t think it away- juice it away or pray it away- God will do what he chooses in our lives in that regard. I hope He heals. I pray He heals. I trust either way.

Here’s what I can control: Me. What I see. How long I sit at the pity party and what I do when I leave that table. And whether- I DO leave that table. Honestly- the decor- sucks. Nate Berkus doesn’t do Pity Party tablescapes. It’s not a place to stay. It’s a place to sit- catch your breath and then move on to do the next thing.

When we do- without heaping guilt and condemnation on ourselves- cancer loses.

So cancer—- this week- the PSA may have climbed again- but you still lost. Because- I refuse to let you steal my compassion for myself or others because of you.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Roman’s 8)

I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, theLord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.  (from Exodus 33) 

Dear lord-help me to have compassion- for myself- my family and others. Help me let go of self-condemnation over pity party attendance. Help me to be a conduit of compassion love and grace to others.  Thank you for helping  me look around and see the pain of others. Thank you for eyes to see. Give them to each one who reads- help each one who reads to let go of condemnation and accept that self pity is part of compassion. Help us to love others the way we love ourselves.- In your power. I love you lord- even here- amen


question-mark“Please don’t ask. Please don’t ask. Please don’t ask.” That’s pretty much what goes through my head every time we talk to our youngest about my husband’s cancer. Cancer and the questions it raises is a constant boogie man under the bed of our life. Like the boogie man. Turning on the light helps. With cancer- it’s the light of truth.

We have work hard to give him the information he needs without flooding him information he doesn’t need or that would just make it harder for him. We mostly manage this by letting him guide the discussion- by answering the questions he asks. Kind of like sex education- we tell him the minimum he needs to know and we answer whatever questions he has. (Sex talks are just a little less nerve wracking than cancer talks. (A little.) Somedays I just want to shout- “Let’s just talk about sex, instead, ok?” Justsayin. Both= hard.

Anyway- He mostly asks things like: “Does dad still have cancer?” Our answer: “Yes.” Can cancer kill people?” Our answer: “Yes. But, not always. Dr’s are getting really good at fighting cancer.” The questions are sometimes random concerns- and sometimes they come up due to TV, other kids, etc… Until someone you know has cancer- you just don’t notice how many times it’s mentioned. EVERYWHERE. From the cash register when they ask you to donate to a cancer fund to an advertisement or news story…. cancer is everywhere. Hearing  about it makes kids ask questions. (Well.. it makes us all ask questions… or at least it does me.. but that could just be an effect of ongoing PTCD Post Traumatic Cancer Disorder.) It’s part of the deal.

There are some questions we don’t like to answer. Like: “Could Dad die?” There are some I just don’t want him to ask. Unidentified questions. Questions I try not to allow myself to ask. (Like “what would happen if” Questions.…. FYI? You can pretend you don’t ask those questions… but they’re there. denial or not. They’re there.)

We are committed to telling him (our kids) the truth. To be honest? It would be easier to lie. I’m tempted to tell him: “Dad’s fine. He’ll be fine. There’s no way this could kill him.” SOme part of me thinks that if I lied, I wouldn’t have to deal with his anxiety on top of our own.

Except, kids are not that dumb. What would actually happen if we lied- he’d feel like he can’t talk about what’s happening. He would stop asking questions, because he would’t trust our answers. His anxiety would get worse- not better. We may get a little honeymoon period when we have less anxiety about him because we don’t have to answer the questions…..our relationship would be damaged. Possibly permanently. Let’s face it- Like most parents- I’ve already messed up my kids enough- I don’t need to add this to the list.

If we end up with a worst case scenario…. is THAT the memory or legacy of his relationship that we want him to have? The answer is: No.

The truth is- we just don’t know. So that’s what we tell him. (Well. actually- we do know… .. House M.D. was wrong… everybody doesn’t just lie.. everybody also: dies. So yes. dad will eventually die. We all will. But we don’t know from what, or when.) Since He’s only 11 and hasn’t watched House, he wouldn’t get that. Some of you are too young to get it. Whatever. I’m old. We know this.) But- there’s no point heaping on the poor kid. truth does;t have to be brutalizing. It can be delivered lovingly. (I’ve learned this the hard way… um I tend to bottom line things… which is not always very sensitive…justsayin. Ask my friends. They’ll tell you.)

Here’s what we follow up the hard truth of questions we can’t answer, with:  “We do know that God is in control and loves us. We do know that dad is fighting and we are going to do whatever we can to kill this cancer. We do know dad has great doctors who are doing their best to kill this cancer. We do know that we’re not alone in this fight. We do know we can get through whatever happens- together. ”  The things we DO know and trust. Also: the truth.

I remember the days when  questions were continuous, annoying but, for the most part, easily answered. (Even if they required a trip to the library or a Google search.) I miss not having all the answers.

However- I refuse to walk a life of faith before my kids that is less than honest. I can’t fill in what God doesn’t answer, I can’t pretend to know it all. I can only depend on my relationship with the one who knows all. So that’s what we’re doing.

Even here. In the middle of the unknown. God is present, and active and working…..even when- maybe even especially when, Mom doesn’t have all the answers.

Dear Lord- I miss not having all the answers. But I also know that I can’t lie to my kid. Please give us wisdom. Please give us courage. Please grant mercy and healing on our family. Bring us closer together as we fight this battle- together with you. Let us walk in truth and trust- even here. I love you lord- be the unexplainable peace I wish for my children. Be the one they turn to when I don’t have the answers. Especially when none of us like the answers we do have. I love you lord and again entrust us all and our future into your care.… even here. Amen. 

If you’re a mom who’s struggling about not having all the answers- it’s okay. None of us do. Whether it’s cancer, sickness, world events, tragedy or just plain stuff we don’t know. it’s okay to be honest with our kids. It’s okay to not know. Mom- spelled backwards, forwards, sideways or inside out never ends up God. Just a lil reminder from a mom who’s right there with you. Even here;)



ImageDetritus: detritus (pronounced dee-try-tus) is non-living particulate organic material (as opposed to dissolved organic material). It typically includes the bodies or fragments of dead organisms as well as fecal material. Detritus is typically colonized by communities of microorganisms which act to decompose (orremineralize) the material. In terrestrial ecosystems, it is encountered as leaf litter and other organic matter intermixed with soil, which is referred to as humus

Somedays, I feel like everything is falling apart around me. From the hem of my favorite jeans, to my relationships and house. Not in a cataclysmic  Typhoon kind of way—just in a late fall – decay laden kind of way.

My stress level rises and swirls like leaves in a November wind. My whole family is struggling to manage school, work, their own stresses, relationships, along with the ever present potential of my husband’s cancer. Somedays it’s really rough. I cry. I struggle. I fear. I pray. I think. I blow up. My kid’s stress comes out in tummy aches and separation anxiety. I worry if my husband is drinking enough water. I worry whether his cough is really a cancerous explosion yet to be confirmed. I worry how this is all affecting my college kids. I worry about the future. I pray for friends going through their own types of detritus. I think about the tragedy in the Phillipines. Somedays it just feels like everything is turning to crap or being hit with crap. (Sorry- that’s the nicest way I can describe it, at the moment.)

Not all the time. But- some times. Not usually for whole days…. but moments. Because: I’m human, I care about my family and we are facing changes and challenges that are beyond our control with outcomes known only to God. Whom I both trust- and fear. Trust because I know he has our best in his plan. And fear- because- as a parent I am painfully aware that our best may not be exactly what we want. It may not even be close

Yesterday, I took a few minutes to go outside and take a walk. (Actually- I probably went for a trespass. I have n idea to whom the land near my kid’s school I walked on belonged to. Oopsy.) I thought I was leaving the detritus behind me. I had my iPod and was listening to some of my favorite worship music…. (Third Day, Mandisa and a side of Plumb, than you very much.) Instead of leaving the detritus behinds me— as I walked through that little plot of woods- I found detritus EVERYWHERE. It was under my feet and was literally falling on my head as I walked.

As I walked (Stumbled, tripped and wandered around- actually.)  I whined (prayed) and worshipped (sang horribly and loudly but also whole heartedly) I noticed something. I noticed beautiful ivy growing among the rotten leaves. I noticed a beautiful crust of white snow over fallen leaves. I noticed the beautiful contrast of un-cluttered tree branches against a china-blue sky.

and then I noticed a decaying mattress topped with leaves and other detritus of fall.

And I became thankful. Not for the disgusting mattress- but because I realized the symbolism.  It hasn’t all been crap. It’s not all falling apart…….

Like the mattress- there have been beautiful places of rest among detritus.

Every day, no matter how bad- has held moments (however brief) of beauty: A meal shared. A hug. A friend’s text. A quiet moment. Reading scripture and finding new refreshment in it’s truth. Opportunities to give and share with others when I feel like a leaf pile after the neighborhood kids have finished with jumping in it. (I don’t know about your neighborhood, but leaf clean up seldom is competed after a good leaf pile jump-attack here. Here the leaves are just smashed and tossed to oblivion. We call it: mulch. we’re green like that.)  Somedays- mulch is all I have to offer others…. but it’s enough. Like truth telling, and knitting for a friend, or caring enough to check on someone…. it matters. God does much with little. As I walked, I realized they haven’t all been the bouncy flouncy canopy bed of my 6 year old dreams….(which I finally did get and loved, FOREVER.) But they didn’t need to be. They just needed to be soft places to land in the middle of the mess.  Like that mattress in the woods.

Maybe today- you’re feeling like your life is surrounded by detritus. Maybe today, you feel like it’s all too much and it’s all a bunch of crap. I want you to know, you’re not alone. I get it. But stop. take just a minute and look around….. what beauty can you find in the detritus? Some relationship that’s starting to grow? Some peace that you can’t explain? The ear of a tired friend – that listened to your hurt as an offering of mulch, cause that’s all she had to give?  Then you’ve found mattresses in the woods too. Take a moment to see them. Maybe even take a walk.

Now…. can you see the branches against a brilliant blue sky and know that the leaves will return? That’s hope.

It’s what I was reminded of yesterday.. and what I pray you find today, Even here.

Dear Lord- somedays I just feel like everything is crap. rom my body to my home- you know all the details…all the detritus. Lord- help me to be a soft place for others- even in my mess and help me to appreciate the places of rest in the detritus…. even when they seem to be an old mattress in the woods… I love you lord- I don’t understand you…. I don’t always like what you allow- But I love you- and in you I find hope and rest. Thank you, Lord for being even here- amen.




There are two kinds of mommy guilt.

1) Guilt over not being Pinterest- perfect.

2) Guilt over things we really muck up.

There are lots of great pieces written about giving up the idea of perfect. Moms desperately need to let ourselves off the hook of perfection. You  end up dangling like a dead fish from that hook. Besides- the worm is plastic. There’s no reward, only pain and frustration. (Ask my kids about all my mommy-fails in attempting to force perfection…. they have most awesome stories to share…. let’s just say- they’re epic. Sorry for the fishing reference- we just got back from vacation;)  )

That type of mommy- guilt is not the point of today’s post. Others have already said it well. 

I’m talking about the other kind. 

Those times when you REALLY mess up. And feel, justifiably, guilty.

  • You totally blow your top and lose it with your kid. You say hurtful things you regret and can’t take back. (Been there, done that. Wore the invisible t-shirt of shame to prove it.)
  • You allow your own fears to dictate choices that impact your children negatively. (Let’s just say my phobia of dentists and shots have negatively affected my kids :( )
  • <Insert your failure (s) here>

Guilt. (Mommy or otherwise) Is it always bad?

guilt  (glt)


1.a. The fact of being responsible for the commission of an offense. See Synonyms at blame.

b. Law The fact of having been found to have violated a criminal law; legal culpability.
c. Responsibility for a mistake or error.
2.a. Remorseful awareness of having done something wrong.

b. Self-reproach for supposed inadequacy or wrongdoing.

Well- according to the dictionary— (see above) guilt is just a part of life. When we feel guilty for things we were wrong for doing (or not doing) that’s also called: conviction. Conviction, is a good thing.

  • Conviction can the door for reconciliation and change.
  • Conviction is evidence of a tender heart.

When I feel Mommy guilt… I have a choices, I can:

  • Deny it and try to pretend like I wasn’t wrong. (Hello, I;m the mom, I always THINK I’m right.. but honestly? Not so much.)
  • Blame someone else. (The Blame game can get pretty creative….justsayin- I’m good at it.)
  • Allow guilt to cause an over rotation and try to be perfect to “make up” for the screw up. (Doesn’t work. Not toys, Not special outings, Not nothing. Been there. tried it all. Total fail.)
  • Use guilt to beat ourselves into an emotional puddle that paralyzes us.

Or, I can:

  • Allow guilt to provoke a sense of conviction.
  • Admit I was wrong. (Painful, but survivable- and guess what? Kids already know it’s true anyway.)
  • Take ownership of my behavior and it’s impact on my kids. (I know that what I did, hurt you, I’m sorry. I was wrong.)
  • Allow my kid to tell me how they feel. (Listening to how they feel can hurt…. but it’s also an intimate time. it’s Okay to be hurt and angry at our parents. It’s part of all relationships.)
  • Make a plan for improvement. (What will I do next time?)
  • Make restitution (Change a decision, make things right) where necessary or possible. (Shots can be caught up, teeth can be fixed, words can’t be taken back- but healing life giving words can be a blessing of love that covers hurt with consistency- over time.)

How do you know the difference between false mommy-guilt and real guilt?

  • If you’re feeling “not good enough” because you’re comparing yourself to another parent- that’s a clue it could be false guilt.
  • If your measure of a good parent is more Pinterest than biblical…. It’s probably false guilt.
  • By asking for input from people who know and love you. I have people who know and love me and will tell me the truth. (Even if they have to run after they do it.) “Tracey- you’re being pretty harsh. Stop riding that kid.” Or “Tracey, is that really how you want to parent?” Are questions I’ve had to answer way more often than I’d care to admit. Giving people you trust permission to be honest, is a necessity to parenting well. I can’t see the back of my head- so I don’t cut my hair. I also can’t always see through my own emotion or experiences to make wise decisions- I need someone to tell me what they see and give me more perspective.

Mommy Guilt. It’s part of Mommy-life. I’m not sure we can every be free of it- because we’ll always make mistakes. It’s how we respond to it that makes the difference. We can beat ourselves up and give our kids parents who are even more hurt than we were- or we can allow guilt to become conviction that drives us to the Grace of God and seek to honor him and our kids.. even here- when we mess up. Big time.

Modeling for our kids how to handle bad choices and mistakes turns a failure into a gift.  (Nt one they’ll appreciate at the time- but later? When THEY mess up? They’ll have a model for how to respond. ;)

Dear Lord- I love you. I love the children you have blessed me with. And I hate that I screw up- all the time. In big ways and small ways. Help me to take responsibility for what’s mine, give me wisdom to know what;s not- and help e to deal with all of it in a way that honors you. I love you lord- thank you for a tender heart- help me never become hardened to hurting others. In Jesus name- amen. 

Here is a verse that I cling to when I make mistakes- I hope it brings you the same peace it does me…. because at the end of the day- I know that I know that God loves me- and I love my kids….and that makes a difference.

1 Peter 4:8

New International Version (NIV)

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

“The ants go marching two by two Hurrah! Hurrah!”

Unless, they are marching up your leg, While you’re in your comfy chair. Then it’s more of an “Ant go marching up my leg:  SCREAM! SCREAM!”  Followed by a stomping dance that ends in big fat crunchy black ant death. I know because this has been happening a lot here lately. We’ve had week of biblical plagues.

It was ant anarchy. They were trying to take over. They refused to leave by boric acid, peppermint oil, any Guard and ant baits…. Yes. We kept stepping up our defenses when they refused to stop crawling up my legs. We started all green and healthy- but at this point I’d leave the house and happily set off a tiny nuclear device if that would work.

I doubt it would. These are cockroach-like nuclear bomb surviving ants. They are most likely demon possessed. I tried to cast them into the neighbors cat over the cliff of my porch. it didn’t work.  To say it was stressing me out is more than an understatement. It was making me nuts. As in: I feel bugs crawling on me even when I’m not at home” crazy-cray. Certifiable. We’re talking sleep deprivation type fear. Followed by anger that is probably sinful. (Can you sin over a bug? I think: yes.) They crept up the walls. The door jambs, the dishwasher. Yes. In the dishwasher. And- Did I mention they climbed on my comfy chair? Not good.

Honestly….During a normal week. this would have been my drama limit. This kind of stuff- (when I can’t fix it.) Can send me into a cupcake and iced tea swilling frenzy.

I had no idea. This was just the beginning. (more…)

516DfEiT2jL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_I pray. a lot. (Let’s face it… not much else I can do at the moment.) I ask for wisdom., I ask for forgiveness, I plead for healing, for myself, for my husband. I pray that God will make up through love the things I can’t do with and for my kids right now. I pray for others. I pray for the impoverished, the entrapped, the persecuted, the addicted, the hurting. Like I said: I pray.

The truth is….lately- I’ve felt like God isn’t answering. (Or, rather, I’m not liking the answers.) I pray for wisdom, and discover more questions. I pray for forgiveness and discover more sin. I plead for healing and find more pain, more disease. More tests to be run, more waiting to be waited.

We currently face: Cancer, chronic illness and pain. I’m in the middle of a difficult surgical recovery. There has been loss. I have questions without clear answers but with potential eternal consequences. I recently told a friend ” I feel like every time I come up for air another wave crashes on my head. ” (Heart?) I feel: Frustrated. Overwhelmed. I’m afraid that the reason God hasn’t answered me (The way I want him to) is because of my lack of faith…. Maybe, it’s my own fault.

Still, I pray. lately? Without bothering to tell God what I need or want him to do . Sometimes, words are barely involved. Sometimes, just breathing, has been a prayer. I’ve started to doubt my sanity. (not new and still unconfirmed.) But also, whether I’m a heretic…. Breathing as prayer? Am I cheating God, by not trying hard enough? (Yes. I over think EVERYTHING.)

As I read “The Mercy Prayer” what resonated most wasn’t the words….it was their truth. Truth that changed my perspective. God hasn’t been ignoring or denying my requests. He’s been answering them with mercy.

Mercy to bear pain. Mercy to stand up under temptation. Mercy in kindness. Mercy in meals made with love to sustain us through recoveries. Mercy in provision. Mercy in lack. Mercy to find joy in the tragedy and pain that threatens to engulf. Mercy to sit with unanswered questions. (And not lose my mind. (Mostly.) Mercy in nested reminders of His love….from friends, and in places where I’ve least expected to find them.

The truth is- a million mercies line the mess of my nest. Even here. God has already been answering my Mercy Prayer…. even when I didn’t know that’s what I was really asking for. (If you’re new to the blog- click “Even Here” for the tender mercies God has been feathering my nest with..)

Reading these words, my hope is renewed. I’m not a heretic. I’m not (that) crazy. My focus is changed. I will endeavor to quit telling God what he should do….and ask him to do what he always does. Lord, have mercy.

The Mercy prayer cuts through the frustration of trying to figure out what I need, so I can pray “right.” . Or the right things to pray…So God will answer “right.”

The heart of the matter.. is always: My need for Mercy. Of all kinds.

“His grace (truly) is sufficient” and it begins with mercy.

Read this book. Let it speak to your heart. Let our hearts beat to the rhythm of the mercy prayer…..I have a feeling that if we do….. they will be beating in time with the very heart of God. What a different world that would be.

Again: Lord, have mercy, Even here.

“The Mercy Prayer” Available on Amazon- or at your local bookstore.

By Pastor Robert Gelinas

Confession: When I saw the title– I was a little worried… “Oh No.. Please don’t try to give me another formulaic- magical harry potter approach to God……They never work. God is far above our puny manipulations and does not owe us his obedience to our magic words or incantations…..God is not a genie released by rubbing a lamp or saying a word… They leave me feeling irritated with the author for trying to profit from manipulating people in desperate need.”

This Book? NOT THAT. No worries. No formula… just an affirmation of our greatest need-for grace through mercy- always being met. By a God who delights to show mercy and grant grace.


I set up my lap top hoping to write something meaningful, helpful……(Not so simple at this point. This currently involves: pillows stacked on my lap and books to make sure it doesn’t over heat…..) Instead, I wasted an hour goofing off on FaceBook and shopping on Zappo’s. Not buying.. just oogling. And maybe some time on Amazon too.

Because the truth is: I got nothin. That’s my offering to you today. Nothin.

I’m tired and hurting and recovering and not exactly overflowing with wisdom….. truthfully? I’ve been overflowing with crankiness and some whining and disappointment. Cranky cause I can’t get done what I want to get done. (Mom stuff. You know: THE DAILY LIST.) Whining cause I had planned on feeling better by now. (I totally ignored the doctors clear explanation that this surgeries recovery is slower and more difficult.I thought he was exaggerating. Or under estimating my toughness…He wasn’t.) Disappointed…..cause it’s slow. and my husbands PSA is steadily creeping up and I had really hoped that we were about to move into a season of getting better and BEING better…..

We may be… but it isn’t happening the way I’d envisioned. (I thought more sunshine and rainbows and dancing and music…. this is more like a slow slog through muck to escape the swamp…)

I’m praying. I’m reading. I’m talking about how it all feels. I’m knitting. I’m resting. I’m doing what I can. And nothing more.

I’m present. With my kids. (Trying to take time with each of them each day.) With my husband. (I’m so blessed he loves me even when I’m a mess.) With God and myself. And yes- with the pain. I’m BEING.

But, there isn’t much overflow.


It kind of feels like swimming against an undertow- actually. Surprisingly- the swimming doesn’t feel like drowning. It feels more like a work out. This owning… this verse came up a few times…. Be joyful in hope…. Patient in affliction… faithful in prayer….

I may have nothing to pour out….. But, I am joyful in hope…. hope that my body is daily in small and slow ways healing….(A miracle when I think about what they actually did to my neck…. there are youtube videos of the surgery you’re welcome to google it: Posterior Cervical Fusion- C4-T1. For the Sciency- (like me) it’s interesting and amazing… for the squeamish-… don’t go there.

Patient in affliction? Well….. I suppose this is the process of being patient in affliction…. by suffering through it. By not trying to escape it….by letting it do it’s work. (Pain is my current affliction…’s a constant reminder to let my body heal.It has a purpose to accomplish. well… In theory. It still also: sucks.)

Faithful in prayer… well… (more…)

Being. Not Doing.“I wish that guy in the hallway would just: Shut up. Doesn’t he know this is a hospital?”

The words buzzed like annoying and drugged flies through my mind. Fortunately, they must have been drugged enough not to leave through my mouth. (For once.) Eventually, I started eavesdropping on the annoyingly loud guy.

Who happened to be: Praying.

Evening prayers.

Over the hospital loudspeaker.

Because I was in a Catholic hospital.


In my defense, it was the night of my surgery. I was hurting and drugged and exhausted. (I’m hoping that defense will keep me out of hell.. just saying….calling a priest annoying? Prolly not a good thing.)

The next day, I may have over compensated when the hospital Chaplain came to visit. “I’m Tracey… blah blah what Parrish are you from? I think you have a MOPS group…. I’m on the Board of Directors with MOPS International…..blah blah paassionate about reaching moms and families… blah blah….” (Yes, apparently even post surgically- I’m a MOPS advocate. (MOPS pusher? Maybe.) Or, maybe I was just trying to make it clear that: Yes, I’m a Christian… even if I thought evening prayers were annoying, last night…) I also went into a schpiel about how our church friends and family are bringing dinners etc……Anyway….I laid the “I’m a Christian” thing on pretty thick… I even used code words like: Peace, Jesus, Trust, Ministry….(Maybe it’s because I was listening to Mandisa before surgery?) Or, because of my preconceptions about Catholics preconceptions about protestants….That’s probably closer to the truth. I’m a jerk like that.

Anyway, he’s lucky I was too wasted (FY: Dilaudid is a good thing. Martha Stewart probably won’t tell you that… but it is.) to remember any of my favorite Greek or Hebrew word studies….

Anyway.. to top it off? The chaplain was even more annoying than the evening prayers priest. Because he saw right through my long winded cray-cray introduction, and in the most gentle and lilting Indian accent, he responded with this:

“Tracey, I can see you like to “do” a lot. It is hard for those of us who do when we are hurting. Remember, as you recover….you are a human being… not a human doing….The Lord wants you to rest.”

I could respond with nothing but this: ” My mentor (Mentor mom at MOPS International, actually.) Taught me that truth years ago…. I will receive those words as from the Lord.”

I am a human being…. not a human doing. I forgot I knew that.

Which is good, because at the moment, I can’t DO much. To be honest? I’m happy I can wipe my own behind. My left arm is not being very cooperative. It’s kind of like a painful chunk of meat hanging there at the moment. Due to the extent of my surgery, my neck is not the only thing affected. My entire torso is. I am just beginning to be able to lift my arms enough to dress myself without help. I’m not allowed to bend, twist or lift. In short; I’m a mess. I’m hoping the extreme left arm thing is just inflammation and will take time because at the moment: I have the dexterity of a T-Rex.

There’s not a lot of doing going on. Taking a shower and dressing doubles as physical therapy and a work out. Pulling up my underwear is my current equivalent to burpees. (Confession: I don’t even know what Burpees are. Other than a seed company and something to do with that crazy new work out thing. But, I hear they’re brutal. And so is pulling up my drawers at the moment.)

What there is a lot of- is working very hard to relax. Oxymoron? Maybe. But, trust me. My body is constantly trying to spasm, and I have to consciously make my body relax. Spasming hurts. Not in an: “Ouch, that hurts” Or even an “Oh crap!” Kind of way…. spasming is an insidious tightness and pain that feels like it’s trying to pull apart everything the doctor sewed up. (Well- sewed up after he cut it up, I think he used a ginsu in there, justsayin. IT HURTS.. ) All day long, I work against the spasming…

“Shoulders down. Breathe, Tracey. Let the brace your head up. Don’t fight the brace.” 

I also fight not to bend down and pick up the wrapper on the floor.  I fight not to try to move just one piece of laundry from the washer to the dryer at a time because then, maybe I could get a load in without hurting myself……Or to try to hold the hair dryer….I’m fighting to be… not Do…

There are moments, like right now, when my husband is looking for a laptop key the crazy shorkie accidentlally knocked off his laptop, and I cannot help him find it, that make me feel edgy. Frustrated. Useless, actually. Am I the only one for whom watching my spouse look for something is torture? It’s like I’m hard wired to just get up and find it… because: I would.) In these moments I hear the chaplain’s Indian accent reminding me again: “You are a human being, Tracey, not a human doing. Rest. Recover. It’s what the Lord needs you to do.”

So that’s what I’m doing. Working as hard as possible to rest. Yes, that’s hard work.

Dear Lord- Thank you so much for the Chaplains wise words.I had no idea how hard I would be working to relax after this surgery. Please help me to remember I’m created as a human being…. and being is enough. Let me rest in your presense…..Help this spaz… not to spasm…. and Lord? Thank you for helping my husband find that computer key:) I love you lord and trust you- even here. When it hurts. When I can’t do anything. When I’m afraid this left arm may never work right…..even here. Thank you for being with me. Amen. 

So… readers? Have you ever felt like resting was a physical work out? Do you find relaxing: easy, hard, impossible? Do you sometimes feel like if you’re not DOING something, you’re not worth something?

Me too. You’re not alone.

We are human beings. Not, human doings… and that? Is enough.

The truth is… I think I need to be knocked on my butt every once in a while so I can remember it is GOD who is and does all good things, in the world- and and me……. not me. ;)

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV