images“Does anyone have a religious problem with sitting in judgement?”  I’m pretty sure the Judge thought it was a simple question. For me- it wasn’t. Granted- I tend to over think things. But when posed the question… I really had to ask myself: “Do I have a religious problem with sitting in judgment?”

Anyone who reads my blog knows that I strive to overcome bigotries small and large.  I am passionate about grace. (Mostly because I’m so thankful God is gracious to me. I need it. A lot.) I am constantly writing about, thinking about and challenging Christians for being judgmental. Mostly: myself.

But Wednesday- was different. A new experience for me: Jury duty.

For which I thought I had a “get out of jury duty free card” hanging around my neck. (Neck brace- due to failed cervical fusion. Not my most fashionable accessory- but it keeps my head from falling off… so yeah. it works.) Still. I was chosen.

Wednesday my name was: Juror #12.

Which is when that prickly question was posed: “Does anyone have a religious problem with sitting in judgement?”

The question followed a series questions like:

  • Does anyone have strong feeling about guns that may influence your judgement in this case?
  • Does anyone know the defendant, or anyone being called to testify?
  • Does anyone have a medical or other cause that would affect your ability to to sit in judgement? (Yes- I got called out on this one- to which I answered: Well. I’ll be uncomfortable… but I’m always uncomfortable. I should be fine.)

I hesitated to answer the religious problem question. What the judge was actually asking was: Does anyone have a religious problem with sitting in LEGAL judgement on this trial?

Which, I don’t have. Because: (more…)

Grace and MercyLimits.  I’m not a fan. I like to problem solve. Tell me I can’t, and I’ll figure out how I CAN.  I could easily be confused, with a 3 year old. I say: “I’ll do it myself.”  Or “I can do it myself.” about as often.

The problem is- I can’t. Not always. Especially not now. Maybe not ever. But in truth? I never could. I just always try to. I try to be a jill of all trades- I have been known to: wallpaper and by myself. (One time standing on a kitchen chair in our slippery bathtub. Putting up  ceiling border. Think about it…. holding up a border until it sticks- applying pressure as the chair you’re standing on slowly pushes back and away from the surface you’re trying to stick it to….good times.) I’ve been known to Google “How to fix the pipes under your kitchen sink when they fall apart from the garbage disposal’s vibration.”  And then: fix it. (At least for a while. Newsflash: I’m not a plumber.) I prefer to offer my doctor a diagnosis consult  and suggested treatment plan when I go in for an appointment.

I’m not a doctor- nor did I sleep in a Holiday Inn Express last night. Yet… somehow– I feel like I can.. or that I should be able to do and figure everything out. IN truth-The list of examples could go on forever.

One of the limits I’m currently struggling with- is my neck. Either again- or still. Whatever. (I think I had 3 weeks after my last surgery where it had started to feel better…. then the slow creeping decline began- again.) Another failed surgery. I followed all the rules this time. I took my calcium and D 3.  I TRIED really HARD to tell my body to grow bone. It just: didn’t. In short- my neck… (Forgive the vernacular) Sucks. It hurts. My neck limits what I can and cannot do.

It’s been depressing me. Frustrating me. Upsetting me. I feel dis-abled. In the most literal sense. I feel… hobbled.… (I never should have watched the Movie “Misery.” Justsayin. I feel like James Cann in that flick-every time there is enough healing to get better and start to do more…- something whacks me again- and I’m hobbled, afresh.) I feel like I have less to give. I feel like I have less to help with. I hate it.

I’ve rebelled against it. (Scroll down to the snow shoveling incident.. not good.) Only to end up hobbling myself, even more. I’ve been angry at myself and looking for something- someone to blame. Usually there’s just: me. So I talk to myself. Blame myself. Manipulate myself.

“Get a grip. people live with worse. Be happy with what you can do. It’s just pain. Pain is part of life, accept it and move on. Don’t let it stop you. Stop being a hypochondriac. Suck it up buttercup. Don’t be a drama queen. Why do you keep doing stupid things?”

I’m not very nice. To myself.

Which is a problem. A big problem.

Because…..I’m usurping God’s expectations for me.

No, really. I am. I expect (desire, want)  my broken, weak, pain filled and needing to heal body- to perform like a healthy one. I want to be perfect. I want to be able to do it all. Somewhere in my twisted brain.. I think I should…..

I can’t find any scriptures to support this.

Instead, I find:

Hebrews 4:16

16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Matthew 22:36-40 

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

 1 John 4:16

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.”

Psalm 145:8

” The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.”

Hebrews 4:15

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.

2 Corinthians 12:9

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
There is nothing that calls me to do it all. No verse that tells me to be perfect. Not one verse tells me to fix my own brokenness.
I keep forgetting that.
Especially when I want to do.. one more load of laundry. Vacuum one more room. Clean one more closet. Help with one more cause. Join one more study….volunteer for one more thing…Or just plain have an hour without pain. The things that set  off the internal tirade of frustration, anger and guilt I wrote above…
When I do that…. I set those expectations on and take those frustrations out on someone handcrafted by God – his workmanship created for a purpose……..
His daughter.
I wonder how he feels about that?
As a mom, I’m pretty sure he’s not a fan of that, either.
I hate to see my children tear themselves up. I love them. I want them to be kind and loving to themselves and to others…. Which, as I look at the verses above.. especially in light of Easter week- when he put that love and mercy and grace into the ultimate action….. on the cross-convinces me I need to show my back (and self) some mercy. I also need God’s grace to heal me from the heart out. More important than my neck- I need to get over my perfectionistic drive.
So yesterday, being the visual learner that I am.. I put a reminder of that- right where I need it. On my back. In the form of a tattoo. 3 hours of pain- for a lifetime of remembering….”Be Gracious Tracey, Be merciful, Tracey. To yourself and to others. You are precious to the one who formed you. Treat yourself as such.”
I can’t do it all. I’m not perfect. I’m broken. I have limits. It’s okay.  I don’t have to be perfect. I don’t have to do it all. The truth is…We’re all broken. (in some way.) And we’re all beautiful- created by God for a divine purpose.
I hope- Dear Reader…. that you will do the same.
You are loved. You are broken. You don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to do it all. Show yourself some grace and mercy… you need it. so do I.
“Dear Lord- You know I hate my limits. Help me to accept them and respect them. Help me to love my life and not to waste it longing for a perfect, healthy pain free one. Help me to be gracious and merciful, help me to accept your mercy and grace- I love you Lord…. so very much. Help this ink be a reminder of all these things…. In Jesus name-amen
Kudo’s to Cee Jay at Suicide Kings Tattoo’s who worked with me to create the perfect reminder- ;)
The brace- cone of shame...

The brace- cone of shame…

“It’s not fused. You wear the brace 24/7. Maybe it will still fuse. If not. I’ll do surgery.”

So, here we are again. For the foreseeable future I will be accessorized by a hard, ugly, uncomfortable, neck brace. And I will be praying that this stupid neck fuses with every uncomfortable reminder:

  • Like bumping into someone or something because I can’t see. (Not being able to turn your head- limits your peripheral vision… it’s a great way to meet new people… just sayin.)
  • When I trip over everything.. and nothing) Not being able to look down is a little like being 9  months pregnant and not being able to see your feet. (Minus the belly. well. maybe not in my case:P)
  • When I walk like a 92 year old woman- bent over trying not to fall because falling would be BAD, very bad.
  • When I have to hold my laptop at about nose level (propped on  my knees) in order to type this because I STILL cannot touch type and need to see my fingers…..(FYI: in addition to math, I failed typing in 9th grade. oopsy.)
  • When I have to fish bits of lunch out of the brace and need help with everything I drop and end up having a fit because eating without seeing what your doing is a little like this scene from Helen Keller. 

The good news: (more…)

My hands bent back and  I knew I was in trouble. I felt her fingernails dig into the flesh on the backs of my hands. Teeth gritted, I tried to smile.  “I will not lose.” I said to my stubborn elementary school self. In truth- It was probably like that time during the Becky Thatcher look-alike context-when I thought I was whispering without moving my mouth- and my whole head was scrunched up in a look that would have scared a zombie. A moment that was- of course- captured forever in a local paper. (Seriously. It’s in my scrapbook. No, I won’t show you. And no- I didn’t win. Apparently, Becky Thatcher was a bit more pleasant than me as a child.)  Regardless, I held my ground. NO MERCY.

For a moment, my opponent wavered.  I pressed her hands down and back….secretly wishing my mom hadn’t made me trim my nails before school.I pinched. I pressed. I held my breath. I twisted her wrists trying to sprain them …..I was evil like that. We all were.I held my ground. For a minute. Then- In a sudden upset that left crescent shaped slices in the tops of my hands- I lost. (Most likely because of my lack of nails. Thanks, Mom. :P)

Or, maybe because of my weak wrists.

It was certainly not because I’d shown mercy. I hadn’t. However, in the end-  I had begged for it. “Mercy! Mercy!” My pre-pubescent self screeched. My opponent gave my hands one more twist and another nail dig- before letting go.

I can still feel the welts and gouged skin I was left with. I’m surprised I don’t have scars.

Truly- it was an evil game. And I was an evil loser. (Do kids still play that? I’m guessing it’s probably outlawed- along with see-saws…)

I swore I’d never play again. It wasn’t the pseudo-sprained wrists the scratches or the losing that bothered me… it was the humiliation of begging for mercy.

I hated it.

The truth is- I still have issues with it.

Of course- I now have nails that would make Chuck Norris beg for mercy….(Thank you acrylic tips and Korean nail girl. I love you both.) but I think that playing mercy with your child is probably akin to child abuse and since my youngest is probably the only human being who would even consider a game…. I refrain.

At least with humans.

Not so much with God.

With God I flex my wrists and crack my knuckles and dig in- refusing to beg for mercy. I don’t WANT mercy. I don’t want to NEED it. I want to be perfect. I want to be merciful……(I’m a nice person. Kind of.) I just don’t want to need mercy.

Mercy- isn’t a game.



  1. Compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm: “the boy was begging for mercy”.
  2. An event to be grateful for, esp. because its occurrence prevents something unpleasant or provides relief from suffering.
pity – compassion – clemency – grace – charity – ruth


(1) Mercy is the kind, sympathetic, and forgiving treatment of others that works to relieve their distress and cancel their debt. Or (2) mercy is compassion combined with forbearance and action.

Maybe I am scarred by all those elementary school games of mercy, after all. Maybe they warped my perception of God. (Or, maybe, I’m just warped.) But  some part of me  sees mercy as a game. A game where you beg for it and in doing so-you lose. That warped part of me also seems to think God is a poor sport. Like God gloats over my need for mercy like a deranged 5th grader: “HA! I knew you’d scream mercy! You just can’t cut it. You’re not tough enough. You’re not GOOD enough! You. Need. Help.”  That part of me: doesn’t want it.

Lately I’ve been thinking there’s something wrong me. (Okay- thats not exactly new…. I know.. but stay with me.) I keep hearing things about how women want to be rescued…..they wait for a white knight.. a prince charming….to sweep them off their feet and make everything all better. Honestly? The  idea makes me nauseous.

I don’t want to be rescued. There, I said it.

I’m sure there is some deep psychological reason for this. Or maybe it’s because my husband is so perfectly wonderful (he is.) that I don’t have to imagine it…..Or maybe, it’s as simple as pride. (It probably is.) Or stubbornness. Whatever the reason- (Or reasons— I’m a text book of crazy.) my detest for all things rescue-like- is tied up in my mercy game with God.

The thing is… I search through the bible and find things like this:

  1. Deuteronomy 4:31 For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your ancestors, which he confirmed to them by oath.
  2. Daniel “The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him;
  3. Micah 7 8-10 “Who is a God like you,who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea”
  4. Micah 7:18  ‘Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.”
  5. Matthew 9:3 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

All of which kind of makes me think maybe mercy isn’t just a game after all. Maybe it’s a gift. 

What if that moment when we finally cry mercy, is the moment when we finally- win? What if- God really is delighted to show us mercy… not disgusted by our need?

I’m not making any New Years resolutions… (I don’t have the resolve.) But I’ve decided to choose a word for this year. Some people are choosing words they love…. concepts they hold dear- I’m choosing a word I struggle with:

Mercy. to be used interchangeably with: rescue.  A word I just plain hate.

Here’s why:

Micah 6:8

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly with your God.

Lord Jesus- I have this mercy thing so messed up.The ugly truth is:  I WANT to be merciful…. but I don’t want to NEED mercy. I have this picture of you standing in front of me twisting my wrists waiting for me to scream mercy….. and then gloat over it when I finally do…. I’m sorry for thinking of you that way. Lord- this year- help me find refuge in rescue help me not to walk justly but to LOVE mercy— the mercy you give and the mercy you enable me to show… help me to see you as you are. I love you Lord- now help me love mercy! Amen!

Ha! Only I can take 1,000 words to share my one word…. i got skillz. :P

So what about you” DO you struggle with Mercy? Do you long for rescue or rebel against it?

Do you make New Years Resolutions? What are they?

Or- did you- like me- choose One Word? If so– share it in the comments and tell us why! I can’t wait to hear!

“Mom!…. un-intelligible  mumble mumble sniffle…sobs….Mom!” Screamed my youngest- through tears. 

I ran to the door expecting to find blood. I thought I’d find skinned knees or hurt feelings… (It’s THAT time of the summer, when kids have been playing together so much they are in a constant state of emotional flux..) I didn’t expect to find him standing next to my new car.

The new car we spent days looking for and test driving and struggling to pick just the right one.  Yeah, that one. The new car that I’ve always wanted. A (used- but new to me) convertible. Yup. My dream car. (It happens- some girls can have dream cars.) A silver 2008 Chrysler Sebring convertible.  My shiny, happy, sunshine conducive, non-moose-mobile new (ish) car. The car I’ve wanted for 20+ years- while I’ve been driving mini-vans and SUV’s. (Because I’m practical like that- aren’t all moms?)

Since my older two are in college, there really isn’t much need for me to drive a vehicle that seats 4 adults and a child. So it was deemed to finally be: convertible time. Standing in the driveway all I could think was:

Why is he crying by my car?”

Eventually I made out the words: “Bike, scratch (and)  I’m sorry”  Which is when I had an out of body experience.

From above the scene, I saw a “through all the coats of everything” scratch about 18 inches long on the rear quarter panel. I also saw my child, cowering as if he were facing the electric chair- or maybe the guillotine. The look on his face said: “I’m guilty and deserve to die. Forgive me, but do with me what you will.” 

Like all out of body experiences (I don’t know-I’m making this up, just go with me, ok?) time collapsed on itself like telescope, and then extended into an alternate reality…..) Or, it just slowed down around me while I moved ahead in my mind… which, kind of sounds like a psychotic break..but I’m back from, so don’t worry. Either way- in that moment I knew I had a choice: let out my disappointment and frustration with all the tidal force I felt it building up inside me with… and face smooshing my child like an emotional bug, or stop. Calm down, and get a grip.

I wanted to kill him. (Not really- but you know what I mean.) At minimum, I wanted to make sure he KNEW how upset I was.  I wanted to tell him to be more careful. I wanted to remind him to put his bike away and pay attention.

I knew that all of those things would have been the relational equivalent of napalm.  I’ve done it before and had to clean up the mess. (It’s bad.) I’ve also watched it happen hundreds of times:  a mom, in total frustration and desperation pours out  all of it on her child. The child crumbles. Everything he/she fears about itself- (I’m irresponsible, clumsy, stupid, selfish, lazy, inconsiderate, and should know better…) are confirmed by the one who knows them best: mom. and the weight of it crushes a tiny heart.

For once I choose to get a grip. (This could only have been an act of God on my child’s behalf. Trust me- the amount of calmness that overcame me was DIVINE and totally not: me.) I took a deep breath, silently repeated my mommy mantra: “People are more Precious than Products.”  Then: I said the only thing I could:

“I love you, more than any car.” 

Relief blew across his face, like the wind blows through a convertible.

Cars can be repainted. Things can be replaced or fixed or done without… but the heart of a child can’t.

Every mom faces moments like this- sometimes we choose to squash and others we choose to extend grace. I have to say- having done my share of squashing… the day after grace- feels MUCH better.

Today- or tomorrow- or sometime soon,you’ll probably have one of those out of body experiences… and I hope you choose grace, too!

People are more Precious than Products… Yup- even more precious than Silver convertibles you wait 20 years for….trust me on this- I know!

Dear Lord- thank you for that divine intervention. Thank you for extending grace to me- so I can extend it to others. God- I pray that you will protect my child’s heart from the times when I pour out my wrath instead. and I pray for each mom that reads, that she too will choose grace. Moms have  the power to squash like a bug- or build up like a us to build up our children- so they can withstand the wind of the world… In Jesus name- amen

 Proverbs 18: 20-21 

From the fruit of their mouth a person’s stomach is filled; 
   with the harvest of their lips they are satisfied.

 The tongue has the power of life and death, 
   and those who love it will eat its fruit. 


hmmm so- anyone know anyone who does nice (cheap) paint work locally?  #fixedwouldbegood

I hoped I’d run out of invitations.

I hoped my pen would run out of ink.

I considered accidently “forgetting” just. one. name. The name of my child’s bully. I just didn’t want to include him in this party.

Him. The child who votes my kid out of clubs third graders create on a daily basis. The child who makes Noah (9) have a stomach ache and long to stay home from school. The child who’s a friend one day and an enemy the next. The child who has provoked more phone calls to the school in 6 months, than I’ve had to make altogether, in 21 years of parenting. The child Noah wants to be friends with (Noah wants EVVERYONE to be his friend-)… but is (at least on occasion) a bully.

The truth is: I wanted to give him a taste of his own medicine. I wanted to leave him out. I wanted to hurt his feelings.

I wanted to bully, the bully.

I just wanted Noah to enjoy his own birthday party without fear of being bullied. And I wanted revenge. and I wanted to do the right thing.

Not just what felt right. I did a bible word search for “bully.” It’s not there.

But….something about doing to others as you’d have them do to you… is. Likewise is some nonsense about kind words turning away wrath. And some crazy thing about turning the other cheek. And vengeance belonging to God. ugh.

I didn’t run out of invitations.

The pen didn’t run out of ink.

I couldn’t forget that name.

And as the pen hovered over the final invitation, I remembered the note I’d received at the beginning of the school year.“If your child brings invitations to school to give distribute, please either include everyone in class, or distribute outside of class. We don’t want to hurt feelings by excluding some people.” I didn’t want to. I thought about making it a smaller party. Distributing invitations outside of class. But Noah wanted to invite the whole class.

I had a choice. Would I bully the bully by excluding him….? Or respond in grace and do what I felt was right: invite him, keep an eye on the situation and hope for the best? would I put into practice the gospel I say I believe….or allocate it to only places where it’s comfortable to do so?

I wrote out the invitation. (I may have forgotten to include the time… ) I shoved the invitations into a ziplock bag and threw up a quiet prayer….

“Lord- this kid infuriates me. I don’t like him. I want to exclude him. The truth is- I want to hurt his feelings. But he’s yours. He’s precious. He’s loved. I’ll invite him. But it would be nice if he didn’t come.” Amen

I talked to Noah about how he felt. And about the weird verses that seem so fitting- and awful in this circumstance. We prayed. we discussed options. We talked about feeling left out. We planned to tag team the kid if he got out of hand. (hey- my kid’s party means i get to confront – I’m in charge!) And Noah decided to invited him.

His was one of the first RSVP’s. I told his dad the partie’s time, when he called. Yes. The same time as everyone else. (I may have been tempted to tell him a different one. Maybe.)

I may have hoped he’d get that virus that was going around, and have to miss.

He didn’t. (Although I got it…good thing I don’t believe in karma..)

I’d like to say the party went without a hitch and the two boys have happily ever after been friends.

It didn’t. (My husband ended up telling the kid to layoff- in the middle of the party. ) They aren’t. And they may never be.

There have been more phone calls. More meetings. More tears and tummy aches.

But I know this- we did the right thing.

Do I think this is the answer to bullying? Do I think this is always the right thing? Nope. But it was this time.

Dear lord, I pray for this situation and so many other situations of bullying that happen everyday. I pray for those bullied and bullying… that they’d find your love and grow in it- instead of bitterness, vengeance and hate. I pray for every mom who’s pen is hovering as they face a decision to bully the bully or take the high road of grace….let us grow in love- even for the bully. amen oh? and lord? if my kid happens to give him a little smack down and give the kid a clue? I would happily discipline and love him through that- too.


have you faced this kind of choice?
what did you choose, and why?
has your child been bullied and had the issue solved? how?
how do you deal with the inner momma bear that wants to bully the bully?

We were running out of more than money. We were running out of time. It was just a few days before Christmas. If there would be a Christmas at all.. it would be now or never. So….we spent the day Christmas shopping.  To be honest- we spent our rent. Yup. On Christmas gifts. We also hit the lottery of “instant credit approval” at a department store.  Which, we immediately ran up to it’s limit on a special gift for ourselves….Merry Christmas to us! At least for the moment…

We were young. (very young) Every month when we made out our bills we robbed Peter to pay Paul… every month, some bill had to wait. To say we were struggling financially is an epic understatement. It’s like calling the sinking of the Titanic a fender-bender. I think spending our rent made us feel momentarily rich. Well…if not rich… we at least felt: not poor. The fear and guilt were barely covered by the excitement of giving. We were emotionally short-sheeting ourselves. It didn’t cover.

We figured we’d pay our rent in January. We thought for sure we could  catch up, eventually …We’d figure out how to pay for groceries, later. Maybe we could float a check for long enough to cover. There were only three of us… it wouldn’t take much. And it was Christmas, after-all. Each bag of gifts we stuffed into the trunk of our tiny old Toyota- held a mix of guilt, fear and excitement.

The truth is-we just didn’t know how to say “No.” We should have said: “No, we can’t buy gifts for everyone we’re related to.” No, we can’t donate to this cause and that….” Instead.. we played Santa. A game we would lose.

Only the real Santa has an unlimited budget. Only the real Santa can make Christmas dreams come true…but- we were having an identity crisis. Maybe it was that first grey hair, I’d noticed…. or the extra baby-weight I was carrying… whatever the reason- we sure THOUGHT we were Santa.

On the way home, the truth settled in like a blizzard of smothering snow….We were not Santa. We’d eventually have to pay for everything.

We arrived home, still full of guilt and fear and excitement. We carried our little one and all the Christmas gifts into our duplex. The gifts weren’t extravagant… we’re not talking Tiffany’s here.. just more than we could actually afford. The thought of returning them flew in and out of our heads like a hummingbird… one that migrated to a warmer place -instantly.

After the baby went to bed.. we wrapped everything, and prayed it would all work out.. eventually.

Instead of seeing that pile of gifts and feeling excitement and joy.. we felt mostly: nauseous.  Which is probably good, because the cupboards were pretty bare, and there wasn’t much to eat. It would be days before our next check. I hoped we’d get a bunch of holiday leftovers to help tide us over….which is when I realized I wasn’t sure I had enough money left to buy the ingredients for the “dish to pass” that we had to bring for the holiday meal.

I checked under the couch cushions for coin- Mostly, I found cheerios.

I turned down the heat. (A way too late effort to save a few bucks.) and turned off most of the lights so the extra from the tree wouldn’t cause our power to be shut off in January…It had happened before- and January is NOT a good time to have your power “limited.” Not in Michigan, anyway.

Sitting on the couch, we’d have prayed- if we didn’t feel so guity for making the mess we were in. We’d made our bed.. we’d lie in it.

Which is when there was a sudden and loud banging on our front door. (more…)

Ugh. I hate it when my Iphone locks up. I press buttons and nothing happens… There is this moment of panic when (my addiction shows and) my fear takes over… “Is this it?  Is it dead?  Did I wreck it?  Did I kill the internets? What will I do without my phone?  How can I fix it????”

Usually it’s simple.  All it needs is a”Hard reset.” I press and hold two buttons at once (a feat of small motor controll before coffee- trust me.) and then the problem disappears with the appearance of the magical Apple that is the harbinger of electronic peace. The relief that Apple brings is remarkable… I feel like all is right in the world and I have lived to see another electronic day.

This morning, it wasn’t the iphone that was stuck. It was me.

I woke up before the alarm.  it should have been a great day.

Then I sat on the couch nursing a cup of coffee just a little too long before waking up the youngest.  “He can get ready fast…” I decided. besides.. I was enjoying the quiet before the storm.

At 7:45 I went to wake him up.

“One more minute”  Was all I heard from under his pillow where he was hiding from Bella, who was doing her best to “dig  him out” of bed.

Not good. One minute stretched to five.

I threatened. “You’re going to miss the bus.”

He finally got up. (At least he moved from the bed to the couch. )

His cereal was soggy before he made his way to the table, because he needed “One more minute.”

He also needed “One more minute” before putting on his clothes, his shoes and his hoodie and backpack.

By the time we left for the bus, I was gritting my teeth…and didn’t care that he hadn’t brushed his.

We missed the bus by… yup. About one minute.

My frustration poured out through my mouth like that bite of cereal you spit out when you taste that the milk’s gone sour. “I told you you’d miss the bus if you didn’t get moving. If this happens tomorrow,you are grounded. I’m not walking you in, you’re on your own.” (more…)

I have legalism skillz.
No really, I have turned legalism into an extreme sport.  I’m hoping to get it past the Olympic committee and make it an official olympic sport in 2012.

What evidence do I have that my legalistic skillz are extreme?

I managed to take a grace based  season,  (namely: Easter/Lent) and turn it into a festival of iced-tea abstinence, legalism and pride.

Trust me, that took skill.

It all started with a book and some blog posts I read. (Am I the only one who gets inspired to stupidity by the brilliance of others?) As I read about someone else’s Lenten experiences and observances, I started to feel a little  jealous. (OK, “a little” is putting it mildly.) I desperately wanted that kind of experience. I felt  like I was getting ripped off by my non-denominational, contemporary faith. (I should have known this motive would lead to no good.)

“Why can’t I observe Lent?  I bet I could learn from it…it’s not like the Catholics “Own”  lent or anything..I could do it too…” I thought. Not slowing down  to  consider my motives or attitude.

And with that, I decided to observe the tradition of  Lent.

“Now what?”  I had to decide what to give up. It should be something I love. But something I could do without fanfare and whistles… (going meat-less would affect my whole family… skipping caffeine would for sure lead to murder not an option. I moved down my list of vices… Giving up chocolate?  Too risky.  I might need the serotonin boost or the antioxidants. I’d hate to give myself cancer over Lent… besides…. it’s medicinal, like vitamins.. for Pete’s sake…)

So I wondered:  “What can I give up that would be both a sacrifice and an offering.. that would remind me to focus on God?” Since iced tea is my vice of choice I went with that. (I can tell you which restaurants and drive through’s within a 30 mile radius have the good stuff.) I have been known to pick a restaurant by it’s iced tea offerings. I love Iced tea.

Assuming that a greater blessing would come with a greater sacrifice.. I gave up my tea.

Don’t laugh… You have no idea how hard that has been.  Think quitting smoking without the patch..(although I’m getting desperate… I may tape a tea bag to my forearm later today..

My plan:

  1. To give up iced tea for the Lenten season.
  2. To  set aside the money I would have spent and donate it to the blood water  mission .
  3. Take those iced-tea craving moments and focus on God. I’m using the Mosaic Bible Lent readings.

Now, If I were mature, (which I’m not) I’d have kept this whole thing quiet. But I kind of want people to know about my sacrifice for God.. (Hey, I may inspire others with my… um brilliance?) Well,  I guess it might build my holy street cred… or  not.)

The thing is, people don’t care. Most just say something along the lines of:  “Tracey, You’re not Catholic. ” To which I respond: “The Catholics don’t own Lent.”  (See?  told you, immaturity: I have it..)

So, I’m not sure it’s working in general. Or maybe it’s working better than I’d hoped. I’m definitely learning.  I’m just not liking all that  I’m learning- about myself. (more…)

How am I messed up am I ?  Let me count the ways:

I am  insecure.  I am (often) immature.  I am (usually)  impulsive. I am (monthly) moody and hormonal.

I sometimes get panicky and paranoid.  I get angry over lame things, I act like a jerk. I yell. I nag.  I do all the things I know not to do. I self medicate with chocolate and junk food and junk entertainment- instead of turning to the healer who loves me.

It’s easier for me to forgive others than it is for me to forgive myself.  Sometimes my failings replay in my mind  like a movie and  I’m strapped in the theater seat, unable to escape from reviewing. It’s a struggle for me to stop the movie and change the show.  But I can. With God’s help.

Yup.  Told ya. I’m Messed up. I know all the reasons why I’m messed up…and I actually do a pretty good job managing the crazy… but you know what?  It doesn’t change it.

I still am.

I’m coming to realize we all are.  And it does NOT define us.

A few weeks ago I made a short video.. about how I matter. And about how YOU matter.
watch it…. let’s see if you notice what I noticed…..

Once I got past the whole “I hate my head and my voice” thing.. I noticed something about the video… as I’m talking about how much “I matter”… I’m not very convincing.  My eyes are darting to the notes I have tacked up on the chair behind the camera…I look nervous.  Honestly?  I look like I’m lying.  Or maybe like I’m just saying the right thing…Maybe, I was.

And then- I start talking about how much YOU matter.

And I believe it.  You can see it.  My eye contact changes… my demeanor changes…my voice has an authority that comes with the truth…I KNOW that “mothers” matter.  I believe that YOU matter…

It’s time I start believing that I matter.

I mean really… if I’m called to share this truth with others.. it’s kind of important that I BELIEVE it.. don’t you think?  Who believes a liar?

I am not defined by my past, I am not defined by my failures… I AM defined by who God says I am… Loved.  Cherished. Forgiven. Called.  Imperfect.  Willing. Changing.  Growing. Beautiful. Just as I am. Crazy and all.

I want to start believing it… what about you?  I think prayer is the only route to move from head belief to heart belief.. join me?

“Dear Lord… my messed-up-ness is not a surprise to you.  My crazy and my failures are not bigger than your grace.  regardless of how I feel…I am held in your love and you whisper the truth about who I really I am: I am Loved.  I am Cherished. I am Forgiven. I am Called. I am perfectly- Imperfect.  I am Willing. I am Changing. I am Growing. Help me hear your whispers of truth Lord.. and help me to believe them… I love you Lord- amen. “

Lord- I believe.. help me in my unbelief….

“Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”

“From childhood,” he answered. “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

” ‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.”

Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”.……..

He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.”