And here it is-

@kathi Lipps new book! Honest- imperfect real help.

click for the launch party! now!

In honor of the Olympics:  A re-print from 2006-

Curious? George was. So is Noah.
I keep telling myself: he’s not bad…. he’s curious, creative, innovative, but, what I see at the moment is, he’s messy. Maximum mess. Messious Maximus.

Three guesses as to what the ooze is that Noah is sliding in…..

Is it:
1. Gorilla Glue? (Thankfully- Not.. I suppose it COULD have been worse…–although I wouldn’t have had to chase his stickiness through the kitchen, if it HAD been…He’d have been: stuck. permanently. Which sounds like a pretty good idea on occasion.)
2. A Bodily Fluid- either  animal or human? (Nope-not this time, that would have smelled much worse.)
3. An entire bottle of syrup poured onto my kitchen floor, creating Noah’s own Olympic Speed Skating rink? DING DING DING!- We have a winner!

Like most toddler mischief-it began, with two minutes of peace and quiet.

I should have known.

When suddenly,I remembered that: Quiet is not good. I called out: “Noah!?  Where are you?”  No answer.

No answer? Also: not good.

3 steps into the kitchen, my feet felt funny.

5 steps in,  I saw what you see,in the picture above.

6 steps in, I decided I had to kill him….

Then, I saw his shirt. “GEORGE” It said in bright white letters across his back.

I stopped cold (and sticky) in my tracks. I was reminded of where we went just yesterday.

We went to see “Curious George”.  I giggled through the whole movie through because Curious George- is so like my Noah.

George is like any normal preschooler. Curious.

So is Noah. Not only curious, but also uninhibited. If the sticky syrup feels good- they slide in it. Our whole family saw Noah in the movie- we laughed on the way home… thinking of the little moments- where Noah has gotten himself into scrapes.

Don’t get me wrong…

20 oz. of maple syrup, (Okay high fructose corn syrup with caramel coloring and maple falling .. at least it was the cheap stuff.) spread across my floor, does NOT make me happy. It makes me furious. But- in the instant that I saw his shirt, I was reminded of Curious George and Curious Noah. In the same instant God ( I know it was God, because the woman in my head?  She was heading for her executioner’s hood!) reminded me: “George isn’t BAD, he’s CURIOUS. So is Noah.”

Truth is— I could have ranted and raved. (I have before) But, the floor would have still been a mess, the syrup would have been covering him… and I’d have felt awful. Instead, in a moment of lucidity, that also could only have been God, I calmly said…

Noah? What did you do? ” to which he replied ” I skating. I go Olympics!”

I told him: “Syrup is for waffles, not skating.”  I then had to figure out how to clean up the mess- before the dog went into a maple sugar induced coma….AND I had to keep them both from spreading invisible sticky footprints all thru the house. I decided on stripping the preschooler to his drawers and making him stand on a towel, while I mopped up what I could…. before putting him in the tub. (Noah, alone in a tub while I’m MOPPING-would be a bad thing…actually, preschoolers, alone in a tub is ALWAYS a bad thing!)

Noah must have sensed how close to death he came today- because he managed to stand (wiggle and sit ) on that towel, without leaving it for 10 minutes. A herculean feat for a wriggly boy.

We all survived, thanks to Curious George and Jesus.

FYI: When faced with a “Curious” problem like this of your own…. prior to the actual mopping up of the syrup— I recommend you use a spatula to scrape as much up as possible. This will eliminate the creation of “mop doom”…(you don’t want to know) and will enhance your cleaning experience. (These are the kind f cleaning tips you can’t find in parenting books. But, should.)

Dear Lord, I love you- and this child (all three!) that you gave me, please help me to always see them as your wonderful creation. Please, give me wisdom, to discipline them, and patience to guide them. And Lord- thanks for not letting me kill them. amen.

No matter how many carols played, or how many gifts I wrapped.. I just wasn’t feeling it.

The Christmas Spirit left when the chicken pox arrived. (Funny how that happens, huh?) Michael and Matt were maybe 3+5… and they decided to share the gift that keeps on giving… communicable disease.

For a solid month we had to stay home as they took turns with fevers and itching….cabin fever doesn’t begin to describe how I felt. It was awful.

Yup- right at Christmas. I was disappointed, lonely and depressed.

We’d scrimped and saved and planned ahead to have a most wonderful time of the year. Gifts were wrapped… Our stockings were hung from a shelf in the family room… (no fireplace ) The tree blinked in our front room window… but it didn’t matter. Nothing helped.

I baked. (and ate.) We played connect the dots with chicken pox. (I have one child who’s still angry about that.. apparently he doesn’t remember it fondly…) We watched videos. (Maybe the Barney videos are what pushed me over the edge…OY. I hate Barney.) I tried hard to make the best of it.

But.. each night,when everyone finally went to bed… I felt like crying. Some nights, I did. Having sick kids is stressful and exhausting.. AND THIS JUST WENT ON FOREVER. The places in my heart where  I should have felt “Christmas-y”  instead felt: wrung out, sad and empty. Instead of finding Christmas joys each day.. I found disappointment- over and over. The holidays aren’t just ONE day… there are a bazillion things to do and places to go… traditions to celebrate and enjoy….or not.

We missed:

  • the holiday pageant at church
  • The Christmas MOPS meeting
  • Christmas shopping together.
  • Family meals shared.
  • Holiday parties.

Each event missed, left me more and more depressed. The boys were sad. My husband was sad.

I tried not to be. I tried to make it fun. I tried to mom-up, and deal…

It didn’t work.

Christmas cards arrived each day, and they mostly made me feel jealous. I was jealous of the holiday cheer we were missing out on. “Does anyone care that we’re trapped here, alone… with a pox upon us?” (You get a little crazy about day 3 of isolation.. and we were on WEEK 3…of course, my kids got them one after the other. A solid month of quarantine….I was losing it. )   I felt like I ran a leper colony. (We pretty much did. This was before chicken pox shots were available)

One particularly sad night, we were watching holiday specials between doses of benadryl and calamine lotion pat downs…when someone suddenly banged on our front door.

“It must be a bill collector…it figures.” I thought.  “Maybe, they’ll go away. if we don’t answer the door.” (we were young, times were tough… it could have been a bill collector. Who else stopped by after dark? :P)

It wasn’t a bill collector.

When my husband opened the door— there was huge group of teenagers on our front lawn.

I wondered if they were out causing trouble.. (wouldn’t be the first time, in that neighborhood…) and then.. they started to sing:

Silent night.
Holy Night
All is calm. all is bright….

It was the youth group from our home church…. caroling. I fought back tears.

Finally… I felt it: Christmas-y.  Someone cared. Someone came. They brought Christmas to us when we least felt it, and most needed it.

The rest of our holiday had a totally different feel. My attitude changed. Sure- I was still exhausted and stressed. The kids were still sick.  There were things that we missed. But we were together, and  for once there was no running around from one house to another- trying to see everyone and do everything… it was just “us.”

I liked it. So did they.

I’ll never forget those carolers…… and their unexpected gift.

Question: What makes you feel “Christmasy?

Maybe you’ve stopped by and you’re not feeling it…maybe the kids are sick or bill collectors are banging on the door…I want you to know that I care. And you’re not alone. I’ve been there, felt that, and lived to enjoy the holidays again… and I’m praying for you.. right now.

“Dear Lord- the holidays are wonderful and complicated. Sometimes they are disappointing and they are way stressful…I pray that for anyone who reads today thats not feeling it.. that you’d pour out your love to them- and let them know they are not alone..I love you lord– amen.

Here’s something that always makes me feel Christmas-y enjoy! (but I gotta say.. I prefer those teens singing in my yard..)


51ky-Y-kzsL._SL500_AA300_Confession: There is no Elf on my shelf. Just: dust. Well, dust with a garland of cat hair. The pics are not worth “pinning.” I’m okay with that. Don’t panic if your shelf is adorned by an elf. I’m not judging. (Unless, you buy it outfits and dress it like one of those creepy concrete geese from the ’80’s. Then: I rightfully, judge. ) I don’t have a moral aversion to Elves, or their participation in the Christmas season. I believe in equal opportunities for decor of all persuasions. Even elves. On your shelves. Your house- your rules. As far a Jesus and the true meaning of Christmas goes- I think elves would have been welcome in the manger. He hung out with taxpayers and prostitutes- I don’t think he’d be prejudiced against elves. They probably come under the “let the little ones come unto me” category. For all I know- a pair of elves may have been on the ark.  (Okay- let’s not think about where elves come from. Erase that.)

Anyway- it’s not an issue of morality for me. Greater minds than mine, can debate the theology of the elf. I’m out of that one. And since you can’t turn around in a store without bumping into a 12 ft high display of them, I can assure you it’s not because I can’t find one. It’s harder to avoid them.

I don’t need one. I don’t WANT one. *gasp* I know. I am a bad mother.

The truth is: I do not need another thing to DO during Christmas. I have a hard enough time making sure people have food, clean clothing and other important things like: toilet paper. Much more practical. Actually- I could get behind (no pun intended) TP on a shelf- a new tradition where in you hide the last roll of toilet paper somewhere in the house- and people roam around in a pseudo-panic doing the potty dance as they search for it.  I know, I know, like the cat-hair garland- just not “pin worthy.” If I posted pics on FaceBook my kids would (probably) kill me. (Once your children tower over you- you learn to be careful. Just sayin. My fear of the college boys outweighs the leverage I still have over the youngest. Make no mistake: when it comes to your kids- it’s them against you. They will choose sides, and it won’t be yours.Unless we’re talking outsider- invasion- then- they’ve got your back.)

Anyway- I have enough to do without adding an elvish excursion in competitive creativity. Like: school parties, gift shopping and countless hours spent bent in pain trying to wrap a forest’s worth of glittery paper over odd shaped items in hopes of camouflaging their contents. (And debating adding ribbon out of fear the cat may eat the ribbon AGAIN.  While I have to admit it adds a festive color scheme to the regular catpuke- it’s  not the decor theme I am going for.) Then, there is the baking of all things carb-laden. The stockings to be hung. (And socks to be sorted.)  The tree to be decorated. People to be entertained. And….and…. why am I on this computer, when I have so much to do?

Oh, right.  To rant.  About the Elf. That’s not on my shelf. Because: I’m trying to preserve the sanity of MYSELF.

Don’t get me wrong- I appreciate (read: am highly intimidated by) the creativity and dedication of my fellow elf hiding parents.  Jim Henson couldn’t think of so many ways to hide, pose or freak your kid out with a doll. I have seen Elves peeking from doorways, from bookshelves, from nooks, between the pages of books and zip lining from chandeliers. I saw Elves held hostage by lego- dudes and “fishing” in a toilet bowl complete with “goldfish crackers.” (I hope that mom didn’t have toddlers…. Goldfish crackers are the manna of toddlers-  totally irresistible- blue water sodden or not. Gross.) I even saw the little guy in compromising situations that are NSFW. (Or home, for that matter. You never know what you’ll find on Pinterest- be careful. I didn’t need to see that. Pass the brain-bleach- please.)

All of which makes me just say: Elf No. Not going there. (Especially that last part… ew.)

Maybe, it’s because I’m kind of afraid the elf would end up like the tooth fairy. (She has about a 40% chance of showing up the first night a tooth is placed under a pillow- here. However, by day 3 she’s up to 98%. So there’s that. ) Maybe, I’m afraid that I won’t be able to compete. I’m afraid my poor child would go to school and when all the other kids are reporting the mischief and foibles of their elves, and mine would be the one saying: “On the shelf again. He didn’t move. My mom said he should have gotten his flu shot.” or- “Well, he was on a different shelf, I think. My mom bought the store brand one. She’s cheap.” Worse yet- he could be the kid in tears- after finding the elf dismembered by the dog after being adorably “seated” near her food bowl. (Beagles eat EVERYthing. trust me.) Basically, I fear having to plan an elf funeral. I also fear Elf Protective Services beating their tiny fists on my wreath- bedecked front door to arrest me for elf neglect and and/or endangerment.

Or maybe, I’m afraid I’d get so caught up in the “elf movement” that I’d end up in rehab. I could become obsessed with Elf care and unable to care for myself, my kids or my home. I could end up wearing red tights and a pointy hat, mumbling: “I have to hide-I have to hide, it’s for the children!” while snorting candy cane dust to ease the pain of my failures. (It could happen. I’m about one bad day from a psych ward- especially at this time of year.)

The truth is much more boring. I just chose to opt out. It’s an option. Who knew? (Newsflash: you can’t and don;t have to DO IT ALL.)

Just say: no. Better yet- “Elf, No!” I did.

It doesn’t make me a bad mother. (Other things do that better.) It doesn’t mean I’m a judgmental killjoy. It just means: I pick and choose how and where to invest my limited time and energy and this is a place where I draw a line. I’d rather spend 10 minutes playing Apples to Apples with my youngest than hiding a doll that is a rainbow haired wig, short of being a troll around the house. I’d rather drink cocoa, cuddled on the couch reading one of his favorite books with him, than set up a marshmallow mountain ski-scene with a hot chocolate hot tub for an elf. I doubt my kid will be damaged by this choice. I doubt he’ll feel he had “less” of a Christmas because of it. (He may even enjoy it more- what with me not being in Elf jail or a psych ward. Maybe.)

So….Am I the only one? Is ours the last Elf free home? Am I the only one who’s intimidated by the whole thing? If not- let me know in the comments- and tell us why….If you are an “Elf on the Shelfer”- (New reality show to be aired right after Doomsday Preppers. Watch for it.) tell me your favorite elf stories—I can’t wait to hear!

Dear Lord- every parent has to decide how and where to creative special moments- help us to honor you in all we do- and to enjoy every busy love filled moment of this holiday that reminds us of all YOU do. I love you lord….. 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;)



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.

Quiet. It’s very quiet at the Cancer center. They try to cover it up with classical music playing softly through invisible speakers constructed by some medical 007 musical research team. But, even high class, spy created music cannot drown out the quiet. The quiet keeps growing. It gets louder with every person who walks through the door. The quiet grows in the hush of emotions being held  in check. The quiet is the sound of the tension between managing fear and hope.The quiet is the holding of breath before the breaking of news.

I am: not quiet.

In trying to keep myself from being driven mad by the quiet-(And driving everyone else nuts in the process-)  I tend to pace, knit, listen to music or books on my iPod , read and or wander, while we wait. Sometimes all of the above at the same time.  Trust me. But it’s not just an abundance of nervous energy.

The truth is: I’m looking for God. I’m desperate for a reminder of his presence in this place. In the quiet.

Most of the time- I find something. A word. A visual. Something. A tiny nest of peace found in storm of anxious silence.

Last week- I found: nothing.

I walked around the corner. I looked at every piece of art, (Art therapy is big at cancer centers. Gotta love that.) expecting to find some little reminder. A bird. A nest. SOMETHING. I found: Nada. Nothing. Pretty, challenging and intriguing stuff. But: NOTHING.

I did the magic bible trick-(Come on- we all know the magic bible trick- it’s when you ask God to say SOMETHING and then flip open your bible like a leather magic 8 ball and “claim” what is written there as a personal promise.) I landed on the blank leaf between old and new testaments. I tried the spiritual discipline of iPod shuffle. (Same deal- just with your iPod.) A random Lascivious Biddies song popped up. I feared my ipod would spontaneously combust due to some “Nothing but classical Music” cancer center policy that I probably received a copy of, but never read. (Cancer= a lot of papers. Like- if we stopped printing so much rainforest devastating cancer information paper- we could find the cancer cure- amount of paper. Justsayin. it’s a  lot. I don’t read it all. Of course. )

Just: (more…)



The verdict is in. The cancer is still: somewhere.

Yup- instead of a field goal, yesterday’s appointment was a cancer grenade. (I’d say it was a cancer IED  but I doubt terrorists are involved. Even if there is a little element of terror. And Now I’m afraid I’m on some watch-list for even using the word IED. Grand)

I’ll be honest. I’m usually a “prepare for the worst, hope for the best ” kind of girl. I really thought that yesterdays appointment was going to have a happy outcome.

It didn’t. I was really caught off guard. (Why do we think we can be on guard and protect ourselves from this stuff- anyway? I’ll tell ya- it doesn’t always work.)

It wasn’t the worst news. (The worst would be: it’s too late he’s already dead.  In fact-the man you’re married to has become a bacon craving zombie. That would be the worst.)

So, like I said- it wasn’t the worst- but- it also isn’t good.

My husband’s battle with prostate cancer ain’t over. (I even tried singing before the appointment to assure the outcome. Apparently a fat-lady singing isn’t magic. Bummer. ) His PSA has crept up. Into a range that means we’re now being referred to an Oncologist.

The Dr. said we need to look at this as managing a chronic illness. This battle may never end. (Well eventually- we all DIE. Duh. But, we may have this as part of our journey for the rest of our lives. However long that is.)

That’s NOT, what I wanted to hear.

I wanted to hear: “YAY! it looks good- you beat the odds! “ I wanted to hear: “I just don’t understand- it looks like he’s never had cancer- it’s just: gone.”  (I keep asking trusting and believing that God could heal. He just: hasn’t. Not so far.) I wanted to hear: “Okay one year down- 4 more till we declare you “cancer free!”

So now what?

Well. I’m angry and scared and frustrated. I spent some time crying to and yelling at God. I took some time last night with friends. We took some time with our kids. We took some time together to talk about how we’re feeling.

Now- we take the next step. We wait for the oncology appointment and find out what’s next. Most likely it will be specialized hormone management. Which sucks- But not as much as many other cancer treatments. We’ve already done a couple rounds of that- so we know what to expect. It’s manageable. He can work.

All of which is good.

But this: sucks.

Over the course of this journey- I’ve had lots of people respond lots of ways…. my favorite? The one that’s helped the most, so far?

Carol Kuykendall during a series of emails said: that “Jesus Hates Cancer.”  I told Carol: that needs to be a book. (I still think it does.)

Those 3 words gave me permission to hate  cancer, too. I don’t have to be thankful for my husband’s cancer. (I tried to do that… it was just so WRONG.) I have LOADS to be thankful for IN this situation….. but for it? Not so much.

Those words communicated to me that while God is going to do good things in this- HE DOESN”T LIKE IT WHEN HIS CHILDREN HURT.

Those words gave me permission to feel. They helped me to stop trying to doctrinate myself out of feeling…..all the things I feel. it wasn’t helping….. it was exhausting me. It was making me feel like My husband’s LIfe was as precarious as my ability to BELIEVE enough and have faith enough to make him live. (Yeah- not going into the whole doctrinal thing rt now- but let’s just say: I was forgetting I’m not God. God, is God. He holds us. It’s not dependent on our strength- but His.)

Those words also remind me: He weeps when we weep. He knows this is hard. Scary. Sad. And real. He cares. He understands all that is involved in this struggle:

13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 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. 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. Hebrews 4:13-16

Funny. I may have a reminder of that verse tattooed on my back.

He is present. Even Here. I know and trust that. Even when I don’t like what I see or hear. Which if you haven’t figured it out yet: I don’t. I hate it.

And that’s Okay.

Jesus Hates Cancer, too.

“Dear Lord- I love you but I HATE cancer. Please God- continue to work in and through this whole mess. I ask you to heal- I ask you to be our strength and hope. Thank you for the mercy you show when we feel and grieve- and the grace you offer- by joining in our pain with love and understanding. We weep. But- I know you weep with us. We hope- because you are. Thank you Jesus- for hating cancer. Thank you for fighting through this journey WITH us. And with all who do. I love you Lord- Amen.”

Dear Reader- If you’re struggling- know you’re not alone. God hates the things that hurt us….. but promises to do good things in them and to be there with us. Even Here.

I watched as each woman gracefully walked to her place on the stage. Each one a picture of poise and beauty. Their Runway strut and pivot turns were  “America’s Top Model” perfect.

They were all:
• Beautiful
• Intelligent
• Resourceful
• Unique
• Dedicated
• Incredible

And, vying for the same crown. The competition was fierce. It was game on. I eyed the crown, for inspiration, before I went to take my place along side them. The glitter and prestige made me gag on my insecurity.  Nausea be darned: “I want that crown.” I thought. I strode across the stage.

The music slowed, then quieted. The announcer made her way across the stage to ask the “crowning” question of each contestant. I worked to listen to their answers and reconsider my own well-practiced one, while trying to simultaneously size the other contestants’ answers up.

Each one gave it her best. (This was a serious contest.)

Each answer was more difficult than the next.

I started to feel small. Smaller. Smallest. I don’t mean in dress size. I wondered if my answer would seem petty. I wondered if I should be on the stage with these women, at all. I wondered if I could sneak out, without being noticed.

I wondered which of them would win the crown. It wasn’t going to be me.

What was the question?

“What’s the hardest type of mom to be?”

Not exactly the type of question you were expecting in a pageant?

Well, I admit it. I lied. There was no pageant. I’ve never even been to a formal gowns, bathing suits and brutal stage lighting pageant. Please, being in one? That would be my nightmare.. Especially after 3 kids and more years than I care to count. Let’s just say, the bathing suit thing gives me hives- which might camouflage my stretch-marks, but won’t win me a crown.

I have, however, competed for the Mommy Martyrdom Crown. Several times. Whether it’s a question that’s actually been posed to a group- or one that’s implied, it’s one I’ve competed to answer.

Have you competed for the same crown? It’s a one-up-momship. A “my life is hard than your’s–so- you- should- not complain”  contest.

The thing is, no one wins.

After a winner is crowned, the rest of the contestants line up to congratulate her: “I don’t know how you do it.” “I could never do that” We offer them as blessings, but the words become walls. Miss congeniality ends up feeling “less than.” And the winner? She feels…… “more than.”

The Crowned Martyr-Mom has convinced herself (and others) how awful her life is, while at the same time convincing the others how petty their struggles are. She’s got skillz. We all do. Because we all know how to play the game.

We just don’t know how to win- because – everyone loses. We disconnect because we can’t be authentic with each other.  We’re too busy either trying to top each other or feeling guilty about feeling frustrated by “our little issues.”  In the end- intimacy is lost. Intimacy is way more valuable than a tinsel crown.

The Martyr -Mom  is miserable. So are the rest of us.

What if we stopped competing? What would it look like if we could learn to hear and understand the struggles of others without comparing our own? What if we set aside the Martyr-Mom crown for the crown of friendship?

What if we learned to respect each other’s challenges?

We are all:

  • Beautiful
  • Intelligent
  • Resourceful
  • Unique
  • Dedicated
  • Incredible

We’re also all:

  • Living with challenges
  • Imperfect
  • Frustrated
  • Overwhelmed
  • Grieved
  • Perplexed

At any moment in time- we could each win that crown. But, we could have so much more than that.

  • We could learn the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence.
  • We could grow in compassion
  • We could learn from the struggles of others- before they become ours. (Trust me, it happens.)
  • We could find out we’re not alone.
  • We could find help and hope in the stories of others.

How can we stop the pageant? Maybe, we just need to leave the stage. Together.

I quit. I quit comparing. I want to listen and love. I want to build intimacy not compete for martyrdom.

How ’bout you?

I will not be packing ALL of these.... At least I don't think I will be...

It’s not what shoes you wear- it’s how you walk….. Walk in love

Truth: I walk like a moose in heels. Or, maybe a like panda in platforms? Either way,  the years and physical mess that is my body, have snatched what little dance trained elegance, my gait once had. It’s gone like the Swallows of Capistrano-in October. That is- if the Duck Dynasty crew showed up with guns in hand. Let’s just say: My poise? Gone. And, it ain’t coming back.

Instead: I stomp. I stumble. (That’s what happens when your neck brace keeps you from watching where you’re walking.) I hobble and wobble. (Of course, I still wear cute shoes. because: duh- if I’m gonna hobble, wobble, stomp and stumble- it may as well be in cute shoes.) Maybe, you do too. Or maybe, you have all the grace of Princess Diana, Audrey Hepburn and Cinderella rolled into one. (In which case: I’m trying not to hate you….in Christian love- of course.) Or, maybe you’re a wheelchair maven, or a scooter driving momma. Whatever your mode of transport- today I want to talk about how we move through our days.

Nope,  I’m not (actually) talking shoes, mobility or grace. I’m talking about attitude. Motive. Jesus calls us to walk, but not with the poise of a runway model. He calls us to walk- in love.

Another truth: I find it easier to buy adorable shoes than to walk in love.  Honestly? It may be easier for me to train an elephant to walk in stilettos than it is to manage my attitude. (Am I a licensed elephant trainer? Don’t ask- I’m tempted to lie. Just go with me here….okay?)

Back to attitude. (Even though I’d rather talk elephant training….) It matters.

Because- love matters. (It must. That, or God had a lot of space in the Bible he was just trying to fill…..)

Ephesians 5      Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Luke 11     “Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40 You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? 41 But now as for what is inside you—be generous to the poor, and everything will be clean for you. 42 “Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.

1 Corinthians 13 “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,but do not have love, I gain nothing.Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.Love never fails.”

Here’s the thing: Love may not fail, but, I, do. Often. When it comes to walking in love?  I stumble, stomp and wobble more than I do in heels with the neck brace. (Trust me, no matter how long I’m in this thing, it’s not pretty.)

I am less than considerate of others. I say harsh things. (I think I’m hilarious- but sometimes? I’m just mean.) I assume the worst. I am impatient. I am critical. I fail.(The list could go forever.. I think you get the idea.)

But, Jesus loves me anyway. And that love? It picks me up, so I can try to walk in love again.

Ephesians 5      Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

I’ve read that verse hundreds of times– and all the verses that challenge us to be loving- and follow God.  (Sometimes searching for loopholes, if I’m honest.) Interestingly enough- He never demands that we KEEP UP with Him. He just asks that we follow. To follow- to walk behind. To move in the right direction. Toward Him.

Today- whether in heels, running shoes, ballet slippers or barefoot, with poise or with teetering, wobbly pain-filled steps- I ask you to join me in following God and taking the next step in love.  Wobbly, hobbly, stumbly or graceful….  Because You ARE loved.

Dear Jesus- I love you. Thank you for challenging me to walk in the love you’ve poured out to me. Thank you for the reminder that you don’t expect me to keep up with you- but to follow you. Today- where ever I walk- let me do so in love. amen