Open Letter to the Community


I wasn’t planning on writing about anything in particular- especially not this type of thing. I know quite a few of my posts are of the passive-aggressive sort. But there comes a point in my personal processing where that inkling- no nagging- doesn’t quite stop and here we end up.

I thought about a personal letter to those concerned and it may come but I’m not sure it’s what I’m after or the audience that I would like to reach. The audience, I think, is simply the community as a whole and that is whom this is addressed.  So, community, here it goes.


Dear Community,

A few days ago we were asked to leave an event because our toddlers were being disruptive. That is a fair request in many situations. This was a free event that we were invited to participate in because our son was one of the presenters. It was not the first time we’ve been asked to leave an event and it most likely won’t be the last.

I’ve missed concerts, talent shows, plays, and lessons that my kids are directly involved in. I’ve left “kid friendly” movie theatres, stores, museums, parks, farmers markets, baseball games, soccer games, dance recitals, nature preserves, church gatherings, and homes. I’m sure we would’ve been asked to leave the doctors office if that was an option.

The times that I’ve been asked directly to leave I’ve smiled politely, gathered my things, picked up my children, and left.  I know we aren’t the only people in the world and I understand that you would really rather not be distracted/inconvenienced/miss something important because my children aren’t ready to listen.

This time when we were asked to leave we said, No. And we didn’t.

I still don’t know if it was the right call. It felt incredibly selfish. It was the first time we’ve EVER done it. Dug in our heels, said this event is for us actually and stayed.

Here’s the thing- they weren’t being that loud. They were paying attention. They were wiggly and wanting snacks. We were in the back by the door ready in the event someone really did need to go. It was a free event for kids and their families that lasted 30 minutes at a local community center a block from our house. So when we were asked to leave, I was surprised. When we didn’t leave, I was even more surprised.


It felt- well- It felt like they were saying: “We see you and we don’t want you here. You are ruining this event for us. You are the problem. You have no value here. We would rather you not be a part of this community. You are too messy. Too loud. Too much. Go away. ”


I know that’s not what they thought, well, I will give them that benefit. But it felt that way. And if we felt that way with our mostly neurotypical white kids from a nice house in a nice city than what the hell do the non-neurotypical kids from anywhere else feel, with any other skin color, from any other city,  feel?

Here’s what I know they saw when they asked us to leave: They saw two young parents with kids wanting candy making too much noise ruining their event for their other guests.

Here’s what they didn’t know: That we willing welcomed two highly rambunctious boys because they didn’t have a home, from this actual, real-life community. Those trailer down the street? Yeah. That because we care so much about how you feel and not disrupting the “experience,” we live mostly in our four walls and backyard of 1/8 of an acre. That we order groceries online so as not to bother you in the store. That we don’t see movies so you can fully experience the story. That I pay babysitters for concerts so they don’t interrupt your kids’ performances. They don’t see that I worry and fret and panic everytime my kids have anything going on because I 1. can’t find a sitter or 2. can’t stand seeing them not see me in the audience one more time. They don’t see that I was desperate for a video to show my husband who is most likely getting in or off a plane at that very moment.

They don’t see how lonely it is to raise a family here, in nice white city, USA.


I am trying my best to let go of the illusion that it could have been any different. I want to be able to apologize for making a scene, for disrupting the event. I’m not there yet.

I could’ve used someone, anyone, to ask if maybe I would like them to play with my kids for a minute. I could’ve used someone to say congratulations to my son presenting. I could’ve used some heads up that this free, 30-minute event, was for kids 5 and up. And I could’ve used just a little bit of grace that we would’ve taken them out if they were disrupting the experience.  I mean, we’re practically pros at that.


Here’s what I learned though, that this community is not a friendly place for kids. That a place that sees my kids as wholly human- not a hindrance or a distraction- is someplace uniquely special. I’m not saying in any way that the world should bend to the wishes of my children or the needs of my family but what I am saying is that we could do maybe a little bit better.

That being kind is always better than being right.

I am so very sorry for not showing more kindness, for wanting so desperately to be right.  I wonder though, at what point do we say as a family, enough. We are also a part of this inclusive community you have. Let us be.

-The family down the street.

A few things happened this weekend. One was an email I received from an online coaching community, understanding my position but stated that maybe we need to think about the other people in the room as well. I don’t disagree but it’s also why I felt this was a post that was needed. The second thing that happened was I took some time to say thank you to a community that HAS seen my kids as wholly human. I wanted to let them know that their graciousness and commitment to us as a family and our role in the community was unique and valued and so very special and that we are honored to be a part of it. There are more, our current church community is striving for this. Our homeschool community was ready with torches and pitchforks. There are helpers all around if we look for them.


Another thing is this, prior to this weekend, I felt that I had understood at least a little bit about what it feels like to have a non-neurotypical kid and/or a kid with visible special needs. I am here to say that I truly don’t have any idea. If we felt like this just a handful of times but have been under the radar for most of the rest, I can’t imagine what it’s like when you can’t. I am incredibly sorry for how we’ve made this world an impossible place for your families. Keep shouting, friends. Keep showing us what we can do better. Keep coming out of the four walls of your house or through the computer screen, and we will be there. To sit next to your wiggly kids. To listen. To be willing to turn up the mic just enough so everyone can hear. To be willing to miss something important so someone else can experience it. Kindness over rightness. Both ways.


On Respite


There was a joke a few weeks ago, that this period of time was going to give me a lot of material to work with.

We’ve worn our respite family hats high. Short term help for foster parents that have a trip or training. We’ve done a lot for single foster parents with work-related conflicts. We love the fit, some new kids, some kids we know well. I’ve gotten to visit a lot of schools in the area and worked with a lot of different caseworkers and families. Meeting birth parents as the not bad guy is always unique as well. We can always say no if it doesn’t work and the emotional toll on everyone is minimal. We are the Sometimes House. and I love it.


Most of the time.

We had a request to take a little one for a few weeks in January. At first, it seemed to fit and when Joe rolled his eyes, I stood firm. I feel really good about this! We’ve been doing so many older kids a younger one is great! We can manage, it’s *just* logistics. 


As if logistics can be qualified with a *just.*

You guys, this is our 4th anniversary. I think. I know better. *Just* doesn’t exist in Foster Care. And yet, the “we can do hard things” is there on the wall, staring me down when I’m on the phone, when I’m yelling at my kids, when I’m drinking my third french press of coffee, when life is happening, which why I said, “yes, of course.”


Fast forward a great introduction to her new place for a bit, a lovely dinner, and a generally hard Saturday and you have me, hiding, migraine and anxiety attack hitting at the same time, after a craptastic Sunday.


3-year-olds are tough. 3-year-olds that have had their lives turned around and around and around again are something else. Our file says we are “highly skilled.” Which I find funny. I think it just means we’ve seen a lot and we’re still here. What I wasn’t ready for was how quickly some behaviors would send my body right back. Would send my brain right back. Back to the time, we had 5 kids under 8. The screaming about seatbelts. The throwing of themselves on the floor. The hitting other kids in the home. The smiling about it. Almost a “what, exactly, strange lady, are you going to do about it?” The embarrassment in public places. It all took me back. From the behavior to the attachment to strangers to the look that you give foster kids when you see them and you know they are in care. There’s a look. We all do it.

Obviously, this is a different kid and a different time and we have all done the hard work in therapy to heal, but my brain, my brain didn’t necessarily know that quick enough.


So, there we are, two days into a 14-day respite, crumbling.

I’ve processed and healed and thought a lot about whether to share or not. It’s not a big thing, but it kinda is. They call it caregiver trauma or secondary trauma. It comes after taking care of people that have experienced trauma. It sounds fancy and tough but I think any of us working with humans with special requirements and iffy backgrounds have it. Maybe we’ll have a generic “parenting induced trauma” to cover all of us.


I kid.

(kind of)


I reached out and found support- a lot. I talked behaviors through with the county. I talked candidly to ladies that I’ve given special clearance to my soul. School and routine and space was good for everyone and- before you know it- we made it.

I used my “highly skilled” phone call making skills when we needed to get to a doctor quick and the general “toss the county under the bus rule” for the daycare when they weren’t happy with the speed of care. I made sure to keep foster mom in the loop when I knew she was worried. And I asked for help when we really actually did need it- everyone down and out with the flu.

From where we were 3 years ago, growth is the first word that comes to mind. Painful, heart-stretching, totally worth it,  growth.

The other?


Which is why I wanted to write today. To soothe that part of my brain that needs to remember it’s ok. And to remind you, dear friends, what it’s like on this side. What the days look like for people that say yes to hard. For the single foster parents that are way braver than I ever will be. To remind that there is a need and we need the help. The driving around to appointments and the help with our other kids and the late night chocolate drop-offs. We need the people to listen to our venting text messages and just well- listen. We need all of it for this to work- the brave hearts and the support hearts and the always there no matter what hearts.


We’re not done with respite. We’ve got some more kiddos coming through before the end of the month. Shorter, though. I would not have said that we were in the trenches- we haven’t been for a while- since a few months post-JJ- really. But the more we say yes and the more hearts we love and the more kids we know- I’m realizing that trench life is kinda our thing.

And that’s ok. It’s kinda awesome down here.

This week was so very hard but it was also so very good. I watched a 3yo pack her backpack so full of books to show her teacher at school that she couldn’t stand up. I had to take them out and promise she could read them when she got back. I watched my daughter, one who has always loved fiercely, love fiercely still. I watched my husband stand firm, so incredibly firm in the beauty of the hard. I saw the speed at which we can move priorities around. And I saw that I can go somewhere hard, somewhere dark, and have a team pull me up, having them knowing full well it’s only a matter of time before I’m going back down again.


So friends, wherever you are in this, if you are watching from the sidelines, not sure if you want to jump in. If you are crumbling alongside us praying for relief. If you are the middle of the night chocolate person or the staring in the store person, or the random person called “mommy,”  know that hard is never, ever, the wrong thing.


On Foster Care


Holy time hole, friends.

I will not win any awards this year for content production. In the blogging world this site is a dinosaur. I last wrote in the spring on slowing down and slow down we did. I said no to things that made me crazy (coming up with content on a blog 12 people read, thank you friends) and yes to some others (a fledgling nonprofit in desperate need of consistent time and vision).

For the first time in a calendar year, we have had the same children for our Christmas card. I thought about sending the same one again, just for grins, but opted to opt out instead.

I came back for a quick reason, to the site I stopped paying for, and it was this: to rant about foster kids. Not rant about them exactly but more rant about the use of their plight to raise money. To rant about the word fostercare. The words Foster Kid. This generic need for someone to do something, anything for these poor unfortunate souls.

Give now!

It’s the end of the calendar year!



Did you know that there are foster kids in Boulder County who aren’t getting presents this year?**

Because I didn’t. I have not seen one thing anywhere that that is an actual need from my foster parent friends.

A night out? Yes. A babysitter? Always. A twin mattress? Totally. Winter Clothes for the early intervention team? Done. Brand New Books. Of course.

I don’t know why it bothers me. A friend recently exposed my mama-bear status in this field. My own kids, sure don’t mess with them. Of course. But Foster Kids… DON’T F-ING MESS WITH THEM. All Caps.

I know. You guys, I started a non-profit for these kids. I see it. The irony. I use the language too to get what I want. You know what gets books to kids? Saying they don’t have any. You know what doesn’t? Saying you think it would be nice for their caregiver to breathe for a second. Do you know what gets us money? Sad pictures of kids in black and white. You know what doesn’t? “Books are great for bonding!” You know what posts do well in my corner of the internet? Angry posts. You know what gets kids adopted? type profiles on social media.


Can we stop? Maybe it’s a little weird to post a bio of a 12 year old that needs permanency. Maybe we can actually, you know, know her as a person.  Maybe instead of asking for gift cards for the holidays, we can actually ask what people in the trenches need the most. Maybe, as much as foster care sucks for the kids stuck, we can keep them from getting to my house in the first place with a community for their families.

What I think I want to see, what I think our culture, our community, needs to see is a move from the generic “kids in foster care” and “low income families” to these are our friends. To have a face, a real one. One that loves to draw comics of a diary of a wimpy kid and legos and remote control cars. One that knows the trolls soundtrack by heart. Kids that love gogurt and pizza and playing outside with neighbor kids and serving people at church and dance parties and school sometimes but not always. Kids that have to get used to new routines and smells and people and food all the time and do it better than most of us could. I want to see the switch from $25 walmart gift cards to that super cool star wars costume I know he’s going to love because I. KNOW. HIM!

You guys want to know a secret?

We are in no way equipped to do this job.

Sure, we are more flexible than most, but that’s a skill we learned after we signed up. Sure, we have a giant car, but only after we have driven around a much smaller one. We don’t have a big house. We don’t have a huge budget. We were not emotionally ready. We weren’t even 30 when we started, for crying out loud. Our kids were (and still are) not angels. They don’t like sharing space and they get annoyed at the time in the car and they have oh so many questions about who has the most number of moms and it’s not fair I want more too… We have been stretched and we have been growing and we find our boundaries, yes, but we move past them and ask for help and find them again and ask for more help.

Because these are our friends.

Stop defining them as kids without a home and do something for them. Not for the cause, not for foster care, not for underresourced individuals. Do something for Sarah* and Paul *and Hazel* because they are people with souls and pride and they want to help you, damn it. They want to love your kids too and play with your babies and go to the park and get pizza and play legos and watch star wars.


I’ll stop because my run on sentences are crying out for a professional editor but, do you get it? Can we stop? Can we love these kids well? Love them like they are our own? I highly doubt you spent $25 for your kids for Christmas.

They deserve more.

You have it.

and you know it.

You have more time, you have more resources, you have more to give than tax deductions. You have space for friends that want to love you well and you aren’t letting them.

Let them.


*not their real names

**want to help? ask a foster parent what they need, email your county human services department directly or check out  Also, go outside. Neighbors live next to you. 

*** I spoke too soon in my rant. Which is why I’m taking my own advice and asking. See above. 

On the Art of Slow



We didn’t do something this year that we’ve done for the past six years in a row. I didn’t sign up for VBS.

It’s our first week of Summer and we don’t have anything on the schedule. Nothing tomorrow or the day after. Or the day after that either. Day after Day after Day of nothing.


I think when I imagine slow days there’s usually a book involved. And coffee. Maybe wine.

Maybe in my vision of slowness, there are kids coloring with stockmar colored pencils on a reclaimed wooden table- all while listening to modern folk music.

Not the madness that is our house on a regular basis. Babies in diapers with hoses. Kids screaming about who knows what. Deteriorating quickly into punching matches. This week there was a trail of bread from the kitchen to the couch. I thought about picking it up but the babies got into the piano music and I just didn’t have much caring left. Besides, they were probably saving it for later anyway. Which just makes things easier on the snack front.

Maybe VBS would’ve been a better option.


In the past year, I’ve seen quite a few blog posts on things like hygge and saying no, on the fear of missing out and how to give your kids a 1970’s summer. On being unbusy.

I’ve written a few too- On Trade-offs, On Self Care.

But today as I was scrolling my feed I came across at least 5 printables with checklists. Reading Logs. Activity Logs. Outside Logs. All the Logs. There was a multicultural online book club and a free calendar with 3-4 “fun” activities a day and another on the perfect chore system. One on why we should do the dishes and not feel guilty (I don’t get that one), another on why we should play with our kids and let the housework slide. More on how to involve your kids in said housework in this ideal of a perfect blend of harmony and super mom awesomeness.

So. Much. Noise.

Nothing ever is quite enough.

I will admit most of the noise could be turned off with just a press of a button.

And this week my heart certainly could’ve used that.


My dryer broke a few weeks ago and I made the judgment call to wait to fix it. I entered my decision-making process into the questionable category with a little bit of crazy lady and a lot of 1800’s romanticism.

But here’s the thing- it’s slow to not have a dryer. There is no way to rush it. You have to touch every single shirt, every single towel, every little random sock and hang it on the line. Then you touch it again to put it down and again to put it away. Every single item. There is something about the slowness of the whole thing that calls so desperately for gratitude.

Shirt after Shirt.

Maybe part of it is the helpers- we’re outside a lot more and clothespins are fascinating. I’m not in the dark dungeon of doom by myself. That makes me happy. The not by myself part. The saying hi to the neighbors part. The backyard races and joy filled squeals.

Things you notice when you aren’t running so fast.


What slow is, I think, is a lot more of an art than anything else. It’s a rhythm for your family that feels sustainable. A balance of intentional busy and intentional rest. Times to run hard and times to sit at your table not sure what to do next. I may find hanging my laundry to be restful but if it’s not-  don’t do it. There’s nothing that says what slow means. For my daughter, slow is riding her scooter around the block for 3 hours. For my son, slow is reading on the hammock. For my toddler, slow is a 3-hour nap that he didn’t have to wake up from early. And for the baby? Slow is peek-a-boo at the table while everyone is joining him. Slow for me is time to write. Time to read. Time to be. It’s a chance for orderliness- this idea of ordering our thoughts and space.

An Art.

What could it look like and how would you get there? 

We aren’t there yet but we are getting there. We’ll have time to go on a walk today, the house orderly and our bodies rested. I finished my second book in as many weeks. We’ll have busy written all over this weekend but there’s balance and I think- that- is maybe the point.


The art of slow.

On Easter.


Last week I talked about having a ridiculously hard time with being gracious with unexpected change, with trusting that something would be ok that was a little bit scary to do and how strong the idols of security and approval were on my heart.

After that post published, I didn’t really feel any better but I went through with what I had committed too, even though it was scary and super risky and opened my eyes and heart to a whole host of other issues. But there was forward progress and grace and love and memories that would not have happened otherwise. I had been dwelling on Isaiah 30:12:

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it’”


This is the way. Walk in It.

Oh, friends. How I wish that was it.

Today I was reminded (yet) again of those idols. We had a well baby visit for our little bit and I scheduled it knowing that we were squeezing it in but also that the county required it of us ASAP. I don’t know if you’ve ever cried before the doctor came, but yeah. One of those days. Two of the kids were fighting over a 1/2 inch tall shopkins toy. One was totally checked out listening to a book on tape and the baby wouldn’t sit still long enough to get measured by the clearly overwhelmed RN. Add to that one kid trying to escape out the window (one old enough to know better) and another one throwing the paper roll all over the office and it was just time to be done. In all of that, I had the cutest little all smiles 9 month old and gave him a nice little shot in the leg to top it off.

Any chance I had of impressing the office of what a nice little foster family looked like was gone. Not only did I lose control of what felt like everything, I lost respect (status/approval) too.

On the way home my daughter asked a question that jabbed right at my heart- “when can we see A and L again?”


The last time we were in that office altogether, in that room with that provider, was in fact with the girls. The wound of losing two sisters opened up for that little one way more than she could handle. It wasn’t about me or about my parenting style or what I did wrong or could’ve done better. She was wounded and it was showing.

Which reminded me I was wounded too.

Tired and worn out and wishing God would just stop working on my heart. Feeling vastly unqualified to do this job. Unqualified to parent other people’s kids. Unqualified to parent my own in the midst of pain. Unqualified to teach Sunday School on Easter Sunday. Completely unqualified to run a ministry. Unqualified to run a household or create anything that resembles a welcoming atmosphere. Unqualified to be any sort of wife let alone a praying supportive loving one.

I was listening to a podcast today with Sally Lloyd Jones where she talks of planting a seed in our children’s heart. How the very nature of planting seeds means that we have no business with what happens to it after the fact.

This was fresh in my mind while my kids were fighting in the back seat (again).

“Can you please turn off your audio book for your sister”

No. It’s not fair. 

“I know it’s not fair. I’m not asking for fairness. I’m just asking that you serve your sister by turning it off and be just a little bit like Jesus for the next 10 minutes until we get home.”

What if that is exactly the point? It’s not fair. Our wounds aren’t fair. It’s not fair that my kids have experienced what they have. It’s not fair that the kids we love have experienced it either. It’s not fair that going to the park with people we care about results in strangers leaving the park out of safety concerns. It’s not fair that they get stared at or whispered about. It’s not fair that my job is one of the most undervalued in the country. It’s not fair that no matter how hard I try, I can’t make my kids willingly serve anyone.

If I’m honest, I would really love for Easter to be over. I’m over the panicked phone calls my husband gets about technology at all hours because of “Jesus.” I’m over the easter egg hunts and the bunnies that have nothing to do with the Cross. I’m over that image of the cross and a sunrise and something about the hope of Jesus that crops up EVERYWHERE. I’m looking at you, churches of the U.S. of A. You know what image I’m talking about.

He was wounded for us and this is how we react to it. Panicked that we’re not reaching the community, mixing messages of crosses and eggs and roosters and bunnies. Making sure we fill all the seats so that our friends can hear about the hope of Jesus on April 16th.

I get it. It’s one of two times a year people are willing to walk through those terrifying doors.

But, today, worn out and tired, while my kids are tearing apart the couch, swinging off my curtains and dumping veggies straws on the floor that I just swept; today I want to ask, why are we so drastically limiting God?

What about last Thursday when people we loved desperately needed to know that they were loved- that we would risk our comfort and security for them to know it?

What about all the millions of seeds we plant in our children by pointing them back to Jesus every possible chance we can get? And what seeds are they then planting that we will never ever see?

What about the example of doing something well, as vastly unqualified as we are because we have Hope?

Saying yes because he is right behind us.

This is one of the great messages of the Bible: God chooses the weak things of the world to shame the strong, the foolish and despised things to shame the wise, even the things that are not, to bring to nothing the things that are. That’s how God does it.  -Timothy Keller, Counterfeit Gods. 

That’s just how he does it.

On Control


Hi Friends. This post is a struggle and a bit vulnerable. If you aren’t a Christian, I’m so glad you are reading my words but please know that it might not make sense culturally and I hope you can still take something from it. If not, just keep scrolling. If you are a Christian, I only ask for grace.

I’ve been reading through Counterfeit Gods by Tim Keller this month. I’ve made it through chapter 1 so this will be a completely comprehensive post about it. He says:

 “When anything in life is an absolute requirement for your happiness and self-worth, it is essentially an ‘idol,’ something you are actually worshiping. When such a thing is threatened, your anger is absolute. Your anger is actually the way the idol keeps you in its service, in its chains. Therefore if you find that, despite all the efforts to forgive, your anger and bitterness cannot subside, you may need to look deeper and ask, ‘What am I defending? What is so important that I cannot live without?’

As I’ve been reading, the issues of control and security in my heart seem to be sticking a somewhat ugly head out. How many times have I been angry because of what didn’t work out as it should? Because the house is a disaster? When the kids don’t like my super fun plan for the day? Or when I can’t control my opinionated daughter/calm a toddler mid tantrum/ get the baby to sleep exactly when I want?

The very fact that 1. it makes me angry and 2. my happiness is dependent on it shows me a lot.

 I had been thinking through this post a lot and how recognizing those two ‘idols’ have made it so much easier to depend on God to meet my needs. How it’s made my day-to-day easier and more joyful when I’m not depending so much on my circumstances.

I thought what a great, encouraging post. It isn’t snarky or rude or short. It’s not my go-to advice of “it sucks, sorry.”  It’s not overly vulnerable and tosses people to a really good book if they want to know more.

I had a few more quotes, a nice little wrap-up, and a picture.

Check and Check.

Lauren is awesome. 

All it took was an email with a foster care related schedule change and something with just enough of a safety concern to send me spiraling this evening. My heart racing. Anger at something that should’ve been scheduled months ago. Fear that something will go amiss. Sadness that we don’t have this situation figured out quite yet. Denying that it’s going to happen. Wanting so desperately to get out of it somehow but also knowing just how important it is. Feeling completely frustrated that my morning tomorrow is gone. F*$%.

“Something is safe for us to maintain in our lives only if it has really stopped being an idol. That can happen only when we are truly willing to live without it, when we truly say from the heart: ‘Because I have God, I can live without you.'”

Oh man, you guys. How often have we said we can’t do something because we feel like it’s too hard. I almost said no to this whole extravaganza. With the premise being healthy boundaries. Funny how we can use that one if we want.

How often have we thought that the world would end if we lost (insert husband, kids, house, etc).  What Tim Keller is saying here is not to be taken lightly- those words change everything.  Can I live without…. because I have God?

“When an idol gets a grip on your heart, it spins out a whole set of false definitions of success and failure and happiness and sadness. It redefines reality in terms of itself.”

If I know that God wants me to love my neighbor (Mark 12:31) and to invite the poor and cripple and blind and lame into my home (Luke 14) and that his grace is sufficient for all the muck (2 Corinthians 12:9), it should, in effect give me some peace about tomorrow.

But I’m not sure I’m willing to truly be comfortable tomorrow without my idea of control or my idea of safety and security.

Losing those two things still make me angry and frustrated. No matter how amazingly awesome Tim Keller puts it.

Which is why I’m going to keep reading, praying and processing and get back to you.

False Definitions of success and failure, of happiness and sadness.

Whew. How’s that for a wrap-up? 

(insert cute puppy pic)

On Stuff


Like, items in your house, stuff.

 It started November 2015 after I read Mari Kondo for the first time. Tossing any and everything that does not bring joy into our home.

 I threw away, in the trash, 30 bags. I originally donated another 30 bags in a few weekend trips with my husband’s old truck. I’ve taken a car full (approximately 4-5 trash bags + miscellaneous other items) every month since. Every. Month. 

That, you guys, is a crap ton of stuff. From a 1600 square foot house.

I will admit that I’ve also spent that time scouring vintage markets and thrift shops for items that I love. I will admit that we have four kids. Plus an additional two that were living with us for 6 months. We live and work and educate here in our home so chances are we will accumulate a lot.

But still.

A few weeks ago I made my monthly trip to the thrift store. But this time it was different. I was sad.  I didn’t entirely know if I should take my stuff back and put it in the closet, wait to give it to someone or throw it in the trash. It’s the first time through this whole process of decluttering that I felt this way.

Some were mugs that didn’t”match” my new minimalist kitchen. Some were appliances that took up too much space. Or ones that we never used. There were a lot of girl clothes that weren’t going to get used with two boys coming up the ranks. And maybe that was part of the sadness. Are there really no more girls coming? Are matching white mugs that important? Why did we buy this if we never are going to use it ever? Will the new owners find joy in it or will it sit in a garage unused?

I don’t know when I’m going to feel done with this project. When will I stop trying to make our home joy sparking and acknowledge that the joy is, in fact, sparked?

I think my problem is that I keep thinking that at some point I will feel grateful for what I have and we can be done. And yet, 15 months down the line I still don’t. 

Some days I look around and see the stories in what I’ve curated. The signs made by old and new friends. The refinished chairs we bought from a sketchy neighborhood in Boulder. The free hutch and buffet that don’t match. From a grandmother of a neighbor. I wonder sometimes what she was like. What it looked like in her house. I look at the collection of items from hikes the kids find. The couch that took weeks to decide on even though it was the first one I saw. The vintage coat rack buried in a flea market in the perfect yellow that matched the mass-produced pillow cases I splurged on. The table my husband built. The pallet he hung in our kitchen. The cabinets he designed from scratch and fretted over for weeks. The beetle kill mantel that he magically hung with the right exact screws in the right exact way. The lighting fixture he designed that I didn’t know I wanted but now I can’t imagine being without.

And the books. I could write a whole post on the books. The Reading Primer from 1910. The copy of Daniel Boone I found for $1 in a pile of cheap paperbacks. The Burgess Flower Book I bought in Portland. The 1894 copy of Historic Boys I bought in Williamsburg. The copy of Heidi with all color plates from 1938. The 1920 Burgess Animal book my Instagram friend from Kansas found at an estate sale after I told her I had been looking for quite some time. The stories they must’ve seen.

The stories they still tell all these years later.

Stories apart from the words on their pages.

And yet, I still don’t feel it. The gratefulness. There’s too much stuff. Or maybe, better said,  not the right stuff. Clutter and mess and trinkets of no value.

I think that many times we see a lack of gratitude in the process of accumulation of items. Say, at Christmas when our kids want all the toys. Or at the mall when we just have to buy some random thing that we don’t have money for. But I’m wondering if what I’m feeling- what I’m describing- this lack of gratitude in the midst of giving- makes sense. I’m giving away more than I’m accumulating but I still feel burdened by a sense of ungratefulness.

Maybe, what I’m trying to say is, if I do in fact have a heart that is grateful, we would have run out of stuff to give away a whole lot sooner. Maybe my constant buying of things that bring me joy is missing the point entirely.

I don’t think I have much wisdom to depart on this subject other than stating here, in this space, that I struggle with gratefulness beyond what I have ever freely admitted. 

Tomorrow is the first time we will be practicing Ash Wednesday. Ever. We are spending the Lenten Season learning and growing and praying. Offering gifts of our time and gifts of our money. Feasting together in anticipation. I am eager to start and learn right alongside my littles. Struggling through these ideas. Of gratefulness and joy and making a home and stuff and money and contentment. Working through things of Virtue and Character.

I hope you’ll stick around long enough to see where we end up.

On Abortion


Yeah, I am going there today.

I was going to write it last Saturday. The day of the Women’s March. I chickened out. If you are reading this, I found some gumption. I will do my best to be kind. I pray that you will also.

My blood pressure rises just hearing the word. See I am a Christian. I am pro-life. I am also pro-choice. Maybe that makes you mad. Maybe I can’t be both. I don’t know. Maybe it’ll make sense at the end of this. Maybe it won’t. Grace will cover it regardless.

I’ve been sad all week. I saw my friends march in the Women’s March. I saw the leaders deny a spot for the pro-life movement. I saw anger on the side of those that felt that all lives matter. I’ve watched the pro-life movement plan marches around their causes. I’ve seen anger on the side of the pro-choice movement. I’ve watched dear friends get into arguments online. I’ve watched on the sideline as acquaintances talk about losing momentum in their social media followers. I’ve seen very little of anything to do with Christ and that’s why, this particular post, is written to those that follow him. If that is not you, please know this is not written for you.

This has to stop.

Did you know legal abortions have declined over the last three decades?

That the number of providers has also declined?

That rates are increasingly concentrated for low income minority woman?

Did you know that access to healthcare, preventative services and education can keep those numbers down?

Do you know what doesn’t keep those numbers down?

Guilt and Shame.

I am the mama of two boys that could easily have been one of those statistics. I have been asked more than once what we will do if their birth mama gets pregnant again. I will say this once- and I will say this loud-

They are all welcome here.

All. Of. Them. 

No questions. No guilt. No shame.

I am not in a place to share her story. It is not mine to tell. I can tell you that our baby is here because she knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that he would be loved beyond measure. That he would be treated as our very own because she already saw us do it once. Because that’s how we have treated her as well.

Can you honestly say that your signs and your marches make her feel that way? Do you honestly believe that social media will help save the lives of those “55 million” children you seem to care so much about?

Sitting by the creek with a homeless child of God, listening, caring, loving- that certainly does.

There were 402,378 children placed into foster care in the US in 2013. One statistics states that in 2012 there were 397,122 living without permanent families in the system. The average wait time for them to find those families? 3+ years.

If 7% (SEVEN) of the world’s Christians adopted an (one) orphan, there would be none left.

If we, Christians, can’t be trusted to truly love the 100,000+ kids in foster care waiting to be adopted, who can be?

If you were pregnant, without much hope hungry and poor, would you trust the Christians to take care of you and your babies? Christians, would you trust yourselves?

If the biggest factor for women is access to health care and preventative services, and you don’t seem to trust planned parenthood one bit, are you willing to step up? Will you pay for their birth control?  Do you know who “them” even are?

Because if you aren’t, you have no right to hold that sign.

Are we training our young men to be courageous warriors that respect women, not just as objects but as God’s creation, as his treasured daughters?

Because women don’t just randomly get pregnant.

Are you willing to feed these children? To clothe them? To tell them every day how much God loves them and cares for them and doesn’t hate them. Are you willing to cry with them? To raise them? To meet their physical and emotional needs? Are you willing to treat them as Christ taught us to? When he talked to the woman at the well. When he tossed the tables at the temple. When he spoke time and time again about widows and orphans and the poor.

Are you?

Are you willing to stop with the guilting and the shaming?

Because the last I read, guilt and shame had very little to do with Christ.

Grace upon Grace upon Grace does.

Mercy does.

While we were still sinners, in the midst of our sin,


Remember that one?

Cause it wasn’t written for them. It was written for us.

As far as I am concerned, there is no place for those signs and those infographics and the prevention of resources or any of this hullabaloo in our roles as followers of Christ.

There is plenty of space to meet actual needs with the resources we have. There is room for honorary aunts and honorary mama’s and friendships that cross cultural barriers. There is room for walking alongside our sisters as they fight and struggle. There is room for raising our boys to be men. There is room for our men to be involved in this conversation in the first place.

If we’ve learned anything from the Bible, let it be that our trust need not be in governments or governmental policies. In decisions in the supreme court or by our state leaders.

I’m pro-choice because my hope is in one thing alone.

I’m pro-life because we are all part of God’s workmanship.

I will keep fighting and feeding and holding. I will drive to the creek when I really don’t want to. Our home will be open to the least of these. We will mess up, most days dramatically, but we will keep trusting and keep trying.

Until we are all there, Christians, there is no room for our American-White-Middle Class rhetoric.

By all means, march away. But know the world is watching.

On Breastfeeding (Or, On Depression. Also, on Beauty)


I sat at a coffee shop with a friend recently. She told me (and I can’t remember the context) that I was, in fact, a writer. I told her that was silly. And then, in what I can only imagine is true writer fashion, told her about all the things I had in mind to write about. This topic was one of them. The end point of this article is the result of that conversation. I hope you enjoy.

I hope you enjoy.

When I was first pregnant with our oldest I read an article in a pregnancy magazine about perception on public breastfeeding. It said (this was 10 years ago) that 75% of people felt that nursing in public was inappropriate and made them feel uncomfortable. I shared it with Joe who immediately agreed. Poor guy. I’m pretty sure I ranted for a while after that one. But it stuck with me and when B was born, I wasn’t sure what to do. I think in my head I would just hide away in a hole whenever he was hungry. So I did. We couldn’t afford formula so I plugged along, nursing in half confidence but not aware of any other options. I’ll never forget being at a work party with a 3-week old baby and, not finding anywhere I could go, went to the car to nurse. In the dark by myself.

Fast forward a few years and I had nursed both my babies way past the one year mark and most definitely in public. I had gained confidence in my approach to mothering and, what proved most valuable, finding a group of others like myself.

My daughter never had a single drop of formula.

And, for that, I was proud.

I think many of you can see where this is going. Our first placement came and I went to the store, kids in tow, to find the formula aisle of the store. I found a bottle and hoped that I would make it right. I knew I was “sometimes” mom and that was ok. I did my job without thinking twice.

“Oh, that’s so sad you have to give him formula!” –on one of our first outings

“is the formula any good? where does it come from? I mean, foster care” –a few months after Voxx’s placement.

Doubt crept in just a little bit at a time. Until, one day, at a family camp with our newest little one, I found myself hiding the Similac bottle so those mamas wouldn’t see.

I’m not proud of that.

Along this journey, I found out that there are a million and one awesome adoptive mama’s that have found ways around the formula conundrum. And that doubt, those insecurities kept building. These mamas have spent hours rounding up donated milk. They have appealed to the state to get milk from the hospital. They have induced lactation in their own bodies and nursed those babies as their own.

And I, I never even asked.

A few months ago I did ask. So we tried it.

And it sucked.

I don’t know what I was hoping for. But God certainly had a lesson in humility for me. Humility and compassion. The medicine I was on started a depression that went hard and deep. I couldn’t feel happy.  I was spending every hour either pumping or feeding (formula still, mind you). My kids were left to fend for themselves after finally getting through a season of self-fending. My toddler was a mess. Tantrums lasting upwards of 2 hours. And my marriage- well- it was holding on by a super fine thread.

So we stopped.

The point I am trying desperately to get to is this: For me, stopping the medication helped me feel back to normal. For some of you, taking the medication makes you feel normal.  For others of you, deciding to take that that medication means you can’t nurse. And what I want you to hear is that- that is more than ok. Taking care of your body because you too are human is not just good- it’s beautiful.

I saw a post on social media that was something along the lines of “fed is best.” You can only guess the hullabaloo this caused. Breast is best. There is no comparison. You are a failure as a mother. You are poisoning your children. There is no such thing as good formula.  It was bad.

I am so grateful that even though we have a way to come, nursing in public is generally supported. I am grateful that we can see as a society the beauty in a mother feeding her children. Those images of the mama and baby nursing and the tree of life connecting them? Beautiful.

I am so grateful we have scientists that struggled to find the right combination of minerals and vitamins to not only keep our kids alive but to thrive. I am grateful that our country will make sure that newborns have food via programs like WIC. Regardless of race or income. The powder that we mix with clean water to nourish our babies? It’s time we start saying what it truly is- a beautiful mystery.

You know your homebirth perfectly documented. The moments in your home surrounded by only those that care deeply about you while you bring a new soul to this side of the earth? Beautiful.

You know your c-section. The one that wasn’t planned. Or the one that was. The one that the doctors used their knowledge and professionalism to bring your baby into this world? It’s time to stop saying “I’m sorry” when we hear that story and start calling it something else- What a beautiful story.

To the father feeding their child on a regular basis. In the middle of the night, night after night after night.

To the mama pumping and pumping and pumping for her baby that won’t latch right. Doing this because she knows, somewhere, that it’s worth it.

To the mama sitting in the NICU, hearing those god forsaken beeps over and over and over. Those cords. That IV. Those nurses.

To the mama whose heart is broken beyond relief.

To the mama whose heart is stretched more than she thought possible.

To the mama in wait. Waiting and waiting and waiting.

To the papa desperately searching the aisle for the right can of formula.

For the mama’s heart broken on a thread of hurtful words in the middle of the afternoon.

all little, teeny tiny inklings of beauty.

If we stop and look, we can start to see the beauty in all the things the world tells us are wrong. The things that suck. The things we aren’t proud of. There is beauty in my biological children’s story. There is beauty in my adopted children’s stories. The point is not that it’s just there, but when we see it, when we really truly see it, we won’t be quite so quick to hide in the car. We won’t be nearly as ashamed of the branding on the bottle. We will be better mothers for it. Better fathers. Better friends when we lift up their stories as something of value regardless of ideology. It’s not about being a nursing mom or a bottle mom or a homebirth mom or a c-section mom or a homeschool mom or a public school mom.

It’s about being a human. 

The tiniest sparkle of a beautiful story.

On Trade-Offs


I recently read through the book Essentialism by Greg McKeown. In a paragraph that sums up the essence of his book he says:

“Essentialism is not about how to get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done. It doesn’t mean just doing less for the sake of less either. It is about making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy in order to operate at our highest point of contribution by doing only what is essential.” -McKeown

It is about making the wisest possible investment of your time.

It’s a book written for business folk, not necessarily the stay at home crowd. My husband laughed just about every time I quoted some business model from the book. It didn’t take me long to see how our home could run better.

In one of my favorite parts, the author states:

 “As John Maxwell has written, You cannot overestimate the unimportance of practically everything.” -McKeown

I’ll let that sink in for a minute.

We all make trade-offs with just about everything we do. If we decide to sit on the couch and watch tv, the trade off is a productive evening. If we decide to work at home, the trade-off is rest. We decide to do the dishes so that we have clean ones when we need them. We make a decision to go to the store and shop for fun. The trade-off is the amount of money in your savings.

Not entirely rocket science.

I think when I started realizing that the countless decisions I make in a day matter to my long-term goals, making those decisions became that much easier.

When I do the dishes, I make the decision to not spend time with my kids. When I read to my kids in the middle of the day I am making a conscience decision to wait to rotate the laundry.

And that matters- because- well- perspective.

It’s not about what I didn’t do that day but about what I did do. 

I read to my kids. We played outside. We made scones. We walked along the creek. We worked on felted leaves. We had dinner together at the table.

Not: My kitchen is a disaster. We don’t have any clean shirts. So and So got into a fight with whomever. We didn’t finish practicing instruments. We didn’t mop the floors. Dinner is cereal, again.

While the reality is both those perspectives are true, the first one has a much different focus. And, let’s be honest, it’s not nearly as defeating as the second.

“Essentialists see trade-offs as an inherent part of life, not as an inherently negative part of life. Instead of asking, “What do I have to give up?” they ask, “What do I want to go big on?” -McKeown

Most of you reading this are not executives at a huge company. We are Moms and Dads. We are homemakers and foster parents. We work part time and full time and go to the store with our kids in tow. We run small businesses and raise not so small army’s of children. We look at pinterest and IG and drink coffee before 4 and wine after 5.

What do you want to go big on? 

Do you want to read to your kids?

Do you want to model hospitality?

Do you want them to learn an instrument?

Do you want them to speak a language?

Do you want your kitchen clean?

Do you want sparkly floors?

Do you want financial security?

Do you want snazzy looking kids?

We can’t do everything and anything all the time. You can though, pick one or two of those things on the list.

I overhead a conversation at a party recently. “We are just so busy. I can’t believe I did that to myself again. We have soccer and gymnastics and (insert activity) and (insert another activity) and (insert the cherry on top activity.) It wasn’t said with sadness or embarrassment though. It was almost a celebration. Which did, in fact, make me sad.

“What if we stopped celebrating being busy as a measurement of importance? What if instead we celebrated how much time we had spent listening, pondering, meditating, and enjoying time with the most important people in our lives?” -McKeown

I think that’s what I want. What I want to go big on. A celebration of the time I spent listening, on the floor, playing with my kids. The time spent writing and thinking. The time with my husband. The time I spent with my friends.

There are trade-offs. It means my house will rarely be clean. It means my kids will miss out on sports most seasons. It means we trade off money in our account for a sitter and drinks. It means we say no to a whole lot more than we say yes too.

I don’t want you to put us on a pedestal. It’s Sunday and my floors are sticky, my sink is full and I haven’t looked at the calendar for the week. I went to the store and totally forgot to buy coffee for the morning. I am feeling as frazzled as frazzled can be. Knowing I have four kids to feed and educate and love on in the morning. Ones that don’t care how much sleep I got or how much time I would like to “think.” One’s that will most certainly care that their mom didn’t get her coffee yet.

But I know that when I remember that almost everything is unimportant, I can focus on the actually important parts.

Some days, it’s cleaning the kitchen, yes.

But other days it’s a stack full of picture books.

It’s just never going to be both.

I’ll leave you with one more quote:

“Essentialism: only once you give yourself permission to stop trying to do it all, to stop saying yes to everyone, can you make your highest contribution towards the things that really matter.” -McKeown

What really matters right now?

Do that.