Saturday, January 31, 2015


I've had very few parameters and, in some ways, very vague goals since beginning this blog a few years back. 

I've wanted to be honest. 

I've wanted to write things that, when my children read them in the years to come, will enjoy the stories written about them and see how much their parents loved them. 

I've wanted to honor my own parents and my husband in this blog, and share ways that they've been a blessing and example to me. 

I've wanted to write (and, really, think through while writing about) about my struggles and joys in the life of faith. 

I've wanted my words to be light, to bring laughter, and to be an encouragement to others, whether that be five people or five thousand people. 

I've also wanted to post at least 4 blogs each month. This month, January 2015, has been the first time in several years of blogging that that hasn't happened. It's a small goal, and a private one at that. But it's one that I've stuck to. So here I am, on the last night of January, hurriedly writing a few posts that I've been waiting to get to. 

A few minutes ago I said to Justin, "Man, this is the first time that I've not blogged four times in the month. Bummer." He glanced at his watch and said, "Get crackin' then, hon." I loved his advice and decided to follow it. 

So here is my (rather lame) fourth and final post for January. Alright February, you can come now.


Josh and his brown blanket. 
How he's loved this brown blanket of his. 
Ever since he was old enough to care about things, old enough to express desire.
This brown blanket has been with him at night.

People ask why in morning or night pictures Josh is invariable shirtless, and it's because of this brown blanket. It's so soft, and he love sleeping with it against his skin.

Every morning my Joshua walks down the stairs with this brown blanket wrapped around his shoulders. Like an adorable little brown-blanketed superhero.

I remember one time when he was a little guy, probably only 3, praying with him before bed and telling him tenderly how thankful I was for him. "I love you Josh. I am so thankful for you." He held my face in his hands, pulled me close, and whispered in my ear, "I'm so thankful for my brown blanket." It was the best, most honest response in the world. I'll never forget it. So very Josh, too. Honest and passionate, even about his brown blanket.

I've always told him that whenever he's done with his brown blanket we'll keep it safe, tuck it away, and one day if he's given children of his own he can give his brown blanket to one of them. He's liked this notion, and has talked about passing it down to his own daughter or son one day in the future.

About three weeks ago, in a sudden spurt of maturity and generosity, Josh decided that he had outgrown his brown blanket. I can't deny that it wasn't with a little tinge of sadness on my part, that I saw him sweetly give his blanket to his little sister, Ella, telling her that he wanted her to have. She was delighted! She knows how much this blanket means to her big brother. 

I knew one day he'd outgrow it, but I guess I wasn't quite ready.

Well I guess Josh wasn't quite ready either. For that same day, later on, closer to bedtime, Josh marched into his sister's room telling her that he'd changed his mind and would still give it to her one day, but that he wasn't done with it quite yet. 

I'm glad. Because I'm not quiet done with Josh and his brown blanket yet either.


An ordinary moment on an ordinary afternoon. I happened to have my camera literally sitting right there, so I grabbed it and recorded it in pictures and now in words, too.

First, the context.

When Ella's older brothers have longer hair (they both have it buzzed rather short at the moment), they occasionally wet it with water and then spike it up in the middle. Grinning, and pretending they're crazy cool, they'll walk around with their hands in their pockets and stay stuff like, "Yo dude, I've got a mohawk." It's cute.

The other day I'm chopping away on the counter, preparing for dinner, with Ella perched up beside me on the counter. I hadn't noticed that she'd grabbed the spray bottle that is filled with water and brought it up there with her.

But then she started spraying her hair. And spiking it up in the middle like her brothers.

Then, with a cool, confident grin just like them, she looked at me and said, "Look, Mom. I made a hohock like Jake and Josh." After she said it she paused and I could tell she was thinking about what she'd just said, knowing that it somehow hadn't come out right. And in all fairness, it is a rather funny sounding word.

She tried again. "Not a hohock. A Cocock."

I smiled. No way was I helping her out with this one. This was way too fun.

She seemed happy with her second try and I thought she'd stick with calling this funky, spiked hairstyle a cocock. 

But about five minutes later, after much preening and spraying and spiking, she looked at me with a big, almost relieved, smile and said, "A mohawk, Mommy! A mohawk!"  

Oh Ella, I love going through my days with you, little one. You make me laugh throughout each day, and that is such a gift!And I love your hohock... I mean your cocock... I mean your mohawk! 

Saturday, January 17, 2015


She was sitting behind me at the school concert. I was there to see my boys and she was there to see her grandchildren perform. After a sweet hour of listening to children sing, we found ourselves talking. At first the conversation was just casual chit chat about life and family, but right away I discerned something special about this woman. She was deliberate. Each word seemed chosen, not blurted. Her eyes sparkled and she seemed to really see me--a stranger, but a sister.

Did she sense I was weary? Could she tell I was discouraged? Did she wonder if our lives had intersected that night for a reason? I don't know. But she leaned in and started telling me this wonderful story about a bird. I actually don't remember the name of the bird. But I remember her story...

Her story took place many years ago when she and her husband were missionaries in Pakistan and on furlough in London, England. It was a time in her life when she was burdened and discouraged. She didn't share with me reasons or details for her heavy heart, but simply described how this one afternoon she was praying as she walked beside a London canal. At one point she looked beside her and saw this beautiful and rare bird. She continued to walk along and this bird hopped along beside her, taking short flight and then landing close ahead. She described marveling how, in His personal and perfect care for her, He'd brought this bird alongside her, reminding her of truth.

He created this small creature.
He knows the details of every feather.
He knows when it will fly and when it will land.
He provides for it, cares for it, gives it a nest.
All this for a bird. 
How much more, then, for me, His daughter.

God knows when we need encouragement. And sometimes He brings along something small but beautifully detailed to remind us of His love for us.

Her words were gentle and I remember wiping away tears and taking a steadying breath before saying:

And sometimes... sometimes what He brings alongside us is a person, a sister in Christ who speaks words of grace and hope.

Our God is one who encourages His people; He's a God who raises the downcast, lifts burdens, and brings hope. In our own experience as Christians we've seen that He accomplishes this at different times through different ways.

Sometimes it's in full, moving color, and He encourages us by walking us beside birds or flowers or ocean waves, using His world to remind us of the promises in His word.

Sometimes it's in paper-thin black and white, and He encourages us as we read His great story of redemption.

Sometimes it's in flesh and blood, and He encourages us through a brother or sister in Christ that He brings alongside us, to see us, to care for us, to speak His truth to us.

A story about a bird. And a quiet woman ready to speak.

I want to be like her. I want to be an encourager. I want to collect stories of God's goodness and be ready to tell.