By the time I got out of the shower, the tears were falling.

It doesn’t take long to disintegrate when the fiber of your being is worn thin.

And I am.

I am paper-thin. Stretched. Brittle.

I feel impatient and tired and weary. I poured everything I’ve got into making summer fun for my kids. And now that it’s over, I am spent.

I’m not up to tackling a week of solo-parenting.

I. Am. Not.

But I have no choice.

Corey has to travel. It’s part of his job. And I’m thankful he provides for our family. I do not take it for granted.

But six nights of putting four kids to bed by myself? Six dinners with only kids to keep me company? Six days of school carpool, no matter if Kieran just fell asleep in his own bed for the first time all day? Six days of battling my strong-willed son without backup? Six days of dread instead of six days of enjoyment?

It is overwhelming for me right now.

So yesterday morning, I broke.

My normal happy-go-lucky, chin-up, rosy--glasses outlook gave way to a pile of shattered fragments.

I fell to my knees and put my head in my hands and let the tears spill onto Psalms.

And there, in my brokenness, I worshiped.
God loves a lullaby
In a mothers tears in the dead of night
Better than a Hallelujah sometimes.

We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah
- Amy Grant, Better Than A Hallelujah
I am inexpressibly thankful God takes us as we are, even when – or maybe especially when – we are broken.

I am thankful the light shines best through the thin.

On Sanguines and the Desire to Do It All

I think I jumped in too quickly. And I'm sick about it.

It’s a pitfall common to sanguines. Bless our hearts, we chose fun over reality every time.

Certainly, I’ve learned. Over the years, I’ve learned the value of restraint and patience. I credit Corey and the Holy Spirit with teaching me to think and pray about a decision before I excitedly yet blindly dive in.

But this time.... Sigh.

It all started when I saw the announcement in our church bulletin that a leader was needed on Wednesday nights for the 4th and 5th grade girls. Natalie is in 4th grade. I love that girl so much, and I miss her something fierce lately. She is always around, but with three other kids in the home – all of them needier than her – I rarely get to sit and just enjoy her. I wondered if stepping in to lead her small group wouldn’t give me some of that focused time with my daughter that I crave and help the church at the same time.

Sounds good, right? Wednesday night children’s programming is a staple in the Midwest. It’s like Sunday school only more fun. The nursery would be open for the younger kids. Connor could be in the Wednesday night program for first graders. And it would give us an out-of-the-house activity for those weeks Corey needs to travel.


So I thought about it. I talked to Corey. I prayed. I knew the potential pitfalls, but I didn’t think any of them were insurmountable.

Fun. Let’s go.

And then reality hit.

This past Wednesday was our first night. I estimated we would need to leave our house by 6:00 at the latest, in order to be checked in and in place by 6:30 when the evening’s festivities would begin. I planned an easy dinner (Trader Joe’s pumpkin waffles and homemade sausage; I love brinner) and served it at 5:30, hoping that would be early enough for us to get out the door but late enough that we would still be hungry. (Normal dinner time around here is 6:30 or even 7:00.)

Good plan. But it didn’t work. The kids weren’t hungry. My easy dinner required a lot of clean-up, which I forgot to factor into the equation. Kieran was cranky and wanted to eat. I didn’t have time to feed him and I was hot and flushed from all the rushing.

Thankfully, Corey was home last night, and he stepped in and drove us all to church (through massive rush hour traffic, something else I didn’t factor into my equation). He took Teyla to the nursery while I hustled Natalie and Connor to the Wednesday night ministry where I was supposed to be greeting my girls.

The teaching time itself was fun. The girls are sweet and funny. I didn’t have a lesson prepared, since it was opening night, but we got through OK.

And then it was 8:00, time to go home, and Corey and I gathered up our HYPER children and as soon as we hit the car, the kids started whining, “I’m hungry, Mom. Can we eat something when we get home?” Which, OK, I sympathize with the hungry, but we are already late for bedtime here, and now you want to eat a snack? I don’t think so. And Kieran, bless his little heart, screamed the whole way home because he was so exhausted and once we got out of the car, Corey had to stay on Connor every second to get him to focus on getting into bed. And Teyla was running around like a banshee and she was mad when I tried to nurse Kieran while reading her a story and in the end, it was 10:30 before Teyla and Connor fell asleep. Such was the adrenaline and the general mayhem.

When the house was finally quiet, I fell into a heap on Corey’s neck and said, “I feel HORRIBLE! Tonight was a DISASTER! Why didn’t you warn me? Why did you let my inner sanguine agree to this? Because if tonight was hard, it will be COMPLETELY IMPOSSIBLE the next few weeks when you are traveling. WHAT AM I GOING TO DO?”

He smiled gently and listened to me freak out and suggested some possible solutions. But he agreed, this might not be the season for me to make such a commitment.

I still don’t know what to do. I hate making commitments and then backing out of them. Hate. It. And Natalie would be devastated. She is ecstatic I'm leading her group. She's talked about it every day since.

But I've also learned that doing ministry at the expense of my family doesn't work. It makes us all miserable, and at this point, I don't even think it's right. My children and my husband are my primary ministry right now. If I forsake them to do something else, can I even call it ministry?

I just wish there was a way to do it all.

So says the sanguine.


Sometimes, the bedtime routine stands on my last nerve and plays hopscotch on it.

I mean, I’ve been Mom-ming all day. I’ve played and fixed and hugged and laughed and listened and now it’s 9:00 and I’m so done.

But I’m not.

“Buddy, focus. Are you supposed to be playing Legos or brushing your teeth?” “Natalie, it’s time to stop reading and turn off the light, honey.” “Teyla. Pick out a book so I can read.” “Here, let me nurse Kieran one more time before he falls asleep.” “Teyla. Really. Pick out a book.” “Connor, how is it that your teeth aren’t brushed?”

I’m edgy. Exhaustion and impatience seep out my cracks.

Finally, lights are out, teeth are brushed, milk-drunk babies are handed to Daddy and I’m ready to lay in Teyla’s bed and read her books, a privilege granted only to toddlers. So we read about a “Good Day” and a squirrel named “Miss Suzie” and about a hero come to rescue us.

And Teyla carefully tucks her doll under her quilt and curls next to my arm. And I inhale her still-wet curls and I hear only the crickets and the scuffing of sheets and the pure sweetness of a two-year-old singing to herself.

“Yes, Jesus wuvs me. For He is strong.”

I exhale.

The exhaustion still lingers. But that last nerve is no longer tingling.

Because sometimes, the bedtime routine grabs my heart and reminds me that this is the best job in the world.

Sisterly Love

Kieran's cheeks are so squishy. I wonder what happens if I do this?

Cool. Do his lips do the same thing?

Hmmm. Those lips are hard to catch sometimes.

What Mom? He likes it!

Mommy Split

“Yet me hep you, Mommy,” Teyla says from her perch on the step stool next to the kitchen counter.

I smile and guide her hand to the handle of the knife. My fingers closes over hers, and together, we slice through the block of cheese on the cutting board.

I’ve missed this.

Summer was exciting. We had so much fun with everyone home. I loved spending days at the pool and evenings outside. Our mornings were relaxed and filled with two or maybe even three courses of breakfast. We would spend hours at the park with friends, playing pirates and super heroes and tag.

But having my attention split four ways – it’s exhausting. I felt like I was always ALWAYS divided. I never had a quiet moment to just sit and focus on one child. I was constantly juggling. “Here, Natalie, can you take the baby? Teyla, honey, I’m opening the cheese for you. Now Connor, what were you saying?”

So here we are, one week into our new school schedule. Both Natalie (4th grade) and Connor (1st grade) are in school all day.

And I feel like my brain is piecing itself back together.

I don’t have to multitask anymore. (Not much anyway. Two kids is a breeze compared to four.) I can focus. I can finish a conversation.

More importantly, I can listen. I can watch. I can adore.

And I have more patience and more energy for Connor and Natalie when they get home from school, since I spent the morning and early afternoon paying attention to the littles.

I’m sad summer is over. But fall feels good.

The Reasons for the Silence

If you write for God, you will reach many people and bring them joy.
If you write for people, you may make some money and you may give someone a little joy and you may make a noise in the world for a little while.
If you write for yourself, you can read what you yourself have written and after 10 minutes, you will be so disgusted you will wish you were dead.
- Thomas Merton

I’m not silent very often.

(If you doubt, just ask Corey. He does a happy dance when I get bronchitis.)

But right now, my little brain is so overwhelmed with big ideas, the words can’t get out.

Two streams of thought have converged to create this mental flood.

First, Compassion has a team of bloggers in Guatemala this week. I follow each Compassion bloggers trip so closely, I feel like I’m spiritually hovering over the team. This trip is especially meaningful. My sister traveled to Guatemala regularly before she got married (so often that, at one point, she was suspected by the DEA of smuggling drugs), so that country already has a story for me. Plus, some of my best blogging friends are on this trip. I am bathing in their stories right now and being convicted again that truth faith cannot have a non-response, that the God I know may need to be redefined in light of the God we encounter in a shanty town, that there isn’t always a neat bow to the end of the story.

Our God is crazy. He dwells with the poor and the orphan and the alien. I don’t know why. But I see it throughout the Bible.

It bothers me. Because I dwell with the rich and the comfortable and the lazy.

I am rich and comfortable and lazy.

I say I want to follow Jesus. But the truth is, I want to follow Jesus and have a nice house in the suburbs and put my kids in Christian school and take a vacation each January to escape the cold. (Even though my house has a roof and a fireplace and running water and a stove where I make food and bake bread at will.)

I don’t want to choose.

But I feel like God forcing the decision. I’ve felt it coming for years. There’s a swell of energy approaching, like a wave in the ocean.

I want to catch this wave. I pray I’m ready when it breaks.

So I’m silent right now, listening to the water.

The second stream of thought is less global. It has to do with my family.

Summer is over. (Literally. Two weeks ago, we lived at the pool to escape the 90-degree heat and blanket-like humidity. This week, I’ve lugged out the boxes of winter clothes to find pants and sweaters for the 50-degree mornings. What is it with September, Minnesota?) It was a great three months, crazy but fun, like a roller coaster, both terrifying and exhilarating.

But the sudden advent of fall punched me in the gut, frankly. It does every year, partly because I’m not ready for winter. (Summer! Don’t leave me!) But more because it is at the beginning of each school year I realize: My children are growing up. And there is nothing I can do to slow down time.

It always makes me wonder: Am I doing a good job? Am I loving my kids the way they need to be loved? Did I take live summer 2010 to its fullest? Because I will never get it back.

For the record, I’m not talking Mommy guilt here. This isn’t a maudlin emotion. It’s about authenticity. I say I love my kids and my family and that they mean more than anything to me.

Yet, if you look at my Twitter stream, you’ll see I’m at my computer a lot. A lot.

To make matters worse, I haven’t found a way to blog or email or even play with my photos without stealing that time from one of my loved ones. I am never alone. There is always a little person who is desperate for my attention. And after they go to sleep, there is my long-suffering husband, who waits patiently each day for just a few moments of my time.

I don’t believe the answer is to chuck my computer. (Especially since I just got a new laptop. Speedy Gonzalez. I wonder if I can get one of these nifty new Intel chips installed in my brain.) That would be too easy. Life isn’t a black and white drawing. I have to work within the colorful spectrum of the real world. Moms need an outlet too, and the friendships that exist between me and my fellow bloggers and Twitterees are real and precious.

But sometimes, I need to step back and re-evaluate my stance. Am I walking the path with grace and precision? Am I watching His footsteps – and only His footsteps? Do I know where I want my story to go?

And sometimes, silence is the only way to get those answers.

If, perhaps, you're wrestling with some similar questions, I'd love to have you join the "Radical" read-a-long being hosted by the fabulous Marla Taviano. And of course, if you're interested in catching the wave of child sponsorship, the children of Guatemala would be happy to teach you to the thrill of riding with God.


I rarely crave silence.

I am a people person. I am energized by conversation. I am happiest when I'm interacting.

But lately, I want to hit the the internal mute button.

To be clear, it's not you.

It's me.

I'm sick of me.

I don’t mean that in a derogatory way. I do not struggle with insecurity. About 90% of the time, I’m comfortable in my own skin.

I do mean that I’m weary of the me-focus and the me-blog and the me-Twitter and the me-me-me.

I want me to be quiet.

Be still.

I'm sure it's just a season - a balance to my nearly constant sanguine.

But right now, it's needed.

And good.