Monday, April 29, 2013


IMG_2713I had a great morning with a friend the other day. We talked and shopped and talked some more. Afterwards, I came home and started day one of a new devotional called Jesus: 90 Days with the One and Only by Beth Moore. (This book is part of my intentional efforts to “hire” a new Everybody Committee, which I wrote about here.)

Here’s an excerpt from the devotion for that day:

Then came my favorite line of all: “You are to give him the name Jesus” (v. 31). Do you realize this was the first proclamation of our Savior’s personal name since the beginning of time? Jesus. The very name at which every knee will one day bow. The very name that every tongue will one day confess. A name that has no parallel in my vocabulary or yours. A name I whispered into the ears of my infant daughters as I rocked them and sang lullabies of His love. A name by which I’ve made every single prayerful petition of my life. A name that has meant my absolute salvation, not only from eternal destruction, but from myself. A name with power like no other name. Jesus. What a beautiful name. I love to watch how it falls of the lips of those who love Him. I shudder as it falls off the lips of those who don’t. Jesus. It has been the  most important and most consistent word in my life. Dearer today than yesterday. Inexpressibly precious to me personally, so I am at a loss to comprehend what the name means universally.

That directly mirrored a beautiful part of the conversation I just had with my friend that morning. Here’s what I wrote in the devotional that day:


Today, I had a conversation with my friend about how people say Your name: either “Jes-us” or “Jes-is.” My friend has noticed that those who walk closely with You are more likely to say “Jes-us".” I’ve noticed the same thing with other Christ followers too. I told her maybe because the followers are more focused on the “U” part instead of the “I” part. She said maybe it’s a supernatural way that you have subtly changed our lives. Even the tiny nuances are transformed! I pray you help me focus on the “U” and not the “I.”


How do you say His name? Do you focus on the “U” or the “I”?

Sunday, April 28, 2013

My Everybody Committee

A few months ago, I read an article that took hold of me and just won’t let go. Here’s a link to it, in case you want to read it before moving along in this post. I’m going to sum it up here too.

It starts with this premise: what others think of me is none of my business. That’s so true in theory, and yet it has been incredibly hard for me to put that into practice in my 39 years of life. The author, Martha Beck, talks about how we each have a “generalized other” inside of us that judges the way we live our lives. Some GOs are empathetic and supportive, some are nagging fishwives who “tsk-tsk” our every moves. (Oh, is that just me? Oops.) Throughout our lives, our GOs have been formed through comments and interactions that we deemed important enough to sear into our brains: comments and interactions from the most judgmental people we’ve known. These people have formed what Beck calls our Everybody Committee. They’re the people you refer to when you mutter inside your head, “Oh, I couldn’t do thateverybody would think I’m a nut job.” Or maybe it’s, “I’m not smart enough to write a book. Everybody would know I made it up and poke holes in it.” (Oh, is that just me, again?! Oops!) We have given voice to this Committee by engraving small, jabbing comments on to our hearts throughout our lives. As Beck says,

“Most of us assemble our Everybody Committees haphazardly, especially during childhood. We tend to give the best seats to the cruelest people—people who hurt our feelings and undermine our dreams. To avoid attacks from these pernicious trolls, we obsess about living up to their standards. This is a terrible way to live.”

I have an Everybody Committee, and they have been having a heyday inside my head for the last few weeks. In fact, it’s been longer than that! They’ve just been in an especially big tizzy lately. Call it insecurity or indecision, but I just hear their loud “tsk-tsks” a little too often these days.

So it’s time to appoint a new Committee. In the article, Beck lists some steps that help with this. First I have to pinpoint those on my Committee who have been stirring the pot. And to me, that means not everyone on my Committee has been hateful. There may be one or two who are standing their ground and refusing to go along with the insurgents. I think this is true for me, and I want those allies to stay. But the others MUST GO! Here’s a sampling of my lay-offs:

  • The seventh grade boy who called me Long Butt Dong (refer to the movie Sixteen Candles)? FIRED!
  • The relatives who snidely remark about my “Christian friends” and turn their noses up about my faith? FIRED!
  • The former friend who lied to me and then got mad when I put up boundaries to protect my heart? FIRED!
  • The friend who made me feel like an afterthought and ditched me for others who were less Christian-y, or the two friends who labeled me “exhausting” and “demanding” in high school and college? FIRED!
  • The mom who makes me feel like a bad parent when she cocks an eyebrow at me and gives me the hairy eyeball when my kids are tantruming in the store? FIRED!
  • Even my brother who used to call me Lard A** when we were kids? FIRED!

I’m loyal – to a fault – but y’all are gonna have to go. You’re  just no good for me.

The second step in this is to choose a “compassionate other” to chair my new committee. I think this step lasers in on a specific person, instead of the “generalized” portion of the “generalized others” I mentioned above. My new committee chairman will be the same chairMan I had on my old committee. The problem is I didn’t place supportive people under Him, which undermined His authority and left Him weaponless. It’s no surprise (at least it shouldn’t be!) that God is chairMan of my committee. Technically, He’s the chairMen of my committee, since He’s three-in-one of the Father, Son and Spirit. Beck says my committee chair should be someone who loves me “absolutely unconditionally.” I’d say dying for all my mistakes is pretty absolute and unconditional.

The third step is to use “snowball sampling” to fill the remaining spots on my committee. This is the process of selecting “like-minded souls” who will erase the generalized others by becoming specified supporters in my life. I don’t want a team of Yes Men who will simply agree to whatever hair-brained scheme I’m cooking up. That’s what happens when you live life from your pride instead of your humility. I want a team of people who will encourage good in my life and also challenge me to think in new ways – while (gently!) pointing out areas I can change and grow from. These are the people who do NOT (even jokingly) call my church a cult. And the ones who do NOT bring up the stupid mistake I made in college, even if they are trying to bring it up to show me (or others) how long we’ve been friends. The new committee is full of people who see my passion and know me personally, the ones who can call out greatness in others (not only me) without needing something in return, the ones who have seen me struggle and felt the pain of that – not the people who did a mental high-five to see me fall on my face.

The last part is what will be most crucial for me: connect with the new committee every day for 90 days. Beck says to spend time every day reading, talking with, Facebooking my new committee so I can re-map my brain into seeing goodness in my life. To me, this doesn’t mean just filling my brain with positive! funny! and! encouraging! anecdotes! That would be like going on a diet of straight chocolate cake for 90 days. (Sounds tempting, but would feel pretty empty after the first 3 days.) No candy-coated truisms for me. My plan is to actively seek out encouragement and reprogram my brain with it. Here’s how:

  • As embarrassing as my independent cool-self thinks this is, I am reaching out to people and telling them I am needy and asking them to help encourage me. (If you’re reading this, you are probably one of those people I need to hear from, so what are you waiting for?!)
  • I started reading a Beth Moore booked called Jesus: 90 Days with the One and Only. It’s been sitting on my shelf for at least a year, and I always felt I didn’t have time to commit to it. But the 90 days part screamed at me when I decided to embark on overhauling my Committee, so I started reading it 3 days ago. I’ve already spent 2 of those 3 days in a puddly mess as I open up to my ChairMen and have truth poured in to me.
  • My friend DeAnne blogged about her Smash Book a while back, and I was inspired and bought a starter kit (got mine for about $9 with coupons!). But I haven’t even touched it because I’m intimidated by it. And then about 2 weeks ago, the thought hit me: I need to use my Smash Book to chronicle the God moments in my life. I started taking iPhone photos of moments when I know God is speaking to me, and I’ll be adding them to my book. I’m still undecided whether to call my book “Ebenezers” (1 Samuel 7:12-14 ~ “He named it ‘Ebenezer’ [Rock of Help], saying, ‘This marks the place where God helped us.’”) or to call it “Matzevah” (which means “monument” and “to guard or bear witness” in Hebrew, and is used in Genesis 35:14 ~ “Jacob set up a stone pillar to mark the place where God had spoken to him.”) [Kristen, we need to discuss this!]
  • I tied a scrap of fabric around my wrist and I’ll be wearing it for 90 days as a visual reminder to make new recordings in my head that tell me who I am, not who others think I am.

If you are also hearing your Everybody Committee a little too loudly these days, maybe it’s time to do some spring cleaning too. Let me know if you decide to do this, and I’d be happy to pour some encouragement your way. Hopefully I can give myself some grace and pour some encouragement my way too.

Here’s the kicker of it all: before I published this post, I went back to proofread it. I wanted to make sure nothing I wrote was offensive. Or bothersome. Or pushy. And then I realized I’m listening to my old committee by doing that. Proofreading is okay; diluting my meaning because I’m afraid what they will say is NOT. That’s the difference between a conscience and a committee: I don’t want to offend, but I also want to be honest and true to myself. I will no longer acquiesce to my committee and listen to what they tell me. I’m not going to silence myself to make any of you feel more comfortable. I will listen to my conscience and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Innocence and Solid Faith

I was driving today and Katie asked, “Mommy, why are all the flags halfway down the poles?” (President Obama ordered all U.S. flags at half staff April 16-20 to honor the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings.)

Her question took me off guard because I had not yet considered telling my kids about the bombings. So I gingerly explained to her, “Some bad things happened in our country a few days ago.” She responded, “Oh, yeah, in Texas and in Boston.”

Surprised that she knew about the news, I asked her “What do you know about Texas and Boston?” She said, “There was a fire [in West, TX] and also something in Boston.”

I said, “Yes, that’s right. There was a big fire in Texas, and in Boston there was something very sad.” I explained to her and Jackson what the Boston Marathon is, and how it’s an elite race and lots of people go to watch it. I explained how someone wanted to hurt people and they put two bombs at the finish line. We talked about how people were hurt and even killed. I told them one of the people who died was a kid. They were shocked and said, “I bet their family misses that boy and will miss him forever.” Jackson then said, “If I died, you would miss me too.” I assured him we would and tried to push the thought of that out of my head.

Tonight, one of the bombing suspects was killed and the other was captured. At Katie’s bedtime, I told her the police caught the bomber. She was relieved. I said, “Yes, it’s good news. They caught the man who hurt those people.”

And then my heart caught in my throat when she said, “God still loves him too.” She said it so assuredly and confidently.

I responded, “Yes. Not very many people are happy with him, but you’re right: God still loves him.”

She said, “I doubted he is a follower of Jesus.” I said, “No, I don’t think so.” And she finished with, “When you follow Jesus you don’t hurt people like that.”

Oh, my heart! This sweet girl of mine has such innocence, and also such faith in her Father who loves ALL of us: those who try to follow Him, and even those who bomb and hurt and kill. At age nine, she grasps the idea that God loves us in spite of our evil and sinfulness. She doesn’t hesitate in that knowledge; it is as natural and second-nature to her as breathing.

God, please protect my daughter’s reflexive love for You. Continue to cultivate her heart. One day her innocence will fall away, and I pray that you build a strong foundation in her heart so she will rely on Your strength even – and especially – then. Amen.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A Girl’s Room

I step into Katie’s room, and it takes me back to my own bedroom. (Maybe it’s because 75% of her bedroom furniture used to be mine!) I love seeing the things she treasures, and all the collections she has gathered. I thought about photos of my childhood bedroom, and realized I should take some of Katie’s. I want to capture this moment in my daughter’s life.

There’s a large cabinet that was in my bedroom for as long as I can remember._MDS4969

There are glass doors on it, and Katie keeps her favorite items inside of it. Here’s a closer view:_MDS4963

She has a Squinky collection, a rock collection, a bobble head collection, a jewelry box, and countless other containers and doodads in her cabinet.

Katie has turned one corner of her room into a little reading nook. She has a bookshelf with a bean bag in front of it. She keeps magazines, favorite books, and even some of Jackson’s books there for when she grants him permission to hang out in her sacred space._MDS4970

Katie’s bed is a daybed my parents bought for me when I was in 7th grade. It was kept at our family lake house, along with one identical daybed that my sister now owns. One thing Katie is really good at is keeping her room neat, and she almost always makes her bed each morning after she wakes. I love that about her! I also love how she has a specific spot for each of her stuffed animals. She knows them and loves each of them deeply. I remember when my life was like that._MDS4971

Home sweet home for my sweet little girl!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

J + J = Forever Friends

Twice a year, our kids ministry has a special event called “ABC Weekend.” It’s when our class teachers have a specific lesson about asking Jesus to be your Forever Friend. “A” is for Ask. “B” is for Believe. “C” is for Choose (choosing to follow Jesus for the rest of your life.)

The leaders invite the parents to attend class with their kids so that if their child decides to make Jesus their Forever Friend, the parent can pray with the child and share the momentous occasion. I got to attend class with Jackson last night, and it was fun just to be in class and see what the kids learn and do. There was climbing time.IMG_2532

And worship time.IMG_2533

And then time for the large group lesson. Jackson sat on our friend’s lap (instead of mine! Humph!) and was enamored with a sand art video they showed to illustrate Jesus’ death.IMG_2535

We had small group time then, and the kids each made a bracelet with colored beads that signify the salvation story.

After making bracelets, I pulled Jackson aside and asked him to sit on my lap. I asked him what the ABCs stand for, and he could only remember the “C.” I reminded him what it means to be Forever Friends with Jesus, and was in mid-sentence explaining it when he scrunched his eyes up tight and plugged his ears with his fingers. My first thought was he was trying to ignore me and didn’t want to hear what I had to say. After about 6-7 seconds, he opened his eyes. Then he told me: “I closed my eyes and my ears and asked Jesus to be my Forever Friend.”

My response: “And what did He say?”

Jackson: “He said yes! Jesus would  never say no.”

It wasn’t quite the holy moment I had envisioned in Mommy World; I didn’t get a glowing, ethereal light while we bowed our heads and entwined our hands to ask Jesus to forgive Jackson’s sins and cover them with His grace. Nope! But what I got was this: a totally “Jackson” way of going to the foot of the cross. Jackson is an independent little boy, so it makes sense that he would invite Jesus into his heart personally and silently – on his own terms and with the same kind of natural hopefulness he uses to ask for extra cuddle time at bedtime.

Simple. Succinct. Personal and profound.

Thank You for reaching my son, Jesus! Amen!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Pillow Fight!

Sometimes I take life too seriously. When I get myself caught up in all the details of life, my vision gets clouded by all the “have-tos” and not on the “want-tos.” I need to laugh a lot more than I do!

On this day, I did a LOT of laughing and it felt good!IMGP5485

We participated in the International Pillow Fight Day this year. Apparently it’s the second annual pillow fight, organized locally by a group called STL Improv Anywhere. I can’t tell you HOW MUCH FUN we had!IMGP5548

I giggled like a crazy person, running around whacking the stuffing out of random strangers.IMGP5481

My kids ran after complete strangers and whacked the stuffing out of them too.IMGP5471

And my family whacked each other pretty well too!IMGP5525

Sometimes I wonder where exactly the human race is headed, but on days like this it’s nice to know we can all have a common goal of laughing and whacking each other over the head!IMGP5494

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

March 2013 Review

Lots of time cuddling, this photo taken on a lazy morning when I slept in and Jackson came to cuddle with me in bed. He brought books and read quietly beside me.IMG_2317

And lots of time in the Kindness Closet (hall closet converted into a fort).IMG_2579

The second week of spring break, I came home from work one day to find my two kids crammed into the Kindness Closet with their babysitter and her little brother. They were hiding from me. I laughed!IMG_2387

We celebrated a good friend’s 50th birthday with a surprise party his wife had been planning for months. He was definitely surprised!_MDS4802

We went to a Native American Pow Wow for the first time. It was held at a nearby university and it was fascinating. The kids loved the activity, dancing, regalia, and atmosphere.IMGP4843

Katie was mesmerized by the Head Woman, who helped lead the procession at the start of the Grand Entrance. Katie asked to meet her and have a photo taken with her. We found out her name is Esther.IMGP4871

After the Pow Wow, we walked nearby on the Washington University campus and found these awesome little huts. I have Googled lots of phrases (“Washington University twig huts,” “stick fort,” “hedge huts”) and can’t find any information on them other than a few photos taken by other people. It’s a mystery, but a fascinating one! The kids had fun running through them… and so did we! What I wouldn’t give to have one of these built in my backyard.IMGP4903IMGP4896

Afterwards, we left the university and drove to a city coffee house owned by friends Dan met at church. We snuggled in to the window seat, had an afternoon snack, read some books, and talked. Joy!IMG_2581

I took this photo on the 17th because this blog is for marking the milestones in our lives, as well as the mundane moments. Does anyone else have a pile of laundry that is taking over the laundry room?IMG_2365

Our church is full of incredibly talented artists. While walking around the building one day at work, I passed an area the artists set up where they were creating masterpieces with melted crayons. This art became the backdrop for the entire Easter celebration at all three of our church campuses. It is even cooler in person!IMG_2399

And this is another piece of art they created, also with crayons. Somehow I know if I were to attempt this, it would never turn out this stunning.IMG_0079

Jackson became a composer this month. He sat down at the electric keyboard and started playing, and wrote down the notes he played in the order he played them. Here’s his music. Later, Katie played it on her recorder too._MDS4862

The HUGE change for the month was I went corn, dairy and gluten free. The doctor thinks it will ease the inflammation in my body, which will counteract my lupus and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. I didn’t go corn, dairy and gluten free all at once; it’s been gradual since March 9th. So far, the changes I’ve seen include a little weight loss and I can actually get my rings off my fingers even in the morning (which is my worst time of day for swelling). It sounds like a minor thing, but it’s a sign that something is working. I’m also off one of the six medications I was taking for heartburn. That’s a nice benefit! This photo shows one of my first really fulfilling gluten-free meals. I found a gluten/corn-free beer (that I actually like!) and made a rice-crust and non-dairy cheese pizza. I really liked this meal and it has been one of my go-to meals for the last month.IMG_2426

At the end of Spring Break, I took the kids to a new museum nearby called Myseum. There were lots of interactive exhibits, including this metal wall with magnetized PVC pipes. It’s a life-sized marble run, and the kids loved it!IMG_2417

One of my other favorite things at Myseum was this area called Seaweed Swamp. Pool noodles are strung from a metal grid near the ceiling, and they hang vertically in the air. The pool noodles are about a foot off the ground and pretty close together, so you can’t really see through them. It’s a fun sensory “swamp”, although I wouldn’t go in there if you are claustrophobic because you can get a little disoriented.


The last day of Spring Break was Palm Sunday. It was supposed to be spring-like, yes? NOT in St. Louis! We got a foot of snow and it was the worst snowfall in the area in thirty years. I was at work that morning when the snow started, and it came down so fast that we cancelled 11am church services. I usually get home in about 20-25 minutes, but it took me an hour that day because the roads were so incredibly bad. I prayed the entire time (out loud!) and finally made it home. It was a wacky day. We had planned to celebrate Jackson’s birthday with family at Chuck E Cheese, but cancelled. Which was for the best because Dan had to take Katie to urgent care that morning due to a really sore throat. We thought it was strep, but it turned out to be just a plain sore throat!_MDS4850

As if the snow wasn’t bad enough, my sister had arrived in town the day before. She was spending the first part of her Spring Break with us. Our plans were cancelled and we spent about two days in the house watching TV and letting the kids play video games. There wasn’t much else we could do! This is my sister on the couch pretending to have a WILD Spring Break. Ha!_MDS4867

Because our church cancelled Palm Sunday services, they decided to stream the entire service online instead. The church has never done that before, so it was pretty cool to see the worship and the message from the comfort of home. AND we also got to watch it on our cool new TV! Dan and I haven’t bought a TV for about 13 years. Our old one was small and weighs about 115 pounds because it’s as deep as it is wide. (A dinosaur!) We have finally caught up to the 21st century and gotten a “smart” TV. The high definition reception gave my brain a workout for the first few days as I started at the screen open-mouthed at how crisp people look on TV. It was like the “fourth wall” of a movie was broken through and I could see these people aren’t really hobbits and dark lords; rather, they are actors playing characters. (We flipped on Lord of the Rings as the first thing we watched on the TV). It truly blew my mind._MDS4904

My sister was here to celebrate Jackson’s birthday a few days early. Since he missed his big family outing to Chuck E Cheese, she gave him a present on snow night. This was his face when he opened the Skylanders Giants character he wanted so badly. Mary also gave him two five-dollar bills, and he thought he was RICH!_MDS4921

In usual St. Louis fashion, school was cancelled the next day even though most roads were clear. Mary and I decided to take Katie and Jackson to Chuck E Cheese on our own. Jackson was very happy about that! We had fun with the kids and Mary and I even went head-to-head on our own trivia

This photo demonstrates one of the MANY reasons I love my job. Y’all know I work at a church that has multiple locations. In order to preserve staff unity, every employee goes to the main location on Wednesdays. We have ministry-specific meetings, catch up with coworkers, and attend a mandatory staff lunch. That means anyone who works at a satellite campus has to bring their portable office with them, which means their laptop and files they need and whatnot. This also means the regular office space is inundated with lots of people, so we all find a chair or coffee table to make into a temporary office for the day. You can walk through the building and see random people holed up in any available chair in the foyer and sometimes even in the nursing mothers room. A brilliant manager decided to make one of the KidzCrossing classrooms into a temporary work area. She has been setting up tables there, but recently decided to make it into a really nice space. So she put tablecloths out, nice lamps for prettier lighting, and even added a candle. This was my favorite part, though: the day she unveiled it, she had chocolate-covered strawberries and sparkling juice for everyone to enjoy and to make the off-campus employees feel welcome. I love that someone made a point to give us a “home away from home.”IMG_2454

The big event in March is sweet Jackson’s birthday. He turned six this year, and we celebrated the day with dinner out and presents at home. This is the huge shark pillow Dan bought for him at Cabela’s. He’s been sleeping with it every night and he loves it._MDS4932

The last day of March was Easter Sunday. Our entire family went to work with me. Dan volunteered at both morning services, and Katie led worship in the Preschool classroom. Jackson went into the Kindergarten classroom, where they were taught the response to the phrase, “Chris is risen!” The response is, “He is risen! He is risen indeed!” Jackson wrote it on his dry erase board. I love how proud he looks, and I especially love that his spelling makes “indeed” look like “and dead.”IMG_2485

After work, we spent Easter afternoon with Dan’s family. Jackson got to open his birthday presents from the extended family, and this photo shows the t-shirt quilt Grandma made him from all the shirts I’ve decorated for him in the past. One of the squares in the middle is a denim  hat he used to wear in the summers. Grandma figured out how to include it in the quilt too. I love the memories this represents.IMG_0066

Easter Sunday’s weather was completely opposite of Palm Sunday, so we took the kids and their cousin on a walk to a nearby playground. It was a lovely end to March, and my soul is aching for spring weather to HURRY UP ALREADY!IMG_0067

Monday, April 1, 2013

Hoodies + Bookmarks

Katie wears a hoodie as if it’s a security blanket. She wears one every day and almost every moment of every day!  Her favorite is a blue and pink geometrically-striped hoodie. Today I nabbed it from her coat hook and took it to the laundry room to wash it. Before I threw it in, I emptied the pockets and this is what I found:IMG_2493

My girl has scraps of paper stuffed in her jacket pocket, and a paper clip too. No big deal, right? But guess what she uses them for: every one of these is a bookmark she has been using in her library books. For a mom who also loves to read, these little bits and scraps make me incredibly happy. How I love that girl!


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