The Loneliest Stage

Mom’s of toddlers make an event of sharing the maddening, but ultimately laughable, stories of mayhem and destruction that the 5 and under set wreak upon our lives. In this stage of mothering, the rare coffee date with a group of friends explodes into laughter over the mischievous tales of your rambunctious toddler. Even the worst of the worst that toddlers can offer up (diapers removed and contents smeared anyone?) can still be met with a sort of head shake and a knowing laugh. Laugh so you don’t cry, knowing this stage will pass. We understand and have all been there.

It’s funny to talk about the three year old who earnestly promises he did NOT eat the cookie while smiling sweetly at you thru chocolate smeared teeth. After a glass of wine with friends, you can actually laugh about the mystery artwork on the back of your couch in Sharpie; and be mildly incredulous together that not one of your children will claim ownership of said artwork. Asking “Who did this?” is met with adamant denials and wide eyed looks of bafflement. You realize with a certain horror that one of your kids is a darn good actor, you just don’t know which one….

No one expects toddlers to be perfect, right? They are learning and growing, figuring out consequences, and ultimately learning what it means to be human.

It’s not so laughable though when those same imperfect kids wreak a little havoc down the road, in the teenage years.

Not many moms of teens sit around swapping stories of the most recent bold-faced lie your tween or teenager tried to pull over on you.

We can feel worried or embarrassed or ashamed when our kids are in this stage of life…. which creates a perfect storm of silence and secrecy. If we don’t guard against it, that can lead to shame that makes us traverse these years alone. I admit that it’s my first response. “Oh man. I hope no one finds out about this.” And yet, the enemy of our soul does so, so much damage in secret. The things we feel like we can’t say out loud are his absolute playground.

And here’s the truth about teenagers:
Just like toddlers, they are learning and growing, figuring out consequences, and ultimately learning what it means to be human. We accept our kids’ imperfections in the toddler stage when the mistakes are small, but not so much in the teen years when the mistakes have the potential to bring a bit more heartache.


So make it a priority to find a friend you can confide in about your frustrations and joys.

If you’re hesitant to share with anyone the very real, sometimes painful, experiences you go thru with your teen, why? Why the tendency to keep it all close to the vest? Here are my fears:

1.  I don’t want anyone to think less of my teen, or love them any less.
2.  I don’t want anyone to judge my parenting as lacking.

When I look carefully at those reasons for not openly sharing our trials with someone….I have decided those reasons are garbage. Are there any moms in your world who might withhold love from you or your teen upon hearing they are imperfect? Yes. You probably know who they are, so don’t choose them as your confidante. The moms who have proven that they love you and love your kids are going to own the fact that their teenager isn’t perfect either, and once you share your own story they will 99 times out of 100 have a story of their own to share. There is joy in knowing that all teenagers are a little bit crazy.  They flat lose their [still developing] minds at times, and we are not in this new and scary parenting stage alone.

Sometimes you need a friend to say out loud: “Your kid is a great kid. He made a mistake. All kids do. It’s okay. This is not outside the realm of normal behavior.” And then when it’s her kid that loses their mind, you can be there to tell her those same things.  (Bonus points if you have a friend from YOUR middle school or high school days who can remind you of your OWN ridiculous acts that your teenage brain convinced you were a great idea!)

There is so, so much joy in the teen years. These kids of ours are smart and funny and opinionated and kind and good. And then they lose their mind a for hot minute and make you crazy – but it doesn’t undo all the great things about this stage. Unless you brood, and worry, and fret, and don’t bring that crazy into the LIGHT with a trusted friend. Keeping the hard and confusing stuff in the dark can make this stage so lonely, and so scary. You need someone to help shape your perspective, and talk you down from locking your child in their room until high school graduation.

Don’t go it alone ladies. This stage of parenting is infinitely better shared.

noise and niceties


My relationship with Facebook is the same as every other mid-thirties mom I know:  We love seeing pictures and hearing about the daily lives of friends and family far away.  We hate how it becomes a time drain and leaves us feeling like we suddenly look up from our phone to realize we just wasted 45 minutes scrolling through things that we either don’t care about or that rile us up and make us angry (Hello 2016 Presidential Campaign!), or just perfectly simple updates that are fun to see but don’t really shape our lives in any important way.  90% of what I read is just Noise or Niceties.

So we delete the Facebook app from our phones for a while, until we miss seeing pictures of our cute nieces and nephews, or something happens in our own lives that we want to share, and pretty soon we’re sucked right back into the time wasting.

And then there’s the discussion about social media presenting everyone’s best side, and driving us to comparison and discontent.  I don’t mean to be a part of perpetuating that part of social media, and only showing the bright and shiny side of our life…. but based on the real life comments of “Your family is so fun!” and “Your kids are so sweet!” or “Your home is so pretty!” from Facebook friends who are just  casual acquaintances in real life, and have never even been in my home or been around my kids longer than 2 seconds, I have to admit I’m unwittingly part of the problem.   I think I’m fairly transparent that my life is not perfectly tied up in a sweet bow, but it seems that’s the image I project despite my best efforts.

Relationships really matter to me.  I am a friend girl.   I like to know about peoples lives, and connect with them and learn from them.  But is Facebook really helping me do that?  Maybe?  In some small way?  But recently I’ve tried to change how I’m using Facebook, to add more value:

-if I see a post from a local friend and think “I haven’t connected with her in a while…”, I try and make a date right then.  Set up a time to have coffee,  a gym date (ha), or invite their family over for dinner.

-if I see a post from a faraway friend, whom I can’t connect with in person, I try and send that friend a text or an email.  I can ask them more in depth questions about whatever it was I might have commented on or “liked”, and we can start a back and forth dialogue better done between two people than our entire friends list.  Those text convos stray from the initial topic, can spread out over a few days, and bring me a lot of joy.

-if I would never in a million years do either one of those things – arrange to see that “friend” in person, or text/email them a personal message, I often “hide” them from my timeline. It’s not that I don’t care about that person and might not want to check back in with them occasionally, its just that I only have so much time in the day.  Scrolling thru the posts of people with whom I’d never connect in real life is one of the things that gives me that “UGH.  I have just wasted so much time” feeling.

Here’s to trying to enjoy social media, while not letting it become a beast of burden. Possible?  I hope so.  I sure do love those pictures and updates of my nieces and nephews and my besties’ kids who are spread all over the globe.   Makes this Oklahoma girl in a Tennessee world feel a little bit closer to home.

dream a little dream, even if it’s scary


Sitting on my back porch today, looking at those pretty woods dotted with redbud trees, I remembered a page in my journal from not quite 2 years ago that I recently stumbled upon:




This light-hearted journal page, full of little wishes uttered as weak prayers, was written at a time when our family was in transition, making decisions about a new job and a new city.  The surrounding pages in that same journal are filled with a lot of fear and pain and questions, and lessons on the resolve that it actually takes to follow the scriptural command to “live at peace with all men.”  Sometimes the best path to peace is a shut mouth, which makes for less spoken words but more filled-up, tear-stained journal pages.

In the middle of those messy pages, I forced myself to write down some hoped-for wishes for the future. (And now, not quite two years later, check, check, check, and check.)  If you are in the middle of your own hard season, don’t be afraid to lift your head and dream a little.  I know it’s scary.  Draw on your courage and faith, and infuse some hope for the future into your heartache. Be brave.








Fall Porch

Summer is well and truly over.  As much as I lament it’s absence when I am shivering on the soccer field at early morning games, I have had to say my goodbyes.  See ya in June, best season of the year.

But at least a new season brings with it cute porch decor!

Bought some mums, made a wreath, and sewed throw pillows for my rocking chairs with some fabric from my scrap pile. Hello Fall!

front porch
I really like the burlap ribbon amongst the flowers and leaves on my wreath (click image to enlarge). Copied mine from a compilation of different wreaths seen on Pinterest but especially this one.






Farewell, pink and purple.

My 10 year old has ditched all the pink and purple once decorating her room. She turned on those “little girl” colors fast enough to bring a tear to a Mama’s eye!

We sweetened up her new bedspread with some fabric bunting and tissue paper pom poms for quick,  inexpensive updated decor. Love this girl’s style.


Blue is my favorite color, too.  I may or may not sometimes take over that hammock for a prime reading spot when she’s in school.  Shhhhh…..



Morning Mommy


Y’all. I timed it. It takes me approximately 17 minutes to run a brush through my hair and slap on a bit of makeup, and transform from scary Picture A to normal Picture B.

So,  my dear middle school boys,  I apologize for perpetually dropping you off at Middle School as version A. I know it’s only 17 minutes. I know. I’m sorry.

For your early school career,  I upheld the unspoken contract that I would at least keep a dark, large pair of sunglasses, lip gloss, and a ballcap in the car,  in order to shield the world from scary version A, and also not scar your young psyches.

But now. Dude. Middle school starts flipping early. I feel like I deserve a medal for leaving the house at 6:45 to drive your precious selves to school thereby saving you an even earlier trip to the bus stop. I am going to continue to roll out of bed, stumble around, and sleepwalk myself to the van. (Except on the mornings your Dad does the sleepwalking.) (Which is good for you, because he’s way cuter and less embarrassing right outta bed.) The point is,  finding my sunglasses and hat is just way too hard.

So, the boys get Version A mom at drop off. In all its glory. Morning sun shining brightly upon that puffy face. And my daughter,  who doesn’t have to leave the house until 8:15 and thereby leaves time for my coffee to start working, gets the new and improved Version B mom and less trauma in her life. It is a tough, unjust world.

(I did stop myself from rolling down the window and yelling to the boys as I drove away “Hey! Boys! Look! It’s Emma walking in the building!!! Remember sweet Emma? We had dinner with her family this summer?!?”  My finger was literally on the button, but at the last minute I remembered that the boys would die of embarrassment if either version of  me yelled out the window about “sweet Emma” in front of the middle school. Be cool, mom.  Be cool.)

More than just eye rolls.


The eye roll moments in these tween years that communicate “I am very sophisticated and cool,  and you are neither funny nor smart” are, yes, a bit difficult.

But there’s so much good in these years too. Oh how much FUN when I look for it and take a break from “molding and shaping” and just accept her on her own terms.

I love seeing her passions develop. I absolutely LOVE when she introduces me to a great new song or gives me a synopsis of a new book in a way that makes me wanna read it.

I love watching her be sweet and nurturing to a select handful of younger neighborhood kids she absolutely adores.

She now has her own curling iron and she’s actually pretty great at fixing her hair 80% of the time. The other 20% she tries something “different” it looks to my old uncool eyes kinda wackadoo but I am trying to perfect the “smile and nod”. It’s her head after all.

Can we talk about fashion sense? We’re minimalist around here when it comes to wardrobe (both a budget decision, and a decision born out of my loathing of shopping), but she works it. I love how she puts an outfit together. (And other times….   smile and nod boys, smile and nod….)

She is learning it’s okay to make mistakes,  and learning that saying “I’m sorry” doesn’t have to taste so bitter. A meaningful I’m Sorry feels so much better than a pride-filled heart. Those lessons are tough,  I’m learning right alongside her.

As my boys have grown and entered middle school and the delicate/tumultuous teenage years, this blog certainly isn’t the place to share their pictures and stories. There’s a weird shift that happens anyway,  where so many of their stories are completely their own – happening apart and separate from me – that they sometimes chose to share with me. (And thank you Jesus for the times they do.) I hold that stuff close.

In the elementary years I feel a bit more freedom to write and document their/our lives and lessons and everyday joys. And thank goodness because looking back at old pictures and blog posts of the kids when they were Itty Bitties is such a treasure to me (probably only to me,  but that was,  I think,  the whole point of this thing anyway.)

All that to say that sometimes I do wonder what it says about me, that I snap pictures of this girl on a random Wednesday morning and post them with my thoughts about her on the cusp of 10 years old….Why exactly is it that I write and hit publish on this stuff? A lot of reasons actually, having to do with needing a writing outlet,  wanting to be known, wanting to share some part of myself with people I don’t have the privilege of living everyday life with,  wanting to in my way “tell of the goodness of the Lord!”,  hoping to communicate that joy and gladness live right alongside heartache and pain…. But mostly I keep posting this stuff because I know down the road I’ll be glad I did. Lord,  help me remember.


Easy DIY Gift

My current favorite easy and inexpensive DIY gift is a quote or scripture on a burlap frame.




Burlap Frame (Pack of two at Walmart, less than $5)

Spray Adhesive

Upholstery Tacks

Favorite quote/paper/printer

Create your quote using different fonts with a program like  Print, cut to size, spray with adhesive, stick to burlap, adorn with upholstery tacks.  This one I made for my husbands office, but for a babies room or friend it would be cute adorned with buttons or a bow and your favorite sweet quote printed on fun paper.




Finding Empathy

Aug 11th, 2015 Her first day of fourth grade!



I think it’s what happens when we sincerely ask the Lord to please PLEASE save us from ourselves and our tendency to judge.

My daughter is a smart, hard-working pleaser who is also occasionally a little distracted and scattered. Also a great description of her mother at age 9.

My first response when she left her homework folder in her desk at school was a lecture. “Make a plan to get it home! Everyday! Ask yourself everyday if you have what you need. Double check, there’s really no excuses….” But then I see her face,  full of disappointment in herself, and I am suddenly hurled thru time,  right back to the emotions of being in fourth grade and ONCE AGAIN turning in a perfect spelling test without my name on it. Minus 10 points. Again. Nine year old me was wrecked. “Why can’t I remember to do that?!?” I fully relive the frustration and bafflement. How can I get every word correct on every test, yet can’t remember a simple thing like putting my name on my paper?

So I exit that moment in my brain,  return to the present,  and by the grace of God skip the lecture and go with a hug.

Thank you Lord for the ways big and small that you are revealing hypocrisy in my heart and replacing it with grace. It feels Holy and special when it happens.  It does not feel like working to find empathy, it feels like being mysteriously and suddenly gifted it. I think these small moments are just practice, preparing me for the bigger moments, when my judgment of someone is messier and uglier and the grace-filled response costs much more and is harder to find. But I want that chance.

What is home anyway?

I have a really great life. A perfect life? No. I have certainly had heartache and loss; but I know God as healer and redeemer probably better than I know him in any other way, and he has been good to oversee my pain and certainly never waste it. Bumps in the road not withstanding, I really do get way down in my gut that my life is enviable. It humbles me. A good, good man who loves me.  Healthy kids.  Never missed a meal.  A family in Oklahoma who would do anything for me.

The one “hang up” and pity-party I keep revisiting in my adulthood, in spite of a full and joy-filled life, is my kids not being able to experience a strong sense of “hometown.” The crazy hometown pride, here’s where I from, it defines me in so many ways, I love it in spite of it’s flaws, yes please dress me in my high school colors 20 years later, that kind of home.  They may never feel about anywhere the way I feel about Oklahoma, because they’ve never been anywhere long enough.   And yes, that’s our bad. We did it. We keep moving them around the country.  Sometimes planned and exciting, sometimes unplanned and heartbreaking, but always landing somewhere where we eventually say, “Oh.  Yeah.  We get it now.  We trust you, Lord, with our whole lives. Thank you.”

So, my kids not having a home town, it’s a small grievance in an otherwise pretty charmed life.

I think I’m finally ready to let go of that heartache.  Here’s this burden Lord, I don’t want to carry it anymore. It’s time.  Now is the time partly because, let’s face it, my kids are age 13, 11, and 9. The one-hometown-for-their-whole-life ship has sailed. It’s ain’t happenin’ honey.

But also because the Lord has seen fit that now is the time for him to shine a gentle but very bright spotlight on my heart, and reveal the discontent there.  In short…he moved me to a military town.  So I have been given the precious chance of watching a handful of  families be moved, uprooted, have plans changed and changed again, all at the mercy of some higher up in an office somewhere sending them off to wherever the paperwork says to go.  They do it with joy and peace. They do it accepting the heartache that comes with saying goodbye, but without bitterness. If they feel a sense of loss over “home”, it’s not in a way that steals their joy.

So, this life of never being in one place long enough to lay down roots? It’s not the script we would have written.  But it’s okay.  Better than okay.  As I give up that wish and just go ahead and try and accept with joy that I didn’t get my way, I can more clearly see all the benefits of this life we’ve lived.

A friend once told me that my kids were “well on their way to becoming unflappable.”  It makes me tear up as I realize how true that is, and that I couldn’t have given them that gift with the life I would have planned had I been in charge. They’ve earned their grit the same way we have.  I’m grateful.

And I hope for them that someday they can process whatever heartache and unfulfilled wished-for-things they encounter in their own lives, and find the beauty in it.

So, you are all my witnesses that I am fully accepting this life of ours with joy: Dallas.  Lubbock.  Georgia.  And now, Lord willing for a good long while, Tennessee. I’m glad for the lessons, love, and beauty found in all of those places.



“Home is wherever I’m with you.”  A cliche by now, but also the God’s honest truth.  Home is the place that’s safe.  Home is where you are known, loved, celebrated, and accepted.  And we’ve always, always had that.  Always will.