My Daughter, the Realist

Tonight an unnamed daughter of ours, who shall remain unnamed, announced to us that she wants to be a marine biologist when she grows up. But her fallback plan is to get married to a guy who has a good job and become a middle school choir teacher. When asked why she has to be married to be a teacher, she said that teachers don’t make enough money. I assured her that teachers do indeed make enough money for a single woman to live comfortably on and she assured me that she doesn’t want enough money. She wants a lot of money. That’s why her dream is to be a marine biologist. But she’s no dummy. She knows that most people don’t get to live their dreams. That’s why everyone needs a fallback plan. Here’s a little snippet of our conversation:

Chris: Honey, I think that if you want to be a marine biologist, you can be a marine biologist. There’s nothing in your way. You go to school, get the degree and get the job.

Unnamed Daughter: (rolling her eyes) Dad, what did you want to be when you were my age?

Chris: A singer.

Unnamed Daughter: And are you one?

Chris: Well, no not exactly. But singer is not as easy to plan for as marine biologist.

Unnamed Daughter: Right. (Ignoring his logic completely) You make a living at counting traffic. That should have been your fallback plan. I’m just planning ahead. You know how everyone’s always saying (insert great mocking tone into voice here) “Follow your dreams….”? Well, that’s dumb because not everyone can do that. Not that there’s anything wrong with dreams. Everyone has them. But, like every guy in my class wants to be a football player when he grows up. Do you think anyone of them is actually going to be a football player? No. Probably not even one of them. They should all have a fallback plan like me. Then they won’t be disappointed.


Ah….the optimism of youth. My daughter – she’s not content to crush her own dreams. She must crush the dreams of everyone around her as well. Does a mother’s heart proud.

Where did this unnamed seventh grade girl come from?

Hi Guys

Oh guys. Let me say that one more time for the emphatic-ness of it all:

Oh guys.

Where can I begin? I can’t and so all I can say is oh guys.

I took over 200 pictures this weekend. First of all, my dear MIL, Jill was in town. That was fun. Then my nephew, Seth(thew) turned one. That was fun too. Then we went to another birthday party where we got to throw pies in the birthday boy’s face. Yep, fun again. Then Sunday was our pastor’s last Sunday and the Gospel Choir sang and some people got baptized and we melted in our shoes while we took a group picture on the church lawn afterwards. Then out to lunch with at least half the church where we ate some really good key lime pie. Then the end of summer pool party/going away party for the Boyles up in Plano. Then today was the first day of school.

See what I mean, guys?

I don’t even want to go back and look at my list of all the things I wanted to accomplish this summer. I already know that I am a deep, dark failure at accomplishments. If failure were a color, it would be purple, I think. I feel pretty purple. I don’t really care. I learned some things this summer though. I learned that I am absolutely not good at working out of my home when the kids are at home. I find it as impossible as keeping my house clean. It’s too hard when the living room doubles as an office, which doubles as doll world/school/restaurant/Full House/whatever the game of the day happens to be. My utmostest of apologies goes out to all those who have been directly affected by my unworkableness. Poor missionaries. And poor people who give to the missionaries. It can only get better from here on out. I love my quiet office/house! I luxuriated in the vastness of the wide open quietness today.

I also learned that summer is the most expensive season of the year.

I also learned that I really like the Spanish word “simpatico.”

I also learned that Grace looks exactly like her Uncle Robbie when she does the robot at the dinner table at Applebee’s.

I also learned that some places like Applebee’s, have no trouble keeping their indoor temperature somewhere near the same temperature as the inside of an ice cube, even when it’s 100 outside. When you get home from Applebee’s, it’s a good idea to turn on your space heater to thaw out your feet while you’re writing a blog post, even though it’s 100 outside.

I also learned that every year, no matter how ready I am for school to start, I am reduced to a lumpy-throated, blurry eyed, unable-to-speak mother who is simultaneously so proud and so afraid and so incapable and so loving…it’s usually summed up with a hug and “I love you. Have a good day.” Oh, if only they knew what was going on inside this thing called me. Maybe they’ll know someday.

Maybe someday I’ll get to all the pictures. Maybe someday, guys. I really am hoping to be able to post the video of our Gospel Choir song too. But these things take time, guys. And I’ve got three months worth of work to catch up on. So, for now, out of the 200 pictures, I’m just posting this one. My girls, right before going off to Seventh, Fifth and Second grades.

Oh girls.


Happy Feet

You talk about your drinks of water…

Today I walked into the family room to the sound of HYSTERICAL giggling. For absolutely no reason at all, all three of my girls were laying side by side on the couch, with their feet hanging over the arm, kicking and laughing. Couch cushions and blankets and remote controls and shoes had been haphazardly strewn about the room to make room for what was really important: fun on the couch. I think this is why I had three kids. When they saw that I was watching them, they screamed, “Mom! Take a picture of us!” (By the way, whenever Chris hears them call me “mom,” he always says “ee” out loud. The same when they call him “dad.” In other words, he doesn’t tolerate not being called “daddy” and “mommy” anymore. They groan every time. It’s so fun.)

I did take some pictures. These are the last days of summer. Come on fall…








My pastor’s wife, Rosie, said something to me today that has really affected me. They are preparing to move overseas to England, to work in the same ministry as our good friends, Scott and Kirsty. As with any move of this magnitude (leaving two college-age daughters behind here and taking their son who is still in high school with them), the details are overwhelming. There are a hundred things that could go wrong at every turn and they just keep pushing forward through all of the changes with the ultimate goal in mind. Anyway, as she was talking with me before church this morning about exactly where they are in the whole process, she said, “You know, it’s no wonder they call the most painful part of childbirth ‘transition.’ Transition is really painful. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life – leaving people that are so dear to us. And yet it’s the transition that is causing growth and good stuff to happen. But oh, does it hurt.”

I think I’m there too.

In the painful part.

This has been a painful year in many ways and a painful week that I just lived through and I’m looking forward to next week, which promises to bring more pain.

I’ve been stuck on the theme of rivers lately and I’m feeling no different today. The rushing water that I feel is my life just keeps flowing in me and through me and out of me. There is no fighting it. I’ve surrendered to floating along while trying to keep my head from bashing into the rocks. While we were in Colorado last month, Chris signed our whole family up for a white-water rafting trip. I have been white-water rafting before in Oregon and loved it, but something was different about this trip for me. I didn’t want to go with all my heart. In fact, my heart pounded uncontrollably even thinking about it. I knew the kids were looking forward to it and I knew my fears were irrational and I knew I needed to do this, so I set about exploring my heart and trying to figure out what I was so afraid of. What it came down to was that I was afraid of the water. This was hard for me to admit because I am not a fraidy-cat. I love to take physical risks. I will go on any ride at any amusement park. I will climb any tree or cliff. I would fly a fighter jet if I ever got the chance. I am not afraid. But last November, our friend Nathan said his final goodbye to this earth in the water – in a lake in Oregon. He was young and athletic and a good swimmer, but the water overtook him. And I think even more than the fear of drowning or even my kids drowning, I was afraid of facing the fact once again that this life is fleeting and there is much pain in the midst of God’s goodness. When the time came for our rafting trip, I stood outside our car, waiting for the big group to gather to get in our cars and drive to the river and get in the boats to navigate the rapids. As I stood there, my dear friend, Rosie walked up to talk me (yes, the very same wonderful pastor’s wife). She had no idea the turmoil that was overtaking me at the moment. She herself was not going rafting and she was just being friendly and excited for those of us who were going and she asked me if I was ready. When she asked that question, my eyes filled up with tears. I had to turn away from the group of people while I spilled my fears out to her. I will never forget how she wrapped her arms around me and began to pray for me, quietly in my ear, so that no one else could hear. She prayed for our trip, for our kids, for Lauren and Jack, for the rest of Nate’s family…and I wept. I wept the whole way to the rafting place, while we drove through the scenic Colorado mountains. I wept at the music Chris had playing on the mp3 player, I wept at the sight of the river down in the deep canyon to one side of the car and the rocky cliffs rising up out of sight to the other. I wept for the three children sitting in the back of my car that are more of a blessing to me than I could ever deserve. I wept as my husband held my hand. How I love the feel of his hand on mine. And I said goodbye to Nathan again and I prayed for all those who are so much more deeply affected by his absence than I am. I wonder if they felt the arms of God wrap around them that day like I did. It was a beautiful time of grief and joy and worship for me and I am so thankful that we went.

This week marks the end of summer. Transition again. My mother-in-law is coming for my nephew’s first birthday. The Gospel Choir that I am attempting to lead is singing at Terry and Rosie’s last Sunday next week. And then my baby girls will enter a new unknown, each of them one year farther along than they were last year.

I’m really going to miss Terry and Rosie. But I really look forward to what’s coming too. I love the idea of hopping out of the river for a while and taking a long drink from it, while I sit on the grass and rest. I wonder if that could happen.

I’m so thirsty.

I Run Like a River

Or maybe it’s more like a swamp. I feel like a river, but I’m not sure that I’m running to the sea. I feel like I’m more just running in circles. Or maybe not even running. Maybe it’s more like plopping. But plopping like a swamp in a circle is not quite as poetic as running like a river to the sea (thank you, Bono). No, on second thought, I am definitely a river. My longings run deep and fast and the current of emotion is strong. It’s just that I’m not quite sure what those longings are. I only know that they’re there and they’re carrying me along whether I want them to or not. I remember reading a book once. (I am a horrible memory-haver and an even worse quoter, so I hope I don’t get sued for this one…can you even get sued for blog postings? They don’t really count, do they?) Anyway, I’m pretty sure that the book was The Journey of Desire by John Eldredge. And somewhere in that book, he talked about hashing out his frustrations once with a good friend and trying to figure out how to get others to recognize their own deep longings and start living within them and growing within them instead of ignoring them. And I remember his friend said something to him like, “But John, I think you have deeper longings than most people.”

I’ve never been able to get that sentence out of my head. The first thing I thought when I read it was, “Nuh uh. He doesn’t have deeper longings than me. Nobody could have deeper longings than me.” Ha! Instead of solidarity with him, I felt competition. But that’s a whole different issue for a whole different post. Yes, my issues run deep too. I’m working through them one at a time, right here for the world to see. Thank you very much.

I am a dweller. I know that. Sometimes, my dwelling paralyzes me. But even though I physically appear to be sitting still when I dwell, inside I am rushing. Honestly, I feel like I’m being carried away, and the dumb thing is that I don’t know what’s carrying me or to where I’m being carried. I know that my soul is thirsting for the living God. I know that. I feel an obsession for love and fullness and beauty and peace that I just can’t get over. And yet I can’t use my oven at the moment because when I do, it fills the house with the smell of gas and when I open the door to see if it’s lit or not, the oxygen causes the gas that has been pouring out for the last five minutes to light with a big “Fwoooof!” It’s a wonder I haven’t blown my face off. Or worse…

Don’t worry, someone’s coming to look at it this afternoon.

I was telling a friend today that I need to cry. But I need a place to do it and I need the time to do it in. Two hours would be good, I think. On a mossy forest bed, looking up through the trees to where I can just barely see sunlight streaming in, miles above. But I’ve got school shopping to do and laundry to wash and gospel choir practices to lead and receipts to process and ovens to fill my lungs with gas.

And so I wait. As I rush along. To the sea? Who knows. But I hope that there are some big waves when I get there and I hope that I’m able to surf them.

Another Suitcase in Another Hall

I think I’m home now. I think I am. The last couple weeks have been crazy. We went to Colorado, came home, went to Austin for Chris’ company picnic, came home, led worship at church, came home, went to see my Uncle Billy play the blues in a really crowded upper room at a bar in Richardson, came home, went to Six Flags and then came home once more really late last night. I’m not for totally sure that this place that I’m sitting in really and truly is my home but I’m going to go ahead and believe that it is so that I can move forward from here. I’ve finally put all the suitcases away in the garage. I’m doing fifteen million loads of laundry but ran out of detergent halfway through so I went to Target this morning to get more and there was this new and beautiful and good smelling fabric softener that was a little more expensive than the kind I usually buy. But I opened up the pretty bottle and smelled the inner contents and melted right there in the middle of Target. All over the floor. The smell dissolved me. Oh, the people at Downy must love consumers like me. My laundry smells really good right now. I am such a sucker for pretty bottles and pretty smells. Yeah, all things pretty, really.

Back to my home that I think I’m sitting in right now…

It’s actually more like a great big heap of poo poo than a home. Sorry for the graphicality, but I know of no better way to describe it. It’s disgusting! (Other than my clean laundry, which smells REALLY good.) I know I said I would do no cleaning this summer, but you know school doesn’t actually start for three more weeks and I just don’t think I can go that long. Something must be done. I know of this one Certain Person who reads this blog (but never comments) who has told me that he/she loves to do Clean Sweeps on the homes of other people. So, Certain Person, if you’re out there, this is my very public cry for help. Help! If you have any time and any compassion in your heart at all for a poor soul like me, I’m ready for whatever you want to do to my home/poo poo heap. I’ll throw away everything if you ask me to. I have no emotional ties to anything here. I just want it gone and then I want the floors vacuumed. And if you happen to have a baby that needs to be cared for while we’re Clean Sweeping my home, Certain Person, I’ve got three willing and capable baby-watchers that live right here with me.

One might think that I might be able to just do all of that on my own without the help of a Certain Person, but one would be wrong. I am actually utterly incapable of doing anything on my own other than sitting here and blogging, apparently.

But in spite of it all, here are some pictures from our day at Six Flags yesterday:

The girls we brought with us:
1. Sadie, the sweet heart, who knows her mind and knows very well which rides she will NOT go on
2. Janey, the neighbor girl, who got us free parking
3. Grace, the polka-dotted brave heart, who will go on anything even if she’s terrified of it
4. Shelby, the only twelve-year-old I know who has decided to start saying “whatnot” because she thinks teenagers say “whatever” too much
5. Callie, the tender heart, who wants very badly to go on scary rides, and is a good friend to one and all.

The whole gang, including Liese, the wonder baby who stayed awake every second that we were there, from noon to 11:30 pm, sitting in her stroller, sweating, smiling and eating for most of those seconds.

I like this progression of pictures from the Log Ride. Watch the fun turn to “I’m not so sure about this” on the faces of the little girls.