day 8: time together


After we’d been married about 3 years, Rod and I were leading our then-church’s youth group, which our kids were in.

We went through the book The Five Love Languages For Teens and discovered that for both Josh and Paige, their primary love language was quality time.

Quality time itself is kind of one of those yuppy, new-agey, Gen-x, guilt trip terms that wasn’t necessary back in the day because we didn’t have the terms multi-task and social media, and the only people with schedules and agendas wore suits and carried briefcases. Being together as a family shouldn’t require a term or a plan, but that’s the world we live in and to which we must adjust.

So we have made quality time a family value. Our ‘new kids’ have no idea, yet, what that is, but they want it, and we give it. It used to be much easier during those almost-2-years when Mommy and Daddy were both work-at-home parents, and we traveled together most of the time. Now it takes a little more coordination on our part, but they don’t see it. We eat breakfast together in the morning. We eat dinner together at night. We spend Fridays with the older siblings. We attend school functions and church several times a week. Daddy walks them to the school door every day and I volunteer at school whenever I can. One of us meets the bus and does homework with them. We like to go see movies, enjoy the beach and pool, go visiting, hit the Sonic happy hour.

Lately, these great blogs about forgoing Christmas gifts have been popping up. Yes, I say great. During the past few years, for reasons philisophical, financial, and spiritual, we have been parring down on Christmas giving. I admit, there is still some guilt involved for me, as I used to be a champion gift-giver and card-sender. But it gets out of hand, we already have more than we need, and the best gift, really/truly/deeply is experiencing life together. This year, we have our son’s wedding 4 days before Christmas, and when our almost-daughter-in-law said we’d all be getting hugs for Christmas, I was actually relieved. Who needs another DVD or gift card? Let’s make dinner together and revisit one of those family favorite films. That’s a treasure!

Last night, Randa sat on the kitchen floor while Rod and I cleaned up dishes (quality time, y’all!) and declared she was going to make her Christmas list. She did so without asking how to spell anything (also a gift to me!) The photo is above. The interpretation is here:

1. Easy Bake oven
2. To go shoe shopping with Mommy
3. To see a movie with my family
4. To get a trip to Hawaii (she said this is for her honeymoon, so we agreed that can be postponed)
5. To go dress shopping with Mommy

6. To sip hot chocolate on Christmas morning
7. I want a new Belle dress.

The idea that most of her desired presents involve time spent with us? Priceless.


day 7: The Mary Moments

Mary and Martha are one of my faaaaaaaavorite stories in the Bible.

{apparently, there was a brother, too, but no one really says much about him until he dies, and then he becomes kind of a big deal… read it}

I have a great old storybook called Jesus’ Second Family that tells all about sweet, attentive Mary and crazy-eyed, anal-retentive Martha (who, lets face it, probably set a kick-butt table and made everything smell nice and coordinate).

As a grown-up, just last year, I read another book (and we all know what I mean when I said “read” – started obsessively then fizzled out and dug for the parts I needed) called Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World. It is a great reference and application to how these women fit into who we are now.

This past March, my friends and I went to hear Jen Hatmaker, and the first in her three sermons was about Mary and Martha, in a new light.

So there is much to be said about what amounts to FOUR VERSES in the Bible. God is so smart. He can pack a lifetime of lessons into one little glimpse of a family.


DISC-Personality-BreakdownAt our church, and in our church office, the DISC personality test is used and referred to quite often.

I have not taken the test myself, but by being around all these “Ds” and “I’s” and “esses” and “cees” (seriously, how do you SPELL PLURAL LETTERS?!?!?!), I know enough about the personalities to diagnose myself.

I am an I, who is the one that wants to “go to the beach and watch a movie!” (slightly inside joke there). Basically, I want to do all the things with all the people. Let’s GO! Let’s DO! Let’s HUG AND LAUGH AND MAKE UP A SONG! LET’S BE EXCITED ABOUT IT!

If I look at the simple chart, I get confused, because I see all these traits in me… the drive that is a “D” trait, the organization and make-everything-be-just-so that are “C” traits… the loyalty and reliability that are so “S.” And therein lies the Mary-Martha smackdown that exists in me.

I enjoy working. I like presenting things that are shiny and informative, enjoyable and comfortable, whether they are event flyers or a dinner parties. But that takes a lot of work and planning and concentration, and so often, my heart, my “I” personality, just wants to sit and chat.

…or as I texted to my friend De last week:
I just want to eat donuts with my brothers and sisters, at the feet of Jesus. Is that too much to ask?

{I’ll let you guess what her answer was…}

Zoom in on my professional life as a 30-something with a teaching degree I never plan to “use” again and about 4 unrelated careers on my resume. What does one do with that? How do you utilize your skills and find something fulfilling to do?

I was hired by my church.

AND I, and the Martha and Mary in me, LOVE IT!

On a daily basis, there are plenty of tasks to accomplish… post this, send out this, write this, reformat this, call them, email them, order that, fix that, clean THAT for crying out loud, make this, talk about that, copy those, read this…mary

But also on a daily basis, there is, wait for it…








This is not an isolate incident, but an example: Yesterday, I had the most amazing conversation with one of our volunteers. I have known him and his wife since we started coming to the church. He is one of The Italians… always pleasant, always kind of kindred. Yesterday, I heard his story…his testimony, just because we both happened to be getting a cup of coffee at the same time, (and because I was floored to hear he is 77 years old, because he looks 20 years younger, and made a big deal out of it), I got to experience salvation, grace, and the work of the Holy Spirit through his eyes. By the time he finished, more than 30 minutes had passed and we were both wiping tears away. In that moment, my Mary heart had said, Whoa Martha, the spreadsheet will wait, and my whole inner person was taught, blessed, and filled with the good stuff.

And no one minded.

Get your work done. Give your all. Do it well.

But pause for these moments, because God is speaking through people… and He has so much to say.

day 6: tall, tall trees

tall tall trees
We used to sing it to each other.(& sometimes still do)

We don’t have the mansion, and we don’t officially own all the waters in the seas,

but the lovin’ and the tall trees are right here in our grasp! {…thankful for the view from our current kitchen window!}

day 5: thankful for the long shots


make that MOST times,

things do not work out how they should.

Does it mean we’ve failed?

Or does the mere act of trying make us a little… interesting? Strong? Heroic?

If there is one thing I want to pass on to my children, along with the greatest commandment, it’s that there is glory in IMG_4626trying. It is that failure is in the eye of the beholder. It is that there is so much richness in shooting for the stars.

I’m thankful for the God-given and also the hard-won courage to chase dreams and to recover after they fall apart.

And I’m thankful for new dreams, too.

More about success and failure here~

day 4: little stuff

After three days of profound thanks, I’m ready for a little fun…

I’m thankful KK does not eat the red Skittles, because I get them all.

I’m thankful for Randa’s pretty good British accent, because, well, I am obsessed with British accents (just ask my Giles, I mean…Siri).

I’m thankful Rod and I are no longer the only Christian couple we know with a Jerry Springer-esque background. Holla to the sinners saved by grace!

IMG_4194I’m thankful for moments in movies that are tied to specific memories for me. Today on my day at home, I popped in Sex and the City and was immediately transformed to Hollywood Boulevard with my BFF Jen. I didn’t watch the TV show, so I remember each time she leaned over to give me backstory, how she giggled every time Charlotte said something cute, how we found the same lines to be cheesy, and what I would give to see a movie with her on a regular old Monday night again.

Ooops. I guess this did get a little serious.

I’m thankful that I have 3 adult “kids” in my life who are good for walks on the beach, lunch dates, and good conversation.

And because I’ve recently realized that good conversation is the love language of my current season, I’m grateful there are so many good talkers in my life. Church office peeps, I’m looking at (and laughing with) you. Texting friends, you TOO! Keep those ecards and random observations comin’!

I love these things!
I love these things!

I’m thankful that KK and Randa are almost to a reasonable age, and though our conversations are only about 25% interesting or coherent at this point {sorry, perfect mommies, if this appalls you, but I don’t find playground politics scintillating…} I’m thankful that while we wait for that gap to close, the other 75% of what they do is pretty darn adorable, and usually amusing.

I’m thankful my husband still looks at me as though I am either Lucy Ricardo in the chocolate factory or Brooke Shields in her Calvins.

I’m thankful my mom and I talk on the phone pretty much every day.

I’m thankful our neighborhood gave out FANTASTIC chocolate candy for Halloween.

I’m thankful for Netflix and iDevices of all kinds.

I’m thankful for movie marathons with myself, my hubs, and/or my kids. This weekend, we introduced them to Ghostbusters (timeless humor! TIME-LESS!) and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

I’m thankful that being Harry Potter fans is not going to send us to hell.IMG_4739

I’m thankful that the next two weekends will be the relative calm before a particularly crazed holiday season, and so we will have quality family time to put up our Christmas decorations.

I’m thankful that it does not matter one bit when people decide to put up their Christmas decorations.

I’m thankful that even though some sarcasm still exists in this girl, God is refining me to be kinder, more compassionate, slower to anger, and usually, well more often than not, considering my words before I ZING.

I’m thankful that it’s ok to have fun and be happy. There is a lot that is wrong in this world, but there is still a whole lot is right.