This Where the Nonsense Turns to Makesense

..A large family working to perfect our sweet skills: Loving others, making an impact, parenting on purpose, living simply, and embracing sarcasm.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Winter Break

Oh how I love the sound of that phrase. Winter break. Brain break. Pants break. You can't make me. I won't. No pants, no finagling, no hectic. My minutes will be spent doing all the things I love most. 

Ok, maybe I promised myself I would clean something, but don't expect miracles. I'll spray the counter and walk away for a good five minutes just to avoid using elbow grease. Come at me, syrup stains. I'll soak a pan like I'm waiting for it to get pruney. Get behind me, caked on scum. And yes, I'll probably run that load of laundry through twice, but the second round will have a drop of lemon oil and therefore zero mildew smell. Yah. I got this winter break in the bag, and we are only two days in. 

You know what else has already  happened? After about a month of asking my husband to handle a few Unwelcomed visitors we named Rebecca, I caught the mice myself. Yes. We named all the mice Rebecca. Yes. I purchased four different mouse trap types and placed them silly nikky through my home. And, yes. Auto correct just changed "willy nilly" to "silly nikky" and I'm leaving it because maybe it fits better. The point is, I did it. I caught two mice in this strange glue contraption. One died straight away, and I'm sorry to say that another held on for a few ten minute sections of time (I didn't want to say an hour. It sounded meaner). 

What's a girl to do? How do you humanely rid your home of field mice that are eating through every food package in your pantry and leaving little black licorice bits like its the best surprise they can offer? 

No thanks, Rebecca! I don't want none. 

But I did it. I think my kids looked at me like I was just a smidgeon taller in their eyes when it was all done. Except Layla Grace. I don't know how she looked at me really. I avoided her eye contact on account of this conversation: 

Me: gross. Get away from the mice. 
LG: aw. It's so sad. Can't I just put him out of his misery?!
Me: what are you going to do??
LG (calmly) (too calmly): stab it. 
Me (commence avoiding eye contact)

Isn't this what winter break is all about? I'm just sorry I don't have a happier story.

Like the time Sam found the mouse trap my husband set. The peanut butter and cheese had been removed so precisely, yet the trap had not been set off. Almost as if Rebecca has thumbs (please don't have thumbs, Rebecca). And there was this conversation: 

Sam: mamma, since your trap has been licked clean, can I set it off with this stick?
Elijah: OH MY GOSH
Me (calmly): Sam. Never say that again. And no. 
Mike (chokes)

 If you love us you must love all of us. 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

What's My Role? What's My Job?

I'm at odds on the inside. This time it isn't due to the rude amount of dairy I ate. This time it's my brain and my thoughts and how they intertwine with my heart. What I know verses what I feel. What I see verses my true reality. 

During the week, I spend a solid 35 hours looking into the faces of these tiny little clowns- 28 fifth grade clowns. They are a group of incredible humans, but most of the time I seem to know it more than they. 

I say, "that was awesome. Thank you for walking us through how you did that math problem!" 
They respond, "Uh. Mrs. B. I got it wrong"
I attempt to high-five them and they accuse me of being too enthusiastic. So I offer them a low five and attempt a serious face. I ask, "what do you mean you got it wrong?? Did you learn something just now by working through this problem?"

"Well. Yah. I know how to solve it now," they add with confused faces. 

"Perfect. Well the right answer wasn't '11'; the right answer was figuring how how not to solve this problem so you could get to 11!"

They walk away slowly assessing me while I chuckle and the rest of the class laughs, mostly happy none of them was on the spot just now. 

We laugh so much in my classroom. Sometimes, when I feel the day is taking too long or what we are learning is threatening our understanding, I stop the lesson for a story. I overdo it. I use big hands. I engage them in silly stories and banter to further their sarcasm and wit, but more importantly, I show them what it looks like to interact socially with an adult. 
There are too many "right answers" in these kids' lives. Too much of "do it this way or get out". Sometimes there's a punishment for simply having a different opinion. By the time this crowd is ten, they've learned to lay low and please their people. There's no disagreeing. 

So I am at odds. I walk a fine line as an educator. I'm not the mom, I'm the teacher. But what happens when a student doesn't need a teacher, she needs a mom because her true mother called her a slut earlier that morning. She's ten and an exceptional student, and even if her mother didn't mean it, she said it, and sent her daughter to school to process that with her little ten year old brain. 
I'm at odds because a boy who is handsome and tall and funny with a mound of potential gets kicked out of his house each morning. His step dad wakes him up at 7:30 and tells him to go. School starts at 9:30, and the walk is roughly five minutes. He doesn't open up much about this but it hurts him. He's told me it makes him sad. 
So, my question, dear readers, is where do I stand? If I was their mother, I could hold them and pray with them and say I am sorry. If I was a social worker it would be easy to say these kids are at risk. I would have a plan and a program and support. But I'm not. I'm a teacher. I have to stay neutral. I would never speak against a parent to a child. So what do I say? What do I do? 

For the time, I find myself being the recipient of hugs from students I don't yet even know. Kids in other classes. Kids I've never taught. It seems they aren't looking for a teacher or a new way to solve math; those are irrelevant in their hierarchy of needs. They need love. Of which I will never have enough to give. 

So for now I hug. I hug and I practice handing this weight up to Jesus because I can't win at this. I can't love enough or say the perfect words to change these kids' home life. I'm just one girl. #kathleenkelley

I'll continue living my real authentic life in this place where I've been so clearly sent. I'll attempt to be a peacemaker and a silent set of arms that hug back. Maybe that will be enough. Let that be enough, Jesus, or show me what to do because I know I'm not in this alone

Saturday, November 14, 2015

5.5 almost

We've been over this. I don't sleep. Last night I got a new oil that is said to have powers to keep you asleep once you fall there. It smells like grass. Some foreign grass one might find in Asia. I'm torn between two worlds: the man do I love sleep world and man do I dislike the smell of grass in Asia as I imagine it. But at the end of it all, I put a couple drops on my pillow and got a solid 5.5 hours of sleep. Not even a lot of tossing a turning. 

This could be a fluke. I always sleep better on Fridays. And why wouldn't I? My brain is fried between holding down my position as a teacher and leading the troop I call the Brew Crew. 

On the other hand, Saturday is a big night. Tossing and turning would make sense. I get to emcee Awaken's 4th annual fundraising banquet. It's sold out. My belly is at peace, but my mind is a jumble. I was focused and full of peace. And then terrorists came to Paris. 

Now my heart is unsettled which always gets me thinking which always wakes me up. What a web. 

It's so easy for me to stay unattached to traumatic situations. It's safe to say I fall somewhere in the spectrum of having an attachment disorder. There's been no clinical diagnosis, but I've been through enough training to help kids through it, and I know the hand I was dealt. Knowing this about myself, it's easy to understand when I don't engage the same way others do. But it's not acceptable. I don't accept it. 

If we strive to be the remnant of hope here on earth by pointing to Christ then we are to strive to hurt over the things that hurt Him. This is so counterintuitive. Place ourselves in harm's way? Lay our heart out where the pain is? Open our fists and sit by with palms wide open?this goes against my grain. I've mastered a life of keeping people just where I want them. 
I can love Jesus and care for people and keep all my emotions in order without ever being vulnerable. Until I come to realize that's not truth. That's a coping mechanism. It's a fleece thrown over my eyes that has slowly been thinning. The opaque takes on the sheer. 
Every morning I pray that my eyes would be open to see the people around me. And suddenly I'm understanding that this isn't his way. Instead, he's attempting to do that thing- that bit where he prunes and shakes and lovingly squeezes- where he pours a concentrated dose of love right down into my grinch of a heart and makes it swell to three times its usual size. That way he has about making me soften at the edges and dare to trust his kindness. That way he has of convincing us that we can wrap our hearts around the hurt in Paris and know we will walk out the other side still in tact. Maybe even a little bit stronger. 
I don't know how he does it. But I know it's his grace. The minutes I move from "everything is a trigger threatening my calm" to "I am willing to care about what you care about". I want to trust in his kindness enough to jump on the back of compassion and ride it like the pony I should have owned. 
I have practical steps to get better at this. Awaken is a an anti trafficking organization for local guys and girls here in Reno. I am mostly the writer and social media girl for the organization, but I've also connected with some of the girls we work with. Rather than keep them at arm's length and attempt to force sympathy, I think of their stories. I picture what their heart felt like at each section. How their moms and dads felt during that time. How others looked at them and knew they were hurting but maybe didn't know why or how or what they were really doing. 
So often at my work as a teacher, I come across a kid who seems loud and rebellious and in your face. Yesterday one such girl was giving her teacher an especially hard time. This girl is a button pusher. She has more than mastered the talent of I hurt you before you hurt me. She yells and teases and swears like a pro. She instigates and stirs up girl drama. So I put myself in her shoes. 

For a few minutes I stopped and asked, "what's really going on here?" And then I really watched her. She has no friends. When I ask her about family and what she did last night or how she gets along with her mom, she changes the subject smoothly but immediately. She's never answered. So I put myself in her shoes. 

And my heart aches. It squeezes and hurts and aches and wakes me up in the middle of the night to pray for these girls: the ones already working the streets and the ones at risk. 

And then, at 3:30 in the morning, this is when I start to realize that God doesn't want me to open my eyes. I see plenty. He wants me to open my heart. And he knows I'm not at all up for this challenge. Not at all. I will never have compassion enough for others. Part because I've been damaged and don't trust yet and part because love is a fruit only the Holy Spirit can perfect in me. My only job is to let him. 

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

The All Time Angst

You know those nights when your dinner was good but not enough substance to carry to morning? When you eat too early or too light or dang it you're just hungry. 

I'm having one of these minutes. I ate. I even ate at a normal dinner hour: 6:30. But when you eat at a football banquet they give you an unabashed stink eye if you even look like you're going to ask about wheat free, allergy friendly menu items. There isn't an allergy friendly section. There isn't even a menu. Take your styrofoam plate with those little hilly dividers, grab your dinner roll, handle your plastic ware, and just pick those croutons out of your heavily dressed Caesar salad yourself. 
Fine. But may I please sneak a bite of that cheesecake? Oh. You saw that, did you? You noticed me sneak a cheesecake bite when I was standing in line for dinner? Huh. Interesting. What's that you say? The dessert line wasn't quite open yet? Hmm. Well. In that case, I took two pieces of cheesecake when your back was turned. 
I'm still hungry. I think I'll try some ice cream. 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Just The Two of Us (and no more)

The Man and I snuck out for five minutes of uninterrupted eye contact paired with an hour of talking freely. We didn't speak code even once for fear little ears might hear and hold us to whatever they picked up in their eavesdropping. Heaven bless them, but if one of my kids doesn't grow up to be a spy for the government, I may not have helped them discover their true calling. I've never met a crew that can gather Intel and decode our stuttered sentences and anagrams in the way my children can. 

Hubby: hey babe, want to go to the thing and get a D just ::opens eyes wide and winks twice:: 
Some child of mine: You guys are leaving!! To get drinks?! Just the two of you!!

Me: hey babe, there's a special thing and I was thinking of getting a ::points to ceiling:: for 5. 
Some child of mine: you're getting Sam a new hat for Christmas. 
Me: son of crap!! How do they do it!?

They are spies or wizards- I haven't decided. But the point is, we had time alone speaking freely like humans and not robots. It was glorious. 

Our conversation weaved from updates to goings on. We talked of funny stories and remembered our babies who are now college bound. We relayed the mocking we've done lately and got misty over the feelings on the horizon when our oldest leaves for college. 

We partook in the trivia cards strewn about the bar table and got caught up in each other's eyes a time or two. We sat close, so we touched the whole time. We remembered who we are- I am his and he is mine and no one else gets to fit in between us. We've left a pocket for Jesus, but nobody and nothing else is welcomed here. Not in this space. 

In this space, I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine. The end. There's no grey space here. There's no compromise. We were attached 22 years ago this January. Then we married almost 20 years ago. I've been his longer than I haven't in this life. What an overwhelming blessing. What an unexpected gift. 

Thank you, Mike Brewer, for always being my man. You are loved, sir. 

Friday, October 09, 2015


There's a word that gets thrown around pretty regularly, right? 

I hope so. I hope I have time to watch tv tonight. Hopefully, I'm not late for work. I hope he doesn't eat any of you! (Land Before Time reference for everyone born in the 80s). 

HOPE. We throw it in like a pseudo-synonym for crossing our fingers. But lately the weight of the word has been sinking deep in me. 

I work at a day job where I stare into faces devoid of hope. And it isn't just my students in their too small jeans and unkempt hair- traces of an old bruise that I can never be sure came from typical kid blunders or a parent's heavily thrown backhand. 
It isn't only the dads with altered smiles due to the meth that took their teeth. Or the mothers who roll in wearing overly low tank tops, fuzzy jammie pants, house shoes, and what appears to be a countenance of confidence but really comes across as fear in the way they won't hold eye contact. And it isn't even the other teachers who confess their frustrations in a way that makes you know the only hoping they do is hope the school day ends without any major screw ups or another blow of devastating news. Really, it's all of it. It's everyone. It's no one. Hope is hard to find. 

Sometimes I feel like the life I lead is small. I'm Kathleen Kelly- I feel like a lone reed leading a valuable but small life. I'm caught up in paperwork and planning, reading data and high stakes testing. It's easy for me to forget that's not why I'm there. CRTs are never someone's ministry. My ministry is HOPE. I have it. I point to it. I wallow in it, so Jesus can leave traces of it everywhere I go. 

When I took this job as a teacher, I thought I knew what I was getting into. We never know. Why do we always think we know? Sometimes I even catch myself saying, "I finally understand what God is doing!" Even in my mind I'm cracking up at that ridiculousness. 

I thought I would teach kids things like math and reading strategies. How to master an outline like a boss. Maybe even how to navigate a relationship with a peer. Instead, God knew what he was doing. Because HE knows the plans he has for me. HE knows. So instead of teaching writing and reading and science, this month alone (9 days into October) I have done what feels like everything except teach letters and numbers. 

This month I prayed for a woman who was trying to decide whether or not she should abort her baby. She's well into her second trimester, but the doctors think the baby will be deformed. No arms. "There's no HOPE."

I also held an 11 year old boy while he sobbed on the playground because his mom is going to jail. He's the oldest of many children. He's without HOPE. 

I spent time at the broken home of a student and watched as mom, dad, and stepmom tried hard to be civil and push their hurts and insecurities down deep. Their HOPE is small. 

I prayed for a co-worker who is at the end of her choices before chemo and radiation are her only HOPE. 

I watched a little girl attempt to navigate the trauma of learning people in her extended family were murdered. She missed school for the funeral. She said she's fine. She doesn't need to talk to anyone. And it's true that her face is straight and she seems unscathed by it all, but when we ask mom about it, she begins to list the trauma this little girl has already walked through. It's heavy enough to make my eyes get misty and forget for a second where my HOPE comes from. 

And then I realize want to lead a small life! If I don't, then I leave no room for HOPE. there's no space for God to say, "I got this".
 I don't know how any of these stories end. I don't know if that woman chose to terminate her pregnancy- a little girl who I call Hope when I pray for her. A little girl I would scoop up myself and let her use my arms to hug us both until our hearts burst if God would just say the word. 

 I don't know if my co-worker will live. I will never see that little girls family reconciled with a life cut short. I don't know how to help any of them. Not on my own. 

But I can share my HOPE. I can give it away. I can recognize that I was created for such a time as this. I can be a lone reed standing tall and burning brightly, pointing the way toward HOPE. 

I hope so. 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Buck the System of Complacency

Scandal of Grace. Have you heard that song? Have you felt that you are wrapped up in a scandal where you are more often than not on the receiving end of God's grace? Not earned. Not deserving. Not worthy. 

I'm there. Every second, I am there. And I meet people out on that edge, so I feel better about my junk because it's sometimes a little shinier than the guy next to me. But really, it's still junk. 

Even now as I type these words, do I believe it? Do I think I am undeserving? When I'm handed trust and opportunity, is there a place at the back of my brain that whispers, "you did this. You earned this. Well done"? 

Not enough. 
And yes. 

But I'm a work in progress. I've stood up in the boat, and I am hunched forward, hands gripping the walls- the wood refusing to yield under pressure. My eyes a deadlock on Jesus, and though he is a ways off, I know he is walking on the water, and I know what I'm to do. My eyes a deadlock on Jesus. He's not letting go. I'm not letting go. 
My leg is over the side…

"Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light."

Sunday, September 20, 2015

It Riles People

Ever been accused of riling things up?

I have.

Try choosing a ministry other people aren't on board with. Try pointing out heavy truths of slavery and oppression taking place on the streets of your town. Try moving to a state or a city or a neighborhood that people don't quite understand. Try selling all of your stuff and giving it away. Try walking to a church in your neighborhood and calling those in the pews your "people" whether or not that church has the coolest VBS and worship program. Try leaving your church to spend your Sundays in a different way. It riles people.

Everyone wants an explanation. Suddenly people are huddling in close to you wanting the inside skinny on why you're really leaving. Simply stating that God is doing something with you isn't enough. Don't even try it. Well, try it. And good luck with it. It riles people.

Suddenly, everyone feels they are closer to you than he or she ever truly was. You can't quite remember becoming close enough with them for this conversation. They don't say it, but they mean, "I know you aren't around gossiping, but obviously you will tell ME."They are riled.

You find yourself at a birthday party and people want to hash it out. They are riled. People pull you out of service and need to know if something happened. And to that we should always be able to say, "Yes."

Yes. God is at work here. Prepare to be riled if you aren't in cahoots with his plan.
And be ready to be a lone reed if you are.

Every day and every minute you are trying to stand before God and hone in on his still small voice. You want nothing more than to lock eyes with The One Who Calls You. You find your grasp is a white knuckled fist upon his robes. And you are low and humble and crying more days than not.

In the end, do you know what you will discover? You need to know that when people get riled up it is much more their issue and much less your problem. You aren't riling anyone, actually. What is happening is the Holy Spirit is about you, and rather than meet that with support, their fear jumps up. And then rather than meet their fear with grace, we sometimes find that we are afraid of that very thing they are talking about. And if we aren't careful we begin to reverse the work God is doing in us. We are no longer out on the waves, eye to eye with Jesus and his deep grace. We are swimming back to shore, walking up to our chair, and pulling a towel over our face to block out what we left and what we are now missing. It's a sham.

That fear? It's a sham. God says, "Grace abounds in deepest waters. Join me. Look in my eyes and feel my heartbeat in time with yours. This is when your doubt subsides and you are strong in me. This is how you know me. Most importantly, this is how other will know me- when they watch you." It riles me.

Saturday, September 12, 2015


Sometimes you'll find you are standing, and you look around, and it appears to be just you and your shadow. You'll reach right. Left. Back. Waving your hands a bit wildly in the vacant space and land on nothing. Sometimes you will be praying and asking and trying and crying and gasping for just a small life line. For a breath. Pleading for God to give you a tiny break. Your friends are far. Your support has backed off. And you are standing. A lone reed. 
And in this instant you realize how drastically you're situation has changed.  Maybe all you want most in the world is to conform and blend and be lost in the crowd of ordinary. 
But you know that isn't where you belong. And because there is this silence, a space has formed to make room for a way to hear. Hear you do. And your perspective changes. 
You look down and notice your legs are strong. You look over and see you're surrounded by a quiet that is less silent and more peaceful. A quiet that has enough space between the pages to actually feel like God's whisper is jumping off the page and landing in the depths of your soul. 

It's in this moment that you catch a glimpse of that shadow once more. It is here you realize your shadow looks nothing like this one. And you start to question out loud, "is that my shadow after all?" 
And you don't even have to wait for a response. You know. You recognize. You feel. That's Jesus' shadow. He's here. He's been here. You are not alone. You are never alone. You are standing side by side and he knows you. 

Saturday, August 29, 2015


Sometimes you can be going about in your usual way. You can be reading. Dozing on the couch. Driving down the road. You can be walking through Trader Joes wishing their samples weren't always so bizarre. And God will drop a nugget the size of a water droplet in your heart. In your brain. 

I was doing something mundane a while back. So mundane I can't even recall what it was. And I began to think about my role as a teacher and the almost absurd amount of favor God has granted me in my very first year of working for the public school system. My thoughts were a jumble of clips: isn't it cool that I get to teach these kids? Man. I see the fruit. God you are so faithful to show up. How cool to watch these lives transform before my eyes. Wouldn't it be cool if I could reach them spiritually? But aren't I? I mean do I have to say "this love is from Jesus" for them to understand that it is? Isn't that what the Holy Spirit is all about!?

And then came the nugget. In one breathe I thought how cool that God called me to this job. What a crazy turn of events. How unreal that he worked all that out so I could go get that job. 

And in the next breathe. In the flash of a synapse. You haven't been called. I've sent you. I've sent you out. 

Is it me or did this situation just get weightier?? I've always given God credit for this job, but I have viewed myself trudging down a path before me. I see the path. I choose the path. I walk along the path, and presto. I find a job God has for me. But there's more to it. 

What I'm trying to say is that I've not just taken a job. I've been sent out. I keep company with the disciples of the new testimant. We are like a club. I've been prayed for. Called. Trained. And now I've been sent. 

Every step. Ordained. No part cavalier. No part without purpose. 

Where will you send me, lord? Make me brazen like David. Make me audacious like Esther. Call me out where only your grace can direct my steps. Send me, Lord. I am ready. 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Rainbow Gang

I've got all these children who regularly want. Food, clothes, shelter, rides, jokes, snuggles, quality time, acts of service, read alouds, basketball partners, coffee: their needs are endless. Sometimes I wake up to the barrage of their wants and want to simply pull the covers up over my head and pretend I'm someplace happy. Easier. Some place with a maid. 

But honestly, I wouldn't change a minute of my time giving to and loving on my kids. Because wrapped up inside all those minutes of games and practices and supply runs and friend shuffling and band aids and errands exists inside jokes and giggles that turn to all out guffaws and lines that we will mockingly quote for the rest of their lives. 

One of my favorite things about our family is the amount of inside jokes my kids have. They are like a movie quoting, mock making gang. They even call themselves The Rainbow Gang. They made shirts. No kidding. 

We are all jumped into the gang. If you are here for as much as one evening of dinner, you get jumped in. Your fighting is futile. You'd have to come back a couple times to get a shirt, but really it doesn't take much. Especially if you don't make us have to clarify when we are kidding. Let's just assume it's always and we will let you know if seriousness is coming. 

The Rainbow Gang

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Why I Like Mike #32: Hey Sailor

Ever have those days when the people around you all seem to be speaking one language, crazy town, and you are left speechless? I mean they say something, and though you rarely are left speechless, this minute, it isn't that you can' t think of what to say, it's that you are just confused that you are needing to say anything at all? I've had a day rather like that. One one hand you have those speaking crazy town. On the other you have wise "real grown up" counsel reminding you that sometimes standing strong in your convictions will isolate you. Not by your choice. But they will isolate you. Make you a lone reed. Sometimes you are left hurting for a few minutes.

You know what's great after those minutes? Husbands.

Well mine was anyway. I grew up in the straight food stampin, free school supply giving, you better not wear red or blue anywhere on your person (stick with canary yellow. Canary yellow wasn't gang related) ghetto. We look out for our people. Even if those people weren't really your friends, if someone showed up with their crazy hanging out, you looked out for your people.

I didn't have a neighborhood. I had a hood. We watched Stand and Deliver and didn't understand why everyone thought the kids had it so bad in school. It looked normal to us. Going to high school? Well then you walk through metal detectors. They check your back packs. No, your locker isn't private property and probably, if the Dean finds your weed, he's going to smoke it.

I once woke up near midnight to go pick up heavily inebriated school mates from a party. Apparently when word gets around that you are a designated driver your friends have no qualms with waking you  in the middle of the night. So, at 2 am, we were turning our next to last corner and one of the girls in my back seat decided she didn't like the attitude of the pedestrians crossing the road- an 11 year old girl and her 15 year old sister. My soon to be ex-friend passenger and the older sister went fist-to-cuffs. Me? I stood calmly on the sidewalk with Little Sister assuring her they were just being idiots and she was safe with me. I looked out for her. She was from my hood. While these other two girls broke noses and later brandished weapons, this kid clung to my waistline and said, "thanks."

This is what I expect from people. Keep me company and tell me everything is going to be OK when the crazy talk starts. That's what The Man did for me today. He had my back. He was loyal and loving and reminded me over and over that he was there for me- just a phone call away. Nothing says romance like a man willing to stand up for his woman. It's probably a good thing he was at work when all this happened. It was DEFINITELY a good thing he was not wearing this sailor's uniform in front of my face. Five is enough kids. I need to go fan myself.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Summah Summah SummahTime

That Will Smith knew what he was rappin' about. It's all I can do to put on pants these days. I have summers off, on account of my day job. I am a teacher. Ahoy. I teach. So for the entire two weeks of June that didn't include work days, I have done a whole lot of nothing.

Do I have regrets? No. Not even one little letter.

In fact, I have accomplished much with my nothingness. Think The Nothing from The Never Ending Story. That thing made all sorts of impact leaving greatness in his wake. (Terrible. But Great).

I have:

Read no less than 4 books

Exercised regularly, still keeping my 6 aye em routine

Visited lakes

Visited an ocean

Drank coffee

Snuggled besties

Moved over 4,000 pounds of bread (ok, I had a little help from some awesome youth kids for this one)

Listened to some new music- indulgent, but new- Megan Trainer & Sam Hunt

Caught up on So You Think You Can Dance

Watched Lorelei and Luke be on again, off again, and then on again to infinity

Snuggled my kids around a few good movies

Dated The Man

Went to a different state- twice

Began editing a new book. Yep! A new one!

Spoke before about 40 Rotarians to procure some funds and community involvement in my classroom this coming year

Led 8-10 kiddos in an alternative VBS- this year, we are going into the city to do random acts of kindness. No crafts or snacktime for us. Except Slurpees. There are always Slurpees.

Started a new Instagram feed. Follow me here. 

So basically, I'm living each minute however I feel like it. I'm Julia Roberts- a fly by the seat of my pants, moment to moment. That's me. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Beautifully, I'm in Over My Head

Busy is the new fine. Have you noticed that? 

five years ago:
"How are you?"

Modern day:
"How are you?"

Why is this something? I'm ok, really, if the busy is something worthwhile. For instance, are you busy loving the city in which you live? Is it so busy because you are sewing clothes for the needy and don't have a second to watch tv? Did you jam pack your calendar with out reach to your neighborhood school so you haven't the time for sunning by the pool? 
Or is it more, "I'm so busy. I haven't _____" fill in the blank with something vital like showering, spending time with Jesus, or dating your spouse. 

Sometimes busy and busy are as different as busy and fine. When you're busy for Jesus, you get it when you read that Abraham got up early to obey. That Jesus got up early to pray. Joshua stood and faught all night- under the still sun. You get caught up in Jesus and his word and his plan and his work. You get this supernatural stamina and peace about you even when the busy collides with life. 

As I type, I'm in the questionable smelling cafeteria at the hospital. My mother is upstairs grumbling and irritated as Ms. Havisham at doctors and nurses wanting her blood and her consent to do surgery. She's listing the ways she is too busy for surgery. 

Want to know the weird part? I started writing this blog yesterday. Before this was happening. But it doesn't matter. Every day for each of us is seeming to look the same. It's, "hurry hurry! Eat this delicious meal I prepared for you so we can get on to the movie!! We have to make the previews." Then we sit for the previews and find that we keep checking our watch. "We need to get home and get to sleep; early soccer game!!" Gah. 

I'm not pointing out my mother because she's behaving a certain way. I'm bringing her up because this is usual for each of us. All of us. 

And why shouldn't we be? Busy loving. Busy caring. Busy paying 100% of our attention to whoever God puts before us and beside us and around us. As long as THAT is our long list of busy. We have a kropog of time here on this earth. I don't want to waste a minute of it wrapped up in simply being busy. 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Ever have those minutes where your sleep is restless and you sigh more in the day than usual? And then, you take stock because the worries aren't worth the stress of it all. You don't need to live like that! Figure out what's causing this uneasiness and dump it like a cheating boyfriend. Right??! 

Except, when you finished cataloging the parts of your day, you realize your life seems to be doing ok. There's really not much to cut out. You add another sigh and dig a little deeper. "What is it? What's creating this funk?" You ask yourself where'd you come across these droopy shoulders, only to realize the weight spread oppressingly across them comes from those around you whose hurts are so big and too much for you to carry. Your sighs are seeping with empathy, and the cracks in your heart are from their pains.  They are hurting and you are wanting so badly to hold them and hug them and love them and tell them "even this is going to be ok. This? It's not small. I won't say it's small. But it isn't so unbearable that it will pull you down. This? God has even THIS." 

And then you sigh heavily and curl up on the couch. Your sleep is broken. Your mind is always just off task. And you would give anything to rip that aching from your friend's hand and heave it into the abyss where it probably came from in the first place. "Here satan. Have it back. Go sell crazy someplace else; we're all stocked up here." 

You know what I am finding? I'm finding God doesn't want me to shoulder the burdens of others anymore than he asks me to carry my own. That's mercy. His mercy says "Here I am. Take this." And he hands us his yoke. A burden of peace. A smothering of grace. A whole gravy boat of beautiful. A tidal wave of "lean not on your own understanding." 

That's what I want. To trade my ashes in for his beauty, even if the ashes were never mine. Because really, no ashes are ever mine. Jesus took those singed pieces of our souls and died on the cross and payed no mind to our uncomfortableness over the whole thing. 

We want to take from him with our left hand and give him something with our right. But who would want what we have to offer? I want Jesus and that is all. I want him and his peace and his joy. Take your ashes. Take your anvils. Take your crutches. I'll take Jesus. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015


Mostly I've been up to my eyeballs. Detroit? Well. Detroit was the most intense couple of days I've spent on purpose. 
My days there included at least 8 meetings, but probably more, a new coffee favorite straight from the early 1900s when it used to be a butcher shop, and some very vulnerable hearts. Oh. And a spider and her baby egg sack cooked right into my omlet. The previous words are not a joke. Spiders and baby egg sacks are never welcomed near me. Never. 

After Detroit, I came home for less than 48 hours to cook, clean, cook, grocery shop, pack, and cook. 

I also had some coffee and missed Detroit. Not Detroit. Hamtramck. I promise that's how it's spelled, and I promise if you go there your heart will creak. Some forgotten hinge will rattle away the rust. 

Then began the second leg of my spring break journey called "Can We Survive Bodega Bay in a Tent Trailer?" The answer to that is mostly yes and then no. We left a day early, right around the time the emergency weather system said "seek immediate shelter". It worked out ok. Samuel found a sea snail the size of his head, my children all decided they enjoy catching crab and digging for clams, some realized they hate seafood, others realized they love it, and then we freed Rick. Rick the sea star. He's back in the wild. And just in time because we left to head home and got trapped on the winning side of a snow storm. This also worked out just fine because the winning side of the snow storm included a two night sleepover with my most favorite family ever and IKEA. Snow? What snow? 

Upon our arrival home, I broke standard protocol and cleaned out my van and started laundry immediately. No waiting. It helped that this may be the first time I've arrived home from a trip and not been completely exhausted. It helps that my children are older. It helps that we got to decompress a bit in Sacramento. It helps that we packed all of our favorite clothes, and if we don't wash them now, we will be hosed.

Also. It helps that I spent nearly all of my hours lying in the sun and reading a book. Oh teen lit. I love you. 

Shortly after the last bit of laundry was finished, the last precut celery stick remaining from our trip was eaten, and Right after I found my computer cord it was time Elijah's surgery. 

This kid broke his nose in 6th grade. It all seemed too painful to take him in for a rebreak, so we embraced his slightly crooked nose. Until he became a man child and not only was it no longer slightly crooked, it was hindering his breathing. Surgery. 
He's been down and out and sad and bummed. This mamma's heart almost couldn't stand to watch, but then I found myself just staring at him all the time. When he slept. When he sat. When he watched tv. I'm grateful he didn't ask me to stop. It's like he knew I was filling up wth him. I needed to notice his eyelashes, the curve of his lip, and his sweet face and fill up with him. We've been on this road with him for too long not to. 

So. Now. Now I have the capacity to be here and write and blog and share and breathe. But only just now. A minute ago would have been too soon. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

I've decided I mostly want routine, and possibly its a lost cause. If I were a disney character I would stop and sing "Let it Go" loudly. But I'm not. In fact I find myself grasping harder for routine only to find more evidence of it slip between my fingers. 

I've got children, so routine is paramount and impossible. Their schedules only seem to get crazier as they get older. Ah the good ole days when that lady kept saying "enjoy them as babies. This is the easiest season." 

First off, don't say crap like this to mothers of babies. Sure, tell them to be in the moment. Tell them to take pictures, both physical and mental. Be emotionally available. Play the fool and dress up with your preschooler. But don't act like what they are going through is less difficult than what is yet to come. 

Second of all. She was right. Just right.  I needed to be reminded of the fleeting seasons and how snuggling was second nature. She was right about all of it because she also said I would miss it so much. Darn you random lady with the motherly advice. 

I'll be right back. I'm going to go be intentional. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Miracles Are Afoot

There’s so much business about us. Some people are in the car business. I am in the teaching business. I know a guy in the singing business. My kids are in everyone’s business. We visit people in the doctor and dentist business. But none of that compares to God’s business. He dabbles in miracles. Well, more than dabbles. Frankly, it’s a miracle we get to wake up every morning, breathe deeply when we desire, and sit in the sunshine. That’s all because God deemed it a good day for miracles.

Corrie Ten Boom lived in a crazy and chaotic time. She believed God is who he says he is. And when she was sent to a Nazi concentration camp for harboring Jews behind her bookshelf in a make shift closet, she knew for sure she believed in miracles.


Today, I am writing over with some new friends. Awaken Reno is a local organization committed to helping women discover who God has created them to be. They are giving a voice to women illegally trafficked and sold into sex slavery. Click here for more information. 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

A Side Project

I quote movies; it's what I do. Recently I was asked in a panel interview, "What do you do to relax or blow off steam? When you feel you are getting too overloaded, what do you do?" I am sure I said something serious; I am pretty sure I said I write. And, that's totally true. I am doing it right now! It wasn't until much later when I realized I actually quote movies.

Not merely when I am overloaded, stressed, or have too much going on in my brain. I quote movies all the time. ALL. THE. TIME. It's my equivalent to being in a musical when one guy starts singing a song and suddenly everyone in the joint knows his lyrics and his dance moves. What he really has is a team of people creating the best scene possible with words and choreography.

Well, I don't need the dance moves. Strangers want to put me on Ritalin when I dance, so as a community service, I don't dance. You're welcome. However, if a guy spends months or even years developing what turns out to be a guffaw inducing script, I am going to steal his lines and call them my words. Try and stop me, Napoleon. (< this is a movie quote.)

This entire back story is merely my way of pointing out that, "There are two types of people in this world: those who love Neil Diamond, and those who don't. My ex wife loved him."

SIDE NOTE. That was a movie quote. That quote has been sitting on my tongue all day just waiting to be used. Wanting to be slipped naturally into an already happening conversation. That opportunity never came, so I shoved it in to this blog post all awkward like. Just accept it.

Again, I am off course of where I wanted this to go. I am here to tell you I have a side project.

SQUIRREL. (< this is a movie quote)

I am working with a non-profit organization to bring awareness and an end to sex-trafficking. The group is called Awaken, and this might be the first time in all of my life I am standing beside sisters doing something out-right crazy for God and seeing miracles. For reals. Miracles. But I am easing into it. "You rush a miracle, you get rotten miracles." (Do I even have to say it? Movie quote.)

Anyway, I would love for you to join me. Just click HERE and jump with me to another tab to see what we are working on. See the difference that God is making. See the crazy that he has planned for just an everyday guy or gal who is willing to stand up and say, "WHO'S GOIN' WITH ME?!" as they hold their gold fish up in the air. (

Thursday, February 19, 2015

A Rocky Faith

I wouldn't call my faith rocky everyday. Just today maybe. Don't get me wrong, I doubt like the turtle: slow and steady. I don't want to. But most days there's a sliver of doubt. 

Today, I had a minute where I had to remember God knows what's best. A little girl my heart melded instantly to is spending her last day in my classroom tomorrow. She needs different help than what we have to offer. I don't have what it takes to make her healthy. I have stood behind her and held my hands at silent awkward angles, praying for her secretly. I have walked behind her and laid hands on her while praying in my head for her body to be healed. For her mind to be changed. For her heart to surrender to Jesus completely. All the while she thinks I'm just scratching her back and encouraging her to keep up the good work. I call it being a ninja Christian, but my skills just weren't right. God has something different planned for her. I hope her new teacher prays. 

Then God brought to mind a discussion I was having with a co-worker. We tend to spend a few minutes of our weekly planning time hashing through the Bible. Ah, public school system, you hire some rad people. Anyway, we were discussing the authority in the world. Specifically the verse that says the only authority is that which God has put in place. We don't have to worry about whoever or whatever seems to have power or authority in our lives because it all comes from God. 

My friend pointed out that this conversation seemed to pair up perfectly with the verse I read earlier: 

Hebrews 2
Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control.
And then there's my favorite line of one of my most favorite worship songs. Oceans by Hillsong United says, "Grace abounds in deepest waters." This little heart breaker? She gets God, whether she knows it or not. He is holding her and planning for her and working for her and loving her and providing for her and His grace will abound in her deepest waters. God has her totally and fully in the palm of his hand, just as he does me and you and my babies and my husband and...and...and... I can't think of someone this doesn't apply to.

And yet. Knowing this. Knowing all of this, I manage to squeeze in my slow and steady doubt. Did I do enough? Did I pray enough? Were my words enough? The answer is yes and no all at the same time. Because I could never do enough. Ever. it isn't in me to be enough for this sweet girl. But God's grace really does abound in deep waters. He is enough for her- today and tomorrow and on Monday at her new school. 
And I will take a second and take stock. Did I show Jesus as much as I could have? All the time? Did I listen to the Holy Spirit and obey? I'll remember these answers next time and for the rest of my students. And I will not finish praying for this little faith filled girl. As a teacher, we meet students who are sent to change us. She is one of those for me. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

When The Sleep Draws Near

For a girl who wakes nearly every night somewhere in the middle- when the stars are in their comfort zones, and the moon is caught up in conversation with the man up there- I relish this minute coming over me. The sleep is drawing near.

I know it is happening because I stop forwarding the songs on my Pandora, I have to read and reread a question for clarity, and I begin pausing to think and reflect and the ideas begin to flow. Oh, are you one of those whose ideas flow when you're bright eyed and wide awake? hmm. weird. I don't know what that's like. I prefer my thoughts to be all over the place and forgotten by morning.

The weird thing is that although I forget writing even a word of whatever piece I am working on, it seems to turn out pretty sense making when I come back to it the next day. The sad thing is this is what it takes to make me stop bossing and for Jesus' quiet spirit to finally be heard. oops. I am a work in progress.

Maybe if I had diamonds to wear all day long things would be different. Diamonds that glitter like stars in the sky. I say we try it; it's a valid experiment.

Here's a short glance at my stream of consciousness; don't be scared.

That fire fighter. He loves me. I need to get him a card or something and write how grateful I am for him.

My neck hurts. I need to schedule myself a massage- oh. call the ENT for Elijah tomorrow.

My poor boy. I am so sad he has to get his broken nose fixed. So painful. I should get him a card or something and write how grateful I am for him.

I need to turn in my calendar for my Detroit project. I wonder who else wants to come to Detroit with us. Oh. shoot. We need to get our plane tickets and I need to pray God makes that money happen. "Your will, Father. I believe I am supposed to be there. Please find us the money we need." I hope my boss is fine to give us that last day off. I am so grateful for my boss. I need to get him a card or something and write how grateful I am for him.

Ok, so what I write isn't deep. But it makes sense. To me. And helps me remember to buy cards.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Occupy Till I Come

I read a phrase tonight that came across as a military directive: “Occupy till I come.” 

Just those four words. But immediately I stood up a little bit taller. My ears perked, and I wondered at God’s meaning with this phrase. I felt like it was a challenge thrown at my feet.

How easy would it be to translate this into something that suits my needs? For all of my days I could twist this into something simple, lazy, chipper, bold, brash, and maybe some days not at all Christ-like. 

Phrases like, “Live it up,” or, “You only live once,” pop in my mind. We could modernize it and give it a nickname. “Sup? OTIC. I’m doin’ it.” Naturally when it’s come to this, it’s come to failure. Pretty sure God intended something powerful when he breathed out, “occupy till I come.”
Just before this phrase appears in the book of Matthew, Zacchaeus is the butt end of the gossip train, and Jesus is at the center of what everyone perceives is a scandal. 

There’s gasping and chest heaving and dinner. Which seems totally out of place, but Jesus invites himself to dinner with a true shady character, and of course the shady character accepts, and then believes Jesus, and his whole household is saved forever. And do you know why? Because first Jesus was occupying until it was time, and then Zacchaeus and his entire family realized what it meant to, “occupy till I come.” First they stood a little bit taller, and then their ears perked up. Suddenly they were hooked. 

They watched as Jesus came to be about the Father’s business. They took in his actions: He lived to win souls by loving for real. Man, that’s just better than any Kool-Aid out there. It’s such a small sentence and a huge summons all at the same time. 

“Occupy till I come” means you take what you have been dealt, handed, blessed with, and you do any and everything God asks. 
Say hello to that person. Take food to that family. Invite that girl over for dinner. Pay for that woman to go to retreat. Compliment that guy on his work. Hug it out with that co-worker and tell them Jesus was and is and is to come. Stop and pray with that neighbor. Babysit that young mamma’s kids. The list is unending.

All Jesus did was invite himself to dinner. What a rude gus. He didn’t even wait to be invited. He couldn’t. He was too busy occupying.

Friday, January 23, 2015


The gym? Still killing it, but now I mean I am lying down on account of a low grade infection who seems to have taken up residence in my kidneys. Don't worry, I am healing and chugging the liquids. 

And sleeping. Also I just rubbed today's mascara in my eye. 
Happy Friday everyone. Make it a keen one.  

Friday, January 16, 2015

It's 11:10; do you know where my sleeping pills are?

OK! Fine, I don't take sleeping pills. Really, I take about zero pills. I'm one of those essential oil weirdos and proud of it. Might make that last saying a shirt. And my friend who started me on that crazy weirdo essential oils actually works for a screen printing company, so she could totally hook me up!

Not the point.

My point is it's late at night. It's been a very long day of wrangling children to school, wrangling a classroom of sweaty 5th graders who still don't seem to know they out number me, trying to muster the self-control not to eat the candies our secretary hides in her desk just for the teachers (hangs head in shame), birthday parties, gymnasium workouts, and the eating. OH the eating.

I have a busy life. Good but busy. I am busy with all the things I want to do, and possibly a couple things I could live without (aka dear dishes. Why can't you be more like paper plates and handle yourself?) But recently I joined the gym.

It's January; why shouldn't I? Of course I should. And I am killing it. And by killing it, I mean I am more aware of my rolls and I can' t stop eating. I feel one of those cyclical stories about to happen. I call this one If You Take Me To The Gym.

If you take me to the gym, I am going to work up an appetite. And I will probably ask you for an omelet (which means I will just snack on these pretzels and mound of almond butter while it cooks). Of course he saltiness of the pretzels will make me thirsty, so I will ask for a glass of water.

When we are at the fridge getting the water, I will notice the orange juice and ask for a small glass. After I gulp down my juice, it will remind me of how much I love oranges and that I still have at least three minutes left until my omelet is finished, so I will eat a Cutie.

That itty bitty orange will remind me of that time we had mini-muffins, and I will ask you to check to see if there are any in the pantry. You look and find one. It's blueberry and delicious. My omelet is finished, and as I carefully adorn it with A-1 sauce, I realize my mind is elsewhere.

I begin eating my omelet, all the while thinking of those blueberries. And, naturally those blueberries remind me of a most delightful spinach salad I took to lunch last week which just so happens to be filled with quinoa, spinach, pumpkin seeds, and, you guessed it, blueberries. I'll ask you to go to the fridge to get me one.

There is one left, which I devour in three minutes. It's amazing, and I have to tilt the miniature plastic ball to get every drop of the vinaigrette dressing. I realize I haven't even bothered to close the refrigerator, and peak in just in time to see the almond butter on the top shelf. Seeing the almond butter makes me want to dip a salty snack in there, so naturally, I head for the pretzels. And chances are, if you give me those pretzels, I am going to need a refreshing drink of water to wash them down.

I realize this story doesn't get me back to the gym, but let me just be frank and tell you I am going to the gym about 4 out of 7 days in the week, and this runaround comes from one day's workout. Now multiply that fat camp by four workouts and let me lie down. With a smoothie. Because I am hungry.




And because I am a Gooney, Goonies never say die. No. Goonies say, "Can I get just one more bite of that?"

Saturday, January 03, 2015

What's A Motto With You?

The best part about that title is I am not even really speaking of mottoes. I couldn't help myself.

Moving on.

I am a total New Year's resolution girl. Every year, growing up, we used to sit with paper and pencil in hand anxiously. We would divide the paper into three sections: short-term, medium-term, and long-term. Then my entire family would spend 30 minutes or so racking our brains trying to think of what we hoped to accomplish in the coming year. It was such an organized event that we would pull out the previous years' goals and see where we accomplished or straight went awry.

My parents taught me the craft of a goal board. They taught me what baby steps were well before Bob Wiley came on the scene. They made a resolutionary out of me.

Yes. I made up that word. Just now. And I stand by it.

I am completely and rebelliously a resolutionist.

I did it again. Did you see that?

Yeah, well, you can thank me when you drop that new word off at the water cooler tomorrow at work. People may smile and call you "Quippy". I would like that.

Moving on.

I do my best to make my goals just close enough to attain them and not so far off as an endlessly dangling carrot. This line is fine.

I also insist that the goal be worthy of my time. Because, guess what. Extra time is for napping. And guacamole.

Last year my goal was to floss every night. I grew up in a non-flossing home. It's been a difficult habit to embrace. I used to turn to floss when I was desperate. My floss and my priest were basically on the same level: a need to know basis.


I am not Catholic, but my point is I never flossed regularly. I'm a new woman. That goal was attainable and worthwhile, and quite frankly cut about 20 minutes off my bi-annually dental cleaning appointment.

On the heels of this success, heading into the new year, I was thrilled to come up with a new resolution.

Everything I thought of seemed too cliche. Too BAH. I mean, I will likely get back into the gym. I will start bringing my water bottle to work. I broke up with donuts ages ago. I have added a silly amount of vegetables to my diet already. And I cut out all the foods to which I am allergic or intolerant. BO. RING.

And then my friend said something a little crazy and against my usual. She said she isn't a resolutionist. OK she didn't use that word because I hadn't made it up yet. But she would have. She could have. She should have.

Anyway, she doesn't choose a goal. She chooses a word. Isn't that wild?

Maybe it's normal, because as we were texting, another girl hopped into our conversation and said she does that same stinking thing. WHAT!? Yeah well. All right then. I can get on board with this. I think.

I can forgo a year of resoluting. Just one year. I think.

So. I've spent the better part of the conversations in my head throwing out words that represent my year to come. Some were deep. Some were sheer lunacy. But I think I found it.

My word this year is

Mostly the kind found in Joshua 1:9.

Have I not commanded you. Be strong and very courageous.

I've stepped into a few uncharted territories. I need to pull myself up by my Bootstrap's bootstraps and be courageous. This is so clearly a goal I will never achieve on my own. I'll be looking up. I'll be jumping in. I'll be screaming like Bob Wiley on his first elevator ride. And hopefully, by this time next year, I will be able to look back and mean it when I say, "I was courageous."