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.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Identity Theft: free stuff for you

This episode of The Office cracks me up every time. I love that two pairs of these glasses actually exist. I love the identity Jim is stealing from Dwight: glasses, shirt, terrible tie, and the longest line of nerdery. AKA bears. Beets. Battlestar Galactica. 

If only this was how all identity theft was: silly and innocent. At worst maybe obnoxious. But some identity theft is outright devastating. Some lingers in the corners and slides smoothly into our seams as little kids. And here it sticks for a while. A long while. 

Have you ever battled with who you are? I don't mean your name or title. I mean, do you know why you were created and chosen? Do you understand who your maker says you are?

"You're a 'daddy's girl,' deeply loved by your Father in heaven!"*

 Do you believe him?

"He's smitten with you. He dotes on you, enjoys you, and loves it when you let him love you!"*

My friend, Lara Izokaitis, has written a book I think every woman and young adult girl should read. It's a beautiful story of choosing who gets to tell who you are by understanding whose you are. I love it so much, in fact, that I'm giving away a copy of Caterfly to two lucky winners! 

Each book set comes with a journal and pen. I've even gift wrapped them! Keep them or pass them along as a present! 
I was given this book by a friend who, like the rest of us at some point, struggled with her true identity. I've read through this book alone, and now I'm planning to lead a tween and teen small group series where we read this together and answer the questions from each section.
Dwight got it right when he said "Identity theft is not a joke…" 

The sooner we throw wide those musty curtains that tried to hide our real identity, the sooner we begin to understand God's ultimate plan for our life.

We see the false and call it by its name. 
No more hiding out. 
No more head in the sand. 
No more stuck in our past. 
"Trade those ashes in for beauty. And wear forgiveness like a crown."

"There is supernatural purpose in your dreams and the world cannot afford for you NOT to pursue them! God has put specific dreams within your heart that only you were made to fulfill..."*

All you gotta do to be in the running is sign up for our email. > it's over there. 

If you're on a phone, it's down there. all the at to the bottom under pages. Connect with me. 
Easy peasy. 

*quotes from this life changing book. 

Age is Only a Number

When our kids began hitting the gawky tweenage years, we noticed a subtle amount of space settling between our arms and theirs. Our traditional kisses goodbye settled into waves from across the room, and our usual snuggles for no reason became no more than two people sharing a couch cushion. I noticed it early and vowed to do something about it. 

My husband noticed it and in a feel the situation out sort of way he quietly let slip, "I feel like I can't even hug our girls anymore. They are growing up and changing and they don't come in for hugs and kisses. Isabelle doesn't seem like she wants me to hug her." 

The ache in my heart was real at that minute. My guts contracted. I completely understood what he was saying, and it hurt me that he felt it too. This man who has only loved and protected his girls. This man who braids hair and let's them pretend to paint his nails and agrees when they force him to wear women's sunnies during a makeover. This man who is an amazing boy dad but who has something about him, some deep inexplicable gift for honoring women. 

I knew this space was never God's space. So I said, "She's just unsure. She's changed, so she thinks maybe you have changed. Take the initiative. Just grab her and hug her." 

Later that day or sometime soon after this conversation it was a usual hugging minute- someone was leaving or it was bed time or something. And he did it. 

She gave the obligitory wave and he grabbed her and pulled her in for a papa bear hug. She laughed awkwardly for a second and he said, "we still hug." And he squeezed her like she was four. And you know what? She giggled like she was four all over again. She leaned in and soaked up every second of her daddy.

That was that. Dads, you may need to take the lead and hand out a few papa bear hugs if you want to stay connected with your girls. They change. They mature. Their bodies do weird things. Our girls are hit with a wave of emotions and hormones and confusing things. How you interact with them shouldn't be confusing. 

Your hugs are easy and free. Your snuggles are still available. Don't let fear of rejection create a chasm between you and your girl. Man up and give that little girl a hug. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016


About twenty minutes and some days ago, I saw, from the corner of my eye, this hair. It rivaled mine in every way except pigment. I strolled on over and introduced myself. She introduced herself as Jami Armine. We've been late night texting and swapping sarcasm "like we are the oldest and dearest of friends." (Kathleen Kelly of the little bookstore.) Today she has blessed us with her heart on adopting her own version of my Sam. His name too happens to be Sam. Sam 2.0 Here is her story...

We currently have seven children. They range in age from 21 year to 7 months.  4 biological, 1 adopted, 1 almost adopted, and a wee baby foster daughter.  
Our 4-year-old son, Sam is… well, he’s a hot mess.  
Although, we are often offered congratulatory praise for our “awesomeness” for opening our home to the boy, the truth is… He saved our lives.
At a time when all was lost, I made a ridiculously inappropriate phone call and stammered, “We want to adopt.” 
Nine months from that day, we met Sam. 
And we laughed again. 
We smiled again.
We hoped again. 
We stopped sleeping through the night… again.  
Sam has a non-stop chatter. Oddly enough, in spite of the fact that he has been in our home since he was ten-days-old and we are Texans of German – Scottish-Norwegian descent – Sam has a little bit of a Mexico-ish dialect.  And he can’t say cheese, but he says queso perfectly. 

Ours in not to question why.  

And lately he has this thing he says, with a Hispanic quick tongue. He says it repeatedly after a question. 
“Can I have a dwink of water, Ya? No? Ya? NO? Ya? Or NO?” 
It gets to be laughable. Especially in a two-part question. 
Sam: Can I have cookies and go outside? Ya? No? Ya? NO? Ya? Or NO?
Me: You can go outside, but you can’t have cookies because it is almost time for dinner.
Sam: Ya? No?
Me: No. No, and Ya
Sam: Ya? No? 
Me: No. No. Ya
Sam: No-Ya I have cookies and go outside?  
Me: Ya, no? Wait, what?  

Inevitably, we just give him anything he asks for.  
So the other day someone asked me how we knew for sure that God was calling us to foster and adopt. I can honestly say I was self-willed in this.  It was on my heart, we wanted to rewrite our story. Stop being the “Poor Amerines” and be instead, people of joy.  

And I didn’t wait for a ya.  
I didn’t wait for a no.  

We just jumped in… head first.  
In other scenarios we have prayed and asked, or begged for clarity. And there have been other times we have used the Ya? No? tactic to quickly get our way.  And then we have someone to blame when it blows up.  You said “Ya? No? Oh wait you didn’t say ya?”

But you can’t stump God.  
Nor can you out-wit Him.  
“We aren’t called to (adopt, foster, give, donate…)” 
And sorry, that is ballarky.  Yes, we have clear and concise words from God that guide us, like our first placement, a real live human boy… that I knew wasn’t our son.  But spare yourself, and those around you the “I am not called…” Because there are a million ways to serve the least of these and we are ALL called to that. (Matthew 25:40)
And He who gives also takes away. (Job 1:21) And that hurts. We were never told it wouldn’t hurt.  
Loving hurts. 
Yet we are all called to love. (John 13:34)   

And I am momma to a quirky little Mexican boy. He makes us laugh. He teaches us daily.
Sometimes there is a clear answer and sometimes there is simply a clear risk. But the risk has been worth the pain. 

The truth is our God moves how He moves and saves how He saves. He called us each to care for the orphans and the widows. He encouraged us to give until it hurts. (Luke 9:23-25) To walk away from your possessions, let the dead bury the dead and follow Him.  (Matthew 19:21)
And this, is much easier said than done.  
I fully assume you know where I speak from… 
Ya? No?  
May your floors be sticky and your calling ordained.
 Love, Jami 

Defend the weak and the fatherless, uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.  Psalm 82:3

Visit Jami at Sacred Ground Sticky Floors

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Find Yourself A Man!

But not just any man. Finding a godly man is vital to raising kids.

I married Handsome when I was 19. He was a hair over 19. I didn't have a clue who I was even though I was probably the center of most of my own attention, so how could I even fully understand who he was? The answer to that is, "I didn't". 

Thankfully, God knew. Like he always keeps knowing. He knew the sort of man Handsome would be. God knew the incredible father that was idling in that heart of his. I only knew the kind of father I didn't want for my kids. I had a list. 

No musicians. 

No traveling spouses. 

And no cops. 

Of course the musician one was a tricky one because boy do I love a guy who can sing to me. Or Jesus. But no. I was raised around musicians. I grew up in recording studios, and while I loved that, I knew my heart and sassy attitude couldn't take this lifestyle. No musicians. 

No traveling because, hello. I married you because I want to be near you and I want our kids to know you. Also. I'm a real out of sight out of mind girl. I get too independent too quickly. I want to want my husband. 

And no cops because I read somewhere they had the highest divorce rate. I was 18. Give me a break. Let's just be impressed it was based on actual research and not the fact that firemen are so much sexier in a uniform. Sorry. Off topic. 

Ever grateful for God's work in my life and my husband's life, I can look back now and see what an amazing father my husband has always been. Not knowing the qualities of a godly father, I didn't know what to even look for. Plus. Did I mention I was 18? 

Girls, when you date a guy, ask yourself if he will make a good father. Is he kind? Or is he the kind of guy who walks in the door first?
Does he lead in love? Does he pray for you and with you? Does he respect his mother? Does he have a relationship, just him and Jesus? Or are you the only reason he goes to church?  
Does he respect authority or is he a complainer about his work and boss and circumstances? 
Is he giving even when it doesn't make sense to give? Or is he always looking for ways to cut corners and do the least amount of work possible? 
Does he look to God to lead his life? 
Is he a protector? Does he hold down a job? Or does he spend most of his time ignoring you while he plays a video game?
These and so many more answers will help you begin to see what sort of father these men will become. The sort of father that is already buried in there just under the surface.

Choose godly men. Pray specifically for God to build up these qualities in your man. 
Single moms, this attribute of godly men isn't only found in our spouses. Every Sunday I show up to church and see we are becoming more and more evenly matched in gender count. Gone are the days of churches full of women because the men are  _______ (fill in the blank with their location or activity). 
Surrounding our children, especially our sons, with men who crave what God craves. Men who aren't afraid to be strong and lead and be last and serve. Find a man who builds you up with his words AND his actions. Who isn't challenged when you are succeeding in your career or ministry, but find a man who encourages you to keep pressing in and pressing on.
Uncles, older brothers, youth leaders, pastors, worship leaders, your friends' husbands, responsible teenage boys, elders, and neighbors. These are some of the men our children need around them.

Even if Dad is in the picture and a great dad, our children need many influences and encouragements in their lives. My husband can have a crazy schedule some days. There is no substitute for a man like Handsome, but he doesn't need replacing. He needs support.

Just like moms need other moms to step in and say exactly the same thing about the same thing help our girls do something about that thing.

I absolutely love the relationship my kids have with their uncles. Just yesterday, my youngest brother (although to be clear he is much much older than I am. naturally) agreed to match the money my son raised for an upcoming mission trip. My son, 15, needs men like this. Our kids need men like this. Find yourselves godly men.

Friday, April 15, 2016

FlashBack Friday: Addison in Rare Form

It's important to remember where you come from and how you felt when your kids made you look crazy in front people in public. When she was 6.

Seriously, this girl gets weirder by the minute. Yesterday, her big brown eyes met me at the door full of tears of rejection and she claimed no girl anywhere would play with her! I asked if she wanted to come with me to run errands. She was instantly better and my eyebrows furrowed as I realized I was just duped by a five year old. First stop- Home Depot.

Scene- Garden center check out line. Beautiful weather, birds fluttering and chirping, flowers and shrubberies setting a melancholy scene.
Addison's voice cuts through everything: Mommy, why DID you take your shirt off in the car?
Mommy: (eyes wide stares blankly at clerk and mumbles) I had a tank top on underneath. :/
Clerk: hysterical laughter
Mommy: Thanks Addison. Sigh.

Second and last stop for the rest of our lives- Walmart.
Scene- Walmart check out line (sensing a theme?) Well, there isn't anything pretty about the inside of Walmart, but it was surprisingly quiet. (Of course it was.)
Addison: (looks at her mother, hands up as if she were surrendering) Sheesh Lady! You aren't even my mother. You are a stranger. Stranger Danger!
Mommy: blink. blink.
Addison: (laughs maniacally)
Mommy: (after realizing people are looking) Addison! You can't say that!
Addison: (nonchalantly) Why? What's the big deal?
Addison: (maniacal giggling then muttering under her breath as if she were threatening to say it louder) stranger danger. stranger danger (and she continues muttering all the way out to the car).
Mommy: Thanks Addison. Sigh.

Goodbye forever.


Easy Like: A Friday Link Up

A Writing exercise: The challenge? Write for five minutes on the given topic. This week the code word is "EASY"


It's so easy to say words. To write words. To give sage words of wisdom. Easy.

It's fully something else to sit in the middle of those words and live them.
"I am patient. Maybe I am not the most patient person, but I trust God to do what he is gonna do."

I say.
At the same time I feel

"Uh Hello, Lord. Here I am. Any second you are going to notice me down here, yes? I stepped out. You said do this thing. 'Offer your words. Step that toe in the water. Hit this rock with your staff. Trust' and I have. So. Know what I mean? I'm being patient. So hurry up, huh?"

When I am honest, I am not the first girl at all. I am 100% the second girl. But I am willing to keep fighting. I am leaning in and keeping my eyes up to the hills. Where the wind whips and the mountains shake and the storms rage, but God shows up in the whispers. I will lean in to the whispers.



Tuesday, April 12, 2016

It's Just That I Am So Humble

Being humble is one of those catch 22 words in religion. You can't be that guy that says, "I'm so humble. I am the most humble guy I know." Because then you aren't humble at all.

No one wants to listen to the guy that's all, "I am so bad. I can't do anything right. I can't even look you in the eye as you point out that you like my hair because it's so ugly." It's all moot anyway because deep down you're thinking how awesome you like your hair for reals.

I have always warred with my motives, and since I don't exactly suffer from low self esteem, humility for me always feels like a far away glowing orb. Some intangible thing I am always chasing.

I know it's good. I know what God says about it.

"He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:8

And here is where I sit. God has told me. Why can't I stand where He says? Why are these two scenarios on humility my only options? Probably because I skip to Micah 6:8 and skim right over the verses that precede and follow it.

"Does the LORD take delight in thousands of rams, In ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I present my firstborn for my rebellious acts, The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? 8He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?"

I hear what he's saying. All these things are petty. He doesn't want my petty. 
When I allow these verses to sink in, I see what he really wants. Not false modesty. Not self-depracation. He wants me to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly. I can be small without being invisible. I can be last without being nothing. God will take these tiny steps of DO and LOVE and walk them out in my life. 

He will translate them into a humble example to my children. Because I am a mom. Some of you are mamas. Some are daddies. Some are aunties, and uncles, and grandmas or grandpas.
Remember that first minute, holding that new little peanut. So perfect and pure and new? And our hearts were rocked and brought down 100 notches, and in that minute we knew the only thing that mattered was that little baby and how to love it the very best. That's the place.
That's the way we are to approach every single person because this is how God looks at each of us.

Heaven knows how often I have taken the road of offended. God knows how much further I need to go, but he also knows how hard I am trying. 

I am so completely a work in progress.


Sunday, April 10, 2016

Teenager Book Reads

I read. A lot. And I read teen-lit because I love it. Writers of teen books have to be exceptional writers because teenagers have way more free time options than the good ole days. 
"You want me to put down my phone? This better be worth it!" 
And they are. So whether you're looking for a good read for a teenager, or you realize you are worth exceptional authorship here are a few recommendations. 
Oh Francine, Francine Rivers. There is a real life challenge in each of her fiction books. She throws a mean gauntlet. This is a trilogy. Read it. 

Another trilogy worth your time. The average human is known to read these books in three days once they come to the realization that showers, food, and others mean nothing compared to Katniss! Solidarity sister. 
This book may be life changing for a girl who struggles with her identity. So. You know. All girls. I'm hoping to use it in a book club with a group of high school girls at my church. It's a non-fiction. Well played, Laura. 
Currently listening to this book. For years I refused to look this book in the eye. Creepy girl levitating? No thanks. But I saw it's going to be a movie soon, and I had a road trip. so. I looked it straight in the eye. With my eye. And took a leap. 

I'm so glad I did. The story so far is riveting. I listen in my bed when my husband thinks I'm sleeping. I mean, he's fine with it. Or I assume so because he's snoring when it's happening. 

The only problem with that is the laughing. I have laughed out loud several times. The main character is a 16 year old boy who has an Olympic level of sarcasm and whit. Out loud laughter. The audiobook is great. 

Here are a few books on my "To Read" list. 

Anyone read these last three? Have any favorites on your list?

Happy reading! 


Saturday, April 09, 2016

My girl!

My most and least favorite hashtag of this year is #izzygoestocollege. My girl is in her senior year, and while I feel as sense of accomplishment that she's grown into an incredibly cool kid, I can't help feeling that I worked really hard on this kid!! Now she's just going to take all that learnin and leave me? With four more who haven't arrived yet!!?

Gah. Rude vicious cycles. Well I plan to soak her up and pour into her every single second she's around.

Let's see. She's almost 18. And it's April. Carry the one, and five. That gives me about ten minutes where she will actually be around to tell her everything I have forgotten or failed to mention in her previous 18 years. And those ten minutes will probably separated into 45 second increments. 
One skill I want her to take with her is how to quit a job properly, followed with updating her resume/work history paperwork. 
She's been working at a local grocery store. Picture the quintessential first job. Menial labor. Random schedules. Sometimes you show up on pay day only to hear, "uh. Yah. Sorry, but the pay checks never showed up. Try again Monday." :/ 
This week, she got the blessed phone call saying she is Starbucks' newest and cutest barista. Well. They said something along those lines. The point is, Baby Girl got herself a big girl job where she's sure to meet her paycheck actually ON payday. 
As parents, it's important to give our kids the right ideas when it comes to quitting a job. We rehearsed. I gave her some ideas, and she fretted and bit her fingernails. 
"When should I give my notice??"
"Since you've got a yes for the job, and you have to give two weeks' notice, just do it on your next shift."

Then we talked strategy. 
"When you get in there, look for a good time- end of the shift or beginning. Start with a thank you for the work and for giving you this chance to get your feet wet with your first job. Tell them you you need a job you can take with you to college and fits your schedule better. Don't drag it out."

And just like that, she did it. She was so brave. I was so proud. 

The second part of this is for her benefit for years to come. Teach your kids to update they're resumes immediately with contact information, dates, names, phone numbers and addresses. How many times have you been applying for a job and you haven't a clue of the time frame for some job or another? Or the name of your supervisor- forget about it. 

Five years from now she will have four year's worth of college in her brain. She won't remember this. She won't even know she needs it until she goes to apply for another job! 

Do your kids a favor and have them collect this information while it's still milling around in their brain. 

She's not even far enough along to create a resume. Hers looks more like a simple Word document with the goods. I'll send it with her on her computer when she goes. 

Setting our kids up for success can feel like an overwhelming task. Handling these bite sized pieces makes us feel like we can actually move that mountain a smidgeon. 

~ Nonsense