Thanksgiving: Now Featuring Pajamas

Due to some crazy inter-family scheduling, our little band of four has absolutely nothing to do tomorrow for Thanksgiving Day.

Three of us couldn’t be happier about this. We’re envisioning an entire day of reading books and watching movies and possibly playing euchre. EVERY MINUTE OF THIS SHALL INCLUDE PAJAMAS.

The fourth one in this family, namely the uber-social twelve-year old girl, is horrified at an entire Thursday without her school friends, her neighborhood friends, and her youth group friends. She’s shriveling up and dying on the inside at the prospect of only her parents and little brother for hours and hours.

Being twelve is so hard.

Especially when your parents don’t think your life is actually that hard and laugh in your face when you list your miseries.

I will admit that being twelve and having me as a mother is probably a very trying situation. The poor child could count that on a list of difficulties without argument from me.

But anyway, tomorrow we shall abstain from pants with zippers and we’ll snack all day long. We’ll fight over the “Super Napper,” which is a large old comforter that’s softened to the perfect nap worthiness.

Here, Beanie is hard at Pajama Thanks Day practice already. She won’t rest until she’s…well, resting, I guess.


We do have actual plans to make important meals this weekend, too. We have family coming in from all over the state on Saturday and we’ll get together with Eric’s family on Sunday. All of these activities will include real pants and pinchy shoes, but we’ll enjoy them anyway.

And you– may your weekend be filled with a thousand reasons to be thankful. Please remember that I’m always, always grateful for you! I’m so blessed to count you among my reasons to thank God.

Happy Pajama Thanks Day to one and all!

It’s Not All Up to Us (just in case you need a reminder)

Sometimes God still surprises me. You? Does he still surprise you, too?

I’ve been working really hard at a few things lately and seeing small outcomes. Instead of getting upset at the results I’ve been trying to release them into God’s hands. God’s work, God’s plans, God’s outcomes, I tell myself.

Doesn’t that sound really holy of me? Like perhaps I should have my head turned into a marble statue and placed prominently in Christian colleges worldwide?

Don’t worry. It’s 100% less holy than it could be, because I spend equal amounts of time trying to pluck my eyeballs from my face because I’m so frustrated at the lack of results.

In small group we’ve been working through Francis Chan’s study Forgotten God, and these verses in Zechariah were highlighted last week:

Then he said to me, “This is what the Lord says to Zerubbabel: It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. Nothing, not even a mighty mountain, will stand in Zerubbabel’s way; it will become a level plain before him! And when Zerubbabel sets the final stone of the Temple in place, the people will shout: ‘May God bless it! May God bless it!’

Then another message came to me from the Lord: “Zerubbabel is the one who laid the foundation of this Temple, and he will complete it. Then you will know that the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has sent me. Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.” (Zechariah 4: 6-10, NLT. Click here to read it on bible

I’ve had to sit with this passage for an entire week, just reading it over and over again. Zerubbabel had been given a big assignment, one that required his actual work and involvement.

But it wasn’t his work or strength that was really going to accomplish anything, it was the Spirit. It’s the Spirit that makes mountainous challenges level before us.

Not us, the Spirit.

I’ve asked God to give me peace with the results from my efforts, and I’ve asked him for this countless times. It really is a never-ending battle I’m waging here.

And then today I got an email with an amazing and exciting offer to be part something fun, something far better than the results I could have hoped for. I haven’t had a chance to confirm the details yet, but I do know this– God is working out his own plan and outcomes in his own time.

I’ll let you know the news when I have more information, but I leave you with this encouragement today– It’s not by our force, but by God’s Spirit!

(I cordially invite you to join my very non-spammy email list. Click here and you’ll be taken to the sign up form. Keep up to date on the happenings! And the dumb stories!)


It’s Never Too Late to Figure Out Who We Really Are (who? whom? I don’t have an editor for blog titles)

I’ve been slowly making my way through My Life in France, by Julia Child and Alex Preud’homme. (If you’ve seen  the movie Julie & Julia, you have a good idea of the book.)  Julia and her Alex, her nephew-in-law, went back through old letters and memories and then transcribed them into a pure delight of a book.

Did you know Julia didn’t move to Paris until she was 36 years old? She didn’t really find her love of cooking until she was 37! Raised in a wealthy Californian family, she grew up with cooks who turned out all sorts of bland American food, so the art of excellent cooking with fresh ingredients was foreign to her. Her love of these things caught her off guard.

She discovered them by taking risks, trying new things, and then working really hard until she perfected them.

Let’s all be more like Julia, shall we? Let’s try that new recipe or craft project. Let’s start writing that book or planning that trip or designing that new business. It’s never to late to find what we really love, what God has for the next season of our lives.

Don’t be discouraged if early attempts are pitiful and awful and a little bit humiliating. That’s part of the fun! Here’s proof:

The first meal I ever cooked for Paul was a bit more ambitious: brains simmered in red wine! I’m not quite sure why I picked that particular dish, other than that it sounded exotic and would be a fun way to impress my new husband. …In fact, the dinner was a disaster. Paul was unfailingly patient, but years later he’d admit to an interviewer, “Her first attempts were not altogether successful…I was brave because I wanted to marry Julia. I trust I did not betray my point of view.” (pg. 6)

Julia Child cooked brains simmered in wine for her first married meal. And it was ghastly.

If she can goof it up like this, so can we. She eventually became a world-famous chef and now her kitchen is on display in the National Museum of American History.

All because she didn’t give up after that brains-in-wine debacle. So let’s stop with the excuses and get to the next thing God has for us, shall we?

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Hiding Places: all the spots the kids can’t find you

In the course of normal human parenting, there will come a day when we need to hide from the children.

Of course we love the children. We love them to bits.

It’s just that sometimes we love them best from a distance of ten feet to one acre. We need a little time to pluck our eyebrows, to finish a chapter in a book, or to take a nap.

(Please, dear Lord. A nap. I’m not asking for much.)

As an introverted parent I’ve become an expert on hiding from my own kids. Here are some of my best ideas.

Suggested Hiding Spots:

  1. Behind the washer and dryer. I know it’s a little dusty back there, but I think we can make this work. Use the extension on your vacuum and get out the lint balls, then install some sort of a shelf and sleeping bag combo. Be careful not to set the sleeping bag on fire from the hot dryer parts.
  2. In your kids’ own messy closets! Artfully rearrange their crap until you have a parent-sized hole. Cover yourself with a sheet.
  3. The neighbor’s back yard. Make sure you can see your own house in case of flames or sibling death-matches. Pull a lawn chair over to the adjoining property, cover your face with a hat, and snooze away. Your kids will assume you’re the neighbor if they don’t look too closely.
  4. Under your bed. I can’t do this right now because our mattress and box spring are sitting directly on the floor, due to some issues we’re having with Eric not being willing to spend over a thousand dollars on a bed frame I’ve picked out. (And we keep breaking our other bed frames. But that’s a discussion for another time.) You probably have some space under your bed. Crawl right under there and rest. You deserve it.
  5. The back of the van. Our van windows are so tinted you can’t see a dang thing from the outside. The kids can’t see me without actually opening the back door or peering over the back seat, and we all know kids give up looking long before this. Just don’t move and they won’t be able to see you, like in Jurassic Park.

So there you go– permission to hide and concrete ideas of where to do it. What did I forget? Where do you hide in your own house?

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Just in Case You Wake Up Cranky (hypothetically speaking, of course)

I have been told that it’s humanly possible to wake up and be actually awake. Right away. My brother-in-law just opens his eyes and ta-da! That’s all he needs. He’s awake and ready to go.

I have no idea of what this would actually feel like, or how it’s even possible, as it takes me about 30 minutes and a gigantic mug of coffee before I can function.

But this morning was worse than usual. I wasn’t just tired, I was cranky. The sight of the cat infuriated me. The light in the bathroom was horribly bright. I hated the curtains.

The curtains. The curtains I picked out and like just fine, thank you very much.

At that point I had to realize that maybe the problem wasn’t outside of me. Maybe it was inside of me. Maybe I was a nut.

Maybe I’d crossed the line to Crabby Town and needed to reel myself back in before I injured someone in the house. I have a long, long list of things that need to get done today, so crawling back in bed until I feel better isn’t an option.

Psalm 123:1 to the rescue. I lift my eyes to you, O God, enthroned in heaven.

Lord, I need your help to get these kids off to school without emotionally scarring them. Lord, I need to empty the dishwasher and feed the cat and get to work and then do worky things. Lord, I am not in the mood to do any of these things with a good attitude. Please, please help a girl out.

I lift my eyes to you, O God.


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When Apologizing Is Actually Thoughtless

It’s pretty rare when a home decorating book propels deep moments of introspection, but Myquillyn Smith has written a book (The Nesting Place) that manages it. Known on the interwebs as The Nester, she combines home decorating with contentment, faith, family, and creativity.

Her tag line is this: It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful. And from there she encourages homemakers to be thankful for the homes they have and to make them as beautiful and comfortable as the family budget allows. No debt, and no desperation for a house that impresses the guests.

She has a section of the book called It’s Time to Stop Apologizing, and it gets me right in the gut every time. Whether we have large, beautiful things or small, meager things, apologizing for them sends out a signal of discontentment to anyone listening. If the person has even less than we do, we make them feel like what they have really isn’t enough. If the person has more than we do, we probably sound whiney and pathetic.

She goes on to say this:

“Don’t apologize for what you have. It makes guests feel uncomfortable, it encourages discontentment, and if you’re married and your husband hears you apologizing for what he’s provided, it could be hurtful.” (The Nesting Place, pg. 61) 

I shudder to think of how many times I’ve done this over the years. My intentions were good, maybe, but if the root of my comment is discontentment, then I was probably being an idiot and just didn’t want to acknowledge it.

Hindsight, I guess.

Now that I’m fully aware of how apologizing can actually be rude, I’m trying to knock it off. When in doubt, I say nothing. It works out pretty well. And when the silence stretches long, I try to refocus my comments onto my guest. “Hey, I love those shoes!”

And it’s really hard to go wrong with a conversation about shoes.

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Mushy Peas: Something American Mothers Don’t Force Kids to Eat


[My friend David and I are simultaneously posting about peas today. Click here for his side of the debate.]

What looks like baby food, tastes like baby food, and is, in fact, probably baby food?

Mushy peas.

Americans everywhere are wrinkling noses in confusion. They’re running through memories of all kinds of peas– frozen peas, snap peas, canned peas, sweet peas– but not coming up with anything resembling mushy peas.

For today’s blog I went to the largest grocery store in Kalamazoo and searched the international food aisle for genuine mushy peas. I did find digestive biscuits, weird tomato sauce, and something called barley water. But no mushy peas.

This was the best I could do after searching two separate aisles at length:

Picture this in a little paper cup, like we put ketchup in at a fast food restaurant. Now you have exactly the idea.

Picture this in a little paper cup, like we put ketchup in at a fast food restaurant. Now you have exactly the idea.

A few months ago on Facebook, my friend David mentioned this international approach to an already sketchy vegetable and we were all grossed out. They’re basically pre-chewed peas, it appears.

When we were in Ireland I found a pub that served gluten-free fish and chips, a delight I haven’t been able to eat for almost six years. The meal was served with a little container of mushy peas, so I had my chance to try them.

Um, no. No good. My kids and my husband weren’t fans, either. Not even my own mother liked them, the very woman who forced me to eat peas from 1977 to 1994.

We asked the waiter how he liked mushy peas. And he made a little grimace and said, “Well, then. I don’t like the fish.”

Which was a random sort of thing to say, we thought. But after clarifying what he meant, it turns out mushy peas are always served with fish and chips. They go together, or so it is believed in the general area that is not America. Maybe nowhere else on the globe except England and Ireland, I don’t know.

I’m glad my British friend likes mushy peas, I really am. I’m glad everyone has different things they like and hate, different strengths and weaknesses. I’m glad God thought to add some variety to his creation and how we respond to it, because the variety adds a lot of fun and delight for us all.

But I’m not really that glad for the peas themselves, really.

God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. 1 Peter 4:10

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