Saturday, October 31, 2015

The One You Feed

Last night, I heard again the Native American tale of the two wolves that Billy Graham once popularized in his 1970's book on the Holy Spirit.

The most original source I could find comes from the Nanticoke Indian Association's website where they account "The Tale of the Two Wolves."

They write:

One evening, an elderly Cherokee brave told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, "My son, the battle is between two 'wolves' inside us all. One is evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith." The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf wins?" 

The grandfather simply replied, "The one that you feed." 

I want to feed the good wolf.

I hear the tale last night in this concise form: The two wolves of joy and despair fight inside of us each day. Which one wins?

The one I feed.

I feed joy today.

Friday, October 30, 2015

The End of an Era: The Last Boo Platter

One of my all-time favorite Live with Flair moments came on October 28, 2010 when I posted on Your Most Memorable Act.

In this post, I saw the way God combined words, writing, and motherhood in this Boo Platter that became the stuff of elementary school legend. For years, the children begged for the Boo Platter for their Halloween class party. It's not glamorous, crafty, or Pinterest-worthy, but it's all me, right down to the writing of words.

This morning, I sign in at the school office to deliver my final Boo Platter to the 5th grade classroom. Next year, my daughter will find herself in the impenetrable fortress of Middle School where parents hardly enter the building.

But not on this day. This day, I weave through the costumed children as "Ghostbusters" plays on the intercom. I compliment the princesses, the Minions, the Star Wars characters, and the Harry Potter wizards. I hold my Boo Platter high and make my way through cats and knights and Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz.

And I deliver the final Boo Platter.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Always a Little Something to Help You Live with Flair

When my husband travels, we fall apart. We do. Nobody sleeps well, and we just feel out of sorts. Even the cats rebel against his absence.

So this morning, after a sleepless night, an angry daughter, and rebelling cats, I was in no mood for flair.

And I had a headache. Woe is me!

I wanted to cancel class. I wanted to cancel everything. But I knew what to do. I stood in the shower and remembered all those years of choosing to find something beautiful and good in any situation. For thousands and thousands of days, God helped me find the wondrous thing in the most discouraging of days.

The day chugged into motion, and I knew to look for tiny, beautiful things:

My 13 year old borrowed my boots for school, and I realized she's all grown up. I smiled and snapped a picture of her. Those boots on that girl--a tiny, beautiful moment.

I glanced at the boxed mix of caramel apple cupcakes my younger daughter and I would make after school together. Such a little thing would fill the house with warm smells. She still loves to bake with me. A tiny, beautiful thing.

Then, I left the house for a meeting on campus, and when I stopped in at the Creamery, they were featuring a Coconut Cream Pie Latte. Never in my life had I heard of such a thing. You know my weakness for coconut. You know my love of coffee. This was a wonderful little treat.

And the day chugged on with flair.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

With Little Effect: A New Verb for Your Notebook

The wind arrives in great, rainy gusts this morning. It sends the leaves up in tornados of burnt orange and golden yellow. It's so blustery, I think. I love the word blustery because it sounds a bit like a gust of wind rising up as you say it. It means, in fact, something blowing in great bursts. I wonder, therefore, if something can bluster.

I look up the verb, and it means to talk in a loud, aggressive, or indignant way with little effect. A rant. A howl. A thunder of words. As in, "She just blusters on but doesn't change anyone's mind."

For all this noise and display--nothing. With little effect. It's also arrogant, chaotic, and noisy.

I think of what it means to use words to great effect. Perhaps it's the opposite of bluster's definition. Perhaps quiet, peaceful, cheerful speech affects others more than when I bluster. I remember this in marriage and parenting.

And I remember the chaos of leaves that scatter and obscure my view as I drive on blustery days. I want my writing and speech to bring order, clarity, and change. I want the hush and harmony, not the boisterous bluster.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Coming Soon! New Author Website with Blog Included!

Dear Faithful Blog Readers,

I'm so excited because Moody designed a beautiful author website for me that will launch in the next few days. This website will include everything someone might need--books, free material, speaking schedule, and most importantly, a new Live with Flair location. It's the same blog, but in a new place with so many new beautiful features. You're going to love it!

I don't like change at all, but I remembered when a little boy said to me, "If nothing changes, then you don't either." He was encouraging me to think of all the possibilities when something changes. I'm nervous to learn all the new technology on the new website and how to post blogs and pictures, but living with flair means courage, learning, and tenacity. It means adapting, changing, and taking risks.

It means a new author website and blogging platform! It's been so many wonderful years on this Live with Flair platform. It seems like the end of an era to move to a new blogging platform, but I'm so excited!

As soon as the website launches, you'll know because you'll be redirected there when you come to this site. I'll provide all the information you need when the time comes. You might have to sign up again for the Live with Flair email delivery, but I'm not sure. I'll let you know.

Thank you for your faithful readership and support.

Monday, October 26, 2015

All at Once

The best tree in the neighborhood flares into bright gold every October. Every neighbor knows the one I mean.

It's this tree. This one tree slows down traffic and walkers as we gaze at its beauty.

But we also know this: This one tree drops all of its leaves in a single day, in what seems like a single moment. Some trees gradually fade into winter with their bony fingers rising up to the air, but this tree saddens us all at once. And we know its coming. By afternoon, we'll have a different view on the street.

So we pause and marvel. It's just like spring with the Weeping Cherry's blooms that last for a single day before the wind and warm afternoon showers take the blossoms down.

I've learned to stay with the beautiful thing that's right here. Tomorrow, we'll hardly know it was ever this glorious. (But the loss won't devastate us because we'll find the beauty in how those bare branches carry the snow and icicles.)

But today:

This is the day the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

When a Silly Thing You Don't Like Becomes the Thing God Uses

When I was 19 years old, I wished I had a different voice. I wanted a Southern accent like all the girls around me, but instead, I had this strange, unplaced kind of voice. And I couldn't sing to save my life. I could only talk way too much with this voice.

One summer, my camp director told me that I had the "perfect broadcasting voice." (A strange compliment for a girl who never imagined being on television or the radio.) It was accent-free; my voice was a little of this and a little of that. No one could place it. Midwest? Maybe. East Coast? Maybe. It could blend and fit in because of its belonging-nowhere kind of tone and pitch. My explanation? God's plan for my childhood involved me moving every two years in a military family. My upbringing meant Army bases in Kansas, California, Virginia, and Washington, and my college years had me spending every summer in North Carolina.

That was me: belonging nowhere right down to my voice. 

So 20 years later, when I find myself doing radio interview after radio interview to talk about my new book, people say they absolutely love my voice. This voice that made no sense to me makes perfect sense on the air. It's like God shaped this whole life for my voice to reach out to people. Isn't that funny?

And as if God wanted me to really understand this calling that He knew would come about all along--after all those moves to different regions that shaped how I sound--three different women found me yesterday to randomly announce that they loved my voice.

What kind of compliment is that? Have you ever just told someone that you love their speaking voice?

It's such a funny thing! It's so wonderful to see God use even this unusual voice in His unfolding plan.

(By the way, I've seen my voice displayed on an oscilloscope compared to other voices. It's ridiculous! It's just like an explosion of fireworks! When other voices register as calm, appropriate, and normally textured, mine explodes.)

Saturday, October 24, 2015

With Your Hands

I'm watching a man signing a worship song with his hands. Watching him worship with his hands made me think about my own hands. I want to worship with my hands.

I thought of Psalm 90:17, where Moses--writing the oldest of the Psalms--cries out: "Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!"

The work of my hands: the laundry stains, the dishes, the braiding of hair, the peeling of potatoes, the smoothing of sheets, the scratching of backs, the writing on the chalkboard and the typing of words. . .

Let these hands worship in all these ways! 

Friday, October 23, 2015

Everywhere You Go: A Host

My friend sends me an article where the authors ask, "What makes a teacher great?" They present the classical concept of "Philoxenia," a new Greek word to add to my list. The word technically means "love of strangers" or more broadly, "a good host with a generous spirit."

The authors suggest that such a deeply classical concept of generous hosting applies to both home and work. They ask, "What if a truly great teacher is one who nourishes her students through Philoxenia? Perhaps we ought to think of ourselves as hosts, offering a place of rest and renewal: providing a feast, a celebration, and a song."

I think the Italian Mamas would approve.

The classical concept of hosting others--in my home and classroom--inspires me so much as I think about how to generously invite others into rest and renewal wherever I go. No matter where I am or what I'm doing--and whether I'm with friends or strangers--I'm a host.

Let me help you rest and refresh. Let me offer a feast, a celebration, a song. 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Suspended In Flight

I love falling leaves, and for several seasons now, I've tried to capture them descending with my camera. But something extraordinary happened yesterday: a leaf stalled mid-flight down, right in my yard. It was there, frozen in space, like some fantasy film scene.

Upon closer inspection, I realize it's trapped in a nearly invisible spider's web.

Trapped like this, isolated and dangling, I observe it, capture it on film, and enjoy this moment in time when something falling froze for me.

And I remember that, sometimes, things don't follow the intended or natural path at all. They stay stuck in a moment because there's something here to wonder over and delight in.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Secret Little Processes

I know it's a silly thing, but I love making dough with yeast. I love oiling the bowl and setting the round ball (in this case, pizza dough for dinner) inside as I cover it with my blue dishtowel.

I leave the for the day, and I know it's working. Something is happening. Whether I perceive it or not, whether I realize it or not, a natural process stays in place with that yeast, sugar, flour, water, and my spices for my dough (I add garlic powder, oregano, and thyme into my crust).

I return and find it is working according to plan. The joy of lifting that blue dishtowel! Such a simple, pure pleasure. Haven't these past five years been about just this: ordinary marvels, ordinary pleasures, ordinary moments that shimmer with God's love and goodness?

Well, today, it's yeast again. I don't need much in this life when I can smile with pleasure at pizza dough rising on the stove.

I realize why I love these secret little processes: Just like yeast that will do its secret work, a spiritual life in Christ--aided by the Holy Spirit, God's word, and prayer--is working within me, is happening, is growing me. It's happening. It's working. Whether I perceive it today or not, that power is doing something within me.

Someday soon I'll marvel at that growth that came in a secret little way.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

"The Best Seat in the House" (A Guest Post and Chance to Win Books!)

I am honored to have written a guest post for Jennifer Dukes Lee (my writing friend from! My piece is about how I always wanted "the best seat in the house," and what happened when I finally realized I was already there. You can enter for a chance to win Seated with Christ: Living Freely in a Culture of Comparison on her beautiful site. Click here for my post and the entry form.

I hope you enjoy Jennifer's #TellHisStory Tuesday.

Have a wonderful afternoon!

For Just Right Now

I'm finding new strength these days. Even on my hardest days (they don't seem hard anymore), I know how to draw on some truths in scripture for this very moment. Right now, I'm guarded by God's peace (Philippians 4:7), His righteousness (Romans 3:22), His hope (Romans 5:5), His power (Ephesians 1:19), and His presence that provides everything I need (2 Peter 1:3).

For just right now, I'm stronger than ever.

I'll apply these truths again every hour if I must.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Something New: Dehydrating Fruit

My neighbor has a food dehydrator (it just sits on the kitchen counter and makes this little humming noise while it's working). I have never seen a dehydrator in my whole life, so obviously, I'm amazed at the trays of shriveled apple slices. She lifts the lid and lets me sample the most delicious, chewy, tart, dried apples. They have changed form into these strong, long-lasting things!

I'm addicted. It's all I can think about.

Over the weekend, another set of neighbors (who have had to listen to my new obsession with dehydrated fruit on the walk to school) present me with an early 40th birthday present: It's a food dehydrator!

I slice some apples, and six hours later, I have piles of apple candy. I decide to dehydrate the apple peel, and it makes apple chips that are so flavorful I can't believe it.

Oh, the after school snacks we will have in the bitter cold winter when we long for the tart apples of October! Oh, the veggies and jerky and fruit roll ups I can make!

Then I read that one can store dehydrated fruit for 30 years on the shelf, and this fruit will retain its vitamins and minerals. I have no idea if this is true, but it seems promising.

I think of how that dehydrator works: the warm air just sucks the moisture out. For someone who values hydration, this seems so counter to a good thing. It seems terrible--the dried up, shriveled work of it. But this process cultivates a certain strength and longevity, a certain sweetness and tenacity.

With these long day of work and parenting, we feel shriveled and dried up. We've changed form into wrinkled, withered things.

 But oh, how sweet.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Your Little Trace

My friend presents me with the most beautiful cobalt blue Cross fountain pen--the kind with the ink cartridges that you pop in (I love that sound!)--because she knows I'll be signing books.

First of all, I love fountain pens. Oh! When I think of writing with flair, I think of fountain pens.

And I know what I'm talking about: I worked at Staples from 9th grade all the way through my 3rd year of college. I was the Fountain Pen Expert and stood behind the Service Desk and showcased the most extraordinary fountain pens to customers. I loved unpacking the shipments of pens boxed in velvet. I displayed Waterman, Mont Blanc, Pelican, Parker, Sheaffer, and of course, Cross. I knew ink filling mechanisms, inlays, nibs, and barrel composition. I kept them under lock and key because some pens sold for thousands of dollars.

I pop in the cartridge and use that nib for the first time. I pause and consider how smoothly it writes, how uniquely to my own hand, and how the words seem so connected to me as I write them. Nobody will use this pen but me; every fountain pen owner knows the nib conforms to only one hand.

I think about the journey of my own handwriting: the lessons in grade school from a precise military father; the i's dotted with hearts in middle school; the backward slant of rebellion in high school; the tiny clipped letters of debate and college lecture notes. I realize that there's something in the conversation about what it means to be human (and to know oneself) that involves our handwriting.

I consider the number of people who hand me my own book and ask for my signature. They want the trace from my hand--my unique script--because somehow the words I wrote and were typeset in that gorgeous font weren't enough. They wanted me, my own signature, because they know that it's a human trace of something authentic.

They want my signature self, so I write it gladly.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Sisters Who Drive Long Distances To See You

I tell my daughters that, although they can't stand each other now, one day, they'll be the best of friends. I hear them bickering upstairs as I fix the guest room for my sister who is on her way through sleet and cold to see me.

I remind them that sisters are one of God's greatest gifts.

It's like this:

One day, your sister will pick you up from high school, take you to ice-cream, go shopping with you, and find a fun restaurant for dinner because you just need a break from everything and everyone. You fight now, but one day, you'll want to be with her more than anyone in the world because she's your sister and she just knows you. 

One day, your sister will drive hours to visit you at college and take you to coffee shops and listen to all your boyfriend drama. She will nod her head, refill your mug, and hold your hand. She will send you handwritten notes with Bible verses on them to encourage you to return to Jesus when you have wondered so far away that you do not know yourself.

One day, she'll send you flowers on the day you don't get the sorority bid. The card will say, "From your real big sister."

One day, she'll drive to find you when you're depressed and losing your mind. She'll tell you that you are just "stuck in a moment" and you'll find your way out.

One day, your sister will drive even more hours for a wedding, new babies, and birthday parties. You'll drive the same distance for her. It won't matter if it's snowing or nobody has the kind of money to spend on travel. You just do it because you're sisters.

You'll immensely love each other and immensely fight and then immensely apologize and start all over again.

One day, your sister will drive six hours one way to spend one night with you because you're about to turn 40 years old. And she'll spoil you rotten because you're both professionals now and can splurge.

You can't stand her now, girls, but one day, one day, you'll love her so much you'll cry just thinking about her.

Friday, October 16, 2015

"God Was With Me."

My youngest daughter (who gives permission for me to share this story) has been battling severe test taking anxiety. She can make herself sick with nerves about taking tests, especially math tests. We've spent so many days looking into therapeutic solutions, creating strategies, and talking through positive self-talk before going into the tests. In her mind, so much is at stake, and she is just afraid. 

Today, she had another math test, and last night, we all prayed for God's guarding peace as promised in Philippians 4:6. You know the famous verse: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus."

We ask God to guard her with His peace, and we thank Him for allowing her to simply show what she has learned on this test.

(That's all a test is: showing what you have learned. It's OK to fail a test; this just means you have more to learn for next time.)

I drop her off, kiss that little forehead, and say, "I don't know what else to tell you about all this test stress. I just know that God is with you. No matter what happens, Jesus is right there with you."

At pick up time, she emerges from the school doors so full of joy. She reports, "It was easy! I finished the test first! I didn't have any problem!"

I ask her: What made the difference? Was it the self-talk, the deep-breathing, the strategies (all good things)? What made the difference, and what could I tell others about what worked for you?

She says firmly and clearly: "God was with me. That's it."

Oh, what we can do when we know God is with us! It changes everything.

We will remember this day when she knew God was with her. Today it was a math test. Tomorrow it might be something else. I want her (and me) to store up a lifetime of days when we accomplished something we didn't think we could do because God was with us, guarding us with His peace.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Somewhere to Be

Today one of my students invites the entire class to get a burrito with him for lunch. Apparently, there's a Thursday $4.00 Burrito Special on campus. I love it when a single student builds community and cares for other students in the class. And I love knowing random things that students know about campus life (like $4.00 Thursday Burritos).

I think about how much fun they will have at lunch together. I think of the apple I packed in my bag as I rushed out the door this morning and how nice a burrito sounded.

I end class, ready to sit alone on the bench outside of my next classroom. But as I'm packing up my things, he says to me, "Are you coming along?"

Me? Really?

I did! I went to get burritos with him and the few students who accepted his invitation. As it turns out, it was someone's birthday, so we celebrated with burritos.

As we stood in line, the student who organized our outing kept a lookout for straggling students who decided to join him at the last minute. We found one, and we made sure to wait up for her. I noted that it was fun to have a group from class eat burritos together, even if just a few students came.

"Next time, more will come," the student says. "I will make sure and invite everyone again next Thursday."

I thought about his invitation all day. I thought about the student who had a birthday that nobody had celebrated. I thought of the girl who came late but sill wanted to join up; I wondered what changed her mind. I suddenly remember being a freshman and how important it was to have somewhere to be, with people who wanted me there, for something as simple as lunch.

I also thought about how I would have never thought to invite my professors out to lunch. But this student? He stood there and asked, "Are you coming along?"

I know I'm booked for burritos next Thursday.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

A Little Stroganoff

I love the word "stroganoff." It sounds rather formal, royal even. I discovered that stroganoff simply refers to a dish where the central ingredient--whether chicken or beef--is cooked in a sauce containing sour cream.

Oh, deliciousness! Why did I suddenly remember the joys of cooking with sour cream? Well, yesterday (the same day I overemphasized the semicolon), I resorted to asking my students what in the world I might cook with chicken and some noodles for dinner. Several students cried out, "Chicken Stroganoff!" as if this were the best thing in the entire world.

My goodness: It is.

One student informs me of the following recipe which I find in various forms on the internet. Here is my own version of Chicken Stroganoff:

Season chopped chicken with onion powder, garlic powder, thyme, and parsley. Add in one chopped onion and 3 cloves minced garlic to a saucepan and cook the chicken along with it. Then, in another pan or even in the same pan, make a sauce with 1 can cream of chicken soup, 1/2 cup sour cream, 1/2 cup chicken broth, 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, and some salt and pepper. While this is all going on, cook some noodles.

When the chicken is fully cooked, mix it together with the cream sauce and the noodles, top it all with parsley and paprika, and then bake it for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

Typically, one uses mushrooms in stroganoff, and I did not.

My children ask for two helpings, and tonight, they await the Chicken Stroganoff leftovers.

Here is Campbell's Easy Stroganoff Recipe (with a lovely picture). Taste of Home has a great one, too.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

You're Not the Only One Who Doesn't Know How to Use a Semicolon

Today in class, I spend an unusual amount of time rationalizing and explaining the proper use of a semicolon. These are my older students in Advanced Writing who should know but do not. We all should know but do not. The semicolon is the most beautiful and misunderstood punctuation mark!

I explain it's a romance; the second independent clause connects to the first, enhancing it, loving it.

That doesn't work. Nobody imagines the semicolon romancing anything.

Then, I explain it this way:

I'm tired in class. I went to a party last night. 

The period shows no relationship between these thoughts. But the semicolon? Try this:

I'm tired in class; I went to a party last night. 

This sentence shows the relationship; you have a because.

A because? I have a new thought here! 

I never thought of explaining the semicolon as a replacement for the word "because." I'm so excited! I'm jumping up and down; the semicolon replaces because! It does! It really does!

I'm off to try my hand at more semicolons; using them makes me strangely happy.

Monday, October 12, 2015

A Way to Handle Nerves in Public

I've had a breakthrough! I'm learning to handle the nervousness of speaking in front of audiences and on the radio after nearly making myself sick. It's terrifying! You shake and stutter and realize you're going to make a fool of yourself, so you wonder why in the world you would do this.

Early on in the book publishing journey, I began to pray from Psalm 25:12 where we're told the Lord "will instruct [you] in the way chosen for [you]." I needed instruction on how to do some of the things this new adventure would bring. Things like radio interviews. Things like speaking on stage to more and more people. Things like public appearances and book signings. Teach me, God! How do I handle the nerves?

Are you ready for the breakthrough? Well, as I asked God to teach me how to do this, I remembered that God had given me a great gift of teaching. I am confident and joyful as a teacher. I'm a teacher at heart; I'm a teacher through and through. When I'm with my students, I feel 100% like myself. No nerves, no shaking, no sickness. I just get up there and go, like a racehorse freed from the gate. So I began to reframe all of these activities back to God's gifting. I had to remember teaching. 

What if I saw all this activity as teaching? It's not a speaking event or an interview; it's teaching. 

Teaching is always about something other than myself. It's about the Subject Matter. Speaking and interviews put the attention on me instead of the subject matter. But when I'm teaching, I can shift all the attention to the subject at hand--God--and live without self-consciousness or anxiety.

I began to think of everything as teaching instead of public appearances or interviews.

Maybe reframing what you're doing will benefit you as well. You're not doing this public thing that terrifies you; you're doing something else that you feel confident about.

The reframing has worked so far. It has helped me become more brave, more self-forgetful, and more focused on God instead of myself.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Leaves Don't Change Color; They Are Unmasked

This morning I learn that the beautiful leaf colors are always there but hidden by the green chlorophyll. When the long nights of autumn begin, the chlorophyll production diminishes and reveals the carotenoids (yellows, oranges, and browns) and anthocyanins (reds and purples) that are always there. 

I'm astonished. I think about how change in my own life happens when I let something die within me to reveal the life of Christ that's there but hidden by my own self-life. I let self diminish and Christ rise within me.

Autumn leaves aren't a sign of loss or decay like I thought. They more represent identity unmasked.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Finding Some Unity

The cats love to look out the front glass door. They wait for me to open it, and it becomes a wonderland experience of chipmunks, squirrels, birds, and dogs.

All morning long, they look out together.

They look out together. These are the cats that often do not like each other. These cats can fight and attempt ridiculous displays of dominance. Louie and Merlin torture dear Snowflake and chase her around the house for afternoon fun.

There's no peace between any of them until they look outward together.

I remember this when I'm in any situation with others that lacks unity. If we look out together towards the Greater Story of what God is doing, our differences and agendas tend to dissolve. We aren't facing each other any more; we're looking outward to the wonderland of God's agenda, not our own.

Thursday, October 8, 2015


It's such a strange adjective! I read it this morning in Ephesians 3:8 where Paul talks about the "unsearchable riches of Christ." Unsearchable means you cannot find it out; it's beyond our ability to search for or understand. (It's a rather long and beautiful Greek word: anexichniastos.)

I'm someone who searches all day long on the internet. I'm a researcher--a knowledge junkie--who loves asking questions and finding answers. I love learning new things and exhausting the information about a certain topic.

But the riches of Christ? They cannot be exhausted, searched out fully, or understood. We can only attempt, and even our best efforts at understanding represent partial examples. The very best I can imagine fails to approach the truth of it.

In a world where we search and find so well, this one concept will always elude us and be greater than our minds can handle. It won't ever end--the riches of Christ--and I can continue to search it out till my dying days, and even then, there's so much more to Jesus.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Another Peek: What Happens on a Book Release Day

For those of you following the big publishing journey, I thought I'd offer another inside peek at the process. Yesterday was Book Release Day! I had no idea what this would mean, so I'll tell you.

It means that your friends all text and email to tell you how happy they are for you. It's a day to celebrate with them!

It means everyone who pre-ordered the book receives it in the mail (and they take pictures of it and send them to you to celebrate!)

It means your editor contacts you to celebrate.

It means people start telling you that your book is in a Barnes and Noble in Cary, NC. You pause and think about what this means for a minute, and you celebrate a dream come true!

It means people talk about your book on social media, and then people email you to tell you people are talking about your book on social media. But you don't think about this for long because you have to fold a load of laundry.

It means people can start reviewing the book on (hint, hint)

Other than these things, nothing fundamentally changes. You still go about your writing, teaching, and parenting tasks. You still unload the dishwasher, make hamburgers for dinner, and finish your writing for the day. You put children to bed, prepare lesson plans, and grade papers.

But you are smiling a whole lot.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Because Here I See Best

Right around 5:00 PM, the sun sets behinds the trees in my backyard. It's the most beautiful thing. I could start crying it's so stunning. The golden light filters through those leaves. Everything looks lit from within like it's going to catch fire. I often just stand there and bask. I even stop talking it's that important.

But what's happening physically to me as this beautiful thing is happening? I'm always at the kitchen sink. I'm always getting something ready for dinner, scrubbing some dish, or filling another child's glass with water. I'm always feeling the weight of some kind of stress.

But it's the view through the kitchen sink window that fills me with such wonder and worship.

I pause there, scrubbing something. I had to be here to see this. There's no other way to see it. I'm serious. Move a little right, and the sun's angle isn't right. Move left, and the golden glow dissolves.

So I'm here.

So much of my journey of motherhood and housekeeping involved crying at the kitchen sink, not because of beauty but because of all those dark days I couldn't beat. But then, as you know, I began to see again. I began to see that wherever God puts me, it's because it's here I see beauty--and Him-- best. I will trust Him more and more for this, and every day at 5:00 PM, He teaches me the truth of it.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Other Moms and Dads

Today on the walk to school, I remember that saying, "It takes a village to raise a child," or the Africa proverb, "A child does not grow up in one home only." It's because today, one child has so much to say to another father on the walk to school. Even after listening for nearly 20 minutes, he says to this boy, "Do you have anything else to tell me?" It was precious and wonderful to see their connection.

I remember back in 2011 when my daughter held another mother's hand on the walk to school. I think of how many mothers they know now that, in years to come, will have been like mothers to them. How many times will they say, "She was like a mother to me"?

Who might say that of me?

My daughter calls one mother her "other mother" and another home her "second home." It feels like such a blessing to live in a neighborhood like this where all the parents gather and raise the children together. We're not alone in this task of parenting, and it feels like it's the way it should be.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Favorite Fall Simmering Spices

One of our favorite fall traditions is creating our simmering spices on the stove that humidify the kitchen while releasing a delicious aroma. 

Sarah creates the first recipe:

3 cinnamon sticks
1 sliced lemon with peel
1 Tablespoon whole allspice
1 Tablespoon ground ginger
4 cups water

Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer for as long as you wish. 

Other recipes include orange, vanilla, and clove. Enjoy the fragrance and the warmth as the crisp air moves in. 

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Predictable Attack

I reluctantly take allergy medicine in case my miserable cold symptoms come from all the ragweed. Just in case, I reason

Soon, I'm myself again--no sneezing, itching eyes, or running nose. 

It's a simple solution to a predictable problem that I forget about every October! I think about my complex musings about all sorts of problems and how quickly I misinterpret what's happening. 

I'm miserable! This is terrible! I've come under attack! 

No, silly. It's something predictable and manageable and part of this season. Knowing this brings comfort. It's a good reminder for spiritual matters as well. 

Friday, October 2, 2015

Before and Behind

I read Isaiah 58:8 where I learn that "righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard."

I remember how the psalmist in Psalm 139 also shares how God "hems us in, behind and before."

We're surrounded on all sides; He goes before us and stands behind us, guarding at all times. 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Mama's Cowboy Boots

My mom gave these 30 year old Texas cowboy boots to me. 

I'll give them to my daughter one day.