Wednesday, July 4, 2018

I am the Child of The One True King. So, Why Don't I Act Like It?

Originally Published on

My kids taught me something the other day simply by being kids.

Our family went to the beach. Of course, this is Colorado, so by “beach,” I mean Boulder Reservoir. I have three kids, and we brought a little friend who I watch as well.  We brought the kayak, the cooler, the swim bag, the folding chairs, floaty toys, and beach balls. There was schlepping, my friends, plenty of schlepping.

I slathered sunscreen on my 37-year-old self and decided it was unnecessary to reveal the body that had been sausaged into a swimsuit. I knew I was just going to sit in the camping chair, counting four children over and over again as they splashed and played, disappearing and reappearing countless times. There was no need to get sunburned when the only thing I wanted to put in the water was my feet.

Next to us, two college-aged girls appeared with their 20-year-old bikini clad bodies, smart-phones, and floaty rafts. They caught my attention as they put their raft in the water near my kids and then twisted and contorted their bodies to make their svelte figures appear more lovely, more alluring, more perfect than they already were. They rejected photo after photo as not Instagram-worthy enough. These gorgeous girls thought this angle showed a roll. That angle gave her a double chin…

I’ll be honest. I watched. I judged. I rolled my eyes at their youthful insecurity. I wished they could learn what I already know as an older and wiser person: It doesn’t matter what other people think about your body. You are loved just as you are. You are fearfully and wonderfully made by God.

Mmmmhmmmm. I got that one down. I know that perfectly well as evidenced by my sausage-suited heinie fully-covered, sitting in the camp chair counting my children while pretending to enjoy my book. I’m not comparing my body to theirs. I’m not comparing my body to the mom over there who clearly competes in Ironman competitions. Mmmmhmmm… Definitely not.

The fact that I took a million pictures of my kids playing and having fun had nothing to do with posting them on social media to make me look like the best mom ever. Mmmmhmmm...

Yes, you’ve detected sarcasm.

We are the same, 20-somethings looking for approval. We are the same, beautiful girls with an air of self-importance. I’m sorry I judged you.

The only ones who are different?

The children.

Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3-4)

When we first arrived and walked through the hot sand to get to the water, my kids and their friend were delighted.  “Wow! It’s like the ocean!” my son said.

“I’ve never been to this ocean before! I’ve only ever been to the ocean in Boston,” our four-year-old friend replied.

They were in awe, amazed, overjoyed.

We stayed all day, and they played and played. They chased each other. They built sand castles with moats. They found seashells and other “treasures.” They floated and raced and swam and jumped. They buried each other in the sand. 

They didn't care what they looked like. They were just enjoying the sun, the water, the sand, the mountains. They thought this little reservoir was as vast and amazing as the ocean. They were wild and carefree, as I scoped out strangers, attempting to assess whether or not they might be creepy sexual predators or kidnappers.

The kids have no fear. The kids don’t worry about the size of their rear-ends or the single or doubleness of their chins. The kids just get in the water and play. They don’t worry about creepers or drowning. They make mud pies. They enjoy the beauty and the bodies God gave them.

I am the King’s Kid. What if I basked in the safety of His arms and prayed my worries over to Him instead of hoarding disasters in my mind?

What if I used my body to splash and play and search for treasures? What if I enjoyed being in this incredible body that can run and jump and hike and kayak, instead of planting it in a chair because someone might realize my body is not the perfect shape?

I mean, life like that sounds way more fun. I guess I’ll let Jesus have my child-counting and body image anxiety.

I’ll be making mudpies.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Stepping Out Into the Unknown

Originally published on

Fifteen years ago this May, I packed up my pick-up truck named Ralph with all of the possessions I thought I would need for the adventure of the rest of my life. I was 23 years-old, had just graduated from college, broke up with a long-term boyfriend, and took a job cleaning toilets on the other side of the country. Away from my family. Away from my friends. Away from everyone and everything I had ever known… because Colorado was pretty.

It was more than that, though. The first time I drove through Rocky Mountain National Park was four years prior when I went on a camping trip with my beloved Aunt Phyllis. I know it’s cliché, but it’s also true, I felt exactly like the words expressed in the song Rocky Mountain High when it says, “Comin’ home to a place he’d never been before.” It was. I looked around, breathed deeply and thought, “I’m home. I’m more home here than at home.”

On that trip, we hiked, we camped, we toured three of the most beautiful and wondrous National Parks our country has to offer. When Colorado got super rainy (weird, I know) we drove through Wyoming where tumbleweeds blew across the desolate highway, there was no speed limit, and we were the only car on that road for miles. We wandered up through the Tetons (quite possibly my most favorite place I have ever been) and up into Yellowstone where after we watched Old Faithful erupt, my aunt pointed to some dorm buildings. “That’s where the college kids live when they come out to work in the park for the summer.”

That’s when my dream emerged. 

“You mean people live here in these beautiful places?! People LIVE here!  I could live here!  I could become a grown-up and live here!” 

My aunt about died laughing at me while beaming with pride because I had immediately fallen in love with the West just as she had. I was 19, though, and I hadn’t really thought past that year’s summer break. Living a real adult life making my own choices in the most beautiful most “home” place I’d ever been seemed so… adventurous, exciting, fun… and doable.

So I dreamt of the mountains until that day in May when my long-time bestie hopped in my truck with me and we drove through Iowa and Nebraska for like a million hours. When the Rocky Mountains finally came into view, my eyes welled with relief. They’re still here!  They’re still gorgeous! They still feel like home! I still want to live here!

And then, a few days later, I dropped my friend off at the airport to send her back to her life. Back to my life. Back to everyone I’d ever known and loved. Back to all of the things I knew were safe.

As I drove away, terrified feelings tore at the pit of my gut. What in the world did I just do? Why in the world am I here in this place alone and unloved and alone and unloved and alone? I literally just left everyone I have ever loved. I left because the mountains are pretty, and it seems like fun?! I have got to be the biggest idiot to have ever lived. What a dumb decision. I can’t do this…

My thoughts continued to spiral until I rounded the curve in Lyons, where the land starts to get interesting. Then I remembered that this was the dream God gave me, and I knew I could always go back, but if I had stayed in that life, I would’ve been haunted by a life of “what ifs”. And, while I have missed so many things by living in Colorado, I would’ve missed so much more by staying where I was. Moving to Colorado was one of the best things I’ve ever done.

So what’s your point, Em? Why are you telling me this story?

Because, friend, you might be stepping out into the unknown right now, and I wanted you to know that you’re not alone. And I wanted you to know that the bravest, most celebratory moments of your life might very well be the same exact ones where you’re terrified, sick to your stomach and feel utterly lost, hopeless and alone.

God’s got this. Whatever big crazy dream you have, God’s got this. 

Whatever you’re trying to endure or overcome, God’s got this. Whatever hopeless situation you’re in, God knew it was coming and He knows what’s going to happen. He loves you and He wants what’s best for you.

I know you feel lost and alone and unsure of all the things. But you’re doing better than you think you are. Keep going. Keep trying. Keep running. Keep fighting. These battles you face, these dreams you dream won’t be conquered overnight.

WE aren’t God. We can’t say, “Water, become wine” and suddenly be drinking a fabulous Cabernet. (I’ve tried.) We’re human, so we’ve gotta do the work. As 1 Timothy 6:12 says, “Fight the good fight of faith.”

Whatever unknown you find yourself about to venture into, stay the course. Keep trying. God’s got your back. Keep going, girl.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

An Open Letter To My Sons' Preschool Teachers on My Baby's "Graduation" Day

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Dear Preschool Teachers,

Oh, how I love you. I am hot mess in figuring out how to say good-bye to you. I just can’t figure out how to part with the love and kindness you have shown us over the past 6 years.

For my children, you have held hands and given hugs. You have celebrated every milestone. You have stayed calm in the midst of fits and frustration. You sang songs and rhymed rhymes. You taught them how to share, trade, or take turns. You taught them to do belly breathing when they started to get angry, to use their words to solve problems. You taught them to name their feelings and “breave in frough your nose yike dis when you get mad.”

You taught them love and kindness and patience and self-control. You oozed this out from your souls because your souls are so kind and so patient and so full of love.

You helped them remember to sit on the potty after lunch so you didn’t have to clean up their accidents, but if they had an accident, you helped them get cleaned up from that too.

But you were aware of all that.

What I don’t know if you realize is how much you helped me too. You showed me kindness and patience and love and self-control. You celebrated our family and our lives.

You taught me to “breave in frough my nose yike dis when I get mad.” You gave me the words to teach my children how to feel their feelings. You gave me an experienced example of calm in the storm.

But most importantly, you loved my children with your beautiful love after I kissed them goodbye and walked out of the preschool door. Because, for moms, drop-off at preschool feels like the moment you finish that really hard part of the workout and all you can do is put your hands on your knees and gulp oxygen for a minute.

You gave me time to have a conversation with a friend over a cup of coffee that was still hot without being interrupted a million times in the course of fifteen minutes. In addition, when my children were going to interrupt, you taught them to “tap tap tap” on my shoulder while I finished my thought, instead of jumping right in with their words.

You gave me time to regain my strength to be able to love on my children again.

You gave me time to cry alone in my house so I didn’t have to answer any questions about why mama was crying.

You gave me time to miss my children, time for my heart to replace the frustration with fondness.
You lightened my load by teaching them the things I was trying to teach them but couldn’t get through.

You gave me grace and forgiveness and encouragement. You told me I was doing a great job when I was sure I was scarring my children for life.

And it’s not just me. You call every child and every parent who walks through that door, “friend.” And you mean it.

When I think about all of the families your lives have touched, I marvel at how much love you have spread into this world. I marvel at how our school has changed lives and given parents so much peace and a chance to catch their breath.

You have been such a gift to my sons and to me, my friends. I am so very grateful for you. I am so very grateful for our school. And I am so very grateful for the internet so I can just send this to you instead of looking you in the eye and trying to say these things, because I look worse right now than after an episode of “This is Us.”

I love you dearly. Thank you for taking care of all of us.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Put Down the Bag of Cheetos and Call a Friend

Originally published on

“How are you today?” chirped the cashier at the grocery store.

Panic settled into my stomach. My husband has been gone for far too long, and I had been with the kids around the clock because Presidents’ Day is for some reason “Presidents’ Six Day Weekend,” my grandma just died, I’m hormonal, and interacting with adult humans hasn’t happened in a while. Inside my head, a conversation erupted. 

She’s asking how you are, Em. How are you?

Yes, she’s asking, but she doesn’t want the real answer because the real answer is that I’m frustrated and lonely and exhausted from walking through the grocery store with three kids who were hitting each other and tripping over each other and whipping their coats at each other and playing “hot lava” with the different colored tiles on the floor and not paying attention to all of the other people who were just trying to get by so they could get their groceries and get on with their lives while I tried to buy food without gluten, dairy, coconut, peanuts, eggs, tree nuts, and chickpeas. I can’t just say, “Oh. I’m fine.” because I’m not fine, and I’m not a liar but I’m not about to tell all of my problems to the grocery store clerk because then I’ll be the crazy lady crying in the grocery store and gosh, it seems like I cry a lot when the grocery store check-out lady asks me how I am… 

It has been too long since anyone said words. She is staring at you. Say SOMETHING!

“Oh, I am how you are while grocery shopping with three kids, you know...” I finally answer.

She clearly did not know. She smiled in response and stopped asking me questions. 

This isn’t the first time I have had or almost 

had an emotional breakdown in the grocery store. 

One time when Danny was a newborn and had just gotten shots, a lady stopped to say how beautiful he was. I cried in that conversation. Then the time the kids and I all had a tummy bug and I took three sick kids around in a cart to buy ginger ale, saltines, and chicken soup. An older lady told me to “Enjoy every minute.” I smiled and walked away before angry tears and angry words spilled out of me.

Oh, and the time I was pregnant and some sensitive soul said, “Wow!  You’re huge!  How much longer do you have?  You’re about to pop.” And that other time when the super nice check-out lady said, “Kids are hard. You’re doing such a great job with them.”

As I collected my children from the penny horsey ride, I asked myself, Why are you always having weird emotional run-ins at the grocery store?

The answer came, Uh, Em? When you’re a mom, sometimes the check-out lady at the grocery store is the only person who ever asks you how you are.

Oh. That’s sad.

Yes, it is, Em.

We should do something about that!

Yes, we should. 

So I decided to do something. 

I went home and ate a bunch of Cheetos and ice cream while I binge-watched This Is Us and cried. 

It was not a great decision.  

And it didn’t do anything to fix my loneliness. So I texted my friend. “Do not binge-watch This Is Us after your grandma dies and you’re hormonal and your husband has been on work trips for most of the month.” 

Condolence texting ensued. Friend asked how I was. I asked how she was. 

Turns out, she had been needing a friend too. Go figure.

We exchanged prayers and thoughtful words. Actual plans for coffee… like with a date, a place, and a time were made. We didn't have any pretending or competitiveness or anything icky. Why didn't I call a friend sooner? 

I have so many awesome friends, but I forget to text them or I assume they were too busy or bogged down with their tiny people who are covering them in bodily fluids to want to hang out with me and my tiny humans. And I’m guessing that they wrongly think the same. Because I have friends who show up. I have friends who, when I say, “I have this crazy dream that I want to do this thing…”

They say, “Cool!  I’ll do it with you!” I forget how amazing my friends are sometimes. Maybe you do too? Maybe today is a great day to remember. Maybe today is a great day to text a friend and make actual plans with a date and a time and a place to reconnect and be actual humans. 

Maybe today is a great day to ask God to help us not do this crazy thing all alone. 

Because really… God and friends are way better company than Cheetos and ice cream. 

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Perfect Moms Aren't the Enemy, I Am.

It's really hard to write a teaser for a blog I wrote on Her View From Home when my 5 year-old is blasting a song about a hamster eating popcorn, so I'll just say that this blog might hurt. It might convict you in ways you aren't ready to be convicted, but you should read it anyway. And if you've ever Skinny-shamed or Perfect-shamed or Beautiful-kitchen-shamed a friend unintentionally... I have too. It's time to recognize what's really going on.

You can read it here.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Nobody Likes Fake Jesus.

Originally published on

Photo by Elias Andres-Jose on Unsplash

I didn’t like Jesus when I was in college. Mostly because the people I knew who talked about liking Jesus in college were super weird. They were fake. And they were appalled at people like me. People who engaged in under-aged drinking and made out with guys they didn’t know. People who swore and went to wild parties. Girls who flirted, wore low-cut tops, and danced on tables a time or two. I was inadvertently giving them an education about what real people were, and they were giving me an education about fake Jesus, bad religion, and fear.  

Maybe the weirdest fake-Jesus-pusher was this middle-aged man who used to come to our campus to stand outside the main cafeteria with big signs. The signs would list the sins he assumed everyone within earshot was committing. He would shout random “warnings” to people he thought needed to be “educated”. He yelled at me once. Screamed that I was going to hell because “Tank tops are an adulterer’s tool of the devil worn by evil fornicators.”

This guy wore eighties-style iron-on T-shirts and mesh hats with the words “Don’t Sin” on them.

I saw a friend of mine wearing one of these rare gems, and I asked him about it.  Apparently, my friend ran up and stole a “Don’t Sin” hat off of the “Preacher’s” head while he was distracted by a girl he was calling a “harlot.” My friend got an earful of “wisdom” shouted at him while “Preacher” chased after him, but it’s hard to chase down a sinner while carrying a four-foot sign which specifically lists “stealing” as a sin. So my friend got away with his new hat. The lunch crowd roared and cheered. If YouTube had been a thing back then, he would’ve been a sensation. 

But based on what I’ve read about Actual Jesus, I think if Actual Jesus had been on my college campus in 1999 and witnessed the hat-stealing, I think it would’ve gone down like this:

Jesus: Hey man, wanna see some cool stuff?
Friend: Like what?
Jesus: We’ll give a blind guy back his sight. Tell a paralyzed guy to walk, and he will. Turn water into wine…
Friend: Sweet. That sounds cool.
Jesus: Skip class and follow Me.
Friend: I’m failing that class anyway.

Actual Jesus would've done his amazing story-telling thing where my friend would've had an, "Oh. Yeah. Stealing's not cool" realization at some point, but He usually only led with the truth about sin with Pharisees. Which is why I think Actual Jesus would’ve put “Preacher” in his place somehow because he always put the Pharisees in their place. That would’ve been fun to watch.

But basically, I didn’t like Jesus because the Christians I knew just wanted to bully me into believing. The Christians I knew didn’t want to be kind or patient. They didn’t want to be loving or accepting. They tried to save me and change me so they could sew one more Merit Badge on their non-existent Souls Saved Sash or something.

If I would have met Actual Christ in college, I imagine it would’ve gone something like this:

Me: Hi
Jesus: Hi
Me: You’re ripped.
Jesus: I Am
Me: Are you an athlete?
Jesus: I’m a carpenter.
Me: So you build things out of wood?  Like furniture?
Jesus: Yes.
Me: That’s hot.
Jesus: Okay.
Me: You going to the party on Saturday? Just gonna be some people drinking too much and making out.
Jesus: I love people like that.
Me: Cool. Can you teach me how to build stuff?
Jesus: Sure. Follow me.

I’m 37-years-old, and thankfully, my eventual non-fake husband introduced me to Actual Jesus.  I don’t fully understand who I am yet, and I don’t fully know who He is yet either. But, I do know that I’m no longer the girl I used to be. And that Jesus, the Real Jesus, is the same as He ever was. 

One who provides, protects, and heals. One who doesn’t even flinch at our shame, fears, regrets, and screwed-up pasts. 

A friend whose love never wavers, whose arms are ever open, welcoming the poor, the lonely, the sick, the weary…. the thieves, the whores, the murderers, the drunks… He is the one who rebuilds the broken and restores the dilapidated pieces of our lives and our souls.

There are many things that I don’t know, but I do know that Christians and non-Christians alike are a screwed up bunch of humanity, and when we make the decisions, we get it wrong much of the time. But that’s why He came. That’s why He died, because we always have been a bunch of screw-ups. On this earth, and in this life, I am sure that I will continue to screw up this person God made me, but the more time I spend with the Real Jesus, the more like Him I become. The more truly I know him, the more truly I also know myself because I can see myself as he sees me - loved, accepted, restored.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

I Ski Because I Was Bitter. (How This Mama Does Self-Care)

Photo by asoggetti on Unsplash

The other day, I did this thing I do when all of my kids are at school. I packed the lunches, signed
the things, got the kids to school, and drove up to the mountains by myself to ski for the day because
after 10 years, I’m beginning to master this Stay at Home Mom Gig.

I spent the next few hours shreddin the gnar in 7 inches of pow, chasin freshies.
(I don’t even know what that sentence means, but I think that’s what I was doing all day.)

When my legs begged for mercy and my phone alarm reminded me to go pick up the children,
I began the drive home, basking in the glow of a spectacular ski day, and feeling like that girl
I used to be before the kids and the last 10 years of life drained the energy from my soul. There’s
just something about a day in the mountains, a winding road and country music on the radio that
refuels me.

As I made my way back to my kids and my home, I was oozing gratefulness for the opportunity to
call Colorado my home, and I realized I could’ve been taking care of myself like this for the past 1
0 years by doing the things that make me feel like me. But I was too busy feeling bitter about how
much poop I was cleaning up, how many dishes were still left undone, how much laundry needed
to be washed, dried, folded, or put away… I was too busy being angry about my husband’s long
hours at work, my kids making it impossible to leave the house, my inability to run a household…
I was too busy grieving the loss of the girl who loved mountains and trees to realize she was
never lost at all.

You see, fifteen years ago, my now-husband said something my 23 year-old self thought was
romantic and profound. We were deep into a discussion that covered everything, and he
said, “Love is about sacrifice.”

“What do you mean?” I replied.

He leaned back, ran his hand through his hair, and paused just long enough to make me think
he was coming up with something really deep. And then, this country music-hating young man
looked straight into my eyes and said, “It means… I would’ve listened to country music if I had
to in order to be with you.”

Had God called me to sacrifice my happiness, my personality, my love of the outdoors when I
became a mom? Had God called me to give up on leaving the house? Had God called me to
sacrifice my self-worth because the kitchen was constantly a mess? Had God called me to give
up on being the person He made me?

Or did I give my happiness, my personality, my time in the outdoors willingly because fighting
for them was just too hard? Did I cling to my “sacrifices”, believing it justified my bitterness? Did I
sacrifice so I could believe I deserved to be angry that my life now isn’t what it once was?

Sure, being a wife and a mom requires sacrifice. I mean, I knew there would be poop. I didn’t
know there would be THIS much poop, but I knew there would be poop.

And it’s true. Love IS about sacrifice.

But love is NOT about bitterness. “Love is patient, love is keeps no record of wrongs…”
(1 Corinthians 13:4-8) Unfortunately, I keep a record of the sacrifices I make for my husband, and
my children. Even the ones no one ever asked me to make.    

Here’s the thing, friend. My people never asked me to give up hiking, country music, or long
drives on country roads, but they also don’t know how much I need those things if I don’t
communicate and schedule them in. It’s not selfish to be my best self. It’s selfish to give
people my worst self because I’m drowning in pee-stained sheets and dirty dishes and I can’t
breathe. It IS selfish to allow my heart and soul to die because “it was just too hard” to fight the
battles it takes to care for them.

It’s true. Love is about sacrifice.

Because I love myself, I will sacrifice a clean house for a day of skiing. Because I love my family, I
will sacrifice the “should-be” version of me and go be my best self instead. Today I have a ski
goggle tan and a smile, and this is the face of the wife and mom I want my family to have, not the
exhausted, bitter, angry one who only exists to wipe up poop and pick up the house.

Please fight for the time to be and care for yourselves, mamas. Your families need the real you. She’s
still in there. And she’s worth fighting for.