when I do stupid crap

I went out to dinner with a couple of girlfriends. We do it a few times a year. I sat down and we all  set our purses in the one open spot in the booth, and they chuckled at me for my gigantic diaper bag.

We sat, ate, talked until the waitress stopped bringing us water. When the waitress brought the check, I asked for my bag back.

I went digging.

I found a bag with two water bottles and a rotten banana that the kids didn’t eat when we went to the museum last week. I found a mason jar with the remaining $1.13 that Jenna didn’t spend on her penguin finger puppet. There were diapers, of course. Granola bars. Last week’s church bulletin in several pieces. My bullet journal that’s been there since Sunday because I haven’t done anything productive since a bug knocked my family out that afternoon.

But no wallet.

What the actual heck?

Ugh. I mean, it’s funny. The mushed banana and the mason jar with money were cracking us up, but for reals. Now my friend has to cover me and that’s embarrassing.

You know what? It was fine. (I feel like that could be the alternate title for this whole darn series. “It’s fine.”)

We laughed. I felt sheepish. I tried to leave because I am the only one of us who has a baby who nurses before bed, but we got chatting some more and I didn’t leave for another 45 minutes. (The poor child didn’t go down until about 10. It happens. Again, it’s fine.)

I think that doing stupid, embarrassing crap like leaving a wallet home or starting to sing a verse too early at church (did that this week, too… on mic) or any other goofy thing is good now and then.

It reminded me not to take myself too seriously. It reminded my friends (and now you) that none of us has our stuff together all the time. (Not that my friends last night were under any illusions. You either, for that matter.)

This used to be the sort of thing that I’d cringe about periodically for ages. But the more I live, the more stupid crap I do, and the less margin I have for cringing about it later, because who has the energy???

 I have to find a new story to play in my head. “I’m such an idiot!” isn’t working for me anymore.

What I find myself switching to is “Haha. It’s fine. Everybody does dumb stuff now and then.”

(If this new narrative is false and you never do stupid stuff by mistake, do me a favor and tell me… later. Because this is totally working for me right now.)

If you have any silly stuff to share, by all means share! (Reinforces my story that it’s all of us.)

(In case you wondered, my wallet was in my little bag… the one I would have switched into if I had been less pressed for time. For the love.)

This post is part of a 31-day series called “Grace in Failure.” Other posts from the series can be found here.

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grace for stomach bugs

Warning: probably going to be rambly and incoherent. If you want a trip inside my weird head and day today, by all means, continue.

The last couple days have had plenty of challenges and failures. Yesterday, I broke my seven week streak of getting 10k steps per day, which doesn’t matter, unless you’re an obliger and live for perfect, unbroken streaks. I also didn’t blog, which was sad.

Instead, I got suddenly and violently ill.

And then about the time I felt better, everyone else but the baby started up. (She still hasn’t shown any signs of illness. Hoping that holds.)

Andrew was incredibly kind as I was down. He took up all the slack. At one point, I asked him, “Is it okay if I’m a giant wuss for just a little while longer and ask you to give me a back rub?” He responded, “You can be a giant wuss as long as you need to be.” That’s real love, friends. 

And then as the bug took him, I was just getting over the fever phase and able to take over the constant round of clean-up early this morning. Good times.

Stomach bugs are the worst.

We’re buried in laundry. (Mostly clean now, but certainly not folded.) The girls wound up supervised only by Miss Frizzle for the entire afternoon while the grownups tried to recover from a really rough night. We’re about to adventurously test pasta with butter in all the kids’ tummies.

But, for all the crazy, there have been a lot of gifts.

The baby didn’t get sick.

We’re together.

We live in the future and have a fridge that dispenses ice chips.

It was a really short bug. It’s over.

They’re all asleep now.

And, hey! I lost five pounds! (Winning!) (Just kidding. Not worth it.)

There’s grace enough, even for stomach bugs.

This post is part of a 31-day series called “Grace in Failure.” Other posts from the series can be found here.

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redemptive marriage

(Photo: Sarah Lewis Photography. Again.)

I love our story.

I love that God answered the prayer of a little girl.

But the “how we became us” story is such a small part of life. It’s just the prelude. So many movies focus on the meeting and the courtship, then end with a marriage and “they lived happily ever after,” as if there was no more story to tell.

I’d like to share some more of our story.

After the wedding, we had a pretty good transition into marriage. As long as we’d been doing life together, actually living together wasn’t the rocky change that so many couples experience.

After a while, though, my brokenness surfaced.

I don’t want to make it sound like it was so awful—we’ve always done pretty well. Between the friendship we started with and a lot of grace, we’ve enjoyed each other. Most of the time.

But sometimes, my insecurity and negative self-talk got in the way.

I’ve always seen myself as not _____ enough. Not thin, pretty, smart, funny, interesting, or good enough. Not enough, period. And, since Andrew’s a pretty smart guy, I figured he must see how insufficient I was, and I could read basically anything he said (or didn’t say) as evidence he agreed with me.

So he’d say something innocuous on a day that I was particularly touchy about everything, and I’d take it as an attack.

I’d get mad at him for saying something awful about me—I’d put words in his mouth and assign him motives he never had. He would (understandably) try to set me straight. He’d try to correct my assumptions and reassure me that he really did believe the best about me.

But then I was mad because he was arguing with me.

I remember now how discouraged he’d get. For more than ten years, this went on. Not constantly, but frequently enough. I’d mishear him and basically accuse him of being a bad and hateful husband. He’d try to help me understand. I’d get mad because he wasn’t listening to me. Obviously, if he were listening, surely he’d understand how that thing he said really did mean what I thought it meant.


He’s human, of course. He’d get mad as I kept indicting him for things he never said and he’d say things that made it all worse.

But he kept engaging.

For more than a decade, his heart remained soft to me.

This strikes me as a miracle.

I’ve seen it go the other way in other marriages, and it’s ugly and heartbreaking and 100% natural. I can imagine the marriage-killing hard-heartedness seeping in over that length of time.  He credits God’s grace to me- I was given a husband whose steadiness is one of his primary traits, and it was probably one of the things that saved us, or at least the joy of us. (We were never anywhere near calling it quits, but in retrospect, I see a lot of danger of becoming mostly roommates, which is so far short of God’s design for marriage.)

Then, somewhere in our twelfth or thirteenth year, it occurred to me that the guy I was fighting against wasn’t the one I married. I chose a better man than that. We named the other one “mean Andrew” and kicked him out. I wish there was more story than that- something we did that flipped that switch, because I feel like that would probably be helpful information to share. I’m sure there was plenty building beneath the surface, but my experience really was something like walking through a forest for years and years, then coming to the edge and finding light.

I’m grateful and astonished that my husband and my God kept pursuing me through it. It seems like an awfully long time to wait for light.

I’m still working through my insecurities. There’s plenty of growth for me and for him and for us as a pair to do. But, just like I love seeing and celebrating the faithfulness of God in the story of us two becoming one, I am starting to be able to look back and see the big story here, as well. It’s a story of God working in and through marriage to make us more like Him, and to make our marriage more reflective of His glory. Like it always is, the big story is about God being faithful to us, even when we’re sinners and broken.

How about you? When you look back, do you see any of the “big stories” becoming clear?

This post is part of a 31-day series called “Grace in Failure.” Other posts from the series can be found here.

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giving up coffee…maybe

So… I’ve been talking a lot about Lilly’s sleep the last couple days. I love her and stuff, but she’s been the most challenging sleeper of my four. I do all the things I know to do to help her sleep just like I did with the others, but it’s still been hard.

I was so excited yesterday  because I recognized early that my lack of sleep was supercharging my hypersensitivity, but that wasn’t the only brilliant discovery I made yesterday.

Somebody mentioned, sort of peripherally, caffeine sensitivity in nursing babies.

Oh, yeah.

I think my first was sensitive to it, so I quit coffee for a while (which is brutal.) Then the second came two months after the first was weaned, so I decided I’d just keep… not drinking coffee. I reintroduced it occasionally, once she was big and not nursing as much or often. Number 3 was such an easy sleeper that I hardly needed coffee and, when I had it, he slept just as well as always.

For number four? I don’t know. I just didn’t even consider it. Ever. Also? She slept pretty rough, so BRING ON THE COFFEE. And fourteen months later, here we are. Considering for the first time that this could explain a lot.

I have no real idea if caffeine is Miss Lilly’s problem. Maybe skipping morning (and after-breakfast, and elevensies, and lunch) coffee will help. Maybe it won’t, and I’ll spend a week not sleeping AND not having coffee. Either way, it’s a brilliant reminder that four kids’ worth of parenting experience doesn’t always make me the pro I think I am.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s my first kid or my fourth, I feel like a willingness to learn and to not have the answers is one of the really important parts of parenting. (Oddly, for the most part, I think I’m more willing to be wrong now than when I was mothering just the one—I was much more convinced then than I am now that there’s a Right Way and I have to find it or I’m a bad mom.)

Still figuring it out. And that’s fine.

This post is part of a 31-day series called “Grace in Failure.” Other posts from the series can be found here.

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for the days when it’s too much

We have a few little challenges happening in the Chapman home right now. I’ve mentioned the sleep issues. Related, this morning, I got up and every noise and every light and every movement was physically uncomfortable. I recognized it pretty quickly when I was cringing away from my husband’s voice as he was talking to a kid across the room. It felt a little like he was yelling at me and I wanted to cry.

Wait, what?

My first thought was meds. I feel pretty jumpy pretty fast if I miss an antidepressant (which is primarily for anxiety right now). But I was up on those, so it had to be something else.

Oh… right. Sleep.

Because I’m not in college anymore, a lack of sleep does some annoying things. I mentioned inability to function. I get really stupid. It also cranks up the volume on every sensory input. Given that I’m already highly sensitive, this makes for some hard days, especially when I am too tired to figure out what’s happening.

Today, because of grace and a lot of practice, I saw it immediately.

Here’s how we salvaged a morning of out-of-control high sensitivity:

I was honest.

First, I needed to be realistic with myself about today’s limitations. I needed to pare down to the essential items on my list and let the rest go. Also, the answer to a lot of the kids’ requests necessarily needs to be “no.” No, we can’t listen to the Lion King sound track right now. No, you can’t make me coffee with unknown ingredients.

As I was saying “no” to everything, I needed to be honest with the kids, too. It’s not their fault I don’t have bandwidth for music or messes, and they need to know that, while it looks like a low-privilege day, it’s not. I just need some help maintaining margin.

I looked around.

Visual clutter is mental clutter, so I looked around for the most obnoxious space. The table was totally overgrown with nonperishables from yesterday’s shopping trip, so I tackled it quickly.

We slowed way down.

I’m pretty crappy at multitasking anyway, but when I’m overstimulated, I really can’t. So I very carefully did one thing at a time as we made it through the morning. We made it to school, then lunch then nap time when I had time to reset. (We can call this “self-care time” but it’s really “kids watch Netflix” time. It’s fine.)

I don’t want to pretend like I have a handle on this. (By now, you can’t possibly believe it anyway, right?) But today, it worked. I was grateful to understand early and I appreciate (?) enough practice to know some tricks to mitigate the hypersensitivity.

How about you? Anything that takes you out on the regular? How do you work around it in your life?

This post is part of a 31-day series called “Grace in Failure.” Other posts from the series can be found here.

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follow through failure


I’m low on deep thoughts today. I’m not low on failure. I could actually write another post on my resentment of invisible servanthood based on how last night went. Lilly was up half a dozen times. For a while, it was hourly. Hourly. She’s 14 months old. And my husband was legitimately annoyed by her volume, since she’s still in our room. And then I got resentful about his annoyance—he doesn’t have to get up with her all night long—and I huffed and glared in the direction of my sleeping husband.

So mature.

But I already wrote that post yesterday, so if you want to read it, feel free to do so with the above details.

Otherwise, I’m kind of out.

I was bugged by that until facebook reminded me that last October 7, I had the same issue. Apparently, the seventh day is where I hit a wall. I run out of words for a day, which combines with a schedule that doesn’t allow a lot of time to find them and a crappy night’s sleep, and I take a pause. Or take a fake pause, because I write about not being able to write. Because I’m weird like that.

It’s cool. I’ll be back. With (I’m sure) plenty more failure.


This post is part of a 31-day series called “Grace in Failure.” Other posts from the series can be found here.

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like a nameless servant

Last night, I went to kiss my oldest before I headed to bed. I expected her to be asleep, but she wasn’t. She groggily asked me to reheat her rice sock.* “Of course! I’d love to do that for you.” I went to the kitchen, nuked it for a couple of minutes, and returned it to her.

Me: “Goodnight, sweetie. I love you.”

Her: “Can you put some ice in my water?”


Suddenly I cannot even.

I didn’t go all Hulk on her at that moment, but the anger and resentment were overwhelming. I was JUST in the opposite corner of the house to kindly get her something to improve her comfort. WHY COULD SHE NOT HAVE ASKED FOR ICE THEN?!?

So I sighed. (Huffed.) “Babe, next time mention that when I go to the kitchen the first time.” Off I grouched to the kitchen to get her some freaking ice.

When I headed to my bedroom, I was trying to be curious about my crazy response, but I was still a little too pissed to think very clearly. Over ice cubes.

I talked to my husband, told him I felt resentful. Taken for granted.  “I feel like a servant. And not like a beloved servant, but like a nameless one.”

I was lost in all the overwhelming mad emotions because my six-year-old asked me for a pair of favors and didn’t think to consolidate them.

Friends, the inside of my heart is ugly sometimes.

I had two options to show Jenna the love of Jesus in that moment. One would have been to get the ice water with a glad heart. The other would have been to tell her no with a compassionate heart.

Instead, I chose to do the serving thing with the demeanor of a martyr. I showed her poor personal boundaries and a bad attitude.

And it’s not like this is an isolated occurrence.

How many times a week (or day? hour?) do I do what is asked because it’s the path of least resistance (rather than because it’s best), and do it with a heart that resents the request?

It occurs to me that I’m a 2 on the enneagram, which means I’m a helper, which is great. But it also means that many of the things I think I’m doing for others, I am actually doing for social currency and self-respect. Or something. So when my people act like they’re entitled to any of my services they want, when they want them, I kind of freak out. Awesome.

So basically, I like serving. Jesus was a servant and had things to say about servants and greatness in the Kingdom. I like seeing myself as “like Jesus” and “great in the kingdom.” But, in my pride (incidentally, the sin associated with enneagram 2s), I want people to know how great and like Jesus I am. It’s a mess. And it makes me grumpy in my everyday life as a stay-at-home mom of littles, because nobody sees.

So I told you I was going to show you grace in my failures this month. But I’m still in it, so I don’t know exactly how His grace is going to unfold in my sinful heart.

Here’s what I know: It’s grace that I noticed it. Most of the time, I just huff off and continue with whatever I was going to do, but with slightly elevated stress levels. It’s extravagant grace that I feel safe to talk about the in-process and ugly parts of me with my husband. This hasn’t always been the case, so it’s beautiful to see it now. It’s grace that it was Jenna, who is the most like me. This means she triggers my crazy faster than the others, but it also means that she has and understands all the words, so when I talk to her about it this afternoon, she and I will likely be able to understand each other well.

That’s what I have, you guys. An unfinished story of failure that reveals my sin nature and the shadow side of my personality and a bunch of little crumbs of grace to help me find my way back.

*The rice sock is a sock who has lost its mate, gets filled with a few cups of rice (or other whole grain- Jenna’s is currently whole oats because we had them and they’re old), and tied closed. We heat it in the microwave for a few minutes—it depends on the rice volume. It’s great for sore muscles or chilly nights and is good until the sock develops a hole. You’re welcome.


This post is part of a 31-day series called “Grace in Failure.” Other posts from the series can be found here.

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