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.

31days of grace in failure 4-3


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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spilling communion

This post was originally published in April of 2016, but it felt like a good fit for this month’s theme.

There have been some hard days around here lately.

Actually, there has been kind of a rash of them.

I can’t tell if it’s the standard third-trimester rage I’ve come to expect, but it’s kicking in several weeks early? (Oh good! Only sixteen or seventeen more weeks of this!) Or perhaps I’m just kind of worn down from a long run of a lot of hard work. I don’t know. In either case, I’m kind of mad at everything.

And guess who gets the bulk of it?

The little people who are with me and needing me all. the. time.

Those ones.

The ones I adore with my whole heart.

I’ve kind of turned into a stereotypical Walmart mom. (No judgment on the moms in Walmart yelling at their kids and everyone else. Just walking into the place makes me want to yell. Seriously.) I keep catching myself snapping or growling at them through my teeth. And I know it’s me. I know it is. The space I’m in right now is one where I don’t have a lot of ability to pay focused attention to discipline. Pregnancy makes me stupid, honestly. I forget the thing I just told my kid to do (or not to do) and then don’t think to follow up. But at the same time, I have greatly reduced patience to deal with badly-disciplined children. So…


Bad days.

Take, for example, this past Sunday.

It started out very much like the rest, in that I didn’t get up early enough to get through all the things I try to finish before I need to before the girls get up.

So I tried to plow through my list and my devotions while they were supposed to choose one of a few (quiet) options.

Instead, I spent a solid hour correcting them while trying to read the Bible. It was awesome. And then they finally decided to choose one of the things on the list of sanctioned activities (they chose putting away dishes over quiet reading time and some other option I don’t recall right now.) Within two minutes of finally choosing to obey, there was one Corelle dinner plate EXPLODED all over my entire kitchen. Seriously. I have no idea how that happens. But it was on every surface and covering the whole floor.

I had to get them out of the kitchen, clearly, and keep them out while I handled the mess. It killed me… the thing that effectively earned them a time out (despite all my qualifications- I wasn’t mad and they weren’t in trouble, I just needed them not to get hurt while I cleaned up the shards everywhere) was the choice to be obedient. It should never go down this way.

But whatever. You do what you gotta do.

So I cleaned it all up and Brian got up and everyone ate and got dressed and we made it to church (miraculously early?) and settled in.

Anyone reading this who attends the second service at my church knows this (because we are conspicuous), but the girls attend the “big service” with me (rather than Sunday School- some backstory there, but basically they don’t want to go and I’m philosophically in favor of having them learn to sit through the service with me) and we sit in the very front. (That’s where Grandma and Miss Amanda and Miss Kat sit- since Andrew’s in the back, it’s handy to sit near grownups who like them and are happy to lend hands if needed.) Sometimes it works out well. Sometimes, well, they’re preschoolers and kind of squirmy. And occasionally they’re naughty. There is usually a spectacle of some sort. (If nothing else, Katherine worships by twirling, which is adorable and also highly conspicuous and sometimes dangerous.)

This was a naughty Sunday.

The littler one was removed for disobedience of the disruptive variety. Twice. (The first time, on our way out, she grabbed the back of the empty first row of chairs across the aisle and dragged the whole row back a couple inches. Yay!)

We handled it (twice) and made it back into the service (again) just in time for communion.

Both girls have “asked Jesus to be their leader”and both really look forward to “juice and cracker days.” (I kind of cringe writing that. Yes, we talk at length about the meaning of it, why we do it, why they get to do it, what they’re supposed to be remembering, and still, it’s “juice and crackers!” they look forward to.) Our church’s practice is to hand out each element, then wait and take it all together. Katherine is still kind of figuring this out. She’s not quite yet four, so if you give her a cracker, she wants to eat it. We’re working on it.

And then the teeny tiny cups of grape juice come by. And, since we sit in the front, Katherine has a LONG time to hold that tablespoon of Welch’s in her squirmy little hands. And I’m whispering to her about Jesus making the sacrifice for the things we’ve done wrong and how that makes us right with God. Reminding, reminding, always teaching. They’re so small. And I’m grateful beyond words that the girls each truly love Jesus and are trying to learn to follow him, and I pray that Brian and the new little girl also love Jesus at an early age. But also there’s some abstract symbolism that’s kind of hard to convey to the under four set. Jenna gets it a little better. I’m hoping Katherine catches on soon. But at any rate, during my attempt at bringing the truth of it to her in a way that made any sense at all, she was fiddling with this bitty cup and…

Of course it spilled. Of course it did. And naturally, she was wearing the only fully white shirt either of them own right now.

I was aggravated a little (because, seriously, how many times do you think I’ve told her to hold it carefully?) but honestly, what struck me was the poetry of it.

Spilling communion. 

Making a total mess of the thing supposed to be pointing us back toward Jesus right this very second.


Monday morning, I finally, finally got up in time to read the Bible (and most of the other stuff on my morning checklist) before my kids needed any attention from me. And this is what greeted me.

Ephesians 5:1-2

Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.

Dear children. Imitating. If there is one thing in all the world that I know, it’s how “dear children” imitate. Adoringly. Relentlessly. Often impeccably. And, more often, completely imperfectly.

Imperfectly is certainly how I’m imitating Christ’s example of love and sacrifice right now. I do love my kids. And I do try to serve them. In fact, I sacrifice most of my time and (limited) energy doing the things they need me to do these days.

Right now, they are the ones, in this passage, pointing me back toward Jesus.

And I’m making a total mess of it all.

Snapping. Growling through my teeth. Sometimes just out-and-out yelling.


Except when I don’t.

Make a mess of it all, that is.

Because, while none of this “imitating like dear children” had been fleshed out on Sunday, here’s how it went down.

“It’s okay. Let’s try to be more careful.”

“Spills happen. I know it was an accident.”

“I’ll take care of your shirt when we get home.”

And that’s what happened. OxiClean spray does a remarkable job with grape juice, among other things.

It’s fine.

And, while my own words and thoughts convict me frequently, as they did on this Sunday and on the one before, now and then the Spirit whispers grace back to me in the echoes of my own words as well.

“It’s okay. Let’s try to be more careful.” 

“Bad days happen. I know you love your kids, and My grace covers you now as well.”

“I took care of this on the cross.”

It’s gonna be fine.


Still no idea what to do about the rage issues besides take it one day at a time and ride the crazy hormones out. Any ideas? I’d take them.

How about you? In what way does God use your words to either convict or bring grace to you?

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

31days of grace in failure 4-3

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.

31days of grace in failure 4-3


the list I forgot

We talked a couple days ago what we’re doing to make our homeschool year more… well… educational this year, but I totally left something out.

We did a couple weeks of a daily checklist for the kids. Get up. Have breakfast. Clean rooms. Do school. Free time. (It’s clearly a super exciting list.)

It worked great. When I have a list to keep me on track, I can tick on through the day and get all the things done.

But there was something vital I missed.

Everything else.

I spent so much of each day chugging through their list that I neglected all the other whole categories of things that need to happen in a functioning and happy house.

I realized after about two weeks that I felt terrible and the house had gone pretty much to pot.

The solution to this was another checklist. (Duh!) I’m not as obsessed with checklists as I sound, but they’ve proven useful, so I made one for me. It had all the little routine items that I used to do (back before Lilly was born) to keep things running smoothly. (Well, as smoothly as a house full of tiny humans can run.) 

I reinstated things like a daily load of laundry and cleaning the kitchen each night. I came up with a rough draft of a weekly rotation of chores. (Do the bathrooms on Monday. Change sheets on Thursday… That sort of thing. Again, very exciting.)

This isn’t really a list of new things to do, just an ordering of the things I already have to complete. I find that assigning them space helps me get all the things done with more focus and less stress. Also, if a thing doesn’t get done when it’s supposed to, that’s okay. It’ll come back around.

Just as importantly, “self care” got its own legit check box. Every day.

And, because I frequently fudge on stuff like that (“‘Self-care’… okey dokey. I went to the bathroom by myself, that counts, right? CHECK.”), I also have a list of options to choose from. Read for 15 minutes. Find five minutes of silence. Write. Create. Learn something. Move.

(The girls’ corresponding box reads “free time,” but what it means is “Netflix.”)

I remember reading Lisa Byrne’s words, “Self care isn’t ‘me first,’ it’s ‘me too.'” I don’t prioritize self care above my family or even above mundane housework, but it at least gets a place. Refining this idea further is my friend Jenn, who brilliantly divided self-care into a few distinct (and necessary) categories.

The way my home runs does not at all resemble clockwork, but it’s no longer chaos and I’m a lot less stressed out in general, which means we’re all a bit calmer. I’m even starting to notice how much I enjoy teaching (and learning with) my kids.

How about you? Are there things that you need to add back into your day to bring back some order or vitality?

Parenting in Public

I remember the first time I caught myself doing it.

My firstborn was a toddler, barely a year. I was at the post office with her near Christmas, waiting in the holiday lines to send a package. I don’t remember what she did exactly, but it required correction. I squatted down on her level, acutely aware of anyone in my peripheral vision who might be discreetly watching me parent, and explained what I needed her to do and why, just a *little* too loudly, in terms far above a 13-month-old’s grasp.

That was the beginning of justifying my parenting in public.

Raising kids brings up ALL my insecurities and magnifies them, so when I’m out around other people, I’m naturally very conscious of what my kids are doing, how I’m responding, and how I might be coming across to people within earshot.

Misbehavior is the worst, obviously. Online parent-shaming is sort of a national hobby. I’ve read posts with titles like “How to Discipline Positively,” “How NOT to Discipline your Child,” and (my favorite) “Seven Reasons It’s Your Fault Your Kid is a Brat.” Everyone has an opinion and has read dozens of blog posts to support it as the best and only way to go. When my child misbehaves, the consensus seems to be it’s my fault: if I were more effective, she wouldn’t be acting out. Maybe she needs more discipline. Maybe she needs more love. Maybe I should cut out dairy and gluten. Whatever it is, her naughtiness is a problem rooted in my lousy mothering. So I’m already in the hole, at least a little. But NOW I have to respond to it, and that’s where my specific mothering style feels especially scrutinized.

So I do things as I should. Calm. Kind. Compassionate. All explained about 20% louder than necessary with about three times as many words as my kids need, just in case someone nearby doesn’t understand I’M MAKING THE RIGHT DECISION HERE, AND THIS IS WHY… [more]

Read more at Kindred Mom!

notes from the overwhelm

Y’all, I’m over it.


Not my little people- they’re fabulous, if maddening. I’m over everything else, though. July has been a hell of a month for me, and I’m whooped. My husband left for a ministry thing for a week and a half, which is more than I’m accustomed to handling with four littles. (Side note: single moms? Military wives? You’re amazing.) My dear friend showed up to be extra hands (hooray!) then the smallest turned one, then I had to put down the dear, sweet doggie who’s welcomed all four of my babies home, then my husband got home (hooray!) and my friend left after a week instead of a month because Jesus redirected her, and by the way, the husband is home but has a bunch of evening commitments, so, though I spent a week and a half being awesome and being the mom through all the crappy and family-dog-putting-down, I (impossibly) had to slog through another couple days of pseudo-solo-parenting.

Then today.

At one point, I had dishes from the last 36 hours on the counter, laundry from the last… several days on the futon to fold, cheerios on the floor (because my dog is dead as of last week), my one-year-old eating a piece of leftover dog food to console herself because she rolled down a flight of stairs because the toddler boy left the gate open when he dragged his bike up that flight of stairs, and two big girls with two huge pots apiece with two sunflowers per pot, shoving a collection of eight sunflowers in my face, demanding that I must LOOK AT THEM RIGHT NOW, but for the love of all things green, DON’T TOUCH THEM, MAMA, BECAUSE YOU KILL THINGS.

My oldest, the wisest of them at age six, tells me I need coffee and some food.

I tell her I need a week of silence.

I’ve been counting down for more than two weeks now: until my friend came, until my husband came back, until the weekend, until my process night. I kept imagining that if I could make it to the next thing (whatever that thing was), I could finally relax and find some margin.

It’s slowly dawning on me that the “next thing” never fixes it. It’s taken weeks (well, perhaps years, depending on how you’re counting) for me to get to this overloaded place, and no three-hour chunk of quiet (nice as it may be) can fix that kind of weary. It’s a little like the realization that I will never “catch up” on sleep. There’s not enough time ever to make up all the hours of sleep I’ve lost over the years of babies and college and miscellaneous late nights.

So now what?

Well, when I’m especially behind on sleep, I try to adjust my habits to get more sleep, but I stop worrying about “catching up.” I let “more” be enough.

I wonder if, in this current state of weariness and this current deficit of quiet, I need to just let more be enough. I can’t get a week of silence to compensate for the two weeks without.

I hope I’m right, because a week of solitude is not an option right now. (Darn it all.) My game plan now is to find quiet wherever it can be found (bathroom, anyone?) and hope that eventually it’s enough again.

Until then, I’m just praying (again and still) for enough grace to make it through today. It’s always there.

If you have any tricks for finding margin again after a season of relentless overwhelm, I want to hear them.