Friday, July 29, 2011

DON'T FORGET! Mommy-O has moved to

Check out the new post: Walk in Love and a Saturday Morning Hike

See you there!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

HEY! THERE'S A NEW MOMMY-O POST OVER ON OCIEANNA.COM "Real-life Conflict and a Father Who Loves Me"
Stop on by!

Saturday, June 18, 2011


If you're looking for a bit of encouragement and to feel like you're not alone on the surprising journey of mommyhood, come visit Mommy-O at!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Mommy-O's Prayer

Dear Lord, Thank You for this path I'm on. I'm feeling overwhelmed, Lord. I'm so tired and weary. I need Your strength to get me through this day. Please help me to use my time well. Help me to stay in the moment and be a good mom and wife. Bless each of the kids. Help me to Love them tenderly and with patience. "The Lord will work out his plans for my life--for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever. Psalm 138:8

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Call to Battle

" but our confidence must rest in the Lord alone, for He is the sword and the shield of His people. . . Quail not before superior numbers, shrink not from difficulties or impossiblilities, flinch not at wounds or death, smite with the two-edged sword of the Spirit, and the slain shall lie in heaps. The battle is the Lord's and He will deliver His enemies into our hands. With steadfast foot, strong hand, dauntless heart, and flaming zeal, rush to the conflict, and the hosts of evil shall fly like chaff before the gale." Morning and Evening C.H. Spurgeon

Ah, these words come as a fortress to me this morning. My enemies have waged war against me. Who are these formidable foes, you ask? Who else? Those four little sinners living in my house. Their weapons? Bickering, disobeying, disrespecting, purposeful loudness, unkindness. These are mighty weapons. How can I--weak, afraid, unsure of my tactics--ever conquer such enemies?

But if that weren't enough, the other enemy flanks me--my own sin. Yes, I've been attacked by frustration, impatience, anger, not trusting God's sovereignty, and more. It's hopeless, at least it seems that way.

Yet, my strength for battle--both the one for my kids' character and the fight against my own sin--need not be fought by me alone. No, the battle is the Lord's, and He will never fail.

Lord, I can't fight another moment without You. I need You. "But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, the lifter of my head." Psalm 3:3 ESV

Monday, June 6, 2011

Mommy-O's Prayer

Oh Lord, I need You. My thoughts and emotions are so pent up, so much burbling under the surface. Please help me to be at peace in whatever circumstance You place me, content to serve my family with joy and grace, leaning on Your strength. How I love them! Help me to delight in them more and more each day.

“No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” Thank You for Your amazing riches and grace!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Do They Even Like Each Other?

Aren’t road trips fun?

“Give it!”
“But I want to play with the spinning toy thingy.”
“It’s mine!”

The argument continues until the inevitable, “Mom, she won’t give me the spinning toy thingy.”

What can I expect when we’ve been driving for three hours? Road trips can be hard on everyone, but what gets me is my weird expectation for a perfectly joyous time in which the little darlings will harmoniously get along.

Yeah, that pretty much doesn’t happen. They don’t argue constantly, but from time to time (and it feels like a lot when you’re in the car for so long) they do bicker, fight, whine, argue, and cry. And it’s often when an older sibling (dictator) wants to control a younger brother or sister (peon). The older feels she has the power, but the younger—rather than simply capitulating to her ruler—rebels.

“No! I won’t give you the spinning toy thingy! I don’t have to! You’re not my MOM!”

Sometimes I think they really, truly dislike one another. I wonder if they’ll ever be friends.

The criticism—“That’s not how you fold a towel. Just let me.”

The belittling—“Really? You really don’t know how to tie your shoes yet?”

The sarcasm—“If someone would put others first for once.”

The guilt trip—“It’s okay. I’ll take the smallest piece of pizza.”

Man, oh man, it can be unnerving … and saddening. I long for them to love each other. They need their siblings more than they know, and I want to see them support and stand by one another. Yet, it’s often cutting words and meanness. Like in the van—the war of the spinning toy thingy. Sigh.

But then in the midst of the chaos, something wonderful happened. Somewhere along the way, the arguing had ceased, and little voices simply talked from the back seat. As we arrived to our destination, I heard this:

“I really liked talking to you, Christian.” Gabrielle smiled at him as they got out of the car.

“Me too, Gabby. You’re the best sister in the world.”

Oh yes, that's enough to send thrills through a Mommy-O’s heart.

Then after we got settled in the hotel, all four of them sprinted to the ocean, giggles melded with the seagulls caws and the crashing waves. Not one argument exploded—not even when poor Christian tripped and soaked himself in the chilly saltwater. Nope, in fact, the others helped him up. And I was able to get this lovely photograph of Ben and Gabby gazing at the sunset together.

Well, I suppose they do like each other after all.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Mommy-O Prayer for This Day

Lord, I confess I've been quick to be angry lately. There is no reason to get angry over the annoyances in my life. It makes my kids stressed and worried and is a bad example to them. Please help me to be patient when I'm interrupted. Help me to respond with love and help me to trust that You'll work it out for me to get my work done in Your timing. I need Your grace, Lord. I can't be a good mom without you. You are a good and wonderful God. "Gracious is the Lord and righteous, our god is merciful." Ps. 116:4

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Giddy Gratitude

I spent this weekend at a writers’ conference. From the time I got there, through the two workshops I taught, to the spectacular dinner and closing time, I had this incredible feeling of gratitude. I kept thinking, I’m so glad I’m here.

And you know what I meant. I wasn’t just glad to be enjoying the conference, I was truly glad to be there. There, breathing the air, moving my limbs, thinking…living.

Since my cardiac arrest in January, this feeling comes over me quite frequently. It’s a rush of joy, even excitement, simply to be walking around. At the conference when folks talked to me, or I entered a room to hear a speaker, or sat down next to a writing friend at a meal, I was filled with happy anticipation. It reminds of a kid going to Baskin Robbins. Yup, that’s how happy I felt, like I got to eat ice cream all day long for two days (without the bloating and sugar blahs—just the fun part).

It was awesome, but on the drive home, somewhere on Interstate 405, the adrenaline high transformed to exhaustion. I was very tired. I’m still recovering from the cardiac arrest, and a weekend of so much glorious excitement requires a few days of rest. My family and I expected that.

But to be honest, as I’ve returned to my normal routine, I’ve been more than just weary. The giddy gratitude slipped away and I found myself feeling bogged down, sullen, even grumpy.

Doing chores.
Herding kids.
Grocery shopping.
Wiping snotty noses.

Not as thrilling as an action-packed writing weekend. At least that’s what I was thinking as I drudged through my day … but then, thanks be to God, I remembered! All of these things do burst with excitement. Yes, they do! Why? Because I’m here to do them with my wonderful kids. I could've lost these hours and days. Someone else would've been folding their laundry or dabbing away angry tears. It's an honor to serve them. A gift. A gift to relish and treasure. A gift I wouldn't trade for anything.

I’m incredibly grateful for a wonderful weekend, but being a mommy’s way more thrilling than going to a writers’ conference. In fact, it’s even better than ice cream, because the joy of walking this mommy's journey with them is the greatest reason to “be here” of all.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

My Favorite Part of the Day

“But I want to go, too!” my little Abigail pleaded. “Please!” The desperation in her voice rang throughout the cul-de-sac.

It was almost 8:00 PM, but since the sun’s been lingering till a later hour here in the Pacific Northwest, the older kids were allowed to stay outside and run like wild banshees with their neighborhood friends (at least that’s what it looked like they were doing).

But since, first, Abigail’s just little and needs to go to bed, and, second, it was mostly big boys out there, and finally, like I said, it was no peaceful game of lawn bowling going on, I didn’t think it was a good idea for her to go. I delineated all these reasonable explanations to her…

“But I waaaaaant too!” In her dark moment of anger and sadness, she sprinted up the stairs to her room to continue the wailing (tantrum, perhaps? I think yes).

After five long minutes, she appeared, with a somber yet calm demeanor, in my room where I was sorting laundry. “Put your jammies on, honey.” I told her.

She disappeared to her room, and apparently as she started to dig for jammies she found something. She came running to me holding a teddy bear blanket I had just bought for a friend’s baby shower.

“Is this for me?” A big grin twinkled in her eyes.

“No honey,” I said firmly. “No. That shouldn’t be in your room.” I took it from her hand. “How did it get there?”

My firmness was too much for her. Her big brown eyes peeked up at me—so sad, with a look of helplessness. She didn’t scream or protest her innocence, she just said, “I don’t know,” then slowly slumped toward the door.

“Oh sweetie.” I tugged her back to me, knelt to her level, and looked in her eyes. “I’m sorry. Mommy shouldn’t have been so firm.”

Her chin trembled, just a bit, and a few tears welled in her eyes, then in a quick moment her little body clung to me, her arms tight against my neck. I picked her up, and we sat on the bed, with her snuggled on my lap as she sobbed it out.

She cried for a long time, and then she just stayed cuddled, silently, as I rubbed her back and whispered that I love her and how pretty she is. The thoughts of my duties of laundry, dishes, and toys on the floor fluttered to my mind, but I tossed them away. I won’t let go of her until she let’s go of me.

Finally, after about twenty-five minutes, she leaned back and smiled. “Do you want to see my daughter, Mama? She’s just a baby, but I have a new shirt for her to wear, and you know she lives in my room by my bed. I don’t have a crib for her, so I just use a box ...”

Of everything I did yesterday, working, writing, dishes, talking, cooking, eating ... those twenty-five minutes were my favorite. What could be better than being the one she needed in her heartache, knowing my embrace would comfort, giving my heart and receiving her love? These moments will become less frequent as she grows. I’m grateful for each one.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

As the Deer Panteth...

As the deer panteth for the water so my soul longeth after Thee.

The words to an old praise song taken from Psalm 42. I love the way the King James-ish words sound--there’s something comforting about them. And of course, the desperate crying out to Jesus—that hits me.

Especially as a mom, there are times I so long for Jesus it brings tears to my eyes. I often fail to be the mother I want to be, yet I try so hard to do everything I know I should. And even when I think I’m making the right parenting decision, often doubt creeps in. Especially when it comes to discipline.

We have attitude issues in this family, and not just the kids. Both my husband and I struggle at times, which makes it even more difficult to discipline the one who glares at us with eyes full of rebellion. How do we tell him to get his attitude on track when ours can be less than Christlike?

A helping of long-ago advice comes to mind:

It’s my job as a parent to teach my children the truth. The truth doesn’t change, even if I fail to live up to it.

Yes, I know …

But still, disciplining a child’s heart is difficult, full of doubts and regrets, hopes and fears, all mixed up into a soup of confusion.

What can I do but pray? Or more honestly, what can I do but run to my Savior, begging for help and comfort, clinging to Him like a child myself?

I long for You, dear Jesus, like a deer that panteth for the water.

As the deer pants for the water brooks,
So my soul pants for You, O God.
2My soul thirsts for God, for the living God;
When shall I come and appear before God? Ps. 42:1-2

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Dandelions and Daffodils: A Mother/Daughter Memory of Hope

My four-year-old daughter’s face beams as she hands me a “bouquet” of dandelions. “Put ‘em in you ‘air, Mama.” My sweet girl sure brings smiles to my heart.

But being a mommy of four (six years old and younger) doesn’t always make me smile. It can be a rough adventure—millions of pairs of pee-wee sized underwear to fold, infinite toys to pick up, handfuls of Cheerios to fish from the sofa. And need I mention the mental stress of constantly training those less-than-virtuous attitudes? “Stop screaming at your brother.” “I just told you not to do that.” All together, they create one exhausted mama.

Sometimes I find myself complaining—even whining—about the chores of motherhood. In my darker moments, I long to escape to the time before kids when I could finish the laundry in a couple hours and spend an uninterrupted evening with my husband.

Reflecting on those pre-kid years also invites not-so-happy memories of a year that brought no joy—not a bit. My pastor called it a time of “frowning providence.” I called it the worst year of my life.

Michael and I had been married five years when pregnancy surprised us—we were overjoyed. My mom rejoiced with us, and she and I dreamed I’d have a girl for us to deck out in baby-sized funky fashions. As our little one grew older, I visualized teaching her to rollerblade and inviting church friends to birthday parties. She’d be a considerate teen and then, when she’d experienced just enough life on her own, she’d marry the godly man of her (and my) dreams.

Those dreams crumbled when an ultrasound at ten weeks revealed no heartbeat.
During the heart-wrenching days that followed, my mom comforted me, even though she was fighting a battle of her own …

She was amazing—not only continuing to jig silly dances, sing constantly, and most of all, fill the house with laughter, but also not letting the cancer shake her faith. She’d thank God for the intense pain because it drew her closer to Him. She’d pray for me when I was sad—even though she was the one who was dying.

Mom deteriorated quickly. Soon hospice arrived, and within weeks, mom departed. Bouquets of daffodils decorated the funeral hall. When I see daffodils, I think of her.

As the days and months passed, I felt isolated and lonely, and despite my struggles to contain them, tears flowed.

But then, eventually, came Gabby, and here she is, gifting me with her handful of dandelions. I still miss Mom and the baby I lost, but remembering my pain helps me to be grateful for what I have. And if God’s grace carried me through those dark nights, I know He’ll be with me, holding my hand, giving me strength to pick up millions of underwear, infinite toys, handfuls of Cheerios—and even to train those less-than-virtuous attitudes.

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him. Psalm 62:5 (NIV)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Sunny Answer to Prayer

When I woke up this morning, exhausted from a full day yesterday, I didn’t feel like I’d survive taking care of the kids by myself. My husband was out of town, and I felt like hiding under the covers. Kids? What kids? Out of desperation, I prayed to the Lord: RESCUE ME!

Trusting for a positive answer to my simple, yet heartfelt plea, I thought maybe some kind soul would call out of the blue and say, “I’ll take your kids all day,” or suddenly a shot of energy would surge through my weary bones.

Well, the Lord didn’t answer my prayer in either of those ways, instead, He made the clouds go away and let the sun shine through. The kids have joyfully played outside all afternoon (AFTER they willingly did their chores—shocker!). And I’ve been able to rest and enjoy the moments they pop in to visit me. Huh, sometimes God answers prayer in ways we never thought of—sunshine like the rays of His love. Pretty cool.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday and Easter at Our House

Happy Good Friday! Remember to tell your kids the story of Jesus death on the cross today. To keep it simple and not scary, I'm planning on reading about it in their children's Bible. (I use Catherine Vos's The Child's Story Bible. Highly recommend!)

In our family, we like to NOT talk about the resurrection until Sunday. We pretend we're the twelve apostles and only talk about His death and sacrifice. We discuss questions like, "What do you think Peter did today?" and, "Do you think John was scared?" We sing, "Alas and Did My Savior Bleed," and "Oh Sacred Head Now Wounded." We don't sing resurrection songs or read the Easter story until the big day. It builds anticipation for more than just bunnies and baskets.

Then on Easter morning, I turn on the Hymns Triumphant version of "Christ the Lord is Risen Today" loud enough to wake the whole house! It always makes me cry. Later, after church, we'll do the Resurrection Eggs (Do you have these? It's a carton of plastic eggs filled with symbols of Easter along with a booklet to help explain. Great visual for kids.) We end the day with a reminder that even though Easter is a special time to remember Jesus resurrection, every Sunday is resurrection Sunday. And because He is risen, everything He said was true, He has the power to change our hearts, and He will always be with us, just like He promised!

For Good Friday, I'm posting one of my favorite poems by CS Lewis.

Love's as warm as tears,
Love is tears:
Pressure within the brain,
Tension at the throat,
Deluge, weeks of rain,
Haystacks afloat,
Featureless seas between
Hedges, where once was green

Love's as fierce as fire, 

Love is fire:
All sorts--Infernal heat
Clinkered with greed and pride, 

Lyric desire, sharp-sweet,
Laughing, even when denied, 

And that empyreal flame 

Whence all loves came. 

Love's as fresh as spring,
Love is spring:
Bird-song in the air,
Cool smells in a wood,
Whispering "Dare! Dare!"
To sap, to blood,
Telling "Ease, safety, rest,
Are good; not best."

Love's as hard as nails,
Love is nails: 

Blunt, thick, hammered through 

The medial nerves of One 

Who, having made us, knew 

The thing He had done,
Seeing (what all that is)
Our cross, and His. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Sinner's Morning

A sin occurred in our house last night. Of course, the nasty blight of transgression happens every day (by each of us—a lot by me!) but this was a theft and it needed to be “dealt with.”

Ugh. Not the peaceful morning I was hoping for. “Dealing” with my children’s sin is a stinky job. It saps my energy, brings anxiety, and honestly can be confusing. What’s the best thing to say, how do I make them see what they’ve done wrong? Will they confess and be sorry or will they burn with anger and reject me and the God who calls them?

Knowing the unpleasant task had to be done, my husband and I called the offender into our room and brought the charges. “We know you did this.” That’s pretty much all we said. The child’s expression morphed before our eyes. First it tightened with anger at being accused, then the eyes shifted upwards, as if a perfect excuse would suddenly appear through the ceiling, and then … tears welled and the crying began. “I’m sorry, Mom!” the repentant sinner wailed, “I shouldn’t have done it! It was WRONG!”

We commended our dear one for feeling shame over sin and willingly gave our forgiveness (after delivering the consequences) but our sensitive child held onto the shame like a treasured toy. “I’m terrible. I don’t know why I have to be so stupid. I always do the wrong thing…” and on and on.

Here’s where my confusion came in. I had no clue what to do. The problem wasn’t getting the confession, it was helping our child accept and receive forgiveness.

I’ve felt that way before. Have you? I bemoan how I’m a terrible mom, an unsatisfying wife, a lazy housekeeper, a thoughtless friend …These feelings perhaps ignited from a real sin I committed, but I magnified the guilt, mulling in the mud instead of receiving the cleansing bath of grace found in God’s Word.

And it came to me (and not through the ceiling)—the answer lay in Scripture. So I quoted the first one that came to mind. “The Lord is my shepherd.” Ah, perfect. No matter my sin, if I trust in Christ, he is my tender shepherd who loves me. What a picture of restoration. I told my child, who was still reveling in the shame game, to repeat the words aloud. As "The Lord is my shepherd" was said, his shoulders relaxed.

“Keep saying it, sweetie.” And, walking out of my room, although still upset, I could see the peace of God calming and comforting.

Reasoning, propping up self-esteem, even expressing our love and forgiveness only seemed to feed the cycle. My husband's and my words weren’t believed so it didn’t matter what we said to this child. To get out of the whirlpool, it took the stability of God’s love as shown through the precious words of Scripture. He needed the Gospel.