Lessons in Humility

God reminds me so often of who I was born to reflect. Who I should be. How I can be more like Him, and less like the sinful, prideful person my humanness entices me to be. He uses mornings like this, with the crisp morning air and the sun grazing our windows, illuminating the dining room from where I write.

My eight-year-old son Ian is an artist. He loves to draw, paint, build, scream, and create stories. He is a witty, intelligent, soft-spoken child who is painfully shy, but funny beyond words to those he allows into his world.

As he sat at the table this morning using his toy dragon and the light from our chandelier to cast shadows on his paper, he asked, “Mommy, does this look like the shadow of my dragon?” It was a simple question. One most kids would ask to receive praise or get attention. But not my son. He was asking because he was curious, and really wanted to know if I understood the intention of his art.

In that moment I realized this: I love giving praise and rewards to my humble children.

I love that they don’t seek attention. I love that they don’t brag (except in the natural sibling rivalry way), and that they perceive others on the same level. I love lifting them up and praising their accomplishments and seeing the inward satisfaction that comes from unsolicited praise.

Ian’s inward desire in that moment was to create art. He was using his gift, doing his passion, and enjoying his quiet morning.

It was a humbling moment. Realizing my son was so far ahead of me. In all my endeavors, I have the deep-down desire to receive praise. To do things perfectly and be recognized.

But that isn’t what Christ wants from me. He wants me to go about my business, doing his work, and giving all my efforts to whatever I’m doing simply because He has given me that ability.

…and that’s all I have to say about that.

God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. ~James 4:6

Summer Road Trip 14 036

How to Start a Daily Bible Reading Plan (for busy moms)

  1. 4-5F48F8BA-121168-800Put kids to bed.
  2. Open laptop, check Facebook and Email. Respond to group email about playgroup next Thursday.
  3. Watch a few Kid History clips. Because they’re funny.
  4. In Google Search, type “90 day bible reading plan”.
  5. Walk sleepwalking child back to bed, and pray he doesn’t wake up again. At least not until tomorrow.
  6. Return to computer, play Bubble Breaker nine times.
  7. Return to Google Search. Make the decision you can create your own plan.
  8. Brush teeth, remove makeup, pluck eyebrows, practice smiling, practice sucking in post-baby belly.
  9. Retrieve water glass from kitchen, unload dishwasher, wipe down counters, shut fridge door.
  10. Turn all lights off, then shut door quickly or something will bite your toes.
  11. Remind yourself to act brave in front of the kids.
  12. Do a few last-minute planks and crunches since you missed this morning’s workout.
  13. Neatly set Bible on nightstand.
  14. Pray before opening Bible.
  15. Hit snooze button on alarm
  16. Take a moment to figure out why your alarm went off. Check clock.
  17. Get up, brew coffee, pray the kids don’t wake up. At least not for another hour.
  18. Drink the coffee before the kids become too annoying.
  19. Pour another cup of coffee.
  20. Run kids to school in your slippers. In the minivan.
  21. Return to your peaceful home.
  22. Clean, fold, and wash all the things.
  23. Microwave coffee you left on the counter two hours ago.
  24. Get data entry work done for your part-time, flexible, stay-at-home job (…or if you don’t have a job outside the home, multiply step #22 by five, and add a little extra dinner preparation).
  25. Eat lunch. Or take a shower.
  26. Clean more things.
  27. Pick kids up from school.
  28. Prep dinner while kids read school reading books to you in a box on the kitchen floor.
  29. Give in to letting kids play Lego Batman so you can sit down and play 2048.
  30. Eat a nice family dinner. Remind kids to stay in chairs as you notice “someone” wrote “their name” on the dinner table earlier.
  31. After dinner, throw the smelliest kid into the bathtub.
  32. Guide kids lovingly to the bathroom to brush teeth and go potty. Remind them to flush next time. And wipe.
  33. Tuck kids lovingly into bed, read them a goodnight story, and say a thoughtful prayer about good dreams and *yawn* that they *aaagh… amen.*
  34. Repeat.

My First Car.

I’m always amazed when music causes me to write. Here’s what I think happens: I hear a song, and it sounds like a part of my life soundtrack. I smell and see and taste memories I had completely forgotten about.

The other day I heard a song that pulled me right back to high school. Of course now I can’t remember which one, it was a boy band. (I know, surprising.) Probably Barenaked Ladies or Third Eye Blind.

In high school, I drove around a 1984 Grey Mazda 626. It was awesome. Because it took me places on my OWN. I remember the first time I took off with my brand new driver’s license to pick up a few groceries for dinner. I pulled open the sunroof, manually rolled down the windows, and blasted the best radio station ever… 107.7 THE END. It. was. awesome.

Why was that my favorite radio station? Because I thought it would attract the boys. Oh sixteen year old Kelly…

I also remember the first day I drove my car to school. I bought a brand new obnoxious bumper sticker that said, “Next time you think you’re perfect, try walking on water.” I was thankful later that my friend’s older brother Tommy told me people might be offended. (Amazing I still remember who told me that). I removed it and stuck a shiny Jesus fish to the trunk instead. 🙂

I remember dreamy summers on Whidbey Island, peeling down Wintergreen Drive at ridiculously high speeds with friends, late at night. With the sunroof down, and of course… yelling loudly.

I remember the late-night, New Years Eve drive with a car full of friends to the cove in Des Moines. One of my favorite memories with still some of my favorite people, although I never see them. Hanging out around the fire talking into the late hours of the night… then passing out on couches and the floor after consuming a good amount of licorice and pizza.

I remember the day my car breathed its last breath, driving a friend to Bible Camp one summer. It might have lasted longer if I had known it needed oil. Like, ever.

Its so interesting looking back and having dozens upon dozens of memories tied to a single car. And then the old car passes, and is replaced with a new one. And then a whole new decade of memories await. Its funny to apply such meaningful thoughts to a car, but its absolutely true.

I had even more amazing memories with my Ford Ranger (named Bob). It led me to my husband, who also had a Ford Ranger (but mine was better and prettier).

And now our minivan. To those of you who swear you’ll never own one, sorry but I know better. I was just like you once.

So, thank you Mazda 626. I will remember you… 😉


How people on Facebook see us:


How people in real life see us:


This isn’t an ad against Facebook. But it is the realization I’ve come to lately, at least about my own existence on Facebook. I really really hope no one bases 100% of their opinion of me by what I post on Facebook. As disorganized and messy as it looks, I’d rather people know me based on EXACTLY who I am, in the raw, than from some manufactured, edited version of me.

(And yes, the second picture is MY FRIDGE. Pretty ain’t it.)


Rather than resolve to do, this year I resolve to be. In a nutshell, setting tangible goals has never worked for me. “Give Up Chocolate” and “Read More Books” are goals that simply slip away in the craziness of my Type B, left-handed, right-brained life.

But I know I can focus on the inward change, the lasting transformation. Not one that peters out after three months; more like one I can re-evaluate the next year, and assess how I’m doing on the grand scale. Then perhaps other tangible goals can follow. But not the chocolate. Take my life, but don’t take away my chocolate.

That said, here are my incredibly simple resolutions.

1. BE EFFICIENT. Use my time more wisely. This is likely to reduce time spent on screens, but I do have to have SOME rewards. 😉 This will probably include book-reading and prayer. And giving my time to something greater than myself.

2. BE KIND. Only express kindness. I was just discussing this with my brother yesterday. There’s absolutely NO REASON to ever speak negatively about anyone. Its a fault I bet no one wants to EVER admit to in a public arena… but here I am doing just that. Here’s the reality: we can always, ALWAYS find a way to be kind.

3. BE RAW. Let go of my need to be perfect. For who knows what reason, I’ve always felt the need to be perfect at stuff in order to share it with the world. Whether its my home, or my music, or simply me. Lately, its made me just want to hide away. In reality, those who truly love me will appreciate exactly who I am. (And I hope the rest of you believe that about yourselves as well).

Merry Christmas, and hello 2014. Good luck with your diet. Once that two weeks is over, come eat some chocolate with me.

Angels and Post-Partum Brain Loss.

When Ian was two months old, I had probably one of the most emotional and horrifying moments of my life. Not many know about it, although I do choose to share the story with people on occasion.

I never knew the Post Partum experience would be so difficult. On top of depression, I felt my brain had vanished, and left absolute inability to function on a day-to-day basis. I felt friends pushing away, but really, I was the one doing it. I just felt “off” for no particular reason, 24 hours of every day.

One lazy morning, I strapped Ian into his carseat for a trip to the café to visit Daddy, and then we were going to head to the store for some groceries. On the way to the café, Ian fell asleep. I brought him into the café, visited with Aaron for a while, and then Ian and I headed out the back door to the car.

I set his seat down next to the car, pulled out my keys, threw my purse over to the passenger seat, and got in.

As I started the car, I had a sickening feeling that I was forgetting something. Seatbelt! Buckled myself in, looked over, purse and wallet were all ready to go, so I put the car in reverse and backed out. As the car moved backward, I heard a scraping sound. It sounded much like a coffee cup being dragged on the ground, so I figured I’d see what it was after I backed out. As I turned and pulled forward down the alley, I looked in my rearview mirror.

Then, I had one of the most significant out-of-body experiences I’ve had in my life.

Twenty feet behind me, I saw a carseat. It was tipped on its side, twenty feet away from the place it started. In it, my child. The car lurched forward as I jumped out and yanked up the emergency brake.

I ran and found my sweet boy, sound asleep, tucked in comfortably under his warm green blanket.

What followed was an idiotic decision to go to the store anyway, then head home. I didn’t tell Aaron right away, yet that should have been the first place I ran. I headed home after the store, and a few family members were working on a backyard project at my house. I told them what had just happened, and they simply stood there in shock. I ended up leaving Ian with them, and going to the café to get a hug from Aaron and tell him what happened.

Honestly, I didn’t tell people for a while. The shock and embarrassment would have been too much to handle. But as the months and years have passed, I realized that the embarrassment was 1) out of pride, and 2) because I never heard any other moms sharing stories like this.

To be honest, as alone as I felt, I knew I wasn’t REALLY alone. And I want people to know these things happen to even the most caring, devoted moms. I’ve heard countless stories about kids falling off the bed or the kitchen counter, being left unbuckled in the car, etc. I often respond with, “Yeah, well at least you didn’t almost hit your kid with your car.” (To which Aaron responds, “Well, you kind of DID actually.”)

Years later, I also had the realization that Ian and I weren’t alone in that alley. Yes, there were plenty of people at the Laundromat, on the streets, and in local shops and offices, but none of them even knew what had happened.

We were both surrounded by an army of angels. Angels who knew Ian’s mom needed a little help. I have this image in my head of their strong hands protecting his head, singing to him to stay asleep, and guiding the carseat perfectly so he would emerge without a single scratch on his frail body. How else would my kid have survived being dragged 20 feet on its side by a car? *Shivers*

Here’s Ian at two months. Yeah, he looks a little chunky here. But when I saw him in his carseat in the middle of an empty alley, he looked kinda small. 🙂

Ian Grin


Currently playing through my headphones: George Winston’s music from “The Snowman.” I remember this music from my childhood vividly. Especially the song that plays as the boy opens the music box and the snowman and boy dance as the ballerina spins.

The music brings back a flood of memories of a big red house, forts in the bushes, swinging from my canopy bed with a friend, snowballs to the face, squirt gun fights, and building an ice rink on our deck… all memories etched into my past and so vivid I can taste the popcorn. I can hear the 70’s rock albums playing from my parents’ record player. I still remember the surprise of my Uncle Beard waiting for me after school, surprising me on a trip from California. No matter where I am, for some reason that house will always be what I think of when people mention “home,” even though I’ve lived plenty of other places.

As I reminisce, I’ve realized it is not necessarily the house itself, or the yard, or the forts; its the memories created there that have stuck with me, and the people I love. Its a place of joy and wonder, laying in the grass in the backyard giggling, and the meals and popcorn and ice-water movie nights shared with my family. Its the friends I’ll always hold in my heart, the ones who knew me in my innocence and first joy.

Here we are, doing exactly the same thing. Doing our best to raise our kids and do everything “right.” But our kids don’t care how big their room is, or that we have no garage and absolutely no sufficient storage space. They probably don’t mind staying home instead of being signed up for every activity imaginable. They don’t care about all the silly details we adults focus on so much and toil and stress over.

Us parents spend so much time trying to provide the perfect childhood for our kids that we miss the mark if we’re not watching closely. If we pay attention, we realize our kids just want to be kids. And they want us to join them. They want boundaries, but they also want to hear loving yesses. They want dirt, and they want to be scrubbed down afterward. They want to dance to loud music and not be told to quiet down. They want us to put down our projects and chores to smile and hug and tickle them. They probably want us to invite people over, and host them without apologizing for the messes.

We’re looking to rent a new place, sometime close to the end of the school year. While Aaron and I may have a long list of what we feel are “needs” in a future home, I think I feel a bit more relaxed now. Our kids really don’t care about the details of the home.

All that matters is that we provide a home for them.

Photo Credit: my mom. I’m the goofy one in the middle with the glasses. 🙂 In that mix are some of my all-time favorite people and kindred spirits.




Every summer, our family spends an extended weekend in the south coast of Washington, in the beautiful, quaint town of Grayland. Weather forecasts always promise decent August temperatures, but we do remind ourselves they call the town “the land of gray” for a reason.

We just enjoyed our SEVENTH family reunion in Grayland, enjoying coffee, good conversation, silly kids, and the beautiful landscape. Without the usual wind, our time outside proved quite pleasant.

Thursday night we headed to the beach, down the quarter acre path, to enjoy the sunset and let the kids run around on the sand before settling down for the first bedtime in the beach house.

We arrived at the water just past sunset, the sky a beautiful shade of gray. Waves crashed as kids sprinted around and dug their fingers into the warm, fine sand.

Emily and Odi noticed there was a slight sand bar reaching out into the water, so I encouraged them to head onto it with the little ones. At that point, waves were just skimming it, allowing the kids to only wade ankle deep. It was a beautiful scene of memories and happiness. But very quickly, the scene changed, and the sun set on the day much quicker than expected.

Just a few minutes earlier, I commented to my father-in-law Glenn that it was probably time to call the kids in. The tide was obviously on its way up, and the level of the water in which they played was rising. We called multiple times for the kids to come in, but over the crash of waves, they couldn’t hear us. I called out for Odi to stay close to Ana, but I was pretty sure she couldn’t hear me, and I began anxiously yelling and calling out louder.

A sudden swell of tide left the kids in knee-deep water, which sent them sprinting toward us in a giggling frenzy. The light from the sunset dimmed even more, leaving people and details more difficult to tell apart.

As the kids sprinted toward us, another large wave hit, swallowing Milo and Ana, the two who can’t quite swim yet. Odi and Emily started to run off, away from the submerged children, to escape the large waves. They were unaware their cousins had been swallowed by the sea. At that moment, the inconsequential waves might as well have been a massive tsunami, engulfing everything in sight.

Watching from the shoreline, I felt helpless. I was within inches of throwing my camera to Glenn, and running into the water to save my daughter and nephew. If it had been daytime, it would have been no problem. I’m sure we would have all treated it as a silly splashing and dunking little incident. But all that went through my mind at the time was, “If they go under, and we don’t find them, they’re in trouble.”

I called to the girls to grab them, and they sprinted back in a swift act of heroism and snatched both kids up out of the water. Milo the tough guy managed to march out of the water in survival mode; but Ana was obviously shaken by the incident. As she bawled and reached for my arms, I reminded her that Odi and Emily had been right there to save her.

Back on the beach I stripped Ana’s wet shirts off her shivering body and wrapped my rain jacket around her. Aaron held her in his arms to warm her up on the walk home.

As I tucked Ana into bed and settled in for the night, my thoughts shifted. All I could think about was how deeply we wade into danger in life, and how loud God must be yelling at us to come closer to the shoreline.

We wade so close to danger (both emotionally and physically), and destruction suddenly becomes closer than we realize. As the force of the destruction becomes stronger and mightier, we fall. Waves of despair, pain, regret, and confusion, pummel us. They yank us away from the healthy, life giving sources we so desperately need. Like Milo and Ana, we are weak, and too small to pull ourselves up out of the struggle.

Or maybe we have times where we are like Odi and Emily, and God is calling to us, yelling at us, to save the weak. To feed the hungry. To give warmth to the homeless. To give clothes to the needy. To love those who are overcome with unavoidable despair, and who have no way out but to be grabbed by the hand and pulled by one arm.

Regardless of our role, God is calling, screaming over the crashing waves. We often can’t hear him over the busyness and noise around us, which means we must stay alert and honed in on His voice. It is so easy to sprint and wade and leap through the waves of life and forget there are consequences for wading in too deep. We must watch ourselves, but also care for those around us who are in too deep. We must listen for God’s wise, sometimes-patient, sometimes-urgent voice. We must listen and respond when He calls.

We need to ask ourselves this question… are we wading in too deep to hear the voice of wisdom?

Birthday Girl


That sweet baby turns five today, the fifth of August.

Here’s the conversation I had with her at bedtime last night:

“Ana, are there any words of wisdom from the girl who turns five tomorrow?” I asked.

“Umm…” she replied, confused.

“How about this. What is the smartest and best thing you know?”

Without hesitation, Ana smiled, and answered, “Be kind.”

I must say, I love her heart. 🙂

Jazz and Life


I’ve enjoyed a wide variety of music styles in my short life span, from professional symphonies, to string quartets, to musicals and jazz ensembles. From Incubus mosh pits to Brad Paisley stadium shows. Every style is so unique and different, and makes my heart happy. Really happy.

Last night Aaron and I had the opportunity to attend “Jazz Fusion” at the performing arts center here in town (kid-free, thanks Mom and Dad!). World renowned musicians and one opera singer graced us with one of the most amazing jazz performances I’ve seen. The amazing part… all the pieces were either written by the musicians, or by their friends or relatives. And more amazing… they tied in a bit of improvisation and DJ mixes off a laptop, fusing street sounds and unique music with their own original works.

As I sat there, I couldn’t help but compare this to the way life works. Life isn’t a perfect symphony, as much as we’d love to think it SHOULD be exactly that.

Nope. Life is an awkward jazz fusion ensemble.

At times, we just have no idea what’s going on. The upright bass is just trying to hold it all together while the sax takes off on its risk-taking riffs. Then the flight-of-the-bumblebee-playing and sliding violin and electric guitar get in the way and totally blow up every chance the ensemble had at resolve.

At times, everyone is playing completely different notes, and heading in different directions. Then it all comes together, for a very brief measure, only to erupt again and confuse our brains’ need for a little peace in the moment.

But somehow, in the disarray, there is beauty. We work off each other, giving each other a solo here and there. Some of us just hold it together with a little bass action while others flit and fly in awkwardly high registers.

Some of us play the sweet, sweet sound of the violin, while others just ruffle everyone’s feathers trying to DJ their way into the Jazz piece (which really, is more beautiful and real than I expected).

To believe life on earth should be an orchestral masterpiece is really cheating ourselves of living in the moment. Right here where we are, THAT’S where the jazz ensemble plays. We can’t make anything perfect. In fact, as I’ve said before, there’s beauty in the imperfection. All we can do is join the chaos, take risks, be ourselves, and accept that it may not always have the perfection of a classical masterpiece.

The full and perfect orchestral symphony will follow, I promise. There will be resolve.