Gratitude doesn’t sleep

I lie awake, staring at the ceiling fan turn round and round, wondering if sleep will ever come.

The cicadas make their presence known outside the window. Their sound has become a lullaby of sorts throughout the summer. A familiar bedtime routine just before sleep.

Where did the summer go? Why have I not been more present? The regimented moments of the school year will soon ensue.

Bella’s gone…again. Every time she leaves it’s the same hollow ache. Raw pain is the worst kind. There’s no time to heal before the wound is reopened.

In the stillness of night, everyone sleeps. My mind reels, offering no reprieve.

“God, please help me find that peace that passes all understanding.” I whisper. Gratitude is the word that sprints to the forefront of my mind. Thankful. Acknowledge, Receive, Bask in the goodness, share it with others.

Only inches away, my lover sleeps.
His strong sculpted arms now resting and still.
The legs that carry him through a day of work are relaxed.
The beautiful back that sustains and provides for our family, now stretched out in slumber.
The shoulders that carry the weight of responsibility, nestle into the bed that knows and gives way to his form.

Rest is such a gift and a beautiful thing to witness.
His chest rises and falls.
Nothing sounds as sweet as life.

My love. That one. The only one to conquer and reign over my heart.
I adore him. And the breath he breathes is the sweetest air of all.
I move closer to his warmth. Smiling…I am overwhelmed with gratitude for this man.
This life.

A girl like me, living a life like this. Having been thoroughly cleansed, now cloaked in grace.

I close my eyes.
Sleep will be here soon.
Quiet tears of thanks run down my face, into my pillow.
The realization that I would follow this man anywhere, settles in.
Where he is, I am.
He is home.

10 Things I’ve learned being a Mom of Boys

Silly faced boys

  1. They have one level of volume LOUD.
  2. They eat… constantly.
  3. They will find dirt where no dirt has ever been found.
  4. They wear cleats in the house.
  5. They run everywhere they go.
  6. They have an inhuman burst of energy around 7:30 p.m. and it’s best to let them get it out before attempting bedtime.
  7. They are surprisingly sensitive.
  8. They laugh at anything that involves “potty words.”
  9. They are incredibly curious, making everything an adventure.
  10. They love their mama.
  11. They potty train successfully when allowed to hit a target (preferably outside… like on a tree or off the deck. Yep, I’m that mom)
  12. They will wake up on the weekend an hour before the sun comes up, but you will not be able to drag them out of bed for school.
  13. They have to be reminded multiple times a day to, lift the toilet seat, put the toilet seat down, flush the toilet, wash their hands…with soap, and to keep their pants on.
  14. They smell like wet puppies after playing outside. Whether it be for 5 minutes or 2 hours.
  15. They consider anytime a good time to get dirty.
  16. They don’t understand why I would ever want to have privacy.
  17. They give real hugs. Not the ones where you barely connect. The ones that squeeze all your breath out.
  18. They use any opportunity to be naked. The less clothes, the better.
  19. They take everything apart (including jewelry, lingerie drawers and large purses) in order to put it back together so they understand how it works (even if it doesn’t go back together.)
  20. They crave love, affection, encouragement, admiration and security as much as any of us girls do, they just don’t show it or need it expressed in the same way.
  21. They need the freedom to be boys.

Y’all, I grew up with sisters. We had curling irons and a different brush for every hairstyle, rollers and special conditioner. We had makeup and purses, dresses and patent leather mary janes (only to be worn on Sunday.)

I came into this journey of mothering boys with no prior knowledge of how often they were going to use the word poop and think it’s the funniest thing they’ve ever heard. I entered into this commitment of motherhood never realizing that I would be considered the one with odd body parts.

Bella was my only one for 8 years and I have to be honest, nothing could have prepared My Bellame for the reality that is raising two boys to be productive members of society.

It is incredibly challenging, always an adventure, hours of laughter, many conversations that I don’t know the answers to, lot’s of prayer, goodnight kisses on the forehead, holding little hands while walking down the stairs, several, “I’m sorry for yellingconfessions, stock in Costco sized clorox wipes, a much larger grocery budget and a constant sense of wonder.Dahlias as big asIt now makes perfect sense to me why Chris has 2 first aid kits in our house and 1 in each car. I didn’t understand it at first, now I am so grateful for his prior knowledge of skinned knees, bumped heads and random cuts laden with dirt. I’m thankful for his preparedness for the unexpected.

I’m okay saying, “Go ask your dad.” when the boys come to me with questions about body parts I don’t have. Father and Sons

I’m okay letting them know that I don’t have all the answers.

As long as they know they are loved.
As long as they know they are enough.
As long as they know their Creator.

The days when they pull their hand from mine when walking down the sidewalk because they need to run, will be okay.

The afternoons they come in from soccer practice, cleats packed with mud and track it on my hardwood floor, will be worth it. (That’s what the vacuum is for… and swiffer… and mops.)

When I’m doing my daily round of toilet cleaning, I thank God for these little men that He is trusting me to raise.

Pure JoyI love being a mom to boys.

It’s never a dull moment. (Which is great! I bore easily.)
It’s always an adventure. (Who wants to sit around not living life anyway?)
It’s incredibly challenging. (I. Love. A. Challenge.)
It’s simple. (Have snacks EVERYWHERE you go.)
It’s immeasurably rewarding.

Okay moms of boys, sisters of brothers, wives who had no prior exposure to behind the scenes with boys, what did I leave out?

To my Beautiful Children

My Loves

It’s no secret that I have wrestled demons in the past. One of them being body image. As I read posts on social media raising awareness this week about eating disorders (ED), I cannot help but be grateful. It wasn’t too long ago that I was in the depths of my illness. In an effort to help others and avoid ever going back to that place, I cannot forget what that desperation and skewed sense of self felt like.

My body put up with 12 long years of abuse. Starvation, binging, purging, excessive use of diuretics, substances…many things that would cause bewilderment one day when looking back.

My relationship with food is still not one to be envied. It’s rather dysfunctional and requires much work on a daily basis. As with everything in my life, it’s about progress, not perfection. Someone once told me, “Even if everyday you take two steps forward and one step back, you’re still one step further than you would be.”

If you remember nothing else from these writings, please remember this, “Let go of perfection. It will ruin you.”

I bring you into this conversation to acknowledge the times when I will say silly things like,
“I wish my thighs still fit in those jeans.”
“I remember when my stomach was flat and toned…before babies”
“I don’t even tan the same after having children.”
And any number of other things that are disrespectful to this body that has housed me for over 30 years.

It’s true that I am a mere version of my former self. It’s true that my thighs are thicker, my belly softer, my arms looser, my backside…well, let’s just say, things don’t sit where they used to. It’s also true that pregnancy, nursing, lack of sleep, unnecessary worry, baby carriers, and bending over cribs as slowly as possibly in an effort not to wake you after finally rocking you to sleep, had something to do with it. Those are the beautiful reasons for my transformation. The not so beautiful and less mentioned reasons are the results of my lack of discipline in the areas of exercise, eating junk food, staying up too late, not enough water, and various other things.

My Darlings, when I look at you I know that you are my greatest investment.

When I stand naked and vulnerable in front of the mirror, surveying my body, familiarizing myself with the curves, lines and dimples that have claimed permanent residence on my frame, I run my finger along my cesarean scar reminding myself that just beneath the surface of this scar is a womb that cradled you until my arms would. Just below that layer is a vessel for life. How could I ever regret that?! When I turn sideways and see the pooch that has become a constant companion, I stand up a little straighter and remember how far my belly skin stretched as you grew into a living, breathing, human being. When shopping for the “perfect” fitting bra that eludes me, I am reminded that these breasts sustained three lives! How can I be upset by the inconvenience that I feel they sometimes cause me?

Depending on when you’re reading this, that last paragraph might make you cringe. I get it! I almost didn’t type it! But I’m not going to be a host for shame anymore. I’m not going to sit quietly while other women feel isolated in their thinking. I’m not going to allow anyone to tell me that I’m not okay the way I am.

The truth is my loves, I am more than okay. I’m fantastic. I’m better than I have ever been. This beautiful body has done more good than I ever would have given it credit for. After years of mistreatment by its tenant, it has been very forgiving.

If there was only one thing that I could tell you about body image it would be this, “When looking, thinking about and caring for your physique, remember to be grateful for its functions. There will always be something you wish you could change. Always. Why not focus on the miracle that is life? I think you will discover that you have everything you need to be an exceptional version of yourself.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Miley and Me

Well after days of nothing but ridicule and criticism we can all agree that Miley Cyrus has received as much or more attention than her PR agents planned for. Quite honestly, I believe that they are the ones laughing.

You’ve heard the saying, “Negative attention is still attention.”

I saw only clips of her performance, but it was enough to get the picture. After realizing that I didn’t even know she had so drastically changed her appearance, or come out with a new song, it was clear that though her marketing team may not be working for longevity, they are rather genius.

Every time I scroll through Twitter (she reportedly received more than 300,000 tweets per minute during her performance), turn on the news or radio or google anything, I am bombarded with the comments, still shots and derision aimed at Miley. She’s everywhere and those of you complaining of her openly risqué behavior and wanting to guard your children from her influence, are the very ones promoting it.

Why do we care so much? Why can’t we move on? We have experienced the shock factor from many artists, athletes, actors and actress’. We sure do love a “train wreck” as was stated several times in social media. Then it hit me. The people responding to this with such disdain come from 3 different places…

ReligionHide your husbands and sons! Look away! Don’t be tempted to look on the sinner lest you be influenced and driven to stumble!

Stop using God as a reason to verbally dismantle someone who His son died for. I don’t think He’s cool with that.

Jealousy – (I would pair gossip and drama in this category too) Well I would (i.e. could) never look like that, sing like that, feel free enough to express myself like that, so it must be wrong!

The green-eyed monster is a tricky one! Look out! All the while you’re going along with the flow not realizing that it is you acting the part of the foolish one.

JudgementLook at her, up there, grinding on that married man! I’m sure her parents are really proud! It’s disgusting!

Careful! Be ever so careful when pointing out and enhancing another’s seemingly bad decision. Tomorrow, next week, next month, maybe next year, something you are keeping in the dark will come out into the light and you will think back to the moment you said hurtful things about someone else out of your lack of willingness to understand their circumstances.

Miley and I have many similarities. I’m not a celebrity or millionaire. I don’t know what it’s like to be unable to walk into the nearest grocery store without being mobbed by paparazzi. I could never pull off the outfits she wears. That being said, if I looked the way she does there’s no telling what I would proudly accentuate myself with?

However, everyday I ask the world around me through my words, behavior and responses to things, “Do I matter?” “Am I good enough?” “Do you like me?” “Can I make it in this life where everyone is disposable (or so it seems)?

* I retweeted a picture yesterday of Will Smith with his family and their reaction in the audience during Miley’s performance. Will SmithI wish I had thought through that a little more.

Reason being, if my insides were viewable from my outsides, I would receive the same reaction. Maybe your thought life is as pure as the driven snow, but mine is not.

Whether it’s road rage, envy, disappointment, you name it, I am constantly praying throughout the day, “God, please direct my thinking.” I have burned this image of the audience into my brain as to easily access it in my memory when I am thinking or acting ridiculous.

Jesus doesn’t play the shame game. So why do we? I wore shame far too long before I exchanged it for forgiveness and grace. I thank God everyday that social media wasn’t what it is today when I was going through my time of “discovering myself.” My life would be very different.

For those of you saying, “I will never tell my daughter that Hannah Montana is Miley Cyrus.” I think you’re just silly. We all forge a path. Some of us walk in the steps that others have made while some create new tracks. Mistakes, well, it’s all part of the journey.

I don’t know Miley’s definition of mistake, but she leaves no room for question that she is no longer a child and wishes not to be treated like a child.Miley then
Miley now

If you ask me, we all have a little bit of Miley going on. It may not be visible on the outside, but it’s no less there.

all media was taken from my good friend Google
* The picture of Will Smith and his family’s reaction to Miley’s performance was later corrected as their reaction to Lady Gaga’s performance, as you can see in the bottom right corner. This is a wonderful example of how cut away shots can be paired and used with anything.

For the Volunteer

Dear Volunteer,

I am a mother of 3 and have experienced every children’s ministry environment offered at Buckhead Church. I was watching Large Group in Waumba Land Sunday morning when years of memories came flooding in. As the children raised their hands in worship, I was overcome with gratitude.

I wish I had thanked you sooner. Only, I didn’t have the words. On this day, while standing in the back watching men and women, with busy lives, volunteer to surround our preschoolers with truth and light, the words came faster than I could process them.

UpStreet, thank you for welcoming and ushering in my 7-year-old with bed head and a half eaten pop tart in his hand. Little did you know, just 5 minutes before, I was sitting in my car contemplating not coming in. You removed the weight of the world in those few moments at check-in.

Transit, thank you for sacrificing your time to my confused middle schooler (now in high school) not only on Sunday, but for retreats, special outings and all the texts/calls/emails in-between when you were the only voice of reason. In those times when my words fell on deaf ears, yours were heard, felt and followed. You didn’t know that the weeks leading up to boot camp she had contemplated suicide. Thank you for praying that prayer with her on the last night of camp. You were able to speak hope in a way that I couldn’t. I wonder how many souls have been saved because of your investment?

Waumba Land, thank you for greeting my child with a warm smile at the door when he had arms crossed, furrowed brow and feet firmly planted outside the room. Thank you for playing referee when he was “the runner.” And the times you took his hand while looking at my worried face and said, “Go to service mom. We will be just fine here” as he screamed and kicked, were the days I got the most from the message. You didn’t know this, but when my alarm went off that morning I hit snooze and strongly considered staying in bed. Your interactions with my child motivated me to get up and out even when it felt like staying home was avoiding a battle.

Host Team, thank you for making sure I don’t get lost in the crowd. I have been attending for years but there was a Sunday, last year, when I must have looked lost because several of you welcomed me and asked if you could help me find where I was going. “No thanks.” was my response, but the fact that you took notice and offered to help meant so much. You didn’t know this but the next day my 36-year-old friend passed away 9 months after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She left behind a husband and two small children my kids ages. We had grown up together and I felt like part of my childhood was buried with her that day.

Parking Team, if maintaining a highly functioning team of hundreds to get people in and out of one of the busiest areas in Atlanta was an Olympic sport, you would, without a doubt, take the gold. Thank you for showing up, rain or shine, putting on a vest and a smile and waving your flashing wand. You may not know that more than once I have tried to use the excuse of “traffic” and my preschooler would say, “Mommy, can the ninjas in orange vests with lightsabers show us where to park?” What can I say to that? Out of the mouth of babes…

Facilities and clean up crew. Thank you doesn’t even seem close to appropriate. Wow, you have a tough job and you do it seamlessly. Without you, no other environment would function and thrive.

I know you hear how much you are appreciated from those in leadership. It’s one way I’ve rationalized not writing to you. I’m just a face among many. There are thousands just like me. Unfortunately, we avoid writing letters like this one because of fear. The fear that I will leave someone or something out. The fear of not saying what I really feel…of not being able to wrap words around the impact you have had and continue to have on the lives of those you don’t even know. The next few sentences sum up the essence of this letter.

You need to know that, because of you, my life is better. My children are better. My family is better. Don’t you see, your commitment to show up week after week is changing the world outside our door. It’s enriching lives and encouraging families towards each other instead of away. What you’re doing is being the change that most only talk about and rarely do. You are leading by example and because of that, people are being reached in ways that would not have been possible were it not for your decision to serve.

Evermore thank you. From the depths of my heart….I am truly grateful.


3 Mistakes Moms in Recovery Make

Big HeartPeople have asked me, especially now that my daughter is 15, “How do you explain your past to your children?” My answer is, “I don’t.”

Bella has always been a curious child and I am very open and honest with her. There is no other way to be if I want her to live a life that is happy, joyous and free. The questions started when she was around age 4. Questions that most teenagers are asking their friends. At first, I was surprised. “Why is she even thinking about these things? Where would she have heard that word?” When I realized that none of that mattered, I was left with a decision. How do I respond and do I integrate lessons from my past with my answer? Nothing gets your prayer life started like unlocking a closet full of skeletons.

After 11 years of conversations with my daughter, here is what I know not to be helpful when treading through unknown territory.

1.) Too much, too soon.
Guilt is an interesting thing. It almost always goes hand in hand with fear. You can bet where there is guilt, there will be fear. I have several mama friends in recovery and we have all struggled with this. Just because your child asks, doesn’t mean they want a play by play. Only say as much as needed and speak from a place of wisdom. Reverting back to a time of rebellion will only end badly.

It’s okay to tell your child that you’re not sure how to answer their question and will have to give it a few moments of thought. Do not let them leave the conversation as you may never have the opportunity again. In that moment, ask God for clear direction.

Also, you don’t have to spill your guts in one sitting. Only address the things that pertain to the question/circumstances. If my child is talking about an eating disorder, I’m not going to focus on drug use.

2.) Not enough.
Just because you were a hellion, doesn’t mean your child will be. Don’t avoid the truth for fear of passing on the curse. You are not cursed. We all acted out to some degree. For some of us it was bringing home a B on our report card. For others…well…it was in a whole different realm of behaviors.

At some point your child is probably going to ask you, “Did you ever smoke pot? Drink before you were legal? Break curfew? Have sex? Get a tattoo? …You fill in the blank. Some many people will disagree with me, but here goes…

When my children look me in the eyes and ask me a question, I answer them truthfully. To some, lying is “protecting.” No, lying is lying and once it starts it’s difficult to stop. Honesty saved me from a miserable life. It was difficult. I once lied about everything. Even when there was no cause to lie, I lied. It made getting honest foreign and all the more difficult, but so incredibly freeing on the other side.

If there is one thing I never want to be to my children, it’s hypocritical.

3.) The shame game
Shame is contagious. Make sure it ends with you.
I get it. It sucks having to come clean to a kid, but what’s even worse is hiding. Darkness leads to relapse (no matter what your vice). It’s not possible to hide in the light so take up residency there.

You may be afraid of what people will think. “I’ll never be invited to serve on the PTA or be in a moms club or lead a girl scout troop or make cookies for bible study…” Remember, if you are still looking to someone else to prove your worth, you will never “feel” good enough. Besides, most things are highly overrated in our minds.

Worried about your image? Ask yourself whose image you are shadowing. I know that I am created in the image of a God who loves me and has a great plan and purpose for my life. When I think about His image, my confidence is restored and I no longer fear the actions of man.

I can’t tell you how much is too much or how little is not enough. Even if I knew your story, I couldn’t decide that for you. I would encourage you to pray. Ask God to guide your thinking. He gives us what we need when we need it and it works out as it should. It sounds simple, because it is, but it is far from easy. Examine your motives, asking yourself, “Why do I feel the need to share this? Is it helpful? Will it only make me feel better for the few moments I am sharing it, but lead down a path I never intended?”

Most importantly, for me at least, speak from a place of love, gratitude and hope. Be a living, breathing example that no one is beyond redemption. Do not overlook consequences or give permission. Do be authentic.

In the end, love always wins.


No quit Monday

Cherub statueDo you see it?
The smile I wear so big and bright.
Do you know I came home and collapsed in a pile on the bed
Tired of being tired.
Mentally drained.
Emotionally exhausted.
Spiritually hungry.

Of course you don’t.
How could you?
I would never say those words.

I wouldn’t tell you that I’m consumed with thoughts of motherless children, the homeless, forgotten, abused, discarded human beings and those plagued by addiction.
Little ones and big ones alike who cannot help themselves, overwhelm my longing to be the hands and feet of Christ.
There are too many, Lord.
Where do I even begin?

I don’t always want to live up to my name.
Sometimes I want to pass by without notice.
Sometimes I want to look down at my feet instead of making eye contact.
Sometimes I wish to blend into the background.


It’s true.
I miss my friend who died last May, leaving two beautiful children and the man of her dreams behind.
My insides ache for my daughter imprisoned by her own mind.
I countdown to 2 weeks when I no longer have a steady paycheck.
I realize that the only thing that is certain is uncertainty.

What if I’m not good enough?
What if I fail?
What if I made a mistake thinking this could work?
What if I can’t do this?
What if it’s my will, not God’s?

I close the door to my closet,
Flip the light off,
Sit on the floor,
Wall against my back,
Listening to myself breathe.

Deep, calculated, cleansing breath in.
I fill up my lungs until the tingle runs down my scalp.
Slow breath out
the worry, stress, insecurity, doubt and any possible regret exit with it.

Does she know I would be there if I could?
Does she know how hard I fight for her?
I am no longer in the circle of decision.
Doesn’t she know, had I not placed distance there, I could not have recovered?
She doesn’t know.
She shouldn’t know.

It’s okay.
I tell myself…again.
But it isn’t, is it?
Not today.
Today it stings like the hornet.
Today I wallow in mental despondency.
Today I long for sleep and nothing else.

Today is almost gone.
What will I show for it when looking back?
I kept breathing.
In and out.
I got up and put one foot in front of the other.
I kept breathing.

God, please don’t allow me to stay here, in this place, for very long.
Darkness tries to hide you,
But your presence is fierce.
Words try to mask your message
But you cannot be silenced.
Time tries to deflect your promises
But to you, what is time?

Pull me from my melancholy stance.
My inner rantings.
My futile attempts at peace.

No… Don’t.
Stay here with me while the pain escapes through salty tears and silent screams.
Stay here. In the anguish. Until it has all been felt and I can turn towards your cleansing light.

What am I to you, God of the universe.
A mere mortal whose time is comparable to dust.
Who’s life is but a vapor.
Who am I to you?
Whisper the answer to my impatient soul.

Stay with me in the stillness.
Stay until dawn breaks the thickness of night.
Stay until silence is replaced with singing.
With me here.
Until I can get up off this floor
And stand on my own two feet.

Then will I know the storm has passed.