Thursday, June 30, 2016


These situations may or may not have happened to me...

Have you ever talked to your daughter on the phone and she insisted you hurry and get home because your husband had put salt in the bb gun and was shooting flies?  Yeah, me neither.

Have you ever asked your husband to give your chicken a haircut? Yeah, me neither.

Have you ever made your daughter listen to a song from the first concert you went to and then realized as you're singing at the top of your lungs how totally inappropriate it was for a 12-year-old? Yeah, me neither.

Have you ever stooped to paying your older child to help her sister with her homework?

Have you ever burned a bag of popcorn and 2 hours later still smell it on your hands? Yeah, me neither

Have you ever gotten a call from your teenager at 9pm, asking if you would come pick up her and her 4 friends from a camp out because it's raining and lightning and oh--can they all just spend the night at your house that isn't clean and smells like a wet dog?

Have you ever had your daughter bring a chicken into the house who keeps falling asleep in her arms? Yeah, me neither

Have you ever run off to the lake with your hubby on a weeknight, leaving a sick kid and her sister at home??

Have you ever waited Til your bladder was more than full and on your way to the restroom gotten behind the guy who stops to pick out a toothpick (blocking your way around him) and then proceeds to walk in the middle of the hallway, slowly picking his teeth the whole way? Yeah, me neither

Have you ever laughed at someone who said his arms were sore from taking pictures and 6 hrs later--after doing the same thing-- regretted it? Yeah, me neither.

Have you ever been scrolling FB and realized you almost missed opening day for the Snowcone Lady so you told your girls to jump in the car and you raced to Frisco? Yeah, me neither.

Have you ever been sitting in your backyard, minding your own business reading, and looked down to find a chicken staring up at you? Yeah, me neither

Have your kids ever popped balloons with a blow dart? Yeah, mine neither

Have you ever gotten everything you needed ready for work--even packed up blankets, sweatshirts, coats for a track meet after work and patted yourself on the back for being on top of everything...then you realize you left your purse at hour away...with all your money, work keys, etc in it..and you are headed into a lunch? Yeah, me neither

Have you ever found yourself in the car heading to the mall with 3 teenagers who are going to help you pick out an outfit? Yeah, me neither

Have you ever been afraid of being mauled by a flock of chickens because you fed the dogs before you gave them scratch? Yeah, me neither.

Have you ever gotten home from church and realized your fitbit battery died at some point during the morning and the one day that you actually get your steps in so you that you don't feel as much like a loser didn't even get counted??? Yeah, me neither.

Have you ever been sitting in traffic on 380 and accidentally blocked an entrance? Yeah me neither. (In your defense, you probably didn't know not 1, but 2 cars would want to turn into the liquor store at 7am)

Have you ever clicked on a cute video of a dad and daughter singing "Let it Go" before bed and woke up the next day with it playing over and over in your head? And over and over again? Yeah, me neither.

Have you ever gone to heat up a bowl of BEEF stew, only to realize, someone ate all of the beef and just left you with the stew? Yeah, me neither.

Which is worse...the smell of dirty dogs in the back seat or corn nuts in the front?

Have you ever bribed your kid with a ChickFilA peppermint choc chip milkshake? Yeah, me neither.

Have you ever been sitting with your 97 yr old Granny and she keeps changing the channel to a Spanish show that nobody--including herself--can understand but she doesn't hear you ask her to change it bc it's so loud? Yeah, me neither.

Have you ever fed your chickens watermelon and a seed got left behind and decided to grow in your backyard? Yeah, me neither.

Have you ever had to stop for gas 4 times in 1 week bc you kept just putting a little bit in to hold you over to the place that has it 10 cents cheaper but you kept forgetting to stop there and your low fuel light came on when you were nowhere near the cheap station? Yeah, me neither.

Have you ever eaten a slice of the dessert pizza before you took it to your friend's house for dinner?

Have you ever gotten your kids out the door and let out a deep sigh of relief that it's the last dress-up day for red ribbon week...and then you remember Halloween is tomorrow and your oldest still doesn't have her costume?

Have you ever asked your daughter to move her tutu off the kitchen island and she moves it to the kitchen table? Obviously I haven't.

Have you ever agreed to let your daughter and her friends tie-dye a bunch of stuff, and then hid in your room so you didn't get dragged into the mess? Yeah, me neither.

Have you ever borrowed your co-worker's stapler only to find that he doesn't have any stinkin staples in it?

Have you ever sat around watching old episodes of Undercover Boss all afternoon and become such a sappy mess you aren't good for anything the rest of the night? Ummm....yeah, me neither

Have you ever cracked yourself up using the Bitmoji app to send your kids weird texts that freak them out?

Have you ever walked in your daughters bathroom and found her puke bucket...from the night before...with "stuff" still in it?

Remember that time when your hubby didn't like the way you parked so he re-parked after you got out? Yeah, me neither

Have you ever walked into a room that you could see had just been mopped, you could smell had just been mopped, but you still fall on your knees and slide all the way across on your booty? Yeah, me neither.

Have you ever written a blog post entirely copied from facebook #askingforafriend posts? 

Yeah, me neither. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Finding your Passions

One of my favorite things about parenting is watching my girls discover a new talent or love. 

Caroline has tried lots of different things.  And she likes them for a year or two, but has not found something that she is just plain passionate about for longer than that; however, she's always enjoyed baking. 

Last summer, I asked the girls to each plan and cook dinner one night a week.  With our crazy schedule, we only did it a few times, but Caroline loved it.  Over the last year, she has looked up recipes on Pinterest and baked several different items, but hasn't really cooked a meal.  Except for grilled cheese.  Let me tell you, she makes UH-mazing grilled cheese sandwiches.  I seriously beg her to make me one every so often. 

Brian and I decided to ask them to each take a night a week to plan, cook and clean up again this summer.  Caroline was excited.  I tried to tell her that it didn't have to be fancy, sandwiches are fine--she just had to coordinate the whole meal.  She scoffed at me.  "I'm not going to make something as easy as sandwiches!" 

So she went to Pinterest and created a shopping list for me as well as menus for us.  She decided to make baked potato casserole and wanted to make cupcake sundaes for dessert. awesome is that?  And let me tell you, it was really good! 

I called her on my way home from work to find out what kind of cupcake mix she wanted.

"Oh, I don't need a mix.  I already made them today.  I did them from scratch.  Dad had to help me with the icing, though."

Seriously?  How did she even know to make them this way?  I'm all about starting with a mix for everything and adding to it.  She is definitely her father's daughter.

Anyway, it's such a fun thing to watch her discover her passions and to encourage her creativity! 

It's such a good reminder that creativity can take all kinds of forms.   Anytime we step out and embrace the gifts we've been given, we are courageous.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Royal People Chicks vs The Royal Chicken Chicks

I started my Saturday doing my most favorite the chicken coop.  NOT!  I mean, I DID clean it, but it is by no means my favorite thing to do.  Even at 8am, sweat and dirt were rolling off of me.  I was not a pretty sight to say the least!

As I was shoveling out the coop and putting in fresh hay (with lavender seeds from our trip to the lavender farm a few weeks ago!!!) I started noticing the similarity of my girls and chickens.  Don't tell them I said this--esp. Hope.  For some reason, I don't think they will think it's a compliment.  But they share a lot of the same things.  Maybe more than they should-ha!

Here's what I was thinking..
As soon as you get the coop in order, they rearrange it to their liking. 
Seriously.  Every time.  I spread the hay evenly.  I put the little Rubbermaid liner under the hay in the nesting boxes so it's softer (this is really self-serving--sometimes the eggs crack when they hit the floor).  Less than an hour later, I went out to see if there were any eggs and 3 of the boxes had the liner pulled up.  Same for the girls with the house.  Except sometimes, they just mess it up by leaving their cups and trash lying around.

They think everything is FOR them.
When I come out of the house and head to their side of the fence, they come running.  They just know I have something for them.  Truth be told, I often do--just like my girls.  I don't like shopping for myself, but I love to pick up things I think they will like (of course, that's a lot harder now that they are older

They ignore the boundaries when possible
Brian just put up a new fence to keep them off part of the yard so we don't step in chicken poop and can one day have a fish fry and not be worried a chicken will steal a guest's food.  We used the bigger cattle panels because they were wayyyy cheaper--which means the holes are big enough for the chickens to get through.  The plan is to put some chicken wire along the bottom, but between the rain, his trip to Guatemala and playing catch-up afterward, he hasn't finished it yet.  So this means many of them just walk through the fence and continue to think the dogs' waterbowl is their drinking source and the whole yard is theirs. 

Have you ever set a boundary for your kids and realized that there were holes and they found them immediately?  Yeah, me neither--ha!

They are amusing and fun to watch.
I can sit outside and watch our chickens for hours.  Or until it gets too hot.  They are funny.  Whether they are tussling over food, taking a dust bath, hunting for grasshopper, positioning themselves to get their favorite roosting spot or just wandering around, they keep me interested.  Same with my girls--have you ever just sat back and watched teenager girls?  It could keep you busy for hours!

So, when you hear me talk about the Royal Chicks, good luck figuring out which ones I'm referring to!

Take the Heart out or Put it Back???

One of my favorite things is my Mary Engelbreit daily calendar.  I love getting a dose of her whimsy and wisdom each day.  My girls know that if I forget to rip off the day before's page--they are not allowed to do it--that's MY job.

Last week, the picture to the left was the page I came to ( you can also see a few of the last sprigs of my lavender before I gave it to the chickens). 

In case you can't read it, it says,

"There are people who take the heart out of you. And there are people who put it back."      ---Elizabeth David 

It struck me in a way that literally, made me stop in my tracks.  I had to sit for a minute.  Sounds silly, I know, but for me, it hit me deeply because I had just experienced the latter one.

A few months ago, I had the privilege to run into one of my heroes.  We were in the midst of 7000 people and she had a TON of responsibilities, but she stopped what she was doing, hugged me and spent the next 20 minutes saying beautiful words about, over and to me. 

This will sound overly dramatic, but those words, and the follow up email conversations, set a ball in motion that is changing the story I'm writing with my life. 

None of us want to be the first type of person, but we often are.  Maybe it's not even anything that we do, but the fact that we rush past people we could have spoken into.

And then there's the fact that because we've had our hearts taken and trampled, we don't let others have the opportunity to speak into us.  We guard our hearts and close ourselves off to people.  Sometimes it's not just out of hurt, but out of ego and pride--we don't think certain people have anything of value to put into us.

God doesn't need us to speak into people, but oh, how much we miss out when we don't! Or, we speak out of our own selfishness and don't seek Him. 

Have you ever had anyone say something to you that made you change your direction?  Have you ever had an opportunity to put the heart back into someone?  Did you take it?

Thursday, June 23, 2016

So what now?

God doesn't always answer my prayers in the way I think He should.  I have prayed for years that He would give me lots of money so I could give it to people/organizations who are doing amazing things to serve others (I might have also prayed for a jeep for myself a few times). 

Anyway...I've just realized recently that He chose instead to give me a voice so I could tell stories of people--mostly kids--who are overlooked or forgotten or just unknown.  And I tell these stories not to lay a guilt trip on you or make you feel bad for the blessings He has given you--I don't see any reason we should sit around and feel bad for what we have--especially if you have a Jeep.  I tell them because as hard as they are to hear, we NEED to know.

A few days ago, I wrote a post about God breaking my heart for the girls at Kids Alive/Oasis in Guatemala.  Most of my posts get a couple of views, but this one has over 500 at this point.  I wrote it from a self-centered point of view and wanted to talk a little bit more about the ministry there and what we can do.

Those of you who know me from my Lovepacs stuff, know I have a heart to be part of the solution and not just talk about the injustice of it all.  But, if you are like me, you might see a big need and feel like the little you can do won't be enough, so you do nothing.  I've done that.  I DO that.  All. The. Time. 

But I don't want to do that anymore.  And I don't think you do, either.

I have bitten my nails forever.  (Yes, this is the same blog post--just stay with me).  I've done artificial nails or most recently, as my real nails grew, the powder dip stuff (which I L-O-V-E!).  Well, I decided to try to go natural and after just a couple of weeks, I have bitten them down to the quick again.  I didn't have time to get them done before Brian got back so I had plans to go on Sunday afternoon after church.  The cost is $35 plus tip. 

And then Brian came home from Guatemala. 

And fell in love with the ministry of Kids Alive.

And told me he wanted to sponsor a couple of girls.

And showed me pictures and told me stories.

My thoughts went immediately to my nails.  They look horrible and I am embarrassed to have them look this way as I start interviewing.  But, if I choose not to get my nails done, we could sponsor 2 girls.  Every month.  Is that really a sacrifice? 

Here are some other things I thought of:
  • If we gave up just 2 Starbucks drinks a week, we could sponsor a child
  • If we chose to eat out one less time a month, we could sponsor a child
  • If I took my lunch on Tuesdays, we could sponsor a child
  • If we gave up a gallon of Bluebell, we could sponsor 1/2 a child.
I don't know about you, but none of those are sacrifices for me (as much as I want to joke about it--even the Bluebell isn't--and yes, I considered the fact that Strawberry hit the shelves this week).

What would you add to that list? 
To learn more about all the amazing things Kids Alive does, or to sponsor a child, click HERE.

You don't have to choose a child in Guatemala--Kids Alive is in 14 other countries!

And would you do me a favor?  I don't beg for comments often, but would love to hear from you.

If you decide to sponsor one or twelve, would you let me know?  You can email me at or you can leave a comment here (you don't have to put your name--you can do it anonymously). 

And even if you don't sponsor, would you join me in praying for these kids and the Kids Alive organization? Comment to let me know what you are praying--that often opens my eyes to new ways I, too, can pray! Thank you!!!!!

                                                   This is the team that Brian was on!


Monday, June 20, 2016

When God breaks your Heart

Brian just came back from Guatemala on a mission trip.  He went with a team of men to do some construction work for Kids Alive/Oasis.  Right up his alley, huh?  He spent the week building cabinets, doing electrical and plumbing work and playing soccer with the girls there. 

During the week, one of the moms lost her 1 month old baby.  It was incredibly sad as they all had gotten to know them and one of the men was even holding Hannah* the night before.  I don't know when the death of a baby isn't sad, but in this case, it was even more than usual.  Her mom was 11 years old. 

Yes, you read that right--11!!!!

For her privacy, I won't post a pic of her, but here are pics of my daughters at 11. As you are reading this, I want you to imagine their faces when you think of this mom. 


Brittany*--our 11 year old mom--has a different life.   Instead of going to 5th grade, she was going through labor.   Instead of worrying what outfit she would wear on her 1st day of middle school, she was worrying about how to care for a baby. 

Do you have daughters?  Do you remember what they were thinking about when they were 11?  Or better yet, can you remember what YOU were doing at 11?  I had just moved to a new school and was playing tetherball and foursquare and swimming and passing notes to my friends.

Oasis is a refuge of sorts for girls who have been sexually abused.  Many of them by their father, brother or neighbor.  The girls are brought into the home while charges are filed and the men are prosecuted.  They are given a safe place to sleep, eat, play, go to school and in some cases, raise their babies.  The ministry itself is amazing.  Currently, there are over 50 girls living there and they are being cared for by some amazing people.

Sadly, Brittany isn't the only one in her position.  There are several other girls who live at Oasis with their babies and toddlers.  And there are more coming.  The day Brian was leaving, they had a girl arriving who is 23 weeks pregnant--over halfway to delivering her baby.  SHE IS 10!!!  My girls were enjoying waterslides and going to soccer games with their friends when they were 10.

And me?  I was in 4th grade.  Reading books that my favorite teacher recommended to me.  Going to state UIL competitions.  Yelling at my sister for keeping her side of the room so messy.  Trying my best to be teacher's pet.

So, even though I did not physically travel to Guatemala, it feels like my heart did.  I have so many feelings and emotions going on inside of me--rage, sadness, grief, wonder, anxiousness, fear, compassion and even LOVE for girls I don't know and have only seen in a few pictures.  I found myself sobbing at a video one of Brian's teammates made with pics from their trip.  AND I WASNT EVEN THERE! 

I remember feeling like this before.  It was the year before Lovepacs began when I felt God stirring inside of me, but I didn't know what to do.  He was giving me information every time I turned my head and I felt like I was seeing things I'd never taken time to open my eyes to before. I was outraged and confused and searching for what I was supposed to do with this knowledge.

It's that same feeling. 

I'm excited.  I know God is up to something  even though I don't know what it is.  I'm almost hesitant to say that because what is happening to these girls is TRAGIC.  It should NEVER happen to anyone, but even especially to a child.  But, I want to be apart of the rest of the story for them.  As believers, we know their circumstances don't define them.   

I'm reminded over and over of a quote I once heard:

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."  -Edmund Burke

So, I'm praying.  And dreaming.  And planning.  And most of all--looking and listening for what God says is next.  Will you join me?

*Names have obviously been changed to protect privacy. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Tangible Love

I am a historian.  I remember things that happened in the past.  Sometimes it means I hold grudges or hesitate to make a decision because I don't want to repeat a mistake.  Sometimes, it's a reminder of how faithful our God is.

Two years ago today, we were on our way to Colorado.  We had stopped overnight in Amarillo and I woke up early before the rest of my family with an uneasy heart.  I was facing some really hard stuff.  I had not slept well and decided to head down to get breakfast, read and pray a bit before we headed out. 

As I was praying, I remember specifically asking God to show me His love for me tangibly that day--I even wrote it in my journal.   Honestly, it wasn't so much a prayer of faith in knowing He would do it, as it was of one of desperation.  I was so tired and spent and wanted so badly to be able to engage fully in our family vacation. 

Pretty soon, Brian and the girls got up and we hit the road.  Now, if you've ever made the drive to Colorado, you know that there's not much to see for hours at a time.  In fact, we had to wait over an hour until we could find a bathroom at one point. 

As we were driving, I saw my friend Barb's post about driving back from Colorado. On the same road we were on.  At the same time.  So we started texting back and forth to see if we could meet for lunch, but logistics just didn't work out.

As soon as I had resigned myself to not seeing her, Brian asked me if I wanted to pull over on the side of the road and wait for them--just to say "Hi!"  Really?  Now for those of you who have never traveled with a man before, let me enlighten you.  They don't stop.  We are lucky to get food and bathroom breaks.  They like to set a course and get there.  Brian falls in that category and if the girls were boys, I seriously think he might make us carry mason jars for potty breaks like he did as a kid.

Not only did Brian suggest this, Barb's husband agreed--and they were racing to get home for the NBA finals that night.  Seriously?  Two men agreed to put a delay in their schedule at the same time??? 

There were no more gas stations for miles, so we made note of the mile marker and pulled over at a grain silo. There are a lot of these, so I still worried in the back of my head that they had already passed us.  About 5 minutes later, our friends pulled in. 

As I jumped out of the car and hugged Barb, I couldn't stop the tears.  I know, I know, I cry all the time, but this was different.  As I saw her, I remembered my prayer that morning for God to tangibly show me He loved me and was with me in this..  How much more tangible could a hug from a dear friend be?

I still can't think about it without crying.  God doesn't always answer my prayers so visibly.  But He chose to that day when I was at a very low point. 

And it changed me. 

It reminded me that even in the hard times, He loves me and is always waiting for opportunities to show me how much.  I just need to be looking and be available for a last minute schedule change. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Being Brave

Most of my life I've considered myself brave on the outside, but I live in a constant state of fear.  Fear that I will say the wrong thing, fear that I will fail at my job, fear that I will not be the wife or mom my family needs, fear that I'll never lose weight no matter how hard I try, fear that my loved ones will die, fear that I'll get to heaven and God will laugh at all the things I wasted time on here on earth.

As I've been thinking about the word "Brave" lately, I started making a list.  A list of what being brave looks like for me.  And it grows every day.  Here are a few things on that list:

  • Writing a book
  • Inviting someone to coffee who I know will be "messy"
  • Planting things when my thumb is oh-so black
  • Posting stories on snapchat
  • Asking a professional to read my stuff and give me his opinion
  • Trying new dishes at my favorite restaurants instead of going with my normal ones
  • Marketing my 12 Days of Christmas activity
  • Shopping for a swimsuit
  • Making myself available at bedtime for conversations with the girls
  • Waking up the girls early in the morning (teenage girls are seriously scary)
  • Striking up a conversation on the sidelines with the mom who always ignores me
  • Hunting for the little frog baby that got into my house--ewwww!
  • Asking someone to mentor me
  • Getting a new hairstyle or nail color
  • Throwing things away instead of hoarding them

What does being brave look like to you?

Monday, June 13, 2016

It's just a bush, right?

You can't tell by looking at it, but this bush is so much more than a bush to me.  I discovered it a few summers ago when I was faithful to ride my bike every night. Actually, it was Caroline's bike, but I still rode it.

There's a long street in our neighborhood that looks even and straight--no hills at all.  But halfway down the street, I would lose steam.  In the beginning, I had to get off my bike and walk part of the way.  It frustrated me beyond belief.  The road didn't look steep, but it soooo kicked my booty!

At the end of the street, there is another that I would turn onto.  All of the houses on that corner have big trees, so not only did it signify the end of the dreadfully slow incline, it was cooler.  The best part though, was turning that corner.  Literally-ha! 

This bush is in the yard of the house on the corner.  In case you can't tell, it's honeysuckle.  Getting a whiff of that honeysuckle made the ride so worth it!  It truly was the sweet smell of success.  And, as if the honeysuckle wasn't enough, right after that turn is a hill that I got to glide down!

Caroline's bike is out of commission and I still haven't invested in one of my own, so I walk a few nights a week.  Not as consistently as I did a few years ago, but I'm trying to not beat myself up over that and instead celebrate the fact that I'm doing more than I did a few months ago. 

That corner is still my favorite.  It gives me a place to focus when I'm on the steep hill that doesn't look steep.  It makes me stop and breathe in...deeply.  It brings me joy. 

So, it's more than a bush to me.