Are We There Yet?

Another lifetime ago, we lived overseas. And during that time, we were able to take a family trip to London. On that trip, one thing stood out to my children above all others. Bigger than the London Eye, more impressive than the Crown Jewels, even more memorable than the mac’n’cheese at the Hard Rock Cafe.

The walking.

We walked everywhere. And we walked for ages, and ages. At least in their little minds, and to their little feet, we did. Now bear in mind, at the time, we lived in a small village in rural Ireland. There just wasn’t that much within walking distance, and if you did walk somewhere, you were likely taking your life in your hands because there were either no sidewalks, or they were really, really narrow. So, needless to say, we drove just about everywhere we had to go.

This trip was before we moved to Vienna and utilized public transport everyday, so I was worried about how they would fare navigating the underground, hopping on and off buses and trains, being schlepped here, there and everywhere by their well-meaning parents who were going to “show them some history.” However, there’s apparently something highly exotic and exciting about getting to go somewhere with no seatbelt and standing up! Exotic and exciting aside, there was often just One thing they wanted to know:

Are we there yet?!?

I couldn’t blame them, really. Sometimes the question was asked out of excitement. Take, for instance, the Crown Jewels. Having watched the royal wedding, and nearly every Disney princess movie known to man, they were giddy with excitement about seeing the queen’s crown. So, the hour long tour we took before entering the jewel house was, to them, nothing short of medieval torture. Other times, it was asked from sheer exhaustion. Like when we walked for over half an hour in the wrong direction towards our dinner destination, only to have to retrace our steps and cross the city and then still have to wait nearly two hours for a table.

In either case, every time they asked the question, I tried to point out all of the great things we were seeing along the way. But they just weren’t interested. They had their eyes on the “prize”, and nothing was going to distract them.

It was sometime during one of these lovely little exchanges with my wee cherubs that it hit me like a ton of bricks. I might as well have been a pot trying to get the attention of my two little kettles. My entire life flashed before my eyes (only not in that weird pre-death sense).

A good chunk of my life has been spent riding the “are we there yet?” underground train. I hop on the train, wait for that one thing – an engagement ring, the wedding, a baby, the book contract – and then surface just long enough to see my destination. Then I submerge again until the next thing. In the meantime, how many wonderful things do I miss out on along the way because I just want to be there?

I think, if only I can get there, I’ll be happy and can enjoy the journey. The only problem is, there never feels like there! There will always be another there. Another tooth to break through, another grumpy teacher to deal with, another pound to lose, another medical battle to fight.

And these days, following the signing of my very first book contract, it is so tempting for me to wish for the next there. The title to be finalized. The cover to be set and revealed. The book to be done and in my hot little hands already!

Meanwhile, I’m missing out on life. You see, it was in those two hours in London waiting for a table that we had some of the best conversations with the people we were with. It was on those long walks between sights that I got to hold my daughter’s hand, or carry my son, and listen to their stories and questions and songs. The best parts of my vacation happened between all of the “must sees.” And it was in the years of waiting for this contract that I built incredible relationships with unbelievably kind people who helped me learn invaluable lessons I needed before I could even be ready for a book! I just need to take a lesson from London and experience and enjoy the journey as much as the destinations along the way.

What about you? What is your “there” right now? Are you missing out on things you could be enjoying?

This post is an updated version of one that appeared on this blog back in 2011.

From One Working Mom to Another

Although I’ve been a working mom for nearly all of my children’s lives, the majority of that employment was quite non-traditional. As I’ve ventured into the world of working outside the home again, I’ve struggled with lots of feelings from guilt to frustration to enjoyment.

I notice other working moms more readily, and I see in their eyes the same struggles I work to hind behind my own. Today, at The Better Mom, I’m sharing a letter from one working mom to another. I hope you’ll join me, and I pray it encourages you.
















If you’ve just clicked over here from The Better Mom, welcome! Grab a cuppa and take a look around! I hope you’ll find community, friendship, and encouragement here in our little corner of the Web.

The Blessing of A Bloom

This post first appeared on my old blog a few years ago. It’s message resonated with me today, so I wanted to share it with you again.

We planted it back at the beginning of summer. Along with the strawberries that never quite made it, and the sweet pea that bloomed in beauty.

It was the first of the three plants to sprout, and the excitement was palpable. Day after day we’d rush to the pot to see what progress had been made overnight. Then, it just…stopped. Long, green shoots waved in the breeze with nary a bud in sight. Eventually we surmised it was a dud. Or we did something wrong. It just wasn’t going to bloom, and that was that.

I really need to just throw that thing away, I’d tell myself each time I’d walk in or out of the front door. It’s just taking up space. But I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.

Then…one day the tips began to change; to look a little like wheat. Ooh, this is it! We all thought. It’s going to bloom after all! And yet, there it sat in it’s wheat-like state for week after week. Such a disappointment. It had so much potential. It served to taunt me of all my own failures; a daily reminder of all the things that had promised to bloom, only to come up short in my own life.

Or in her life over there…she’s been working at that for years with nothing to show for it. Hrmph. She doesn’t know when enough is enough does she?

The morning dawned bright and clear with a brisk chill in the wind. We headed out like any other day for school, groceries, coffees and friends. And we stopped in our tracks. There on that useless, dud of a failed plant was the most striking purple and yellow bloom – and there were four more buds surrounding it!

I stood and stared at that delicate bloom, tears stinging my eyes. As the squeals of my children’s delight wafted on the air around me, a Still Small Voice whispered in my heart of hearts –

This is a promise. For you.

My mind immediately flooded with the myriad of tasks He had called me to before. Some days, some years before. Dreams and visions, some of which had nigh faded into the oblivion of just another thing I must have heard wrong.

Yet, just as we never know what is going on just under the surface of a tree or flower, so can one never be sure what is churning, germinating, growing, pushing through just beneath the surface of a heart; of a soul. He has not forgotten those things to which He has called me. Or you. He has not sat back and hoped for the best. No. Just beneath the surface of it all, yes, even way down deep, He has been cultivating and pruning and working.

And He has promised to work all things together for the good of those who love Him. To weave the beauty and passion, heartache and hardship, into a tapestry the likes of which are not to be found anywhere other than here. In this heart. It won’t make life perfect, pain free, flawless or easy. But it will ensure that not one thing will be for naught. Not one tear will be wasted. Not one prayer will float beyond His hearing.

This weaving, this working, this mysterious melding of mundane with glorious takes the toil, pain, joy and sorrow and works it to the very best for the one who places it all in the hands of the Weaver. And to be in His hand, His gentle yet infinitely strong hand…oh how that is the very best place to be.

So now, as I pass that pot time and time again in the comings and goings of this life of mine I am reminded of that promise. And I cling to the hope of things unseen. This heart flutters with anticipation of what is to come. Eager to see how the beauty blooming just beneath the surface will push through the filth and dirt and manure to burst forth in glorious color. For I know it is coming.


What Teaching Middle School Writing is Teaching Me About Life

I’m standing at the front of the room, laughing like an idiot, in a room full of 12 to 14 year olds roaring in equal parts hilarity and awkwardness.

We just finished doing the Chicken Dance. That’s right, the Chicken Dance. I somehow managed to convince a room full of tweens to set aside their pride and flap their arms and shimmy their tushies for a full three minutes. Laughter floats heavy in the air, and the room smells of equal parts over-sprayed cologne and weird middle school body odor.

I love this.

I’m teaching middle schoolers to write. And it’s just as difficult and awkward and hair-pulling-out-frustrating as you might imagine.

It’s also amazingly and wonderfully magical. Seeing them stretch a little more. Try something new. Risk just a smidge more than yesterday—and allowing me a front row seat to the whole show.

The past two months as a middle school writing teacher has taught me many things. Like never show up without coffee, for one. And never underestimate the power of a spat between friends, for another.

But more than that, I’m learning some valuable life lessons that I thought might resonate with you, too.

  1. Sometimes you just need permission to try—and fail. I told my students on the first day of school that my biggest and most ardent expectation for them in my classroom is that they try, try, try. And then try some more. “I’m not after perfection,” I told them. “I’m after the attempt.” I let them know that every first try, when it comes to writing, stinks, and that’s ok. That’s perfect, in fact. And that permission to try something, and to rejoice if it fails, was just what the doctor ordered to foster the courage to take a leap in an area that was uncomfortable for most of them.
  2. Sometimes you need someone to walk with you. I walk them through my writing process, and leave nothing out. I start with the, “Aw man, I    don’t want to write about this!” all the way through to “This is my best idea yet!” I let them join me on the journey from discovery to brainstorming to drafting to publishing. I show them that all the weird things that pop into their minds aren’t so weird after all. And that little act of bringing them along on my own journey gives them the bravery to start their own journeys in my room each day.
  3. Sometimes you just need someone to recognize the talent in you. It’s by far my most favorite moment in the classroom. That sacred minute in which I get a glimpse of greatness. It’s crazy that I’m honored enough to be there when a student unearths a nugget of brilliance all on their own and I get to call them on it. I call out talent. Raw skill. Unique perspectives. Deep insights. I share with them exactly what I see in them that is good. Or great. Phenomenal. And world-changing. It may just be a sentence on paper, but to me it’s a spring board to a better world. And when I point it out to them, they blush and smile. Some shrug and wave their hand as if to say, “Aw, shucks. Not really.” But they walk a little taller. They reach out to their neighbor and pass on the torch of encouragement. They’re quicker to notice the brilliance in each other, and forgive the “sin” of mediocrity in themselves. And isn’t that the same with you and me? Sometimes someone comes along just at the right time when we needed it most of all and points out the beauty we mistake for midline. And it bolsters us for whatever comes next.
  4. Sometimes you just need someone to take your hand, and pull you smack dab into the center of silliness. I don’t know what the classrooms to the left and right of mine were thinking as we howled and clapped our way through the Chicken Dance. But I know what I saw. Smiling faces. Helping hands. Defenses coming down. And in the end, in some weird way, we were just that much closer. We dialed in to the work much quicker and more easily. That three minute foray into the goofy released the pent up tension we didn’t even realize had built, and allowed us to delve more deeply and quickly into the real, more meaningful work.
  5. Sometimes you just need to be the person who does numbers 1 through 4 for someone else. 

So what about you? Do you need permission to try and fail; someone who will walk with you; someone to recognize the good in you and your life; or a tug into the silly? And who in your life can you reach out to and do the same for? Encouragement goes both ways, and often times I find I’m more encouraged, uplifted, and lighter in the soul when I’m focused on lifting up someone else than when I’ve been the one to be lifted.



When You Can’t See God in Your Story

What's Your God Story?Have you ever felt like even though you’re doing all the right things, God seems glaringly absent in your daily life?

Does it seem no matter how hard you work, things just don’t seem to get better and the outlook seems bleak?

I have so been there, friend. I want to encourage you, though, that God is present and He is whispering His story of love and grace to you every single day.

Join me at The Better Mom today as I talk about finding our God Stories. Check it out and then I’d love to hear what your God Story is!

If you’ve just joined us from The Better Mom, I want to welcome you! I’m so glad you’re hear! Feel free to grab a nice cuppa and look around awhile!

When You Feel Useless

Photo by Deibel Photography

There have been several times in my life during which I’ve felt particularly useless.

Times when life seemed to be not only lacking opportunities to use my gifts and talents, but almost seems to be deliberately blocking the use of them.

I feel these times more acutely as a mother than another other time of my life thus far.

On a recent road trip with my family, I saw something that spoke to my heart and was such an encouragement to me for those times when I feel particularly useless. I’m sharing my thoughts over at The Better Mom today, and I’d love to have you come join me!

If you’ve just clicked over from The Better Mom, I want to extend a warm welcome to you, and thank you for taking the time to come visit! I hope this little corner of the web is an encouragement to you. Be sure to introduce yourself!

Deep Love

If you’ve got kids, you know what I mean when I say most days I’m pretty sure I learn more from them than they do from me. And the things these kiddos teach me…I tell you what, it’s some tough stuff!

There’s one lesson that I’ve been learning throughout our nomadic lifestyle as a family has really been hitting home lately. We meet countless new people living where we live, doing what we do. So we have lots of fun hellos. But with a hello, goodbye inevitably follows. It’s painful every time. There are tears every time. And questions. And yet, there is still love.

Join me today at Intentional By Grace as I share about this lesson on deep love that my kids so expertly teach me everyday.

If you’re joining me today from Intentional By Grace, thanks so much for stopping by! The kettle is always on around here and there’s plenty of tea and coffee to go around! Take a look around, get familiar with things and make yourself at home. I’m glad you’re here!

Day of Tears

Some days are just a day of tears…

Tears of gratitude for a life of blessings, health, love.

Tears of heartbreak over goodbyes that should never have to be spoken.

Tears of anger, fueled by the injustice of a cruel world bent on self-service.

Tears of sorrow for friends walking valleys through which I cannot sojourn.

Tears of fear…of wondering, waiting, not knowing. What if?

They have been there for awhile; brimming just beneath the surface, these glimmering, tangible expressions of emotions felt so profoundly in the core of the soul words only seem to mock the depth of it all. But they have been fought; held back; reigned in.

Releasing them would mean giving in to the intensity of reality. Really feeling. So there they sit, silently building, patiently biding away the time.

Photo by ImageLovers

But today…

The sun streams in warming my back. In the next room the baby snores contentedly in his dream world of dragons and swords. The house itself seems to holds its breath, braced and ready for the tidal wave.

So in the silence, bathed in the golden light of the spring sunshine, I relinquish control. The tears fall.

All the joy, fear, sorrow, anger, gratitude, empathy, sympathy, anxiety mingle and trickle slowly down rouge-painted cheeks. One by one they crawl, each a wordless prayer.

Faster now they stream no longer distinguishable one from the other – just like the emotions that have beckoned them come.

I am grateful for the solitude, for if asked Why I know there would not be an answer. Except for possibly one word: everything.

This day. This beautiful, bright, gentle spring day is my day of tears.

I’m linking up with Growing Home, The Better Mom, Miss Elaine-ous Life, Write It, Girl, Some Girl’s Website

Five Minute Friday: Vivid

I decided to participate in Five Minute Friday over at The Gypsy Mama again this week. My brain has been quite foggy of late, and I wasn’t able to get any writing done until now. So, although it’s Monday, here’s my Five Minute Friday. Hey, we could all use a little more Friday on Monday, right? 😉

This week’s word: VIVID


Rolling green hills reflect a vivid golden sun.

Fluffy clouds of grey and white look down from overhead, observing the goings on of the world below.

Rock walls sprawl across the land in every direction.

Standing on a hill, the fresh wind blows in from the Atlantic and Your Love whispers deep in my soul.

Water and sky dance together merging into a singular vast expanse.

Surrounded by forty shades of green and lilting notes on a Irish breeze, Your Voice sinks into the deepest recesses of my soul. Lord of all Creation and yet Lover of my soul.

I gaze out beyond the Islands and its as though I’m looking straight into Your heart. I feel so alive, its as though my heart was born in Ireland.


I’ve linked up with These Five of Mine Growing Home

Spiritually Constipated

If you know me at all, then you know what a great need I have to express myself verbally. To feel I have communicated my message clearly, and been heard and understood fully, is critical to my emotional health. Just ask the Hubs. 😉

For awhile now I’ve had this desperation brewing in my spirit. A need to let a message fly, carefully crafted and honed from a potential verbal vomit into a veritable feast for the eyes, mind, and soul. However, each time I sit down to unleash said message, nothing happens. I change locations, writing devices, time of day. And still: nothing.

What is this brewing in this restless spirit of mine? What is blocking the flow of creativity and expression? These are questions for which I do not have an answer. I can’t even express to myself what exactly this ‘message’ bursting to get out is. I can’t place my finger on it. Or my heart. Or my spirit. And it’s agonizing.

Tired Woman

Photo By o5com

I’m walking around spiritually and emotionally bloated. Needing a release and refreshment that eludes me at every turn. My only recourse is to spend time chowing down on some serious fiber-filled Word and allow His Spirit to soften this heart of mine and mold the cacophony of voices and words and emotions and confusions into something beautiful. Useful. Profitable.

In the meantime I fight the urge to merely sit around in my proverbial fat pants, willing the condition of my heart to change by sheer will or intention. To use the excuse of fatigue. Or full schedule. Or annoying grown up responsibility to shirk the work that is the only solution to this spiritual constipation. The work that seems so daunting and difficult from this side of it. The work that in reality is not work. Is so much easier and lighter than this yoke of self-service I lash upon my heart daily. The work that I know once done will leave me refreshed and enlightened.

But that first step is the hardest. My bloated, backed up, fed full of junkfood-for-the-soul spirit is weighed down, loathed to move. If I sit here awhile and wait, I tell myself, it’ll get better. I’ll have a bit more energy to start. But rather than relieving the discomfort, waiting merely adds to the pain. Like that “one last bite” of pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, pushing you over the top into full on agony.

This hamster wheel; this catch-22; this vicious cycle of spiritual binge and purge eats away until I can no longer distinguish my heart from the muck.

So here I am. Laid bare before the One who made me and knows me more intimately than I know myself. Cleanse me, O Lord.

God, create a pure heart in me.
Give me a new spirit that is faithful to you.
Don’t send me away from you.
Don’t take your Holy Spirit away from me.
Give me back the joy that comes from being saved by you.
Give me a spirit that obeys you. That will keep me going. Psalm 51:10-12

I’ve linked up with
These Five of Mine Growing Home
Momma Made it Look Easy