Hi! I’m so glad you stopped by. I hope you’ll feel welcome here. This is just my little nook in the great big world of the internet where I like to share my stories and hear yours, too. I believe God is writing a story in each of our lives. Some days it’s an adventure, some days a drama, and a lot of days feel like a slapstick comedy. No matter the day and no matter our story, I believe we’re meant to share them to encourage one another. Wherever we might be in our story, we can’t give up. We never know what God has in store for us just around the next bend. We just have to keep turning the page.
It can be so hard to find the time, especially when you’re in the middle of nursing babies or potty training toddlers or overseeing homework time. It’s ironic to me that the very thing that could so encourage us in this season of life is the very thing that is hardest to fit into our schedules.
I’m talking about community.
When I think of the perfect night out with friends, I immediately imagine sitting around a table. Breaking bread or sipping coffee. Either way, I imagine conversations and laughter, maybe a few tears. Walls come down and relationships are built.
It’s a safe place where you can share your stories, let down your guard, connect with other people who get you. All too often, though, it’s just so hard to schedule time away from home.
That’s why I am so excited about The Glorious Table.
The Glorious Table is a brand new community blog that is launching TODAY! This beautiful site has been created to provide a cozy place for women of all ages, all walks of life, all seasons, to come together and have a place at the table. To laugh together, cry together, stand together in good times and hard times.
To build community.
And it’s open 24 hours a day, no reservations required.
Whether you’re up in the middle of the night with a new baby or waiting for your teenager to make curfew, studying for finals in your dorm room or waiting in airport lounges, there is a place for everyone.
I hope you’ll join us at the Table here: http://theglorioustable.com!
Maybe it’s because of the happy memories of camping trips with the whole family, cousins and all. We’d set up tents and immediately start hunting fireflies. Then we’d move on to building dams in the creek for all the fish we’d catch with our bare hands. (None.) There was the annual fierce competition of putt putt golf followed by a Dreamsicle bar and a Mello Yello. There would be campfire stories and roasted marshmallows. We’d spend entire afternoons swimming at the bottom of freezing waterfalls with whoops and squeals echoing off the hills. Then, pruned and shivering, we’d soak in every last drop of warmth from the sunbaked rocks.
Or maybe it could have something to do with our trips with the youth group that encouraged me to find alone time with God alongside creeks and waterfalls to pray and to listen. That silence you find on a hillside is amplified when you were just in a room with hundreds of middle schoolers singing Higher, Higher at the tops of their lungs. I’d walk out of the stone auditorium and find my favorite spot and just breathe in the silence. The only sounds were the wind in the trees and the birds singing and the creek bubbling over the rocks. It always seemed easier to hear God from the top of a mountain.
And now I can see those blue ridges on the horizon from the Walmart parking lot. And from the windows of Chickfila. And when I take the kids to school. It puts a song in my soul. (Mostly Nickel Creek and Wailin’ Jennys.)
We’ve lived here for a month now and I still annoy the kids to no end. Every time we round a curve or top a hill and the mountains are there. Claps, giggles, and squeals just bubble up and out and the kids groan and I tell them to just get used to it.
This last week, it’s been cloudy, misty, and a bit rainy. The kids were more than a little relieved on our last trip to town when we rounded the curve and topped the hill and couldn’t see more than a mile or so down the road. The mountains were swallowed up by the haze. My sweet children took that moment to point out, rather gleefully, that my mountains were gone. “Ha Ha, Mom! No cheering for you today! The mountains are gone!”
And as so many times before, the mountains made me think of God.
Just because the mountains were covered with a blanket of clouds and mist didn’t mean they weren’t there. Sometime soon, the sun will come out and the fog will fall away and the mountains will be there, standing tall and strong and completely unchanged.
There have been times in my life when it felt like God was far away, covered in fog, and I couldn’t see Him or what He was doing. But just because we can’t see doesn’t mean He isn’t there, standing tall and strong and completely unchanged.
I shared this insight with my kids and I felt so proud to be able to grab onto a teachable moment about faith. Surely they would stand at the gate and sing my praises. Or give me a gold star or something.
Feeling so warm and tender in this Hallmark moment, I asked them if they had any questions.
“Yes, Mom. I have a question. What’s for lunch?”
Planting seeds, people. We’re planting seeds. I just know it.
So we have officially moved to Atlanta. It has been so great. We love it here!
All of our Florida chaos has disappeared.
And now it’s Georgia chaos.
But that’s OKAY! Because it’s a fresh view of the chaos that is our life. Chaos is so much prettier with mountains in the background.
We are still in the depths of boxes and unpacking and organizing and figuring out school stuff and orienting to the new job and LEARNING WHERE STUFF IS.
Our little community is not exactly in the thick of things (which makes us sing praises – we love this peace and quiet). Every time we need a gallon of milk, we have choices to make. Do we go left to Town A or turn right for Town B. Or if we need more than a gallon of milk, we could choose to go north to Town C or south to Town D.
Depending on which town we choose that day, our routes will be drastically different. Are we braving the highway with the notorious Atlanta traffic? Most often, I choose the scenic back roads.
I have a fairly decent sense of direction but I am so completely way out of my league with all of these different roads through farmland and foothills. I don’t know what I’d do without the GPS on my phone.
I’ve been using the standard navigation app on my phone. I plug in my destination, choose the route based on distance, and off I go. And stop. And go. And stop. Caught in the perpetual construction and traffic.
My brother and sister-in-law have lived in Atlanta for a while and are basically professionals at driving here. So they told me about this other navigation app called Waze.
And my world has changed.
If you’ve never heard of it, Waze is kinda like Google Maps and Twitter had a baby. Based on reports from its users, Waze can tell you where the traffic jams are (spoiler alert: they’re everywhere) and update your route in real time to avoid delays.
But it requires a LOT of trust.
And, ooh, it’s hard for me. I want to research a route, plan the best course in turn-by-turn detail, commit to it and follow it through until I reach my destination. Slightly type A. Just a little.
With Waze, you might assume you’re driving straight down the highway and then suddenly she will tell you to take a left here and a right there. You’ll find yourself in a subdivision and start shaking your fist at the GPS and demanding to know where she’s taken you and why you are so far off the
route you planned out so carefully. But if you give it a hot minute, you’ll take that one last turn and find yourself back on the highway, 20 miles down the road on the other side of a total roadblock.
Isn’t that so much like life?
I have planned out so many details about the way I want (even expect) things to go in my life and it can be really frustrating when God suddenly gives me a left turn out of nowhere.
And yes, I will admit that I have sometimes even found myself shaking my fist and demanding to know where He’s taking me and why I’m so far off the course I planned out.
But always, always, always, when I give Him a hot minute, I’ll find myself 20 miles down life’s road and be able to look back and see the total roadblocks that He led me around.
God is God and I am not. The GPS is now a daily reminder that I can trust Him to plot my course.
And when things don’t make much sense, give it a hot minute.
“A man’s heart plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.”
Proverbs 16:9, NKJV
From the very first page of the introduction of Jen Hatmaker’s new book, For the Love, we clicked. As the pages turned nonstop, I knew she was a soul sister.
For the Love is like a mom’s night out that you don’t want to end until you know for sure that the kids are in bed. You know those rare occasions when you’re out with your friends and you talk and talk and talk? That’s For the Love. Jen writes in such a conversational style that we’re already on a first name basis in my head after reading this book.
During this conversation, I was encouraged and laughed out loud. I also cringed and was challenged in my ways of thinking. I felt equipped with a plan to change some things. There were times I cried from sheer relief that I’m not alone in all these feelings.
Jen encouraged me when it comes to my “spicy” family. I had just retrieved my kid’s underpants from the neighbor’s yard and was feeling pretty frustrated with our lack of preciousness when she made me spit my coffee with this nugget:
“So anytime I am around a sweet family, I have a crisis…We need to figure out how to be more adorable! Our kids don’t even know any hymns! How will we break out in spontaneous family worship? WWAVD? (What would Ann Voskamp do?) Let’s just throw in the towel.”
It’s so good to know we’re not alone.
I was challenged to balance my beam by acknowledging my current season in life, assessing my priorities and learning to say no. After reading this chapter, I almost bought a tee shirt at Target that simply said, “NOPE.”
“We need to quit trying to be awesome and instead be wise.”
I was challenged to rethink my comfortable Christianity.
“I started hearing my Gospel narrative through the ears of the Other, and a giant whole bunch of it didn’t even make sense…There is a biblical benchmark I now use…If it isn’t also true for a poor, single, Christian mom in Haiti, it isn’t true…Theology is either true everywhere or it isn’t true anywhere.”
Oh and then there was this gem that felt like it could’ve been prefaced with a HEY YOU:
“I don’t like it when people minimize their gifts. There is a difference in humility and insecurity, and self-effacement does no one any favors. We teach our watching children to doubt and excuse and diminish themselves.”
Another bit just for me?
“I meant to learn cooking, but I was too busy keeping small people alive. This survivor mentality infected the kitchen, so cooking produced nothing but resentment and irritation. I was shocked daily that I had to cook dinner again.”
So I decided to follow Jen’s advice and try my best to make the cooking time more enjoyable by finding some good music, maybe pour a glass of wine, and try new recipes. It’s a work in progress but I’m getting there! I’ve chopped and sautéed and used fresh herbs. And I LIKED IT. I think the key for me in this season is to have a plan and make a menu for the week. The glass of wine and great music will come in time.
Y’all, I could go on and on. There are just so many treasures in this book that I wanted to highlight ALL THE WORDS. I will read it over and over again and I’m sure new things will continue to jump out and grab me by the shoulders.
There will be an online book club with Jen to discuss For the Love starting on September 15th. Be sure to check out the details and register here: http://www.faithgateway.com/for-the-love-book-club-registration.
I hope you will pick up a copy of For the Love. It will encourage, challenge, and equip you to find more grace in this crazy life. You will walk away from this book with a greater depth of love for Jesus, for people, and even for yourself.
Plus, we’ll understand each other when we use phrases like “On/Off the beam” or “horsecrappery.”
I tend to be a little cautious (okay a lotta cautious) when it comes to the kids taking risks. It stems from the early days when the risks were actually fairly risky. I’ve had to make a serious effort to let go and let them get a little crazy. I’ve been working and working on myself when it comes to this issue and I’m getting better, y’all, I am. Slowly but surely.
So we went to our friends’ house on Saturday and when Caleb ran outside to play, I had to bite my lip to not give crazy helicopter mom instructions. So much progress has been made. He’s not a flight risk anymore. LET IT GO, WOMAN.
So when the kids came in to say that Caleb had fallen off the zip line and hurt his foot, I again bit my lip and did not freak out. He had been having tons of fun doing regular ol’ stuff. And I love that.
We both have come a long, long way.
So. Anyway. Caleb was having tons of fun doing 9-year-old boy stuff when he fell and hurt his foot. We thought he might have broken one of the little bones in there so I took him in for X-rays today.
<p style=”text-align:left;”><em><strong>Turf toe.</strong></em></p>
The doctor took tons of time with him and explained the injury. Turf Toe – it really is a whole thing. He said it was like when football kickers kick the ball but miss and kick the turf instead. Basically it’s a Charlie Brown toe. A sprained big toe.
But Caleb really liked the term Turf Toe.
We stopped at Publix on the way home and he milked it for alllll it was worth. A seriously impressive professional milking of the situation.
He declined the offer to ride on the end of the buggy and instead hobbled around with lots of wincing and heavy sighs, talking about his turf toe very loudly just in case any sympathetic soul might have been listening.
He decided the BOGOs on italian ice and chocolate chip waffles would help.so.much because TURF TOE.
He told the cashier he had to go home and (WinceSigh) relax because TURF TOE.
Hey you kids walking by in the dairy section, be careful of sweaty hands and zip lines because TURF TOE.
He is hysterical. And totally fine. Or at least he was fine once he got into the italian ice. We both were.
So if you haven’t heard our big news yet, we’re moving! Jake got a job offer from a big hospital and I’m freaking out trying to imagine moving all our craziness to a whole new state.
It helps my sanity when I trick myself into thinking I have some tiny bit of control over something. So I have been living on Trulia.com lately and doing a lot of long distance house hunting. Which is a very weird experience. This morning, I realized that it’s an awful lot like online dating. Or at least how I imagine online dating would be because I’ve been married since the internet was in diapers. Here are five ways I imagine house hunting is like online dating…
1. First impressions are everything.
It takes two seconds to look at a profile pic and decide to swipe right or left. Now I know there’s more to true love than just curb appeal. It’s what’s on the inside that counts, after all. But if the main picture on your profile is a Google satellite image, I don’t trust you.
2. People lie.
If it seems too good to be true, it is. I wish it weren’t but it just is. With just a few extra minutes of internet snooping, you can usually weed out the liars. A quick Facebook search can easily out the “bachelor” who is actually married with three kids. In much the same way, a quick google image search using the profile picture of that gorgeous and unbelievably affordable house will show ads for that same house in Alabama, Missouri, Wisconsin, and New York. Ugh. People are mean.
3. Sometimes the timing just doesn’t work out.
You finally find the perfect thing. Close by, loves dogs, and very good-looking. You work up the courage to take a chance and reach out only to find that someone else got there first. And your house is riding off into the sunset with someone else. Like mama always said, the right thing at the wrong time is still the wrong thing. Sigh.
4. You send in your wingman to check them out.
Everything looks good on paper but because of those aforementioned reasons up there, I have a few trust and commitment issues. So I call my best friend and ask her to spy because there’s got to be something wrong with this one. Seems very attractive and established. Looks strong. What are they hiding? Is there a funky smell or squirrels in the attic? My wingman will take one for the team and report back.
5. Love at first sight is totally a thing.
I have completely fallen in love based on an online profile. I find myself checking in from time to time just to drool over the pictures once again. It’s a little out of my league but I’m still stupidly optimistic. I try to guard my heart because I know how disappointing it will be if it doesn’t work out but my hopes are already way up there. I’ve already mentally moved in and redecorated. I’m nervous to meet in person because I really hope they like us, too.
*****Update***** We just got word that we’re one of three finalists for a house. Total confirmation that it is EXACTLY like online dating. We just received a rose and now it’s time for a hometown date or a renters-tell-all or something. Sigh.
So what do you think? Have you ever had to search for a new home (or friend) online? How did it go??
Dear Mom at Tijuana Flats,
I’ve stared at this blinking cursor for about 20 minutes now. I’m surprised at how hard it is to find the words I want to share with you. Maybe that’s why I froze up yesterday when everything in me wanted to go to you.
We were there when you came in with your beautiful boy to pick up your take-out. We were there when he began to be loud. Honestly, it took a few screams for me to even notice. I’ve gotten so good at tuning out when it’s not my own kids making the noise. And believe me. They did.
It wasn’t that long ago that I found myself in situations just like yesterday. I became convinced that our pictures were posted on the wall of the security office in Target after all the “walks of shame” that took place there. When I would have to carry my 4- or 5-year-old son from the very back of the store all the way to the parking lot, with him kicking and screaming when it just got to be too much for him.
I got to be an expert at avoiding eye contact with others during those moments that seemed to last for an eternity. I had seen the stares before. The eye rolls. I was already feeling like a terrible mom. I didn’t need to see the looks or hear the whispers to confirm it. The only looks that might be worse than the judgements would be the looks of sympathy. At least with the eye rolls, I would be able to make it to the car before crying. With the looks of solidarity and sympathy, I would break down on the spot.
So when I saw my not-so-distant past being played out in your present, I didn’t know what to do or say. I wanted to help somehow. To make it better. To let you know that you are NOT alone.
But I froze. I was terrified of making it worse for you. My fear held me in my seat. I tried to catch your eye, but I could see that you’re also very practiced in eye contact avoidance. I get it.
And maybe that’s what I mostly want you to know. I get it. I’ve been there.
I sat there next to my almost 9-year-old son who I had carried kicking and screaming from stores and restaurants because he couldn’t explain to me that the lights and colors and sounds were too much for him. My husband caught my eye across the table and my eyes filled with tears.
Even though we still have our occasional moments, we’ve come so far.
But not so far that we’ve forgotten what it’s like.
I have no idea if your son is on the spectrum or if he was just having a rough time. Either way…
You are not alone, sweet mama. Your beautiful boy is not alone, either.
I know how hard it can be and I want to tell you that you’re doing a great job.