Still include in the better yet ideal return home

The ideal return Home

still includes someone’s eyes lighting up when you walk through the door

or better yet meeting you at your car door with an back breaking embrace already starting so you can’t begin to get out of the car

but not staring through you with resigned disappointment not seeing you as you come in.

It still includes knowing something of your current work or dream or project

or better yet bragging on your work to other family members and the unsuspecting neighbor passing by

but not nodding blank eyed with no recognition of who or what is important to you

It still includes being slightly embarressed of your buck tooth, four eyes 5th grade picture still up on the wall

or better yet displaying a montage of your kid’s photographs and accomplishments plastered on the fridge

but not having any recognizable part of your life on display

It still includes preparing a childhood soul-food

or better yet everyone sitting around the table reminicing about “the time when we made this dinner , and you remember when this happened, and we laughed…”

but not asking what meals you will be responsible for preparing while I visit

It still includes the obligatory visits to older family members

or better yet having an meaningful activity to do with the family members

but not rolling your eyes and visibly seething over difficult to love family members who go on and on about why you don’t bother to come see them anymore since their lives are miserable.

It still includes telling someone that you love them, and you are proud of them, and you miss them

or better yet showing someone that you love them, and you are proud of them. and you miss them

but not not telling someone that you love them, and not not telling them you are proud of them and not not telling them you miss them.

Still include love

or better yet grace

but at least one of these. 

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13:13daniel-von-appen-262818Photo by Daniel von Appen 

36 Things I have Learned from my Grammy

ImageOn Friday January 24, 2014, my Grammy, Mrs. Elaine Cornett turned 100 years old. She had already lived a full life by the time I was born as her first grandchild. She has taken to calling everyone “honey” rather than struggling with names. But her eyes are still bright and sharp and kind with 100 years of life and experience behind them. She is my hero and one of my guiding lights. The list will continue to grow but here are 36 things I have learned from my Grammy, one of the most beautiful woman you could ever hope to know.



  1. 1. You may have to stretch but you can always find something nice to say.
  2. With rollers and hair dryers there is really no excuse for flat hair.
  3. Every woman should wear pink as often as possible.
  4. Grow flowers and plants that make people happy like mint and pansies that look like little smiling faces even in the winter.
  5. Families should come together for dinners regularly.
  6. Service to your community, your church, your party, and your country is expected and will bring you joy.
  7. Coffee, even nasty instant coffee, is to be offered and consumed from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  8. Given enough time, arthritic hands can massage away a migraine.
  9. Your positive words over a person have more impact and motivation than any negativity.

10. The most noble of professions is teaching.

11. Sing no matter at church. Even if you’re tone deaf.

12. Your family history and heritage are to serve as markers of where you have been and where you are going.

13. Laughter is the best medicine.

14. Wit, humor, faith, iron hard determination and stubbornness will get you through every seemingly impossible situation.

15.  39 years old seems to be the magic number. There’s really no reason to keep counting after that.

16. There is no reason for your education to ever stop once you leave the classroom.

17. All that is needed for organization, productivity, and communication is a rotary phone, pen, notebook, and desk calendar.

18. People are terribly important.

19. Children are terribly more important.

20. Music fills voids other things can’t. Have it playing all day.

21. Vegetable soup, cinnamon rolls, and cash are the best gifts.

22. Treat everyone equal but make them all feel like they are the only ones that matter.

23. You go out of your way to be a part of history.

24. Bring people together to learn and to celebrate.

25.  Books and newspapers are a part of daily living.

26. Loyalty to your party, even if they are a yellow dog, brings more unity across the nation.

27. Live simply. Keep things clean…because of ants.

28. There’s not a whole lot of reasons to miss church.

29. If you out live your friends you make more friends. If you out live your siblings you love other people’s siblings. If you out live your children you love on other people’s children.

30.  Generosity is a given. You give all you have and don’t have favorites.

31.  Bad things happen. And then you move on.

32. When you’re ready to go, you go early. When it’s time to leave, you drag it out and wave goodbye even after they can’t see you anymore.

33. There can be a positive place for not telling the truth.

34.  Turning down sweets but then going ahead and eating them may add 30 years to your life. But only if you drown it in 3 gallons of black coffee.

35. There is no better state than “Missourah” and why leave Audrain County except to visit 6 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

36. Love can be demonstrated in 1000 more ways than just saying three words of “I love you.”


Continue reading

Fish and Family

“Families are messy. Immortal families are eternally messy.

Sometimes the best we can do is to remind each other that we’re related for better or for worse…

and try to keep the maiming and killing to a minimum.”

-Rick Riordan, The Sea of Monsters


We’re going through another tough time in our family. A close family member struggles with demons that affect all of us. When they are going through one of “those times” the individual is hateful, spewing venomous words with the intention of maim. This mania fills emails and phone calls. No amount of distance can keep you safe. If you were in the family member’s house they would be in your face so close it would be difficult not to wipe their spittle from your face as they label and condemn your very existence. These times are somewhat easy to categorize. We know this family member is down and going through rough time. Things will even out in a few days. They will somewhat realize the destructive path carved around them was yet again caused by them. There will uncomfortable, embarrassing, messy apologies where the individual degrades themselves and promises that this time is new. It will never happen again. God is faithful even to them.

Until the next time.

You read all these books about boundaries and setting limits with destructive family members. You convince yourself that even though you know it’s not your fault you probably should have kept your mouth shut or in this case you should of said something helpful. You hear yourself saying ‘I will love them from a distance.” But the love just turns into abashed ignoring of actions and communication. You give yourself permission to seek out replacement relationships because what you have been given for family relationships is somehow a awful mistake. How could you ever deserve something as messy, and difficult, and imperfect?

You turn to the scriptures for solace, comfort, direction, and wisdom.

John 13:34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
John 13:35 “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
John 15:12 “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”
John 15:17 “These things I command you, that you love one another.”

You hear your prayers repeated in your ears.

“Lord, let me help just one today.”

“Lord, let me be your eyes, ears, and hands.”

“Lord, lead me to help The Least, The Lost, and The Lonely.”

You come to the realization of all those times Jesus is talking about forgiveness, and unity, and peaceful living that in the middle of that He also created family to be a sacred relationship. It’s not some game God created to see if we could make it through the hurdles of life. He knew the people that he connected us through DNA would most likely be the hardest to share His love with. It is no accident or cruel concept that we live shoulder to shoulder with real people who live in a fallen world. People of our flesh and blood who fight or succumb to demons of mental illness, abuse, or addiction or any other lie of Satan. People cut from the same cloth as ourselves.

There is no mistake that God provided all kinds of avenues for us to guard and protect our hearts, minds, souls, and bodies. However, I’m not convinced He has given us a path to not love someone. Just because it’s easier to love someone else, God has not given us an out to not love the families He specifically placed us in.

With all those wondrous words I have to admit I’m tired of loving. My heart is aching right now. My flesh is coming with all kinds of evidence not to love. I’m weary behind my eyes. My stomach is in knots. My mind is exhausted. I just don’t want to anymore. But I keep coming back to loving and forgiving like God loves. He is faithful. He does not give up on me.

“Love me when I least deserve it, because thats when I need it the most…” 

Where were you?

Where were you on September 23, 2006?

I can’t really tell you exactly what I was doing on September 23, 2006. I may have been celebrating my husband’s birthday. I may have been training for a race. I’m sure for some part of the day I was on a soccer field watching my 2 children at the time.

I can tell you what Marta Isabel was doing on this day. She was giving birth to my beautiful son in Guatemala City. I don’t know what time a day this happened. I don’t know if labor was difficult or easy for her. I don’t know if anyone of her family was in the room with her to support her, rub her back, or wipe the sweat from her brow. I don’t know if there were tears, cheers, or laughter in that delivery room on September 23, 2006. I didn’t know my son had been born until 10 days later.

But whatever the circumstances of my son’s conception and delivery, I have to believe at his birth, his life was celebrated. I use to worry that the doctors and nurses handled him harshly since he was going to be adopted. I use to fret Marta Isabel tried protect her heart by not touching him, kissing his sweet little forehead.

But my little boy’s eyes tell me everyday that he was loved and cherished before he was even born. I feel the light in Alex’s eyes is the blessing his birth mother gave to him before he was born. Everytime she touched her belly when he moved inside her, she was passing on the warmth of her care. Everytime she debated with herself what the right thing to do for Alex she filled his soul with her motherly concern. She had to have kissed his face, looked him in the eye upon his birth, and spoke her love into his little heart. The fierce pride that all women feel after delivery was gifted to my little boy so he would always know he was worth fighting for.

How can this child who wakes up everyday smiling before his eyes open

have known anything different on this day 6 years ago?

Later today, when we are lighting the candles on Alex’s cake we kind of light a candle for Marta Isabel, too. We are looking for her in Guatemala. We just want her to have the peace of heart to know her son is healthy, precocious, strong, beautiful, smart, happy, and cherished. He brings total joy to his mommy, daddy, brother, and sister.

I hope you celebrate the birth of my son Alex today, too. Light a little candle, celebrate all the mothers like Marta Isabel, celebrate all the babies that get to have 2 families through adoption, and praise God for gregarious little brown skin boys who fall asleep giggling and wake up smiling.


For once, I just wanted to be one of “those moms.”

For once, I just wanted to be one of “those moms.”








My kids have been back in school for a week. We started off on the right foot. All of the school supplies bought 2 weeks before hand. All of them sorted and labeled properly before Meet The Teacher Night. I had all the forms filled out. I had even created a binder with a section for each kid school info. The lunch shelf was restocked with our baggies of chips, fruit cups, and oreos. We’ve gone a whole week without me hearing “MOMMY, I don’t have any underwear in my drawers!” The calendar was filled with all the important school dates and deadlines. I made breakfast every morning, packed their lunches, and even had after school snack waiting for them even if I wasn’t going to be able to meet the bus.

I was on top of it. This was going to be our year of tear-free, stress-free mornings. This was going to be the year I didn’t send in a coffee stained permission slip I found in the back of the car. I was even thinking about joining the PTO for both schools my kids attend.

Until this morning.

I forgot it was Picture Day.

I didn’t have the clothes laid out. What girlie picked to wear didn’t fit. I couldn’t find the order form. I couldn’t find my purse to find the check book to make a check for I thought the total might be. I’m flying around like a lunatic between the garage, my desk, and the kitchen counter. Where is that stupid binder with all the forms?!? In the meantime A-fig is refusing the eat the hot breakfast. MSS decided to run for Student Council. This morning. He needed forms signed and put in envelopes. Girlie needs to know what integers are not whole numbers. A-fig decides at this point to do his best Aerosmith impersonation on the piano. MSS is trying out campaign slogans. Girlie is near tears because I asked her to re-do her hair.

ENVELOPES? How am I going to find envelopes right now.

EAT child! There are children in your country

going without food this morning!

Mommy has no idea even what an integer is any more!

The kitchen table is covered with last night’s paper plates and homework pages. The fish tank is now a lovely emerald green. A backpack is gone. A lunch box already reeks of moldy leftovers. We’re out of milk and juice. I apparently missed 2 important emails in my inbox about school stuff. And of course, the bus is early today.

Gone is the Mommy of The Year Award in one short week.

These are some of the things that bother me about myself. Like the fact that this bothers me, bothers me. I know I’m not all that. I know I was never intended to be “that mom.” I don’t like talking about kid’s bowel movements, how much better my kid is than yours, or what brand shoe I’m buying or not buying.

I just don’t want to let my kids down. I want so much for them.

But it’s morning like today that more than anything I want my kids to know I love them. In the storms, in the craziness, in the unexpected, in the disappointments, in the frustrations, I will always, always, love my kids. Nothing they do or I do can ever change that fact.

Titled: I should know better or Mounds of Friends, you pick

I know should know better than to eat after 9 p.m. It just leads to either crazy dreams or disrupted sleep. But of course last night my last Hershey bar and the jar of peanut butter was calling my name at 11 p.m.

The result was not just crazy dreams but a tormenting nightmare which resulted in my murder. It was one of those horrible, paralyzing dreams that seemed in real time. My death was not quick. It was slow, and tortuous, and the kind that all women fear.

As you can imagine, once I was able to wake up there was no way I was closing my eyes again. Like ever. So, I’ve been up for awhile.

But that horrible nightmare caused me to wake up incredibly grateful for Life. The safety of living where I do and when I do, for the most wonderful, decent, gracious, loving husband, for sunshine and daylight after a dark night, for beautiful, healthy children, and for mounds and mounds of friends.

Beautiful friends, loving friends, creative friends, unique friends, family that are friends, inspiring friends, challenging friends, supportive friends, friends I’ve never really had physical contact, friends that are in heaven, friends that I have yet to meet.

So, if today you are inundated with texts, DMs, phone calls, emails, telepathic messages, movings from The Spirit, from me spouting accolades you’ll know why. I am grateful to do life with you. I am grateful to be alive. I am grateful to live as fully as possible with those God places in my path.

Lamentations 3:22-23

The Message (MSG)

 22-24God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,
his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
How great your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over).
He’s all I’ve got left.

Constant Communion-Part 1

Imagine considering every moment

as a potential time of communion with God.

~Max Lucado

I don’t remember which Lucado book this came from but I do remember thinking when reading this, “I am desperate for this.” I also remember sharing this idea with my small group at the time and they once again staring at me like I had 3 heads.

  • That’s not reasonable
  • How could we be effective if we’re always in communion
  • We have other things to do
  • I don’t think I would want God to be apart of every moment.

But the social butterfly in me was really drawn to the idea of hanging out with God, drinking good wine, and eating warm buttery bread around the fire pit with my family and friends. If I let my mind start to wander to the possibility… I envision He’s brought his acoustic and we’re singing Paramore and Goo Goo Dolls with knowing eyes that He inspired the lyrics. The fire and music has drawn out some other neighbors so we bring up more chairs. The sun is setting and we get quiet together just staring into the flames. I start to mumble about things I don’t understand or question and we get into to this really cool theological discussion. It’s getting late so we go inside. He’s washing up the dishes while I sit tangled legged up on the counter lazily dipping the leftover bread in the bottom of the wine glass. Our friends and family are hugging and saying good night and that “we should do this more often.”We laugh about the day and He tells me how proud is of me and how much He loves me. Our family walk over to the couch with Him and tumble up in a bunch of blankets together to watch a late night movie. I fall asleep on his shoulder whispering I’m so happy He’s there.

I wake up the next morning and ask Him if He wants to come on an early morning run together. There’s not much talking but it just feels good to have Him along for a really hilly, hard run.

We come back to the house and He helps me get breakfast on the table for the kids. A-fig is getting jiggy so I ask Jesus to go handle him. He takes A-fig into his lap and helps him focus on eating by humming a song about how much He loves him. Next thing I know all my kids are hanging on Jesus and talking a mile a minute to Him. DH and I are just sitting back watching in awe at the whole situation…

How would you continue this word picture? Do you desire constant communion with God? Does it scare you, overwhelm you, exhaust you, inspire you?