I used to have a best friend named Sam.

She lived on the other side of the forest, a few blocks down. We spent a lot of time in that forest, imagining trouble, and sometimes actually causing it. Sam was bolder than me. She had what my mom would call, a glint in her eye. She wasn’t afraid of adults and she wasn’t afraid to get in trouble. I, on the other hand, earned the nickname Miss Goody Two Shoes quite early on in my childhood, so I always envied this quality in Sam. For instance, when we were about ten, we sent my mom into a tizzy when she couldn’t find us one afternoon. We were on the other side of the forest enjoying some lemonade with some strangers who invited us in for a cup. Without Sam, I wouldn’t have dared, but with her… I was invincible. My mom was not pleased.

sam3Sam gave me Porkchop at my 8th birthday party. I insisted on inviting every girl in the 2nd grade class. It was probably one of the most disastrous experiences of my childhood; however, I still have my gift from Sam. I actually passed it down to my son. A tiny lion, called a pocket pal, filled with beans. I slept with it from the day I turned 8 until the day I turned 18. Since he was easy to conceal, I had him stashed in my college dorm room. Then, I had him stashed in a keepsake box. Now, I have him stashed in my son’s closet.

Sam may have been a bit of a trouble maker, but she eradicated more trouble than she caused. I remember one particular example quite well, another birthday party. I was turning sixteen and was squeezing every minute out of it in my green, cement basement with a large collection of friends—some may have only been acquaintances. Things took a negative turn when two rough looking boys showed up unannounced. Miss Goody Two Shoes was not impressed with some stunts they were pulling in my basement. Sam found me crying in my parents’ exercise room because they had ruined my birthday. She released me from any reason to cry, with her impeccable ability to listen and make things right. It is even more impressive that she pulled this off, since she is the one who invited the boys in the first place.

Sam had a quality about her that I could never quite put my finger on. I always thought she was rather nosey, but I never had any qualms about letting her put her nose wherever she wanted. It was because she cared for me, even when we began to grow apart in high school, I knew she really, genuinely cared for all of us. Not only that, Sam was the girl to seek out when you were looking for gossip. She was the queen of knowing everything. I loved that about her.sam4

Some of my most exhilarating memories from my childhood have Sam in them; she is the leading lady in most of them. Sam and I spent an entire summer with our feet hanging off a handsome boy’s tailgate as he did circles around our Podunk town. It would be late and approaching my curfew, but it was hard to care when I was sitting next to Sam singing “Too Much Fun” at the top of my lungs.

Even though my parents believed her to be a rather negative influence on me, I never got into any real trouble with Sam by my side. I mostly just had the time of my life. She always took me home when I mentioned my curfew, and she never rolled her eyes at my inability to disobey my parents. The only time I remember her genuinely “corrupting” me was when she double-dog-dared me to yell the f-word at the top my lungs. Don’t forget my nickname. It took a lot of persuading, but Miss Goody Two Shoes eventually stood up on that dugout (I have no idea why we were sitting on a dugout) and yelled it. This was just another moment that Sam made me feel free, like I had some invisible shell that only she could see.

She eventually moved even closer to me, just a few blocks down the street across from the railroad tracks. I can’t imagine how boring my high school experience would have been had she not been right down the street. Her basement was the location of many unusual, yet always legal and, more importantly, God-fearing activities. Without Sam, I think I would have conversed with two boys during all four years of high school. But in Sam’s basement, I had more boys to flirt with than I ever had in English class. Sam was a great flirt; I sucked at it. The point is, Sam always made me feel like I could flirt, like I had nothing to lose. She made everyone feel like that.

I learned a lot from Sam. Most of the life lessons she shared with me were discussed on the top of a grain elevator. We thought we were such rebels. I didn’t find out until later that nearly every teenager in our town spent a good deal of time on the elevator, but still, we were trespassing and we felt dangerous. One morning, around five a.m., Sam and I snuck out of her parents’ house and walked to the elevator. We weren’t trying to break every rule in the book, we simply wanted to watch the sunrise from the highest point on the grain elevator, and we were determined.

I have thought back to that moment many times in my adulthood, sitting atop a grain elevator, discussing every topic from the most shallow to the most profound. I had seen countless sunsets with Sam, but this was the only sunrise I ever watched with her. I can still see her silhouette against the soft glow of the horizon, but what I didn’t know in those moments, was that I was taking her for granted, that one day she would not be there and I would only have the memory of everything she taught me.
sam5Despite growing apart as we became teenagers, I still remember spending so much time with Sam. She was my first friend, and she was the only one who never completely went away. We were so proud when we would tell people we’d been friends since we were two: We thought we had accomplished some impossible feat. The impossible feat would have been for us to continue to speak after high school—we didn’t.

Sam was not perfect—she’d be the first to tell you that. She knew her imperfections and she had plenty of insecurities, but she was an incredible friend. I would give anything to go back to our college years and somehow stay in touch with her. Even though she’s gone now, I am always surprised by how often I think of her and how often I catch myself mentioning her to my husband, who never knew her. I didn’t realize how big of an impact she had on my life, until the chances of her impacting it again became impossible. I wish I could share every memory I have of Sam—I can’t believe how many there are.

She was extraordinary, and she took away any chance of me ever hearing “Too Much Fun” by Daryle Singletary without lifting my eyes and asking Sam to sing it with me.

I do know one thing. I know she knew the Lord. I don’t know how much she knew Him in the days before her death, but if I know Sam, she never stopped seeking Him.sam


A Light on a Dark Street

Claire shivers. She has stood on her front step long enough now that the damp, morning air has settled on her shoulders. She doesn’t even remember how to dress for a run in this cool weather. She considers going back inside to get a hat, but when remembering the chaos within, decides against it. Despite the guilt for leaving her husband to tend to their five children, Claire knows she must somehow force herself off her front steps and onto the sidewalk.

Taking a deep breath, she tries to resurrect her old self, the woman that used to run 100 miles a week with no problem. Now it’s been over three years since she’s run after anything other than a defiant, squealing toddler. Trying to get her out the door this morning, her husband told her she has nothing to lose. He was wrong—If she discovers there is no longer a runner inside her, that she has officially become just a mom, she would lose plenty.

running-573762_1280Setting off down the sidewalk, she feels sluggish and considers turning back with each step, but once she reaches the first avenue intersecting her street, she starts to gain momentum—her breathing evens out, establishes a familiar rhythm, and she starts to smile. Her lungs welcome the clean, cold air as her eyes flit to the right and to the left. There isn’t much to see other than the houses lined up on both sides, and she wonders what’s going on inside.

As she enjoys a perfectly timed deep breath, she thinks of how her husband is doing at home.


The bacon has come to life as Brad frantically searches for the lid to the frying pan, while one kid hangs on his leg and the other screams in his arms. His third born stands at attention and repeats a word Brad should have substituted with crap as the grease spots stain his church clothes. He should have known better than to get dressed before he cooked breakfast. He is just desperate to cook a meal that will impress his wife when she comes home from her run. She deserves to jump one less hurdle to get all five kids out the door in time for church. Brad is beginning to think that perhaps helping with breakfast was not a wise choice.

Within minutes, the kids are seated and eating. Feeling accomplished like he has just summited Mount Everest, Brad swipes a piece of bacon from Number 4’s plate. The feeling of triumph quickly shifts to trepidation as he turns around to see what he’s done to the kitchen—there’s that word again, slipping out rebelliously between his lips. He immediately pictures Claire in her church clothes on her hands and knees anxiously cleaning up this mess and shouting out orders for the kids to get their shoes on. It seems all he did was add one more hurdle for his wife to deal with.

He sighs and gazes across the street to Allen’s immaculately shoveled driveway.


houses-691586_1280Allen woke up looking for a fight. He can’t believe it’s Sunday already. Even though the days seem to pass slower than his days recovering in a Vietnam medic tent, Sunday always sneaks up on him, waiting to break his heart all over again.

Each Sunday, he rises at 5:30. He’d give anything to sleep until noon, wasting his life with pointless sleep is his only aim. Too bad his damn wife made him wake up before the sun on their first day of marriage, and sixty years later, he can’t even manage to sleep until 5:31—another reason his life is the epitome of misery.

He slogs out to the living room and lowers himself into his chair, careful not to look at the ostentatious floral ottoman sitting next to it. He stares at the floor for a few minutes before he musters up the resolve to look outside. The street is always so quiet on a Sunday morning—no doubt due to all the Heathens that Allen was sure surrounded his home. There’s that Claire running by, or was it Clara or Carla or Mary? He didn’t care. It’s no wonder her kids are always running wild: she shouldn’t have the time to go for a run when she’s got a zoo to feed at home. It’s so typical of a mother nowadays to avoid housework—all those women care about is how they look and how much money they can spend. Allen’s wife was never like that. She cared about everyone’s happiness but her own. He shudders at the idea that perhaps this is why she is not with him anymore.

If she was still here, sitting on that God-awful ottoman she just had to have, he would most certainly already be in his church clothes, eating one of her famous omelets. She would be eating her toast as they discussed the kids and grandkids. She would laugh and roll her eyes when he dropped a forkful on his tie, and then she’d scold him for swearing. He’d grunt–and take her for granted, like he always did. Then they’d go to church, hand in hand. She would smile and greet everyone in the building, as he found their spot in the pew—the same every Sunday. She was there for God and his people. He was there for her. That’s just the way it was.

Allen sighs, trying to deny that he misses church, and gazes over at the house of that lowlife, Tom.


Yep. It’s official. Jordan has been yelling all morning. She yelled at David when he woke up too early. She yelled at Charlie when he spilled Cheerios, and just to make things fair, she yelled at Sara when she emptied all her toys onto the floor.

womanShe walks over to the window to breathe and refocus just as Claire runs by. She would give anything to have a little time to herself—even if that time was spent running. She hates running—of course—probably because Tom did. She used to be friends with Claire, but now she can’t help but hate her…and her family. They are happy and it disgusts Jordan. Every Sunday, they flit off in their minivan, perfect clothes and perfect hair, to worship a God that seems to have completely disowned Jordan.

She quickly busies herself with the dishes to get Tom out of her mind, as her three children wreak havoc on the living room she just picked up. She ignores it all and escapes into her head, repeating her mantra, You can’t break. You can’t break. You can’t break. This has been her mantra for the past 10 months—the longest 10 months of her life. She finds it disgusting that after nearly a year she still expects Tom to walk through the door, as if he might miss them or something.

Her hand is warm and wet with blood as she bends down to sweep up the glass. Her daughter is crying and the boys are simply staring at her, with worry and fear in their eyes. She doesn’t know what triggered her to throw the plate at the wall. She must have learned that from Tom, too.

Sensing their judgment, she screams at her kids to get out of the way, shaking and wracked with hatred for her life.

She finally broke—10 months was all she had in her.


Claire practically skips into the house, feeling reborn. She barely made it thirty minutes—her legs, chest, and arms burning, and yet she knows it is the start of something great. Her skip slows, however, as she is welcomed by a thick, reeking fog inside her home. Bacon. Unmistakable.

Her firstborn crawls to greet her, still in her pajamas. Claire tries desperately to stay upbeat as she glances at the clock—one hour until they need to leave.

“Brad!” she calls out.

Coming around the corner, Brad explains, “Honey, I’m so sorry. Breakfast took longer than I thought it would and the kids are just wild this morning.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me. I was only gone thirty minutes,” Claire mumbles as she picks up the youngest and hustles upstairs to get her dressed.


“Mom, maybe we just shouldn’t go to church. Amy isn’t even dressed yet.”

“We are absolutely going to church! Get your shoes on!” Claire glances around hurriedly, counting her children, “Everyone get your shoes on; we have five minutes!”

Knowing he can’t be of any help, Brad has been sheepish since Claire returned from her run. He has learned through the years that once his wife becomes more efficient than an Olympic speed skater, it is best to just stay out of her way rather than try to help.

“Brad! Are you even going to help me?”

Brad tries to be the calm one, “Yes, of course. What do you want me to help with?”

“Obviously put Sam’s shoes on!”


No one is more surprised than Claire when they manage to back out of the driveway at 10:08 which should put them in the church parking lot at 10:28.

traffic-light-876055_1280With the kids chatting and smacking one another in the backseat, Claire sighs heavily, already mentally repenting for getting so frazzled and angry at Brad.

She glances over at him, so focused and intent upon the road, but she doesn’t know how to make the first move. She is so good at acting like a complete basket case sometimes–She wonders how annoyed Brad is, since she manages to drive herself crazy. He probably would rather I not talk for a bit, she thinks. As this thought crosses her mind, she sees Brad’s mouth twitch ever so slightly when he pulls up to a stoplight.

She pretends not to notice and intently watches the red glow in front of them, but when she feels Brad’s hand in her own, she knows that all is forgiven and settles a little more comfortably in her seat.


As Claire sighs at 10:08 and glances over at her husband, she is too distracted to notice Jordan peering from her living room window. Jordan will never know that her name is on a post-it by Claire’s bed, reminding her to pray for Jordan and her children every night. Claire will never know that as she rushes off to church every Sunday, drowning in stress and sin and family tumult, Jordan grows in curiosity about her God and what he might have to offer a single mom with three misbehaved children.


Brad is busy trying to convince himself to forgive his wife and himself for a fight that has become too common. As he drives by house number 1204, he does not even consider that past Allen’s freshly shoveled driveway is a man who desperately misses his wife, and his wife’s faith, which always kept him going. Brad does not know that underneath Allen’s constant irritable comments about him and his family, is a man who enjoys watching them pile into their van every Sunday, because it reminds him so much of a time past, when he was happier. Brad will never consider that perhaps his family’s imperfections will lead a grieving old man back into a church, where he will find peace and joy once again.


couple-1845334_1280Instead in their humble faith, Brad and Claire enjoy a quiet moment with their fingers entwined, despite the ruckus stemming from the backseat, as they press on in raising five more lights in a dark world.


You are a light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. ~Matthew 5:14-16

A Mutating Perspective

I knew the second I snuggled into my couch to write this blog, my infant would wake up, as if babies have some sort of sonar for a mother relaxing. I would then stare deep into his screaming face, begging him to stop screaming, for lately, it seems as though my infant is always screaming.


I visited with my mom about my frustrations this morning.


“It’s like they are doing it on purpose. As soon as one is quiet, the other has a problem. I am so tired. I just want to take a 10-minute nap.”


Perhaps she was using her infinite wisdom, or maybe just her brutal honesty, when she responded, “They’re just kids. It’s what they do.”



Wow. Um… Thanks for the sympathy?


I think back to my conversations at church last night, while I ranted and raved about my little non-sleeper.


I joked, “My husband and I just don’t make babies who sleep.”


I complained, “I just want to sleep in my bed for once.”


I bartered, “I would do anything to get this baby to sleep.”


I think what I was really doing was searching for someone, anyone who would understand.


Because with this second baby I feel as though I am facing yet another year of lonely, dark, long nights, my frustration has been building, as my patience has been dwindling.


20170213_102153I think back to last night, up every 20 minutes with my little one. This was of course after making sure my husband felt as guilty as possible for leaving me to tend to our child alone while he got a restful night sleep, as if it is his fault our baby has colic.


I pleaded with God constantly throughout the night, “Please, please, please just give me one kid who sleeps. Show me what I need to do to make him sleep. Why me? Why me? Why me?”


And now, even as I write this, God has given me His answer. He has convicted me, and He’s not holding back.


I am not a victim.


I am a mother.


I am not a martyr.


I am a mother.


I am not alone.


I am amongst many who have lived it and many who are living it.


Wow. Um… Thanks for the sympathy?


Perspective is an important thing to maintain in motherhood. It is so easy to lose sight of what matters when we are sleep deprived and our nerves are raw. It is so easy to begin to look at our little miracles as if they are a curse, rather than a blessing.



However, there is one thing that is truly beautiful about all this: God’s forgiveness and grace. When I fail and become a selfish woman rather than a selfless mother, my Father (He may even use my mom) will never fail to scoop me back up, show me the beauty that is in my children’s faces, and remind me that it is not about me. It is about Him and His children, who He has entrusted to me and my husband.


With a Godly perspective like that one, I think I can get through a few more sleepless nights.

Some See Super-Mom. Others See Super-Fail.

Motherhood is a wily creature. She’s tough to pin down, and can be awfully sneaky about how she brings you down. Although sleep deprivation seems to be her weapon of choice, I have also seen her utilize tantrums, lots and lots and lots of germs, and food fights (and I don’t mean the fun kind).

The thing is that Motherhood often involves tasks that require more than two hands, and most women were, unfortunately, only given the two.

If Motherhood were a person, I doubt it would ever take responsibility for the many, many, many young women who have lost all sense of time, space, and overall sanity due to her countless intolerable demands.

For instance, I am always in a hurry.

No. That is not an exaggeration. I really mean it. I am literally never not in a hurry.

This is how Motherhood has chosen to pluck away at my sanity…

I am either running around like a lunatic, trying to get one single chore complete before my son decides to find me and torture me with one of his numerous and unrealistic requests.


I often find myself racing up and down the stairs in a vain attempt to accomplish even a small load of laundry before my infant’s grunts and snorts evolve into full blown wails, as if in the two minutes I have not been at his beckon call, I have completely abandoned him.

Or even worse yet, I can never even pay a bill online at a normal pace since it takes my toddler 2.3 seconds to see that I have the computer open and everything goes right to the crapper once he is aware of this.

When it is finally quiet in my home and I have achieved the impossible: both children asleep simultaneously, I must frantically choose, wasting as little time as possible, how I will spend these precious minutes. Do I choose to clean my home, therefore reestablishing my sanity? Do I choose to sleep, therefore reestablishing my sanity? Do I choose to eat, therefore reestablishing my sanity? Since each of these things is impossible to get done during the few minutes of peace I get each day, it is a safe bet that insanity is a much more common facet of my personality.

Today, I actually got to grocery shop in the absence of the two mini humans I created. I thought it would be peaceful, but alas I still found myself rushing through the aisles and scurrying to my car, thinking that if I hurried, I might still be able to clean the basement before my oldest awoke from his nap.

Many veteran mothers will recognize this as an amateur mistake.

Unfortunately, in my two years of motherhood, I have still yet to learn that one should never, ever, not even if all the stars have aligned, make plans when children are involved in any capacity. My plans for my afternoon came to a screeching halt, when I flew out of my parking spot, suburban loaded down with 3 weeks’ worth of groceries, and slammed into a Buick Equinox…Oops.

I hope you all noticed that I still managed to blame Motherhood for an event that happened in the total absence of my kiddos. I am confident I have a strong case against her.

Now, veteran and amateur mothers everywhere know that Motherhood is extremely two-faced. In the many moments that she makes you feel like a total failure, like you can’t possibly carry on in such a frazzled state, she busts out one of those moments where you manage to arise triumphant, from the tears, vomit, and broken toys, with your held high knowing that you just defeated an impending catastrophe with your rapid thinking and cat-like reflexes.

20170114_093318I had such a moment recently. I had been supermom-ing it all day, cleaning my house like a maniac and dealing with each son’s needs effortlessly. However, at 6 pm my boys and I found ourselves surrounded by an immaculate home, yet completely without supper. I don’t know why I thought it would be a good idea to load my starving toddler and crabby infant into the car to drive ten minutes to get a Little Caesar’s pizza, but even the best moms make bad judgment calls occasionally.

So, there I stood: in the middle of an extremely crowded pizza joint, holding my son’s hand and my other son’s car seat. I was completely aware that most eyes were on me as I ordered, and attempted to keep my toddler from running into the street, since this particular pizza joint decided to leave their door wide open in the middle of January.

I managed to maintain control of my situation until I was handed a box of pizza, a bag of breadsticks, and a 2-liter of Pepsi… Yep… I didn’t think this through. As my eyes wandered over the pile of food, the car seat, and my oldest son, I tried to fake an air of complete confidence, as if I had suddenly sprouted two additional hands and would just seamlessly whisk up everything in front of me and float to my car.

I continued this facade as I somehow managed to shove all my belongings out the door and toward my car, but I most certainly did not float; I lugged, hauled, and balanced, but I did not float. As I strapped my last son into his seat and climbed into the driver’s seat, I released a victorious sigh.20170130_174141

Take that, Motherhood. I, a mere mortal, managed to avoid a complete disaster brought on entirely by the bewilderment and woes of one of your impossible demands. My house got cleaned; my family got fed; And I avoided a panic attack.

Some of you may be asking what I learned from this experience: Sometimes you’ve just got to smile, or grit your teeth, and come at Motherhood with both fists swinging, and remember that tomorrow is another day and it is all a tremendous gift—even the real bad days.