The Summer Files: Day 55

As I write this, The Children are beating the fluff out of each other with their pillows. It’s a nice alternative to what transpired earlier. The shouting. The pointing of fingers.

Even The Canine found a dark corner in which to hide.

The three-year difference is rearing its hormonal head as The Daughter shifts into pre-teen WhaTeVer. Her language is changing, somewhat like the confusing of tongues at the tower of Babel. She speaks Unicorn-Angst, while The Son speaks Ninja-Play. I act as the interpreter, which is a lot like putting your head into a blender. Now press chop. Yeah, summer is awesome.

I work at home (at job # 1), which means in the summertime, I run nowhere fast. Imagine clocking out and driving home for things like, mediating between unicorns and ninjas, cleaning the unidentifiable mound in the fridge before it molds, sweeping piles of corn flakes from the floor, and all those fulfilling things moms do. The productivity as far as work goes, is as good as it sounds.

Job # 2 is at night, and not at home, but the hours drag into the wee morning, which combined with Job-Home and Job-Mom, keeps me from being Supermom. Yes, the house is messy. Yes, my kids get into stuff when I’m running on Unicorn fumes. Once, another almost-mom came to visit, looked around the house and asked if my kids made their beds. While looking at my kids’ unmade beds.

I wondered, briefly, how her head would fare in the blender.


(Btw, I work at a retirement home, going on seventeen years now. I’ve never once heard a retiree say they wished they had cleaned their house more often.)

The nice thing about being home for the Child-Babel years, is that I get to have really cool conversations with my kids (I’m grateful that I get to do this rather than leaving it to a day-care provider). Like how God made them unique, which means they aren’t supposed to strive to please their peers. Even if that means being less cool in order to find their destiny. And so they can learn God’s language.

Even if their friends’ paths are bedazzled in perfectly sculpted rainbows while theirs looks a little more Jackson Pollock. That’s okay, because God knows how to speak to each one of us.

I’m not sure how far talking goes. Words let loose in the air can fly away from their intended eardrums. But I’m here.

And God’s here with a plan.

The Summer Files: I Made It.

I’m not going to repeat any cliches about sending my kids back to school. If you’re a parent, you’re familiar with that place between the happy dance and the realization that somewhere, in the midst of handling temper tantrums and reading the latest book on parenting a strong-willed child, your kids have grown a few inches closer to your eye level.

What will I see when I can look straight into their blues? Will they have absorbed the stress I feel much of the time? Will they reflect all those mistakes I made?20160808_074738

What will they see reflected in mine? I know what I want them to see: love, acceptance–no matter what. Strength. Wisdom.

Motherhood is, of course, plagued with those days where guilt, impatience and not knowing how to answer some of those freaking hard questions make us feel anything but wise and strong. Scars form in the silver streaks of hair and stress fractures lining the skin around our eyes and the motions of our mouths.

I guess that’s one reason why I love working with the elderly. They’ve accumulated enough battle scars to have lived fully, yet I see something in most of them that makes it all pretty dang awesome. Like sculptures of divine wisdom, they glow with that word at the top of our lists: Love. Of course. But not just Love; it’s out love. Those who out loved what other people thought, out loved anything their kids did or didn’t do, out loved the hard-to-answer questions that scarred a thick layer of life over their youth.

I don’t know, maybe this is one giant cliche after all. But, I guess if it takes that much repetition to drill Love’s power into our hearts than that makes it okay.

Me, Garfield, maybe you– we’re going to learn to out love Mondays and all impossible seasons. Here we go…

The Summer Files: Day 33


Despite the opinions of some, I do not think watching TV is equivalent to worshiping Satan. In fact, watching shows or movies is common among writers, as we can learn many techniques to capture a reader’s interest. Considering we now have attention spans equivalent to goldfish, waxing on in Dicken’s style doesn’t do it for today’s reader. The awesome must come right away, so we study the screen.

TV time also gives a nice break for us full-time moms (who also work Out There) needing an hour of sanity. Okay, more than one hour would be nice, but I try to be realistic.

Having said that, The Children take on symptoms of Zombiism when getting too much screen time. Their faces fall slack, drool leaks from the corners of their mouths, and when I call their names, they “can’t hear me.”

Now if you live in Arizona, stepping outside after 9am in the summer is risky—the sun has a flare gun, did you know that? It targets many of us in the southwest, aiming at the palest ones first. Sometimes I can hear my skin sizzle. You might even burst into flame, so most of our exercise is done in the early morning and evening.

That means we use our imaginations (not ruined by the so-called evil TV) forhouse those lengthy in-between hours. The Children are coming along with the City of Light. We’ll be finished soon; the only thing we haven’t figured out is where to put it. There are blessings to being less-than-organized; I don’t worry about the details, and it all comes together anyway (I can hear your criticism, structure-experts. Oh, but I am free, free, FREE!).

I didn’t expect to be visited by Thor, Captain America and Iron Man this week, but it was a pleasant surprise. I requested they bring Wonder Woman next time. Why do the female Superheroes always come later?


Anyway, half of these projects were inspired by scenes from the you-know-what, and for that I’m very thankful. Enjoy your TV week.

The Battle of Words

Fantasy literature is a Heaven and Hell fight. It’s the bookstore lumping in witchcraft novels along with heaven’s novels–in the make-believe section–as if nothing beyond the realm of flesh and blood is real. It’s me in the library, walking through the explosion of chapter books, trying to discern between a harmless magic-based novel or a book that will fight for my daughter’s loyalty to something darker.

I tell my princess God is real.

But that other book tells her witches are real, and good.

I show her the Bible, talk to her about the stories. “This isn’t just a book”, I say. “It’s a history book.”

But then she asks me why schools outlaw that history book.

She knows the truth inside that book, but gets distracted by the pretty covers 100_3067shelved alongside it.

We all need something extraordinary beyond our flesh and blood lives so we know there’s a purpose for this earth-and-pain mess we live in. God is that something extraordinary. “But what about what this person said?” she asks.

I could tell her all kinds of things, read to her the story about Elisha and the army of angels and how Elijah called down fire from heaven.

But we don’t see a whole lot of that in America these days. Some say it’s because we’re too distracted.

So I pull that mustard seed from my pocket and hold it out to God.

I had a nightmare—a staggering one—the kind that wakes you up with sweat and fear coursing down your body. I dreamed horror and woke up piercing the darkness with my prayers. I called the only God who ever shows up because I knew this wasn’t just a dream or too much late-night salsa churning inside my belly—this was a battle. The kind bookshelves call fantasy.
The next morning, Chloe said, “I had a dream last night, Mommy.” My heart thumped a little, remembering my own nightmare. But then she said, “There were angels surrounding our house, protecting us, and Jesus came inside to be near us, so we were okay, Mommy. The bad guys couldn’t get in.”

I remind her of that dream when she asks me about God’s abilities. She may tell that dream to someone someday, and they might laugh it off and say it was just a dream, or that she’s been reading too much fiction.
But I hope she remembers to pull out her own mustard seed. I hope she remembers who showed up to protect us that night…and who didn’t.

I believe there’s a reason why we don’t see much fire from Heaven, or chariots of fire coming for our prophets. I think when we started shelving all of that in the fantasy section, we made ourselves blind. We laugh at those stories, call them silly dreams, but when we need to escape—when we need to know there’s a reason for us—we dig into a few books or flip on the TV.

The problem is, along with the heaven-books, there are other volumes with names like witch or daemon that are passed off as fantasy, but that’s really not it. They are the disguised foe—fighting alongside the volumes of heaven for our children’s hearts. Our hearts.

Writers: It’s never just a story. Your work is eternally valuable.
Readers: It’s never just a story, it’s a battle. But you are worth the fight.
Parents: It’s never just a story. Wicca is the fastest growing religion of American children today. You, along with the angels, are guardians of heaven’s children.

You see, a mustard seed is really a sword. It’s that thing that meets us in between  earth and the spirit world. Never leave yourself unarmed, and don’t ever forget the Maker of your sword.

Superheros and Authentic Fashion

Parenting is perpetual construction. It’s the work truck driving adjacent the joy curb, always working—reworking, and an occasional hopping out to stretch the legs. But there is no sabbatical for moms and dads. If there’s not someone in the lane next to you telling you how to drive, it’s yourself—sometimes I lay awake, going over my list of speed bumps:

I said too much there. I didn’t say enough here. I focused too much on the dirty house today. I’m not that mother who can multitask her child and the whole school at the same time—and to be perfectly honest, I don’t want to be—that would be as exciting as doing a math test.

But amidst all the chaos, there are two things I feel good about:

My kids know that Jesus is the only real Superhero.
I don’t make them match their clothes.

Wait-what? Yes, I’m proud of the fact that I let them wear fuchsia polka dots with camouflage pants. Stripes with crazy patterns. A spiderman shirt with batman pants (so as I am writing this, Microsoft word wants me to capitalize spiderman, but not batman—what’s up with that?).

Anyway, why do I let them walk in public looking like they dressed themselves? Because they don’t need to dress for others approval. They need to know it’s okay to be them. They’ll face enough pressure from their peers in a few years—I want them to feel good about making their own choices because they were made like this (by the real Superhero):

For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:13-14

They weren’t knit together by Prada’s marketing team. They weren’t wonderfully made to feel pressured to have surgeons nip and tuck their uniqueness away.

If God’s works are wonderful…they are already beautiful. They need

My little beauty

My little beauty

encouragement to be them. Who am I to make them feel like they have to fit my standards of beauty, or the standards of the fashion industry, or Hollywood?

Here’s an excerpt from Alissa Quart in her book Branded:

“…many of the teens and tweens I have come across who are drenched in name-brand merchandise are slightly awkward or overweight or not conventionally pretty. While many teenagers are branded, the ones most obsessed with brand names feel they have a lack that only superbranding will cover over and insure against social ruin.”

And it all starts with drawing attention to their appearance.

I listened to an interview at my mom’s group a few weeks ago. Wisdom from a former Victoria’s Secret Model. She said the only reason she got into the modeling industry (and nude modeling) was because her father encouraged her in only one thing: her looks. It took her decades to realize that she had real value.

The only One children need to be concerned with pleasing is the Superhero who laid down His life for them. If they ask you why God made them look a certain way, tell them:

“God saw all that He made, and it was very good.” Genesis 1:31 (emphasis mine)