Monday, January 31, 2011

Fresh Wind

There is a fresh wind blowing through the musty, hallowed halls of Christendom.

It smells like freedom.

It is blowing off the painted masks we wear, rumpling up our fancy church clothes, and disheveling our perfectly coiffed hair.

It sounds like truth.

It is blasting us out of our comfortable pews, and onto our knees.

It feels like rescue.

It is time.

We pretend too much.

We pretend that we’re okay.  We pretend that our families are great. We pretend that life is working for us. We pretend that our interior lives are as together as the exteriors appear to be.

We pretend not to battle isolation or depression or anger or addiction or perversion or jealousy or judgmentalism or fear. We cover over scars from the past, and tell ourselves they’ve healed.

We pretend not to hurt. Not to be afraid. Not to be desperate.

Christians are worse than anybody about this. Because we are supposed to be grateful, joyful, and victorious.  All. The. Time. So we pile guilt on top of the other ugly stuff, put on our masks, and show up at church with our smiley faces. We should win Academy Award nominations for the flawless performances. I’m okay, I’m okay, I’m fine. I’m great.

It’s sad, because if there’s any place on earth where we ought to be able to strip down to our authentic selves, it is within Christ’s body.

We fear judgment. We forget the old adage that the church is supposed to be a hospital for sinners, not a country club for saints.

No one’s willing to go first along the path to freedom and truth.

But one person’s candor and transparency can open up the window of freedom for the rest of us who hold back in fear.

Anne Jackson calls it “the gift of going second.”

Sharing my struggles gives you the gift of being able to say, “Me, too. I battle that, too. I thought I was the only one.”

You’re not the only one.

I’m not the only one.

All of us have our secret sins, weaknesses, and wounds. The Bible suggests a simple cure: “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” (James 5:16)

But, paradoxically, it is often among fellow believers that we feel the least able to bare our souls and expose our faults. Because we’re supposed to know better.

Sometimes it is easier to speak openly to friends who have belief systems unlike our own. Where there’s no Christian Baggage. No judgment under the guise of “accountability.” No easy platitudes.

And that’s a shame.

Really. Shameful.

But I am optimistic.

That fresh wind that’s blowing is gathering velocity.

It is reflected in the words of authentic new voices that might not have been granted exposure a decade or two ago.

I began my spiritual journey (in earnest) in the mid ‘80’s. If you went into a Christian bookstore at that time, you would find Bibles, commentaries, classic devotionals, a few inspirational real-life stories, some insipid “Christian Fiction,” fish stickers, and How-To books.

How-To Experience More Joy. How-To Overcome Fear. How-To Increase Your Faith. How-To Pray More Powerfully. How-To Combat Spiritual Warfare. How-To Witness. How-To Receive Healing…

Many of those books were very helpful to me.

But, here’s the thing:

What if you followed the directions of How-To to the very best of your human ability, and you still didn’t receive the promised result? What if you still struggled with fear after the Fear Book?

Who screwed up?


Or God?

Of course, in my mind, it was always, always me.

(Well, Kim, of course you are not experiencing total joy, freedom, and victory

 because you are not



Although much of the Christian literature of that genre was wonderful and instructive, some seemed to be more of a curse than a blessing. Much of it was overly simplistic and hygienic. (Don’t even get me started on “Christian Fiction.”) So, it was with great astonishment that I experienced the writing of Anne Lamott for the first time. Traveling Mercies. Around 1999, I think. A gift from my husband.

Anne is a mess. And a half. On the surface, she appears to be my antithesis.

She has dreadlocks that look as if they’ve been unwashed for decades. She is a recovering drug addict and alcoholic. She gave birth to a child out of wedlock. She hates Republicans to death.

But she loves Jesus.

So we are related.

The brilliantly written story of her very imperfect “lurch towards faith” was a radical departure from any quote unquote Christian literature I’d ever read. I don’t agree with everything Anne says and believes, but I appreciate her self-effacing honesty and her searing humor.

Reading Traveling Mercies made me feel better about myself. It gave me permission to go second. To admit that I’m a work in progress, and God still has quite a bit of work left to do on me.

Since then, there have been an increasing number of voices crying in the stagnant spiritual wilderness of Christian Perfectionism. Imperfect people telling their imperfect stories, transmitting freedom and grace to the rest of us struggling sinners. Recently, there’s been a whirlwind.

I am grateful to traditional Christian publishing houses like Zondervan and Thomas Nelson for taking the risk to allow these voices to be heard.

I got an Amazon gift card for Christmas, so I’ve been binge-reading ever since. Young writers with fresh perspectives: Tony Woodlief (Somewhere More Holy), Shauna Niequist (Cold Tangerines and Bittersweet), Anne Jackson (Permission to Speak Freely). And, finally, I’ve just begun the long-awaited One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.

These people are real. Bravely have they shared their stories of sin and redemption. Of doubt and flickering faith. Of their ongoing human-ness.

They have made public confessions. Not just to things like “inconsistency” or “lack of spiritual discipline,” but to things like porn addiction. Adultery. Alcohol abuse. Eating disorders. Clinical depression. Anger at God. Petty jealousy.

And none of them write as if they’ve got it all figured out now. As if they don’t still struggle.

I have been blessed by the telling of these stories. And I have been challenged.

Why are we so afraid to share our true stories? To admit our failings so that our sisters and brothers can pray for us? So that we may receive healing?

If I’m honest, I must admit that much of it stems from pride. I don’t want people to think badly of me.

But pride is the deadliest sin of all.

It leads to spiritual death.

And I want a more authentic, abundant, fear-free life.


 Father, I pray that these honest stories will continue to challenge me to fearlessly share my own. I pray for a fresh wind of truth and love to blow through your family. I pray for more compassion and less judgment. Give us your unconditional love and acceptance for each other. Open our eyes to the planks they carry, rather than to the specks in the eyes of others. Destroy our pride, and deliver us from the need to look good. Make our relationships safe places, and our hearts your true home. Amen and amen.


Anne Jackson asked the question: “What is the one thing you can’t talk about in church?” She was flooded with thousands of responses.

How would you answer that question? Why do you think there is not more freedom in the church universal? What can we do to change things? 

(Graphic by LeentheGraphicsQueen)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Telling Our Stories

As I’ve confessed before, I continue to be assaulted by second thoughts about this blog.

For one thing, that ancient, crafty demon, What-Will-People-Think-Of-Me, has to be slain over and over again.

It is not as difficult as it might have been at one time. After you’ve lived through certain experiences, you tend to lose some of your self-consciousness.

Kind of like after having babies, modesty in front of doctors becomes a non-issue.

Still, I am always treading the line between privacy and transparency. Reticence and revelation.

Sometimes these second thoughts are triggered by an encounter with someone I know. We might make conversation for a while, and then I’ll say something I assume the person doesn’t know. And she’ll tell me, “Oh, I keep up with you on the internet.”


No other comment.

A look of… what?


Are you embarrassed for me? Are you embarrassed for yourself?

Or am I imagining the whole thing?

Oh, I know. You’re embarrassed for my family.

You see how easily someone who battles insecurity can fall into this trap. (Yes, I’ve bought Beth’s new book. Just haven’t read it yet. It’s in the stack.)

Apart from the latent insecurity and fear of misinterpretation, there is an ever-growing disappointment in myself. There are some pretty decent thematically-congruent posts stalled in “Works In Progress.” They’re growing stale, pushed aside by pot-pouri posts about daily life.

The reason for this is that I don’t have the time, energy or mental alertness right now for deeper thematic writing. To take it to the next level. But I have a very vivid vision of where I want to go. And I am frustrated that I can’t stick with this writing thing for long enough intervals to make it a reality.

So I start thinking, “This is just not the right time to be doing this.” Maybe I ought to stop these unorganized, half-baked attempts until I can do it right. But we all know the right time to write will most likely never come. Time, in general, is running out for me. I sure as heck am not getting any younger.


Recently, I heard sermons on the exact same scripture on opposite sides of the country within two weeks of each other:

John 4. The woman at the well.

It’s a great passage on many levels. I don’t have time to go into all of them. This is the funny thing, though: Both sermons from two very different pastors with different perspectives brought up the same point.

The woman at the well was a societal outcast. She was at the well in the middle of the day, because she had to avoid the nice ladies who came in the morning. At a time when you could be stoned to death for adultery, she’d shacked up with six different men. She was the lowest of the low, obviously looking for love in all the wrong places in all the wrong ways.

Can you even imagine what her self-esteem must have been like? How many insecurities she must have battled?

But Jesus chose to speak to her. Not to the town hotshots. Not to the priests or the nice synagogue ladies. Not to the most upstanding citizens.

He chose the town tramp.

He reached out in love to someone who was least.

He called her “dear woman.” And he revealed himself to her.

She ran back into town and told her story to anyone who would listen.

And many people believed and received because of it.


Shortly after hearing the two sermons, I read these words from the incomparable Ann Voskamp:

“…And when you sit down to your keyboard, and you write a blogpost – you are writing for me. You are writing for messed up me, and the messed up woman next door, and the messed up woman sitting beside you in church and messed up you. We need your messy stories. And you need your messy stories.

Why do I need your story and why do you need your story?

Because story is a way that the spirit of God can bind our wounds.

It is in story, we meet the Spirit of God. The reader meets the Spirit of God in the reading of story – the word made flesh in your life. The writer, you, meets the Spirit of God in the writing your story – the word made flesh in your own life.

The Word God wastes nothing and He heals two broken hearts with one story __ the reader and the writer.

Us who are fighting for joy from behind the laundry heap and in the trenches with the crying kids and with the bruised marriages and the crushing debts and the battered, frayed dreams, and we. Don’t. Want. To. Get. Out. Of. Bed – we need your messy, real, authentic, unmasked stories. And you who are fallen and broken and scraped – you need your messy, real, ugly stories. Because in the hands of the Spirit, story becomes a salve to the skinned souls.

The first person that any words ever heal – is the writer of those words.

Because our words aren’t wholly our words.

They are from the Word God Himself.


I suppose I’ve gotten the message.

But I don’t suppose it’s just for me.

The verb “to tell” is defined as “to give an account or narrative of.”

It appears in the Gospels 234 times.

The Word Incarnate Himself came here to tell.

All of us have stories that are worth telling.

We don’t all have theology degrees. We’re not all writers. Few of us possess the eloquence of public speakers.  Some of us may stumble over our words like Colin Firth in The King’s Speech.

But we are all called to share our messy stories, in whatever form that might take. The Samaritan woman’s story changed lives. If He can use her, He can use any of us.

I’ll keep sharing my stories, even when I think it’s pointless or boring or sloppy or stupid or wordy or weird. Even when I'm feeling insecure and inadequate.

More importantly, I challenge you to share yours.

We need them.


“Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” (Mark 5:19)

“What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs.” (Matthew 10:27)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Cure For the Common Winter Cold (heart)

A frigid, overcast day.

Both hands clenched on the wheel, I grimly wove my way through the slow traffic, mind focused on all of the impossible tasks that have to happen in the next month. We are beginning the process of moving my mother out of the large, stuff-filled house she has lived in for almost 50 years. 

My father was a Collector.

And a Depression baby. (Don't throw away a scrap of soap... you may need it one day!) 

He was also a genealogy freak. We have file cabinets of papers going back to the last century. I mean century before last. Old patient charts from his medical practice are probably down in the basement, along with the contents of his brother's New York apartment, random archaeology artifacts, playbills from 1968, World War II memorabilia, and my grandmother's grocery lists from 1938. (Well, maybe not quite that bad anymore, because my sister has been working her rear end off.) Thousands of books. Records from the 1960's. (Know anybody who could use some Montevani?) Childhood toys are still in our closets. Sentimental gifts from the 70's. My rock collection. The one trophy I won for horseback riding...

I was giving myself a pep talk on the way to do the first moving errand: Stay focused. You can do this.

It turned into a prayer: "God help us do this. We can't do this without you."

I was slightly sick to my stomach. My heart felt as cold and heavy as the dismal day.

Then this came on the radio:

(Please turn up your sound.)

I mean, can I get an Amen?

Anybody dancing?

By the second refrain, the moon roof of my little sports car was open to the sky, the steering wheel had become an electronic drum set, I was doing my Janis Joplin imitation to the chorus, and the guy in the truck next to me was calling 911. 

And the wind blew where it may...*
and chased the clouds of gloom away

filling the car... and my heart... with unspeakable joy and praise.


(*John 3)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Nurturing Simplicity

Life feels violent sometimes.

My husband is tired of me using that word, but that’s how it’s been lately.

In the sense of “marked by intensity of any kind.”

Synonyms: immoderate, sharp, riotous, tearing, turbulent, tumultuous, wild

Antonyms: calm, gentle, mild, moderate

The abruptness of change sometimes takes my breath away. Extremes of temperature, activity level, lifestyle. Jetting across three time zones. Hurdling down the LA freeway as a prisoner passenger in my daughter’s car. It all seems turbulent, tumultuous, tearing. Violent.

The Christmas decorations were still not all put up when I had to return to my West Coast home-away-from-home. My mother’s situation is precarious. We are the midst of major decisions.

I left massive mounds of unfinished business. Unreturned phone calls and emails. Unexhanged Christmas gifts. Unmade decisions. Unordered contact lenses. Unresolved issues.

No time for reflection, no time to process.

It feels like going full speed ahead one minute, and then slamming it into reverse. I actually did that in a boat one time, and almost sank it. We had to jump out and bail. Frantically.

It feels like ripping bandaids off booboos that aren’t ready yet.

Waking up and drinking harsh coffee after just a few hours sleep.

Bam! Hit the ground running.

Reflecting on it, I realize that a violent lifestyle comes from complexity and speed.

The antidote, then, must be simplicity and slowing.

Obviously, there are many situations in our lives which cannot be made less complex. There are times when it’s impossible to slow the onslaught of events.

So I am conducting an experiment: I am working on developing more interior simplicity and slowness.

Taking it down a notch or two.

I’ve had to do this before, and it’s amazing how well it works. It’s equally amazing how rapidly I seem to abandon my methods, and allow myself to be thrown back into the maelstrom of violent living.

But agitation is not good for your health. Terrible, in fact.

I started by asking myself this question:

What do we really need in life?

Well, for one thing, we need food.

We need nurture and nourishment.

There are a thousand and one things I could do each day. Hundreds I think I should do. Gazillions of things I want to do. You can make yourself crazy thinking about the coulda-shouda-wannas.

Beginning with the basic need of nourishment, I’ve come up with a simple formula for developing more simplicity in a chaotic and complex mind:

I force myself to reduce my daily goals to a bare skeleton of To-Do’s.

Today, I will try to nurture*:

My spirit,
My body,
My mind,
And my family…

in some way, shape, or form.

Anything else that I do or accomplish during the day will be gravy. (Or ice cream, depending on preference.) Including the “Have-To’s!”

(*Sometimes I mentally substitute “bless” or “honor” for “nurture.”)

Here’s an example of how this might work on an optimally-functioning day:

Today, I nurture (bless/honor) my

Spirit: I read a chapter in the Bible and spend some time praying and meditating.

Body: I drag joyfully drive myself to the gym for a good workout.

Mind: I write a blog post, forcing myself to think things out a little. Maybe do some research on something I want to learn more about.

Family: I cook dinner.

On a minimally-functioning day, it might look like this:

Spirit: I pray in the car.

Body: I take a long soak in the tub.

Mind: Watch the evening news for 15 minutes.

Family: I text someone a “Live u.”

And that is enough.

Even if, for whatever reason, it is all I manage to “accomplish” that day.

(Of course, you realize this is just for me. As for God, He would love and value me just the same, even if I weren't able to do a single thing but sit in a chair and stare at the wall all day.)

 The point is, in doing this little exercise, I am reminded that it is important to take care of myself and others before I take care of situations. I have not let the exigencies and emergencies of the day completely reign over me. I have slowed down enough to simplify my goals.

It is a more intentional way of living. Much less violent than when I allow myself to be tossed around by circumstances like a fragile leaf in a gale storm. Getting battered down to dust.

I think that far too many of us put our own well-being as the last priority on the list. (Especially care-givers.) And then we have nothing left to give. No energy with which to accomplish the multitudinous demands on our To-Do lists, much less to engage in meaningful relationships with others. We’re just treading water, trying not to go down for the last time.

I find myself slipping back into that pattern over and over and over again.

With this tumultuous new year pouncing on me like a violent, hungry panther, I am paring my list back down to basics.  Trying to simply nurture myself and my family is a start.


The Sunday after we all got back to LA, it was freezing. The space heaters hadn’t yet warmed up the house sufficiently.  We were exhausted from the holidays, time change, and travel.

But that morning, we got ourselves to church. (Spirit.)

We came home and took a nap to get warm. (Body.)

When we woke up, the rain was coming down in torrents.  The wind was fierce for LA. It looked like night at 4:00.

I donned my fleece bathrobe on top of my clothes, my Uggs on top of bed socks, in an effort to stay warm.

My husband could tell that my spirits were plummeting as fast as the temperature.

So he did something very nurturing.

He lit every candle he could find.

It made the cold room seem warm and lovely.

I put on some good music. (Mind?)  We ordered a pizza, and told all the kids to come over. (Family!)

Outside it was cold, dark, and miserable.

Inside, it was light and laughter.

I want to duplicate that concept in my inner life. Externally, things may be harsh and stormy. But inside, there can be peace and simplicity.

And all shall be well...


Ironically, I wrote most of this early last week before I got sick.

It was like a test run. Things had to really get simple in  hurry. Spirit was a few minutes of Bible reading before the aches got too bad. Body was sleeping as much as humanly possible and drinking gallons of water. Mind was watching Little Dorrit. I did manage to cook one night for the Fam, but I was washing my hands every 3 seconds to avoid infecting them.

In re-reading what I've written, I realize that I want to explain more about the context of this ‘spiritual discipline,’ but I’ve already been way too wordy. Maybe next time. Sometime, anyway.


Does anyone else struggle with Keeping It Simple? Have suggestions for slowing down and nurturing spirit, mind, body, or family? If so, please share some tips with the rest of us.

You can really be creative with it. For instance, I count a cheap pedicure as nurturing my body. Way more fun than working out! 

And just for fun...

(Linking Trying to link up to:)

...any suggestions about how to make the button work?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

How Well Have We Loved?

 “…So sudden loss causes us to look backward - but it also forces us to look forward, to reflect on the present and the future, on the manner in which we live our lives and nurture our relationships with those who are still with us. We may ask ourselves if we've shown enough kindness and generosity and compassion to the people in our lives. Perhaps we question whether we are doing right by our children, or our community, and whether our priorities are in order. We recognize our own mortality, and are reminded that in the fleeting time we have on this earth, what matters is not wealth, or status, or power, or fame - but rather, how well we have loved, and what small part we have played in bettering the lives of others.”  

President Barack Obama, January 12, 2011

When I’m sick and run-down, I cry even more readily than usual.

Last night, I flipped on the tube while James was eating his supper. His parents were out, so he was dining at the Munchkin Manor.

I don’t know if it’s because brain trauma issues are too close to home, or what… but I was drawn in by President Obama’s words at the Tucson memorial in a very intense way.

I have an idea of what Gabby Giffords’ husband is going through right now. (And what Joanne Heim's family is going through right now. See the most recent prayer request on Margery.)


it all hit me in an unexpected way. As something not removed from me. Not just another terrible thing on the news that doesn’t affect me.

I took it personally.

By the time President Obama got to these words about the little girl who lost her life:

“That's what I believe, in part because that's what a child like Christina Taylor Green believed. Imagine: here was a young girl who was just becoming aware of our democracy; just beginning to understand the obligations of citizenship; just starting to glimpse the fact that someday she too might play a part in shaping her nation's future. She had been elected to her student council; she saw public service as something exciting, something hopeful. She was off to meet her congresswoman, someone she was sure was good and important and might be a role model. She saw all this through the eyes of a child, undimmed by the cynicism or vitriol that we adults all too often just take for granted.
I want us to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as she imagined it. All

of us - we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children's


I was sobbing.

Crocodile tears,

and lots of them.

I tried to be quiet about it, but James kept looking at me from the table.

He tried all of his usual tricks to cheer me up.

I put on a fake smile. “I’m okay,” I told him.

But when they flashed the murdered little girl’s picture up again, I started (as quietly as possible) wailing.

He got down from the table and came up to me. He put his arms around me, and said, “Mimi, it’ll be okay.”

“I know,” I sniffled.

Then he put the full weight of his little self into my left shoulder.

“I love you, Mimi.”

To my knowledge, it was the first time that he has ever said that to anyone without a prompt.

Without an “I love you, James,” first.

Without a “Tell Mimi or Big B (or Mommy or Daddy or Honey or Poppy…) that you love him/her.”

He said it first.

And that was incredibly huge.

I want to tell you something.

Something that I think is very, very, very important:


It really does.


Dear Father,

Please pour out your unconditional love on us. Forgive us for all the ways in which we hurt you and each other. 

Heal our land, and heal our stubborn, hardened, self-righteous hearts.



It doesn’t matter what your politics are. If you are an American, you owe it to yourself (and the rest of us) to see this.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Sick Day/Snow Day

We all know that we’re too busy, right?

There’s too much rushing around. Too many deadlines. Too many To-Do lists. Too many activities. Too many interactions. Too many obligations and responsibilities.

We know that we need to get more rest. 

America has a significant Rest Deficit.

Secretly, some of us have fantasies about getting off the merry-go-round for a minute. Wiggling our noses like Samantha the Witch, and making time freeze so we can catch our breath. Having a collective time-out.

But it’s hard to stop. Activity is addictive.

Even many of us who understand that Rest is a commandment, not a suggestion, keep putting it off. We play mind games with ourselves. We try to push it to the max.

So, every now and then, we are given the gift of enforced rest.

I have a lot to say on the topic of Rest. It is critical from both physiological and spiritual standpoints.

But I’m not going to say it now, because I am much too tired…

Too tired to think or talk or type much.

I’m really sick. Looks like pneumonia.

Yesterday, I threw in the towel. I’ve been sick for a week, but fighting it. I finally gave in to it yesterday and stayed in my nightgown until around 4:00… dozing off and on, watching a Dickens movie in 14 parts. A marathon.

It felt absolutely wonderful.

Enforced rest.

But I had to fight off feelings of guilt that I wasn’t able to help more, do more.

Last night, I talked to my mother and husband on the other coast. They are snowed in. Another freak snowstorm. Nothing’s moving. Nobody’s going anywhere.

Enforced stillness.

No use fighting it. That car’s not getting out of the driveway.

I realize that there are times when you just have to receive a state of stillness, no matter what the vehicle... and embrace it as an unexpected gift, instead of an inconvenient interruption.

The world will continue to whirl, with or without me.

Now, off for the rest of Little Dorrit!


(This is some seriously deep snow for Georgia. Thanks to my husband and Miss Betty for sending the pix.)

I'll be back when I'm better.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

"I Don't Waaaaaaaaaannnt To!"

My grandson James is not #1 on my list right now.

Well, actually, he is #1 on a list, but it’s not a nice list.

He wasn’t in the running for any Mr. Congeniality Awards today.

It started in the morning, when he came over for breakfast. I politely asked him to go potty before sitting down at the table. He not-so-politely declined.

We had a few words about it.

I said, “Okay, then, but please don’t have any accidents.”

Five minutes later, he requested more milk.

As I handed him his cup, I slipped in something.

A puddle was leaking out from underneath his chair.

(loud sigh.)

Following breakfast, I fixed him a bath and politely asked him to get in.

He not-so-politely rejected that idea.

You’d have thought I requested that he submit to a voluntary amputation.

Blood-curdling screams. Sobbing.

“I don’t waaaaaaaaaaant to take a bath!”  The long vowel sound is high and nasal at the same time, like someone from New Jersey doing the purple grape girl from Willy Wonka.

Many lures, threats, and bribes later, he finally submits.

I sneak some shampoo and water into my hand while he’s looking down at the bath toys. I attack and furiously work up a lather.

“I don’t waaaaaaaaaaaant to wash my hair!”

(Mwwwaaahahaha, I think. Too late, buddy.)

The rinsing out part takes 5 minutes of persuasion and 3 seconds of forced dunking.

He runs away before I finish drying him off, and empties the entire toy box onto the floor. Its contents spill into the doorway, tripping me up as I chase after him.

“Let’s clean up the toys, James.”

“I don’t waaaaaaaaaaaant to clean up the toys!”

Five more minutes of lawyerly persuasion on my part.

It’s finally agreed that I will help him clean them up. I will help him because I love him, and people who love each other help each other.

Picking up a special toy, I am assaulted. He grabs it from me and yells, “That’s mines!” in the voice of the little Grinch guy from Lord of the Rings.


Naptime couldn’t come soon enough.

Katherine called me to come help her when he woke up. Jay was out running errands.

James’ room looked like a bomb had gone off.

Katherine sat in the middle of the floor trying to sort out the thousands of little pieces that each boy toy comes equipped with. Train tracks, here. Small cars, there. Puzzle pieces, here. Uncategorizable objects, there.

I asked if James had gone potty since awakening.

Evidently, he had gone, just not in the correct receptacle.

Numero Dos.

Katherine wanted to deal with it herself, in spite of the challenges of doing so with one working arm. A struggle ensued. Katherine ended up getting hit in the face.

Time Out.

“I don’t waaaaaaaaaaaant to go to time out!”

Too bad, buster.

Wild crying.

Escape from Time Out before time’s out.

Returned to captivity.

More wild crying.

Second escape attempt.

There’s a maternal consensus: Corporal Punishment.  (Call the cops if you have to. We adhere to the old Proverbs 13: 24 advice.)

Mimi has to administer it, as it requires two working arms.

Everyone is sad about it.

Then we all kiss and make up and say we’re sorry. Hugs and more hugs.

James and I go back to my house so Mom and Dad can get ready for their Small Group.

We repeat the same scenario from the morning, minus the bath. Plus several new messes. (i.e. throws all pillows and blankets off the sofa and chairs, jumps on bed, climbs on coffee table.)

We fight several more potty battles and argue about clean-up time.

One final wail: “I don’t waaaaaaaaaaannnnnnt to!”

I sit on the floor, looking sad and tired.

James gives me an adorable Eddie Haskell smile.

“Be happier, Mimi,” he grins at me.

I can’t resist. I scoop him up and smother the little devil with kisses.

We clean up together, because people who love each other help each other.


“Watch the kind of people God brings around you, and you will be humiliated to find that this is His way of revealing to you the kind of person you have been to Him. Now, He says, exhibit to that one exactly what I have shown to you.” (Oswald Chambers, Utmost, September 11)


Dear Lord,
Please forgive me for always wanting what I want instead of what you want. Thank you for sending me a little messenger to remind me of my New Year’s prayer. Thank you for loving me unconditionally, and for helping me clean up all my messes. Give me grace to desire what you desire for me. Have your own way, Lord. I am the clay.


p.s. This was written last night. He was so darn precious and sweet this morning, I feel bad publishing it. Guess we all deserve a bad day every now and then.