I’m Almost Old

The kindergarten boy has been struggling to find sleep before ten o’clock these days.  He tells me he can’t stop dreaming, and I tell him to turn his daydreams into the sleeping kind, and then he lies there for another hour with his wide-awake reveries.

Lately, this little dreamer has been making routine comments about his mama becoming an old lady.  Several days ago there was this:

“Mama, you’re almost 33!”

“Yes.  Just a few more months.”

“Well, I will make sure to check for any gray hairs growing on your head.”

I laughed heartily, but he was gravely serious.

I wish that I could morph into his five-and-a-half-year-old brain for several long moments, and view the exact thoughts that are unfolding. The whimsical, the unrealistic, and the wonder-filled; perhaps the very thoughts that my own brain dreamed up, just 27 years ago.  Instead, I’m left filling in the gaps.  Tonight, as I stood next to his top bunk, holding his hand and encouraging the sleeping kind of dreams, we had the sweetest, hardest talk.

“Mama, are you standing on the bottom bunk?”

“Nope. My feet are flat on the floor.”

Silence.….then, “What if I was that tall?”

“Well, you will be. One day.”

<Moments of thoughtful quiet from the dreamer.>

“Mama?  When I am that tall, can I still kiss you?”


“But can I still sit on your lap?” His throat is closing, threatening tears for both of us.  He can barely get his questions out without crying, and I can barely respond.

“Of course.”

“But can we still rub our noses together?”


I could scarcely say the word. Always. Because I know that there will come a day when he will not want our noses to kiss like Eskimos.  Somehow, I found my voice, leaving the tears behind my eyes and reassured him that we could do all of those things forever; that even when he’s taller than a bunk bed and I’m an old lady, we would still just be a mama and her boy giving nosey kisses. He gave me his cheesiest, sweetest smile, and then I walked out of the room and freed my captive tears.

I’m not sure what is sparking my little dreamer’s thoughts on aging.  Maybe it’s the visits to our  99 year old next-door neighbor.  Maybe it’s the books we’ve been reading.  Maybe it’s the talks about eternity, because he asks and asks all the questions.  Likely, it’s a combination.

A few nights ago, as I sat next to our gorgeous, wrinkled-thin neighbor on her couch,  I was very aware of the little eyes staring at us from the chair just ten feet away.  When I glanced at the dreamer he was an unblinking statue, intent on memorizing the 99 years that had found themselves all wrapped up in a human.  I wanted to peer into his mind and see the etchings that were being marked there.  I can tell that my boy secretly adores her. I can also tell that he is petrified by her fragility and her other-worldly, timeless elegance.  And I suppose, if I am honest, I share the entirety of his feelings.

Like the dreamer, I, too, have musings on aging.  I look in the mirror.  I see lines that may or may not have been in that exact spot yesterday.  I see photos from three short years ago, and I just can’t put my finger on the difference I see between the me in the mirror and the me in the photo. …..Wait.  Oh.  Sharp inhale.  I looked so….youngThree years ago.

I’d like to tell you that I am completely and gracefully accepting my fresh, baby wrinkles.  I’m not, friend.  Aging is so weird.  On one hand, I am so enthusiastically excited to have the wisdom that comes with each decade.  On the other, I want to make it stop at once.  More than the freaky things that happen to the withering body, I want to hold all of these right now moments with my tiny people in my palms and make the wildly spinning earth STOP.  And then I remember the words I’ve told the dreamer so many times.  An echo of the words C.S. Lewis spoke.  Again and again, I remind myself: This is not our true home. This is merely a shadow of what real life will be.  Bring on the wrinkles.




You & Me

It seems like a thousand lifetimes since I sat down in front of this screen to write.  It also feels like yesterday.  Isn’t that how life goes?  It fleets and it flies, it lingers and dawdles.  Always in tension.  I need to tell you… I’ve missed you, friend.  I miss the words I leave; the ones you take.  I miss you responding in authentic rawness, reciprocating all the feelings I just spewed.  I also miss your silence; knowing you read, because you told me so, but you didn’t resonate and so you remained silent, so as not to rustle my insecure feathers.  I miss you extra, friend.  I like your compliance to the unspoken rules of the “let there be peace even when I think you’re insane” club.  Thanks for that.  I want to tell you things.  I want to sit with you over fifty-four mugs of coffee (only the cute mugs) so that we truly get one another.  I’m pretty sure if you’ve journeyed with me this far, you get me a little, but I want to get you, too.  Are we similar?  Are we opposites?  Are we Anne of Green Gables style bosom friends and kindred spirits?  If so, how can we be best friends asap?  No matter where you and I fall on the <friends of life> spectrum, I want to tell you things.  Let me start here…and then you respond and tell me about your current state, capiche? (If you speak “Uncle Jesse”, we are bosom friends already.)

This year has been for growing and exploring, and for understanding who I do and do not want to be.  Because I am a list-making fool, here ya go:

To be:

  • g e n u i n e : do this loudly.  Do it in spite of the people who may think your genuineness is equivalent to stupidity or weakness.  Just be you.
  • Lovely: be pleasant.  Because there’s no reason not to be.  People deserve kindness.  They crave it.  Feed the people loveliness.
  • Mama: the bear cubs need me to be this.  Even on the days when I don’t feel it.  Even on the days when I want to runaway.  Just keep pouring the milk, handing the snacks, kissing the wounds.  Even though it’s the most nauseating cliché, I will miss these days.  Be the mama.
  • Daughter of the one, true, living God: this is the cry of my heart.  The thing that my bones proclaim when my heart attempts to fail.  I am His.  For all of time, I am His.  Hallelujah, amen.

Not to be:

  • Someone else: on the days when I don’t like me, this is oh-so-tempting.  But I am me, and you are you, and if we tried to be one another, the world would be confused and fickle.
  • The worst version of me: to avoid this requires stillness and surrender, prayer and wisdom.  Left alone, I am scary, y’all.  I need a whole lot of Jesus and a lot less of Jo.
  • Weird: dear Jesus, let me never be the ignorant, arrogant, unrelatable follower of You that people run from.  Aaaaaah.  Amen.
  • Lazy:    Less lazy:  doable.

Friend, I sincerely like you.  I hope that your “to be” and “not to be” lists at least include the word genuine.  If so, we are bosom friends.  Here’s to longing for authenticity, and for finding our places in this great big, miniature world.  (And for writing blog posts once ever four months…ahem.)




And here’s to the Dr. Seuss-ish flowers who narrowly missed being tossed with the rest of the crumpled, rotten bouquet.  All they needed was for their dehydrated leaves to be plucked and they’re ready for round two.  They speak so fiercely to my heart today. 

Our Best

There’s a little shaggy-headed, ocean-eyed, almost kindergartener in our home.  He stands so tall that I can wrap my arm around his wee neck without bending over.  He smiles so big that my heart hurts.  And he can throw a fit so fierce that it makes me want to sprawl out and nap until he goes to bed.

Every couple of months, Captain Eyes-So-Blue and I have a rough week.  It’s like clockwork.  This is one of those weeks.  There have been talks about respect, talks about obedience, and lots of beloved, confiscated Transformers.  The constant combat this week has left me feeling drained and parentally discouraged.

Last night, though, was the best time that little boy and I have ever had together.  Ever.  He was struggling for sleep, and when I was getting ready to head off to bed, he meandered into the hallway and asked if he could cuddle me until he fell asleep.  Since the studious husband was going to be up reading for his “History and Philosophy of Science” course (umm…what does that even mean?!), I agreed.

After quietly reading the entire notebook full of puppy stories that he has written and illustrated, <insert 94 heart eyes> he was quite chatty.  It started with talk of our rough week, and we both admitted that we were struggling with various things.  He said, “Mama, I really try my best everyday.”  My response was so immediate that I knew it was the truest of the trues for each of us.  “Me, too, buddy, “ I said quietly.

I asked Jude if he wanted me to pray for him, and he said that he’d like prayer that he could be kind to everyone, everyday.  Golly.  A great prayer template for the whole world.  When I finished, he asked what my prayer requests were.  I told him frankly, that I needed God’s help to respond more lovingly, rather than getting so frustrated and angry with the people I love.  His simple prayer humbled me straight through.  The part that struck like lightning, that I will remember forever was this:

“Help Mama to do a great job….like she’s already doing.”

Guys.  Through all my shortcomings, in all my weaknesses, God takes my prayers to be a good mother, and He helps those darling boys to have grace.  He helps them to see that I’m doing my best today, and if that involves a harsh tone or grumbles of frustration, then my best means to offer apologies and reconnect.

Aren’t we all just trying our best everyday?  Why do we put so much pressure on ourselves?  This life isn’t supposed to be easy, and if it were, I imagine we wouldn’t have very much character or depth.  I think that when properly navigated, our mountains and scars should leave us stronger, wiser, and far more relatable and compassionate.

Lastly, that sweet boy’s prayer for me allowed me to have grace for myself during our rough week.  The feelings of failure and dejection that stem from persistent conflict can feel insurmountable.  But when that little voice told God that I was doing a pretty good job, it made me realize that even our roughest of days are not beyond grace.  It’s comforting to know that our best is enough.




If I knew how to add emojis to this, there would be fifty kissy heart faces. Gahhh. He writes books about puppies, people. And they always end with “and then the puppies went to the store to buy more flowers.” I can’t make this stuff up.  And that little brother to the left? He has permanently turned my heart to goo. He calls me his “Sweet Babboo” like Sally calls Linus in Peanuts. Please.

Sinking. And Sticks. And Blue.

I’ve been sinking for two months.  Partially submerged, partially afloat, bobbing up and down, and waiting…waiting…waiting for easy.  I’ve also been hiding, and isolating, and pretending to be fine; these things I do when I am sinking.  Slowly.

Last night I had my sweet “cousin friend” over for a glass of wine, a brownie, and lots of words.  God did this cool thing when I moved to Charlotte; He introduced me to the most lovely woman in North Carolina, who also happened to be my long lost relative.  We had never met, nor heard of one another, but after comparing genealogies (yep..we did that), and emailing family members, we realized that we were distant cousins..or something related.  I have come to rely on her for a good dose of mellowing me with her soft soul, or spewing my inner junk upon her so that she can magically turn it into beauty with encouraging words.  She’s the definition of lovely.  So it was natural that she would be the one I would choose to cry to, and tell of my 2016 woes.  You guys.  I actually said these words: I keep longing for it to be 2017 already.  Why.why.  That is so ugly.  My talk with the dear cousin friend made me realize that the healing comes in the sharing.

At some point over the past eight weeks, I decided that I needed to deal with all the hard stuff in life all by myself.  I purposed to be stronger, wiser, pray more diligently, and get through all the sickness, the isolation, the depression, ALONE.  But you see, we weren’t designed to live in exile.  We were given spouses, and families, and friends, and communities.  Somewhere along the way, I convinced myself that if I shared my burdens with my husband, or anyone, that I would be a life-draining turd that no one needed around.  What.the.hell.  This is the opposite of everything that I stand for.  I would lead a flipping march if it would compel more people to live authentically.  And here I am, sinking under the weight of aloneness.

I think it happens slowly, the sinking.  When you get sick, you need a new dishwasher, you get sick again, your heater breaks, you get sick again, your heater breaks again, you’re still sick, you can’t seem to get along with your husband, your heater breaks again, the neighbors are having such intense problems that the police are in your shared driveway twice a day, the money is flowing out of the account at double the speed that it’s trickling in.  I tried to float, but I was grasping for worldly hopes which are all just things when the day ends.  

I’ve been trying to find joy in these trials, as the bold and endearing James of the New Testament suggests.  Guess what?  I suck at that.  Find joy in one solitary trial?  Sure thing, James.  Find joy in eight weeks of nagging, persistent trials?  Umm…how.  I’m not there yet.  I’ve also done my fair share of feeling complete and beastly guilt for my unholy response to my trials.  The kind of guilt that reminds me of how great I have it, and leaves me feeling wholly pathetic.  However, though I do have it great, it’s okay to experience valleys, and to NOT feel guilty about them, even when they’re not as deep or wide as the valleys of others’.  Comparison is ugly in all of her forms.

Today, I was at an eight week low as I sat on our deck and stared at the sky.  The little boys were doing all the obnoxious things, the husband was out of town- day 5, and I was tuning all of life out.  I stared at the blue.  I stared at the sticks that were getting in the way of the blue, reminding me that the earth is still dead to winter.  And then the blue settled in my bones and just like that, I felt grace for myself.  I realized I had been hating myself for feeling miserable and ungrateful.  After the grace came the hope.  Thank the Lord for hope.

All of this to say: sorry I’ve checked out.  Not just writing, but to my friends, to my family…I’ve been rubbish at keeping in touch.  AND..if you’re in your own season of despair and perpetual hard, don’t keep it to yourself.  The best listener is the One who created the listening, but He also created fellow ears to listen.  And if you can’t think of  ears to share with, I would LOVE to listen..I’ve got two months worth of quiet friendlessness under my belt and vulnerability is music to my ears.

Here’s to the blue.  Here’s to floating. Here’s to the sticks growing leafy things.





Some January Things

Hellooo, friends.  It’s been almost three months since I’ve written a blog post.  There are so many reasons for this, but it mostly comes down to this….I’ve been hibernating. You know, carrying a blanket around the house all day, cooking soup nearly every evening, lighting candles in every room, carrying around mugs of hot coffee or tea, reading all the books, and well…being a hermit, mostly.  The other reason is blasted Downton Abbey.  You guys. I got the five season box set for Christmas and not only have I finished all of that, but I’m also halfway through the sixth season, which landed sweetly in my mailbox on Tuesday afternoon.  This is why I cannot watch shows.  Or have Netflix.  Or succumb to any sort of fiction book.  Because any shred of self-discipline flies away and doesn’t return until the finale.  (Side note: if you know my husband, don’t ever let him convince you that he doesn’t like Downton Abbey..because he will try..but every night when the boys go to sleep he says, “Are we going to watch Downton Abbey now?!” Read with all the excitement of a boy waiting for Santa.)

In between hibernating and Downton, I’ve had all sorts of random January thoughts.  This is the month that I dread; the one that most people await, for all of its newness and diets and snow.  However, this year I got on board with the “yay January!” train, as I made goals, did yoga, and ate Whole30 foods.  This excitement lasted all of ten days, and then I remembered why I loathe January….I got a cold that passed onto every member in our home, and will.not.go.away.  We get well for a couple of days and then it comes back with all of its January vengeance.

On a more positive note, these are my favorite January things:

  1. This article: “Why we should all embrace the Danish art of ‘hygge’- living cosily”    A friend sent it to me last week and it made me feel so….normal.  Well, at least I would be normal in Denmark, anyway.  I do this thing where I want every experience to bring some aspect of coziness- whether it’s wrapping a warm scarf around my neck, or drinking a hot coffee out of a pretty mug..I plan “cozy” into nearly all elements of my day.  Hygge= “the absence of anything annoying or emotionally overwhelming; taking pleasure from the presence of gentle, soothing things”.


    Hygge is a new library book + coffee + a quilt on the patio. Swoon. 

  2. Yoga with Adriene. You’re welcome.  That is all. yoga pic
  3. This book: Simply Tuesday. The subtitle is “Small-Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World”.  Ahhh, such a refreshing thought.  The WHOLE book is like that..like a drink for your parched and busy soul. IMG_0530
  4. Decorating and undecorating..over and over. Why?  Because it’s January.  Time for fresh subtleties that make your eyes happy.  Yesterday I found a copper watering can at a thrift shop for $2…the kind of thing that my frugal decorating dreams are made of. IMG_0532
  5. Old lady hobbies.  The winter months are begging for more yarn, knitting needles, and embroidery hoops. Don’t be intimidated by your inner ‘old lady’.  She wants to help you survive the winter with crafty little doodads.


    I totally copied my friend. I was coveting the embroidery hoop + quote she had hanging on her wall, so I made one of my own so that I wasn’t tempted to steal hers. 

  6.  This little brothy/soupy concoction I made last night to help our winter colds vanish.  Just chop any and all veggies you have, sauté in olive oil with lots of garlic, lots of turmeric, parsley, salt and pepper.  Be generous with the garlic and turmeric; they are good for boosting your immune system.  After the veggies are tender, place in a bowl and pour steamy broth over them.  I made homemade broth, but store-bought would work, too. IMG_0508 

Happy 2016, friends!! I am aiming to write more consistently…but first I have to finish Downton Abbey.

Peace and joy to you.





On Neighboring

I have a long story to tell you. It involves lots of confession and reveals lots of my ugliness.  But somewhere along the way, my stubborn self got all tangled up in God’s heart for people, and though I resisted in every way humanly possible, tonight I saw what it looks like to be a neighbor.

If you have ever been to our home, you have seen the porchful of teen and 20-something year old drug addicts propped across our neighbor’s porch.  My husband and I have judged them endlessly.  We have called the drug hotline on them.  We have visited the police station about them.  We have marched over and scolded them (I’m so serious).  We have called social services to report their behavior at the home of a very, VERY ancient elderly, darling woman.  Nothing happened.  Our hearts grew more bitter, we saw more and more drugs pass between hands outside of our bedroom window, and we continued to step across a filthy, debris covered porch strewn with young humans and candy wrappers to visit the precious lady behind those old walls.

At the beginning of the summer, I took an early morning jog through our neighborhood.  It didn’t take me long to realize that my iPhone was mysteriously playing the SAME song over and over, though it was not on repeat.  I decided to listen to the lyrics rapping in my ears.  It was a song by Lecrae called “Beautiful Feet”.  The song pleads with ordinary people to bring the gospel to the “hood”.  The song says, “I pray to God you’d be burdened for beautiful feet- go, go, go- run with those beautiful feet~ you hold the truth that saves, so run and shout it the world.”  Although we do not live in the “hood” as described in the song, we do have our fair share of drug deals and other shenanigans.  In one summer month, three of the four houses we can see from our home had visits from the police.  I listened to the song the entirety of my run, with tears streaming down my face and conviction to have “beautiful feet” in my own neighborhood.  And then I jogged home and rolled my eyes at the neighbors’ front porch again.  Totally missed that lesson.

Apparently God wasn’t impressed with my ignorance, because the next time I ran, the song played over and over…again. (Though I clicked “shuffle” and double checked it.)  I missed the point again.

Occasionally throughout the summer, my heart would be stirred to have “beautiful feet”, so I would do something really sacrificial (add sarcasm font) and grab a handful of popsicles and say, “Come on, kids. Let’s go give these popsicles to all of those guys on the porch.”  And then we would hurry back to our safe little house with the bad guy alarm which we had installed especially for them.

All summer long, the breeze kept whispering, love your neighbor.  And I kept responding, “But our neighbors do drugs.   Then, last week, before I could change my mind, I asked my husband if he could run next door and invite the neighbors for Sunday supper.  I made sure to include, “But none of the friends! Just the three of them.”  (Sigh. I’m a work in progress.)  They agreed.

Tonight, thirty minutes before our guests would arrive, I felt the unmistakeable tug of Jesus’ love for the dirty, outcast, poor “neighbors” of the world and asked my son to run over and invite one more.  This “one more” is homeless.  He lives in a tent in the trees near us.  I was feeling so joyful; we were finally stepping into what it looks like to “live in community”…to “be uncomfortable”…to “love like Jesus did”…all of these things that I get really excited about, but SUCK at executing.

However, when 6:00 came around, there stood the three of them on our front porch, without the one more.  I was so sure that I had heard from the Holy Spirit on this one that I slipped on my rain boots into the rainy newness of the evening and headed to the porch next door.  But I stopped in my tracks.  It wasn’t just one more…there were two there.  The 2nd one was the one who grunts when I try to say ‘hi’; the one whose hand passes the drugs.  “No, not him,” I told God.


I swallowed my fear and judgement and continued on my short way.  “You guys are welcome for supper,” I said quickly.  The grunty one looked to the “one more” to respond.  His reply caught my self-absorbed, ugly thoughts, and threatened to turn them into crocodile tears: “I hope you don’t think I’m being rude, but I’m just too embarrassed to come to your home.  I haven’t showered in a really long time.”  Friends. Something happened then.  Every ugly thought, every pointless call to the police, it was all meaningless.  This was my NEIGHBOR.  My selfish, ugly heart softened and I let Jesus take over for a minute.  I offered him our shower.  I carried bowls of chili and cornbread over to them.  I invited the “least of these” to a future game night at my house.  And Jesus, by His grace, showed me what it means to love others.

We had a great time tonight.  And though my weak, human heart offered twenty excuses when my kind-hearted husband said, “Let’s start doing his laundry,” I know this was the first step to its softening.  I finally saw these young men as people rather than a problem.  It is not my job to “fix” these guys.  It is simply my job to love them.

*** I wrote this several days ago, unsure if I would post it.  But friends, at this very moment, I am sitting on my patio watching firefighters and paramedics try to break into an old lady’s home two doors down from us.  I’m a teary, snot-faced mess.  Did she die?? I met her one morning last spring as I jogged the neighborhood.  Her name is Helen.  She told me that if I ever came to visit to knock on the back door, so she would know it was a friend.  You guys…I never knocked.  I’m pretty sure the first step to being a good neighbor is knocking.  It might be too late for me to knock on Helen’s door, but there are other doors around here I’ve never knocked on.  Who lives behind them?  Are they lonely?  Would it brighten their day to share a tea together?

Please, dear friends, go knock on your neighbor’s doors.  Invite them over to share a meal with you.  Even if they’re smelly and homeless, even if they’re a hundred years old and you have to repeat everything seven times.  Go, love your neighbors.


Zero Closets & One Miniature Bathroom

After watching our funny little HGTV show, I realized that people (ahem…Americans) probably think we are nuts for choosing a home with one tiny bathroom and zero closets, no garage and the smallest budget HGTV has probably ever seen.  However, most of that was quite intentional, and I decided to share the WHY behind why we chose our home.

(Disclaimer: In absolutely NO way am I suggesting our choice of lifestyle is “better than” those who choose a large home.  Just like I am passionate about decorating and you may hate it, I am passionate about living simply, and it’s okay if you hate that, too. To each his own.)🙂

I grew up in a rather large home which had three levels.  It was not uncommon for us to be so spread out in the house that we had to shout to locate the person we were looking for.  After living in a billion tiny apartments in my twenties, I quickly learned to love the close proximity I was to my family, the ease in which it was cleaned, and the constant purging of clutter so that we could enjoy our small space.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to embrace the freedom and joy that comes with living simply.  Can I tell you, I was excited about having no closet space?  Because closets attract clutter and unnecessary belongings and make my heart anxious.  That old adage, “less is more”?  It’s so true.  I used to be unable (unwilling) to part with anything as a youngster and it all got hidden in parts of our extra-large house~ in the crawl space, in the back of closets, in useless dresser drawers.  Until one day when I had to go through all of it.  Gasp. Barf. Disbelief.  “Not my old junk? Didn’t it disappear into the realm of crawl-spaciness?”  You guys.  1,000 My Little Ponies.  2,000 Cabbage Patch Dolls.  3,000 Trolls.  I can’t even.  Worst day ever. After sorting through gobs of leftovers from the 1990’s, I vowed to NEVER let it happen again.  Junk does not bring joy.  People do.  God does.  But not junk. 

This summer, I kept hearing excitement from two friends in two different states, who were reading the same book.  Intrigued, I ordered it on Amazon.  The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. It’s brilliant.  The concept is that you ONLY own the things that bring you joy and are useful to you.  So, in a “marathon” of tidying your belongings, you physically touch everything you own and determine its fate.  So far, I’ve only tidied my clothing, but I feel so F R E E!!  And let’s be real for a sec…the fact that “paperwork” is a thing to be tidied, has made me put the book down and read less terrifying books, but it’s brilliant, nonetheless.  I simply cannot wait until our home ONLY has useful things filling its hidden spaces.


My closet (IKEA wardrobe closet) after the great purge. Other than my pajamas and folded shirts in my dresser, this is it folks. No hidden bins of clothes anywhere, none smooshed into the top of the closet…only things that I get excited to wear. I love it.

“Living simply” for us also means living beneath our means.  That meant purchasing a home for little so that we could actively pay off debt AND have excess for things like traveling.  We are obsessed with traveling and to us, this was more important than having a more costly house.  My husband said this when we were talking about this topic: “In this country we spend so much of our time and resources on things that we just don’t need, which causes us to be exhausted over things that don’t matter. Why don’t we spend our limited resources on things that actually matter?”

So many people have asked me this past month, “How’s it going with one bathroom?”  Let’s see…9 months in and we are still alive.  My sons have peed outside several times (to their utter delight) and we’ve only had a couple of REALLY uncomfortable situations. <insert poop emoji>  My favorite moments are when one of us is in the shower, one on the toilet, and two kids + lazy Basset Hound filling in the gaps.  I can’t wait for that conversation 30 years from now: “Remember when we lived in that one house that had a bathroom the size of a postage stamp?” <Ensuing laughter>  And then I think of the billions of people who would be THRILLED to have our one mini bathroom.  And I’m humbled.

Look! We all fit!

Look! We all fit!


Our mini bathroom. I can clean it top to bottom in less than 10 minutes. Win.

It’s okay not to follow the American Dream.  It’s okay to want less instead of more.  And it’s okay if everyone thinks you’re nuts in the process.

I have a dear friend from back home who has a wonderful little blog called Smallish. She talks all things simple from living in small spaces to living green.  Check it out.

And if you decide to make a home with no closets your own, we are soul sisters.



Pondering Community

Nine months ago, we moved into our home.  Eight months and three weeks ago, I said, “Hey, let’s invite our neighbors over for supper.”  And yesterday, we finally invited them.

Yes, I am the queen of procrastination, but eight months and three weeks to accomplish something so simple and practical is just absurd.  And it got me thinking…why DO we avoid community??  Is it because it’s so much work?  Is it because it could be an epic fail and we may never recover from two hours of excruciating conversation?  Are we afraid there will be upkeep involved…that we might have to start inviting them over regularly if we invite them over once?

Earlier this evening, while I was making supper (like I do every night) and tidying the house (like I do every night), I thought, Why in the world did we wait nine months to do this??  It was a meal…that we would have eaten anyways; why NOT share it with the 98 year old widow and her elderly son next door??  Or why NOT invite the jobless, pothead neighborhood 20-somethings over for a game night?  Isn’t this exactly how Jesus asked us to love others?  And yet, we avoid it because it’s uncomfortable and inconvenient.

Guess what.  Our meal this evening?  It was awkward.  We were searching for conversation. We shouted everything we said so we could be heard by sweet ears that have been listening to the world for nearly a century.  But more than the uncomfortable silences or the shouting voices, I got to see my little boys bringing our guest their favorite things and telling her all about them.  I got to crush on my man as he carefully helped her back home.  And he got to hear these beautiful words from her son: “Thank you. She has been looking forward to this all day.”

Just like that, in one fell swoop, we were all blessed like crazy.

This morning, I wrote myself this note as I pondered true community:

What does community look like?

  • Being intentional
  • Seeking out relationships~ not just those we have commonalities with, but also those who don’t have community.
  • What would it look like if EACH of us sought to be intentional about community in our neighborhoods?

Let’s find out, friends.



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What Preschool Looks Like In Our House

It’s that time of year again.  That weird part of summer when you start craving scarves and all things pumpkin, but the weatherman says it’s going to be in the high 90’s into the foreseeable future.  Target smells of pink erasers and school shoes, and as you stare at the endless aisles of pencils and notebooks, you find yourself wondering if you could squeeze in one last trip to the beach before summer gives up on you.

And just like that, your Facebook newsfeed is filled with photo after photo of “first day of school” snapshots, and all sorts of nonsense about football this and that.

Today, I joined the “back to school” club and posted photos of my sweet minions wearing their backpacks.  I didn’t think anything of it until I received a message from a fellow homeschool mom, thanking me for posting photos.  It made me realize that a year ago, I, too, wondered if it would be strange for me to post photos of my barefoot, home educated kiddo on his first day of “preschool”.  After all, he was not going to preschool, in the traditional sense.  But he would still be learning, and growing, and it was a moment to be celebrated.  So, post away, homeschool parents!

I am often asked what we DO for school, and I realized that people think that everyday, from 8:00a.m.-noon, my house looks like Pinterest vomited preschool activities all over it, complete with teddybear shaped snacks and Mother Goose nursery rhymes.  Umm…NO.  If that’s your style, by all means, I think you’re a rockstar, but that would simply kill my soul.

Our days look something like this: morning cartoons, breakfast, playtime, get dressed (or not), one to two hours of story time, workbooks, and something fun like scissors, paint, play-dough or blocks, and then…just…life.

If the boys seem really interested in learning about something, we roll with it.  For instance, last year, Jude and I learned all about every kind of weather pattern and natural disaster.  When we finished a week on hurricanes, he would say, “now earthquakes!”

Another example: Jude and I have been talking about the benefits of composting for a while now, so today, when he said, “Hey let’s go put these eggshells outside and start our compost pile,” I replied, “Why not?”  Because really, WHY NOT.  The biggest thing I have learned in my little year of homeschooling is that often the best learning opportunities aren’t written on my planner.  They happen when I say “yes” to composting on a humid afternoon, or when I take the time to sound out the letters in s-t-o-p at the stop sign.  They happen when I let my little men crack eggs into the skillet even though I know I’ll be picking out teeny fragments of shell.  They also happen when we share life with other people; when they get to pick out flowers to bring to our 98 year old neighbor and then actually interact with her…you know, like kids did before there were a billion electronic devices to hide behind while mom and dad visited the elderly neighbor.

So, as imperfect as it may be, that’s our simple little version of school.  I’m not going to lie…there are days when I feel like driving them to the nearest preschool so I can have a few hours of blasted QUIET.  But mostly?  It fits us in this season of life and I love it.

Happy school year!

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Last night, a dear friend encouraged me to write more often, even if it’s just a wee thought, so that’s what I’m going to do.  I love to write, but rarely do I find the time or motivation to do so.  So, I’m going to accept her challenge and try to write once per week for a while, even if it’s just a paragraph.  My friend said these short writings could be little “Jlurbs”–like “Jo blurbs”…so here’s my first Jlurb.😉

Today, while at lunch over at Project 658 (my fave place..seriously, click the link and see why I’m in love. It’s the best.), I met a new friend.  She is a refugee from Afghanistan, who walks from her apartment with her four children (including a 3 month old baby) to Project 658 where she is taking ESL classes and trying really hard to learn English.  Her family has lived in the States for ten months, but they were moved three times before ending up in North Carolina.  I tried to wrap my comfortable, American brain around that…moving four times in ten months, with three children, one pregnant belly, and a country where you don’t speak the language or know the culture.

I marveled at this courageous woman and asked, “Do you like it here?…In America?”  Her answer was immediate; the kind of answer you know better than you know yourself, because there could be nothing truer to you.  She replied, “Oh yes. The security is very good here.”

You guys.  I nodded.  And then I mumbled something like, “Yes, America is..very….safe.”

Can I tell you?  This dear woman’s response to my simple question has humbled me the rest of this day.  For all the times I worry about meaningless nothings.  For all the times I complain to my husband that it’s going to take us a whole year to save up to go to flipping Disney World.  For all the times I have prayed, God, can I please just have six months that are easy? Can I just have a break?

And all the while, just a few miles down the road, lives a beautiful Afghani woman, so thankful for her family’s security.  And how they are part of the lucky few who get the opportunity  to flee the madness of the only home they know, and make America their new home.  A woman who is thankful.

So today?  Today I learned a lesson on gratitude.  Today I am thankful for our security.  I am thankful to live in a country that allows others a safe haven (no matter how many faults I find in her, America is still lovely).  I am thankful that I have time to worry about nothings because I’m not worrying about the safety of my family.  I am thankful that Disney World is an attainable hope for sometime in the next few years.  And lastly, I am thankful that life is NOT easy.  Because when it’s easy and comfortable, I am robbed of the chance to grow, and to feel, and to rely on my God, who is so much grander than I could dream.