Pantylines and Politics

It’s a big week for our world and a pivotal time in history. Naturally, I’m going to take space to discuss important issues on my heart like my personal rally to forever end the Rhinestone Butt-Bling Pandemic sweeping our globe’s streets since ’99.

But seriously. Enough with the butt bling, ladies. We’re all staring at the under girth of your tush, which, unless you’re Queen Beyonce herself, is not likely your best feature.

While we’re on the topic of pants, I’d like to remind you to please wear them while shopping this holiday season. I saw not one but two fellow mamas out there in the aisles today wearing silk long johns as legware. We get confused here in San Diego without true winter, but those are base layer. Not leggings. And definitely not stand-alone pants.

I have to let myself laugh at your blasé approach to underwear lines because I’ve been there myself and because my heart is heavy for our world. The sanctuary for refugees debate is a non-question to me.

There are plenty of examples in our recent history where mentalities of fear and scarcity wrote us hall passes to dehumanize entire sets of people – usually based on ethnoreligious grouping. Looking back on a not too distant past we are bewildered by these actions. Yet. The present repeats itself.

Look. I do not pretend to come at this with any more credentials than a housewife not using that liberal arts degree with an emphasis in multicultural studies. I am not a politician or a military analysis. And I’ve been hovering over the “publish” button on this for days partly because I talked myself into being unqualified and partly because there are so many voices already out there on the subject.

It scares me that when choosing shoes to complete an outfit before a trip to the mall, one of my fashion mental filters is “how fast can I run carrying children away from danger in these”. This hate is fearful.

What scares me more is living in a time when shared tragedy somehow permisses hate-speech to be spread. Okayed. Expected. Unruffling.  This hate is fearful too.

That’s why I’m going ahead and hitting “publish”. Because while others are dehumanized, we, ourselves, are not whole.

I’ve been singing the last few stanzas of I Heard The Bells on repeat the past several days. A breath prayer. A heart plea.

And in despair I bowed my head:
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men.”

Staring at your unabashed panty lines and singing in my head as prayer. May voices of compassion and hope and a shared humanity speak louder than the fear.

“TO BE HOPEFUL in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness.
What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.
And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.” Howard Zinn





For The Mom Who…Our Talks About Foster Care

For the mom who is genuinely confused about how many kids I have:

There are three.

We are still hoping to grow our family through foster to adopt. Ideally with a kiddo from the two or under crowd. That’s kind of our sweet spot and where we know we can offer a physically and emotionally safe environment for current and incoming kids.

Meanwhile, we wait.

While we wait, we offer respite care for other foster families in the thick of it.

I say thick of it because parenting is hard. Parenting foster kids who may or may not want to be with you and have a train-load of trauma is extra hard. Parenting a mix of bio kids and foster kids together is a whole other level that can only be understood by those who live it: words simply can’t imbue the experience.

Recently our family hosted five kids within three weeks and we jumped onto that elliptical of learning curves that happens every time you venture into a difficult arena. At the end, it was an affirmation that we want to do this and we can do this.

For the mom who said she isn’t emotionally strong enough.

Previously daunting things become normalized. For instance, I am capable of meeting birth parents. That felt scary before. When trading kids after visitation in a fast-food parking lot, we are, in fact, standing on the same ground. There is no more “us vs. them”. There is only an us together for these kids.

I am not “stronger” than you, more “ready” than you, more “figured out” than you. This is something our family values.  We simply said yes. Clearly it hasn’t all been worked out yet and has only been an uphill journey. We are confident that fostering and adoption is worth it. What a greater privilege than offering life and hope to what was previously void?

For the mom who told me she could never do that [foster care] to her real kids:

I’m going to skip over that “real kids” part for now.

I get it. It’s scary. I would be lying if I said we never signed off from a day hard-drawn asking if our children will spend their adult years in therapy overcoming these years of childhood.

No, our bio kids don’t always like every minute. Let’s remember that no one in this family actually likes each other every minute. We don’t shy away from doing something because some parts look hard.

Here’s the worth-it news. Our bio kids actively learn compassion. It is not a stale Bible story or an abstract idea. It’s making silly faces at the baby to entice a laugh because giggles are healing. It’s fetching a sippy of milk for the toddler because food means safety. It’s moments when their specific personalities are highlighted and utilized to meet the need of another child sharing in their home.

Our kids have to wait sometimes and be late sometimes. It is not always their way, their choice, their moment. When did this become a bad thing? That’s just called being a part of a family and being ready to grow into a socially responsible human in relationship with others.

For the mom who calls me superwoman and for the other mom who thinks I’m a frazzled spaz-case:

Yes. You are both correct.

It is true that I have a high-capacity for life, however there is no time for me to be fake with you. Adding kids into the mix means simplifying and shaking off non-essential commitments. There is not space for doing it all, people-pleasing, or perception campaigning. I have a much more resolute “no” to peripheral requests because the importance to create space for this “yes” is bigger.

Respite & foster care for our family makes a very real physical and metaphorical mess. Each mess creates an opportunity to see traits of generosity and kindness in our bio kids, an invitation for me to remain close to the vein of God’s heart, as well as an opportunity to continue healing for the foster kids.

It is shaking it all down, and knowing God’s loving compassion and fierce resilience is holding it all up.

The Bike Ride

Do you remember that adolescent feeling when the stirring to interact with your world is bigger and wilder than your means to actually do so? Had we been in our twenties, it would have been a day for letting the car lead us, windows down and hair whipping to wherever the road and winds of inspiration intersected. Since we were fourteen we took our only option – the mountain bikes.

For a split second in the mid nineties I lived in northern California. No, no San Fran. Higher. Nope, not Chico. North, north. A little place time left untouched in the Sierras where the corners of valley stretching for sunlight are wrapped up in mountain peaks. One with the profile of a chief and headdress for alluvial fans flowing to the north and one a formidable feat of granite to the south.

There was a gala tree at the corner of our yard near the fence where fermenting apples and my teenage ideas gathered in heaps. An entire year of my life can be accounted for straddling splinters on that fencepost, looking down the hill into the valley below, singing classic showtunes and the folksy yodels of an up-and-comer; Jewel.

One year minus a few hour window when my new best friend and I entered the valley floor. The sun invited us into an unusually warm spring day, stirring our teenage boredom beyond bearability. We had to be a part of it. Hence, bikes.

Gears shifted, wheels whirred over asphalt as we passed pastures of wild grasses and the occasional cow. It would have all been very free and invigorating had it not been for the panting of the Pathfinder grinding out five mph behind us.

Yes, mom was there redefining hover before “helicopter parenting” was a thing. At some point after saying yes to our request to bike the valley but before saying yes to rationality, she allowed anxiety to overcome. She tracked us. Like a panther she persisted, following with the hazard lights flashing and an occasional honk and holler for good measure.

After a certain mileage we waved the white flag. A teenage psyche can only overcome so much. We loaded bikes on the rack and PAH-RAY-ED none of the (very small town very limited selection of) cute guys saw us with cycling helmets, let alone with this lady leaning out the window shouting at us to “push to the shoulder”.

Recently both my mom and friend-who-endured-the-bike-ride-of-shame asked if I remembered this day. (Thanks for hanging in there to be friends the day after, by the way. Not to mention nearly two decades more.) The answer to which is, of course!

It is a memory to be pocketed and revisited when my own daughter is fourteen and feels the crosshairs of independence and a need to interact with her world stir loud and unavoidable within.

I will want her to climb down from her fence feeling permission to engage in adventure. I will want to watch the freedom unfold. And yes, I will probably be totally terrified and want to offer her the experience while still controlling every aspect with my hand readied on the horn to honk warning and my head tilting out to holler cautionary reminders along the way.

Instead, I will rub this memory between my thumbs with the frenzy and familiar smoothness of a worry-rock and repeat the maternal mantra of each new generation of mothers – “don’t do that thing your mom did to you”. But we will because teenagers dream and sing and adventure and moms of teenagers worry. Just each generation a little less than the one before.

On Being A Yes Mama

I’m a Yes Mama. I love saying yes to my kids. It’s one of my greatest delights. Let’s face it, kids have so little control of their lives and all too often there isn’t space in our family schedule of school/errands/activities/dinner/repeat to open doors for variance or hair-brain ideas. I’m a big fan of hair-brain ideas.

Yes. The most powerful word I have for my kids. Yes! Wrap is up in exclamations and smiles and throw a rodeo arm up as it flaps and flies you to unknown lands with your littles leading the way.

Quantifiers, qualifiers, disclaimers; saying yes doesn’t mean being permissive or rolling in excessive selfishness. It has been noted that I have the world’s lowest BS-o-meter in relationships with others which presents itself in a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to cases of gimme-gimmies with my kids. There is goodness and benefit to saying no. But right now we’re talking about saying yes.

I live for saying yes. They bring their ideas to me hopeful, expectant. One hundred percent of the time these thoughts are packed in inconvenience and inefficiency. And yet? Worth it. Every time worth the opportunity to let them grow. Every time saying yes digs up treasures otherwise left fallow.

Here’s the shape sorter: Does it create connection? Does it connect creativity? That’s it. If they bring an idea that links relationships, I’m in. If it fans the flames of inspiration and art, we’re doing it. As often as possible.

Because of “yes” we have: sprinkled toes spontaneous and sandy at the bay, enjoyed burnt toast topped with banana and bell pepper followed with Pediasure chasers for dinner, stocked the car with chenille handled homeless snack packs, unceremoniously painted walls of our home, and hosted neighborhood stuffed animal birthday parties to name just a few.

Really, it’s less about the activity and more about what it creates. A safe practice ground for kids to explore God’s heart, a parametered space to get to know their own,  and to recognize what sparks the pitter patter of joy or gratitude or lightness of being within it.

Yes bonds over unexpected adventures and giggles. It is extravagant love expressed in actions kids can understand. Yes is a memory maker.

I want to be a Yes Mama.




Remembering Hope While Parenting in a Pain-filled World

Sunday the sunset was a battle of angels in the sky – too intense to look at, too mesmerizing not to. A blaze that blinded and branded the existence of Hope back into hearts. It’s been feeling all a little much and heavy, this parenting in a world where we are so globally and graphically aware of our communal pain, our personal privilege, and the inefficiency of a power that is not big enough to fix it.


Each generation of parents must feel like the world is at it’s worst for them. Great grandma instructing, “always be home before dinnertime,” knowing children are many and food is scarce during the Depression. Then the whole Vietnam debacle followed by too many pains and mistakes to list in the decades following.

In our day-to-day, we look as prosperous and cozy as we ever have. Our home full of food and toys and designer rugs and safety. But there’s a picture of a little boy facedown in the sand on our computer and a little girl staring at me with bomb burns all over her body in the newpaper on my counter. My kids replay their lockdown drill and we take it a step further by walking a course from their school doors to the police station nearby and try to keep the tone not totally terrifying when I ask them what they do should a dangerous person actually get in their classroom. It is all too apocalyptic this is the reality for our Post 9-11 babies. But the PSA at the beginning of the movie previews on our date night the other evening reminds us that this confusion of cushy-ness and unsafety are the constant in the lives of our children.

Being aware of this sucks the oxygen from the room. The alternatives are to either ignore or altogether lose hope in our shared humanity. Neither real alternatives at all. We look for hope. Sometimes we cup little moments of hope between our hands like so many fireflies scooped from the twilight and other times hope shoots towards us in glaring shards of sunset, reminding us to look up, breathe in the good, and call for the kids to join us barefoot on the driveway so we can stare at the sky and be reminded. There is goodness. There is peace. There is a love for all of us in spite of ourselves. 



The Hope and The Promise of School Drop Off

There they go, little backpacks bobbing into the fast-moving energy of hundreds of other bobbing backpacks. I watch their second-grader and kindergartener heads weave through the wave of kids and my heart is overcome with pride and love and worry. Their business is to go. Mine is to walk away and let them.


As teacher parents, of course we want them to learn academics and problem solving and the art of loving to learn. But mostly? I want them to learn who they are. To learn how God made them singularly and sufficiently. To learn about their classmates. To engage in their joys and heartbreaks in ways uniquely privileged to peer relationships in their kid world that we don’t get admittance to anymore as adults.


My job is to speak a foundation of holy identity over my children, making conversations about their inherent worthiness and unique strengths so normal they internalize these guiding posts into their vernacular and their heart. My role is to walk away from those little backpacks believing the power of the Spirit is accessible to them as children; that their tiny ears and tiny souls packed up in their tiny bodies can hear God’s infinite Spirit repeat the whisper of identity into them – yes, even at public school – and they hear the guidance of God’s love draw them into relationship with others, intuit needs of others, and respond accordingly.


Backpacks bobbing down colorful tiled halls, little bodies on their way to do big things. One last eye contact, one last wink, one last thumbs up. They’re not waiting to be a part of this Kingdom come to earth until they’re older; they are an active part of it now. Joy, pride, worry, what-ifs, anticipation, love, the whole swirl of feelings as I watch them walk away. The parenting tango of structure and freedom. Yes, their job is to go. My job is to let them.

Back To School Rally for Parents

School is starting up again and mamas everywhere are gulping air & watching their hearts march away inside embroidered “small” sized backpacks large enough to engulf our children head to calf. Notes drawn in lunch boxes and family mantras written in invisible ink on their souls. I have a friend who wrote UBU on the wrist of her kindergartener as a reminder to be your own wild and precious self when unsure of what to do in the midst of all these strangers. Beautiful.


This is not a back to school post about our kids though. (That’s to come.)

This, is about us.


I dare claim class mixers and first days and Open House nights are as scary and as needed for us parents as they are for our children. We’re showing up with our casseroles to parent potluck and our pencil wreaths to first day hoping no one notices our uncertainty in our coffee at the parent mingle. Okay, you’re showing up with casseroles and first day gift baskets, I’m lucky if I make it to the party, but the playing ground on the playground is  the same for us.


Whether it’s a new school, new teacher, new grade, nothing new at all, we are required to enter bravely. To honor ourself by openly showing who we are. To honor others by allowing them to be themselves. Remembering that we are sacred and that kindness has always been the best kind of cool. 

I don’t have this down yet. Mostly I write to remind myself; to cheer you and me on. We show our littles how to do it by doing it ourselves first. A bag full of hopes moving one foot at a time down those halls. You just be you. It’ll all shake out.