Friday, August 31, 2012

Flashback Fridays

Well, technically this is my last Flashback Fridays since they were an institution of the summer, but because I will be in Disneyworld next Friday, I will likely have one more for you.  I went way back for this one.  It's short and was written in the first month or so of me writing.  This was originally written on December 16, 2010, and entitled Mustard Seeds.  My writing will be a little light next week since I'll be partying with my kiddos in Florida, but I will be back in full force with you after my birthday.  Happy Labor Day!

A very dear friend of mine is going through a very dark storm right now. Her sweet precious 4 year old has a very aggressive cancer. Despite all my weeks in the hospital with our babies, this is a new kind of trauma that I can't imagine. It is prolonged. It wreaks havoc even outside of the chemo treatments. And it wears you down to a state where you are scared to ask for miracles for fear that God might disappoint you - and then what? What would happen to all those years of faith if He didn't intervene like you asked?

I understand your faith being tested. I have been intimately acquainted with your hopes being dashed and dark news greeting you like a hail storm.  And while I have no words of wisdom for those going through a cancer storm with a child, I do know that the Lord understands that we are human (God made us after all) and does not expect us to blithely dance through trauma unaffected and sunnily optimistic. Our faith may feel small, but He tells us that small faith can do big things!  My mom gave me a mustard seed encased in a glass bead dangling from a gold chain which I wore through much of my childhood. It was supposed to be an ever present reminder that even though sometimes our faith feels SO small to us, God can use our small faith to do big things.  The God who multiplied 5 loaves and 2 fish, the God who raised Lazarus from the dead, the God who walked on water and calmed the storms WANTS to do big things.  He is a moving mountains kind of a God.  And when that mountain stands between you and survival, it is so hard to believe it will move and it is so scary to ask. But it CAN move.  So open your palm, imagine that teeny tiny mustard seed, and believe in a God of miracles.

Matthew 17: "Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

*Note from 2012: my darling friend's daughter is in full remission.  I know this isn't the answer for everyone with this struggle, but praise gracious God that it was His answer for her. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

39 Things: Week Two Update

I heard a man on the NPR recently say, "If it's not essential, useful or beautiful, what good is keeping it?" 

How many items in my house meet that standard?  More fail that criteria than meet it. 

I have completed Week 2 of the 39 Things Challenge.  Week 1, as I reported, was not only invigorating but successful.  I far surpassed the requirement to give 39 things away during the week, eliminating yet another car full, and I satisfied my $3 a day budget. 

Week 2 was harder.  I lost some of my steam in the clearing out process.  I did tackle the long overdue sideboard and as you can see I went from four overflowing drawers down to just one normally full one. 

Numerous drawers are more organized and leaner. 
However, since that yields itself to more trash than giving to Goodwill (which still counts as long as I trash 39 things, which I again surpassed), it felt less effective.  However, I did collect one more full box of items for Goodwill, numbering at least 39, and eliminated over two trash bags full of "junk."

Frustratingly, I busted my $3 a day budget.  Because I busted it last Friday, it set me off for the whole week (the challenge budget begins after each Wednesday).  I set aside $22 for a girls lunch during Houston's Restaurant week which had long been calendared.  I recognized going in that was my budget for the entire week, and I planned to spend nothing else, but I didn't count on the restaurant charging for valet parking.  It was SIX dollars.  So I went over my budget by $7 for the week.  I spent nothing else on me or the kids all week, but the budget was still blown.

One valuable thing came out of that experience.  I noticed that the valet cost $6.  Before my strict budget, I probably would not have batted an eye.  Now, I nearly broke down in tears at the valet stand.  There is such an increased awareness about what I am spending money on that did not exist before. 

The same awareness invaded my acquisitions process.  I had some Zulily packages arrive during the challenge which were purchased pre-challenge.  I was affirmatively mad at them.  I angrily chastised myself for having spent the money on things the children did not need.  And now I had to find a spot for them in hard-fought and increasingly clean spaces!  Previously, I would have been overjoyed at the arrival of more "stuff." 

There's a song by The White Stripes called "Little Room."  It is, appropriately, only 50 seconds long.  White sings about working on "something good" in his little room, only to have that something good require him to move into a bigger room, and there he is lost and has to consider downsizing to re-center.

I think that is where I am.  I came from a little room.  Seriously little room.  I worked and worked and achieved "success" and had to move to this BIG room.  But you know, it is not all good in this big room.  And despite its size, it has become crowded.  The stuff filling the big room is not essential, useful, or beautiful.  I am craving the little room.  And I am on my way. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Nothing to Say

What do you write on a Tuesday, when by discipline you have to write on Tuesdays, and you have nothing to say?  I have some things to say mind you.  I have a post festering on Elohim.  A great post festering on Justice versus Grace.  I have a post on addiction that still feels too raw.  I am just not in a place spiritually to polish them off and publish them for the world to see (or friends and family as the case may sometimes be). 

So I go back to music.  It's no secret that music is what stirs my soul.  Rings up emotion in my soul when all is emotionless. 

I love Christian music, but I also have a lot of favorite artists from every spectrum of music.  I love, adore, think he is the total mack-daddy of all that is music, Tom Petty.  He's been on my Top 5 list since college.  I love John Mayer, Bob Marley, David Gray, Oasis, Lenny Kravitz, Alanis Morissette, Dave Matthews, U2, Bush, Better Than Ezra, Miles Davis and John Coltrane, Idina Menzel, and a million others. 

There is this little refrain at the end of John Mayer song on his Live in LA album which I have played so much the c.d. broke (yes, I realize I'm the only person who still listens to c.d.s).  It's called Wherever You Go.  I could turn the lyrics into somethings spiritual, but it really just makes me think of Bray.  It's such a beautiful refrain.  And you can feel the heat in the song. 

He sings Wherever I go, whatever I do, I wonder where I am in my relationship to you....

It makes me feel romantic even though he is clearly singing about Jennifer Aniston post break up.  It gives me goose bumps.  It makes me want to make out with my husband.  And the thing is, it's true.  Whatever is going on in my life, it really is in relationship to Bray.  Whatever I am doing, it is affected by our relationship. 

So for today, I give you this.  Maybe you're going through a break up and need a good break up song.  Or maybe you just need to make out (or up) with your husband and this will put you in the mood:

Monday, August 27, 2012

Exhausted or Guilty?

My husband made me an offer on Saturday.  He offered to take the kids to the farm over one of the two weekends between when we return from Disney and when he travels to Canada.  He offered to take them for the weekend alone.  He offered to let me stay at home and have a girl's weekend (or a "me" weekend).

I had two reactions simultaneously.  One was "Wow, that sounds incredible, I haven't had a weekend alone at the house since I was pregnant."  Two was "No. Way!" 

Here is the currently reality.  I am exhausted.  Dead dog, slack jawed, bone weary tired.  I have had to travel a couple of times this summer, but none of them involved relaxing.  Instead they were up early, out late, meeting and greeting the whole time.  One even involved wiping me out emotionally.  Since those trips, the kids have been coming into our bedroom in the middle of the night.  Regardless of whether or not we get them successfully re-transplanted into their rooms, I am still up two to three times during the night.  One friend told me it was more harmful to get no deep sleep than to stay up late and wake up early.  I have a book manuscript due in four weeks.  It has to be finished because the release date is February and launch parties are already being discussed.  But I don't have anything left to say.  And my schedule this fall doesn't look to let up. 

However, as a result of all of that frenzy, I also feel incredibly guilty.  Mommy guilt.  I should be spending more time with my kids.  I would prefer not to travel, especially on the weekends which are my singular uninterrupted hours with them.  They cry when I leave for work.  This morning the little lady WAILED.  I felt intensely guilty having to pull her off my lap in the car to drive away.  Every morning, the kids ask, "no Maria today?"  (Our nanny.)  They love Maria, but they really love mommy/daddy days.  The little lady prays at night that "mommy and daddy no go bye-bye."  The boys give me sad faces and big sloppy kisses and hugs before I leave as I promise repeatedly to be home that afternoon. 

I do not feel guilty about working.  It is something my family needs, and it is something I need.  I would be a bad mommy if I didn't work.  Heck, I am a lunatic on the weekends half the time because they are so trying right now at two years old and defiant.  But I do feel guilty about ANYTHING that is not me going into the office during the weekday.  Drinks with the girls once that month?  Guilty.  Firm dinner for summer interns?  Guilty.  Book trip to Chicago?  Guilty.  A weekend ALONE with no actual technical conflict to take me away from my kids?  Really guilty. 

I actually don't know what I will decide to do.  I have not decided.  While I initially told my husband no, he told me to think about it.  I will.  But the other thing I will think about is being exhausted versus being guilty.  Neither of them make me a better person and neither one reflect me relying on my faith. 

I spent some time this morning trying to find something scriptural to say about mommy guilt.  There isn't really anything, but there is this:  the Bible says there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus (Romans 8), it says the Lord won't accuse and He's removed our sins as far as the East is from the West (Psalm 103), it offers that when we lie down our sleep will be sweet (Proverbs 3), and Christ tells us that if we are weary and burdened we should come to Him and He will give us rest (Matthew 11). 

So I will trust that.  And I will not make this decision out of exhaustion or guilt. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Flashback Fridays

I had a rough day yesterday.  For assorted reasons.  By the time I picked the kids up from soccer (which we're quitting for reasons I will detail on another day) and got home to feed them dinner, I was a wreck.  Fortunately, my mom had come and made dinner which allowed me to just sit down at the table with them and put my head down.  The baby was so worried about me he got up from eating dinner and came over to give me a hug and pats on the back.  This child is precious.  So for today's Flashback Friday, I remembered a post from about this time last year.  I was super sick and this sweet child came and covered me with his blanket.  I hope you enjoy my post from September 19, 2011 entitled Top Five (or maybe bottom five):

This weekend had its highs and lows. For example, I lost 2 pounds. But I didn't lose it the fun way.

Here's the Top (or bottom) Five Wrap Up from the nuttiness that was our weekend:

5. I got to go on a date with my husband. To the E.R. After he stepped on a nail Saturday night, which went through his boot and into his foot (which he then proceed to extricate), he decided he probably should get a tetanus shot Sunday. Not wanting him to feel lonely, I woke up at 5 am and threw up so violently for several hours that twice I thought I was going to pass out because I couldn't breath in. Then I broke out in a terrifying, and itchy, rash from neck to knees. We didn't make it to church Sunday morning, but St. Luke's we figured was close enough.

4. The little lady's burgeoning independence. She loves doing stuff herself. She will punch you out if you try to help her (unless it's putting her shoes on, those she wants on all the time, and various pairs, and she needs help and needs it now). During our school drop off this morning, I've never seen a child run so fast. She ran right past me, gave her lunchbox to Miss Michelle, put her paint smock on and began her next work of art. Seriously, she was painting in full gear in the two minutes it took me to unload all their stuff and say goodbye (not that she bothered waving, she was busy at school).

3. The baby's empathy. Little buddy was SO worried about mommy laying near death on the sofa while waiting for Miss Maria to come (so Bray and I could go to the ER), that he ran over and crawled up on the couch with his blanket and covered me up and sat there patting me. Seriously? He's not even 2. He's going to be the one making sure my hair gets done at the old folks home.

2. The neighborhood playground. I can not BELIEVE it took me so long to discover this thing. You pay $25 and get a playground access key. I did it because we're having the kids 2nd birthday party there, so I got a key about a month ago. Oh my heavens, it is wonderful. It's the only place right now I can take them solo. It's fenced in and super kid proof and has all these fabulous slides and swings and toys. We go every weekend morning and had some weirdo not come and parked there and watched us with his truck running we would have stayed all morning long. It rocks!

1. Rain! It rained on our little corner of the world for several periods this weekend. My favorite of them all was the 5 am rain we got this morning. The thunder was loud enough to wake two of the three. The little lady settled back into her crib but Dennis the Menace was having none of it. He was coming to bed with us. Lest you think he was beside himself with fear, let me clear up that misconception. One of his favorite books is Mr. Brown Can Moo, in which there is a page that says, "Boom, boom, boom! Mr. Brown is a wonder. Boom, boom, boom! Mr. Brown makes thunder...." So imagine, if you will, a three-foot, towheaded, evangelical preacher standing in your bed, pumping his fist in the air with all his might, bellowing "Boom, Boom, Boom!" It was too funny to grieve over my lost hour of sleep.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

39 Things: Week One Update

As you may have read last week, I am super excited about this crazy 39 things challenge I am on for three weeks.  With week one under my belt, I have returned to update you on my progress.  First, the decluttering is much easier than the no spending.  The latter is seriously crimping my style.  It is also teaching me a lot about money and how much I truly was spending in any given week. 

I have talked to some of my girlfriends about this challenge, some of who have even joined in, and they shared some particularly insightful tidbits with me.  Here is some of their widsom:
  • I'm amazed at how much I take to Goodwill every year and it doesn't make a dent.  This really got me thinking.  If you looked at my house today, you would not be able to tell that I have taken two car fulls of boxes to Goodwill, one carload to a resale shop, and one carload sold to an expectant mother of multiples.  Isn't it sad that I have so much stuff that, even after a concerted effort to eliminate the stuff, a visitor would still be astonished by how much I have?  Ladies, we have lots of work to do.
  • Honestly, once you have donated an item, do you ever think oh I still wish I had that ?  I never do.  This is so true.  I agonize over parting with an item for some sentimental or necessity reason, but I never again think about how I wish I still had it or end up missing it months later. 
  • We did some hard core math this past week on what we SHOULD be saving and it is not anywhere close to where we need to be - and that's squarely my fault for my trips to Target, eating out, going to the grocery store more than once or twice a week, etc. So, I'm playing a game with myself to see how LITTLE I can spend in one week!  Don't you love that?  First, this family is TALKING to each other to make sure they are on the same page about where their finances should be - this is huge.  Then they turn spending less into a game.  What a great way to teach kids. 
  • We are also using the one in, one out rule.  If I buy a new work shirt, I have to donate one.  If T gets a new toy, he gets to donate an old one.  I quickly replied that I would immediately be implementing this rule in my house.  I can't even imagine how much this would help us to prevent the store up that has put me in this overstuffed stuff situation to begin with. 
So here's the report:

Give-Away:  On 8-16 I delivered four boxes and two bags of over 100 items to Goodwill.  I delivered a large stack of lovely women's clothing that I no longer had use for (some of which were new) to the local thrift store.  And I sold a few of our higher end large baby items and clothes to an expectant mother of multiples.  On 8-22 I delivered four boxes and two bags of another 100 plus items to Goodwill.  Then I took a second turn at the thrift store which indicated they had additional needs in my sizes of clothes/shoes.  The kids even got in on the action - they "helped" me put things in boxes to give, and they each selected a stuffed animal to contribute to the bag. 
My closet after last week's attack on it

My second car load of stuff to Goodwill
Spending:  I spent a total of $20.81 over the week.  I spent $2.49 for a breakfast sandwich, $10 for lunch with a girlfriend (it was $10.01 but I only had $10 in cash, see tip from last week, so the lady spotted me the penny), and then $8.32 a week later for lunch.  The rest of the time I brought my lunch and I did no extracurricular activities. 

What I Miss:  I had hoped to get a pedicure before we leave for Disney on the 3rd.  There's no way $25+ fits in my budget so I will have to paint my own toes.  Bray is in town this Saturday and I wanted to have breakfast with a friend and then see a movie with another one.  Neither are in the budget so I just have to go on a walk with them. 

Where I Was Graced:  While my $3 a day budget was not busted, I did have a few moments of grace spending on me that I realize most people in America with a $3 a day budget would not have.  Bray took me on a double date Monday night with his parents to celebrate their anniversary and eat at Pappas for Restaurant Week.  The firm sent me to lunch with a potential summer clerk and they paid for my nice lunch this week at The Grove.  Those were lovely outings that I would not have enjoyed had the resources not come from elsewhere. 

Next up, digging deeper.  The low hanging fruit has been discarded or given away at my house.  Now to evaluate what I really need to possess and eliminate the rest.  Or as Ann Voskamp says, "A dare to live an emptier fuller life."

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What I'm Praying - Part 4

So this summer I have explored some deeply meaningful scripture passages in an effort to get away from just word searching scriptures and not really spending time digging into a specific scripture chock full of wisdom.  There is such great value in having the Bible accessible on the Internet, but I also find myself scanning scripture instead of sitting with them.  Soaking up a few priceless words and letting God speak to me through them. 

I just stumbled upon this one.  A friend posted it on her Facebook page.  While it is not new to me, it is FRESH to me and immediately it sent me to Phillipians 2 to sit for a while.  Here's the passage, hang on to your hats: 

For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.

Holy. Toledo.

This morning I read a few of the blog posts of Lysa TerKeurst's blog tour of her new book, Unglued.  I read examples of single women, retired wives, and working mommas all coming unglued.  My sweet readers here have had no shortage of material in reading instances of my embarrassing unglued behaviour. 

I struggle.  I feel overwhelmed.  I react when I shouldn't. 

But this is what God says: HE is working in ME to give me the DESIRE and the POWER to please Him.  I have written that there are times I can not quite work up the courage to do what HE wants me to do.  A wise friend told me not to pray for strength to undertake the action, but rather to pray that I would have the DESIRE to do what God wanted of me. 

So the God that created the universe and calmed the storms is working in little ole me to do what pleases Him?  Yes.  I do not have to do it alone.  And don't you love the order that verse is laid out?  First, God is going to give me the desire.  That is critical.  I have to desire, truly crave, pleasing Him.  But we all know from experience that desire, no matter how acute, won't get me across the finish line.  It's the power.  The power propels me over the finish line.  The power given to us from God Almighty grants us the honor of pleasing Him. 

Isn't that exactly what Hebrews 11 tells us?  Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. 

There's no way we could please Him on our own.  But if we believe Him, believe in Him, and seek Him, then He will work in us to give us the desire and power to please Him. 

And don't you know that if we're desiring to please Him, and powerfully moving under the hand of God on the path to please Him, that we won't be coming unglued.  We won't come unglued on our co-workers.  We won't come unglued on our husbands.  We won't come unglued on our kids.  Can you imagine how relieved they will be?  And what a powerful testimony that will be?  

If you want to read more after Philippians 2:13, here are a few spectacular passages that illustrate what the power of God has in store for us if only we surrender to it:

Ephesians 3: I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge —that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Jeremiah 32:  Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.

Romans 15: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

2 Corinthians 12:  But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

Colossians 1:  To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.

Monday, August 20, 2012

First Dance

I love to dance.  I have danced around the play room with the kids since they were born.  I would put on music, and even with their monitors thrown over my shoulder, I would spin them around the room as the music of the moment wafted out of the small c.d. player I sat atop their bookshelf. 

As a result, the kids all love to dance.  We play everything from nursery rhymes to jazz to Sunday School songs to '50s rock-n-roll.  And off they go.  Inventing their own moves and spinning in solo or dancing in a pack.  Those are some of the happiest moments in our house. 

No one loves to dance more than the little lady.  The first thing she says when she climbs in the car is "music please."  Even in the car she dances.  So I signed her up for dance class last Monday.  Today was her first day.  She has been beside herself about it.  Every afternoon when I arrive home she asks, "dance class?"  I tell her, "On Monday."  To which she replies, "lots of dance class?"  And I get to say, "Every single Monday!" 

She is the youngest in the class since it is a 3s and 4s class.  But because she is potty-trained and was in an older gymnastics class this summer, they allowed her to begin early.  This morning we pulled her hair back in "simple" dance class hair as instructed and put on her pink tights and pale lavender leotard. 

As soon as we had her put together, she asked, "Mommy dance with me?"  Well, how can you turn down a request like that?  So I spun her around the room, resting on my hip, with our hands clasped and arms extended.  I sang, "L__'s going to dance class, "L__'s going to dance class, "L__'s going to dance class," and then during the grand finale of "la, la, la, la, la, la," I dipped her.  The baby clamored for a dance of his own, particularly since he is absolutely crestfallen that he can't go to dance class.  So we spun, hip to hip, hand in hand, "W___ loves to dance, W___ loves to dance, W___ loves to dance," and his own grand finale dip to a cascade of "la, la, la, la, la, la."   And the eldest, not to be left out, scrambled off the sofa to demand his turn.  I threw my big sweet boy up in the air and then settled him on my hip and we replayed the dancing duo and channeled Fred and Ginger with our, "S___ loves to dance, S___ loves to dance, S___ loves to dance," and brought the house down with a  "la, la, la, la, la, la" dancing dip. 

We arrived at dance class and settled in the lobby with the other would be ballerinas.  We were instructed to do a bathroom run and then put on their ballet shoes (this class is a ballet/tap combo).  As soon as I had her little tiny pink tighted feet in these precious shoes the girls were already lined up and marching down the hall to class.  She slid her backpack on her back and marched back with the other girls without so much as a backward glance.  She was a big girl and proud to march with all the other independent minded women in the group.  The only drama was extracting the baby from the line of marching women as his eyes welled with tears when informed that this was a girls only class and he could not participate. 

I cried on my drive into work.  They are getting so big.  They have full vocabularies.  They aren't interested in holding our hands on a walk because "I can do it myself" or "I a big boy."  Bray begged them the other night not to grow up one more bit.  It's flying by.  Dancing by. 

I still remember that first dance.  Holding a six pound baby tethered to an equally weighted six pound monitor as I spun around the bouncy seats littered on the floor.   I don't remember the song, but I remember the feeling.  It felt the same way this morning spinning across the floor, darting around trampolines and ride on tractors, as I held them against my chest and kissed their beautiful cheeks and sang their names into their ears. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Flashback Fridays

I thought today's Flashback Friday was particularly apropos given yesterday's post.  This just goes to support why so many of us are finding ourselves in a situation where enough is never enough.  It was written on April 14, 2011, and entitled Being the Joneses.  (One editorial note, I say that we don't own an i-anything, but I admit I do now own an iPhone....)  I hope you enjoy: 

I grew up lower lower middle class. My mom doesn't like for me to say poor. But let's just say there weren't any extras. After my parents divorced, it was even tighter. However, mom always admonished me against trying to keep up with the Joneses.

I don't know who started that saying, "Keeping Up with the Joneses," but it's become even more accurate as the decades fly by. Everyone is trying to not just keep up with the guy or girl next door, but surpass them. Your car has leather, well mine has heated seats and a fancy sound system. Your shoes are suede, well mine are designer suede with embossed stitching. Your husband manages a company, well my husband owns a company. Your kids started talking at 10 months, well mine knew Latin at 11 months.

Sound all too familiar? I like to think that I'm above all this, but I'm not. We're not very tech savvy, so we don't own an i-anything and we don't drive Mercedes and we don't own a half a million dollar house but I've found that I struggle (aka envy) in more abstract areas. Our little neighbor friend, a month younger than the kids, stopped by to say hello, and say hello he did! He waved and said hi and bye and mommy and daddy and all sorts of other stuff. My genius children stared back - I picked up their little hands to get them to wave & the second I let go they fell limp at their sides. I panicked - oh no, my children aren't advancing quickly enough, aggghhhh, help, we're falling behind. I wrote about how I went to a barbecue alone because my husband was out of town and then stared enviously at all the other wives accompanied by their husbands. THEIR husbands made it, but mine travels.

Oh, the green eyed monster. It may not be material things that you're after, but I would hazard a guess that the other things are more insidious. And it's nothing new - these cravings have been worming their way into people's hearts and minds since the beginning of time. That's why so many of the commandments in Exodus deal with wanting other people's stuff. Beyond the obvious one, "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house....nor any thing that is thy neighbour's," are others: "Thou shalt have no other gods before me," "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image," "Thou shalt not commit adultery." The translation of this in The Message says simply, "No other gods, only me."   And all of this envy, this lusting after things or people or situations, it's just saying I want something other than God - God's not enough.

But as I was struggling with this last week, I had to remind myself that everything is not as it appears. Just as a bunch of crazy people think I'm supermom, which I think we can all agree couldn't be further from the truth, they aren't the Joneses either. Those children out-talking my kids may not run as fast or have the same sense of humor or be able to lift large objects with Hulk-like strength :) And those husbands walking into the barbecue may be in town but they may party at night with their buddies or play on the computer at all hours or struggle with pornography or spend all the family money.

That's when it hit me - I am the Joneses. I am married to a wonderful man who loves me. I have three children who are the most fun little people I have ever met. I have a great job and friends and parents.

You are the Joneses too though. Stop looking at the green grass next door and check out the bounty in your backyard. If you're single and lusting after that marriage you see, then know that there's a woman trapped in a loveless or abusive marriage that's lusting after your singledom and the first chances you still have ahead of you. If you're married and lusting after that fun single life, know that there's a single person who would love to come home after work to a house with a husband or children. If you want kids and don't have them, then know that there's a mom crying because the cops told her son was just jailed for drug use. If you have kids and are stressed out by finances or disabilities, know there is a couple that is undergoing their third IVF treatment with their hearts breaking because they can't get pregnant. That doesn't make your situation less hard. It just means that Mr. Jones and Ms. Jones don't have it any easier.

You are the Joneses. I am the Joneses. If we could just get on board with being the Joneses, maybe we would be transformed and spend our time thanking God for his abundant blessings instead of "coveting our neighbor's house...."

Psalm 49 -Do not be overawed when others grow rich, when the splendor of their houses increases; for they will take nothing with them when they die, their splendor will not descend with them.

Psalm 68 - Sing to God, sing in praise of his name, extol him who rides on the clouds; rejoice before him—his name is the LORD. A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling....When you, God, went out before your people, when you marched through the wilderness, the earth shook, the heavens poured down rain, before God, the One of Sinai, before God, the God of Israel. You gave abundant showers, O God; you refreshed your weary inheritance. Your people settled in it, and from your bounty, God, you provided for the poor.

2 Corinthians 9 - And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

39 Things

I read this article earlier this week and it captivated me.  It still captures my imagination as I type these words.  The premise of the article is simple - we need less stuff.  The man that inspired the article pinned the amount of stuff we need at 39 things.  The article also asserts that it COSTS us to have all this stuff.  Not in the capital we expend to acquire it, but in the actual having of it.   

I come from a long line of pack rats.  My maternal grandparents.  My mother.  While I pride myself on not being nearly as extreme, I have a lot of stuff.  With triplets, the amount of stuff exploded.  Every crevice and closet in our four bedroom, 3,000 square foot house is full.  Unnecessarily so.  It drives my husband nuts.  Both the external cost of acquiring it and the internal cost of housing it as the walls continue to close in. 

When you think about it, if you had to rush out of your house in 60 seconds, what "stuff" would you save?  Not much.  I'd save my box of writing journals from over the years.

I'd save my keepsake box for the kids.

I'd save photos from before digital existed.

But that's about it.  Everything else could be replaced.  And honestly, it might not even need to be.

The author of this call-to-action-article quotes Andrew Hyde, the inspiration for his article: "I found a far more quality life by rejecting things as a gauge of success."

Wow.  Of course.

He found a better and more fulfilling life if he didn't allow THINGS to serve as the gauge of success. I am framing that quotation in my house - that and a Bible verse since the Bible explicitly warns against storing up things that have no lasting value.  (Matthew 6:19-21, Psalm 62:10, Ecclesiastes 5:10, Luke 8:14, Isaiah 2:7-9)

So I'm embarking on a "39 things" adventure over the next three weeks. 

I offer no illusions I will try to live with only 39 things (it would take work just to get my shoe count down to that).  But reduction is both necessary and cathartic.  This is my plan.  First, eliminate 39 things each week for the next three weeks.   I will either give the items to Goodwill or sell them (although the author of the article makes a valuable point that selling things is not a great solution, and in my case it has added to holding onto things because I have not yet found a seller, so I will be selective). 

Then........since I also spend too much extra money, my personal discretionary budget just got cut to $3 a day.  I realize this sounds a little Draconian, but the reality is that I have been spending beyond the responsible bounds for our family.  AND it often results in MORE STUFF which is exactly what I'm trying to eliminate with this three week project.  This allowance does not include groceries, in fact I will rely on groceries since I will largely give up eating lunch out with that budget, gas, toiletries, tuition payments for the kids, and similar daily necessaries.  But anything "unnecessary" or personal now has $21 a week alloted.  That means Starbucks, Zulily for the kids (my worst spending habit), accessories or clothes for me, eating lunch out, etc.  If I only spend $63 over the next three weeks, I will save our family hundreds of dollars. 

Let me briefly explain why three weeks.  See, I have always had a fascination with numbers.  The number three in particular and numbers divisible by three.  I was born on 9-9.  I was 12 when my parents divorced, 21 when I went to law school, and 30 when I met Bray.  I was 36 when I had the kids, three kids to be exact, and it was 33 hours shy of 33 weeks at 3 pm.  So....I will take the challenge over 3 weeks, before we leave for Disney on the 3rd, get rid of 39 items each week (for a total of 117 items, at minimum, which is divisible by 3 and adds to 9), and return from Disney and turn 39 on the 9th.  Apropos that this challenge takes place in the 3 weeks leading up to my 39th birthday. 

If you're looking for a few techniques to assist in undertaking your own 39 things challenge (or whatever the number may be for you), here's a few I will employ:
  • Get boxes.  Here's some of mine.  I boxed up a lot more stuff this way than had I used bags - they don't hold as much.
  • The four boxes and two bags I packed for Goodwill last night
    My linen closet after it was hit with the 39 things plan
  • Pay cash. I will charge nothing on my credit card over the next three weeks but gas and groceries. Everything else I have to have the cash on hand.
  • Unsubscribe from every e-catalog or award or deal alert you get.  They're addictive.  Zulily is the master.  I unsubscribed from everyone who sends me emails trying to get me to buy stuff.  (And delete your computer browsing history so you don't get tempting ads on other websites you visit.)
  • Calendar what you need.  My kids are growing constantly and I tend to buy a season ahead of time.  While that MAY result in a deal, it also results in overbuying because I didn't keep track.  Calendar what you need and don't get it before you need it. 
  • Save for your passion.  Index how much you are spending a week or a month on lunches out or magazine subscriptions or Starbucks or extra accessories for little bit.  Does it matter?  What does?  I'm passionate about getting my new website off the ground and supporting World Vision.  What could I do with the dollars elsewhere?  Wouldn't I be happier reallocating them? 
  • Make a list of what space you need where.  I need space everywhere, but August's focus is my guest room.  I'm clearing it out.  I want half the closet empty and nothing on the bed or floor.  How do I get there?  What can go?
I'd love to hear your ideas in the comment section.  What one thing would you save in your house?  What tips can I use to help declutter and renew my life and my house. 

And to you mommas, this isn't just for us, this is for our kids.  I do not want to leave them with a legacy of treating things as a measure of success.  Of acquiring for acquisition sake.  Let's teach them today what to treasure tomorrow. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Angry Girl

One night several weeks ago my husband said, "I'm sorry you're so angry."  Ouch.  It was not a dig in any way.  He was legitimately sorry that I was angry, and boy was I.  Not at him, but about something silly like losing my glasses or the kids taking too long to poop on the potty during potty training.  But I was a whirling dervish (sidebar: I'm always looking up these terms I use in slang, while a dervish is actually of Muslim origin, who knew?, the slang term is defined by the urban dictionary as, "a person whose behavior resembles a rapid, spinning object..." - how apropos).  But my anger was so out of relation to what the object was.  Even I recognized, in that moment, that it was about something bigger.  My husband just happened to be subjected to the overflow. 

I've written before about how sad it is that the ones we love most are the people who end up bearing the brunt of our sad, bad, or angry bouts.  Simply because they're the closest to the volcano. 

Then I read this post by a writer I love to read, and the words punched me in the chest.  I was getting angry because I was at a similar crossroads, feeling like some of my life plans were in conflict with some plans I'd been hearing God wanted me to implement, and there was no answer to the "what next?" questions that were turning into shouts.  But what if, just as Acuff suggested, God was doing exactly what the father of the prodigal son was doing:  Instead of thinking that God’s silence means he is mad and disappointed with you, what if he might be quiet because he’s too busy planning a party for you?  What if, even as you come home dirty and fallen, God is not ignoring you? What if he’s embracing you on the road back home, and he’s not talking to you because he’s so focused on planning a party for you?

Is there any way that I could turn all that anger over not knowing, anger about not having control over the next steps, into joy that I serve a God that cares about my future and wants the very best for me?  A God who has shown me over and over that His silence does not mean absence, but instead His silence reflects He is hard at work behind the scenes. 

I heard a song at my church where one of the lines was, "It will be my joy to say it's your will, it's your way."  Isn't that easier to sing than to live?  To trust HIS timing?

Instead of wasting time lashing out at those I love because of uncertain circumstances, I will endeavor to love on those people and show them gratitude for being my safe place of support.  The angry restless piece of me will learn to rest in the silence until God chooses to reveal the next portion of this journey I am on.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Saturdays V. Sundays

I work Mondays through Fridays.  While I do get time with the kids from 5:30 to 8:00 pm on the weekdays, it's the weekends that are uninterrupted.  Nowadays, I plan fun stuff to do because we all like to "GO!"  I have noticed as of late there is a marked difference, in me, between Saturdays and Sundays.  The reality is, almost regardless of what we have planned, Saturdays are better. 

Saturdays mean it's my first full day of kids.  I am patient.  I am funny.  I am energetic.  Sundays are my second full day of kids.  Sometimes solo.  You may have missed this but they are all two.  Yes, TWO!  They are mature two year olds which means the attitude and defiance and independence that apparently goes with three, actually came at two for us.  I so love these little funny smart wonderful people.  But they are exhausting.  And frustrating.  And I yelled at them.  On Sunday.  I felt terrible.  It was over nothing consequential, but the fact is that they will not ever do what I tell them.  Our top two house rules are "Be kind." and  "Listen."  They know it.  They refuse to obey. 

I realize that my Sundays are the equivalent of my nanny's TUESDAY or my darling triplet stay at home momma friends EVERY DAY, but they are still killing me.  Which means I feel guilty.  And like a terrible mom.  We moms are so bad about comparing ourselves to other moms.  We had the wonderful opportunity to do a play date Saturday with two kids that will be in our kids' school class (they were in our class last year, and they were the kids TWO favorites, and we once again hit the jackpot with these two).  I love these moms.  They are both stay at home moms, though I know they're never home with all they do, and we were swapping stories.  At one point one of them said, "Wow.  So you work full time, and have triplets, and have book coming out?  I feel like a slacker."  And it was all I could do not to reply, "You sew all your kids clothes and entertain and volunteer at the school and manage being at home without strangling your kids, I'M the slacker!'  We compare.  We always feel less than. 

But you know what, if you are a mom, you rock.  You do all you do, whatever that is, in whatever forum, and it is a lot of work.  You are a maid, a cook, an employee, an employer, a wife, a mom, a dictator, a servant, a nurse, a teacher, a playmate, and more.  I am too.  We all are.  And it's a lot to do.  So I'm really going to try not to scream at my kids.  But when I do, I will quickly acknowledge that I shouldn't have screamed and not spend the rest of the day beating myself up.  Or at least I will try.  I'm not making any promises. 

On the up side, even with the struggle of Sundays, here are a few of the many the funnies from my ever growing trio.  And the fact is, even this Sunday had its upside.  We were at the Aquarium with a friend of mine and the kids have a blast.  I love how much they love animals and fish and adventure. 

Here's the hilarity download:

1.  Because they're not going to sleep at night, they come up with creative ways to while away the hours.  The other night we walked in on them piled in one bed surrounded by empty shoe boxes they pulled out of the closet. We looked at them and asked, "What are you doing?"  To which the baby promptly replied, "We're ordering stuff!"  If you could have seen my husband's face, you would  have realized with one look he ordered me to immediately cease and desist my online ordering past time. 

2.  While the little lady has been consistently growing in her independence (she gets up on the potty by herself, she puts her underwear, shoes and pants on, she hooks herself in the car seat), the boys have been slower.  However, this weekend, the baby was all about doing things himself, particularly putting his pants and shoes on.  I offered to help but he proudly announced, "I a big boy!  I no need you anymore."  Sigh, sorrow.

3.  They really want to help.  They make coffee (the eldest's favorite task), they ask for wipies and clean the floor, they've even learned to bring their dishes from the table and help unload the dishwasher.  I can't believe that at 2 we're already able to do chores! 

4.  Potty training is almost over.  The little lady is done.  No accidents. Underwear all day.  The boys are nearly there.  Still a few accidents, but underwear.  I know it's taken far longer than it should have, and we may sneak in a pull up or two for Disney in September, but it is such a relief (though also a challenge when they have to go if I'm solo, because we all three have to run to the bathroom, and like this week, sometimes we bring in our shopping cart). 

5.  The little lady has a great pink robe.  She loves it.  So does the eldest.  He wore it around as his "cape."  He said he was a superman.  He also said he was something else hysterical but I've already forgotten what it was. I just remember laughing so hard I nearly cried.

6.  We were watching a few minutes of Barney last night in an attempt to wind down (we're not big t.v. people), and Barney said, "You are special.  Everyone is special in his or her own way."  The baby looked at me and said, "I special?"  You know, I spend so much time telling them I love them, but I don't spend a ton of time telling them WHAT I love about them.  So I immediately responded with, "Yes - you are so special."  And turned to each one and told them they were special.  Then I put each one in my lap, and held each little face in my hands, and kissed their precious cheeks, and listed each of the special things about them.  How funny and bright the baby is.  How loving and curious the eldest is.  How independent and charismatic the little lady is. 

That made the whole weekend special for me.  That is why this is all worth it.  Even Sundays. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Flashback Fridays (or the poop story)

Okay, so I was debating what to use for today's Flashback when I got an email from a triplet momma.  Her trio are climbing out of their cribs, not yet two, and she wanted to find out the latest on the drama of my crib conversion and if I had any tips for her.  I had to laugh.  I about the worst role model you could have for the change from cribs to big kid beds.  So I thought I would give you a progress report and then flashback to the story that people still stop me to talk about. 

It was mid-February when our nights began to unravel.  I was not comfortable using crib tents and the kids could all climb out of their cribs, even with the mattress on the floor, so we decided to convert to big kid beds.  How bad could it be right?  Here's a summary of how the insanity unfolded that first week. 

We've gone back and forth since then.  We've gone back to cribs, with them turned around so the high part is in front, and the mattress on the floor, but eventually, since our children could scale a 40 story glass downtown building, they made their way out.  They also, FYI, can climb the baby gate in front of their door so they basically can make their way out like lunatics in the house (and they can unlock the doors and open them so we're always in lock down mode at the house).  Bed time is still hard.  We start to bed about 7:45 and they go to sleep sometime between 9 and 10 pm.  They have ripped apart their dresser.  They have torn their closet to shreds.  They have nearly broken their wooden beds.  They have colored on the walls (and no, I have no idea where the crayon came from, it's like they're prisoners smuggling in contraband).  We've tried everything.  They stay up later, and they still wake up before 7 am.  They've skipped naps, nights are still chaotic, possibly more so.  They turn three in October and I'm just hoping as they age it will die down.  Last night they all climbed over the baby gate (we can't shut their door, they FLIP out, we clearly should have done it when they were younger but that ship has sailed), and just came out in the living room to hang with us.  It was 9 pm. 

So that's the update.  Don't let these smiling faces fool you, they do not stay like this:

And here's the infamous flashback.  It was written on February 19, 2012, and entitled Insert Expletive Here:

I realize I post a lot about my faith and God's hand in our journey. So I also realize I'm not allowed to curse because it sends a bad message for someone who writes about faith and family to have four letter words on her blog. However, the most restraint I can use tonight is for you to use the expletive that you think most fitting given your background. It may be that is, "gracious." I assure you, regardless of my personal Christianity, I am human and that is not the word running through my head tonight.

As you know from this week's post, we converted to big kid beds last weekend. Harrowing is not nearly descriptive enough of a word. Yesterday, instead of nap time, the eldest took off his poopy diaper (the disastrous turn potty training has taken is a whole other issue), and the boys proceeded to spread the poop all the floor (beige carpet), doors and each other. After a day of work, we still can't get it out of the carpet though the blankets and doors (and skin) has been restored. Despite running them like dogs at the Aquarium this morning, which was, in and of itself, a fun adventure, only the baby took a nap. I am not willing to part with naps at 28 months. Especially when, at 8 pm tonight, they are still running around hopping from bed to bed while Bray sits with them (when I threw Piglet at the completely defiant little lady we realized it was time for me to leave the room). We tried to bathe them to calm them down, but while trying to get their p.j.s, the little lady took the contents of the potty chair and poured it on our floor while the baby crawled into the fireplace to play in the soot.

There are no words to express the incredible frustration, anger, dismay, and Titanic sense of sinking in our household. Bray and I are taking turns losing our temper at least so that one of us steps in when the other one literally can not take one more minute of this naked disobedience and destruction. We can't really process tips right now, we're in sheer survival mode, but we'll take prayers.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Change in a Minute or More

Most of the time I remember how fortunate I am.  How blessed I am.  How full my life is.

Sometimes I forget when I get mired in my mess.  My inconsequential issues when judged against the grand scheme of things.  

Recently, I had conversations with a couple of different girlfriends that reminded me how mere moments can make all the difference.  How a simple minute or month could be the determining factor in whether you bat away little annoyances or deal with life-altering challenges.  

The difference of one month:  My triplets were born at 32 weeks 5 days.  My friend's triplets were born at 28 weeks.  A matter of a handful of weeks made a radical difference in my life and my children's.  It changed the amount of my medical bills, my time in the hospital, the disabilities our kids would or would not need to learn to live with, the specialists we would have to see over the course of our lives, and the development issues we would or would not have to come to terms with as they grew.  

The different of one week:  A friend stayed in a challenging work out program longer than I did and was hospitalized because of a fairly dramatic complication in the work out.  I am far less athletic and  coordinated, but I avoided that debilitating work out.  

The difference of one minute:  A driver was life-flighted to a Houston hospital because she was a few cars further back in the 11 car pile up than I was.  I drove away from the accident with nothing but shaken nerves while I don't know what her outcome was after that horrific crash.  

I could have been in a life-ending accident if my kids hadn't smeared peanut butter on my pants and I had to change.  I could have sustained major injuries working out if I hadn't had to leave town for a pesky work trip.  I could have lost children if my body gave out earlier in the pregnancy even though I was miserable and huge in those last weeks.  

I am reminded, daily, that the little annoyances in my life do not warrant complaint.  God reminds me through conversations and encounters that he places the gift of disruption in my life for a reason.  He often stretches out a protective hand to shield me from the dangers ahead.  My response is grumbling.  

I do not now, nor do I believe I will ever, understand why things happen the way they happen and impact the people they do.  I believe each person that endures struggles and hardships is loved in a deep and unfathomable way by our Heavenly Father.  I can not understand why hardships and heartache fall where they do.

I do believe though that I must recognize and thank God for his intervention and protection when He extends it over my life.  I have to remember that those inconveniences and delays may just disguise angels stretching out their wings to shield me and those I love.
Jeremiah 29 - "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Romans 12 - Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

Psalm 27 - For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Pinterest Hooplah

Okay, so until two weeks ago, I had never visited the Pinterest website.  Many of my friends used it, but I didn't understand what all the hooplah was about.  Not to mention, since I had to add Twitter to the ever growing list of ridiculousness I have to manage if I wanted to publish my book, I could not imagine navigating one more emerging website. 

However..........once I returned from the SheSpeaks! conference I realized that it might be a useful tool for the web designers developing my new website for the fall.  Well, I had no idea.  Are you a pinner?  How freakin' addictive is that?  You get to say what you like, with no repercussions, you can delete it if you change your mind, and you get to see loads of crazy stuff. 

If you're like me, then you could have a variety of bizarre interests.  You like historic European architecture?  Pin the cool stuff you love and have visited!  You like big statement necklaces?  Make a fashion board and find your favs!  Are you interested in family friendly recipes?  Start a list and stop printing out all those sheets of paper that inevitably find themselves in the bathroom or washing machine! 

So as part of a link up with the awesome girls over at Squee who just released Pinterpretation, and are also helping me develop my brand and website, I'm listing the top five things I've learned about myself in the mere two weeks I've been a Pinterest-er:

1.  I like color.  I always think I like whites and low key understated things in decorating and design, but when Squee had me make a color board solely from gut reactions I found what I really like are POPS of color!
Pinned Image

2.  I like couches in restaurants.  I know that sounds bizarre, but I was pinning restaurant design as part of my Squee exercise too and found I really love lush upholstery in restaurants.  Plus, color (again!) in a restaurant can be pretty fabulous. 

3.  As much as I love color, I also LOVE white.  Especially at Christmas.  I know I have kids and I have to do colored bulbs and mismatched decor for a few years, but I can not wait to get back to the white (and gold) decorations of Christmases past.  I love all white. 

4.  I miss two things: planning weddings and traveling abroad.  Inevitably stuff I pin that I love has to do with travel (which I used to do more of) and weddings (which I planned on and off even before I got married).  I wonder if I can talk Bray into a getting remarried in Venice for our 10th anniversary and then I could do both (when I suggested getting remarried for our 5th so I could wear another wedding dress, he said the only way you're wearing another wedding dress is if you marry another man, so I'm not optimistic)!

5.  Most surprisingly, I really like design.  I like the process.  Selecting color.  Choosing styles.  Mixing patterns.  Hence the addictive nature of Pinterest for me.  I give myself a 15 minute window to browse around or I would never get anything else done. 

So here's a word of warning, if you're not pinning yet, it's addictive if you start!  But if you are pinning, you should really check out Pinterpretation and see what you're really saying about yourself!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Weekend in Pictures

So this weekend I was in Chicago.  I love Chicago.  But this was especially cool because my best friend came along for the trip PLUS I was at all these Commission on Women activities meeting some pretty impressive and accomplished women.  Many of the women have served decades to ensure equality in all corners of our country and the world.  The downside was it was the second weekend out of the past three I've been away from the kids.  I will not do that again.  It was too hard for me, for Bray, and for the kids.  When I reunited with them last night, the first thing the little lady said was, "no go bye-bye no more."  I quickly replied, "No ma'am!  No more bye-byes.  The next time I get on a plane it will be the whole family going to Disney!"  She was delighted.  So was I. 

Since I was in meetings non-stop, I haven't had much of a chance to write.  I do have a lot I want to write about this week, so I'll work on it tonight.  In the meantime, here's this weekend in pictures: 

Eating - Whether it was celebrity cuisine with Rick Bayless or classic Chicago pizza at Lou Malnati's, we ate our way through Chicago (and at BOTH celebrity chef restaurants talked to BOTH celebrity chefs - Rick Bayless pictured below, Art Smith no photo opportunity):
Boating - I had just a smidgen of free time on Friday morning, so we squeezed in a short boat ride of Chicago.  I've done it before, but I always love seeing Chicago by water:

Friending - I know I mentioned this, but I got to spend time with my best friend Mary.  She and I haven't had a weekend out since her 40th celebration in Manhattan last March.  She is just the coolest person on the planet and we had so much fun, and always do.  The cherry on top was seeing my college roommate and dear friend Alicia and getting to meet her new baby girl Hannah (how gorgeous is she!?!?!):
Mary and I before going to the Chair's Dinner
Breakfast with the sleeping beauty Hannah
On a funny note, Bray sent me an email with this picture from the farm and this text, "Lillie is in charge!"  I know it's blurry, but it's obvious she has caged the boys in Aunt Jinx's dog kennel.  He rocks:

Thursday, August 2, 2012


I started out to do today's post on Elohim, a name of God that has recently had some real significance for me, but the research was so exhaustive I decided to do this short little post instead and save Elohim for next week when I can appropriately finish my research (so stand by). 

Growing up, I listened to Barry Manilow.  Scoff if you will, but I still love me some Barry Manilow.  (And Neil Diamond to boot - there's nothing like a little Jazz Singer Coming to America to make your day!)  I remember one album we had in the house growing up had a song called Only In Chicago on it - I can still sing it:

Only in Chicago,
Love is in the air,
In Chicago,
There's a magic there in Chicago,
Our Chicago,
Baby you and I we tried to take it with us

If you ever listened to music in the '70s you've got that tune stuck in your head now.  I had no idea what the love lyrics meant at the time nor had I ever been to Chicago, but I have loved Chicago for as long as I can remember.  I tried to go to law school there (I didn't get in) and tried to get a job there after law school (couldn't find one), but I do get to go back every once and a while, largely because the American Bar Association is based there. 

I am delighted that I get to go back today.  More than that, I get to go with my best friend and will get to be a part of a lot of ABA Commission on Women activities as a result of a book on leadership I have been working on for them.  They recognize outstanding achievement by women in their field, and I am so excited to meet dynamic women from across the country.  The cherry on top is that I get to room with my best friend and meet up with my college roommate and her new baby for breakfast. 

The biggest downside is that I have now had to be away from the trio for two weekends within one month.  This is a first and I couldn't help but feel guilty driving away this morning.  I know they'll have a blast with their dad at the farm, but still..... 

So I'm working on a series that I will roll out with the new website about working mom and what we have to juggle and how do we decide what we say yes to and what we prioritize.  I'll also be restarting the fall downtown working women's bible study over the lunch hour.  I can't wait to see what God unfolds and I am so looking forward to learning from you as we figure out how to keep our focus on God and be good wives, mommies, and workers.  Until then, I leave you with a little Neil Diamond for your weekend viewing pleasure - it would have been Barry but I couldn't find Only in Chicago on YouTube and given that the Olympics are going on I couldn't resist some Coming to America (besides, who can beat that jacket?):