Monday, August 24, 2015

New blog.

I am blogging now at Notes from the Neighborhood. Please come join us!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Becoming a Stone Catcher

Becoming… a stone catcher. 

I read an article in the Smithsonian Magazine a few years back, it was titled "Why Mass Incarceration Defines us as a Society," by Chris Hedges.
The article went on to describe the life’s work of a man named Bryan Stevenson. The article moved me in many ways. And began my admiration and “following” of Mr. Bryan Stevenson, a human rights lawyer who has committed his life to helping solve the injustices of the criminal “justice” system in America, and was the man who fought and won to outlaw life without parole sentences for minors. (This TEDtalk he did is amazing.)
A piece of the article has reverberated in my mind since the day I sat on the glider ottoman in my in-laws kitchen reading and re-reading the article. 
"Stevenson turns frequently to the Bible. He quotes to me from the Gospel of John, where Jesus says of the woman who committed adultery: “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” He tells me an elderly black woman once called him a “stone catcher." There is no such thing as being a Christian and not being a stone catcher,” he says. “But that is exhausting. You’re not going to catch them all. And it hurts. If it doesn’t make you sad to have to do that, then you don’t understand what it means to be engaged in an act of faith....But if you have the right relationship to it, it is less of a burden, finally, than a blessing. It makes you feel stronger.

This idea of being a stone catcher. 
That was it for me. 
And thus began a journey (that  had started years before, but now had a definition) toward the broken, hurting, and downtrodden. A journey towards suffering, poverty, exclusion, unfairness and injustice. It is a journey I am, in many ways, just beginning. A journey that I find myself often just observing, more often than I care to admit. From a place of privilege and relative wealth, I often feel as if much of my place is to be that of a voice, an educator, and advocate. 

I have found my Father's position for me, catching the stones for kids. Most often kids who make “bad choices” or behave “poorly” as a result of their trauma, but for all kids really. Educating parents, school professionals, therapists, foster parents, social workers, hospitals, and churches in ways to help heal. And most recently, my passion to see parents become whole and secure in their relationships so that, in turn, they can raise secure children. 

As one of my heroes, since childhood, Frederick Douglas put it, “It is easier to build strong children, than to repair broken men.”
I believe that part of my becoming story is in helping educate parents so that they can begin the work of repairing themselves, which will result in a generation of strong children. I don't think this is a chicken or the egg argument. Without helping "repair" adults, we will never have strong children.

So why am I saying all this?

I have been given the enormous privilege and honor of being able to share a bit of my story on "Becoming a Stone Catcher, what God says about my purpose." On my dear friend Jeanne Oliver’s online community of creatives. 
She is hosting an online class, for FREE, with many women sharing their stories of how God has helped them discover their true identities.  

Course description:
This January join 20 women for an 8 week study all about finding your true identity in Christ.  Each week you will hear unfolding stories from the women in this study.  We will be sharing truths about who the Lord says we are and our personal journeys to accepting those truths.
We will also have fun creative videos that follow the study where the women will share one of their gifts. Think guitar playing, bread making, painting, entertaining and more.  You know I can't have a course without sharing how the Lord uses our creativity! My hope is that the study will give you fresh eyes for the Lord and yourself.  When we know who we are in Christ it changes everything and opens our paths and gifts in incredible new ways.
Some of us are carrying around "truths" about ourselves that are flat out lies and it time to lay them down
This study will be open and honest, real, Bible based and a bit of creativity too.  We hope you will join us January 6, 2015 for this free online study!

Directions to register:
To join this free study you just need to be registered at (registering is free).
Once you are on the site you will find this study, free videos (business and art), my Creativity Takes Courage series and new online courses along the left hand side of the page.
You will find all of our courses/videos under the COURSES heading.
To register for Becoming | The Unfolding of You
1) Go to COURSES along the left hand side of the page
2) Go to the bottom of the course and click “view all” to find Becoming | The Unfolding of You
4) Click on Becoming | The Unfolding of You
3) Click the +join button on the upper right hand side
4) All of the details are on the page and you are all set for the study to begin on January 6, 2015

Please join me, and 19 amazing women, as we share pieces of our Becoming stories. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Parenting at it's core. Jesus, spanking, and perceptions.

I believe that the way we parent our children lays the foundation for who they believe God is.

I train parents. I have no idea how I got into this. I don't think I am great at it. But I do think God is great, and he uses asses like me.

A while back I spoke to a group of pastors from a large church. They asked us to come in and teach our parenting techniques, and research-based interventions to their entire church staff. I was ecstatic, you see usually we train in non-religious groups so I don't get to talk about how I believe these methods are truly the heart of God, I was excited to get to share the parts that I am most passionate about.

Yet I left weeping.

God didn't tell me that training parents meant I would be shifting people's beliefs of who God is. I didn't realize that we parent our children, the way we believe God has parented us.
(Tellingly, when I train a group of non-Christian parents the idea of grace based parenting, and attachment focused problem solving goes over so well. They have not confused the way they parent their children with their views of God, and thus research-based parenting techniques that require second-chances, and shame-free parenting methods are easily grasped.)

It is really hard to not distance your children when they make a terrible choice if you believe that God distances you when you make a terrible choice.

It is difficult to encourage parents to listen to their children, and respect their feelings, even if their children are being disrespectful; when you believe that you cannot go to God when you are angry or disappointed. That God only listens when you have your stuff together.

I believe that God wants us to come messy. He wants us to come angry.
He wants us to work out the mess of this world with Him.
And ultimately we are shaping little hearts and minds toward God, or away.
And we do this most directly in how we act when kids mess up.

I think this is the core issue when we watch young people stray from God as they become adults. Because when they finally get to make decisions for themselves, they run from disconnection, fear-based obligations, and harsh judgements or punishments.

I am nowhere near perfect, I mess up all the time. And I know that doesn't represent my Heavenly Father well to my children. But my hope in all of my failures, is that my children see that I will never remove my love, acceptance, or emotional availability from them despite their choices. I give grace, lot's of it. And the beauty in that, is that I get grace.

If we decided to start parenting with the grace and unconditional love that we preach about from pulpits, I believe we would see revival again, beginning in the youth.
But this would require a bunch of us adults to deal with our skewed views of who we think our Heavenly Father truly is, and why we believe He is that way.
And that is hard stuff.

(Here are a couple of the blogs I read that gave me the courage to finally post this blog I had written a while a back, was afraid to put out there.)
and This.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Unrelated things I am Pondering

A friend texted me today and said she was pondering my wise words, and quoted me. It totally made me laugh.

I am so not wise. At least I don't feel that way. And I am totally fine with that.

Summer has brought me to my knees. And I don't mean in that thank-God-for-all-He's-done kind of way. And that is probably my problem. [Should I just end the post here?]

One of my sweet dear children lost his mind while we were in New York. And we're all still recovering. It sort of rocked our[my] boat.

Our pastor started a series on rest when we returned from New York. And it's funny how God does sh&% like that you, when you're feeling more stressed and confused than ever before, he wants you to hear about rest. Because upon our return, I was feeling as if I would never be able to rest again. And summer was just beginning. And I was trapped.

My definition of rest= leaving my children for a designated period of time to not take care of anyone, at all.

Our pastor started out the series with the idea that most of us rest from our work, when we should be working from our rest.

I wanted to stand up and shout, "Hello! I am a mother of five traumatized kids!" (I do realize only three of the came to me traumatized, and I take full responsibility for traumatizing the other two.)
"I don't get any rest to work from! And when I do get rest, it isn't to fuel my work, it's to keep me out of jail!"

Needless to say, I showed up the other three weeks to hear all the answers to how I could feel rested. And work from my rest. If I get it figured out this summer, I will fill you in.
But I haven't yet. I think it might take a lifetime to fully grasp God's rest.

So I am pondering rest.
I pondered it in the middle of the night last night as I curled up at the feet of D's bed because I had left my own after a coughing toddler and snoring husband had me lying there pondering how to suffocate them both, with one pillow.

I pondered it while sitting in the backyard at 2 am with the puppy who refuses to go to the bathroom outside.

And I pondered it while watching 10 kids at the pool ages 7 and under.

How do I do the work of mothering from a place of rest? How do I work from my rest and not rest from my work?

I will continue to ponder it next week when I leave all my children behind. I think I will get all the answers on rest while I sit on the bow of a boat, on the lake.

(And to my friends who are helping to watch dear sweet child, I will eternally owe you, and I already asked God for an extra big shiny jewel for your crown, that I get to put there!)

Eternal Perspective
When I talk about adoption and foster care in the big picture, it is easy to remind and encourage others that they are changing the world. Literally, I believe that. From my core.

But I read this quote the other day that made me cry, and laugh, and try to blow away the mist... "Sometimes the mist of our time clouds our eternal perspective." - A.W. Tozer.

The more I work with hurting kids, the more my kids hurt, the more mist I see clouding my perspective of eternity. And thus I am pondering how to gain eternal perspective in the mist of summer cloudy days.

We have one that keeps sneaking around our house, and eating our berries, and our trash, and pooping on our driveway. And I am pondering killing him. And making a sweet sexy rug for my bedroom.

I am so so grateful for other adults in my children's lives. When people asked me why I don't think I went super crazy as a teenager, I attribute it a little a lot to my parents, and even more so to their wisdom in putting other adults they trusted that WERE NOT THEM, into my life.

It was essential for me to have other adults. Adults who gave me love and praise that I did not and/or could not receive from my parents. Adults they knew and trusted, and that I loved.

I am so grateful for having other adults in my children's lives. And they're still little. I believe our friendship with so many amazing people is benefiting my children more than I could ever imagine. Demetrius' very first case-worker is now a close friend. She knew him before we knew him, she knows what he looked like as an infant, and has stories of he and his birth-mom that I don't. Her friendship is an unspeakable joy in my life, and I know she will be a part of the village that is helping to raise up this amazing man!

We have bad-ass pastor friends that hunt and shoot guns, and stop bad-guys, and they will always be cooler than us, and I am so grateful for them. They will speak Jesus into our kid's lives like I never could.

We have a single friend who loves on my kids like they were her own, she spoils them and gives them all the stuff that I forget to do. And she makes them feel wonderful. When a kid get's in trouble by David, they cry for me. When a kid gets in trouble by me, they cry for David. But when a kid gets in trouble from both of us, they cry for her. And it melts my heart, and is worth eternity that they have someone like that.

I LOVE sitting at football practice and watching the coaches teach my boys about responsibility and being a good friend to everyone, and all the lessons I try to teach them everyday. I love that there are big strong black men modeling for my sons what it means to be a big strong black man.
And I could go on and on.

I am pondering how on earth we got so blessed to be surrounded by the village of amazing adults that we have, because Lord knows, it will take a village.

Thursday, June 5, 2014


There's been a lot of hustling around here lately.

And sometimes as a mom, the one who is suppose to make the world make sense, the one who is the kisser of boo-boos and the wiper of tears, the one who sings them to sleep, and wakes them with mango juice and fresh eggs, the one who determines the fate of desserts and night time rituals, it is unbearable to watch my kids hustle for their worthiness.

And yet even in my prideful reality of believing that I could fix it, if just...
I realize that I am hustling too.
It's not my job to heal my kids.
It's not my job to protect them.
It's not my job to try and make-up for the losses they've endured.
I can't hustle hard enough, or fast enough, or long enough.

I just can't.

And it's so offensive to me.
Because if I could, I would.
I would make up for everything that they've lost.
I would wipe away the hurt and pain.
I would erase rejection from their souls.

Because hustling is no way to live.
Hustling is exhausting.
Hustling is ugly.
Hustling is consuming.

As a mom to kids from the hard places, this is the hardest part. Injecting worthiness and hope into children whose stories have so far told them the opposite.
I've mentioned here before that shifting foundations is slow and tedious work. And I just have to keep reminding myself of this.

I am not at all hope-less.
I am not at all defeated.
But I have been hustling.
Their stories are now my stories.
And I need to find my path in them.
Not stand outside their stories and hustle to help them find their worthiness.
But stand with them, in their pain, and remember, it is our story now.
And God promises to complete the story.