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#WholeMama (Embrace)

September 24, 2015 by No Comments

This week I was lucky enough to write another post for the #WholeMama movement. The theme word was “Embrace” and I spent several days contemplating what I wanted to write about. As I turned the word over and over in my mind, I just kept coming back to the image of my oldest son running to me every day after school, wrapping his arms around me, breathing out a sigh of relief. It’s more than just a hug with this boy, it’s a hard-fought moment of peace.

I have spent much of my life with my fingers tightly wound around my determined expectations. This is what happens when you have a stubborn streak and a complicated childhood that is thankfully, filled with books. My reality never seemed to match the written words I so readily inhaled. As I buried myself in the stories of other families, both true and fantasy, I noted how different life could look, how simple and predictable and happy. I held on tight to these lessons and believed that someday with enough commitment, I could make them all come true.

I became a mother at twenty-three, and like so many women before and after me, I was totally unprepared. It wasn’t just the logistics and the lack of sleep and the colic that shocked me. It was the total and complete undoing of my heart and soul that shook me deep and wide. Not only did this sweet little baby boy ignore all of my expectations and ideals, he seemed to challenge anything that was “how babies are supposed to act”. It was an unexpected wrench in my plans to be the perfect mother to a perfect baby, creating a perfect home with my perfect husband.”
Please join me over at my friend, Erika’s blog. (And wish her congrats, she has a beautiful new baby daughter!)

Suburbia: or Where did all my urgency go?

September 10, 2015 by 2 Comments


I have a china cabinet.  And a sleeper sofa. And a house in the suburbs. If that doesn’t make a woman feel settled and a bit like a sell-out, I don’t know what does.

I know that I have mentioned my crazy summer filled with selling a house, moving, saying good bye to my mom, autism therpay, etc. But what I haven’t mentioned is how settled I’m feeling these days. How very mediocre and lovely life is at this moment. I know it’s not particularly sexy to feel quiet and satisfied, without the passionate flames and the very pissed off gut reaction to all the craziness of this world, but I’m 32 and my days are filled with packing lunches and filling and emptying the minivan many times a day. What can I say?

I’m starting to breathe a little more evenly, taking my time before I make proclamations or climb on soap boxes. I’m listening more often, soaking in the stories and the opinions and the experiences. Letting them marinate, leaning as hard into compassion as I can.

The truth is, I just don’t feel all that urgent these days. Maybe it’s that by the time the 30’s knock on your door you’ve gathered enough stamina to deal with life in small steps, or maybe it’s the meds I’m finally on for the anxiety that gifted me with years of fear and searching for control under every rock along the way.

I’ve always been what Brandon has so sweetly called “passionate”. I care a lot about the things I care about. And the thing is, when I read another story about gender inequality , or child trafficking, or yet another wolf in sheep’s clothing, my body still responds. I still ache and burn. But I’m starting to see that, for now, the world doesn’t need me to shout down every incident that pops up on Facebook.

What the world needs is one more couple genuinely loving and respecting each other, walking side by side and falling asleep together each night, happy to be so near one another. What the world needs is eyes wide open, watching out for the classic signs of a child or a young woman on the verge of abuse and exploitation. It needs one more person owning up to their issues, arms wide open to the vulnerability and the humility that drives true Communion.

It needs more of us actually living our lives in the full confidence that God is with us.

As I look around, I see all the distractions, the desperate attempts we all make to figure out exactly what will make us feel whole, healed of self-doubt and restlessness. We search for the way of life, the decisions, the moralities that will bring Big Change in its wake. We’re thrilled when it seems to work out for awhile, but life shifts, we grow and change. We fail. And then we begin again. Lord knows I’ve done it, I do it.

And what I’m finding in this unexpected season of status quo is that sometimes it’s okay to coast for awhile. In fact, sometimes it’s obedience in a world that loves Big and Radical and Unique. It hurts to be Small and Boring and Ordinary, it scrapes at my worth, and yes, my pride. Sometimes it sends me into a panic that has me panting about doing more, being better.

But hidden in the day to day life of decorating my new home and signing reading logs and hosting neighborhood boys for daily games of Minecraft, is this stirring in my soul:

You are mine. You are enough. You are so loved.

and this:

Relax. Whether you live in the suburbs or in the inner-city, I am the only one who can heal and help and save. Take a deep breath, my love. I’m always redeeming, always working. You cannot out-serve me, you cannot out-love me, you cannot make my ways better. So, quiet down now and know my love.

If there is one thing that is certain, it’s that seasons come and go. Now is a season of rest for me and mine. We’re learning to live loved, to remember that all our seemingly ordinary moments of faithfulness are small, yes, and they are good.

Small, and Good.

Sounds pretty radical, after all.

Whole Mama- Mess

July 6, 2015 by No Comments
Whole Mama

This week I’m writing over at Esther Emery’s place on MESS! Here’s a teaser… head over to read the rest, and then link up with us!

Once upon a time, my children had a Cheese Fight.

This was back in the days of tiny babies and no extra energy to be found and so I did something that shames me even now, I bought bags of pre-grated cheese, poison preservatives and all. I was tired, okay? And I had babies that never let me put them down, so how exactly was I supposed to grate my own cheese?

Anyway, one evening Brandon was working late and I was out in the garage where our washer and dryer are located. If memory serves, I was actually doing laundry, which was obviously my first mistake. As a result of what came next, I now happily let my laundry pile up to Everest levels and then and only then, I beg my husband to do it.

So, there I was. Feeling pretty darn Super Mom-ish, switching clothes to the dryer before they sat so long that the mildew scent forced me to wash them again (and again).  After I had completed this domestic task, I wandered back into my dimly lit house where my children were supposed to be watching yet another episode of Phineas and Ferb, only to be greeted by a sound that was most definitely not the awesome theme music of that hilarious (for adults too!) cartoon, but by shrieks and maniacal laughter from the five-year-old and three-year-old. The baby was sobbing. You’d cry too if you had cheese bits stuck to your head…

To read the rest Click Here

You Are Here… & There, & Everywhere

July 2, 2015 by No Comments

Hi there everyone,

I know it’s been quiet over here… there are a million reasons why, and a million reasons that I won’t be quiet much longer. To begin with, last Friday I was in San Francisco. Yeah, on the day SCOTUS handed down their decision legalizing gay marriage in all 50 states, I was in San Francisco. About a month ago, my best friend invited me to tag along as she did her fancy author thing at a conference in the city, and because San Francisco is my favorite bit of land on this whole big earth, and because I love my best friend and do not get to spend enough time with her, I said yes.

And then I immediately contacted a friend who was a journalist on my high school paper with me, more than a decade ago. She’s also pretty fancy and has made quite a name for herself in sports broadcasting. And she’s gay. She’s been one of my favorite people for so many years now and when she came out to me, I was very, very careful about how I worded my response to her. And then I promptly voted yes on Prop 8. We’ve had conversations about this, don’t worry. Good, healing conversations.

So, more than a month ago, we made plans to have dinner on this past Friday night, of course having zero knowledge that such a historical event would take place on the same day. We hadn’t seen each other since high school.  I wept as I walked through the streets of San Francisco on my way to see her. Every person I passed looked so beautiful, and so very beloved.

So yeah. Still processing. I’m sure we’ll be chatting about this.

Also, my BFF is here visiting and like I said, we don’t get to see one another enough.

Also, we had dinner with our high school english teacher, the single most inspiring man I’ve ever known. My BFF dedicated her first book to him.

Also, we sold our house this week!

Heavy stuff, all good, all lovely, all redemptive flashes of goodness. But, heavy.

So of course, it seems like a good time to have a bit of an identity crisis and begin to explore a side of me I don’t talk about a lot, a culture I’ve tried really hard to keep at arm’s lengths, and strands of DNA I’ve worked to deny. It’s also good, redemptive work. It started with a conversation, and it grew as I poked around in a memory from long ago, a trip to the southernmost point of the United States where I gathered as a little girl with my eyes squinting out over the wild Atlantic searching for refugees from the land my dad was born on, the shores of Cuba.

I hope you’ll join me over at the incredible site, You Are Here as I share this story that has been so deeply buried in my heart and has finally broken through to the surface where I can now see it, feel it, and begin to see the beauty in it. Click here to head on over. I am so deeply honored to be included in this gem of the online storytelling world.


Whole Mama- Power

June 23, 2015 by 8 Comments

Tonight, I drove through the winding streets of suburbia toward Toys R Us for our annual shopping trip that rewards our boys for excellent “effort” grades. As I slowed down at a red light, something to the right caught my eye. I gasped, and I felt sick.


I live in California, and sometimes I think that all the questions of racism are a little more theoretical, a little more removed. But then I take my babies to Toys R Us, and it flies in our faces. It’s here, Sarah. Don’t get comfy.

“Mom, what’s that flag for?” my little son who never misses a thing I do, who notes every shifting expression on my face.
“Well, baby,” I began. And yes, I told him the truth. He listened quietly, and then…
“How would you feel, if you were black, and you saw that flag flying high on a pickup truck?” I asked another question.
“Mom, I’d be scared. And really sad.”

“Do you want to know how I feel, as a white woman?”
“I feel angry. I feel angry that someone thinks it’s okay to make people feel scared and sad.”
“Me too. I feel angry.”

And you know, in that moment in my dusty minivan, I felt a breeze of empowerment. I told my small son the truth, and he told it back to me. He listened and I listened. And now he knows. He knows that it’s okay to look at something and not just roll your eyes or keep your distance, to be polite. It’s more than okay to call it what it is, to talk about it.

I have to admit, I don’t always feel powerful as a mother, though I know that I absolutely am.

But tonight, I did.

You can link up with the #WholeMama movement over at my lovely friend, Esther’s blog. I hope you do. Our word this week is Power.