To the caregivers…

Two nights ago I woke up around 2am to the sounds of my husband throwing up. Does your husband do this? The first time I overheard him vomiting, I had to leave the room because his sickness was so violent I was gag-giggling. Gagging at the sound of it, but giggling just a bit because it was the most intense noise I’d ever heard.

This lovely man I’ve married has been known to frequent some (how do I say this politely?) non-hygienic restaurants, in the wee hours after he gets off work. Just last year, I forced him to swear on his life that he would never ever put one more bite of Taco Bell in his mouth again, after he celebrated his entire 34th birthday with his face in porcelain. So, the other night when I woke up to the noise of him being sick, I  was up in a flash and sanitizing everything: remotes, light switches, counters, my HANDS. And usually, it’s just a nasty bout of eating food prepared by sick teenagers at fast food joints, but this weekend it was different…it was…contagious…and it was too late to protect them all.

Here’s a time line of the subsequent hours

2am-Tall guy-sick as a dog.

3am-Biggest kid in my bed, complaining, “my tummy hurts.”

4am-Baby boy up and crying and more tall guy-sick again.

7am-Baby girl is covered in vomit, but otherwise in wonderful spirits (my tiniest trooper).

9am-Moooooooorrrrrre tall guy sickness. What is left at this point, I wonder. “welllll, last night before bed, I ate 6 tequitos, Chicken Express, and some donuts.” Wow, Mr., puke away.

11am-Our biggest kid throws up all over the living room, bathroom, and bathroom sink. (Clearly, instructing her to run to the bathroom wasn’t detailed enough-oh well).

12-6pm-Baby boy is dramatic non-stop.

7pm-The Rottie mix joins the party and throws up on our rug (I mean SERIOUSLY???) By this time the tall guy, feeling bad for all the messes I’ve cleaned up, offers to take care of that mess. (Thank God because dog functions are where I draw. the. line).

7:30-Everyone goes to bed and I am alone with some wine (it’s good for the stomach), raw hands, tortilla soup, and Call the Midwife (maybe not the best choice considering the day, or maybe I just needed some fictional camaraderie).

12am-The last hold out, our middle child, bites the dust.

People. It’s been a weekend. Such a weekend, that the tall guy offered multiple times to send me to a hotel next week.

But lest I feel too bad for myself, so many of you bravely spend large portions of your time in children’s hospitals with your precious littles, or have nursed/are nursing spouses and parents, or dedicate your lives to helping and healing the sick, as doctors and nurses.

My grandmother with her hospice nurses. These amazing women helped to graciously served her in her last days and I am so grateful.

My grandmother with her hospice nurses. These amazing women helped to graciously served her in her last days and I am so grateful.

One weekend of vomit in the scheme of things is nothing, when others’ lives are consumed with illness.

So to you, the lonely caregivers, the ones who want to ask for help, but don’t know what that looks like, or how to articulate it, or even if “help” could be helpful.

To the ones who do what you do, because you wouldn’t dream of complaining, or doing anything else.

To the ones who are scared of what the next day or hour might bring.

To the ones who smile and look on the bright side, and make life special, regardless.

To the ones who are weary, who don’t take time for yourselves.

To the ones who live or work in the trenches, where sickness is routine.

To the ones who know the sounds and smells of hospitals all to well, whose backs are familiar with hard sofas, and feet know tile floors.

To the ones who forgot what a night full of sleep feels like.

To the ones who are living out the lay down your life, sacrificial, for better and for
worse love-you are my heroes.

Those of us on the outside, who complain about one day of vomit, are humbled by you and admire you. We want to help and are overjoyed when you ask for it. There are so many of you, quietly serving, living life this way. You know how to lend an ear to the newly suffering. You know that sometimes presence trumps every other kind of help. You know a deeper heartache than the rest of us can imagine.

Today. Know you are loved. Know you are prayed for. Know you are not alone. Take time for you. Just a few moments to breathe and take care. And ask for help. We want to give it!



Lessons from Snoopy (aka Toby)

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Hindsight.”

What happens when you go back and read your very first blog post ever written (or in my case, the second, my first was a recipe)? You grimace, and scroll, and scroll, and scroll. “Girlfriend!” you say to yourself, “SO MANY WORDS! Get to the point! Wow.” In response to the Daily Post, I will now rewrite it, and hopefully choose my words a little more carefully.

Growing up, we had two little dogs. Missy and Molly were be-huahuas, beagle chihuahua mixes. They were wonderful (albeit spunky/lazy little dogs), who basically looked and acted like very small beagles or very fat chihuahuas.

I was sure when I grew up that I wanted a Beagle. The eyes, the snuggles, the antics. I mean, who wouldn’t want one?  As it turns out, Beagle mixes are different from full bred beagles. And no one in the world wants one because there are approximately 70 billion Beagle hounds waiting (and probably waiting loudly while howling and barking) to be adopted FOR FREE in area shelters.

Why, you ask? Look at that face!

Toby: The cutest/worst Beagle ever.

Toby: The cutest/worst Beagle ever.

Because friends. Beagles are bad. Pay no attention to this precious little face. They are notoriously and absolutely crazy town. CRAZYTOWN.

The following are some simple rules you may want to memorize if you are considering adopting a Beagle, (or already did):

  1. Never leave food out, your Beagle will eat it. This includes, but is not limited to:
    1. Your coffee. Nothing like seeing a whole Beagle face up your mug. And by mug, I mean your coffee mug, with YOUR morning joe in it.
    2. Fed Ex packages with pound cake from California. Your Beagle knows how to unwrap that business. He’s hiding secret thumbs in his paws. Move over, monkeys!
    3. Messed up blueberry scone dough in your trashcan. Two words: blueberry diarrhea. Three more words: on your rug.
    4. Kid food on the table or in the high chair. Half eaten mac and cheese does not bother him, neither do soggy cheerios. Yum.
    5. Trashcans. Even though your beagle is nay, 12 inches tall, when standing on his hind legs, he can open the trashcan and he will devour it. Go go gadget Beagle legs.
    6. Diapers. Poop is food. Ok. Don’t leave baby poop out/in trashcans that don’t lock.
    7. Etc etc etc.
  2. Secure all of the exits. Don’t be fooled by your little guy. Just because he stayed “happily” in your backyard for the last two weeks without any escape attempts, doesn’t mean he isn’t busily plotting one. If he is quiet, it means he’s working and probably on three different routes at the same time. When you find one hole, always assume there are more.
  3. Everything is fair game, huntin’ game. If you live in a neighborhood, your beagle will hunt it: college kids, squirrels, neighbor dogs, neighbors, birds flying in the air, neighbor goats who mysteriously got in your yard (but that’s another story). When your dog decides it’s hunting season (which will happen daily), he will ferociously attack everything that comes between him and his victim, including blinds and curtains.
  4. Always raise the blinds. I cannot stress this enough. He will annihilate your blinds.
  5. Screw curtain rods into studs. Also. I’m just trying to spare you from intense Beagle fury. He will rip your curtain rods from the wall, should a predator (once again, something like a college student, squirrel, 4 wheeler, or car), happen to traverse the sidewalk or air in front of your house.
  6. Always secure food behind closed doors and cabinets. Again. I just want to be clear. Beagles love their food. So don’t forget. Even counters are not safe. Ask the entire batch of chocolate chip cookies I left out on the stove once. Oh wait, you can’t, because it’s in my Beagle’s stomach.

But here’s the deal. Even though, just today my Beagle ruined my life by waking me up at 3:40 and 4:30 to go outside and then by rolling in mud and pooping on my porch. I still love him. He is the best snuggler and he never runs out of love to give. He teaches me patience and exposes my huge need for some MORE patience. And what he teaches me about people and being a mom is this: what we all need most (Beagles included), is TIME. His world is made when I take my early morning hours with coffee and the rising sun and give him a blanket to cuddle up under next to me. It’s like I can literally see his big Beagle eyes saying “thank you.”

Time and people. People and time. Beagle and people. Beagles and time. It’s what makes our little home go round.

You can read my original post here; it’s much longer and way more sentimental, but 6 years into motherhood, I’m way to sleep deprived to be so sentimental. :):)

It’s a Wonderful Life

My uncle died early this morning, and while I said my tearful goodbyes to him in August, still nothing can prepare you for the finality of life.

I’ve been thinking on his life for the past month as we knew the end was near and even though his obituary is FULL of his amazing accomplishments on this Earth, it is the little things that I will miss and cherish and learn from, as his niece.

Perhaps he, more than anyone else (save my grandfather) has taught me both frugality but also generosity. He lived humbly but blessed lavishly those around him. I can remember when he saw a need he met it. Once as children, we came home to a brand new VCR on our porch after a visit from him, my aunt, and our cousins. Another time, he and another uncle bought us a dryer when they found out our’s had been broken for some time. When his own father was dying, and he stayed over night at our house, my sisters and I found cash stuffed under our milk thermoses in our lunch boxes when we got to school. Before college he took us shopping and when I got married (though for a short season divorced from my aunt), he still sent a card with a gift.

Then there are memories seared in my mind. 

Joking with my mom after a morning run in Memphis and drinking a Coke instead of coffee (bleh!!)

Taking us kids in spins in his corvette/scaring the crap out of us, whilst blaring the beach boys.

Taking my 2 sisters and me, and our 3 cousins out and about, letting everyone think we were all his.

The time he saved my sisters life when her appendix burst after a misdiagnosis.

That at family gatherings, taking pictures and documenting the moment was all of a sudden his thing.

That he always called me Anna Banana, even on his death bed.

Cousins at Barron 1979

My uncle’s obituary says all the technical stuff, the stuff I didn’t know he did (because grownups seem to be particularly humble about all of their awesomeness, I suppose). And let me tell you, what a wonderful life he had. But what it doesn’t say is how much we loved him and how the world will be so much emptier without him. What it doesn’t say is that he would give the shirt off his back to help a friend in need. What it doesn’t say is that he made visits memorably fun for nieces and nephews. What it doesn’t say is that he taught me about Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. What it doesn’t say, is that he was still just recently, slipping in everyone’s beach rentals on family vacation with early morning boxes of donuts and no accolades because he was long gone when we found them. What it doesn’t say is that he was too young and cancer hit right after he retired.

The last time I saw him, sitting there, saying goodbye without saying it, he said “we had some good times.”

Yes we did.

Some Words on the Josh Duggar Scandal(s)

These words have been ruminating in my mind since Thursday, so in order to get some good sleep tonight I need to write them down.

First of all, months ago when the news broke that Josh Duggar molested younger siblings among others, there seemed to be an almost giddy delight in our media, as if to say, “We knew it, we knew you were flawed, we got you!” I can only imagine the maniacal laughter when once again his name was disgraced among the fallen in the Ashley Madison hack. No longer could his fans claim anything but his guilt. Those who hoped that he’d been rehabilitated from his 13 year old self, hung their heads in error. But here’s the deal, as much as we use screens to separate us from the fact that celebrities are PEOPLE who live and breathe and think and emote, they are still just that-PEOPLE! Let us keep in mind that while Josh Duggar was caught red-handed in this mess, he is married to a woman who is likely devastated, 1 month postpartum, and a real person. He has parents, and siblings, and they are hurting and shocked and heartbroken. He victimized (years ago) 5 young girls…who will live with that knowledge forever. There are human hearts at stake here. Yeah, Josh Duggar is a hypocrite, but there are hurting people involved in this, that we should be respectful of.

In America, we love scandal and we have made sport of watching people fall from grace. And it’s sick. I’m tired of it. It’s not kind. In the media’s joy over celebrity breakups and sex changes and pornography addictions and “are they pregnants,” we forget, these people are REAL. We have lost our compassion. We have lost our empathy. It’s not edifying. It’s not how we would teach our children to behave on the play ground. Reality tv is a cesspool for this type of behavior. And whether you think reality tv stars are asking for it or not (in that they choose to expose their lives on camera nationally), it is YOUR choice to watch it and pay them their millions.

It is up to us to say enough is enough. We won’t endorse this anymore.

Secondly, in no way do I condone Josh Duggar. In fact, I am appalled and disgusted by his actions and even his apology, which let’s not forget, happened after/not before he was caught. Even with Jesus living in my heart, I have a hard time extending grace to him as I think of his precious wife, with a NEW BABY AT HOME. I cannot fathom. I CANNOT FATHOM. However, we must remember, that sometimes offended people offend. Hurt people hurt. We will never know (nor is it ANY of our business) if Josh Duggar himself, is a victim, but lest we cast stones, remember we don’t always know every part of the story (even though the part we do know is awful)*.

Finally, to the church. We have fought with fervor (and unabashed judgment) legislation we feel contrary to Scripture (something Jesus never did, by the way). But we have ignored those in our midst. We have not fostered a culture of vulnerability and accountability and brokenness. Even more shocking to me, we have remained relatively quiet on the subject of pornography. Is it because we don’t see what is actually happening? Or more likely, because many in our flock are themselves, quietly addicted to this crime without a victim? I tell you-it has a victim. She is someone’s daughter, he is someone’s son.  Pornography is made at the expense of someone’s soul. The addict has a wife or husband, and their marriages are often devastated by it. Pornography objectifies people. IT MAKES HUMAN BEINGS INTO OBJECTS. It is not ok. Church. Where are your picket signs for this? Are your knees calloused for the men and women trapped in the pornography industry, and for the people in your midst addicted to it? Are your arms open to help a brother or sister heal without judgment? Where are your lobbyists and your blogs and your new political parties fighting this-the underbelly of our culture?

We can all judge Josh Duggar and whoever else’s name is on that MASSIVE dump. But let us take a lesson from Josh himself, and remove the plank from our own eye before judging the world**. We are all one step away from a moral breakdown ourselves. By the grace of God we go on.

*Whether or not he is a victim himself, does not EXCUSE his actions. WE are all accountable for what we choose to do with our pasts. However, I believe compassion looks at the entire narrative of one’s life.

**More specifically, what I mean here is that J.D. espoused family values at the same time being unfaithful to his wife. This is what Jesus means by looking at the speck in our neighbor’s eye, while ignoring the plank in our own eye. If we would all focus on ourselves, and our own mess, perhaps this world would be a better place.

To Our Beloved Bunny

My grandmother is in hospice care…and while she is still with us, though I’m certain she is certain of my love for her…I won’t wait to write it down. I need to do it now.


I can’t stop thinking of my last hospital stay, exactly one month ago, for the birth our of twins. With that stay, came the promise of finality: of pregnancy and of delivering babies. The end was in site: the end of tests and dr’s visits and apprehension. And that hospital stay culminated in life. For months, I was so giddy when I thought about coming home with life. Leaving with LIFE, 2 lives. The thought of it made me cry.

In so many ways, her stay in the hospital now is the same, final and culminating in LIFE. The end of this life on Earth, means life in Heaven for her. And at 35, I can barely wrap my mind around the idea of being excited about that. But for her…for my Bunny, our Grace, it means seeing her mom and dad, and brothers and sisters, and her beloved, our Pop. It means holding my sister’s baby boy, Silas, before any of us do. It means greeting our cousin Amy again with a kiss and tears. It means seeing the face of God. And sitting here thinking about THAT, about seeing Jesus…that makes me giddy for her, even in my heartbreak over my impending separation from her.

So how do I honor this woman, who for my entire life has meant the world to me; who has prayed unceasingly for all of us, remaining lucid for her 94 years, sharing griefs and triumphs, stealing giggles on porch swings over slightly inappropriate stories, fingers still gliding effortlessly across piano keys? For this woman who is a picture of godliness and purpose, I will honor her with my words…and I think that’s how she’d want me to honor her.

Bunny and me

Two things about my grandmother have shaped me and helped me to become who I am.

The first is music. 

When I was five, I remember telling Bunny a story using the keys of her piano to differentiate my characters. Then she taught me about the symphony, sitting on the floor listening to Peter and the Wolf…hearing story through music for the first time. And years later, it was Bunny who encouraged my first piano lessons. And finally in high school, when I was still practicing piano at my dad’s church, Bunny bought me my own piano, perhaps the most amazing gift I’ve ever been given. The gift of song. And because of her blood that courses through me and her influence, I feel God’s glory no more acutely than when I am wrapped up in the beauty of making music.

The second is faith.

When I was little my mother taught us how to study God’s word. I will always look back and praise God for a mom who was disciplined in her teaching of us. Without her, I would have no idea that the Bible is indeed living and active and sharper than any two edged sword. But it was Bunny, who also helped shaped the love of Bible study into my mom. I love legacies. I love tracing my faith back to faithful men and women. I am so grateful.

I loved watching my mom and dad wake up every morning and pray together…I saw that in my grandparents, too. I hope our children will remember our prayer times, too.

Bunny and Georgie

It’s impossible to wrap up my grandmother in a silly blog post, just as it’s impossible to catch the memory of a dream the night before with our words. It all falls short. To list all of my memories seems trite. But they are a part of me. She is a part of me.

Not everyone gets the pleasure of having a family that they are wild about. I do. And at the helm is Bunny.

Bunny, you mean the world to me. I love you more than words could ever say. Your purpose in my life…has been inexplicable.

Pop at Christmas

I was sitting on the floor just now, big and pregnant with twins, barely able to reach the top of the wrapping paper roll I was cutting, and using way to much tape, surrounded by a mess…and I thought of my Pop. It was sometime in my childhood, I was probably 10 or 11. Pop and I were upstairs in our home in Memphis wrapping presents. Ever the economist, he commented that I was wasting tape, and grabbed the little box of instant flavored coffee I was wrapping for my dad (listen, little kids have limited budgets…but I still wonder what Dad thought of that gift), and wrapped up the whole thing using one piece of tape. ONE PIECE…y’all. So, as I sit wrapping presents every Christmas Eve, using too much tape, and wondering how on Earth he did that, I smile…and miss him.  Love the ones you’re with. Make memories, even weird ones. Be present. beach pop Merry Christmas Eve.

Jesus in Ferguson, Jesus in our Hearts

I’m trying to articulate my thoughts as slowly and respectfully as possible.

I’m trying to wrap my head around the grief and brokenness and separateness that still plagues our country.

I’m trying to understand.

Someone said yesterday that they were sick of Christians’ response to Ferguson. I assume they mean the white Christian response to Ferguson. They said they wished people would act more like Jesus. And so I wondered, what would Jesus do…today…right now. Well. I’m a white Christian girl, and I believe that Jesus is alive. And I believe He is responding.

But I don’t think he is responding the way we think he is. Some of us think he is with the white folk and some of us think he is with the black folks.

Friends, He is not on one side or the other. Yet, he is not a pacifist, bolding proclaiming truth and calling out sin and still, he is not fighting in the streets. And in case you didn’t know…he didn’t have time to mess with the government.  He is not involved in the protests. He is not part of the media (I think this part must disgust him the most). This is not the way of Jesus. Jesus looks above these human attempts at reform and into our hearts. Into people’s HEARTS. Into people’s LIVES.

You see, Jesus walks among us.  If we let him, he is quietly listening and chastening our hearts to a Father, a Father who sees no color, no race, no ethnicity, no sex. A Father who created us in His image and to glorify Him.

“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Have you read the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman? The time when he talked with an outcast from a people group so marginalized that Jews would walk around their cities, and she was a woman who’d had 5 husbands, and was living with a new man to whom she was NOT married? In his love for her, he told her there was a better way.

Have you read the story about when Jesus asked those about to stone a prostitute about their own hearts? Were they clean? Had they not sinned? Had they not offended? And they all walked away…because none of them were without blemish. Not one. But neither was she. And he tells her, “GO and leave your life of sin.” 

We are all the Pharisees and we are all the prostitute.

Remember when Jesus told us plainly to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us?

Jesus’ ways are different.They are better. But so often, we try to put him into a political boat. We make him white or black, when he is GOD.

Jesus loves the marginalized. He loves the hurting. But he wants more for us. He wants us all to live blameless lives. He wants more than our finger pointing on social media, and our stereotyping, and our close minds and hearts. He wants more than our protests and our cop car burning and our looting. He wants more for BOTH SIDES. We are all in the wrong.

We are all the same to him. There are no sides. And he loves us equally. And I am certain he is grieving for us. And we can’t seem to pull it together…because we aren’t doing the one thing HE DID. Which is TALK and LISTEN and LOVE.

You and I were not there that hot summer night in Missouri. It is one man’s word against another man’s word and let me remind us, we will never know what really happened. And the toll was far greater than one man’s life in the street.  The toll isn’t decided yet…it is still growing.

Before you point fingers in either direction…before you continue in hatred…and misunderstanding…

This Thanksgiving, hold hands across the table with someone different. Someone hurting. Someone who is ok. Look into their eyes. Know their story. Talk and listen. That is the face of Jesus.