“They were small cookies, and we’ll walk faster tomorrow.”

I deeply appreciate my walking partner because of her approach to my failures. I text her to tell her I’ve sabatoged my workout by feasting on cookies. 

She immediately responds: “They were small cookies, and we’ll just walk faster tomorrow.”
Friends who minimize problems and failures and look ahead to a successful future are wonderful! 
I want to make a t-shirt about small cookies and just walking faster tomorrow. 

Calm Down and Eat Cookies

The week we transition back to school, everything erupts around here. We all have frazzled emotions, more conflict, and more stress in general.

Yesterday, we slowed down and made Lunch Box Cookies–hundreds of them!–to freeze for future lunch boxes.

They are so yummy that we’ve been eating more than we’ve frozen. Either way, we’ve had a relaxed time making cookies.

Here’s the recipe from my own mom:

Lunch Box Cake Box Cookies 
1 box yellow cake mix
1/2 cup oil (we use coconut oil!)
2 eggs
6 ounces chocolate chips
1/2 bag flaked coconut
2/3 cups of either chopped nuts, toffee chips, or peanut butter morsels (depending on your taste! We used toffee.)

Throw everything in a big bowl. Stir well (use your hands; it’s fun!) Drop by spoonful onto your baking stone at 350 degrees for 11 minutes. If you want to make some more to freeze, go ahead and triple the recipe (we did!)

They are amazing, and you will all pour a big glass of milk, eat cookies, and calm down.

Plus, you know my problem with coconut? Well, these hit the spot.

You’re welcome.


Loving Without Needing Affirmation, Affection, or Appreciation

My current prayer request for myself it that I would learn what it means to love sacrificially with God’s love.

I’m learning that love that expects something in return isn’t really love.

I’m learning that love that manipulates, flatters, is needy, is self-serving, is self-focused, is easy, and is even rewarding isn’t really love.

If it’s all about me, I don’t think I’m loving well.

Where is this hitting me hardest? Parenting! I want to love well without needing affirmation, affection, or appreciation. Can you imagine how that would be to live in a home where you were just loved with no strings attached? Can you imagine?

I find myself standing in my kitchen wanting all sorts of affirmation and appreciation from people that I’m working so hard to love. Is that love? Is it?

When I’m set free to love as God loves–from a pure, joyful, overflowing, spirit-filled space within me–it doesn’t matter one bit what I get from you. I’m going to love, love, love no matter what.

It feels so free and right to love this way.

I’m finding more and more freedom in Jesus every day.


Imaginary Battles

Some family members suffer from seasonal allergies, and in this season, those allergens come on particularly strong.

Allergies! When we think about the body’s response to what seems like an enemy attack–but in fact is not-the whole thing frustrates us. 
All day, I think about imaginary battles that waste energy and cause suffering. 
Some things aren’t worth fighting about because we’re giving them a weight and a meaning they don’t deserve. 
There’s no real threat here. God has won. 

Stop Comparing and Make Your Own Fun

Sometimes we get into a terrible thought pattern where we truly believe everyone else is having much more fun than we are. We just can’t handle all the wonderful things we see others experiencing while we go about our hum-drum, boring Sunday.

We’re driving away after dropping one daughter off at a fabulous party, and the other daughter sulks in the back seat of the car. Why doesn’t she get those kinds of invitations? What about her day? Why isn’t she having any fun?

Because I continue to mediate on Ephesians 2:6 and our special seat in the heavenly realms in Christ, I can say with confidence, “God has a perfect day planned for you that is entirely separate from–but not better or worse than–your sister’s or anyone else’s. God has good works prepared in advance for you to do today. God has blessings for you in store today. It might not be a party, but it will be something.”

Can we believe it?

She sulks for a while longer but then something clicks inside of her. She announces, “I am going to make chocolate cupcakes from scratch from my own recipe.” It’s like the dark mood lifts and she’s in a different spiritual place.

That’s it, girl! There’s a great day ahead that’s your day.

Later, I ask her what advice she would give to other little girls who are having sad, empty days. She says, “Go bake. Make your own fun.”


10 Words That Sound Like What They Mean

In a few days, I teach freshman writing again. I just love verbs, as you know, but I’m also currently obsessed with words that sound like what they mean.

For example:

Effervesce is an effervescent kind of sound. It bubbles up as you say it.

Just like sizzle sizzles and crackle crackles off the tongue.

The word crisp is a crisp kind of sound, just like swish swishes and a sting sounds like it’s stinging. Squirmy is a squirmy word, just like ooze is an oozy word. Tickle has a tickle to it as you say it, and pound has a kind of heaviness to it.

Oh, I love words!

So in addition to grapple being my all-time favorite verb, I love words that sound like what they mean.


Something So Important (That I Didn’t Know Mattered So Much)

My oldest daughter tells me yesterday how much she loves our after school snack time. Years ago, before I even had children, I remember wise mothers who told me how they stopped everything, set out a special snack, and greeted their children after school.

Special snack? Whatever do you mean?

I learned then about choosing between parfaits in crystal goblets, platters of crackers and cheese, little sushi rolls, bowls of hot buttered popcorn, smoothies with gobs of whipped cream, fruit salads, pretzels, or trays of cut vegetables and dip. These moms made coming home from school an event to celebrate.

So I’ve been making an after school spread for years. The Italian Mamas tell me this is normal and just how its done in Italian families.

When my daughter tells me how much she loves this time with me (and she’s a teenager!), I want to burst into tears of joy.  My grocery shopping list for next week now includes raspberry mousse ingredients, some seaweed for sushi, and greek yogurt for all those after school smoothies. And whipped cream! I can’t forget the whipped cream!

So we snack from 3-4 and then do homework. I had no idea they even thought about this time, but then do.

Oh, they do!


“Not Because They Are Easy, But Because They Are Hard”: A Back to School and Work Pep Talk

I‘m listening to John F. Kennedy’s “We Choose to Go to the Moon” speech, delivered on September 12, 1962 at Rice University. He spoke to 35,000 people on that hot day about the nation’s space efforts. Landing a man on the moon, back then, must have seemed impossible, ridiculous even. 

He says the famous lines: “We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”

I find my heart racing faster as I watch the video of this speech. The line, “not because they are easy, but because they are hard,” inspires me to my core. Yes! Let’s go forth and do hard things! Let’s do these things–not because they are easy, but precisely because they are difficult

Let’s do a hundred difficult things this year! Hard things, impossible things, things that organize and measure the best of us, things that challenge us, things that will change the whole world. 

I want to stand atop the breakfast table on our first day of school with my finger pointed in the air and my voice projecting out across the neighborhood: “We choose to do things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard!” 

Sometimes, hard things are the best things. 


As Awful As You Think

Today I have an anxiety breakthrough. It’s because I’m standing in my kitchen feeling anxious about the day, and then I realize I’m actually more anxious about being anxious.

It’s weird. It’s like when the fear of a thing is worse than the actual thing.

The anxious feeling is making me anxious. What is this about? I sit with the feelings for a minute and realize that part of my anxiety is about hating anxiety. So instead, I chose to stop having anxiety about the anxiety. It’s just what it is. It’s just happening to me, and I don’t need to get anxious about the feelings, the spinning thoughts, and the inability to make any kind of rational decision. It’s not that awful, really. It’s the anxiety about this that makes it awful.

Again, weird.

Then, everything washes over me and out of my mind like it couldn’t find a place to settle. This is a new trick to add to my arsenal against anxiety: When it comes, I don’t evaluate it and get anxious that it’s happening.


Supplying Your Weakness

This morning I read this as I finish the book I’ve been reading on Christian happiness:

“Our part is to supply the weakness; God’s part is to supply the strength” (Hannah Whitall Smith).

It’s a great quote as I consider all my training in professional development and portfolio building. I’m so used to talking about strengths and what I bring to the table. I’m so acquainted with my own skill set, proficiencies, spiritual gifting, and areas of expertise.

I imagine the great interview question: What do you have to offer? What do you supply for us?  In God’s business model, I find a new truth: I supply my weakness; God supplies His strength.

When I offer my weakness, God applies a special, incompressible strength to that very spot.