Tag Archives: family

The too late

Sometimes, I don’t check my email all day. I’ve got into a bad habit of just checking in late at night and answering only one or two essential email messages, groaning that it’s too late to do too much,  then simply going to bed. In those messages I skip, is a daily deal from Living Social. On those, you have to buy that day or lose out.

I’ve never bought a Living Social deal, even though I’ve been getting their emails over a year. I’m always too late, or they cost too much or I wouldn’t use it. Mostly, I’m too late. I never commit before the day expires.

There are two ways I could go with this post now: I could preach a mini sermon on the 2nd coming of Christ, or, I could do what I’m going to do, and encourage you to live your life in the now, not the too late.

Don’t lose sight of the big deal.

Carpe diem.

What are you waiting for… to show love to others? Love is not cheap, it’s going to cost you. Perhaps that’s why you hesitate. Love will almost certainly cost you your pride, your time. You have to lose your cowardice and go after it, instead of watch it languishing in your inbox. Love won’t speak itself.

Tell your family you love them. Call your sister. Email your cousin. Send your mother flowers before mid-May. Take your dad out to the green and play golf. Read a book to your children. Tell them before the too late, before you run out of days here, or before they do.

Show your friends your love. Invite them over and be hospitable. Play games. Sit and talk. Treat them to a delicious dessert and then tell them that you know you’re all busy, but this time together is worth carving out a spot in your schedule.

Give love away to those who cannot repay. Take some clothes to the man who sits at the exit with a cardboard sign, before it’s too late to share with him. Volunteer at the shelter or soup kitchen. Life expectancy is alarmingly low for those families living on the street. Tomorrow might be the too late for any one of them.

Treat your significant other significantly. I’ve seen more than one marriage (including my own) destroyed because love is withheld or gone silent. By the time someone manages to eek out the words “I love you,” the relationship is darkened in the haze of the too late. Be bold, be honest, be pure, be prompt.

We have only a finite number of days. We have busy lives and insecurities and hesitations. I’m encouraging you today not to let the too late catch up with you.

Have you ever lost out on something wonderful because you waited too long?

Make a plan for showing love today. Right now! Write it down and follow through.


Picking a favorite baby

Indulge me in a hypothetical, please. Let’s say that upon your death (in the next 30 days), your assets will be liquidated, everything sold and all the money could be given to only one of your children. Which one inherits the green? Is it the eldest? the youngest? the poorest? the one with the most sense? the boy? the girl? the one you love best?

As a parent, I can tell you that choosing a favorite child is frowned upon. I don’t like to see other people do it and I’d be hard-pressed to choose one of my children over the other, BUT, as my uncle pointed out this weekend, it’s easier to choose a favorite from among your friends’ children.

For instance, I teach at a day care. My oldest daughter is in my class, and while she’s obviously my favorite, there are kids I would take home with me instantly, and ones I’m fine seeing go home with their parents at day’s end. That’s not to say I don’t like them, or wish them ill, they just aren’t my favorite.

When you don’t love children like a parent, it’s easier to see their faults and strengths objectively. There is no objectivity with my own children. I can still see faults and strengths, but over that is a layer of unconditional love.

When we join the family of God, we’re not just anyone’s children, we are God’s children. He doesn’t play favorites with inheritance. No matter who we are, what sins lie in our past, what malice we previously held in our hearts, we still gain the same kingdom.

We are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ. He isn’t going to divide his grace equally, he gives it to each of us fully.

But we aren’t God, so, how would you pick a favorite baby?

You don’t have to have children to play. You don’t have to be serious. What ultimate method  you devise for making that hypothetical choice easier?



Baa Baa – I’m a black sheep

Sunday, Wendy choose to color her bulletin about lost sheep and the Great Shepherd. She didn’t have white, so, she colored all the hidden sheep green. It made me start thinking about what color sheep I would be.

In my family, I’m a black sheep. Okay, because of the way in which I stick out, I’m probably more like a  blue sheep in a red herd. At any rate, I’m the single mom in a family with mostly stable marriages. I’m the doctoral student that can’t get a job in a family where people use their degrees. I’m the Lutheran in a family of Assembly of God parishoners.

Every family has a black sheep – there’s Aunt Mary who saves beer cans to decorate the house,

photo by Martin Williams Agency

Uncle Justin, who is constantly looking for additions to his All-Kiwi Cookbook, Cousin Keri who mutters Scripture all through the 3-D movie, Brother Duane who talks to squirrels in the park, Sister Katie who interviews dogs and then there’s Tamara, the family friend that’s close enough to be considered family, but who sometimes gets a little wild at family functions and starts talking about sex.

Often, we see the black sheep as something less desirable. They stick out — in a bad way, a garish mark on the family, something we discuss behind their backs, titter about as a joke or try to cover up with a vow of silence.

I’m not the only black sheep in my family. My dad was incarcerated when I was six years old. He spent months in a minimum security prison and NO ONE TOLD ME, until I was 21. He and I have talked about it since, and he swore everyone to silence because he was afraid of what I would think.

Black sheep come in two varieties. The ones that flaunt their difference, proudly fly their freak flag, revel in the unique characteristics that have colored their fleece. Others are ashamed of their wooly coat.

While every family has a black sheep, there is one family that’s composed of nothing BUT black sheep, the Church.

“Feed my lambs… take care of my sheep … feed my sheep” Jesus to Peter in John 21.


We’re a family whose head is a spotless, pure, white Lamb. In comparison, we are all blackened by sin and shame.

When God looks at us, though, he doesn’t see our black nature, he sees us through the blood of that Lamb, and we are rendered spotless by virtue of his Grace. In the family of Jesus, we are all black sheep, but we’re also supposed to be taking care of our darkly colored brethren – feeding and caring for them, just like family.

Design a new sheep breed – complete with color scheme AND/OR why are you the black sheep of your family?

Amelia Explains It All

This girl (thinks she) knows it all. And, she’s graciously condescended to teach the rest of us poor schlubs.

better informed than the avg voter

I thought I would ask Mia what the whole point of marriage is. A few weeks ago, she came up with a lively explanation of how babies are formed (someone you love kisses you) and how they come to Earth (it involves catching babies and putting them in jails). Since then, she’s changed her tune, but it’s still a pretty profound theory.

We obviously haven’t had a lot of conversations about the real genesis of babies, but Mia’s got her own opinions on how it all works and is willing to explain it all.

I still remember that I thought you went to the hospital to pick out a baby, like one might choose  a sweater.

Where did YOU think babies came from as a kid?

Taco tongue and others gifts

Some traits are a matter of cultivation, breeding, careful study and diligent hard work. Other traits are passed from one generation to the next through the genes. Still other traits we seem to pick up along the way, collected as souvenirs of a trip we remember only in moments.

Taco Tongue

Taco Tongue

As I understand it, one of the best traits I’ve managed to pass along to both of my young daughters is the ability to form the tongue into a taco shape. Tongue rolling has been the stimulus of several research studies that have concluded that tongue-rolling is somewhere between a genetic trait and a learned skill. I proudly parent two tongue-rollers. This skill will doubtlessly come in handy if they should ever be short a really short straw.

Other Gifts

My grandmother is not technically my grandmother, she’s stepmother to my dad. It’s not likely that she and I will share many characteristics, as we share no DNA. We have shared one very special gift, however. When I was young (9 or 10), she took a trip to North Carolina and ended up having a piece of furniture she found there shipped home.

My good gift

 It is a beautiful piece, carved tendrils of wood, wrapping themselves up and around a mirror on the cabinet into which folds a 3/4 bed frame. The bed is probably early 20th century, from the marks inside. I was enchanted by it. I imagined that it was a secret hiding place, a time machine, a gateway to worlds beyond. She let me sleep on it. In the morning, we shut it up and that’s how it stayed.

A couple of years ago, she called me. She wanted me to have the bed. It had warped shut, but she’d had it repaired and since I was the only one of her children or grandchildren to have slept on the bed, she wanted it to be mine. I don’t share her looks, her genetic predispositions, her blood, but I have shared this gift with her, our special bond.

Passing them down

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! – Matthew 7:11


I’m more interested in the non-genetic traits I pass on to my children. The gifts I give don’t have to be material, but they should be thoughtful and intentional. I want to give them a good foundation. My grandmother didn’t give me a bed, she gifted me with a magical escape route, a portal to the past, an element of imagination.

What good gifts have you received from your family? What good gifts do you plan to pass down to your children?

“Fit” came upon a midnight clear

Last Christmas… I sobbed, wailed, packed up and tried to leave, slammed lids on boxes and was a snot. The Christmas of my 29th year, I acted like a 7 year old on a steady diet of fudge and ice cream. I was Brittney Spears with a shaved head. I was David Hasslehof with a cheeseburger. I was crazy. I don’t remember exactly what brought it out, something about lights, I think, but what was really percolating deep down was loneliness. I had a fit because I was alone for Christmas.

I mean, I didn’t have a someone for Christmas. I didn’t have a mistletoe mate. I didn’t have a Christmas sweetheart. I wasn’t alone in that regard–  TONS of people spend Christmas without a significant other. I had company in my loneliness. I think it was that it was the first Christmas alone. The first one is the hardest, I’ve been told, the first after a parent or grandparent dies, the first after the kids get married and move off, the first living out-of-state.

 It’s Stress Free Family Holiday Month according to the bizarro calendar. Most people have at least one person at their family function that they KNOW will drive them nuts. That uncle that won’t shut up about politics. That aunt with the perfect children she’d like to compare to your miserable life. The one that gets drunk. The one that scowls. The one that wants to make everyone else as unhappy as they seem to be.

I wasn’t alone, really. I had my mom and dad, sister and brother-in-law, aunt, grandmother. They were all sharing in the festivities and trying to enjoy the day.

I wasn’t alone, really. I had a best friend who came over Christmas night. That was good for me. That was healthy for me. I didn’t remember to be lonely after that.

I wasn’t alone, really. I had my girls there. I got to see them excited about Santa presents. I watched them light up as they opened their stockings. I heard them giggle at the fun toys and ooh and ahh over the clothes. I got sweet kid hugs.

I wasn’t alone, really. I had Emmanuel – God WITH us. It’s difficult to remember that we have an ever-present friend when flesh and blood people ignore us, or gloss over our painful situation. Last year, my life felt like solitary confinement.

That was me last year. I was lonely. I needed everyone else to wallow with me. I’m not proud of it; I’m just telling it like it is. I was the stressor last Christmas day.  How can we have a stress free holiday this month?

1) Keep in mind that everyone has a reason NOT to rejoice this Christmas. There are financial difficulties. People have lost loved ones. They’ve buried pets and relationships and jobs and dreams.

2) Keep in mind that everyone has a reason TO rejoice this Christmas. We’re still here. We’ve been blessed with life, with family and friends, with Jesus. Seeing that Jesus came for all of us, take potential affronts to your person graciously. If necessary, count slowly to 10 before responding and pray.

3) To steal a line from an Avalon song “Don’t save it all for Christmas Day.” Unlike the song, I’m suggesting we don’t save all our love and goodwill for one day a year AND we don’t save all our hurt, animosity, annoyance and grievances for Christmas day, either. I had a tantrum last year because I was letting my hurt build all year. I didn’t let it out, until it exploded in a full-fledged screaming outburst.

Family holidays are stressful. This Christmas, manage your stress by not being the Johnson family or the Smith family or the Turner family, but by being the Family of Christ.

Have you ever had a Christmas drama with your mama? a fight with your family? do you think the ghosts of family feuds past can be overcome?

International Children’s Day

To celebrate International Children’s Day, I am including this video from Mia about Christmas and forgiveness and I’m throwing in a bonus Wendy interview about goodness knows what! If viewing the Wendy video, you might want to turn the volume down slightly when she starts singing. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.