when she asked ALL THE QUESTIONS.

I sat around a table with a bunch of girlfriends last night. A perfect night under string lights is so good for my soul. It is not uncommon for me to be one of the older at the table. Add that I got married at 19 and started having babies at 21, I am parenting teens and a preschooler, next to most of my friends elementary babes. 

The talk at the table turned to laughing at how stupid we all were in high school and college. One of us even made out in a baptistry at the church school. Thankfully, all the water was drained at the time.  Christian school teachers take note to check the baptistry. And maybe keep it filled with freezing cold water. Kidding. Slightly.

Leave it to me to turn the talk somewhat serious for a few minutes. I told them about the time Carly, 16, came to me and asked ALL THE QUESTIONS about when I was her age. I just imagined a unanimous cringe. In our house we have open communication about everything. Let me just say when you ask your kids to be open and talk the talk with you, they will expect you to do the same. 

My role all of Carly's life has been to mentor and pastor teen girls. My story is not uncommon for her to hear in public as well as just between us. Even so, she had some lasting questions. She heard yes when she wanted to hear no. And she was angry. Mad tears and slamming doors angry. It was so hard. For a few hours she hated the teenage me. 

After the anger subsided, she grieved for me, and then extended grace to me. In a letter none the less.

Here is what I am here to say, be honest with your kids. It will hurt, for some of us more than others. They need to hear how you navigated being a kid, when you won and when you lost. They learn how to live from us, how to forgive, and how to love.

This parenting thing...It's a wild ride.

What is your biggest fear about parenting teens?

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A song for lovers.

I cannot listen to Whatever Forever on this album without feeling all I love my man - I'm sorry for the last stupid argument - I don't even care if I was right - let's run away to a remote island and kiss - or go for a walk and hold hands - or laugh together while we fold laundry. In other words, it softly reminds me that marriage is most fun when we treasure the silly in love feelings.

So my Valentine's word for all my married friends is this - it's big - remember how to flirt, and once you remember, do it.  Be ye doers of flirting, not just rememberers only.

Pandora introduced me, but you can listen here on meredith + todd's wedding video. Thank you m + t, whoever you are, by the way, you were a radiant bride.


She turned 16.

She turned 16. 

This one, the 8lb baby that made me a mom. In our hospital room it felt like time would stand still. Her full rosy cheeks and head full of dark hair kept me unashamedly mesmerized. Come to remember she was a trend setter with perfect golden tips to the end of her fine hair. Today we would call it ombre. Those first days of motherhood, with it's lack of sleep, move slow - only, not really. As a young family, she moved with us to the midwest for bible college. We wondered if her grandparents would ever forgive us. This little girl, outside of missionary training classes, had mine and her dad's full attention. She walked before she was one, but of course she did. Moving her pink and white Nikes one step at a time, all for applause and sips of apple juice. 

This one, the toddler with all the sass. She taught us parenting was not for the faint of heart. She loved her days so much that she would all out fit every night for bedtime. Every shoe in our home became her prized toy, most of the time for dress up, and when all the toys were away because she would not pick them up, the shoe became a baby and a laundry basket a stroller. For her, red glittery flats as birthday wear only made sense. Her hair long to her lower back, perfectly silky with little ringlets at the ends. She was amazing enough to grow an extra tooth right in the middle of her two front baby teeth. The dentist removed it leaving the cutest gap I ever did see. 

This one, the dreamer. She would spend hours playing with her American Girl dolls, attending to them like any good mother. Combing their hair and paying special attention to their skin. Always making sure they had a good seat at the dinner table, not any seat, but one that felt honorable. A writer and notetaker from her earliest days. Plans and sketches of a home to comfort children without parents in a place she had never been, Cambodia. Her brother she hoped would be a professional baseball player. She also hoped he would give her lots of money to fund her home for children, where she would live as the mother, and a dreamy someone would live as the father. The year she turned double digits she decided on a different kind of celebration. She asked her school principal to allow her to host a Formula For Haiti contest. The class who donated the most formula would win a pizza party given by the birthday girl herself. 

This one, the fan girl. I laugh at typing that, but to know her is to know that she adored all things Justin Bieber. It was just a few years ago that my friends elevated her dreams by planting a life size cardboard Justin at the door, with flowers in his hand, and a recording of him singing happy birthday. Her eyes welled up with tears, and when I asked who was at the door, she replied, "my husband." Always a fan of her friends, and most of the time, her siblings.  

This one, the sixteen year old. We just celebrated with at least forty of her friends. In our home, a makeshift teen club, they danced like happy fools. All kinds of people, rich and not so rich, hard core  and church goer, black, asian, white, hispanic. Some from our lives in the midwest, some from our time at another Houston church, and even with moving, her many schools represented. I am still shaking my head and wondering how she does it. Never attaching to one group, she floats around all of them, and she would have it no other way. This dance party, she talked about for years, the day came and the day went.

She turned 16.

The years are long, but the days are short. 

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A little note to waiting adoptive parents

This morning I remembered four years ago today the Haitian Earthquake happened. I searched the blog archives and found what I wrote the morning after--

I want nothing more than to sell everything I have to get my arms around the boy I dream will one day live under my roof.  With me.  With his family. If only it was that simple. Last night he slept with 70 other children under a shelter, under the stars, for protection from possible falling walls.  I slept in my bed, next to my husband and even snuggled with my newborn.  My other two were tucked safely into their beds just steps away.

Tonight, after four years have passed, I chatted with Ronel about the earthquake. He gave me the low down on all of the earthquake statistics. He remembered seeing tent cities and then reminded me of all the people who became homeless. When the actual earthquake happened he was on a walk with Licia, her boys, and Lori. He remembers that Carmelo was riding his bike and kept peddling through the quake. I could never have imagined this earthquake would make a way to bring my son home, and only weeks later. 

Tonight I will fall asleep with Ronel tucked in his bed under my roof. I will be thankful for his life and how The Lord used his story after the earthquake to be a picture of the Father's love. 

Are you waiting for your adoption paperwork to move and your children to be home? Your day is coming.  Eventually the struggle, the tension, the stress it took to get them home will not be a daily thought. I know it sounds unreal, but trust me. When you do remember you will be so thankful. That child sleeping under your roof will not be lost on you. Each day is one day closer. 

Here's a tip for you, it helps to remember when said children are getting on your very last nerve.

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The year I


the year I was described as bad a
the year that marked my heart for women in my city
the year that took my brother's life
the year I became a board member
the year I received a word about McDonalds
the year The Holy Spirit strengthened me
the year I bought groceries once a month for the month
the year I mentored hard
the year Ronel's adoption became final
the year we road tripped to NYC*
the year we celebrated 17 years married
the year I did not write
the year I went to Passion, Hillsong NYC, and Taylor Swift
the year teenager wins majority in our house
the year I felt brave
the year my face broke out
the year we planted a second church


the year I am so excited for
the year I feel the need to document
the year we release For Her
the year I will read more books
the year I will write
the year I will not fear
the year that feels like a present
the year three people have dreamed me pregnant**

Amuse me. Share one or two sentences for your 2013 + 2014.

*related: the year we were thisclose to crazy road tripping with a toddler.
**measures have been taken for this to never happen again, people stop dreaming this dream. grin.

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It's like wearing red lipstick. I don't wear it often, but when I see it worn I feel a boldness to buy some and try it. It always catches my eye, in person, in print, or online. A great red definitely gives a statement that says strong, stylish, even glamourous.  Oddly enough, I woke up this morning thinking about red lipstick. This is coming from a girl who rarely wears lipstick of any color, mostly lip balm, and every so often tinted lip gloss.

Lately I've been hanging out with some wild women. Even typing that last sentence made me stop and laugh. Mostly because I know it is true. One of my teachers during this season of life has an actual mohawk. She wears it as a mark of her place as a warrior. And, I think I love her more because of it. One of my very first outings with her I asked about safety as I enter into becoming an abolitionist. I told her I wanted to live freely, but needed to consider safety for the sake of my four children. I had seriously considered a freedom fighter was designated for those who were single and child free. I fully expected this to be her answer to my question. It wasn't. Her response was simple. Enter in and try it for six months. If at the end of six months you are still alive then you will know more about your safety. 


Thankfully, It has been more than six months. 

This last year has taught me something important. I had wanted to act in faith like the wild women I was around, but didn't. I wanted my faith to be used up. I wanted to be useful for the kingdom. And, in many ways I was useful, but my usefulness rarely needed me to have faith. And more, I had a steady stream of excuses as to why I should stay in my comfortable lane. 

Most of my excuses circled around fear and protection for the four I am raising. In the last year of working to free trafficked women I realized my kids have not only been safe, but they are learning how to live. I may not have a mohawk, still they see a boldness of Spirit in me. 

What I thought I was doing to protect them was actually hurting them. If we as parents live a life that does not require faith, even in an effort to protect our kids, how will they learn to live their faith? If we continue we will be raising a generation that only knows how to care for themselves. In my work I walk alongside people who are messy. Their stories, language, and lifestyle are very different from ours. For a while I was afraid of that. If we try to protect them from different we risk raising kids, a generation, that is scared of the lost or hurting. Instead let's link together and raise a generation of kids who understand the ministry of rescue. Because it's the very ministry that Jesus lived as he came and rescued us.  

No more excuses to not wear red. 

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