The Blue Ribbon Project

  I have a million feelings right now, a million thoughts and many of them are pulled in a million directions.  I honestly do see all sides of the immigration debate.  I know there are criminal aliens in our country or wanting to get into our country who can and will cause much damage.  I’m not doubting that.  I’m not arguing that.  And I do think that our president has a duty– an obligation– to protect our citizens.  I also think that illegal aliens with a criminal or terrorist background should be deported.  We have to protect our kids.  Our families.  Our American soil. BUT– yes, here comes the but… I also believe that we have a duty to care for the widow, the orphan, the poor, the oppressed.  And I also believe that a huge percentage of the immigrants in our country are just that:  People who need a better life, a better future, a hope, more security, more stability.  I am fortunate to know many such people.  I used to work as an ESL teacher and over the course of 6 years, met hundreds of immigrant families who were… AMAZING.  Families from places like Mexico and Guatemala and Colombia and Iran and Venezuela and Pakistan.  Not criminals, not terrorists, not people who want to suck our society dry… but people.  People who I grew to love.  People who worked hard.  People who desperately want a better life. A few weeks ago, I ran into one of my ex-students (from Pakistan) at HEB.  He was with his family.  He had a beautiful daughter who was about five years...

On the Women’s March and Women Like Me

What about me? I’ve found myself asking that question again and again this last week as I’ve watched my friends pop up in photos on Facebook wearing pink hats and holding signs.  As I’ve sorted through hashtags.  #womensmarch and #notmymarch and #notmypresident and #alternativefacts.  As I’ve read news articles about why the march isn’t for every woman, how it’s only for those who politically agree, about how Christian women shouldn’t go near a march and how ALL women have to march.  I’ve hemmed and hawed, read and re-read.  And still I’m asking: What about me? What about women like me whose politics and ethics and beliefs leave them caught somewhere in the middle of marching and not marching? I have to say that in many ways, I relate to my friends out there holding picket signs, adorned with pink knitted hats, protesting policies and ideas that in some ways make me very fearful.  I’m proud of these women for taking a stand, for peacefully standing up for what matters to them, for standing strong and together and united. Like them, I didn’t vote for Trump.  I heard the comments he made about women and minorities.  I read campaign promises that seemed sure to bring destruction.  I watched with fear as he won state after state in the primaries and watched with a nauseous stomach as electoral college votes began to turn into his favor.  I do not think Trump is the right president for our country, I think his policies hurt women, hurt minorities, hurt men, hurt my children, hurt us all. Like them, I want a different world...

A Conversation With My Son About the Stanford Rape Case

My ten-year-old son now knows about rape. I told him.  I had that conversation, the conversation that made me sick to my stomach, the conversation that I wish wasn’t necessary, the words that I wish my son didn’t know.  But now he knows it all. Because he is ten. Because he will one day be a man. Because he has a sister, a mother, friends who are girls. And because he lives in a world where these conversations need to be had. And so we talked.  I made him a cup of decaf just how he likes it with a huge teaspoon of sugar and lots of milk and asked him to come sit with me on the couch.  I told him I had something hard to talk to him about, something that would be very upsetting, but something that he needed to know. And then I spilled out the details.  One-by-one.  Fact-by-fact. College students at a party who drank too much. A once-promising athlete named Brock Turner. A brutal rape behind a dumpster. A heroic rescue by men who were willing to intervene when they very easily could have turned a blind eye. An attempted escape. An arrest. A conviction. And then I came to the end. “And so, the judge sentenced him to six months in jail.” My son’s eyes darted up.  “Sixty years?”  He looked at me, confused, as if he must have misheard me. “No, six months.” “Six years?”  This time, his brow furrowed. “No, Joey, six months.” “But mom, he hurt her so badly.  He’s so dangerous.  How do we know he won’t do...

A Really Awesome Mother’s Day Gift Idea PLUS Win $30 Gift Card

If you follow me on Facebook, you probably know about my friend Carli. A former foster kid, Carli found herself six months pregnant and sleeping on the streets with no car, no job and nowhere to go.  She was introduced to my brother in-law (a pastor) and he brought her home to us.  We asked her to come stay in the guest bedroom of my parent’s apartment.  It’s certainly not a nice room, but it’s safe and dry and has given us the opportunity to get to know Carli.  I now consider her a friend.  She is hard-working and kind and smart and funny and we just love her. Carli works hard. Since she moved onto our property, she got a job (at the Boy’s and Girl’s Club) and a car (from a kind donor) and has a plan to start school in the fall after her baby is born (she wants to be a teacher).  She also started a business.  Ambitious, right? The business started when she found an old piece of wire in our barn.  Two hours later, she handed this to my parents: It’s a beautiful wall hanging.  Made out of old, rusty wire. My sister immediately took her to Hobby Lobby and bought her some wire and beads and told her to start getting creative.  And Carli’s business, Twisting Hope, was born.  Since then, her business has grown as she’s made beautiful pieces, come up with a business plan and started to dream big. Here are a few of the things she has made: Amazing, right? All this said, Carli’s baby Isabella is due this...

The Home Improvement Project That Never Ends

When we moved into our house six years ago, I had an office.  It was lovely and looked out over the hillside in our backyard.  I could see the sunset from my desk.  The sunset! You see, it was right there where the red star is.  Plain as day.  My lovely, beautiful, real, adult office.  For me to do work and type and store office supplies like tiny little Post-it notes and highlighters. But then something wonderful happened:  I got pregnant.  And before I could find a fancy little organizer case for my Post-its, my lovely office turned into a nursery.  And now it’s full of Legos and Monster Trucks and little boy T-shirts. And I work in my room.  My bedroom.  And the little post-its end up all over the bedroom floor and the laundry ends up all over my desk. One day last summer when I was working and not watching the sunset out of my bedroom window, I had an idea: I could build an office.  You see, right next to that snazzy star that was once my office is a long, skinny room entitled “attic.”  Attic and office are one and the same to me.  Just slap some sheet rock on the walls, some carpet on the floor and boom!  A new office.  This one where I can see the sunrise, which is just as cool as the sunset. So I had a really nice talk with my husband.  I explained how badly I needed the desk and the office supplies and the window with the sunrise and then I very kindly reminded him that...

3 Ways To Create Margin in Your Overcrowded Life

I’m so excited to have my friend and fellow blogger Bobi Ann Allen guest post today.  And I love this post!  It’s so refreshing and I SO NEED MARGIN right now.  Find her work at http://bobiann.com/.   Even as you read this post, you are experiencing margin. Margin is the space on either side of the print with nothing–nothing but white. Space where you might add an occasional note or pause to absorb what you read. Margin isn’t necessary only in publishing, margin is necessary for contentment in our lives. Are you experiencing an angst for something more? Are you longing for room for your soul to rest yet nothing about your schedule is relaxing? The ache you feel isn’t there by coincidence. God is drawing you in. He placed a yearning within you for a life lived with meaning and purpose. Yet, many of us have overfilled our lives to the point we don’t have time to experience purposeful living. We need empty space, room for God to move, and time to process what we’re experiencing and learning. Those who live without margin are overwhelmed, maxed out and usually in need of therapy! Creating margin when your life seems to be running off the page doesn’t happen without intentionality and deliberate choices. Here are 3 effective ways to create margin: Prioritize Effectively Run on the treadmill, read my Bible, a night out with the girls, clean the house, feed the dog, volunteer at my child’s school, date my husband … so many choices on how to spend my time, and all of them good! But I can’t do...

20 Things I Never Thought I’d Say (But Said Yesterday)

  All of the mom bloggers had filled my mind with so many stories about poop and boogers and throw-up that by the time I had my firstborn, I knew my vocabulary would quickly change.  And it did.  By the time I had two toddlers running around, my daily commentary sounded something like this: Stop eating poop Stop picking your nose Stop touching poop Stop touching your nose It smells like poop We don’t touch mud.  (Or is it poop?) I expected this.  I knew it would happen. What I didn’t expect was some of the things I would say now.  Now that my kids a) are potty trained and b) know better than to pick their noses in front of me and c) sort of know how to wash their hands.  Yet, alas, the words I never thought I’d say just keep on coming.  Here are twenty from this week.  (Please add your own in the comments… we’ll start a list!)  Please take the bug off of your face and put it back outside so we can eat dinner.  Ten-year-olds can’t have coffee.  Okay, just a small cup.  No, the cat may not wear my necklace outside.  Don’t even tell me about the scorpion.  Just kill it, wrap it in a paper towel and take it outside to the garbage without telling me and I’ll give you a dollar.  Did you say you wanted a lettuce, avocado and mayo sandwich?  Just dig your uniform out of the dirty laundry and scrub off any visible stains.  I promise I’ll do laundry tomorrow.  You know, if you moved those glass...

That One Time I Said Something Stupid

I really hurt a wonderful friend’s feelings yesterday. I didn’t do it intentionally, but I did do it. This may come as a shock to some of you but I tend to wear my emotions on my sleeve.  And even more, I tend to say what I’m feeling before I think it through.  Which means… wait for it… I often say really stupid things that are nowhere near what I’m actually thinking and nowhere near what I mean.  And these stupid things I say hurt people’s feelings. Which I did yesterday. It’s ridiculous, really.  I am 38 years old and I can’t control my tongue.  Or in this case, my text messaging fingers.  And I feel awful about it. I stayed up late last night contemplating all of this, feeling like a silly junior high girl who said the wrong thing at the wrong time.  (Which, for the record, I also did in junior high.  Apparently I am a slow learner.)  I woke up this morning feeling sick to my stomach about it, and as I’ve sat here this morning praying and contemplating, I’ve started feeling worse and worse. (I tend to be hard on myself.) All of this wallowing isn’t helping. Yet I can’t seem to learn my lesson. So I’m trying something new.  I’m writing about it.  We’ll call it written processing instead of verbal processing.  Because at least behind my computer, I at least have to think a little before I speak. So here goes: First, I’m really sorry for speaking too fast and without thinking.  I’m sorry for saying too much when I shouldn’t say...

That Whole ASS-U-ME Thing

For those of you who don’t follow me on Facebook, we had a dog saga this week. This is Jack.   My husband and I got Jack in 2002 after searching for months for the perfect puppy.  We were on a wait list and went out to College Station where he was born when he was one week old and picked him out of a litter of 8.  When I walked into the room where he was being kept, he was the smallest puppy in the litter and while all eight puppies surrounded me with tails wagging, Jack was the one who managed to hoist himself up onto my lap and lick my face.  We paid our deposit and went home for the very difficult seven-week wait for him to be old enough to wean. I was like a nesting pregnant woman.  I painted (yes, painted) a sign with his name on it to put above his custom-organic dog bed (yes, I was that person) and bought him engraved dog tags and cute collars.  And on the day he came home, I slept on the laundry room floor next to him because I didn’t want to leave him alone. Jack was my first baby. I brought him into my classroom while I taught, I took him on long runs on the weekends and let him snuggle with baby dolls to prep him for when I brought my own baby home.  I cried–literally sobbed– as I held my newborn son Joey up to him and let him sniff him for the first time.  Pregnancy hormones, yes, but also I felt...

3 Ways Writing Can Help Make You a Better Mom

Today I have a really great guest post from one of my favorite authors, the amazing Erin Taylor Young. Erin’s book Surviving Henry made me laugh so hard I cried (and even better, it brought back so many wonderful memories from the early years with my adorable Golden Retriever Jack.)  Anyway, I love Erin so much which is why I was SO excited when I found out she was a co-author of a new anthology that I worked on entitled Writing Success.  It’s for all of you who have ever thought, “maybe I should write a book about this…”  My answer is that yes, of course you should, and Writing Success can help you get there.   In this world of videos, texting, and quick Facebook posts, I sometimes think the fine art of writing actual sentences might die. I’m not knocking culture and technology, just making a case for a few ways writing—in a more conventional fashion—can not only be useful, but even make us better moms. The Birthday Book Tradition Okay, yes, my husband and I stumbled into this idea. We thought it would be a good way to encourage our kids to read. Along with whatever birthday present we bought our sons each year, they also got a classic hardcover book. Inside, we inscribed a note about what kind of things they were doing at that age, and how our choice of book was influenced by their personality, interests, and character. It never occurred to us that we were keeping a record of our sons’ lives and how they grew and developed over the years. Each boy’s...

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