an embarrassment of riches


I meant to write this post several weeks ago.

Usually putting off writing a post is due to an inadequate amount of

time to tap my thought upon a keyboard or the words shouldn’t be shared.

Here’s hoping it’s the former reason.

In my last post, I wrote about our late August trip to the beach.

I mentioned our time on the sand, what I didn’t mention was our time

on land, more specifically the boardwalk area of Seaside, Oregon.

Allow me to back track for a moment.

Carl, Caleb and I had visited the beach earlier in the summer and during one of

the days, we spent a little time in an arcade.

We had accumulated quite a few tickets but it never seems like the number

of tickets compared to the “price” of the prizes lines up the way you hope.

Been there?

We huddled and decided  we would return before summer’s end

and Caleb could add to his ticket bounty and surely acquire the most

amazing prize ;)

So one Saturday, the three of us headed to the beach, for cooler weather

but this time we grabbed  one of Caleb’s friends Archie.

We were in a celebratory mood as only days earlier

Archie had finally traversed his way off the waiting list and would

be attending middle school with Caleb.

We spent a chatty 90 minutes in the car, drove into the beach town,

picked up some bagel sandwiches to round out our cooler full of

snacks, and headed to the arcade.

Not gonna lie, I was a bit put out that the weather was very warm (again) on

the coast. I will completely own being a Pacific Northwest hot weather baby.

I also didn’t feel like spending money for me to play games, just for the boys

and that included Carl.

Tickets were starting to leak out of the boys’ pockets

and Carl and I watched the boys play a game

throwing balls at rows of stuffed clowns.

Fabulous idea to me.

Two of these games stood side-by-side and once one

became available, Carl asked me to join him.

Despite my resolve, hitting clowns is right up my alley,

I grabbed a ball and we made a great

team and added to the ticket booty.

Carl slid his game card  to play a second game. This time Carl told me

to aim for the lower row (I took no offense at his direct hit at

my lack of height) and I consented to his strategy.

As the game started, I quickly dispatched of the bottom row and Carl

demonstrated his superb crushing skills.

I was able to assist as each row was resurrected to be clobbered once again.

I could feel a small crowd gather behind us, but we kept throwing and chuckling.

The game was over and we discovered we narrowly missed

the score to earn 500 tickets.

Carl suggested playing once more while I worried about the people waiting in line.

But he slid his card as the tickets continued to spit out from the machine.

And they kept coming out of the machine.

And they kept coming out of the machine without end.

Carl and I looked at each other puzzled and wondered how could this be happening.

We looked behind us and shrugged our shoulders and widened our eyes as the people

behind us began to peer over our shoulders.

We kept repeating that we didn’t win the bonus.

But the tickets wouldn’t stop.

Carl jogged over to the ticket counter and explained our plight.

The ticket guy calmly said,

“You must have gotten the high score and won the bonus which is 500 tickets”


Carl came back and explained to me and the growing crowd.

We were surprised and I have to say a bit embarrassed.

Once the tickets f i n a l l y stopped, we told the anxiously waiting people

they could have the game we had already paid for because we were done.

My mood now matched Carl’s good one and I ran off to play one of my favorite games.

After my game fun, I found my husband laughing with a few fellow arcade dweller

and the boys alternately giving each other high-fives and giggling.

They had just played Spin-N-Win.


One boy pulled the lever to spin the wheel and the other boy hit the middle button

hoping to hit the smallest of slivers marked 250.

Archie had just hit the 250 mark thus the cheering and the hand celebration.

This photo is their second attempt switching places and you can see the tickets from the

previous attempt.


Caleb hit the 250 mark as well and there was more rejoicing and so many tickets.

They played the game a few more times and  never yielded the same results.

We turned in the tickets from both arcade outings, split the loot down the middle

and the boys each came home with a Oregon root beer mug and some candy.

I wanted to share this story not because we won 1000 tickets playing 3 games.

I wanted to share this story because of the two different responses.

Carl and I were shocked and searched for an explanation for this unexpected windfall.

Caleb and Archie were full of delight and joy.

Caleb and Archie didn’t ask any questions, they simply received with open hands.

Carl and I looked around, felt the pressure of the crowd and  were

a few shades of embarrassed.

Caleb and Archie had unabashed glee and everyone within earshot craned

their necks to gain a better view.

They didn’t care who happened to witness their victory dance.

They kept trying to recapture the wonder whereas Carl and I scurried away.

They never stopped smiling or saying it had been the best arcade day ever.

I’m not sure if Carl and I thought an arcade ticket cop would come and take

us far, faraway but we should have done a happy dance instead of a private

high-five off to the side of the arcade.

Where has my wonder gone?

When did I become so concerned with what others think?

Who taught me to question unanticipated gifts?

Perhaps I have taught myself this tragic opinion.

So today, I want to ask you:

Are you allowing wonder to be a part of your life?

Do you believe wonder is simply child’s play?

What has replaced your sense of wonder?

Are you able to embrace unanticipated riches without embarrassment?

Are you willing to open wide your hands and receive each and

every gifts you been given?

I don’t mean tickets made of paper but the totality of your life gifts.

Some gifts you can be held or hugged and others are simply a blink away

Seek, pursue and hunt for wonder in the corners of your days.

Spin the wheel.

Throw down your hand and allow yourself to

stop and gaze up at wonder.

Break into a merry dance even if you are circled by spectators.

Better yet spread the high-fives around the crowd.

Wonder deserves to be uncovered and shared.

When we left the arcade, we passed a couple who stood behind

us and then played the game vacated by Caleb and Archie.

They had witnessed the avalanche of tickets and shook their

heads in tandem with ours.

None of us could resist exchanging knowing grins and repeating

our shared sentiments of disbelief.

When you stumble upon wonder, it’s nearly impossible for it to remain contained,

it leaks onto others creating heart space only it can inhabit.

What ball do you need to throw?

What wheel do you need to spin?

What button do you need to press?

What mood do you need to release?

Allow wonder to be dispensed in a steady

stream pooling around your feet.

**photos by permission

hang on, sweet mama (a gift on my birthday)


Today is my birthday.

Happy dance with me.

I am squinting hard to see your moves.

Oh, you are looking good!

Last year was all about reaching the big 5-0.

It seems after the age of 25, birthday milestones are marked by

increments of 5.

After the ages that end in zeroes or fives, comes a settled resting place,

or at least it should.

So I am embracing the age of 51 because now I get to sink into my 50’s.

Often I don’t feel my age, except on the days when my joints

make noises when I walk.

I feel the way 51 should feel for me, that is the best explanation.


For the last several years, we have taken a day trip to somewhere along the

Oregon coast during the last week or so of August.

To celebrate my birthday, to attempt to make summer last as long as possible

and because my people know my heart belongs to the ocean.

On Saturday, we gathered all the essential gear, grabbed a friend for Caleb

and headed south.

Of course it wasn’t an original destination and we waddled across the sand to

stake out our territory in as much solitude as possible.

The boys placed their chairs several feet in front of Carl and mine :)

They ran with shovels towards the wet sand to dig the biggest hole EVER.

Carl and I sat and breathed.

I surveyed the other sand dwellers and one family caught my eye.

A family of four settled to our left, weighted down by Trader Joe

bags, sand pails and two very excited little girls.

The couple attempted to lay a couple of blankets which proved

to be quite a task as the wind began to gain strength.

Once they had wrestled the blankets to the sand, the dad

jogged towards the shoreline to begin the first of many trips

filling buckets with water for castle building.

I on the other hand, strolled towards the shore, snapped

a few photos of the sand excavators and reminded them

to alert us before they ventured into the water.

They assured me they would give us ample warning

and Caleb proceeded to share a story explaining the reason

you never turn your back on the ocean.

Back at our chairs, Carl was sinking deeper into his chair

and I  happily joined him without hesitation.

I glanced over to the family again, the dad was entertaining

the little girls and the mom was sitting with a towel  over her

shoulders with her back to the ocean, reading a book.

Perhaps half an hour later, this was the scene:



Oh sweet mama.

I feel your fatigue deep in my bones, in my soul.

I have known the need to turn my back on majesty in favor of rest.

Even now being in this mothering game for half of my life, I still have ever-present

exhaustion, but it’s not the same as when your children are very young.

I applaud your husband for giving you room to rest without requirement and his delight

in playing with his daughters.

Sweet mama, when you all gathered up your belongings to leave (at just the

right time, before a sand storm took residence), as you passed me, we gave

each other a gentle smile as fellow travelers do.

It was all the more powerful as you went on your way because I realized

you spoke in a foreign tongue which I didn’t recognize.

Mothering has no language barrier.

So if we could share a few moments from one mama a bit farther down the road,

this is what I would share, my gift to you, one I should have opened more often.

  • Hang on.
    Hang on to who you are in this season of high needs and demands.
    Hang on to the knowledge that today is not forever.
  • Say yes.
    Yes to naps.
    Yes to help.
    Yes to taking time for yourself even if it a few moments horizontal
    or reading a book because little moments amass but taking zero time for
    yourself always calculates to zero.
    Yes to good enough over perfection.
    Yes to lived-in messy over untouchable clean.
    Yes to doing a few things well and letting go of the other things.
  • Say no.
    No to being supermom or a martyr.
    No to finding your worth by attempting to do everything.
    No to obligation over calling.
    No to comparing yourself with other moms.
    No to comparing your children with other children,
    the scales will never balance because children are
    not mass-produced but should be greatly loved.
  • Remember
    Remember to keep life simple.
    Remember you are doing a wonderful job
    and are a great mom. You are, even when
    you lose your temper.
    Remember to say thank you to your husband.
    Remember if you are walking this road without a mate,
    ask and accept all that others want to offer.
    Remember that asking for help is not weakness,
    it’s wise.
    Remember how well you feed your children,
    feed yourself well too.
    Remember what brings you joy beyond your family
    and if necessary, for now, keep it tucked away until you can
    fully pursue it.
    Remember how everyone says how fast the life of child
    flies by? Well, it is true.
    Remember to be fully devoted to this time when your
    children are the ages they are now.
    Remember not to worry about your child at an age beyond
    where they reside (I’m still working on that :) )
    Remember you are equipped to be their mama today
    and you will be equally armed when you arrive at the later years.
    Remember to smile.
    Remember to laugh.
    Remember to play.
    Remember, we moms who are walking ahead of you,
    we think you are a wonder.

So hang on, sweet mama.


P.S. I have written so much lately about losing my rhythm in this season. I had lamented not planting my row of sunflowers along the fence. Time kept slipping past me to do such a simple task. But one day in July I believe, I decided to toss a few seeds figuring that by October perhaps a bloom or two would visit. I scattered mostly Mexican Sunflowers because I developed quite a crush on them last summer but the photo above was what greeted me on Sunday. August didn’t leave without a bloom erupting. God has been teaching me how small offerings left in the hands of the Maker can bring forth a different harvest than envisioned. I have missed the long row of towering sunflowers all summer but I am deeply entranced by this solitary flower bringing delight to a steadfast bee.


friday joy (wonder edition)

Our summer rhythm of the last decade has been a bit upended this year.

The combination of my returning to work, the hot weather and life events  colliding with

routine  has made me feel like we have lived the past months literally

by the seat of our pants, well make that capris or shorts.

We came off of a few days at the beach back into routine and quickly realized

we had no plan for Caleb’s days.


Courtney was on a road trip taking her college best friend to her first teaching job

in Texas and Carlen was working as she should be.

We limped through Monday with Carl coming home at lunch to munch

and shoot baskets with Caleb.

I adjusted my hours to be home an hour earlier which also meant

a shorter commute time :)

and sent out few text message pleas (begging) and

friends helped immediately and into next week as well.


It was a triumph to get to Friday, my day off and what was on Caleb’s mind was doing

something outside of the house.

I definitely had my list of somethings as well but Caleb was the priority.

He began the day by FINALLY mastering the art of paper airplanes by reading

a section out of this book:


Simple fulfilling joy.

We had a unhurried lunch at Chapel Pub.

I wanted to eat outside because we could but Caleb wanted to sit

in the air conditioning. I couldn’t argue as these days it is a gift

not to be covered in sweat.

Caleb is approaching 12.

There is still the little boy humor which I have been told

and seen plenty of evidence doesn’t evaporate…ever.

We have begun to have conversations richer in-depth and meaning.

We talked about how it feels to not have Mom always, for the most part, available

to his every need.

He expressed his excitement and nervousness for his new middle school but is

still really sad about how much he will miss his friends in other schools.

He’s holding his breath to find out if he will get to learn to play the guitar in

school next year as a year-long focus or one of his art rotations.

He talked about starting a band with friends.

He always politely declines when asked if he wants to see the children’s menu.

It was a first as he took his time over the menu and ordered something other than a


He snapped up my phone and took a picture of me.


He submitted to a selfie I didn’t have in mind.


This is 11.

We paid the bill and walked over to the library to grab my waiting book loot

and for Caleb to collect on his reading.


Our next stop was a nickel arcade.


We raced around and tried our best to amass as

many tickets as a $5 bag of nickels would allow.

I got to play several games of Centipede so my day was complete.

When it came time to redeem the ticket winnings, I found myself

wanting to direct Caleb to other prizes, better “deals”, you know more

bang for your buck.

If this was truly the case of getting a good deal, we should never have

set foot in the arcade as there really is no way to come out ahead for

any outlay of nickels.

In the end, he spent 490 of his 500 tickets on these items:


A giant pencil and pen and a mini whoopee cushion.

The man at the counter told Caleb he still had 10 tickets to

spend but Caleb said that he was good with what he spent.

But then he decided to buy me two mini Tootsie rolls for 8 tickets.

The counter man said he could have three.

Caleb gasps and with large eyes said “thanks”

and it was the first time I saw the man smile during our visit.

Shared wonder.

We made our final descent towards home but not before

Caleb cashed in his summer reading prize with a  free Slurpee.

(This prize redemption has ceased to change it is always a free Slurpee.)

The days are long and often toasty.

Each moment can easily be filled with essential tasks but what if

now and then we allowed our seconds to be saturated by spending

time in the midst of wonder.

Or lifting our eyes from the relentless black and white lists and

beholding the magnificent shades of wonder which are everywhere.

I recently heard Rob Bell say:

“We need to make it our discipline to not lose wonder.”

I agree.

Wonder is an 11 year-old reaping the reward of the patience practice

of creating until  the first successful flight.

Wonder is found in venturing outside your usual order and tastes.

Wonder does not come packaged in perfectly posed and focused photos.

Wonder is recognizing new paths don’t obliterate the tried

and true ones.

Wonder might just be found while plucking the wrong strings

attempting to bring forth music.

Wonder can be found in a bad investment of nickels.

Wonder is getting something a little extra and puffing up with gratitude.

Wonder can certainly be slurped through a straw.

Wonder doesn’t wait until the house is clean, the fridge is well-stocked

and you are sufficiently rested.

Wonder comes when you let your lungs expand, hands unclench

and surrender to the call,

the practice,

the discipline

of scouting for wonder.

Still need convincing my Friday was full of wonder?

wonder (noun):

  • a cause of astonishment or admiration: marvel
  • a miracle
  • a feeling caused by seeing something that is very surprising,
    beautiful, amazing, etc.
  • the quality of exciting amazed admiration
  • rapt attention or astonishment at something
    awesomely mysterious or new to one’s experience
  • a feeling or doubt or uncertainty

When was the last time you experienced wonder?

Be a wonder seeker.



friday joy (transitions edition)



I believe joy is always present.

It’s just that during roll call, joy frequently chooses to respond inaudibly.

But joy is there.

Even when it has to be dug up from the depths.

Sometimes joy hides.

Or we push it away and simply don’t have or want

our line of vision adjusted to spy it.

Joy can seem like a fickle companion cloaked in mystery.

You might feel all frowny, out of sorts and then without warning

joy lands as unexpected as a dragonfly lighting in your midst.

Joy is a direct hit to the soul, like shouting,

“You sunk my battleship!”

Except even if your vessel takes on water,

you win.

Your soul has been saturated with an ocean of joy.


I skipped last Friday’s joy post.

Last week, was an exceedingly difficult one for several people I love.

So many dear ones have been in long and short holding

patterns of waiting for the deepest sorrow to land.

Friends waded into the crashing waves of grief as

they said goodbye to a precious 2-day old baby,

a brave husband and a dearly beloved mother.

I am sure if I took a poll of readers, you could offer

your own version of pain or sadness you experienced.

It seemed hollow to write about the joyous wonders of

ice cream or a favorite pen.

It’s important to mourn with those who mourn.

I am praying  each family will discover joy hasn’t

abandoned them, it’s pressed down during this

time of weeping and reflection.

I haven’t witnessed the dragonfly landings of last summer.

But I know dragonflies exist.

We might not always feel joy.

But joy exists and quite remarkably can

coexist with sorrow.

(If you don’t believe me, take yourself to see the
movie Inside Out immediately….brilliant!)

Joy came and is coming to me in two ways this week:

Ocean Joy

Honestly, I am kind of cheating as I write this post.
(see what I did?)

But by the time, you read these words, we will be on

a beach, enjoying cooler weather and my soul will

be drunk with joy and rest.

I love the Oregon coast for so many reasons.

I feel the presence of God in every thunderous clapping of waves and

each cycle of foam skimming my toes.

 I hear Him in the wind that inevitably destroys my

hair style yet rebuilds my frame.

It’s where I first knew without wavering,

I loved Carl and we told

each other those three huge words.

Don’t let anyone convince you to believe

“I love you” are three little words.

Our time on the coast will look quite different as

there will be three in attendance.

You may have noticed, I didn’t use the word “only”.

It’s obvious I want our family of five to always be together,

especially at the beach, but I am learning when I use

the word only, it minimizes the number and members.

The word only can kind of have an attitude and I am fighting

this with all I have.

There will be three of us at the beach and we will

build sand castles of joy right beside a couple of missing footprints.

Life verse of joy

I paraphrased a verse to a friend in an email this week.

It caused me to reflect on how this verse has given me

not only peace over the last decade but it also has established

joy in the midst of trials.

“and that is why I suffer these things.
But I am not ashamed,
because I know the One I have believed in
and am persuaded that He is able to guard
what has been entrusted to me until that day.

II Timothy 1: 12

Our family is dealing with growing pains.

I suppose this is the right term for this patch of time.

The only way I can express this season is to say if our family were

a piece of elastic, there has been gradual and rapid stretching away from

the hands who have held the elastic.

And just when our hearts settle into acceptance of this newly created space,

this new dimension, the elastic snaps back into place with a ricochet of hugs.

The elastic remains but changed.

No longer can you run your hand across its smooth surface as

it now possesses ruffles all along its length.

So when there are days when I feel the stretching as well as weeks

of slack, I remember that really in all things but especially regarding my children,

I know God will guard them as I continually entrust them to Him.

I wouldn’t entrust them to anyone but I am confident I can hand

them to their Maker because I know whom I have believed.

I know He remains tethered to me and my family.

I know He is the fullness of joy, because He is the

Designer of dragonflies and oceans and sunsets.

On sad or happy days,

He remains my joy.


Book Joy

Finished: Wild in the Hollowssuch an incredibly honest and transparent memoir. I loved it.

Beach Reading: Big Little Liesbecause I am going to the beach and it was on the Lucky Day shelf at the library.

May joy curl up beside you this weekend and bring you comfort.

And if it’s too hot, may joy come waving a fan to cool your body and soul.

friday joy (take care of yourself edition)


When you set after chasing down joy, it comes out of hiding
and doesn’t seem quite so elusive.
Perhaps it was always present,
never left,
was right before my 
yet I refused to invite it to cross my threshold.
It has been a fun week of discovering joy’s appearance
within the bookends of Fridays.
My line-up this week seems to fall under the category of
self-care. It wasn’t intentional but perhaps instructive.
Tending to ourselves is vital in ways which may be
mutually and individually meaningful.
My little list may not be close to what would bring you
joy but as you read them,
consider how you might be a more intentional
caretaker of your soul.



My friend Cheryl introduced me to the wonders of Project Life,
a simple and wonderful way to document your life in photos.
It encouraged me to quit hoarding my photos on my phone
but instead to print them out and let my family run their fingers
along pages of memories.
The difficult part is I tend to get behind then caught up and
then I get behind again.
It’s not causing me to lose sleep but
it does bother me when I am months behind.
So a few weeks ago,
I gave myself a pardon,
a break,
a pass.
Hello Chatbooks.

Chatbooks takes Instagram photos and creates books.
Each book is 60 pages in length.
It’s like a chronological Instagram book.
Of course you can delete any photos you don’t want included.
So I used a free book offer and made 4 books.
it took a few minutes and they arrived this past week
(It’s killing me how I lined up the books in backwards order. Sigh.)


I was so excited to unwrap the small package and impressed by the quality.
They are so adorable and precious.


You can also make custom books from your photos as well if you are not an Instagram
I kept the captions to my photos but you can customize your books.

Think you might want to try it, use my referral code for a free book NWX6HXK6

Joyous book making!

No Schedule

It has been several months since we have had an unscheduled
weekend. It was the most glorious kind of joy which wrapped
itself around my soul all week-long.
To have a few days to cease from rushing from one event to
the next was such a luxury.
Life shouldn’t feel like a race.

Caleb and I met Carlen for lunch downtown then we puttered
around Powell’s which is so dangerous but in the best way.
It is probably the one place where my children can depend on
Mom saying yes to their asking.
Caleb and I came home with a stack of books and full tummies.
There was time to sink into studying the book of James, write,
play games, stroll through a Farmer’s market and snack on crepes
with Carl.

I also spent a couple of hours making play lists on Spotify.
It’s taken me forever to completely understand the difference
between Spotify and Pandora.
Busyness can make me forget my need for music.
Now I have many of the tunes which bring me joy
at the touch of a screen.

Tip: Try the 7-day free premium trial to enable
adding songs with the most ease.
Currently they are offering a 3-month premium
trial for $0.99. Sounds like a great way to try
out the premium features but free is grand too.



See how much I love you?

I am sharing my toes.
This was actually from an Instagram
post showing me wearing pants because
the weather was actually cool.


I made a commitment in early May to get a pedicure,
if possible, every two weeks.

My rationale:

  1. I would like to have nice looking toes during the summer
  2. The leg and foot massage is a gift.
  3. Regular pedicures will cease the undecipherable chatter
    from operators about my feet,
    namely their condition between pedicures.
    I know they are talking about my feet.
    They are!

Carl thinks I need to have better foot esteem :)
Perhaps he is right.
But for now, I am going every 2 weeks-ish and
isn’t  FootJoy a shoe brand?
Well, I have foot joy and my foot esteem is climbing.
Bonus: I haven’t heard any whispers or seen
any rolled eyes in months.

Speaking our wishes out loud

On Wednesday, all the kids and I were sitting
in the living room around dinner time when
unprovoked I blurted,

“I want to go to a concert so badly.”

Carlen responded casually,

“Well there is a pop-up concert in the park at 7.”

We gathered all the necessary supplies

for a picnic accompanied by music.


An unexpected evening listening to Mike Posner.

It’s what happens when you cast your wishes into the air to be heard.

Joy photo of the week

Joy isn’t always perfect with hair disobeying the call of wind
or eyes open at the most ideal angle.
Joy isn’t about looking skyward to try to erase the lines
and duplicate chins.
Joy is time spent with those you love and who know
when you put your hand over your heart, you are deeply
happy and at home,
it means laughter spilling over your frame as your shaky
selfie skill-less hands attempts to capture
the joy with the net of a lens.


Joy is meant to be shared.

Book joy

Finished: Chasing Francis

Currently Reading: Wild in the Hollows


May you take care of yourself and lasso joy in the attempt.