Starbucks, London, and the Morrises

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Have you ever had so much in your head that you want to get out and then you just don’t know how? That’s where I am right now. I have a lot I think I want to say, and I sat down to start saying some if it. Then I looked at my coffee cup.

Happy accident: my London minion in the background.

And now, that’s all I can think about.

I bought this cup at my first Starbucks behind St. Paul’s Cathedral in 2005 on my first trip to London (or Europe for that matter) with my friends Jack and Lina Morris.

I was a sixth year teacher helping lead a group of students on a trip to London and Paris, appropriately titled “Tale of Two Cities.” It was one of the years when our school year ended in May so we were able to get an outstanding price. We did Paris first, then traveled the Chunnel over to London. The day I went into my first Starbucks we had toured St. Paul’s Cathedral. It was an inspiring and thoughtful time. The church is still used as a house of worship (as are most churches in Europe that tourists wish to see) so at one point during the tour we were asked to stop for a moment and recite the Lord’s Prayer or honor the worshipers with a moment of silence. I was walking through the church with Jack and Lina. We all stopped and recited the prayer and, honestly, I got chills. I felt God move during that time of recitation; strangers pausing together for this sacred breath.

At any rate, we finished our tour before it was time to meet our tour manager, and it was cold. So, we found the Starbucks. I didn’t even get coffee because I didn’t think I liked coffee then. I got a hot chocolate and bought the mug as a memento of not only my first trip over the big pond but also my first Starbucks.

Jack delights Peter.
Lina holds her answered prayer.

Lina was my mentor when I began teaching. Not only for my profession but just for the kind of person I want to grow up and become. She has been an unwavering example of Romans 12:12–joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. You see, in 2017 she circled me in prayer and asked God to bless us with a child in our arms by the end of 2020. And, you see, Jack–sweet, sweet Jack–has Alzheimer’s.

Taking Peter to meet them in January was one of the greatest blessings of my life. And my child, my sweet and precious Peter, was delighted by them. He smiled so big at them both with no hesitation.

He knows good people.


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Between finding out we were pregnant on January 27, 2020 and our first ultrasound on February 11, 2020, I bought this pattern.

We had never had a positive ultrasound experience.

February 18, 2021, one day shy of five months old.

Confessions of a {good} mom


I wanted to use a proof reading mark, the little carat symbol, to tell myself to insert the word good. I think it’s important to remind myself that I am doing a good job. My child is content and happy and thriving. He smiles and laughs and seems to like my company.

But the content of this post? Well, sometimes it makes me feel guilty or like I’m not normal.

Pajamas are my new best friend.

I’ve wanted to be a mom pretty much my entire life (minus a brief period in my thirties when I realized babies turn into the teenagers in my classes and I didn’t want to live with one of them). My baby cousin was born when I was ten, and I thought it was awesome to take care of him. Also, when I was ten, my aunt gave me one of the lifelike baby dolls. I loved that doll and made my mom take me to the drug store to buy a bottle for Adora Lynn (named for my love of She-ra and my fourth grade teacher).

I didn’t become a mom thinking it was going to be easy. I’m in my forties. . .I knew this would be one of, if not THE, hardest things I’ve ever done. There’s been a lot of chatter about cherishing the days, they go by so fast; you’re never going to feel rested again; comments about how precious these days are and how fun; he’s the most important thing now.

That stuff is in there. But no one told me I’d be bored. Or what to do with those feelings of boredom. Peter is amazing. And I love watching him do new things and figure out that his feet are part of him. But for a while there, I felt like I was twiddling my thumbs and watching paint dry, so to speak. Do all moms feel this way and we’re just afraid to say, hey, this is boring? Am I breaking some kind of mom code to admit it?

Well, if I am, I may as well keep going.

Nap? What?

I want to take a nap that I get to choose when to wake up.

I miss my routine and my habits. They were hard to establish, but so easily they have been broken.

I want to take a shower without having to repeat the mantra “he’s fed, he’s clean, he’s safe” the whole time I’m in there.

I want to wear nice clothes–or just feel like I have time to put something on instead of pajamas. Once you get to noon in your pajamas, what’s the point?

I want people to acknowledge that I’m still important outside of being Peter’s mom. Maybe that’s the biggest one. . .I didn’t cease to exist as an individual with importance and value. Peter is important, but so are me and Steven.

I want to not feel guilty about all of this.

Parenting certainly highlights my tendency to be selfish. I don’t like the selfish side of me.

Blowing Rock, NC

I also don’t think that having all these feelings makes me a bad mom. I don’t think if you’re having any of these feelings you’re a bad mom.

This gig is hard.

I don’t want it any other way.

Word Play

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I did it.

I did one of those things that goes around on social media (or used to be just in email. . .) where you make note of the first so many words you see and then those words have some specific meaning for some thing in your life.

I don’t even remember what the point of this one was, but the words stuck with me.

In the order I noticed them (we were instructed to note four): Lessons, Love, Strength, Purpose.

As a side note, I do often wonder how many words are in these little grids and what influences what words different people notice. . .like if you’re right handed does that mean you notice words on the left first? Or something like that.

Anyway. . .My words. I like them. I’ve actually decided to make them a focus of 2021. I’ve done words of the year before. . .hope, laugh. . .

These words spoke to me when I spotted them. I immediately thought about how Peter can be quite integral in the focus of these words. . .I’m sure he will teach me many lessons; he has already shown me things about love; strength is necessary when embarking on the journey of parenthood; and purpose, well, we do things with intention in mind.

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Those were my first thoughts, but as the words have marinated over the last month, I find them being important to me in other ways. Not just what Peter will show me, but what I will show Peter. And the things that Steven and I encounter outside of Peter–in our marriage, in our other relationships.

I have plans for these words as the year continues. I would like to attach a verse to each of them. Something that God will show me in His time. Something He wants me to know about each word.

In the meantime, they play in my head every day. Rolling around in there and bumping into things I’m contemplating.

Embarrassing Reality


Years ago someone told me that he didn’t get embarrassed by or for another person. His logic was if the person doing or saying whatever he was doing or saying wasn’t embarrassed, then why should he be?

I often think about this philosophy. Sometimes I think it works. . .for example, when your mother has one too many at a wedding reception and grabs your best friend’s husband and proceeds to instruct him on taking care of her, complete with slurred speech. Really no reason to be embarrassed. Shake your head, roll your eyes, and move on.

But what about that uncomfortable feeling you get when your mother treats the waitstaff as inferior, demanding ridiculous service, and leaving a paltry tip. Does the philosophy work here? Or is embarrassment not the right word for this feeling?

I mean, who wouldn’t do whatever she could to get one of those in her direction?

The concept of embarrassment has been much on my mind lately. Perhaps, in part, because I do such silly things in the hopes of being gifted with one of the Peter’s amazing smiles. And one day, I know, I’ll do something and instead of the smile I’ll get “Mom, gah, stop; you’re embarrassing me.” And I wonder how he will learn that response.

But, also, I have been contemplating embarrassment because someone said recently that she was embarrassed by the “estrangement from her son.” And I wonder why embarrassment is her feeling. I’m not judging her emotions. If that’s how she feels, that’s valid. My wonderment is in how she got to that emotion.

I would say that social media highlight reels are to blame for arriving at embarrassment over the messiness of family. But, while it does indeed contribute, the phenomenon existed long before the internet. Consider Norman Rockwell prints with their ideal depictions, and mild humor, of family life. Or sitcoms of years gone by where all problems are resolved in a short time slot and the family unit is preserved. Even within the church the “perfect” family is practiced. We wear our Sunday best, we sit quietly in pews, our children are proper at all times despite having emotions bigger than they are and attention spans equal to their age. Crying babies? No, no. Our babies don’t cry in church. And even if we just had a fight equivalent to WWIII with a family member make no mention of it, give no indication. We’re in church; we are a perfect family.

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But the reality is the perfect family is messy. There are different personalities, different beliefs, different emotions–despite living under the same roof for an extended time. I find this reality fascinating–how family members can be so alike yet so different. People clash with each other. And just like babies, adults have emotions that are bigger than they are.

And here’s the not-so-secret-secret. . .it’s in ALL families. What we see on social media, on TV, in church. . .it’s not the full picture. It’s not the reality.

In my experience, because I’ve done it, embarrassment leads to concealment. When we conceal we make it difficult not just for ourselves but for others. Concealment means we fail to seek guidance. We hide pain and hope others only see our highlights. We, perhaps inadvertently, promote the concept of being alone in this particularly situation . .because we don’t share it. Therefore, finally, we fail to be authentic with others and maybe even ourselves.

Maybe that guy was on to something all those years ago. But I’ll revise it a bit. If we spend less time worrying about being embarrassed by the hard work and messiness of being people, we can spend more time being real.

Steven and Trixie


My copy of Robert Frost’s poetry

My husband listens to me. I acknowledge that I am truly blessed with such a man. Our first Christmas together, (dating, not married), he gave me a book of the complete collection of Robert Frost because he remembered that in Sunday School years before we ever dated I said Frost was one poet that I actually liked.

One year, after marriage, in my stocking was a chocolate orange because he remembered that I said we often got oranges and chocolate in our stockings when we were growing up.

And this year, I got four more Trixie Belden books.

The goal is for me to have the whole series. I have through number 15 now (and an outlier, #29).

Trixie Belden books were my favorite as a young girl. When we went to the library I would get as many as I was allowed to check out. They weren’t kept on the main floor of the children’s room, but behind the door of the storage room. I can see it in my head. . .having to take a left after going in the children’s area. The children’s room librarian even came to the point of just waving me into the room instead of asking me which ones I needed. I see young me standing there behind the door picking the next three.

I wanted to be like Trixie and Honey and have my own club like the Bob-Whites with a club house. I wanted to solve mysteries and go on adventures. I wanted to like horses, but I just didn’t really. I hoped bicycles would be a good substitute.

My Trixie Belden collection, minus the four I received yesterday. . .they’re in the bedroom waiting to be read.

Steven knows all this. Cause he listens. He also knows that for my eleventh birthday I asked one of my uncles (who I shall not name to protect) for a Trixie Belden book. I received an autographed copy of Hiroshima Diary. A wonderful gift. . .but I was eleven. I’ve never quite gotten over it.

I find that even though I’m relatively sure that at least one of my gifts will be at least one more book for my collection, I’m super excited to get it. I’m also super excited to read it and remember the joy it brought me as a child. It brings me joy again, maybe in a bit of a different way. {I also find myself amused with some of the cultural things, namely gender roles, that have shifted over the years.} But I like reading them and remembering that little girl and her dreams. And seeing how she turned out and what kind of adventures she does get to have.

PS. Titling this post was super hard. . . .

Hard Candy Christmas


The phrase “hard candy Christmas” has been running through my head for the last several days. If you’re not familiar with the term, as my husband wasn’t, it refers to a Christmas when parents can’t afford to get their children anything but hard penny candy.

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While the phrase implies lean financial years, I feel it may be applicable to this year another way as well. It’s a very different kind of year for a society that’s used to running itself ragged with Christmas gatherings–immediate family, extended family, extended extended family, friends, Sunday Schools, gym friends, church programs–well, the list could keep going, I’m sure.

Maybe we’re feeling like it’s a bit of a hard candy Christmas because the traditions we’re accustomed to can’t be executed in the same way.

But candy is still candy.

One of the ornaments on my tree.

One of the books we’ve been reading with Peter this week is Angel Pig and the Hidden Christmas by Jan L. Waldron. My dad gifted it to me back in, well, honestly, I don’t know because I can’t read the date he wrote in the front. Here’s one of my favorite parts:

“Giving and sharing and just helping out, That is what Christmas is really about. Look all around you, that’s where you should start. You’ll find the best giving is done with your heart.”

We may not be travelling and gathering in big groups this year. But we have what is right around us. We have neighbors who may enjoy a homemade treat; we have stamps that mail letters to those we love. . .perhaps a hand written note expressing their value is exactly what they need in this very different year. We have the people who live in our household with whom we can celebrate the accomplishments and the victories of this year and maybe start some new traditions.

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Yes, Christmas this year will look different. We may need to mourn a bit for what was, but in that mourning, I pray we don’t neglect what we do have.

I pray we don’t miss the opportunity to savor some hard candy.

Cause the thing about hard candy?

It lasts.

Pet peeves


Why do we call them that? It’s not like they’re fluffy and cuddly and fun to have.

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  1. People who don’t put the mask over their noses. Seriously, why wear it if you don’t cover your nose?
  2. Thinking that it’s always “I” when in combination with someone else. It’s not. Sometimes the right word is “me.”
  3. The 12 days of Christmas are actually the 12 days between Christmas Day and Epiphany, not the 12 days before Christmas; that’s part of Advent.
  4. Using apostrophes incorrectly. They don’t show plural. They only form contractions and show ownership. {There’s [see, a contraction] a car wash close to us that uses “Clean’s”–bugs me every time I see it.}
  5. Not using a turn signal {interestingly, I used to be in this group. . .now, I get annoyed when people don’t [a contraction!] signal–age causing wisdom?}
  6. And, finally, that apparently there is only one space after end punctuation instead of two when you type. I still use two. I can’t [look, another contraction] change, and you can’t [my goodness, another one] make me!
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Thank you for joining me for this airing of my grievances. I can continue my day with a lighter heart!

His Timing


Our first pregnancy, Nugget

Yesterday, December 3, 2020, marked the anniversary of mine and Steven’s journey to parenthood. It was four years ago that we discovered we were pregnant for the first time, and our lives were forever changed.

I wanted to write something yesterday, but I didn’t know how to formulate my thoughts. Then, tonight, we did our Advent devotion. We use the devotional I wrote called God’s Gift. I posted it here last year. I can’t lie. It was strange to be on this side of that penning. To know, with realness, the joy that Sarah references.

I’ve talked about our journey on multiple occasions. The pain and confusion. The grief. The little moments of joy that we found through it. The desire for it to be used for something greater than ourselves. And while we were prepared for our story to have a much different ending, here we are in the midst of a parenting adventure with Peter.

And it’s His timing that has brought it about. Numerous examples exist explaining why His timing is better than anything Steven and I could have orchestrated. I was able to retire from my job and am home. Steven had accumulated enough time to have paid leave for an extended period. A promotion was a possibility–with it a change in schedule that we were able to “test drive” before a decision had to be made. And, frankly, a pandemic.

Meeting my son for the first time having to wear a mask.

I don’t know if I can explain that last one to my, or anyone else’s, satisfaction. It’s about more than Peter giving us something good to focus on in a difficult year. We are familiar with difficult years–this one was just a different difficult. The pandemic has sharpened our focus on our family unit. Honestly, I’m grateful for the unique backdrop that is Peter’s birth year. The masks, the social distancing, the learning new ways to be community. The world that we brought Peter into is markedly different than the world we left behind December 31, 2019. It’s a new opportunity, more starkly apparent than ever before. I often feel that too many people are too eager to throw out the blessings of this year because they came wrapped in disappointments, heartaches, and raindrops.

I read recently in Rachel Held Evans’ Inspired something said by Ellen Davis: “From [Job] above all others in scripture, we learn that the person in pain is a theologian of unique authority. . .qualified to speak of God in a way that others, whom we generally call more fortunate, cannot speak” (97). Job has resonated with me over the last four years already. {Peter’s life verse actually comes from Job–chapter 5, verse 9} Reading this helped illuminate what I have felt glimmering in the depths of my soul.

My relationship with God has changed over this journey. It has deepened, become more solid, become more honest. I have learned to go to Him with it all, no matter what that all is.

Peter’s dedication service where we announced his life verse: “He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted.” Job 5:9 NIV

So, it is in His timing that the birth of our son came and the journey parameters change.

True Confessions

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I don’t like to call to order food for take out or delivery.

It’s not that I can’t. I lived alone for 18 years and enjoyed many types of food long before online ordering became ubiquitous.

I just don’t like to.

I can call doctor’s offices. Handymen. Insurance agents. Lawyers.

But, food ordering. . . nope.

I can make announcements over PA systems.

Getting myself nourishment. . .I’ll just make a sandwich.

Reading scripture or doing a monologue at church? No problem.

Having pizza brought to my door? Is there a website I can click?

Talking to a customer rep about a problem with my purchase? I’m polite and delightful.

Getting my orange chicken fix. . .

Honey, I’m hungry!

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