rituals: of devotion (heather caliri).

Well, if you haven’t realized it yet this year, those not-so-boring rituals DO make the story deeper. And this is so very true for today’s writer, my friend Heather. Enter in to her nightly ritual of pen and paper, holy book and holy time. And further check out her writing, because she’s one talented woman! 

Flickr Creative Commons: Joel Montes de Oca.
Flickr Creative Commons: Joel Montes de Oca.

Every night, after my kids are tucked in bed, I begin.

The two books are stacked on my dresser, one on top of the other. The fatter book has a gold cross emblazoned on its black cover. The taller book is a Moleskine notebook.

Next to the stack is a black felt-tipped pen.

I sit on my side of the bed and pull everything into my lap. Then, I open up the notebook and start.

I fill one side of a page: what I’m fretting about, enjoying, pondering. Sometimes I write that I don’t know what to write; occasionally I give in to the opportunity to vent and fill three pages with indignation.

My day recorded, I pick up the other book—The Book of Common Prayer. I flip it to the most-worn page, and read the daily devotions for nighttime:

Lift up your hands in the holy place and bless the LORD; The LORD who made heaven and earth bless you out of Zion.

It’s a page long, just like my journal entry. It takes all of a minute to say aloud. Generally, before I begin Our Father, I mentally think through my prayer partner’s requests, saying a list names: her children, her husband, a friend in need.

I have found this is truly the least I can do to connect to God.

Honestly, most days I sit down and spend time with God, I notice, aching, how little time I devote. I notice how slim my effort is. I wish I could do more, even as I know that for me, doing just a little more is a terrible idea.

Honestly, I might not strike you as a perfectionist. An acquaintance of mine told me I seem very relaxed, which made me laugh like a hyena.

Underneath my calm exterior is someone very, very tightly wound.

For a long time, I knew I struggled with perfectionism, except I didn’t quite know how. I was never uptight about grades or looks, I let go of legalism about drinking or judging others, and if my house it’s clean, it’s because it helps me think, not because I’m worried about seeming untidy.

But a book I read recently talked about a kind of perfectionism that hit my heart with a bulls-eye.

It’s called scrupulosity.

It’s perfectionism of the mind, about thoughts, intentions, and meanings. I might not worry about my clothing, but it’s because I’m careful about not caring.

I want to have right motives about everything—parenting, waste, writing, dishes, money, organization, faith. Even my calm and my relaxation are carefully, scrupulously managed.

For instance, when I buy something, I want to get a good deal, and buy something organic and ethically sourced, and cruelty free, and buy it without taking too much time to research its provenance and cost, and after it’s all said and done, do I really need that thing in the first place?

Scrupulosity is like a little box in my head that keeps shrinking. No matter how I cut myself to fit, the container gets smaller, and smaller, until I can’t breathe.

On a good day, the scruples have led to repentance and bravery. But on a bad day, they make me want to curl up in my bed and weep for release. Left unchecked, there’s no end to my scruples. No enough or who cares, really? No moment too mundane to double-check and feel guilty about.

And for the biggies, like faith, it has made even the simplest of spiritual disciplines a race of anxiety, in which I’m always, always less than devoted, always thoughtless, always falling short.

In the end, I’ve realized, my scruples are about trying to save myself. Of being my own personal Jesus. Of climbing up onto a cross of my own making, pushing the Lord out of the way in the process.

My nightly ritual, I do the opposite.

I devote myself to letting Him do the saving. It’s not that my daily ritual is free of scruples, but they are pinned down with limits.

One page, one two-minute prayer. Both together take at most ten minutes. It’s a well-worn habit, taking very little effort or thought. And yet God is faithful to meet me in that tiny, empty space.

Whenever I feel ashamed that my ritual is too miniscule and shabby for the Savior of All, whenever I feel apologetic about the paucity of my offering, I remember that Jesus is the one who saves, Jesus is the maker of heaven and earth, and that much as I want to bless the Lord, the only blessing available on this earth is the one that He, in His fullness, bestows.

Small bio picHeather Caliri empowers others to seek Jesus’ easy yoke. In the process, she’s finding an light burden, too. Get her free ebook, “Five Ways to Hack Your Bible Hangups” when you subscribeCara again: so, what do Heather’s words strike in you? How does her daily ritual of devotion reach your heart? Leave her a comment today!

searching for quiet (#wholemama).

I suppose I’m a product of my generation.

A child of the 80’s, and a teenager of the 90’s, technology grew in me as it grew in its presence to the world. Computers didn’t enter classrooms until late elementary school, when good and obedient children earned a round or two of The Oregon Trail (fitting, I’d say, for a girl raised in the Beaver State). I didn’t learn how to type properly until my sophomore year of high school, but was grateful my fingers quickly acquiesced to the repetition and rigidity of the keyboard after all those years of piano lessons.


I got my first cell phone my senior year of college, an old Nokia I nicknamed Zach Morris. With sixty minutes a month on the plan, it was for emergencies and for looks more than anything else. Bordering on hubris, I found picking out – and giving out, let’s be honest – my own phone number simply hilarious: 253-272-CARA.

For a long time, e-mail was my only form of communication when it came to technology, because it was the only form of communication when it came to technology. Facebook and Twitter, Instagram and Linked In – all forms of social media I regularly use now – were barely a twinkle in their creator’s eyes.

But then, social media came in like the tide, splashing over us, daring us to play Chicken with its waves.

Constantly connected, we’re never not available to our friends and acquaintances, past and current employers, strangers and followers. Information is available as long as I have a wi-fi connection, and guaranteed two-day delivery beckons me click “purchase” via the Amazon Prime app on my phone.

Technology is such a part of my life these days that I can’t remember a life without the comforts of All This Noise and All These Distractions.  

If I squint my eyes really, really hard I might recall checking the answering machine on the line I shared with four other members of my family – you know, the one we’d be away from all day long, wondering and waiting to see if anyone had called for us. Just like faint memories of classroom movies shown on the old film projector, I might remember a world in which we cracked open the Encyclopedia Brittanica, instead of opening a new browser screen.

And while I’m all for the advancement of technology, I’m against the fact that it tells me I can’t live in a world of quiet.

I’m against the fact that technology urges me into a life of more, of endless consumption and constant reels that tell me what I think I need, right here, right now.

I’m against the fact that it quickens my insides and makes me forget that breathing slowly and living slowly and entering into the moment slowly truly matters. 

So, today, tonight, this week – I want quiet back. I want to not fear quiet, but I want to embrace quiet.

Even if it’s scary.

Even if too much quiet feels deafening to me.

Even if I feel disconnected.

Even if it seems to go against the beaten path, straying away from social norms of who I’m supposed to be and what I’m supposed to do as someone who calls herself Writer. 

Because I don’t know about you, but I want to hear Life. I want to hear and see and find Beauty in the most unlikely of places: when I’m sitting in the backyard with my babies, and when we’re walking down the hill to the park on the corner of Lakeshore and MacArthur. When it’s nap time and feeding time, when we’re running errands and when the witching hour hits.

Because when the screaming starts – which it will – and the tantrums commence – which they will – I want to breathe deeply, in and out, in and out, and let ancient words of truth still me:

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me… 

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on…

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy…

Over and over again I’ll say those words, with eyes wide open and ears fully attuned.  And maybe, just maybe, as I inhale and exhale a prayer of lung’s air, a New Peace will find me. 

Or so I hope.

So, what is QUIET to you? I’d love to hear your thoughts – and otherwise, I invite you to check out the #wholemama movement this summer, including this week’s theme of quiet. We’d love to have you join us! 

the day i allowed myself to cry.


I called her for an appointment because I thought I needed help dealing with a bad ending to a job I’d just left.

After we lined up our schedules, I drove 45 minutes to meet her, confident that after she heard my story, she’d provide me with neat and tidy next steps and send me on my way. Given our mutual friends, I figured we’d eventually become comrades ourselves, following each other on Facebook and exchanging updates at an annual Memorial Day BBQ.

But she was neither my friend nor my confidant. She was my therapist. And the gift she gave me was permission to cry.

I’m not sure what went haywire in my insides, but for a period of seven years between high school and college, I didn’t cry. It wasn’t that I didn’t feel the need to cry or that I wasn’t emotionally moved by various events in my life—it was that I didn’t let myself physically shed a tear.

I remember cozying together with a bunch of girlfriends to watch the epic love story of Jack and Rose in Titanic. I recall the sound of saddened sobs around me; the tears that burned my own eyes, and the catch, the gulp, the tightening in my throat that yearned for emotional release. But clenching crumpled tissue between my fists, I refused to let tears stream down my face.

Major events continued to happen around me, with my tears seemingly oblivious: I watched with devastation the horrid events of 9/11, shaking my head in disbelief.

I stared at the television screen, horrified at the number of school shootings, including one on my university’s campus mere days before my own college graduation.

I held the frail hands of my dying grandmother, humming sacred tunes to a barely-there skeleton.

I clung to dear, best friends after an intense summer of campy, kindred friendships—mascara running down their faces, while I prayed the dab of a tissue might do the trick, might make them think I too could gulp a tearful farewell.

I hung up the phone one last time with an ex, saying a final good-bye to a boy I’d thought was The One for a couple of months there.

But through all of these events I refused to shed a tear, because I had somehow come to believe my tears were a sign of weakness. I’d thought that being my strongest, most jubilant, most Christ-filled self meant not succumbing to emotional fragility.

You KNOW it’s not over yet – click here to read the rest of this post, which was featured yesterday at She Loves Magazine. This is one of the most vulnerable pieces I’ve ever written …so I do hope you enjoy it. Otherwise, what is crying to you? How have you been given permission?

rituals: the couch (kaitlin jenkins).

Okay, treat of treats on today’s Guest Post Tuesday, on today’s look at the not-so-boring rituals that make the story deeper …because today you get my COUSIN! She’s a high school English teacher and a bookworm and a snorter and a lover of the beer her brewmaster-husband brews at a local brewery. So, enter into Kaitlin’s words today as she treats us to her couch.

Penny Pic

When one walks into a home, they might see a piano, and think fondly of a family gathered around it singing holiday songs. Or perhaps they might see the television, that flat-screened 55-inch marvel that brings us the best of “How I Met your Mother,” and don’t-you-dare-judge-me, “The Bachelor.” And somewhere nearby, the couch patiently waits, ready to cushion, to comfort. Some homes boast sleek leather (it’s easy to clean), others, the jumbo L-shaped sectional (by far the best for fort-making). The home I share with my husband, our cat, and our puppy is no different. The piano plays songs of yuletide joy, the T.V. tells me who will get kicked off this week in a storm of tears and drama, and the couch- the couch brings us all together.

It is the space that hosts our nightly ritual.

It was the first big-kid piece of furniture we ever bought. I remember thinking, “How can things cost this much money?” I chuckle now, thinking about how we got it on sale at a consignment store. It is small, and lightly patterned. Thank god it has always been cream-colored, because the years and baby animals have taken away its…new charm. It sags in just the right places, so that the sitters unintentionally form a cuddle-puddle, whether they want to or not. And it is my favorite place in the whole world.

My husband and I are currently experiencing that honeymoon, lala-land, head-over-heels, eyes only for each other bubble that is the first year of marriage. We are in that beautiful moment of quiet before the storm.

We love our jobs, and pour ourselves wholeheartedly into them. We work crazy hours because we can. The only babies we have are furry, and require nothing more than some kibble and our absolute love.

This space, in our first year of marriage, is something we protect. We guard it; we cherish it, because we know that it is fragile, and that with the first cries of our first baby, things will be different.

Wonderful, but different.

And so, every night we meet on the couch. The hubs lights the lemongrass candle on the coffee table, I order the vegetarian pho. The fur babies get settled and we fall into each other’s presence.

Sometimes the ritual space is filled with confession: “You know Joey in my fourth period?” I’ll ask. Of course he does. This is where he hears about Joey all the time.

“Today he made me cry. He stood up for the autistic kid, and it was the bravest thing I’ve seen in a long time.”

Sometimes the ritual space is filled with song, “So no one told you life was gonna be this waaaaaaay! (clap clap clap clap!)” And we sing along, excited to see what shenanigans the “Friends” gang will be up to this week.

Sometimes, the ritual space is filled with silence. The kind you soak in after a long day of people barking orders, and kids dropping f-bombs. Sometimes we need each other’s silent support. And on the ritual couch, the other gladly gives it.

In this space the puppy snores gently, the cat purrs, we slurp our vegetarian pho, and we grin over at each other like two fools in love.

Because this is our space.

This is our time.

I know so many people who are swept up in the day-to-day hustle and bustle, myself included. We spend so much of our time worrying about our to-do lists, and wondering if that e-mail was sent. We don’t allow ourselves the grace to stop and breathe in the moment. Life rolls, and we roll with it.

Can we learn to appreciate the roll and the respite at the same time?

In one week I will get on a plane to go see the world. It’s something I have to do. Adult life has done nothing to cure this girl’s wanderlust. I will be standing on a glacier in Iceland, and I’ll be marveling at the Great Synagogue in Budapest.

But it’s the couch I’ll miss the most. The couch and all the ritual it brings with it: the puppy snores, the Top Chef finale, the husband’s exasperated confessions about the missing valve on an important piece of equipment at work, and most of all, the man himself. In the meantime, I’ll breathe in the moment; I’ll drink in the ritual. I’ve got a lemongrass candle to light and a phone call to make:

“Hi. Two orders of vegetarian pho, and an order of spring rolls, please.”


Kait and KenKaitlin lives in the bay area with her brewer husband Ken, their sweet pit-bull, Penny, and their malodorous cat, Roscoe. When she’s not grading 9th grade English papers, she loves hunting down good craft beer, singing Sunday hymns, and being a nerdy book-worm. Cara again: I know. Do you love her – and the couch and all her newlywed bliss – or WHAT? Leave Kaitlin some love today!

lessons from superman (#wholemama).

Superman has taken up residence in our house.

It starts the same nearly every morning: when it’s time for Cancan, our almost three-year-old to get dressed, he takes it upon himself to wear a) swim trunks and b) his “super cape.” Clark Kent becomes my boy’s alter ego, making his debut everywhere we go: at the playground and at church, at the farmer’s market and during family pictures at the beach in Santa Cruz. He shows up at our dinner table and at the zoo, in the grocery store and while we’re waiting for Mama’s Special Drink (otherwise known as a 12-ounce latte with a double shot and one sugar in the raw from the neighborhood coffee shop ).

At the zoo with Lois Lane. Photo cred: Steph.
At the zoo with Lois Lane. Photo cred: Stephanie Patterson.

He’s not soaring off anything higher than the front porch steps at this point, and snuggles from Mama still seem to be his Kryptonite. And here’s the deal: I’m totally fine with him being the superhero in our house. I’ve long since shed my own superhero cape, maybe because I’ve begun to realize that I can’t have it all and be it all and do it all and save it all. I no longer pretend invincibility and I’ve long shed my proclivity to drive myself into the ground, being the Best Mom and the Best Worker and the Best Friend and the Best Wife. Because at some point, I think we realize it’s not about being Best, it’s simply about being. 

It’s simply about embracing the mess and seeking wholeness at the same time.

It’s about entering into the chaos and laughing a hearty, holy throat-chortle in response.

It’s about finding little, perfect chunks of shalom hidden in pools of Cheerios on the hardwood floor and in the splatters of dried banana that adorn the dining room walls. 

And in that way, my kid seems to be the healthiest version of a superhero I’ve ever met …and one that I want to model and emulate.

As Superman was getting ready to go to bed tonight, he and the HBH (Hot Black Husband) migrated to the front room, where I sat writing this post. After dancing in his Batman underwear to the background music, he proceeded to start the elongated bedtime-clothes ritual.

Sitting down on the floor, he wiggled his feet into his footie pajamas. Determined and stubborn and most wholly alive, no sooner did a question follow his declaration:

I got this, I got this! …Can you help me, Dada?

Superman asked for help. 

Asking for help is not what superheroes are known for, because superheroes don’t have to ask for help. Superheroes are superheroes for a reason, because they have every Super Perfect Power within them, but you and I, my friend, we are far from superheroes. And isn’t that a relief?

It means we can ask for help.

It means we can lean into each other.

It means we can show compassion and kindness to one another, even when we feel like our well’s run dry.

It means we can seek to understand those whose stories are different from ours, those whose cultures and histories and lives seem so far from our own.

It means we can seek wholeness and find shalom, the essence of which I believe is already there for the waiting, there for the wanting, there for those who so desire it.

So, join me, will you?

Join me as we strip off the superhero capes we think we can and should wear, as we yearn to be our most real and compassionate and whole selves.

xo, c.

So, we’re talking about power and superpowers and superheroes this week at #wholemama. Join the movement, and link up over at Esther’s site as we talk about All Things Superpower.  Otherwise, what has Superhero Cancan taught you from this post? What are you feeling and thinking? Do share!

old friends are the best friends.


Old Friends are the Best Friends

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Old Friends are the Best Friends.

Now I’m not knocking those who’ve only been in my life for a year or two, but to me, there’s something powerful about being around people who stake double-digit claim to how long they’ve known you. Suddenly, that which unites current, everyday friends – children who are similar in age or religious beliefs and practices or the city we dwell in – doesn’t seem to hold so much weight.

The irony is that when Old Friends step into the picture again, we can seem to hold little in common: staunch Republican, left-wing Democrat; traditional evangelical Christian, meditative Buddhist yogi; married with four children, single and still ready to mingle.  If you’d asked me ten years ago if I thought I could stay in relationship with those who hadn’t moved and grown along with me (and like me, I might add), I’d have likely mumbled a pithy reply.  I’d have shaken my head in solemn understanding of the sadness of my own plight.  I’d have said my good-byes, at least in my mind, no sooner than burning old letters and dreaming of Friendship’s Funeral.

We share great memories, I would have said to you, but memories can’t sustain a friendship in the present.  

Or can it?

I’m beginning to realize I was wrong.

Maybe wisdom is starting to grab hold of me.  Maybe I’m learning that life isn’t as narrow and compartmentalized as I make it out to be, at least when I’m hurting and sad and missing the people who make me whole.  And maybe I’m also realizing that life is merely and solely and wholly made up of relationships.  Life is made up of people, of lovely, messy humans who are mine – and who, the grand scheme of This One Beautiful and Precious Life matter to me.

To say that I’m thankful for Old Friends is an understatement. Because gratitude burgeons deep in my insides when their faces come to mind, while affection for the stories we share mercilessly stirs the waters of my soul.

Because the books I own, they don’t matter.  The writing I do, it too doesn’t matter.  The house we love, the television we watch, the baseball games we attend – don’t matter, don’t matter, don’t matter.

But the people – oh, the people, they do matter.

Don’t worry – there’s more. Click here to head over to Lily Ellyn’s website to read the rest of the story of thankfulness and reflection. Otherwise, what about you? Are Old Friends the best friends to you? Young, old, green, blue – does any of it matter to you when it comes to friendship?

rituals: on the line (karen huber).

Oh yes, oh yes, oh yes. It’s Guest Post Tuesday – that much you know – and I can’t wait for you to read what’s in store today. Because if you’re anything like me, Karen’s words will make time stand still. You’ll catch yourself holding your breath or thinking back to the clothesline of your childhood, and you’ll say, Yes, yes, this is good. Might you need and enjoy and breathe in these words today.   

Photo cred: Pexels.
Photo cred: Pexels.

It’s a dance, between nature and the machine. Planning is involved: a check on the weather and time allowances to be considered. What will the children need this week? Does my husband have a meeting? Exactly how much rain are we expecting, for we are always expecting rain.

And even in the planning, the getting to know the distance between the clouds past the tree line and the movement of the sun, there is always room for error. It is Ireland, after all. We fly through North Atlantic air.

I thought I’d hate it, the need for it, but it grew on me, slowly and in conjunction with the surprise baby bump as it first appeared. The larger I grew, so did my need to hang it all out on the line. Laundry drying in the sun set my wind-whipped spirit at peace, a sort of obedience, a compliance with nature.

The idea was foreign at first, something I only saw in movies, or witnessed along the dirt roads bordering Kansas farmhouses. How can you not do it there, when the sky is as wide as eternity, when the nearest cloud is 100 miles away?

Where I stand now, clouds are always near, breezing over us, low to the ground and ever-changing. Five years, two countries and nearly a half dozen moves later, I return to the garden every summer. We have a dryer now, but I don’t care.

(I will care later, in the rains of early autumn and in the drizzle of December; in the long dark winter when socks and shirts decorate every radiator.)

My ears perk at the buzzer, merely two and a half hours after starting the wash. I step out my kitchen door and survey the postage stamp snapshot of sky bequeathed to me, hedging my bets. The sun is northeast, playing hide and seek with cumulus nimbus; the weather comes due west. I wager that from the trees beyond our neighbourhood park I might have a half hour’s worth of time, so I grab the lot and set to work.

My fingers dip for clothespins, clutching two at a time. My left hand holds the heavy weight of damp undershirts. I clip mismatched socks in three young sizes, little boy briefs imprinted with a green soccer ball.

There, I think. One bit done. Then another, and another.

Soon, our small patch of garden is resting beneath a multicolored canopy waving in the breeze. I pop in and out from the kitchen, eyes on the trees, the sky, checking the clothes and tea towels, flipping them over. As one thing dries, I replace it with another, stepping over surprises left by the dog.

When the bright whites are out, a flare fills the garden, burning my eyes. Bed linens fly like white flags. When the navies of school uniforms are hung, the scene is collegiate and cool, overwhelming me with the passage of time. Weren’t we just hanging cloth nappies, a never-ending parade of onesies?

I don’t know if I pray much out there, don’t know if there’s a stirring that’s quenched in the hanging and folding. Don’t know how much the Spirit reveals to me in these long days of summer.

But with each corner of fabric I affix on the line, I tick a small box in my soul. I feel a movement, a working together, harnessing the creation He gifted us with.

I am paying attention, finally going with Him, not against. One small act of saying, “Yes, I see, I’ll try it Your way,” knowing full well that while rain may hide just out of view, creation will keep its rhythm.


karen dublin 2015.2Karen Huber lives with her husband and three wily kiddos in Dublin, Ireland, where they work in community development, the arts and discipleship. When she’s not at home with her kiddos, she’s on the hunt for the perfect tortilla chip, writing in libraries, and laughing louder than is culturally appropriate. You can find Karen’s thoughts on motherhood, marriage, culture and faith at KarenOHuber.com or meet her on Twitter at @karenohuber.

shalom & jam & jam & jam (#wholemama)

A week or two ago, I found myself in a funk. A funk, quite really, that didn’t make sense because the sun was starting to show its summer self, and normal, year-round activities were coming to a sudden, freeing halt. Instead of seeing an open schedule as an opportunity to roam and explore and balk against nap time rigidity, I froze. We holed up in the house, watching too much Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, clawing at the walls and at each other, like at a cat on one of those carpet-covered cat mansions.

Heart eventually worn threadbare, I declared a moratorium on our in-house gloom. Raising my fists in the air, I made a list of things I wanted to do with the boys this summer: Go to the Discovery Museum. Visit the Jelly Belly Factory.  Check out (the potentially creepy) Fairyland. Go berry picking. Do overnights with out-of-town friends. Attempt to go camping, even if it’s just in the backyard.

I suppose this is why people say you shouldn’t make lists and you shouldn’t publicly declare your intentions to the world: because it just might happen.

And today, our adventures began. Today, wholeness was birthed.  

We decided to go berry picking.

We marked the day on our calendar, and we invited our favorite friend and babysitter, Faith. Then as Faith and I got to talking, we realized that we couldn’t just spend our morning picking berries, we must make jam in the afternoon.

Faith – or Faif, as she is more commonly called in our house – arrived at our house at 8:30 on the dot, all to realize that most try as we might to pick berries on a Monday, they’ve been picked clean by zealous weekend U-pickers (and by the nasty Californian drought).

So we did what any normal, red-blooded American person would do: We went to Costco.  

It’s a win-win in my book. Cancan gets to hold a two-pound carton of blueberries whilst simultaneously stuffing as many as he possibly can into his mouth (just like picking). We get to peruse the best of the free samples (just like picking), and the gargantuan twenty-one pound infant man-child can sit in the cart instead of further kneading into my sorely appointed back muscles (so much better than picking).

After a pit stop at Whole Foods for pectin (because, contrary to popular warehouse-sized beliefs, we didn’t actually need a ten-year supply of gelling agents), we arrived home. We fed the barbarians and we attempted to put them to sleep. Then, as luck would have it The Parentals arrived, right in the middle of our jam-making conundrums.

And one such Parental happens to be a whiz in the gelatinous world, a lover of sterilizing Mason jars and mashing unripe fruit and teaching the next generation her ways:

Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 8.41.28 PM

So this beautiful intersection of my own childhood memories and the memories I yearn to make with my children happened – past and present kissed, the beauty of creating something out of near-nothing burgeoned.

My soul sparked a wholly hello, a most shalom smile.

My heart fluttered an awakening beat.

I felt most alive.

Four hours and five jams* later, we dumped the last of the dishes into the sink and walked out the doors of the well-loved kitchen. We’d done it.

For one afternoon, at least, we’d been made whole.

So, what about you? Today’s post is the first in the #wholemama series this summer, with this week’s theme on wholeness, or shalom. We’d love for you to enter into the conversation. Otherwise, how are you being made whole? How are you experiencing shalom? 

* = strawberry peach jam, blackberry fig jam, raspberry jam, blueberry apricot jam, and peach jam, if you must know. 

to loving day.

Forty-eight years ago the highest court in the land struck down the ban in sixteen remaining states against interracial marriages.

Forty-eight years ago nine justices established a precedent for future generations, an acknowledgment that all are created equal and should be able to love equally. 

Forty-eight years ago the American public was given eyes to see all persons as the Creator sees them: loved and lovable, for every skin color under the rainbow.

Forty-eight years ago, the court’s decision in Loving v. Virginia made it okay for me to marry my husband.

Because I can’t imagine a life without this – without him – in it…

Just as I can’t imagine life without the boy who won’t let me dress him anymore…


Or without the one who recently discovered the joys of the sandbox:


I can’t imagine a life without nightly dance parties, and I can’t imagine not knowing the simple goodness of fried chicken and grits, salmon and asparagus. I can’t imagine a partner who believes in me and cheers me on and encourages me to pursue my dreams like he does, just as I can’t imagine a person more better suited to me. 

I can’t imagine a world without his quirks and mannerisms: without the eye mask he wears to bed, without the stacks of papers he saves, without the research he does before purchasing anything. I can’t imagine my days without the one whose antics drive me up the wall, but whose willingness to fight for our relationship, for us, takes my breath away.  

I can’t imagine life without him.

For me – and for every one of you who find yourself in relationship with the one your heart can’t help but love – it’s not about the color of his skin. Sure, when I look at my husband, I see his chocolate brown outside, that perfect hue of brown that makes me melt. I may call him the HBH (Hot Black Husband) on the blog, but all of that is just surface.  It’s all just icing on the cake.  Because when I look at him this is what I see:

Father. Husband. Friend.

One who accepts people for who they are better than I’ll ever do.

Deep belly laugher at Real Husbands of Hollywood and The Unbreakable Kimmie Schmidt alike.

A man who is committed to being the best version of himself.

A learner, a studier, a worshipper of God.

My love.

And maybe, forty-eight years ago when the decision was reached, it came from hearing stories of Life Together, of another normal, everyday relationship between two people who love each other and every day, over and over again, choose each other.  

Maybe it came from realizing that it’s not the outside, but the inside that counts.

And to that and with that, we say cheers. 

To Loving Day!

Are you in an interracial relationship?  Tell me YOUR story!  Also, head on over to A Life With Subtitles, to read more stories of cross-cultural relationships (and to learn about how the HBH and I met!)

an introduction to Whole Mama – join us!

Well friends, it’s not every day that you get two posts in your inbox from me, so consider this your lucky day!  Now first, if you haven’t already noticed, summer has begun to hit much of the North American continent (excluding, of course, Forks, WA and its resident sparkly vampires). If you’re anything like me, that shiny ball in the sky comes out to play and the last thing I want to do is feel holed up behind a computer screen.

Instead, I want to read, outside in the backyard, toes tickling the grass.

Flickr Creative Commons: Florin Gorgan
Flickr Creative Commons: Florin Gorgan

I want to hike and go for long walks and float endlessly in bodies of water.

I want to eat every meal courtesy of the BBQ, and afterwards I want berries and vanilla ice cream to trickle down my throat.

And I want to play. I want to play well, with my boys and with my husband, with my friends and with whoever else comes across our path.

I want to rest and I want to vacation.  I want the space to sift through the condensed jumble of words that often gets tangled in my mind, September through May.

Often times, that means that I ease myself off of the pressure to produce, especially when it comes to the blog. I mean, I love y’all and I love the be, mama. be community, but I love the summer season more. And I make no apologies for it!

But there’s something else summertime produces that no other season seems to give me: wholeness. So when my friend Esther invited me to be a part of a summer project called Whole Mama, I was intrigued. Many of us find ourselves at an intersection of motherhood + creativity + spirituality …so, what would it look like for a little online tribe of you and me, and her and her and her, to band together and to encourage one another to be our most whole selves? 

It’s going to look different for each one of us, but all pressure aside from just another task of doing, it’s going to look good.

And I’d love for you to join us.

Starting next week, every Monday a new weekly theme you can write on and about will be given. If you have a published blog, consider writing on it there (and then joining in with the bigger link-up on Esther’s blog).

You can join the #wholemama movement on Instagram by posting a picture of YOU – beautiful, whole YOU – and finishing the sentence, “I need #wholemama because…” Also, use the hashtag and you’ll be entered to win a stack of summer reading yumminess.

And because we want to walk alongside one another, encouraging and empowering each other to be our most whole selves, you can join us every Monday for a Twitter party or for a Fuze call. The possibilities are endless, I’m telling you.

Finally, let me introduce you to the community of women behind this movement. This is Erika, and even though I’ve never met her face to face, I can tell she’s just as sweet as she sounds:

Y’all, say something nice to her in the comments because it takes BRAVERY to speak your words on camera.  After you’ve heard from Erika, you can head on over to Sarah’s blog and watch my video …in which you’ll hear about my over-the-top love for teething necklaces AND my need for #wholemama.

So, will you join us?

It’s bound to be a most whole summer.

What about you? What gives you life in the summer? How do you yearn to be made WHOLE this summer?