There Is Grace for School Fundraisers


Mornings sneak up on me. Alarms buzzing, leads to kids whining about school, their breakfast choices, their daily routine before they can be herded out the door to school. Today, amidst the whole morning chaos, the school fundraiser booklet appears on my desk. Standing in her blue denim skirt and purple shirt, she pleads for me to fill out all seven forms.


Not this morning, I can’t fill them out now cause I don’t have time” I say hoping I could fill them out later. Her precious face scrunches up, bursts into the half whining, half crying mode. Somewhere between snotty sniffles and tears, she chokes out how she won’t get a green plastic frog if she doesn’t turn in the forms.


But I want that frog,” she cries. There is really no point in telling her that we can get a similar green frog at the Dollar Tree sans a magazine subscription. The temper tantrum reached its fullest, and I silently prayed for time to speed up so she can go to school. She pouted on the tan sectional sofa and tied to manipulate her brother into buying a magazine so she could get a plastic frog. Again, she failed. Again, the tears started. Again, I prayed long and hard for 7:30am to come.


Why must every fundraiser have some dumb ass prize? She doesn’t need it, and I don’t need the headache. I simply did not have the strength to deal with the tantrum much less hurry to fill out the materials. My body ached from a restless night of sleep. I saw every hour. My head still swimming with work related needs. The last thing, I needed this morning, was to be reminded that didn’t have all the school related stuff together.


But sometimes even amidst the chaos, grace rains down. I drove to work. Over the still waters of the lake, the sun sparkled across the water, and I was perfectly content, happy. Like the embrace of God shone melted the morning’s temper tantrums, I felt deep down the happiness of utter contentment. Quietly, I thanked God for my work, my art making, for this happiness.



By some fluke, my temper tantrum throwing daughter did get a frog. At that moment in the car line, she too was perfectly happy and content.


Life: Unmasked
This post was written for the blog carnival Life:Unmasked at Joy in This Journey. Feel free to share your blog post or story in the comments, or send me an email if you wish to remain anonymous. 


Filed under Faith, Parenthood

Unveiling The Dark Jane Austen Book Club

New projects make my heart glad.


I’m excited, giddy, and a bit nervous…Okay, I’m very nervous because I want the whole world to like this new project.


But before I tell you what this project is, let me fill y’all in on the back story a bit.


A Brief History:


This project started with a tweet. A small insignificant tweet that grew into a flurry of direct messages, then budded into Skype chats, coffee sessions, and finally it has blossomed into something beautiful.


Drum roll please……….


I proudly introduce y’all to…..


The Dark Jane Austen Book Club

Do you find Jane Austen’s writing beautiful, but think it would even better with a few zombies, vampire, and werewolves?

Then, The Dark Jane Austen Book Club is for you!

Do you secretly wish to find a group or start a group that discusses both the classic works of Austen along with the monster parodies?

Then, The Dark Jane Austen Book Club is for you!

So, take a hop, skip, and a jump over to The Dark Jane Austen Book Club. Don’t forget to pack your sword and crossbow, zombies are roving about the countryside over there.

You can also follow us on Twitter @DarkJaneAusten

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Filed under Books, Humor

Hide and Seek

Do you remember playing hide and seek?

Perhaps, the warm, summer sun filtered through the trees as you ran hid underneath bushes, behind fences. Maybe, the piles of Autumn leaves served as a blanket to cover up as the seeker ran by chasing someone else. A silly game, hide and seek, but our childhood games train us to be adults.

Overwhelmed by the amount of hiding choices, I usually was found first. My feet stuck out from under the bed, or my bright purple shirt gave me away crouching in the deep green bush next to the house. Some games, I sat on the red plastic swing in the backyard just so I would be found first. Hiding felt pointless. I didn’t want to shield, cover up, or camouflage myself—I simply wanted to stay found.

But soon I realized that hide/seek translated into my adult life too.

Adult hide/ seek doesn’t involve crouching behind couches or under bushes. To play adult hide/seek, I stay out in the open room, fully visible yet utterly hidden. I hide behind the walls of agreeableness, the walls of self-silencing, the walls of political correctness. The right words tumble out of my mouth depending on the people around me. Sometimes, we discuss social justice, and I can let my ire show for the devastation the Western world has caused. Many times, I sit silently listening to the anti-woman rhetoric of the church or a poorly laid out argument against equality. I seethe inside but say nothing. Even here, I check every post, hoping I don’t offend. Not out of grace, but out of fear. I don’t want an inbox full hate emails.

I am a social chameleon.

But hiding never empowers me, nor will it ever empower you. Hiding fuels my fears, doubts, my interior dialogue of “I can’t.” Fear expands into every crevice of my soul. Pushing out any room for grace, but worst of all, fear disposes of love. I refuse to hide anymore. Instead, I choose to love to show grace—the only way to replace fear. Rather than pandering to those around me, I choose to speak the truth with love despite the possibility of rejection.


How are you playing hide and seek?

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Filed under Faith, Musings

Sole Searching: Lessons from Shoe Shopping

Church shoe shopping must be one of the many circles of hell for a child.

Shoe shopping itself wasn’t horrible. Tennis shoes could have She-Ra or Care Bears emblazoned on the sides. The velcro straps made them a breeze to try on and purchase, but church shoes required a whole production team . First, my mother prepped me for the torture. She dressed me in white, itchy tights with little pink dots sewn in as flowers. How these blotches of faded color weren’t mistaken for chicken pox, measles or hives is beyond me. Next, my father directed my attention to the wall of shoes appropriate for church. Shiny, leather dress shoes displayed on illuminated glass shelves mocked me.

“All right, Sarah, which ones do you like?” asked my father.

“Those purple ones with the bows,” I said pointing the ballet slippers with purple faux leather and wide bow on the toe. No matter that purple only matched half of my wardrobe for church. Perhaps, my fashion sense needed some development too.

Slowly, my father took the purple bowed shoe of church perfection down, examined the sole, felt the quality, then looked inside. Printed in gold letters, he found my death sentence for acceptable church shoe style.

“No, they’re made in China,” said my dad putting the shoe back. “We don’t buy shoes made in China.”

I tried again with a brown shoes. The same “no made in China shoes” echoed in the shoe store. I pointed to black and white saddle shoes. The same answer followed this suggestion. China, a nation half way around the world , separated me from my wants, desires, needs. I floundered trying to distract my father from the only pair of shoes not made in China. A maroon leather shoe sporting an etched diamond pattern, a t-strap, and buckle. Even at four, I hated these shoes. They pinched my toes. The brass clasp never fit into the leather strap just right. Worst of all, the strap made me the laughingstock of the entire four year old Sunday School room. I’m fairly certain the flannel-graph pictures of Jesus, Mary, and the disciples were snickering at me too.

Shoe shopping taught me to love the world.

Years would pass before I understood the power that we wielded when buying those shoes. Ideas like labor laws, human rights, and fair wages didn’t compute in my child brain. I didn’t see the sweat shops filled with women workers or the children stitching together these shoes. I didn’t understand how purchasing one pair of shoes with the “made in China” printed on them would encourage and fund these places of human rights travesties.

Slowly, I began to see my culpability in the labor riots, the poor work conditions. I may not be holding the whip forcing these people to work, but my choices and actions are just as devastating when conducted unethically. Maybe, one pair of shoes isn’t going to change the work conditions for those in China, Asia, and Africa, but it stopped the $19.95 from lining the pockets of the abusers.

Question: How do our choices affect the rest of the world?

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Filed under Musings

Summer Travels




The Road

Stretches, Long, Curvy


Bisecting the earth,

The Sky, the Sun

With Mountain Rock.

Dense life sprouts

And thrives upon

The thin air.

I sip in the memories,

Drink in the splendor

Of Home.

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Filed under Musings, poetry

10 Reasons a Small Blog is Better


Sarah: The Blogger of From Tolstoy to Tinkerbell


I’m horrible with dates. While some bloggers can remember their blog’s birthday, I’m not one of those people. But number of posts especially hundreds of posts, that’s something I can wrap my feeble brain around.


This is my 200th blog post!


Yeah, 200 posts is a lot. What’s even more amazing, I kept blogging. So many times, I cried and almost quit because my blog was “small.” Big bloggers garnered all of the social media frenzy, but once the tears dried, I realized being a small blogger has its advantages.


So, without further eloquence….


10 Reasons Being a Small Blogger is WAY Cooler:

  1. Your inbox doesn’t micromanage your life.Better yet, you don’t complain about the inbox. It sits and waits for you when you’re ready. If you want another cup of coffee before email, you drink up.
  2. Trolls haven’t found your blog—YET!Now, this point is one of the great things about being a small blogger—for me at least. You see I can blog about Mark Driscoll’s Facebook post, feminism and the church—and no trolls bother me. They are too busy with larger, more popular blogs to mess with me. A word of caution to trolls: you mess with my blogging friends, you have messed with me. Watch out!
  3. Only your mom, spouse/partner, and maybe a few close friends see your internet goof.Those misspelled words, BAD syntax, even bad information can be forgiven when you are a small blogger.
  4. You become the ninja of awkward blog related conversations. Here’s my case in point:                                          Well-meaning friend: what is it that you DO?    Me: I blog!(to be read in a chirpy, over-caffeinated Minnie Mouse voice)   Well-meaning friend:Oh____(awkward pause) do a lot of people read it?   Me: Just my mom, my husband, and maybe my dog if she could read. Here’s my blog’s URL, you should totally read it.  Well-meaning friend: Wow, the weather sure has been hot lately.
  5. Blogging “breaks” are code words for writer’s block, lack of interest, doing more interesting things—just without so much guilt. My blog equals my writing muse’s schedule.
  6. Happiness comes in small packages—a few well-meaning comments, small stats, but hey, someone’s reading.
  7. While there’s a whole world of “bigger blogs,” there are also libraries. And libraries are happy places.
  8. WordPress, Blogger, and Typepad are created equal.What’s even better, these blogging platforms are free. So, you can voice your opinions without spending money; however, like any good “free thing,” a blog does require time which is so not free.
  9. Your happiest blog moment comes from seeing your blog listed in someone else’s blogroll. Extra Happy Points if she is a small blog too.The same happy feeling comes again when others Like your Facebook page(see the right column, that’s mine—go make me happy, LIKE my blog!), Retweet your blog post, tell you that your writing sparked good conversation. All happy things, warm fuzzies, mood lifting things.


But most importantly,

  1. Your blog is your platform to speak. Speak well, speak often, and speak in love.


Here’s to another 100 posts, more good conversations full of love and grace.

Question: What would be your number 11 to why small blogs are way cooler?


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Filed under Blogging, Humor

Seashore: A Poem


Gray and black

Lounge across

The jumbled footprints

In the sand.



Water Blue and Sky Orange

Fills in the gaps

Like a child’s

Paint by numbers.



Tawny sand and ocean deep

Converge wet

Slipping away only

To come again.


Question: How would you describe the ocean?

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Filed under poetry

Not God’s Schedule Keeper

'Outer Banks 2007 068' photo (c) 2007, Marc Gallant - license:

Warm sand, salt air—life’s eternal balm for the world weary soul.

Last week, I basked in the warm glow of the sun, dug my toes in the sand, and watched the waves lap against the shore. For a short period, life’s stress melted away, soothing soul healing balm slipped inside, and I let ocean’s peace wash over me. Whether it’s the intense orange and pink glow of sunrise or the jubilant dolphins gliding in and out of the water, I am often dumbfounded by the sheer beauty of the ocean. I long for more trips to the beach. Whenever I go to the beach, I usually feel more connected to the divine, to God, to my spiritual nature. Seeing something so vast, so grand makes realize my own smallness in the cosmos.


But not this beach trip.


What changed? The ocean hadn’t leaked away nor had the sands sifted out of the shore. So, I sat staring at the ocean appreciating its depth, its beauty, but no spiritual stirrings, just quiet stillness. As if God remained silent, stone-faced to my intense need to connect with Him. Like I do every year at the beach, didn’t God get my memo? This spiritual awakening always happens at the beach because the waves drown out other noises clamoring for my attention. Doesn’t God understand that I only have so many days here to sit and listen and feel spiritual? As the questions roll around inside my head, I’m angry at God’s apparent absence from my spiritual renewal week at the ocean. But the one question that remains unasked is…


When did I become God’s schedule keeper?


Somehow, I try to take the job of creating God’s itinerary based upon my schedule, my needs, my wants. No matter how long I sat there I couldn’t force God to whisper His words of peace to me. I wasn’t listening. I’m reminded of God’s courtroom like grilling for Job—were you there when I(God made the world), when I hung the stars? In a sense God did whisper to me only after I came home, empty from my desperate attempts to be spiritual, to feel some kinship to the divine.

Who are you to dictate when I move in your life? When will you let go of your attempts at spiritual art you call spiritual and allow Me to show you the art already at work in your life?

I wore myself out trying to relive a moment with the divine. Too often, I think we Christ followers put so much effort into recapturing those spiritual moments that we lose sight of the spiritual work of art God is doing right now. We would rather have our finger painting equivalent of spirituality than God’s masterpiece.


Questions: What has been the most significant spiritual occurrence for you? Did you ever try to recreate it? Why or why not?


Filed under Christianity, Faith

Second Cup Friends: A Guest Post

Good morning y’all, I hope everyone has had a goodly amount of coffee to kick-start this Monday, this month. As a coffee lover, I believe the easiest way to foster a friendship is over coffee.


I’m guest posting for my Twitter friend, Coffee Club founding member, and blogging comrade Alise. Her lovely blog, Alise…Write is gloriously written. I’m honored to begin Alise’s Guest Posting month with this post:

Second Cup Friends

We live in a world of one cup, rushed through friendships.


Our lives spinning through a maniac to do list while squeezing in time for a brief respite of conversation. We schedule our coffee dates to avoid the inevitable guilt-laden nights, the I’ve been meaning to call messages, but mostly the guilt. The comfortable earth toned coffee shop fully equipped with WiFi, just in case we can fit another work task in, serves as the ideal meeting place. Music, loud espresso machines, and other talkative patrons mask the lag of our conversation. Lattes offer a brief distraction from the awkward pauses when we have run out of the compulsory topics—how’s the hubby/partner, what grades are the kids in again, did you hear about…? Coffee gulped and general Facebook fodder shared; we rush off to the next thing and the next thing. Always a rush to check off each box on the to-do list.


To finish reading this post, click over to Alise’s blog here.


Filed under Guest post

Waking Up Full

Why, Hello Friday!

Each Friday, Lisa-Jo host a blog link up called 5 minute Fridays.

The Rules:

  1. Write for 5 minutes only!
  2. No editing, let the words flow!
  3. Link up with Lisa-Jo and comment on another 5 minute blog post!

Easy? Why yes, indeed!

This week’s topic is: FULL



I would love to say that my mornings begin with a soft caress of yellow sunshine, coffee brewing, and my hair neatly in place. But they never do. Today, I woke up dogs barking to be let outside, my stomach aching, and my thoughts rushing to what I needed to do today. I was full.


Each morning, each new sunrise, I awake and you awake full. We are full of new day, new moments to breathe, to stumble, to live. But most of us only wake up empty to our own fullness. We see the chores and tasks as impeding our opportunities to refill, to recharge our fullness. Perhaps, we mistakenly think that unless we have a day at the spa, the beach, a coffee date with a friend that we are merely running on a half full tank.


Let me remind you and myself—we awake full of this new day. Every day, every minute, we are alive is full. We choose our we fill those minutes, and those full moments have been in the mind of the One who created them for us. How shall we see how our fullness today? In the pages of a novel full of old friends, in the full coffee mug, in the full dog food bowl, in the full hearts of those who love us.




Filed under Musings