Discovering and playing and building in this little corner of the world to document my writing life. I'm glad you're here. {If you want to receive updates via email, sign up below.}

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Saturday, August 16, 2014


I'm glad you are here to celebrate! Share a link to your blog post below and/or use #celebratelu to share celebrations on Twitter.

This week, I found my footing. It wasn't an easy task and there were some moments days this week when I thought maybe I'd never be sure again.

Life is changing.
There is always a need to learn the new steps in this life dance.

School started.
And on the other end of the drive home there is another whole day waiting. Kids ready to play and Hannah needs picked up from practice and there's homework, not just for kids, but for parents -- who had that idea? Dinner is ready for the oven (thanks to Cooking Day and 34 freezer meals). Youth group and football sign up and go to the phone store because it's time to add another line for the almost 13 year old, are all items on our calendar.

It's 9:00 before I have time to breathe alone. 

And I think maybe I should just give up the pipe dream of writing.
I celebrate this hope.

I celebrate Story, because Story is always more than a pipe dream.  Story is bigger than words on the page. It is living and serving and loving and laughing.

My Story is a resolve, deep in the soul, to not let go of my purpose. The week started by stirring up my inadequacies and attacking my comfort. My heart cracked. Sitting at the other end of the week, I realize my dream wasn't being torn away and wadded up, but rather it was growing. It is bigger than my grasp and at the same time it is built by tiny choices.

That's enough to keep me writing.

That's more than enough for a celebration.

 Share your celebrations below. I can't wait to read school stories, because I'm sure they will be fueling us in the weeks to come!

Friday, August 15, 2014

{Tell} Five Minute Friday


Tell your story
Tell it slow.
Tell it over.
Tell it new.
Tell it free.
Tell it raw.
Tell it  true.
Tell your story.


Monday, August 11, 2014

Celebrations: Accidents, Mishaps, Stumbles, & Falls

I'm celebrating accidents and mishaps and stumbles and falls.

Hannah broke her arm at cross country practice. I spent several hours in the ER with her on Friday night. I saw, firsthand, how she is growing a strong spirit. I loved that she asked me to be the parent to take her to the ER. I loved how she made the nurse pause and smile. I loved that she said, "Thanks for taking care of me, Mom. I like that I know you and Dad will always take care of me."

Andy's Aunt Pat gives our family Kings Island tickets each year for Christmas. We stay with her since she lives within an hour of the park. I adore Aunt Pat. She's eclectic. Never married. Retired Dean of Students for Cedarville University. Hysterical. Cancer survivor.

Only there are more tumors. And she just learned she has Parkinson's Disease. She makes no bones about the fact that her body is failing. In fact, she usually makes a joke.

But there is this uncommon spirit about her.

Everything about her body is failing and yet there is unmistakable joy in her soul.

As she becomes weaker, the Spirit becomes bolder. Although I would never wish for what she is bearing, I do hope I can learn to become less so the Spirit can be bigger in me.


Jay is still learning how to allow love to overcome fear. He is still learning that love is more powerful than anything. He is still learning to let us love him.

And I'm holding on to threads of hope that Love is enough to suffocate his fear.

I choose to celebrate because Stephanie walked this road before him. She is learning to trust us. She is learning she doesn't have to fear. She is proof that love restores hurt hearts. She hugs me hard tonight and asks me to pray. She leans against me and I rock back, smiling because this reward is much sweeter than I deserve.

Yes, I celebrate the mishaps in life. I celebrate the times things go wrong. I celebrate the things that make me scream.

After all, this is what life is made of. The accidents and mishaps, stumbles and falls are simply opportunities to see great big Love.

Saturday, August 9, 2014


I'm glad you are here to celebrate! Share a link to your blog post below and/or use #celebratelu to share celebrations on Twitter.

My celebrations are unexpected. I hope you had some this week too. Share below!

Saturday, August 2, 2014


I'm glad you are here to celebrate! Share a link to your blog post below and/or use #celebratelu to share celebrations on Twitter.

Move: This week I ran with Hannah, walked with two different friends, and ran on my own. It was good to move.

Preserve: The kids and I made 34 meals for our freezer. It was a long day of cooking, but worth the result. With a cross country runner, a football player, a volleyball player, and a soccer player in the house, I think we will still make it through the fall sports season with home cooked meals around the kitchen table.

Write: I'm glad I blogged yesterday. It helped me grow roots to some of the whirling thoughts. It was even better to receive the feedback.

I hope you'll join Christy Rush-Levine and me for the first #TaCwriters chat on Sunday at 8:00 pm. We will be talking about writing workshop routines with Katherine Sokolowski and the end of the chat will be dedicated to celebrations about teaching writers.

Share your celebrations below!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Unexpected Momma Adjustments

This summer didn't go how I wanted it to go.

I hate speaking of summer in past tense, especially since I've committed to keeping summer in my spirit until September.This is still my plan.

My plan, however, is adjusted to reality.

The reality is this: The first four weeks of summer were crammed-jammed with have-tos. The second four weeks of summer were supposed to be lazy summer days when I write in the morning and we go for bike rides and we eat lunch next to the water fall at the park and we pop over to our neighbor's for late afternoon swims and we roast marshmallows and catch fireflies and dirt swirls in the tub and one more book is read together. It turns out the last four weeks of summer were crammed-jammed too.

This isn't a summer issue.

My kids are growing up.

I know this isn't shocking and for those of you on the other side of the screen who have been there before me, I'm sure you are nodding, maybe even smirking a bit.

But for this momma, you might as well hit me with a stampede of elephants.

Hannah is a 7th grader. Her legs are almost as long as I am tall.
Stephanie organized her dresser drawers according to sports season.
Jay is planning for his first sleep over.
And Sam always has a baseball cap on his head and quarters in his pocket, just in case he wants to buy popcorn at the concession stand or a pack of Juicy Fruit at the store.

What happened to 7:30 bedtime? What happened to park visits? What happened to left overs for the next day?

There's this too. They can devour a 4 pound meatloaf in a single meal. I can pile their plates with a main dish, a starch, a vegetable, a fruit -- they can have seconds and still are hungry.


They make plans and add them to the calendar. Softball practice. Run with a friend. Football try-outs. Boyscout camp out.

Their plans have suddenly usurped mine.

And summer didn't go as I expected.

How could I have expected this? I'm not needed to orchestrate the day. They are building their own lives. I'm sidelined to administrative assistant and taxi driver.

But there is still this: Wherever I am, they find me. They still join me on the front porch with books and chocolate milks. They still pile in the family room, snuggled under quilts. They congregate in the kitchen when I'm making cookies or dinner. They let me rub their backs before bedtime and they still whisper important thoughts to me.

We are on the move, but I don't get to set the pace.

Instead, I get to be along for the ride as their biggest fan. (Well, second biggest, because Andy will make no bones about being bigger in mass and therefore a bigger fan. I still contest this logic.)

We are their biggest fans. And I am stunned by how remarkable I find them.

That little girl who shelled up and ignored the world is joining the cross country team so she can make new friends. The other little girl who threw a fit every. single. night. when asked to put her dishes in the dishwasher clears the table without being asked. The little boy who used to be afraid to play outside shoots hundreds of baskets each afternoon. The one we brought home from the hospital and stopped every three miles just to check to make sure the car seat was still secure, sits in the front seat on the way to run this errand and pick up that sibling.

This summer has been one of adjustment for me. I'm learning to let go. I'm learning to give up my freedom for scheduling in the most convenient manner for me. I'm learning a conversation is more useful than a timeout and that sometimes you have to lose the battle in order to win the war (as my dad would say, even though I promised I would never utter those words.)

I guess what I'm realizing is I'm okay with all of this. I'm okay with being sidelined. I'm okay with losing some battles to snotty retorts and huffy feet. I'm okay with giving up some of my freedom. (Although I am grieving the loss of 7:30 pm bedtime.)

Because in the end, there are going to be four rather remarkable people who will make the world a better place. Meanwhile this momma will adjust her pace and cling to the truth that her stories still matter and her writing is still a calling and she will keep making her corner of the world better too. It just may take a little longer as I run a young soul to one more commitment and listen to another heartache and console anxious nerves and stand next to the train table, building a skyscraper out of a cereal box because I realize more than ever how short-lived childhood really is.

I hope you keep reading as I find my footing as my children outgrow me.

Saturday, July 26, 2014


I'm glad you are here to celebrate! Share a link to your blog post below and/or use #celebratelu to share celebrations on Twitter.

{July 2010}They remember.
 It has been four years since Nate left earth. My friend Nate was 20 when his heart stopped.

I wrote about how he inspired me as a teacher here -- the day before he died, completely oblivious to what the next 24 hours would hold.

I wrote about it raw here.

I wrote about how he impacts the way I parent here.

I wrote about how he influences me as a writer here.

I used to worry that Nate would be forgotten. As time marches and the world turns, people would forget. I worried about my kids forgetting. I worried about the community forgetting. I worried about me forgetting.

It was a ridiculous worry.Nate lived life too big to be forgotten.

Yesterday, in the pool, Hannah worked on her stroke. She bobbed up from the lap, lifted her goggles, and said, "Was that better?"

"Absolutely. How did you figure out what to change?"

Hannah wiped water from her nose. "I thought about the things Nate used to say to me. I remember his voice when I'm underwater. Sometimes it's almost like he's there whispering to me."

Then there are times when Sam changes a name to make it boyish. Jordan-rita or Dad-rina will be called throughout the house, followed by a little chuckle. If you call Sam, Samantha in return you will be rewarded with an all out laugh. Then a breath of silence. In that moment, his voice rings true, "I miss Nate-ella."

He remembers the way Nate teased him.

Stephanie points to the picture on our fridge of Nate the day before he died. It's one of those shots that is so Nate. His telltale smirk and his relaxed attitude.  It's smudged from small fingers, but I don't ever tell them hands off.  Steph says to Jay, "You would have really liked Nate. He teased us. He was always taking my doll and then I'd chase him. He liked that."

"Who was he?" Jay asked.

"Well, he started as Mom and Dad's friend, but he liked us so much he became our friend too. Nate liked me even if I threw a fit."

It's impossible to forget someone who makes you feel special. Nate was there in the most difficult years of my life. He'd show up and play in the yard with the kids. He'd park his Camaro at the bottom of our icy driveway and bound up the front yard through snow drifts. He'd open the door, calling, "I couldn't make it up the Driveway of Death." Then he'd settle into his spot on the end of the green couch and pop the recliner.

I close my computer screen.
Andy mutes the game.
Nate tells another story.
Laughter nourishes my fragile soul.

The memories cut sharp, but story is always worthy of a celebration.

Saturday, July 19, 2014


I'm glad you are here to celebrate! Share a link to your blog post below and/or use #celebratelu to share celebrations on Twitter.

 I hope you know Christy Rush-Levine. She's an eighth grade teacher, artist, writer, reader, and incredible friend. Since some other incredible friends have been pushing me into leading a Twitter chat about teaching writers, Christy and I started dreaming. This is what happened...

I hope you'll consider joining us for the first Teach & Celebrate Writers Twitter chat on Sunday, August 3.

I'm 2 posts away from 500 on this blog. I spend too much time thinking I don't write enough. Here's the math:

500 posts in three years breaks down to 3.2 posts/week

I write enough.

In addition, for 2011-2013, I wrote nearly 3 posts/week maintaining another blog about the teaching of writers.
I also completed an entire YA manuscript.
A second YA manuscript is 90% complete.
I've played and doodled and noted ideas for a third YA story in three composition notebooks.
I've filled 4 large notebooks on my (new) writing territory of faith.
I've written articles each month for Choice Literacy and Lead Literacy.
My book about adoption and faith and celebration is stacking words into chapters.
I write enough.
But wish I wrote more.

Looking forward to your celebrations this week too. Link-up below.