Happy Lights and Apple Picking: What I am Into September 2014

I have had a very long September, and also, I can’t figure out where it went. I know those things make no sense together. They are also totally true.

What I am Teaching

Antigone –  My tenth graders read Antigone. So, we got to talk about fatal flaws and knowing when to keep your mouth shut. How sometimes your pride gets in the way of what we really wanted in the first place. We talked about strong women and how some people don’t like that. I love Antigone, and fully believe that if you hate it, it was taught to you wrong. Such a great play.


Animal Farm- I taught Animal Farm, and I cried. Again. I love that book so much. It is about Communism and Trotsky and Lenin, but mostly it is about power, and how when we get it, it is really easy to abuse, and how we have to be very careful where we get our information and what we believe.


What I am Recommending

Happy Light- If you have been reading on here any length of time, you know I struggle with depression. Just enough, really so that I can pretend I don’t have a problem. This year, when I got back to school it smacked me dead in the face and I could not recover. I was like, what the heck is wrong with me? I figure it out though! My classroom has no windows. None. I bought this happy light on Amazon, and immediately, I mean two days later immediately, my depression was gone and has not come back. I thought the woman on the box was ridiculous, but now, I feel like her.

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Dickies- I feel old and lame admitting that these are my absolute favorite dress pants, but they are. I liked them so much in black, I ordered them in tan. My kids like to hug and pull on me the second I get in the door, so I like the weight of these pants. My lovely girls have put runs in pants a little less sturdy. Also, they are flattering and comfortable.

Starting your Christmas shopping- I am about 50% done with my Christmas shopping and I am glad. We do the whole: something to wear, to read, you want, and need for the girls. I have done everything but the need (probably tights). Brenna is teaching an advent course I am wanting to take, and I want to have time to really think about it.

Re-dying your pants- For less than seven dollars you can make your faded black pants that fit you perfectly brand new. Same goes for turquoise, and red, and even dark denim. I gave three different pairs of pants a new life in my washing machine using rit dye.

Where I am driving

Hill Crest Orchard- We had a family day with my sister and her husband at the Hillcrest Orchard. It is seven dollars to get in, and three dollars more for the petting farm. And totally TOTALLY worth every penny. We did so much of everything else we forgot to pick very  many apples and had to buy some on the way out. Petting goats and chickens and kitties, the cow train, the giant slide, the mule wagon ride and the tractor wagon ride, the jumping pillow, the tractor tri-cycles, the milking a cow. (Juliet was especially enamored and likes to tell people the right way to do it.) We all had a fantastic day and didn’t even get to the ponies or the  mini-golf. We are, for sure, coming back next year.


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My Dear Friend Gayl’s: Jennifer and I took a day to go see our dear friends Gayl and Jamie (they are mother and daughter), at Gayl’s house. It was so wonderful. Picturesque and simple and perfectly inviting. Good conversation over good food and hugging people that you usually just see through a screen is awesome.

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What I am eating and drinking

Crayon Cakes: I made this adorable cake for Priscilla’s birthday. It was not that hard and I totally recommend it. It was choclate inside, of course. My girls know how to pick cakes.

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Caramel Apple Sangria: One of my co-workers mentioned this in passing. I used this recipe, and it is as good as you think it will be. Worth the three trips to the various liquor stores to find caramel vodka. So yummy. So easy. I am pretty sure I am serving it for my birthday party!

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Soups: I don’t really have a recipe but I put a can of garbanzo beans, some frozen spinach, some Italian sausage and some tortellini in the Tuscany blend chicken broth. It took fifteen minutes and my husband thinks I am a genius. They have a Thai blend that I am thinking about now.

On the blog

I wrote some things I am really proud of this month. On heartbreak, the awesome dad I had, and authority.

And then a post I wrote last year resurrected itself, and I found many new readers! YEAH! So glad to have you.

I am only about twenty people shy of a thousand likes on my Facebook page. Every Thursday we gather to rally, and cheer each other on. Y’all are really awesome, and need to be reminded at least weekly.


Looking Forward

My Tedx talk is coming up quick, so I am shutting it down until then. No plans, no road trips, probably very little blogging. Maybe even less time on social media. I know I need to, and that everyone understands, but it feels scary to unplug. I am sort of nervous about this talk and would appreciate any good will you might have for me.

While it may be quiet here, I will be featuring all my awesome friends who are blogging for 31 days straight in October!

When I give my talk I will re-open my cool t-shirts in case you missed them, and add kids t-shirts.


After I put myself in time out I will be celebrating BIRTHDAY MONTH! Super excited about my cake, that I will make myself with my mother’s recipe.

I ordered the girls Halloween costumes, expect total cuteness.

As always, I am linking up with Leigh, and would LOVE to know what you are into too! 


My dad didn’t own a shotgun (and I turned out fine).

My dad didn’t own a shotgun. This shouldn’t be surprising. He was a lawyer in a mid-sized mid-western town. He was never into hunting. What did he need a shotgun for?

The way that people often talked to him, it seemed like my dad, who was totally uninterested in weapons, should have had an armory at his back.

My dad and baby Rilla

My dad and baby Rilla

Why? Because he had three teenage girls, at the same time, and apparently that meant he was supposed to have a shotgun. You know, because we were doing crazy things like calling boys and letting them take us to a movie. THE HORROR!


I guess we joked about it. I remember, before entering into the house with a boy, any boy, even just a friend, I would look over to him and say “okay, now if my dad says anything about a gun collection, a knife collection, a baseball bat collection, laugh he is joking.”

But my dad didn’t need a shotgun, because instead he equipped his daughters to decide for themselves. Every single time my dad was asked what he thought about our boyfriends he would respond, “I trust my daughter’s judgement.”

I trust my daughter’s judgement. My dad didn’t need a shotgun, because he had already equipped us to handle ourselves, to trust ourselves, to value ourselves.  He never said a single negative thing about our appearance ever. For real. And he always made sure to touch us a lot. Hugs, lap sitting, affectionate pats.

My dad on my sister's wedding day.

My dad on my sister’s wedding day.

That was really all he needed. What was a shotgun going to do anyway? I was pretty sure the man who had told me my whole life “people who hit people go to jail” was not going to shoot at anyone. Rather than have my dad threaten me into making good decisions, he equipped me to make those decisions on my own. I took pretty seriously who I was going to date, because my parents completely trusted me with that decision. That mattered more.

I guess I am telling this story because my husband is already getting asked, what will he do when our daughters reach dating age? And I get that it is a joke, but I think it is a joke grounded in a harmful undercurrent. Girls cannot be expected to make their own decisions about who they are dating, they need help, they cannot protect themselves. I get that it is supposed to be a joke, but I just don’t think it is very funny anymore.

My lovely husband and the girls he is raising.

My lovely husband and the girls he is raising.

I married a man a lot like my dad on purpose. One who cares for and respects women, especially his daughters, especially his wife. When the time comes for them to bring dates home, I hope we have already equipped our girls with all the weapons they need. Respect for themselves, and a deep understanding of just how much they are loved, by us and by their God. I hope they know, like I did, that they can trust their own judgement, and if they make a mistake they will be no less loved.

I hope my girls don’t need a shotgun wielding dad, because they know the good and solid weight of being trusted with their own judgement.

On Authority and Idols

If you have been raised in Sunday School, you have been talking about idols your whole life. At least I have. There are felt boards and coloring books, and once I saw a teenager at a campfire dress up like a sacred cow, and literally fall over before the Lord. I’ve never really had a physical idol problem in my house. No golden calves, no statues of Baal. But I am learning that lack of precious metal statues doesn’t mean I don’t have an idol problem.


I have heard the Spirit say what I am qualified to do, and have instead waited for someone else to say it, for someone else to call it, for someone else to crown me worthy. I have done this more times than I can count. God says speak, and I raise my hand and wait for someone else to call on me. I do not accept that His authority alone is worthy. I need something more.


But what did tell you? I ask my tiny daughter, caught doing the opposite of what she was told. But my sister told me to. But what did I tell you to do. It isn’t that she didn’t hear me. It is just that there are other opinions that matter more. Mainly, her sister’s, but it isn’t for her sister to say. I am the mom, and right now I’m the authority. Sometimes I learn more than I want to about myself while parenting.


I’ve been the idol I think, a time or two. I have been complicit in this action. I have spoken with an authority I did not posses. I have said it is so, when I should have said this is what I am hearing. I have only in hind sight thought to say I could be wrong. Only in hind sight did I say your spirit gets to have the final say. I should have lead with that. I should always lead with that.

I know now, but it has cost me. I don’t like being someone else’s idol, even as I happily lapped up the authority placed before me. Some of that authority wasn’t mine to have, even if it was handed to me. I shouldn’t have picked it up. It burned me too.


I’ve handed off my own authority more times than I know, I’m sure. I’ve waited to be asked when I should have spoken up. I have refused to believe something about myself unless someone else told me, even if the Spirit has been speaking it to me since I was twelve. I have wanted more than the authority of the Spirit, singing to my own, to tell me things I already know.

I have given people who do not get to say, a say in who I am and what I do.

I have made authority an idol, when it fully belongs to God. I am learning about the sacred cows in my life. Those of attention and authority. Those of ego stroking and permission I don’t need. What is that thing I always sing with abandon when the church comes back to the classic hymns? It seems I have circled back there yet again.

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,

prone to leave the God I love;

here’s my heart, O take and seal it,

seal it for thy courts above.



To Priscilla on her Third Birthday

Dear Priscilla,

Yesterday you turned three. Three. You keep telling me that you are a little girl, and I am glad. I need you to be little for a little while longer too. But I can tell you are getting older, we’ve been using your nickname less and less. (Though, I doubt you will ever fully outgrow it.)

I’m afraid you have inherented my big feelings. You just feel everything so deeply. Your joy, your sadness, it all comes to you fully . Sometimes, when I watch you navigate life my heart breaks a little bit. I know your struggles. I know what it is like to want something simple like your sister to sing happy birthday to you, or to wear a certain t-shirt and for it to matter deeply. I know what it is like to have your heart set on something a certain way you can’t communicate it without crying pre-emptively. I promise I know.

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I hope you learn the lesson that it took me so long to learn, the people that love you care about your desires. If something is really important to you, it is important to them to. It doesn’t always mean they can do it, it doesn’t always mean it will happen, but you don’t have to feel bad that you want things. You are so deeply loved. So loved.

I was very careful this year to only invite “your people.” You are picky about people, and I haven’t quite figured out how you pick, but the people you pick are solid. And they love you so much. You are so loved. In May you made your grandma and papaw promise to come to your birthday, and they came. They love you and they knew it was important. Every single present you were given was hand picked. Things you love, in the colors you love, in the size you love. These people know you and love you. Hold on to that. It is a gift to be loved so well.

You bring change love, and you know yourself well. You woke up on your third birthday not ready to be three. So you told us. You told us it was not your birthday; you told us you were still two. And later, you were ready, and you announced it was your birthday and you were now three. I love that about you. You don’t let anyone tell you what to do, not even me, especially me, and it is tricky to parent, but I know that it is on purpose. God gave you your fierceness for a reason, and I am glad you have it, even if it is hard to parent.

This year, your sister left for school. and I was totally sure that given the space, you would become our one tiny introvert. Ha! Jokes on me, again. You have come bursting out of whatever thin shell you had. Your taste is so specific. You know exactly what you like and what you don’t. And you are so funny. So witty, a straight talker even for a three year old. I’m just so proud of you. You are YOU, and we need all of you. The world needs all of you, and I’m so glad

All my love,


Amazing Opportunities: An update

Hi! There has been a lot going on around here. A lot. And most of it doesn’t show up here, on this space (or to many of you in your email boxes). I thought I better run it down so that we were all on the same page.

1. Most of you probably know I will be giving a Tedx Talk on October 17. They interviewed me here. I am excited and nervous. My talk is in direct conversation with my most viral post ever.  I would appreciate your prayers and good will, and you can even stream it live if you want to! I would LOVE to have that happening.

2. I thought it would be fun to sell T-shirts that have the thesis of my Ted Talk on them. (There are other styles and colors available).


They print in a few days! Get yours. It is tee-spring campaign so if we don’t get twelve more sold we don’t get to have them. So, buy your t-shirt. Andrea designed them for me. She is super talented. I should have the kids version up in a week.

3. I was on the radio! The Word in Pittsburgh emailed me and asked me if I wanted to be on the radio and I said yes. We talked about this post and kindness. Every year I teach I am more convinced of the deep witness being exceptionally kind is. They were wonderful hosts and I felt very lucky they asked me.

4. Story Coaching. I am a trained story-coach through the Story Unfolding, but no longer work for them so I am available to you! What the heck is story coaching? Well, for me it often looks like talking through your next project, figuring out how to get that one thing that won’t leave you alone to fit in your life, and just plain believing in something that you really want even when you aren’t sure it is possible. With my ten years of classroom teaching, I have prompts and exercises for days, that my students tell me do not suck. So you always wanted to write that thing? Let me help. My rates are flexible, because I believe everyone should get to have their dreams come true. Email me at accidentaldevotional at gmail dot com and we will figure out something that fits into your life.

5. Stay tuned for e courses. I have a super special DIY email based poetry with Jamie that should be out in a few weeks! And I also have a course called Dreaming For Your Real Life that is coming out the first week of November. In order to gear up for that, I have a new series called “Anatomy of a Dreamer” where I get to introduce you to all of these amazing people who are chasing their dreams in the midst of their day to day.  Look for the beginning of that on Monday.

I have a lot going on, and a lot changing. I value my readers so very much and covet your prayers.

All the love,


Heartbreak: A Spiritual Discipline

The worst break up I ever had wasn’t from a man. It wasn’t a romantic one. The break up that left me devastated, unable to breathe, wandering through the world broken and confused was a friend break up. A friend (ex-friend? former friend? what do we even call that?) is the one that got away, the one I still wonder about, the one I don’t look up on Facebook but kind of want to. I just hope she is happy. Even as I hope that she knows how much I miss her. Even as I know it is best that we have both moved on.

I guess I figured after my one serious boyfriend and my very early marriage, that I was sort of immune. I guess I was sort of naive. Romantic strings aren’t the only kind that bind two people together. Mutual need, mutual dreams, mutual vision. Sometimes you just need to look at someone who has done something you are trying to do. Like be a good mom, or work from home, or write just because they love it. Sometimes you need an employer, or an employee, or a housekeeper, or a babysitter and you both just really like each other. Strings are tied around hearts before you even realize it. Sometimes you love the organization, the Girl scout troop, the church, the school, and you love each other and you love what you are doing and those strands form bonds stronger than you thought possible. Sometimes it is a tragedy, or being in a terrible place that forms bonds not easily broken.

I’m string tie-er by nature, a bond builder. I jump quickly and easily into the deep end. I give a lot of second chances. And third and fourth and fifth. When people tell me something I believe them. I believe people can change. I believe it CAN be better next time around. I believe in staying. This means that I am able to build bonds quickly. I love that. It also means I am burned more often than almost anyone I know. I don’t love that. But I don’t quite have it in me to give it up. I don’t have it in me to not tie the strings, to not build the bridges, to not believe that people can change.

People can change, things can get better. I think that is part of the gospel. I think my belief in the resurrection manifests into every day life. I know these things feel like death, these breakings of bonds, these shatterings. I feel the death, and mourn the loss. My grief as big as my hope once was.  But I can’t stop hoping for the resurrection. The new growth. The miracle.

I used to just think that I was naive. That I was stupid or I couldn’t learn. But I don’t think so anymore. I think heartbreak is, for me, a spiritual discipline. The act of putting my heart out there, risking it, is a matter of faith for me. Do I believe this is worth it? Do I believe, even if this dies, ultimately in resurrection?

I do, for now. I still choose hope. I still choose to risk heartbreak, and when that risk doesn’t pan out, I choose to believe that this broken heart can beat again.

When The Shoes Don’t Fit, A Parable

You get bored in a meeting one day and decide what the heck. You need some new shoes. You wouldn’t normally be this cavalier with money, but you sunk a lot of your tax return into an Amazon gift card, so it doesn’t really feel like spending, even though your husband keeps insisting it is. Your Amazon prime subscription isn’t helping the matter, (though it has saved your household a number of times when you are about to run out of diapers and no one in your house has time to go to the store in the next two days).

So you go shoe shopping while pretending to pay attention to whoever your superiors paid too much money to talk to you all day. You really wish they would pay to get a clock in your classroom again. You suppose, you can’t have it all. And you find some really great shoes, black and shiny, gold and sparkly, some are on sale for 9.99 so you buy two colors. I mean, the shipping is free! You feel really good about your new shoe wardrobe.

You can read the rest here. Sometimes I write something I just really like.