Merry Christmas ~ Old School Style


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Before I begin, try to imagine this scrawled on college ruled paper and folded just so…


Hello again ~

I knew going into this Christmas greeting that Matti would not agree with my photo choice. She does not fancy the fervent animation beaming on her face, but I adore it. In fact, I love everything about this picture. I love how well it captures the ineffable intensity that defines her.  I the love natural buoyancy in Ashlyn’s caper and the fact that Hadley has ‘jumped the gun’, her little toes already anticipating the collision with the pavement while ours are still in flight.  I love how Chasey seems to be gauging his jump against the others and how my expression mirrors the kids’, in an almost ridiculous explosion of pure and utter joy.  I love how it shows Mikey’s compulsion to keep his eyes set on the road before us and that brilliant little smirk sitting so gently on his face, as if he knows something we don’t. I love the shadows dancing in our wake as we leave the world behind – six incredibly intricate individuals, all strung together as one ~ blissful and impervious.

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In mere seconds we will hit the ground running into a world teeming with distractions, threatening to steal the joy found in simple quandaries such as these and Ash is sitting at the edge of my safety net. She’s dangling in a mess of tweeners armed with cell phones, compressing their thoughts into acronyms – being cheated of the purest pleasure of passing a note, scrawled in a number 2 pencil and folded into a neat little rectangle, that could one day be dug out of an old box just to make her smile.  It may seem small but I fear it is only a taste of what is to come. There is a plethora of gadgets  at our fingertips, allowing us  access to everything, all the time – at any cost. And I can’t help but think that something is being lost.

It may be foolish, but I want my kids to somehow evade it all.  To save the screen time for moments void of wonder.  Because when life is exploding all around us and God’s precious people are in our midst – we should be present.  To SEE. To BE.  And to BELIEVE that the best things in life really are free.

I know it’s more conceivable that technology will save one of their lives rather than pilfer it away. But it sits amongst a myriad of deceptions with the capacity to numb them, compressing ‘them’ into acronyms and stealing away the purest pleasure of knowing who they are and what they were created for.  The distractions life has to offer will only get heavier as we go along.  The act of living will only get crazier. And I can’t help but fear this place my Hohnies are merging into – where I am losing my grip on their perfect little hands and having to watch them spread out into the big wide world where I can no longer protect them from its disarray.  There are perils out there capable of paralyzing  them, lies adept at smothering the light that shines within them, blinding them to the beautiful gifts they are and the miracles in their midst.  I long to unplug from the mess of it all  and draw them near so I call tell them again and again what they are worth. To inscribe it on their hearts so they won’t forget who they are. To find a way to protect them.

I love this picture of us floating in the street, because in that one precious moment, as we are suspended in the air with our shadows dancing at our feet, all the crazy distractions and uncertainties of the world cannot touch us, and it reminds me that there is a way. In that one lovely frolic with freedom my heart recalls God’s gift to us, a love note composed in His own hand and folded into a perfect little manger long ago, while angels hovered near. A note that cannot be erased or torn in two ~ whispering to the world that we are loved beyond measure. Promising He’ll never leave us or forsake us. And that is where I  find  my peace on this uncertain earth. In knowing,  when I am not enough ~ He is.  And where I cannot go ~ He can.

There is a hope that is found in the discovery of that undying, undefeatable love that cannot be expressed in words. But, the euphoric expression plastered across my silly face, as I linger in the air surrounded by all that is good and right in my life, begins to hint at it.  In it I am certain that Matti’s intense spirit can transcend all of life’s obstacles.  That Ashlyn’s buoyant disposition will allow her to float above the paltry things of this world..  That the enthusiasm oozing out of Hadley’s every breath will take her places I have never been.  That Chasey’s ‘measuring’ allows him to see the greatness God wove into the souls that surround him, as well as his own.  And that, one day, Mikey will find himself in a place where he no longer has to brace himself for impact.  And that, that resplendent smirk lighting his face, is just proof that he knows it too.

I am enamoured by this picture because it so perfectly captures the whole mess of us rejoicing in God’s love.  The love He has sewn into each of us. The love we have for each other and in each other. As well as the precious love of life;  the opportunity He has given us all, to walk this way. Because there is so much beauty even in the midst of all the craziness.

This Christmas I pray you are able to unplug from the abounding distractions the world has to offer and to let go of the heavy burdens it places upon your shoulders – SEE the beauty that surrounds you and remember you are not alone. BELIEVE in God’s love letter to the world.  Fold it up and store it in your heart.  Let it remind you of your worth.  Breathe that truth into the ones you love.  And if it helps, grab someone’s hand and blissfully leap into the air. Hover between heaven and earth, if only for a moment  Rejoicing  in His Undying Love and BE impervious.  Trust me, you’ll love it:)

Love ~ Tris & Her Peeps

Spread the Love ~ Scrawl a Note ‘Old School Style’ and Pass It On:)






The Burdens We Bare


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“No one is useless in the world who lightens the burden of it for anyone else.” ~ Charles Dickens ~

A few years ago my husband and I started taking backpacking trips to celebrate our wedding anniversary.  What is marriage if not an adventure? And so we began to remember the mark of ours by embarking on another.  Just the two of us again,  against the wide open wilderness.

Out there the noise of the world is filtered out and you can actually hear your heart beating.  We remember who we were way back when it all began, when the loads we bore were simpler and lighter. The younger versions of us meld with the older stronger ones and suddenly all the mountains we’ve climbed and trails we’ve blazed along the way make sense.  It’s like sitting up on a majestic vantage point and being able take the load off just long enough to see the route you took at a distance – and know it was all worth it.  And it’s beautiful.

It’s that kind of beauty, in the midst of the journey, that we long for our kids to experience and to know.  We want them to persevere through hard places in life because, in their hearts, they know the end results are good and true and right.  We want them to be able to hear God whispering their names, leading the way. But, the world we live in is so busy and noisy and full of distractions.  So, this summer we took them to the only place we know that is still enough to hear your own heart beating and know the strength that resides there.

But, as many family adventures go – ours didn’t start out as I had envisioned.

The packs were too heavy.  The meager two-mile hike was too long.  The bugs were too many.  And the sun was too hot.

But, God is good and the magic of the forest is stronger than we think because soon, one babbling creek after another came to our rescue and the kids quit thinking about what they were carrying and began to see the loveliness that surrounded them.

The journey wasn’t difficult comparatively. But, it was hard for four little kids that had never been asked to carry their own load.  So, when we reached our destination it was like water to their little souls. And for a night and a day all was well with the world.

The Alpine lake was their backyard and a giant boulder their playground. They were their only companions, thus their most cherished playmates were found in each other.  They shattered the quiet stillness of the forest with laughter and their play but I am certain it was still peaceful enough for them to hear their little hearts beating strong.

It turned out to be such a fun trip that we snuck in one more just before school started and we had to say goodbye to long lazy summer days and our little adventures into the woods.

This time I put more thought into the loads my kids would bear.  I made sure each one fit their frame and held more than just the necessities of life – but a few extra goodies as well so they could call it their own.

Experience had told them the path might not be easy but they knew it led to something wondrous. And to my delight, we actually made it in just fine.  But, the trail back to reality was a different story.

It’s interesting how the two pictured above are toting ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ books on their packs.  Because be the time we were heading back home I think they could have written diaries of their own. Those little packs bore down on them so much so that even those little bound comedies became a burden they no longer cared to bare.

On the contrary, my girls carried their heavy packs with determination and pride.  With it came a strength and perseverance that spoke of their years.  Where my younger two could no longer hear their hearts beating – my girls seemed to be marching to theirs as if it were an inspiring rhythmic song. But, when their siblings lost their gusto, all the waiting around really started to irritate them.  They could not understand how those little packs could be such a burden – specifically for my little man. They thought he should be able to carry more and move faster.

Now, if you lined up all of our packs up against a wall – the difference between the smallest and the largest would hold quite a contrast.  At a distance the weight each one represents seems unequal and unfair.

But, when they are placed upon our backs, they fit.  They are exactly what each one of us is capable of carrying as we venture into the wilderness.

My girls were old enough to remember that the trail would actually come to an end and that when it did the victory in conquering it would taste sweeter than the sweat dripping from their brows.   They understood the process of the journey, therefore they could still see the beauty in it.  But, the other two couldn’t see past the feet in front of them nor could they keep up with them.

I often say, I think I can handle just about anything as long as I know it will come to an end at some point. But, my little guy has been walking in the shadows of two very strong older sisters his whole life therefore, he has never gotten to see the end of the story where he finishes first.  When you have not tasted the sweet joys of victory, the finish line always seems just out of reach.  So, for him, the path before him always seems longer and harder and the weight on his back, as small as it may seem compared to ours, actually feels like the weight of the world upon his immature shoulders.  Our job is to love him exactly where he is at so that he never stops believing in who he was created to be.  So, he doesn’t grow weary before he discovers the greatness hidden in his small frame.

He needs a smaller pack right now.  And he even needs a daddy who will take it for him, baring his burdens for for from time to time, so that he doesn’t learn to hate the trail that is set before him – so much so that he becomes blind to the beauty that surrounds him there.

“Love feels no burden, thinks nothing of trouble, attempts  what is above its strength, pleads no excuse of impossibility; for it thinks all  things lawful for itself, and all things possible.”
~ Thomas Kempis ~

So, just when he was certain he could go no further and began to believe his journey was stupid and dumb – His daddy lightened his load.  And then, just like that, the forest opened up and welcomed him back into it’s arms.  He grabbed his little sister’s hand and entered into its warm embrace – as if they were old friends.

We knew we were done long before we saw the end of the trail because it echoed through the woods far ahead of us, through the victorious cheers of the little ones that now lead our pack.  His load might have been lighter than all the rest and he still may have needed his daddy’s helping hand – but he didn’t see any of that. Suddenly, the journey made sense. And in his little heart, he believed he was a champion… with a dad who loves him very much.

Somewhere, long down the road my little man will travel, he’ll look back at the journey of his life and the burdens he bares now as a boy will seem simple and light.  Mountains will stand before him and vast valleys will spread out below him.  But, he’ll be bigger and stronger then and the memory of his sister’s shadows and that feeling of not being able to keep up, will only remind him that he is never ever alone.  He’ll know that there is no mountain high enough or valley low enough to separate him from his father’s love.  Not the man that carried his packs when he was a child or his God in the heavens who knit him together in my womb.  And by then he’ll know that through Him – all things are possible.

God knows the loads we bare as we trudge through life.  He does not compare them side by side – set apart from the souls that must carry them.   He knows some can carry more.  And some can carry less. But, it’s all relative.  My heavy load may be light to you.  But, to me – sometimes it all that I can bare.  Sometimes, like my daughters, we need to look beyond our own strength to understand anothers weakness.  For we do not know the shadows they are walking in.

Thankfully, our Father does not ask any one of us to walk this way alone.  He has promised to never leave us or forsakes us.  His desire is for us to see the beauty that surrounds us, not to be numbed and blinded by the burden of it all.  And if you let Him, He’ll carry it for you just long enough for you to see that beauty and believe again.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

If it gets too noisey out here for you to hear Him whispering your name.  Take to the open trail, with only what you can carry on your back, and let the solitude and beauty of the wildnerness filter out the noise. Listen to the beating of your heart and know you are His.  The creator of the majestic mountains and the green and vibrant valleys also knit you together with His mighty hands.  You are His handiwork too.  Let Him lighten your load just long enough to see the beauty in it all, and the strength He sowed into your being. Walk with Him and you will know the sweet taste of victory and know it is all worth it.

A-Z Archive : L if for Laughter


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At the height of laughter, the universe is flung into a kaleidoscope of new possibilities.  ~Jean Houston

Two of my favorite ladies taken captive by laughter ~ my mama and hers.

I am certain the universe throw open its arms  in a variegated display of possibilities every time amusements tickle these giant hearts ~ replenishing their souls and contaminating anyone fortunate enough to bear witness. Even the snorts that pop up unexpectantly are magical ~ posing as exclamation points, merely eccentuating the brilliance of their unencumbered explosion of delight.

They make me believe that love is like sunlight, enticing the heart to open wide.  The bigger the bloom the more capable it is to absorb the tiny little gifts God sprinkles down on us – warming our souls in a way only laughter can properly express.

That I might laugh as often and love as freely all my days through.

Screen Peeking ~ Guilty As Charged


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Few are those who see with their own eyes and feel with their own hearts.–Albert Einstein

They say that what you don’t know can’t hurt you. But, just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s harmless. There are beasts sneaking around in the shadows of our hearts, whose main goals are to go unnoticed, just long enough to steal our breath away, sucking the light right out of our existence.

The great northwest is soaked through with grey skies, mud puddles and cool temperatures and we all feel like we are dying of vitamin D deficiencies, one wet and dreary day at a time. We hunger for something more – for an adventure. And today my kids are finding it on the big screen.

I know we could be out back slinging mud or building forts in the living room. But, we’ve already checked those things off our list and I am kind of o.k. with a break in our dirty quest to trample boredom. Most things really are more fun with friends and that is as much true for slinging mud and building forts as it is for playing video games in the family room. So, when ‘vids’ are our chosen form of adventure for the hour the TV is usually split into two or three or four squares, each displaying another man’s world.

Believe it or not – there is a strict protocol for multi-screen playing and all too often ‘screen peekers’ rise to the surface. In this crazy 3D world, in which I spend most of my time running into walls and getting motion sick – screen peeking is voodoo. Or at least it is in our house. It is the crime of all crimes and even my blood runs hot when I hear one of my kids accusing another one of such fraudulent behavior. I don’t care what game they are playing. I want them to play it right, believing in who they are and respecting those around them. So, when the accusations fly I feel really compelled to use the situation to remind them what they were created for and that they are selling themselves short.

Maybe I am overreacting but I feel like there are windows of opportunity everywhere. Teachable moments just waiting for us to grab hold. Portholes full of wisdom, offering a clarity we all need every now and again in our lives. And sometimes, if I pause and ponder them long enough, even the smallest amount of brilliance is bright enough to shine some light into my life.

You hope your child will do what is right while the world looks on. But, it’s when no on else is watching that true character is built. Most of the time no one can see a competitor’s eyes diverting to their neighbor’s square for a quick peek. Most often, no one suspects them until they are crushing everything in their path and finding their fellow gamers in even the most covert hiding places. But, that’s not the point. They shouldn’t be doing it, regardless of who does or doesn’t see it. Regardless of who else is or isn’t doing it. And every time they do, they are stealing a little bit of someone else’s light and dimming their own at the same time.

It’s funny how often we hold our kids to standards we aren’t always quite willing to live up to ourselves. It’s a do as I say, not as I do kind of thing and I am guilty as charged because I expect my kids to steer clear of screen peeking while I dabble in it myself all the time.

Adult screen peeking is generally much less obvious and therefore, much more dangerous. We don’t usually do it in an attempt to get the upper hand or to defeat our opponents – although many rally to rise above their fellow-man. I don’t think we even know we are doing it half the time. It’s just so dang hard keeping our eyes on the prize and off the Jones in our lives.

My world is a crazy, real life, multiplayer game. There are boxes scattered all over the screen of my days and I’m ashamed to admit I find myself peeking at the girls next door quite a bit. In fact, I’ve probably sneaked a peek or two at you.

I’m not trying to figure out where you are hiding so I can hunt you down and earn more points. In fact, there’s no reason for you to be afraid. Through no fault of your own, it’s you and your shiny life that fills me with fear. A fear that says I am not good enough, or smart enough or pretty enough or strong enough. Your bright life just makes mine seem so dull and hollow in comparison.

It’s said that iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. But, both must be fortified for this to happen. When I am wasting time analyzing my life next to yours I turn to mush and I am worthless to you and you to me.

The ghastly beast I am getting at here is just that. My innate urge to compare myself to everyone else. It’s the kind of demon that sneaks around in the shadows of my heart gaining strength every time I sneak a peek.

There are writers out there whose fingers seem to dance on the keyboard, transposing their heart’s cry into marvelous love songs to the world. Their correspondence with creation just seems to change things. Others appear to effortlessly fuse simple stories with such authentic humor, transforming them into the most delightful interludes – feeding the world’s weary souls with, much-needed, replenishing doses of laughter. A lovely gift which seems to be reserved for only an elite crew of authors.

When I peek at their screens I am paralyzed. Their writing makes mine look simple, flat and intelligible. Their multitude of followers make my handful of devoted dear ones seem insignificant. And I begin to doubt that the fire, burning within me, to put pen to paper is real.

There are bionic women in my life who juggle kids, house and a career with such valor I cannot help but sneak peeks into their courageous lives. Their load is double the size of my own, yet they bear it with such strength and perseverance, creating heroine status even in the most mundane of tasks.

My worth is depleted, for not only is my house a mess, my laundry backed up, my keys lost and my dinner burning – but I’m not even bringing home any bacon to fry up in my now ruined pan. Not to mention, my kids are freaking ‘SCREEN PEEKING’!!

Then there are my counterparts, my fellow stay-at-homers. Good Lord, you should see how they shine. Their aprons are prettier than mine. Their kids are smarter than mine. Their hearts are purer than mine and their spirits are stronger than mine. They are better wives, better christians, better parents and better PTA members. They are so crazy shiny it often hurts my eyes.

Every time I sneak a peek, I self inflict a wound to my being which, most assuredly, is slowly but steadily leading up to my own demise.

One of the simplest rules God gave His people early on was thou shall not covet thy neighbor. Essentially He was telling them not to screen peek. He knew their neighbor’s shine had the potential of blinding them from their own.

Yes, my neighbors are shiny. But, I am blessed to be playing this game of life in the squares beside them. I am surrounded by a multitude of goodness and beauty. And I need to see the proprietors of such brilliance like my fellow gamers. They may have more points than me or better tools in comparison but we are not battling this life out against one another. We are comrades not enemies. Your light should be showing me the way, not darkening the circles under my eyes.

I know God created each of us with a plan and a purpose. This knowledge leaves no room for exceptions, meaning I cannot exclude myself. The Creator of the radiant sun which reflects off the night sky, scattered with twinkling starlight, also knit me together in my mother’s womb. The brilliance with which He breathes life into the vast variety of animals sprinkled across creation also fills my lungs and offers me the will to live. The orchestrator of the universe, the artist who painted the mountains into existence and the marvel who lit the fields with an endless supply of wildflowers also jimmy-rigged little ‘ol me into actuality. In these truths I realize that who I am, who I was created to be – even in all my iniquities – is pretty shiny too. Not better than you or as good as you – just good enough to be me and be ok with it.

Thank God for tiny moments of clarity, revealing the sneaky beasts hiding in the shadows of my heart. These are the kind of sneak peeks that I really need.

Our squares on the screen are really pretty wonderful when life isn’t a competition. And I am a much better player when I realize we’re all on the same team – each of us bringing something special to the table, making us stronger as a whole.

Please forgive me for screen peeking on you – for subconsciously attempting to steal a little bit of your light while unknowingly squelching my own. Come sharpen me with your bright and shiny iron. I can take it now. I am stronger. Feel free to rub your brilliance off on me and I’ll do my best to give some back.

If you don’t screen peek – good for you. Shine on my friend. But, if you do, I’m going to tell you what I tell my kids, what God told His kids…

Knock it off. You were made for more than this:)

Now the game. Your game. The one that only you was meant to play. The one that was given to you when you came into this world. You ready? Take your stance. Don’t hold nothing back. Give it everything.

– The Legend of Bagger Vance (movie)