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Out of the Mouths of Teens

YL_9251_Logo_PrimaryAlt_03As a Young Life leader at my local high school, I have the great privilege of walking with teenagers through the throes of high school adventures, mishaps, friendships, questions, stresses, and decisions. I love the energy, the ideas, the emotions, and the journey of my girls.

During our YL small group Bible study this season, we’ve been doing a teen girls video series by Jen Hatmaker called, “Brave Girl.” The study is excellent and done dynamically, with humor, scripture, and explanation. Jen and team share what God says about young women and their identity, relationships, and calling. Just last week, the topic was “Parents” and what God says about life in families.

Seven girls sat in a circle and shared stories, exasperations, admonitions, and realities about life as a teenager at home. After asking what they loved about their family, I asked how they would describe the role of a parent. Their responses were not given blithely. They shared from places of appreciation as well as frustration. With the girls in the developmental stage of adolescence, with the task of individuation at hand, and because they feel strong feelings and take great risks, I appreciated our conversation and wanted to share the wisdom.

In their own words, they said a perfect parent would:

  • Protect us
  • Rearrange their schedule to show up in my life at my stuff
  • Make time for their kids
  • Give us our independence
  • Let me learn my own lessons
  • Make me feel wanted, not like I’m a burden.
  • Balance the roles of mom and friend and always keep the mom part most important.
  • Let me be open and honest with you, but don’t push me to be when I don’t want to open up.
  • Be brave enough to ask how I’m really doing and be prepared and willing to hear what I say
  • Not live vicariously through me.
  • Mention a problem once and then let it go. Trust me to handle it if I say I’m going to.

Can you sense the tension for boundaries and freedoms, for love and letting go?


I pushed a bit further and asked how they could show their parents their maturity and play their role as an ideal kid.


Once again, they said, “As kids, we will”:

  • Admit when I’ve messed up
  • Listen to you
  • Be responsible for what I’ve been given
  • Tell you how I feel
  • Ask you questions instead of telling you what to do.
  • Change and do what I need to when I say I will  handle things
  • Try to use your “I” statements to open up…”I think”, “I feel”, “I want”, “I need”
  • Use a tool for cooling down to make conversations more productive

I had to bite my mom tongue at times to keep from rationalizing the parental point of view. I also affirmed their ideas as valid because I really did often fully appreciate their perspective.

Eli asked me if he could be considered a “pre-teen” the other day. He’s over 9 1/2 but still I said, “Not yet.” I suppose I wanted him to have some more kid years to enjoy almost as much as I admit I need the time to study this list and get ready for what it will take to parent a pre, full, and post teenage kid.

I’m counting on grace…giving it away and grasping for it myself.


African Wisdom for Ash Wednesday


Donor Page.jpg

One of the sessions Drew and I attended at YL75 was on the African Leadership Tree…a method of developing people as leaders through one on one mentoring, life sharing, and cohesive mission. The deliberate and passionate stories, diverse among country and gender, encouraged us as we realized just how big the world is how easily God’s work happens in humbly brave vessels.

They shared “isms” and essentials that direct their mission day to day and year to year. They gave non-negotiables and palpable tenets to take home and contextualize. I said to my friend right next to me, “I want my family to be formed by these ideas.” So, in efforts to remember and begin, the list of YL Africa’s intentions:

In YL Africa, WE:

  • Listen- To God. To the Spirit. To each other

  • Sing– Every chance we get.

  • Dance- Every time the music plays. We are bodies, not just spirit.

  • Pray- Cannot live without this.

  • Walk- Everywhere. Everything we believe must walk.

  • Laugh- This is power. This is life.

  • Go- Wherever the Spirit calls and leads.

  • Stay- Even when it’s dark and dangerous

  • Love-  God. Enemies. Neighbors. Brothers and sisters. Selves.

  • Obey- God. Spirit. Leaders God places in our lives.

  • Give- The nature of God. Greatest weapon against poverty: generosity.

  • Celebrate- Thank God and others every chance we get.

  • Welcome- Kids. Each other. Strangers. Aliens. Sinners. The Spirit

Furthermore, part of their DNA was described in these ways:

  • “Haraka Haraka Haina Baraka”– “The slow way is the fast way”.   No shortcuts in the Spiritual life, friendships, planting/reaping, discipleship. We value the power of time over efficiency. Only time deepens relationships with God, kids and others. We believe that efficiency does not always equal excellence.
  • Pamoja Pamoja” – “Together Together”. We are committed to unity and empowerment across every line- tribal, country, gender, class, language. We are a ministry of reconciliation.

  • Mangoes not tomatoes- Tomatoes grow easy and fast but we have to plant them every year. Mangoes take a few years to produce but then they produce fruit year after year on their own for over a hundred years. We choose to grow leaders the mango way- leaders to last, multiply, and transform.

  • Bend and not Break- Life is hard and unpredictable in Africa. Like the tree in the storm we need to be able to bend but not break. Flexibility is a high value.

Today is Ash Wednesday and time to experience a Lenten space for Jesus to enter.

My desire, this year same as most, is to empty, let go of, and lay bare what is empty, broken, hurried, frantic, without lasting meaning, and fleshy.

I’d like to give up complaining this year.

Can I make it a discipline that makes me rely on strength outside myself and calls me to rid of dark and fill with light?

Perhaps the African words of listening, laughing, dancing, staying, loving, obeying, and celebrating will call me out of complaints.

Anything on the list call out to you?

With all the world around me, sitting in my small place, I say,

Blessings on you in this season and take a walk.

More info on Young Life Africa here 



Blessings Big and Small

There are so many ways my life is great. IMG_5889

  • We have a wood burning stove and have enjoyed building, feeling the warmth of, and watching the beauty of, fires at home this week.

Thank you Binny and Bill Pearce for the wood and the fire place tools plus wood tote bag!

  • Our washer washes really big loads.

Very helpful for my laundry once a week rhythm!

  • The circle of our first floor.

When we lived in our first house, I always loved going to houses that had “a circle” for my kids to run in between rooms. Now we have a circle of our very own and my fears that my older kids would be too big, are totally moot. Eli, Andi and Oaks regularly run, alone or all three, around and around and around. My heart is so happy hearing that pitter-patter of feet. 

  • Andi plays with Oaks.

I had always wondered if the four-and-a-half-year gap between Andi and Oaks, and the six-years-and-2-month gap between Eli and O

aks, would leave Oakley in lonely sibling land.  No way. Once again, why did I fear? Andi, especially,  has always paid good attention to Oakley. She has always tre

ated him as a real friend, a capable playmate, and an equal in any imaginary world. They share an eye and mind for puzzles and can enjoy quiet, alone, imaginative play- manipulating a character out of any plastic creature- with a voice, a struggle, a family, and often, an injury that needs an Andi created cast. Their times together are precious and I’m lucky to have a view from the kitchen as they play in their own world right over there.

  • I only work part-time.


As much as I sometimes struggle to find part-time child care for days I need to work, or for the times when I cannot focus on work because I’m home with kids and trying to work, I really, really treasure the flexibility, time with my kids, and the wardrobe. 

  • Words that right me when I’m crooked: 

Philippians 4:6-7 (Message) “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.”

Life is full. I am blessed. I will give out of the fullness of all I have received.


A Vent After Vacay

What I want to write about today is how much it is taking out of me to take care for Oakley in his current stage of attitude, emotional fit throwing, and obstinate disobedience.

But, when I start to write down what has been “Soo Hard” about my day with Oaks today, it seems ridiculously small, insignificant, fleeting, and whiny! Which, of course, proves that I am whiny and don’t deserve to talk about raising a three year old as actually having a real problem.

Plus, it’s indescribable how it is in our house at the loudest, craziest moments and should probably stay that way. Our moments of noise sound out and then seep into the walls and ways of our family history- a bit messy, often energetic, openly communicative, active, intense, in home and out-and-about, bent on being together, and showered in grace for and from each other, that we gather from God who gave us this gift and helps us hold together.

Alas, I won’t vent in angst, but with thanks.

I just returned from the Young Life All-Staff Conference/Celebration: YL75. 

Drew and I went together, without our kids, and joined 5,000 other staff and spouse Young Life friends. We filled the second largest hotel in America, (The World Center Marriott in Orlando) and half the Port Orleans Disney hotel with attendees. And we overflowed the tiny Marriott Starbucks- the lines at Disney paled in comparison.

From my single seat in a crowd the size of three huge high schools, I heard, saw and felt richness in most every aspect of a mission based vacation.



  • We got great gifts- sunglasses (thanks to the TOMs founder Blake and his YL connections!), surprises, and excellent speakers and sessions. 
  • Drew and I enjoyed each other and being OFF– of work, of parenting, of cold Missouri weather, of Christmas chaos, of household work…Oh my how well we get along with no real responsibilities. Funny how the inconvenience of caring for others and cooking can disrupt our couple zen. Ha!
  • We absorbed great conference content:

Louie Giglio encouraged us to continue to take on the weight of what it takes to make a significant change in someone’s life.  (Mark 2)

Efrem Smith spoke with loving admonition to: turn up the volume on kingdom compassion, have the kingdom of God move with expansion and inclusion to welcome the untouchables and outcast into our midst, and join a revolution that Jesus has wrought from the beginning to say all lives matter equally to God but not in the world, which is a call to the church to step into the hell of marginalization and reach deep into the muck and mire to lift people out with the love, hope, and light of Christ.

Jen Hatmaker said today’s adolescence value: community, justice, anti-consumerism, and mentorship. They don’t need “cool”, the world gives them “cool,” but instead real adults showing up in their lives, present and available and lasting. (Very encouraging to increasingly un-cool 35 year old me.) They are looking for people to lead them with their life, not their speeches. She encouraged YL to continue to reach this generation by any means, wherever the gospel is rising- giving kids a safe place to ask their questions, share their struggles, and fill their emptiness.

Worship and presentations by YL from Africa where staff people are vigilant, kids engage with Jesus, and people dance daily. The whole time they shared, I felt smaller and smaller in our world that is so big, with so much outside my experience, education or imagination. I loved feeling little because it made any problems or fears I had shrink to their appropriately minuscule proportions.

  • We had EXPERIENCES. A night with fireworks and characters and a birthday party just for Young Life’s 75th year, at Hollywood Studios. Then a day at Universal Studios with my friend Alex. Really fun roller coasters, really tasty butter beer, really long lines, and really a lot of fun. (Check out the theme of food and drink in these pics!)IMG_6025 FullSizeRender (3)IMG_0023
  • And yet, as we walked past families experiencing Disney’s best with their kids, I couldn’t help but think of the gift we’ve been able to give our kids of adventure, humor, surprise, and good food in a crowded room when we go to Castaway in the summers. To be known, loved, tossed in the lake, and freed to play in the safest community anywhere, the gifts Young Life has given us as a family through assignments, might just trump a day at Disney.

I felt affirmed and spurred on, Drew felt encouraged in the mission, and we loved seeing our friends from Chicago, Nicaragua and a few places in between.

We are thankful our kids were cared for so well at home that they cried when Maama left, and wished for another night with GG and Pops.

I can’t wait to keep marinating on the memories and walking out the invitation to kingdom expansion and inclusion here in Park Hill.


5000 people with 5 finger flashlights held high. We pledge to take the light into dark places going forward for another 75 years.

Thank you YL75 for a wonderful week..

And thank you Oakley for taking a nap long enough that I could breathe and refocus…

Saying “Thank You” is so much better than saying “Poor Me.”


On the 10 days of Colorado Christmas…Our 14-Peopled-Love Will Give



Ninja warrior competition for kids in Denver for Eli’s Christmas present from Maama. All his hard work in trees, our back yard, and the CFN gym paid off as he was strong, balanced, brave, friendly, and unbound in his exploration of a space made for adventure.IMG_0011 IMG_0036


Trips to Colorado in 4 days for Drew who came for the competition, then went back to work, and then came back for Christmas.

3 kids

of mine who I love to see play the days away without school, with each other, outside in Colorado sunshine.

4 Christmas cookies

that we eat before noon.


Eli, Andi, and Oaks are loving Christmas with their little cousins June and Vienna.IMG_5917IMG_0003

6 Cavities

found while getting our teeth cleaned. 5 for Andi and 1 for Mommy. Agghhhh! The good news: Oaks was a great patient for his first ever visit to dental hygienist Maama!IMG_0005

7  Projects

we did for Mom with planning (Laura), tenacity (Natalie), expertise (John), skill (James), climbing coordination (Scot), many a job (Drew) and clean up (Kim).

8 Ways we see God

in conversations with each other, smiles on baby faces, a table full of life and love,  joy, truth told, and forgiveness.

9 Clues

solved leading to our escape from the Toys in the Attic Epic escape game! Team Eli, Andi, Drew, Linds and Maama solved in 51 minutes. Unfortunately, we lost all our aunts and uncles to zombies in the room below.IMG_0040

10 Luminaries

lit along the path I want to light from Grammy tonight.

Light in the darkness. Warmth in the cold. Love all around.IMG_5851


Towards Next Year Now


Nestled into our kitchen corner from NYE- it stayed put all year!

Today marks day 342 of the year 2015. With 23 days left this year, time wanes and goals might be going unmet.

I don’t remember what I set out to do in 2015 but do remember the way we welcomed the new year: with family, shared experiences, a party in house with games, good food, and a solid soundtrack. Looking back now, I’d say many of those favorites found their way into wonderful moments and experiences, ordinary and extravagant, all year long. With a new niece, my first nephew, great jobs, health, family, traveling, and joy, our year was a very good one.

Outside of my direct experience, 2015 held hardship, horror, and helplessness for many of God’s children in the U.S. and around the world. How do you move ahead if the year behind you took away something you held so dear? How do you move forward past discouragement, pain, and fear towards new hope and a fresh start if you’ve lost a lot of power or all of your trust?


The mantle marks the memory-making season

Honest intentions, basic needs, or disciplined desires need time to surface. Perhaps now, 23 days before the new year comes, is the time to look back and think ahead.

When I hosted a Christmas party this week, I asked the room to light a candle and share two words: one that summed up 2015, and one to direct 2016.

My friends shared bravely and directly, trusting that to say it out loud and light a candle, meant darkness will become enlightened, and the hopes for the future will have feet to run on.

They spoke of a year that was complicated, fun, surprising, hopeful, hard, and full of joy, worry, anxiety, running and growth.

Looking forward with light to lead them, my friends held out words that would call them to: let go, play, navigate, heal, be brave, have hope, set intentions, and connect.

How about you?

What can you look back and see from the days behind you this year?

What do you want to hold onto, let go of, raise higher, or erase forever?

How will you walk, lead, dream, parent, work heal, play, let go, hold on, or choose this next year because of,or in spite of, what this past year has held?

Who will you be for yourself and what will you do for others?

What is the word that sums up the pace, priorities, and experiences of 2015?

What is the word to guide your ways and days in 2016?

When you have the words, tell me or someone else so they begin to become more real right away.

I’ll end with the Pope Francis’ Jubilee word: “mercy” and affirm his hope that doors would open in mercy so that “anyone who enters will experience the love of God who consoles, pardons and instills hope.”

Photo and quote from  BBC News




When Sno-Cones Speak to Thanksgiving

I have been happily hosting questions, musings, and wonder in my head this week as Thanksgiving Day and celebrations approach.

What does it mean to give thanks? 

Whats the opposite of thanks?Coves Rad

First, the verb.

To give something requires you to offer something you have to someone else. Giving can be partial, (give some money, some time, some attention) or complete (all of your heart, the whole piece of hard candy, or Jesus’ whole life laid down), but happens with a transfer of possession: something I have, I choose to give to you.  

In the dictionary, definitions for “give” include, “to supply, impart”, and “to present gifts.”

As we approach Thanksgiving, perhaps the action of giving thanks should be our sacrifice to impart or supply a gift to another. 

An illustration: For two years in a row, Kristin and I have served for a shift at the school carnival sno-cone stand. Every kid there can have one free sno-cone; they need only to stand in line. When they approach the table, every kid can choose blue, red, or purple, or the mix of all three. We scoop, squirt, and hand it over. When we serve about 100 sno-cones in an hour, we accumulate a bit of data about children’s thanking habits. Indeed, saying “Thank you” or “giving thanks” is part habit. From year one to two, our data is very similar.

About half of the kids who grab a sno-cone say thank you. Between us, we have six kids, we admit the 50/50 ratio applies inside our families.

I am willing to totally take into consideration the carnival environment: a highly energetic, chaotic, fun, busy, and sugar-filled night with friends. Even the most polite kid might slip out of thanking practice. However, I’ve been thinking about how much it bothers us and why. What does it mean when a kid stops with sno-cone in hand to look back and say, “Thank you?” I think it means they are willing to give attention, pause, and appreciation. It means they acknowledge, us, the person behind the gift and reception of something they would not have had without help. When they don’t, we feel a bit ignored, unappreciated, and like our finger are so, so cold.

Perhaps to give thanks is to acknowledge our own limits. Saying thank you reveals our dependence on others to get what we want, or other times, desperately need.

If we are not giving thanks, what are we doing? What is the opposite of thanks?

Now the noun.

Without prefixes, modifiers, or any participles, what follows are some opposites from my own behavior.

When I’m not giving thanks, I might be giving:

  • demands
  • excuses
  • opinions, or
  • complaints

All of which have their place in thoughts, conversations or blogs (ha!), but none of which should replace a moment where thanks should be given.

So for thanksgiving, I’m going to try to supply gratitude, impart appreciation, realize I cannot exist or thrive on my own, name the gifts I’ve received for which I am so thankful, and spend time with people who I love and appreciate so very much.

I hope to have thank-filled conversations. Drew Lap's street found this Seth Godin gift, The Thanksgiving Readerfor a 20 minute communal reflection on Thanksgiving around a table or living room. Absent from Seth’s beautiful compilation is the reminder of James 1:17-18,

” Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.”

Happy Thanksgiving.

May you give and receive, to and from, God and others,

the blessings of grace, an attitude of gratitude, and the wonder of watching as you pause and enjoy.

A Royal Ride

Comeback. Magic. Awe. Unbelievable. Repeat. Remember. Elimination. Expectation. Pressure. Celebration. Unlikely victory. It’s never over til it’s over. Thrilling. Exciting. Stressful. Hopeful. Youth. Experience. Management. Dugout speeches. Rally. Doom to Boom. Overcoming. Believing. Coming together. Listening. Watching. Playing. Hoping.

These are our buzz words. This is our emotional roller-coaster. Kansas City is turning blue- from fountains to footwear. Today’s teachers and bank tellers are wearing t-shirts and jersey’s with jeans instead of ties and suits and dresses. Kindergartners and 86 year-olds are wearing Royal’s gear. “Go Royals” is a greeting just as good as, “Hi” or “Bye” even if your consort is not wearing blue.

I’m living in Kansas City in the middle of the baseball playoff season on the edge of my seat.

Monday’s ALDS Game 4 was our elimination station- the Royals had to win and they weren’t. After watching at a quiet Ruby Tuesday with Drew and then Laura over their work lunch hours, Laura and I left to our own car radios to get back to work. We would listen to what was surely the end. For us, it never occurred not to listen. To many of my friends, when the going got tough and ugly, they tuned out and turned it off.

On Barry Road I heard the reversed call that ended Terrance Gore’s trip around the bases in the top of the 7th. I heard a two-run Correa home run off a Ryan Madson 3-2 pitch.  Then before I let out my “Ugh” breath, the Astro’s hit a solo home run to go up 6-2 by the end of the 7th.

I entered Oakley’s Parent’s Day Out pick up with a low countenance. I felt defeated and that the playoff run was disappointingly over.

I texted Laura and Drew, “It’s over”

Laura texted back disappointment and righteous anger.

After buckling Oakley up, at the start of the 8th inning, I texted Laura back to say, “Beat defeat! Hold onto Hope.” That’s what I tell Andi and for some reason I told myself and the Royals in that moment, as well.

By the time we drove the 3 miles home, the Royals had hit 3 singles. The bases were loaded and Oaks and I ran to the basement.

Our radio is down there as well as Oakley’s train track so we were both set. Every time they got a hit, and then runs, Oakley and I would run. Laps around the basement. Overly jumpy jumps on the mini-trampoline. Some runs with Oaks right behind me, others with him on my hip. He would high-five and chant “Let’s Go Royal’s- clap-clap- clap” on his own volition and then go back to playing trains. Then I’d scream and jump and he would drop the train to celebrate with me.

So went our act for all of the 41 minutes in the top of the 8th inning.  We came up with the Royal’s ahead 7-6 in the ninth to greet Eli and Andi and welcome them to the basement celebration.

Turns out their speech teacher was sending everyone out of the school yelling, “It’s TIED! They TIED IT UP!”. They listened on the bus radio until their own small voices with big yells took the bus over with “Let’s Go Royals” chants. “You would have heard us on the street Mom!”, Eli assured me.

Hosmer would hit a two-run home run in the ninth and Wade Davis gave us six outs.

They had hoped. They beat defeat.

And hope is what we hold again today. Game 5 will start in exactly two hours  and hope rises high. Confidence and trepidtion sit side by side and blue people gather in homes and at the K.

We have to be grateful for the weeks before this one. For me, my Monday antics- the emotions, words, texts, screams, high fives, and jumps and time with Oaks and listening to the end with Eli, are gifts I hold dear.

To overcome when you’re down is not just a great and rare sports experience, its a design we are built to wear. 

When I am down, if the odds are stacked against my kids, or the score is uneven for the underdog, the call to hope should be heralded. 

To beat defeat is to hold onto hope.

Hope is different than faith- it doesn’t demand an outcome or proof, it just says, “I am choosing to believe the good can come, and the deficit can be erased, and the odds overturned.” Hope says, “Don’t give up and know people are cheering for you.” Hope says, “Being stuck isn’t where I’ll stay.” And hope says, “I hope they can do it tonight.” 


One more major recommendation…Books for Being Better

Thanks for reading last week and sending some recommendations my way. Image result for our dad is not mad reclaim


I’d like to add one more recommendation which is also an invitation.

In the course of the last year and a half, I co-authored, edited, and shared in the writing of four small books about our identity in Christ as a key to health and wholeness.

My aunt is the lead author and gave me the great invitation to come into the writing world with her on these self-help sort of books. We were looking to lead people into a healthier understanding of God, self, and freedom.

Each book has an element of reclamation in it’s title and message. The ministry behind the books is called Reclaim Ministries. To “reclaim” is to take back something lost or stolen or to rescue from an undesirable state.

The books are easy to read and built with questions for self or group reflection. The books include action steps to put what you read into practice.

Please check out these books and find their messages could lead you to hope, healing, freedom, faith, joy, love and peace.

Image result for our dad is not mad reclaim

See much more about the Reclaim ministry and each of the books in the “You Were Meant for More” series here.

I am most excited about the third book, Our Dad is Not Mad because of it’s healing and hopeful reminder that God is not angry or judgmental, but bent on pursuit and invitation, participation and love with all people.

Here are the specific links to the books.

Our Dad is Not Mad Softcover book

Our Dad is Not Mad Ebook

If you live close to me in KC, I have copies on hand for $10. Just let me know!

Thanks for the shameless self-promotion day here on  I share in hopes they will be blessed to be a blessing to you!




What Can 12 Days Hold?


I got to be with my sisters, sweet niece June, my kids, my mom, my grandparents…and do a backflip on the trampoline on my 35th birthday!

Between August 1st and 13th, I have been a part of:

  • A funeral/celebration of life service
  • A 35th birthday party (my own!)
  • A family reunion (in Colorado!)
  • A trip to the Denver Zoo
  • A Royals victory at Kauffman stadium
  • A first day of school

Oh what a heart can hold!

Oh how summer has flown, life has changed, kids have grown, awe has inspired, and hope has renewed.

Each of these events carries emotions that ride on the surface of their label, and a reality that comes from inside their existence as an event and seeps into the rhythm of my life, now beating to a slightly different beat.

Perhaps, a zoo is just a zoo and a Royal’s game can be won without changing my life…but the rest of these, happening on top of and in-between work, meals, and a lot of packed bags, have made their mark on me-mind, body, and soul.


A dream realized- we stopped in Oakley, Kansas for a photo shoot with our 2 year old Oakley!

By definition, a “reunion” implies separation and a coming together again. For our Torell family reunion”, the characters are connected through layers of family relationships, (originating with my paternal grandmother and her two siblings) and the time passed amounts to three years.

It strikes me, definitionally, that family reunions are different than a school reunion, where the re-gathered attendees were once part of a unified whole. On the contrary, in a family, growth, addition and rippling out means new people come into a whole that does not define their origin but includes them through relationship. Yes, there is connection even if you’re a spouse or a newly born baby to a 3rd generation mom, but the origin is getting farther away from new growth. Reuniting happens at the top;  introductions and inclusion happen on the ground.

For my siblings and I last week in Colorado, we were reunited with each other, our Dad and Grandma- our original connected whole.  And we reunioned with our second and third cousins- good people we have come to know through reunions past. The benefits are many: history, tradition, memory, and connection. Plus, fun, laughter, great conversations, good food, speed scrabble, softball games, and life in Estes Park, CO.


We love our Grandpa!


Champion hikers on our Gem Lake hike!

I was honored and exhausted by the opportunity to play hostess of the event with my sisters this year. We applied our gifts and experiences, work skills, and idea energy, to bring out the benefits for the whole. We were blessed by people who played our games, sang our songs, and danced our square dance. We left with greater love and wisdom from conversations with peers and elders. We had a lot of fun and a little bit of sleep with our Sustad- sibling- and- spouse crew.

We returned to KC from Colorado on Sunday, went to the Royal’s game on Tuesday, and sent the big kids back to school today, Thursday.

School, by definition, means summer is over.

School offers routine, social interactions with friends, exposure to the real world with its beauty, risks, and flaws, and gives my kids the gift of learning…a gift we must unwrap and fully enjoy with gratitude.

This year, the first day of school has not wrecked me as it has done in the past. I don’t feel like I’m losing my kids, instead I feel like I’m sharing them with the world and trusting them to make it and themselves better. I offer them me and our house as a safe resting place for the end of every day.


3rd grade for Eli, 2nd for Andi girl!


Is Super Oaks sending them off or trying to keep them close?


Oaks has asked about them twice so far; they are missed dearly by their younger brother, feeling a bit left behind.

Today, I’m grateful for the good words of my good friend Ray who taught me:

Healthy Things Grow

Growing Things Change

Changing Things Challenge

Challenge Results In…(whining, resentment, quitting, resistance, or…) RISK

Risk Requires Trust and Obedience

Obedience Brings Health

Healthy Things… the cycle continues…

Here’s to life at it’s beginnings, ends, and inbetweens.

Here’s to connection required and relished.

Here’s to school and staying sane.

Here’s to 12 more days and what might come as we walk them out in awe, hope, and peace.