I raised a ravenous reader & I couldn't be more proud.

Dear Bentley,

I'm having a hard time wrapping my brain around the fact that you are turning 14 tomorrow. 14 seems like such a big number. 14 means high school. 14 is only two years away from driving and four years away from college. I'm not sure that I'm ready. Nobody bothered to ask me if I was ready. Nobody asked if I was prepared. And yet, here it is.

You didn't realize it, but last night we shared a moment. It was bedtime and I stopped by your door to check on you. You were reading.

"It's time for bed," I told you.

"I know," you mumbled from behind your book. "Just a few more pages."

You had told me earlier that evening all about the book you are reading. It was one of the many you had picked out when we went to Vroman's in Pasadena. (Yes, there had been quite a large stack that I happily bought for you.) You talked about how much you liked it. I half listened, too occupied by my own thoughts to focus on the plot you were retelling, too busy thinking about how grateful I am that you are a reader.

You come by your reading excitement naturally. It's part of your DNA. When I was busy making your body in my body, I read a total of nine novels. I got hooked on Oprah's Book Club books reading one book for each month I was pregnant with you. It didn't do it on purpose. That's just the way it ended up working out. Honestly, I never felt well enough to do much more than read. I drank smoothies from Jamba Juice, ate Kentucky Fried Chicken, and read books. We quietly read together every day. Your were reading via osmosis. Reading by association.

I'll always remember the moment you became a reader. Not when you learned how to read. That's something totally different. I remember when you first fell into a book and didn't want to come out. For Valentine's Day that year, I bought you Diary of a Wimpy Kid. You ended up taking the book with us to one of Dad's golf tournaments, finishing the whole book before the first round was even over. You devoured it the same way your little brother can devour an entire bag of Sun Chips. You loved every single bite. Thank goodness the next two books in the series had already been published because you could hardly wait to read more. Before you and your brother were born I made a strong parental declaration. There was one thing that I would never deny either of you: Books. We took you that next weekend to buy the next two Wimpy Kid books, which you ate up just as quickly as the first.

And then came Harry. I wasn't surprised at all that you fell hard for Harry Potter. I just never imagined that you would read the whole series twice. Even though you've completed the series all the way through and back again, I could go into your room tomorrow and see that you've randomly started the fifth book again ...just because. Dad and I feel weird having to tell you to stop reading Harry and pick up something different. And of course, because you're a good kid who listens to your parents, you have. You've read many books in your 14 years and once you get into a book there's no getting you out. "Did you fall in?" I'll ask you when you get into the car after school and immediately get out the book to start reading. And you'll just smile, say yes, and open the book.

Yes, I'm not at all surprised that you are a reader. I take all of the credit. However, Wimpy Kid creator, Jeff Kinney, and J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame probably deserve some of the credit too. And don't forget Oprah. Yes, Oprah deserves some credit too. But mostly me. This is one that I will proudly claim. You are my ravenous reader, my sweet 14 year old boy. Happy birthday. I pray you will be hungry for years to come.


I am a crafty creator.

:: bookmark fever ::

I'm a chronic crafter. I need something crafty in my life at all times.

My list of craft habits is long. There's a huge tub in the garage filled with yarn and buttons, felt and Mod Podge glue, dowel rods and jingle bells. I have plenty of colored pencils, washi tape and rubber stamps. I've taught myself to needlepoint, decoupage, and embroidery.

I am not an expert in any of these areas. I have friends who are craftier and much more talented than I will ever be. And yet, I continue to craft for no other reason than the happiness it brings.

Scrapbooking used to be one of my craft habits. What girl doesn't like to play with stickers and paper and fancy scissors? I had scrapbooks of our honeymoon and baby album scrapbooks. Scrapbooks of remodeling our first home and scrapbooks of Derek's first National Championship win. My husband has mentioned more than once that I could have fed a small country for the amount of money I have spent on scrapbooking supplies.

In the early stages of motherhood, I wandered into a needlepoint store close to my home. I bought several canvases, including a darling Christmas design which I just finished a couple of months ago. I started the canvas in 2004. It turned out really cute. Maybe not 11 years to finish cute, but cute nonetheless.

I convinced my mother to take a knitting class with me once. The knitting students sat in a circle on hard fold-up chairs, very apropos, my mother doing equal amounts of laughing and bitching that she was doing it wrong. I can still knit a square or rectangle like nobody's business, but that's the extent of my knitting knowledge. I knitted a sweet babies receiving blanket for a best girlfriend once and have given scarves as gifts to family members who have to like them. Chunky scarves are in style, but unfortunately I live in a climate where they really aren't necessary. Not that that keeps us Californians from wearing them. Any temp below 75 degrees and we are whipping out our sweaters and chunky scarves faster than the traffic on the 405.

I recently started making cross-stitch bookmarks. You remember cross-stitch don't you? That thing you learned in Girl Scouts or Camp Fire Girls while trying to earn your Creative Arts Appreciation badge? I decided to return to my crafty roots and relearn how to cross stitch. (Although let's face it, it's totally like riding a bike. You never really forget.) The best girlfriend I made the baby blanket for had given me and several of our other friends a special book mark a couple years back. She cross stitched them with our college nicknames, of which we still call each other, making them even more special. Needing something new to craft, I decided to copy her design and start making my own. Not for me to keep of course, but to give away.

Crafting to me is only fun if others appreciate it, which in my case means giving my crafts away as gifts. I decided to make bookmarks as valentines for all of my son's teachers (of which he has four.) This sent me on a trip to Jo-Ann's where I ended up purchasing enough thread, fabric and ribbon to make bookmarks for most of Southern California. (Bookmarks for everyone! You get a bookmark! And YOU get a bookmark!) I also bought a box in which to organize all of my thread. I spent days winding thread around little white cards, placing them in the box in a beautiful color-coded display. When I say days, I literally mean days. Because if you're going to make bookmarks for all of Southern California, you need to be organized.

I ended up making really cute Pac-Man bookmarks for the boys' valentines this year. They have recently gotten into retro, 80's era video games so I thought they'd appreciate the sentiment. They problem with sentiment and pre-teen/teen boys is that they have yet to develop the sentimentality gene. I cross stitched their bookmarks knowing full well that they might not love them as much as I wanted them to love them.

Did they jump up and down when they saw their bookmarks? No, of course not. They grinned, asked if I had made them, and that was that. Happy Valentine's Day. My oldest informed me that he wanted to leave his at home, didn't want anything to happen to it at school. I got it. He did want to be the dork that pulled out a homemade bookmark at junior high that his mother made him. Totally got it. My youngest, however, had no issue taking his to school.

"Mom, I used my new bookmark at school today. I like it. It's cool. Could you make me one with something about golf on it?"

Uh, yeah!

Bookmarks for everyone!!!

The safest place to be.


I read a quote once that said, “The safest place to be in life is close to Jesus.” Sunday mornings  at church are all about growing closer to Jesus. One Sunday morning back in October, we had the opportunity to be out in our community serving others instead of being at our regular church service. Be Out There Sunday. My family signed up to serve at Family Promise, a non-profit that serves the needs of homeless families in our community, doing some deep cleaning inside their resource center. We arrived that morning prepared with all of our gloves and cleaning supplies. What I wasn’t prepared for was for the families that we were serving to be there.

The boys and I quickly got to work cleaning, wiping down walls and door frames. While on my hands and knees cleaning the baseboards, some of the children of the families sat crammed together on couches in front of a little TV. I was quickly overcome with emotion, imagining what these children have to experience being homeless. The significance of my posture, of my being on my hand and knees, wasn’t lost on me. I could have been sitting in a comfortable seat in church, but I'm so glad I wasn’t. I’ll be honest; I don’t like cleaning my own baseboards let alone someone else’s, but that Sunday I cleaned those baseboards with nothing but joy in my heart. What a privilege it was to bring a small blessing to these families.

I couldn’t have been closer to Jesus in that moment if I had tried.

Being healthy is all about moderation. Too much of anything isn’t good for us. This includes being consumed by too much of ourselves and our own problems. Serving gets us out of ourselves. Serving others keeps us balanced. It reminds us that it’s not just about us. I receive so much more from life when I serve the least. We have such great examples of this at our church. The team leaving tomorrow for Chacocente is going to serve the least. The families signing up to serve meals to Family Promise are serving the least. The youth collecting a special offering this Sunday for local organizations that feed the hungry are serving the least.

In Matthew 25:40 Jesus tells us, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” If the safest place in life we can be is close to Jesus, then it's safe to say we should all be serving others as often as we can.

Nothing puts us closer to Jesus than serving those whom He loves.

Last entry from a series of posts I am writing for my church family.

Does it spark joy?

from the fabulous site, one kings lane

I have spent much of the last month de-cluttering my house. January always seems like a good time to do this. Clean out the old while welcoming the new year. In the midst of my de-cluttering, I stumbled upon a book. The Life-ChangingMagic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo has become a best seller, proving that we are in constant search for the best way to clean up our lives.

The premise of the book can be boiled down to one simple question: Does it spark joy? In other words, do the items in your home—in your closet, on your shelves, in your cabinets—make you happy? If not, get rid of them to make more room for the things that do. It seemed like a weird question at first when sorting through shirts and pairs of pants in my closet, but then I began to see how much sense the question made. Why should I keep in my life if it doesn’t make me happy?

There are so many things that we hang on to that don’t make us happy. When it comes to de-cluttering, we have to examine our internal lives as well as the external. Clutter doesn’t just fill our closets and cabinets but our hearts and minds as well. We clutter our lives with all sorts of junk that keeps us from being our best. Junk that makes us unhappy, keeping us from fully being whom God intends. Fasting is one way we can eliminate the bad to make way for the good. Fasting is a way that we can de-clutter our lives.

James 4:8 says, “Come near to God and he will come near to you.” (NIV) Sometimes the clutter is blocking our way. We need to remove the clutter to make more room for God in our lives. Fasting is about repentance and simplicity. It’s about recognizing the junk that we have allowed to keep us from God and get rid of complexities of life that distract us. Choosing to fast is choosing to remove some clutter allowing us to step closer to God so he can step closer to us. De-cluttering can change your life, de-cluttering can change your heart.

Continued from a series of posts I am writing for my church.