Some truths are easy and fun. We’re not dealing with those today, because those aren’t the ones that cause us trouble.


All the time, I see these posts on Facebook that tell us to Live your truth! Find your truth! Speak your truth!

It always makes me think Why not just say “Live, Find, Speak The Truth”?

Truth is Truth—verifiable, supported by facts, actual. In a sense, the quality of Truth is one size fits all.

We can be in denial, or fear, or have strong opinions about the Truth in our lives. We can wish the Truth away, act like it never happened or try to misrepresent the Truth in our words and actions.

But none of that changes the Truth. It’s still there, squatting powerfully in the corner of our hearts, driving us to reach for anger, fear, shame. Another drink. Another bowl of ice cream.

That truth can be hard. Scary hard. Especially when it tells us that we are our own worst enemy.

Or that our lives are not going to go how we thought.

Or that a dream is not going to come true.

Or that we have experienced a pain from which it will take years to recover.

None of those things create “my truth” or “your truth”. They create the Truth. And isn’t there a kind of beauty and consolation in knowing it’s a shared Truth? Because these things happen to everyone. Which is how, in God’s wisdom, these hard truths can give us new life.

A life of recovery. A life of surviving. A life of new beginnings. A life of triumph.

Truth is not darkness. Truth is coming out of the darkness into the light.

It’s not complicated and oppressive. It’s simple and straightforward.

Even hard truths can be known, tolerated, understood. The moment we accept these hard truths in our lives, we can begin to move on from them. We can heal. We seek forgiveness. We can forgive.

And I just know, because God is good, that the more we stand on Truth, the less hard Truth there will be.

So whatever we are eating, drinking, smoking, snorting, hitting, stealing and lying about, it’s not the Truth. If it’s keeping us in the darkness, it’s not the Truth. It’s shame or anger or fear of the truth. It’s what we are letting ourselves accept, or take responsibility for. It’s how we wish it were all different. But it’s not the Truth.

The Truth is somewhere else, bathed in Light. If we seek it, we’ll be in the Light too.

P31 OBS Blog Hop

Dryer Balls

Update: Aaron is getting a dog! The Angel for Aaron page raised $12,000 in seven days. Seven. It wasn’t just money that made that happen, so thanks to everyone who donated, prayed and shared. The dog won’t be in the house for another 12-18 months, but we’ll keep you posted.


Two years ago Shea had enough State Farm points that we could get a new washer and dryer. Because I dream of appliances for years before I purchase, I already knew what I wanted: a Maytag Bravos top loader and dryer. I was going to wash twelve pairs of jeans at once. Watch my dust.

Then, at the last moment, I changed my mind and went with the trendy Whirlpool front loader and steam dryer.

There has not been one day since that I have been happy with this choice. Not. One. As my dad pointed out, there’s a reason they stopped making front loaders in the 70s.

The clothes smell. It’s because the water never fully drains from the drum, which lays on its side. The steam dryer does not help matters, even with the steam off. I have managed to conquer these issues one at a time: I use less detergent than recommended, I use vinegar as my fabric softener, I double spin the clothes and wash smaller loads at a time.

Our electric and gas bills have actually gone up with these newer more fuel efficient machines, because it takes two rounds to wash and dry every load.

So one day I searched “Make the clothes dry faster”, and found DIY Natural, which is a website founded by a husband and wife team looking to make the world a safer, cleaner place. They have an article about the power and magic of homemade dryer balls. You only need three things: 100% wool yarn, a hook and a pair of old or cheap tights.

All you do—and they have a video tutorial in case you need it—is wrap a skein of wool around and around and around until you have a ball somewhere between the size of a tennis ball and a softball. Then you stick it in the pantyhose, wash it in hot, hot, hot water, dry it on the hottest setting and poof! You have a felted dryer ball. Pop four or five of these suckers into your dryer with wet clothes and they dry the clothes faster by bouncing around and creating pockets for the hot air. They also eliminate static. And they aren’t poison, like every single dryer sheet on the market.

Dryer balls ready for felting
Dryer balls ready for felting

True story: Lesley and I were shopping at a craft fair before Christmas. A woman was selling safe cleaning products with a national brand. I was excited to see that she had dryer balls! They were white and the size of tennis balls! They were just like mine!

They were $29.

Cruise Etsy to see similarly priced balls. Yes, the ones with designs felted onto them are adorable and I wish I knew how to do that. But since no one sees my dryer balls and on more than one occasion Lizzie has mistaken a dryer ball for a chew toy, I am ok with my whatever wool was on sale dryer balls.

I gave them for Christmas presents, and people love them. My dad loves them.

So we want to give a set to one of our readers. All you have to do is comment on this post. Each post will get a number and then my kids will pull a number out of a hat.

Another true story, for a laugh before we go: after Christmas, we had a dinner party where I cooked Aunt Debbie’s ham. It made a mess in the pan, and one of our friends was trying to clean it. Finally she said “We need a dryer sheet! You put a dryer sheet in here and heat it up on the stove and this will come right off.”

My other friend leaned over to her and whispered “You aren’t going to find a dryer sheet in this house”.

How well she knows!

Determined to Get Aaron a Dog ~ Jen

I prayed this week for God to help me find ways to not think of food so often. In typical God fashion, He came large.

One of the distractions I can’t talk about yet, because it’s not a done deal and I am still not sure how it will all shake out. The next 48 hours are huge, so if you have prayer space to spare, maybe you could ask the Lord to guide our choices.

The other distraction has my heart full, full, full of love. Remember this post from last year? My good and beautiful friend Lisa wrote that post. Her son Aaron is the apple cheeked bubba in the pictures.

Aaron has autism, but that’s not the thing you need to know about him. He’s smart as a whip and has been since he was born. His eyes are soulful, deep and knowing. He’s careful too, and he knows when enough is enough, which is a lesson most adults are still struggling to learn.

When enough is enough, Aaron does two things: he stays put where he feels safe, or he runs.

If he stays put, even with determination, Lisa and her husband Steve can work with that. The therapists can work with that. The extended family and friends have learned what to do to make experiences less threatening. And we all know that coming to where Aaron feels safe is best for him right now.

But the running is a whole other thing. Aaron is tall and strong for his age, and he’s only going to grow. He can get out, over and through, just like any other boy his age. It scares the heck out of Lisa and Steve what could happen one day if he got away. Away into the street, or across a parking lot, or some place where he couldn’t tell people who he is.

So, because Lisa and Steve are very determined folks, an idea took shape. What if Aaron had a companion dog?

Lisa and Steve already have a dog, Mia. She is one of Aaron’s best friends. But Mia can’t be the companion Aaron needs because even though she loves her some Aaron, she’s the size of a sandwich.

Aaron needs a big dog. And these are the things Lisa dreams a dog could be to Aaron:

A highly trained and calm Autism service dog won’t be placing demands on Aaron the way that people in his life do. The dog can help convey the message to Aaron that he is good enough as he is, Autism or no Autism. A dog doesn’t judge behaviors. He doesn’t mind if you flap your hands, spin in circles, repeat lines from movies or spell the same words over and over again. He will probably wag his tail when you eat peanut butter sandwiches for breakfast, lunch and dinner. He won’t mind that you refuse to wear your scratchy school uniform and cry every time you have to take a bath. He might even distract you by being silly so that you can do the things you need to do. And, when you lay on the floor in public, because you’re overwhelmed, he won’t care about disapproving looks from strangers. In fact, he might just lick your face, nudge you to get up, and remind you that there is nothing to fear.

Last week she found out that they have been approved to get a dog from the good folks at Good Dog! Autism Companions, probably a golden retriever or yellow Labrador.

It takes…are you ready…$12,000 to train a dog like this. Well, we can’t expect a special dog for a special boy to come cheap. It’s just what it is. And as Lisa told me “Aaron WILL get a dog. We WILL make this happen.”

Lisa launched the fundraising page for Aaron on Monday at about 12:30. You know what happened next? Within 24 hours, over $3000 were donated. As of yesterday, it was $6600. It’s been blowing our minds. It’s a lot of love and determination.

Lisa and Steve are determined to provide the best environment for their son to be who he is meant to be.

Their family, friends and complete strangers are determined to make this happen for them.

We want to invite you to join in. Like the Church says, we can use our Time, Talent or Treasure, whatever we have to give.

Lisa, Steve and Aaron could use a prayer.

They could use all of us spreading the word on our social media sites.

And of course, they could use some of the money we set aside for just this type of thing.

Aaron 2

Aaron needs an Angel. Can you help?


I am still doing the Made to Crave bible study online and “Determination” was our word of the week. It became clear as the week went on that the word was not for my diet or my Bible study. It was for this effort. I apologize to the MTC community for being a bit off-topic, but this is where God took me this week: away from my pantry and scale and towards all the good in the world!

P31 OBS Blog Hop

Best Use of Cheap Vodka

Six weeks ago, I rolled into Albertson’s before gym class with Annie in tow and bought a $9 plastic gallon of vodka.

The lady at the check-out processed my purchase in silence, but her eyebrows disappeared into her hairline. The girl bagging held the bottle up, shook her head and cut a look at the bagger in the next lane.

It was 8:45 am on a Tuesday. I was wearing sweats, my hair was in a bun and Annie had picked her own clothes, orange striped stretch pants and a puke green shirt that used to belong to Gabe.

I cleared my throat.

I feel like I have to explain why I am buying a gallon of vodka this early in the morning.

I expected them to laugh, but the idle checker in the next lane actually leaned across and said “Yes.”

Well, we make a lot of our household cleaners, to be safer and less toxic. We also have two dogs, so I’ve been looking for a fabric refresher that doesn’t have a ton of chemicals and fragrances, like Febreeze. I found this recipe online for Febooz. All it takes is a spray bottle, two cups of water, a cup of vodka and some drops of essential oil. Safe for all fabrics, carpets, clothes. And for kids and dogs, as long as they’re not drinking it.

They looked at each other. Then they started laughing.

“A few sprays for the couch, a few sprays for mama!”

“And if it doesn’t work, just pop off the top, have a few drinks and you won’t care what the couch smells like!”

The things we go through to bring you safe cleaning products.


All you need is a clean clearly labeled spray bottle, 2 cups of water (the original recipe calls for distilled. I don’t know why, but I used tap and it was fine), 1 cup of vodka and some drops of essential oil. Shake and spray.

Courtesy of www.yellowbrickhome.com

PS: have your husband buy the vodka. No one will bat an eye at a man buying bulk vodka in a plastic bottle. Even if he has all the kids with him and it’s 1 am. But that’s a whole other post.


Be ~ Jen

Multi-tasking is bad for us, right? Big bad. Stress-us-out-and-give-us-cancer bad.

We try to make multi-tasking into a badge of honor, but that’s crap. All it does is place our need for validation in one 90 mile an hour basket.

This used to be my life, when I was a teaching, mothering, wifeing, friending, volunteering fool. I could teach the children, answer email, shop for shoes, plan vacation, grade papers and mentor colleagues all before lunch. Then I came home and worked out, answered texts, baked cookies for the bake sale, helped the kids with homework, did the laundry and cooked dinner. My life looked like this:

graph 1

Check me out. Man, you either got on board my crazy train or got run over. C’est la vie.

Then I one day I told Shea “Sure, I’ll have another baby, if I can stay home.” He called my bluff and two years later, I was a stay at home mom with a newborn. I hadn’t quite considered all the consequences:

graph 2

Some people may see those gaps as an opportunity for rest.  But the Master Multi-Tasker has no idea what rest is. To me, those huge gaps look like wasted space. Just having a newborn was for rookies. I would have a newborn and serve on the PTL and a corporate board and turn laundry into an insane art form. I would blog and post on Facebook three times a day and monitor the weather and traffic for all my close friends and family.

Do I have to say that this level of go is not sustainable? For anyone? Something will give. In my case, two somethings before I paid attention.

I was doing too much. Way, way too much. I was trying to be all things to all people. I didn’t want to let anyone down—not my husband, not my kids, not my students, not my colleagues, not my bosses, not my neighbors, not my family, not my kid’s school, not my church, not anyone.

You think that list is crazy?

What does yours look like?

We do too much. And in order to do too much, we multi-task. That means we do none of it well, because we’re moving too fast to really have a care. There’s no time for care! We say yes to everyone on that list, and then we short change them all, because that’s the only way to do it. We train ourselves to believe that rest is sloth, and we forget how to be. Still.

Then we are diagnosed with anxiety disorders and get cancer and divorces and we turn around one day and our kids are grown and we cannot for the life of us account for the years.

What if we just didn’t. Didn’t try to be all things to all people. Didn’t say yes. Didn’t try to balance our lives so that all things are equal. Yeah, that’s right. All the things in our life are not equal. The boss does not deserve the same time and attention as the spouse or the kids.

And what if we just be. Be the one who learned to say no. Be the one who cut some things out, like team parent or coaching or that committee at work. Be the one who made room for rest who took our charts, cleared them out and made some space. And then, instead of filling the space right back up, did this:

graph 3

We can do less, but do it wider, slower, better. We can take only the things we need, the things that make our lives lovely and amazing, and fill them up and out. Maybe–probably–we would feel less hollow, guilty and not enough. Instead, we could have more space and feel more fulfilled.

The thing I loved the most about this Christmas season was the ground swell of voices talking about less and slower. We can carry that momentum into 2014 and into all parts of our lives.

Do less. Be more. Happy New Year!