Putting the fun back in dysFuNctional

It’s always my desire to be as transparent with you as I can be so you know I’m just like you – flawed and fractured…bumbling through life, trying to stay plugged in to the source and trying to glorify the One who created me.  I use to try to come across to those around me as one who had it all together – a woman that loved and blessed her family with grace and joy and kindness.  One who never shared a cross word with her husband or children. Oh brother! I gave up on that  facade a long time ago, and it’s my desire now to live life out of a place that I call real Christianity.

Growing up, I watched my parents make occasional mistakes, but what stood out to me was that they rarely admitted those mistakes, or apologized when they should have.  Sort of the if we ignore the mistake it will just go away policy. So when I became a parent I prayed that I would be a mom who admitted her mistakes to her kids and apologized for them.  My desire was that I not only could model what that looked like so they knew how to do it themselves, but also so they understood that their mom wasn’t perfect…and needed forgiveness as much as they did.  Good concept, but BAD IDEA!

Praying a prayer like that is akin to praying for patience.  If you pray for patience, God’s not going to just zap you and bestow a supernatural ability to be patient upon you.  Not that He couldn’t do that, but that’s not typically how He works.  No…what God usually does is He increases the moments in your life that you get the opportunity to practice that gift you prayed for.  Imagine that!  So unless you really want more opportunities to practice patience…don’t pray for it!

So God has been gracious (way too gracious!) in answering my prayer by allowing me a plethora of opportunities to practice asking forgiveness of my kids.  There have been more moments than I would have liked where I had to apologize for something I did to hurt them, whether knowingly or unknowingly, and most often for words that came out of my mouth.  What was I thinking praying that prayer??

One such moment happened recently.  It involves two of my favorite loves, who also happen to be two of my most difficult relationships to maneuver through, but they are both SO worth it. Before I begin, let me just ask for your forgiveness, mercy and grace in advance, in case you thought I had it all together.

There’s more detail behind this tale than there is room for on this page, but our story starts in the kitchen where Salsa guy and I greet our 29 year old female child-unit (alias “daughter”) and are ready to head out the door to game night at friends.  Said child-unit is no different than most young adults her age who have a relationship with their phone and sometimes can’t get their nose out of it with texting, and tend to forget that there are actual human relationships standing right next to them.  So in a “Mom Moment” I casually suggest that she be mindful of the other adults we would be interacting with that evening, and maybe consider putting aside the phone for a portion of the evening.

What happened next was not pretty on anyone’s part, but the next day, as I shook my head in disbelief, there was also a giggle that slipped out and I thought to myself…”this would have been a perfect comedy sitcom script”.  I also knew that I would have to come clean with you all eventually, as I feel there is a connection with Christ and my transparency of this blog.

Child-unit chose to try to shame my suggestion with a dramatic “OH MY GOD…are you JOKING?”…which launched her male parental-unit into a fury in reaction to her disrespect, and with the swipe of his arm her purse somehow took flight across the room.  Keep in mind child-unit’s OCDness about germs and purses, which launched her into a rage and words flew back and forth around the room like a scene from The Birds and I felt the need to duck…but I quickly regrouped in time to step in the path of husband-unit heading towards child-unit to send her back to the world she came from.  I sent them to their specific corners… which translates into a daughter storming out the door home, and a husband sitting on the bedroom floor in utter frustration.

After delivering husband-unit a tongue lashing for his part in the escapade, I arrogantly returned to the kitchen to fix the situation, because I wasn’t the one who had screwed up.  That arrogant thing gets me in to trouble every time.  I picked up the phone to call child-unit, and of course, there’s no way she’s going to answer, so I begin to try to share some of my free maternal wisdom over the phone with her on her voice mail.

About this time husband-unit returns to the room and is, shall we say, more inspired to encorage me to say specific things to our child-unit.  Try to picture this now – I begin this back and forth conversation with two people – like a verbal tennis volley between me politely asking the hub (NOT) to stop talking and sharing his thoughts in one ear, and between me sharing my wisdom into the phone with my adult child.  As the heat intensifies, and the back and forth gets louder and louder, first to my husband, then in to the phone to my daughter, then back to my husband, I feel myself begin to lose (a) any recognition of who I am actually talking to with each volley, and (b) any control of my emotions, and (c) my mind completely!

At that moment, it felt like I was observing another person from afar, who has lost all control and is yelling at her husband using a phrase that I don’t recognize that sounded like GOD !$@&?# (I didn’t even know I knew that phrase!) and then shouting the same phrase into the phone towards my first-born and I’m thinking “who IS that woman?”  Back and forth, the same profanity, over and over, louder and louder,…at least two specific times toward each of them.

Now press pause.  Can you see this in your mind?  A crazy woman shouting profanities at her husband and then at her daughter into the phone.  I suppose it was my feeble effort to call down condemnation on the situation; a situation filled with stubbornness, a lack of self-control, and selfishness on all our parts, but here comes the big finish.  I make my final dismount with the exclamation to both my cherished loved ones…”YOU’RE BOTH [posterior body part] s!” …and BAM, I slam the phone down.

And then suddenly, the dove’s whisper into my heart penetrates like an arrow…oh my gosh…I am that woman who BLOGS ABOUT GRACE!  Sigh. Doesn’t God just have the funniest sense of humor?

I don’t mean to make light of my sin.  Sin is sin, and I’m the biggest sinner of them all…but that’s exactly why God sent his son – to die for those sins and he’s crazy about me even still.  So I’m guessing he was sitting and watching this scene play out, dropping his head into his hands and shaking his head saying “really Kris?”…and then getting a smile on his face because he knew that from the ugliness of the moment there would spring redemption.

The redemption came three weeks later (because that’s how long it took our daughter to decide to speak to us again) and we called a family meeting.  Apologies were made, conversation was shared, each of us were heard, feelings were talked about, forgiveness was given, and we all came out the other side stronger in relationship, healed and in a better place than when we went in.  I just love it when God can make lemonade out of lemons.  When He can make fun out of dysfunction.  When He uses your mistakes to make something better…now that’s what I call grace.

And God works ALL things together for good to those who believe.  ~ Romans 3:23

So if your family is anything like mine and you don’t hide behind a mask, then take those dysfunctional moments, have conversation, take your walls down, learn from your mistakes, ask for and give forgiveness, take a different path next time, and even giggle at the obsurdity of it all…and then move on.  Better for the conflict.  Better for the fight.  Better for the healing.  This is real life.  This is real Christianity.  This is grace.

A New Spin on Aging


I’m finding myself doing things these days that I remember my mom doing a long time ago.  Like peering closely at my face in the mirror…. and pulling the sides of my cheeks up to envision what my face looked like without wrinkles.  Yikes.  Am I becoming my mother?

The human body is such a beautifully designed piece of art and wonderful craftsmanship.  Mine is a bit more on the abstract side, but that’s OK with me.  I’m pretty content in my own skin and happy with what God has given me.  Don’t get me wrong – if I had my druthers I’d prefer to redistribute here and there, with maybe a little less hubbla hubbla.  And can I just say I don’t remember these love handles – didn’t that skin use to be up under my arm pits?  Dang that Isaac Newton and his gravity theory – I see the effects of aging weighing this body down more and more each day.

Even the most fit athlete has to eventually accept that their body is broken and weakening.  Geez Kris…I thought this blog was meant to be uplifting!  My point is that in the House of Grace, I’m learning not to be anxious about the weakness of my body as I age, but I’m learning to accept it as a preview and prelude to the most amazing transformation of all time.  When I get out of bed and feel like the Tin Man – creaky and rusty – I’m reminded that we’re loaned these bods for just a season, and if you believe what’s been promised then our new and improved versions are awaiting us in another time and another place.

We humans so often feel like we can’t measure up to a physical standard we created, so we are convinced that it’s how God looks at us too.  But it’s not.  And then we live our lives through a lens of shame and guilt, and the comparing and faking that it produces carries over into almost every area of our lives.  Our marriages, our churches, our friendships, our families.

In my latest book crush, The Cure, the authors talk about the beautiful transformation of a butterfly.  Isn’t it amazing that a caterpillar has the exact same DNA before it goes into it’s cocoon as it does after it’s transformed into a beautiful butterfly?  That means it’s essentially the same being on the inside before and after it’s transformation, even though it looks completely different.  If you apply the same concept to humans, that means that although I may be a little beaten up on the outside, I still feel like the person I was in my 20’s.  The cool part of the equation is that we were created to be transformed people in another time and place.  Whether we allow that inner transformation to start here on earth, or have to wait until eternity…some of that might be up to you.

God tells us that there are mansions that await us in Heaven, and I use to think it meant really hoity-toity houses.  Nowadays I think it means wonderful and improved bodies – butterfly bodies….void of the effects of sickness and aging.  Now I’d love a beautiful log cabin by the waters of Lake Tahoe as my mansion…but I’m thinking I would be pretty pleased with a new and improved version of me, both inside and out.  Dang, with my luck, I’ll be skinny once I get there and chubby will be the new rage.

If I get to choose what features I’d like in my new home, here’s just a few things I’d like to order:

  • dimples
  • a beautiful singing voice (even though I think God hears my voice that way now)
  • I’d like to sing back-up for Patti LaBelle
  • I’d like to play drums…or maybe banjo
  • long skinny fingers
  • less athletic calves and knees

I have a theory – Matthew 20:16 says “….the last will be first, and the first last”….and I’m taking this completely out of context, but I jokingly like to extend that and say that in heaven the skinny will be fat, and the fat will be skinny.  And the people who can’t carry a tune will be the rock stars in heaven.  And those who can’t ……well, just fill in the blank and you’ll have transformations going on all over the place.  But for now – for today, I’m content that I can throw a softball like a dude, and I can love people like crazy, and that I’m blond, and that I can organize the biggest and best event you can throw at me, and that I can make a difference in the lives of my family and friends .

Today is my birthday and I’m actually glad to be at this place and space in time that I’m at today on the aging timeline.  Although there’s more time behind me than there is ahead of me, I can look back with wisdom (and sometimes mortification) and be so grateful for how I’ve grown and changed – and hopefully matured – not only in my faith but in grace.  As I age, my body may be deteriorating but inside I’m growing stronger in “aliveness” and grace.

So how do you see yourself as you age?  One step away from a slipped disk?  Defeated and holding on to everything you have?  Or do you see yourself as a caterpillar, being transformed into a beautiful butterfly?  That’s the mystery of grace.

Mom Moments

It’s Mothers Day and I’m thinking about my mom.  She’s been gone seven years now and I think of her every day. Moms play such an important role in our lives, but yet there’s no prerequisite for it – no class you have to take, and no test you have to pass to be a mom.  There’s not even a learner’s permit, for cryin’ out loud! You don’t have to fill out an application; they’ll let any woman with ovaries or cash in their pocket take a baby home.  They don’t give you a job description or a Mom Manual that outlines what to do when your 2 year old is sitting in their car seat, shoving their tiny fist down their throat so they’ll gag and throw up because they’ve figured out that by doing so, they’ll get your attention.  Man those little child-units can be smart little suckers, and yes, that happened to me.  It’s a a thankless job that’s not for the faint-of-heart.

Some moms are naturals at it.  Others are ill equipped to handle the job.  Most of us just bumble our way through motherhood, trying to make a difference in our kids lives that will help them survive in life without too many scars so that they can take care of us when we’re old.   And I would venture to say that all moms try to take what they’ve learned from their own moms – both the good and the bad – and wrap it all up with our own new great parenting ideas and traditions to produce a better and greater version of ourselves.  But if you’re anything like me you’ll realize that there is so much more to raising kids.   My greatest desire is that I helped my kids find the best way they can glorify the one who created them, and in the exchange I’ve found that being a mom is one of the most fulfilling roles I’ve had in life.

I always wanted to be a cool mom, so sometimes when I had to either be the bad guy or impart some profound wisdom on my kids I prefaced it with the words…”this is going to be a mom moment”.  It was my way of giving them advance notice that what they were about to hear was going to change their life…or possibly be a little uncomfortable….depending on whether it was advice on relationships, telling them why they couldn’t get a motorcycle, or the sex talk.  And in terms of equipping my kids, we chose to raise our kids in a faith that would sustain them through life’s ups and downs knowing that they didn’t walk this wacky life alone, and that there is one who walks beside them.

My mom is probably the person who made the biggest impact on my life.  I was such a people-pleaser growing up, and there was no one that I wanted to please more than my mom.   She was graceful and carried herself in such a way that made this clutsy tom-boy envious.  She was the one who introduced me to my faith simply by watching her.  Did she get it right all the time – Heavens no!  But even at a young age I understood that what she chose to pattern her life after was a process – a journey – and that in life you don’t always get it right all the time.  That’s where mercy and grace show up.  But what she thought mattered to me, so even as an adult making new decisions, I would filter those decisions through the colander of  “what would mom think”?

I had no sisters, and so I loved having relationship with her.  She became one of my favorite people to spend time with (except for maybe during her menopausal years) and she was a friend.  Was she perfect?  Not by a long shot, but as with any relationship that’s worth fighting for, it takes hard work and patience.  And lots of E.G.R (extra grace required).

There are a lot of things I would say to her if she were here.  I would ask for her forgiveness for the many things that I was silently critical and judged her for how she handled something…until now that I’ve walked in her shoes.  I would wrap my arms around her and lay my head on her shoulder and sigh…and let her know that I’m sorry I had the audacity to tell her that it was her fault that I was overweight because she fed me Homogenized milk, instead of Low Fat.  I would tell her I know why she was a little cray-cray during my high school years (it was the hormones, mom!) and I wished I had understood that there was E.G.R.  And I would sit at her feet and tell her how sorry I was that when I came home from college on weekends I chose to spend more time seeing old friends than I did just being at home with them.  And I would tell her “I get it now”….now that I’m an empty-nester and miss my kids like crazy.

I’m sure I hurt her with my thoughtless words and actions time and time again, and yet, that’s what mothers do sometimes.  We take it, and we choose to file those thoughtless moments in a file somewhere where, if we’re smart, we choose not to pull them out and use later. There’s a great mystery of grace there.  A true mom moment!  I suspect that my mom recognized in those moments that I was young and foolish, and gave me grace because she understood that one day I would walk this same path – and that when I did,  I would get it.  I would understand the pain of being blamed for someone’s own selfish choices.  Or the hurt of being second best…of being misunderstood.  That I would feel the sting of what it feels like to not be  needed anymore.

I’m at that place – that crossroad where I can glance backwards and recognize the grace that was offered me, and in looking forward I have grace opportunities where I can make the choice to be quiet, knowing that there are those with more time ahead of them who will have light bulb moments when they’ll whisper “Oh….I get it now.  I see what you did there Mom – you chose grace over condemnation.”  If I did my job well, maybe that moment will come for them sooner than it did for me.

So on this Mother’s Day I’m thinking about and honor my sweet mom, Ruth.  She taught me so much and who I am today was molded and shaped by her touch on my life.  She was a keeper.  I miss you, Mom, and it was my joy and honor to be your daughter.  Thanks for the grace you offered me while you walked this earth.  I am so grateful..and so I offer you grace back.  What a great mom moment, indeed!