Hiding In The Bathroom

My friend Super-G and I went to a fun event last night in Cambridge – it was the book launch for the hilarious new title, Hiding in the Bathroom: An Introvert’s Roadmap to Getting Out There When You’d Rather Stay Home.  I’m not even sure how I got on the invite list, but when it landed in my inbox, I forwarded it to Super-G in a nanosecond because we talk about this all the time.

We are both introverts who fake extroversion in pursuance of our callings. That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but not much. I love deep conversations with people, and I love public speaking. But the middle ground? That thing where people meet and make small talk about weather and jobs and how you both ended up in the same place? I’m so bad at that it’s almost funny. If you visit our church and have the misfortune to encounter me first, I’ll ask the two questions on the top of my head (Where are you from?  What brings you to Cambridge?) and then go completely blank. If you toss a softball across the plate like, “I”m here for grad school…” I can usually ask, “Where?” But after that I’m lost. It’s like the possibilities branch off in too many directions (What are you studying? How did you pick this school? What do you hope to do? What’s your dream for your life?)  and I don’t know which one to follow. It’s not that I don’t care. It’s the opposite of that. I want to know what matters to you and what God is doing in your life, and all these questions fill my mind and merge to create a blank wall. And so, to fill the awkward silence I blurt, “Well, okay then! There’s coffee in the hotel lobby and we have a bunch of free books over on the counter there you can check out. Make yourself at home!” and then scurry away.

(And this, friends, is why we have to come up with some title other than Pastor to describe what I do. )

I’m fine once our service gets started. My role in our church gathering is to give a talk to help people connect with what God is doing in their lives and think about how to respond, and to lead us in remembering that prayer works in ways we don’t understand, and is worth the effort.  I LOVE THIS SO MUCH I can’t even tell you. And afterwards, when I get to talk with you about real things? That is super fun. But if you visit our church and arrive early, all I’ve got is directions to the free books and coffee.

We’ll see if this book helps me raise my game :)

Speaking of raising my game, I haven’t done a Stitch Fix update in awhile. One arrived yesterday, so I’ll share that, too.

I still love it. I’m still amazed that an algorithm named Katelyn can pick clothes that look good on me that I would never in a million years try on my own. The jeans alone have changed my entire emotional response to getting dressed in the morning.

(I’ll be honest and say that Steve has has the exact opposite experience – Stitch Fix sent him skinny jeans, and I have never laughed so hard as I did the night he stood there squeezed into dark hipster denim, exclaiming, “Even the calves are tight! Who wears jeans that hurt your calves???” After which #2 Cherub observed, “I’m not sure Dad wants a new style… I think he likes the style he has!” Truth.)

Over the past few months, I’ve gotten a bunch of Fixes. I usually keep one or two things out of the five they send. There have been a couple of busts (I’m looking at you, Day-Glo Orange Polyester Blouse!) and some big hits (Oh, the joy of jeans and assorted tops to wear them with!) I now own leopard print flats, which no one saw coming. Overall, it’s been great. Given the introversion I describe above, it’s nice to head out into the world of awkward small talk liking what I wear.

Here’s what came yesterday:

I’m keeping the green athleisure top and the grey sweatshirt – it has cozy soft sleeves that feel like a hug. (Apparently, I’m preparing to hibernate.) The rest is going back – the color of the jacket is a too orange for me. The pockets on the jeans fall below my butt, turning my backside into a strange architectural cantilever situation (not the look I’m going for). And while the blouse is pretty, when I tried it on, I didn’t want to wear it to the book event that night, which told me all I needed to know.

All to say, I’m surprised by how investing in a couple of pieces a month has brought peace and even joy back into my getting dressed each day, without any pressure to buy things I don’t like.  If this sounds like something that could bring joy to your world, here’s my referral link. I get a one-time $25 credit for any friends who order a Fix via that link.  It’s made some nice jeans possible, and I appreciate it!

As for the “fix” for my introvert tendencies, I’m hoping to have some new tips to try on Sunday. If you’re in the area, stop by and see if I can hold a conversation that lasts more than 42 seconds! ;)

“Mom, what makes me special?”


#2 Cherub came home from her first day of 7th grade yesterday and asked, “What makes me special?” I thought this might be a preface to her upcoming birthday, but it was homework, a getting-to-know-you worksheet from one of her teachers.  (The worksheet also required her to calculate how many days she’s been alive. As she scribbled the numbers out on a piece of scrap paper, I resisted the urge to say, “Sweetie, what makes you special is that you’re doing that math by hand right now rather than grabbing a calculator…”)

These sort of worksheets are a minefield for kids with unorthodox histories. For example, another question asked “Are you the oldest, middle, or youngest child in your family?” #2 is the youngest in our household, but has two younger brothers who live elsewhere. Trying to help, I asked, “Which feels more true for you in your daily life – that you’re the youngest or in the middle?” to which she replied with a smile, “I always feel like the oldest, but we won’t go there…”

Hilarious. And true.

Another worksheet asked her to create a timeline of important events in the life of one of her parents (“or someone important in your life”) in the 5 years before her birth. I was like, “Well, I fled from an abusive marriage, worked for a new age guru, and lived under an assumed name…” !?!?!?! Lord have mercy if this little timeline project ever became something she had to stand up and explain to the class.  Ultimately, we used meaningless neutral statements such as, “In 2001, my mom moved back to New England…”

Then she faced the same question about herself – what were the important events in her life? I was like, “Oh honey, you should THROW DOWN on this one. You list the things you’ve been through and YOU WIN this little timeline contest.” I was a bit salty at this point. We’re in the FIRST DAY of school. It’s a little early for this level of parsing to be required.

THIS DOG needed a walk, so I said that I’d think about all these questions as I looped the block. But the answer was clear: the most special thing about my kids is the lives they’ve lived in the midst of their complicated timelines. The amount they’ve overcome is staggering.

I want her teachers to know this about her. That while she has the ability to blend in, and pretend that the most special thing about her is her artistic skill or her beautiful singing voice, undergirding all of that is the truth that this kid is tough as nails.

The Cherubs have the capacity to to appear completely normal. Which is their dream in life right now. Of course, the thing messing up their plan is that when people see Steve & me, the jig is up; it’s apparent that they’re adopted. In this way, Steve & I are a burden to our children, as well as a blessing. That’s hard for them…and for us.

But when I read something like this, from Hope Heals author Katherine Wolf, I wonder if it might all be part of the plan:

“Maybe in our limitations those we love can find a new way to flourish, not in spite of their constraints but because of them. And their imaginations get baptized into a new way of seeing themselves, and the world, and us. And maybe ours can, too. And in the places where there are scars and losses and holes from what used to be, something new and wonderful can start to grow…”

Ultimately, #2 opted for privacy. Her timeline lists things like, “In 2015 I got my first dog!” I don’t blame her. Bergie is a pretty fantastic addition to any timeline she lumbers through. But it’s all another reminder that our story is different, and doesn’t lend itself to easy explanations. Which is hard at any age, but doubly so when you’re a teen.

I appreciate this Modern Love piece by Tova Mirvis. It’s about helping her son navigate her divorce, and the reality that while his father still practices Orthodox Judaism, she no longer does. At one poignant moment, when her son asks her if she’ll love him if he makes different choices than hers down the road, she says, “You don’t have to match the people you love…”

I feel like that’s the banner over our family. We don’t match on the outside. Our timelines aren’t one single line, but four wild zigging zagging scribbles that intersected and began to zig and zag together. But as the weeks and months and years go by, we match more and more on the inside. We’re on a path together. People can’t see it, but it’s there, and I trust it.  And I’m learning to live into the truth that what makes you special isn’t something you can sum up on a seventh grade worksheet.



All the Hallelujahs

The Cherubs are back in school, and I’m relaxed for the first time since June :)

Summers, historically, are not our best season as a family. This one was no different. Most of the time, I felt like this Bart Simpson doll:


And yet, as I scroll through pictures in order to curate a perfect internet version of our glorious happiness for you, I realize that we had some nice moments in there with all the boredom and the eye-rolling. Honesty requires me to disclose that for most of the past 7 weeks, the primary way the four of us showed our love for one another was by all the things we DIDN’T say. The spiritual fruit of Self Control was in serious rotation at the Ryan household as we four introverts spent way too much time together without the structure we need to thrive. But in the midst of that…

We flew to California!


We spent a week a the beach in my hometown in Maine!


We ate dinner ON THE FIELD at Fenway Park!


We used the dining room table for jigsaw puzzles (who knew we like  jigsaw puzzles?) and ate at the kitchen island.


And we made it through.

The kids are excited to be back at school, and I’m in awe that I can hand over the academic part of their development to qualified teaching professionals. (Thank you qualified teaching professionals! I’d hug you all if my kids weren’t so embarrassed by my existence that I’m essentially banned from their schools. Still though – giving you high-fives from here!)

We do so much better as a family when we have more going on, and when we spend our days out having individual lives and then come back together to share about what we’ve seen and done and learned. I don’t know if we’ll go back to eating dinner in the dining room or if this jigsaw puzzle thing is here to stay. But either way, I’m grateful for seasons, and the sure knowledge that new life is around each corner.



High School Reunion


I attended my High School reunion last Saturday. Yes, I wore Stitch Fix. No, not the Moto Jacket. (Too warm). It’s taken me four days to process the experience and I’m still not sure what to say, other than that it was so incredibly good and I’m really glad I went. But I haven’t blogged since May (sorry!) I figured I’d dive in and post something in the hopes that some thoughts will make sense as I go.

I grew up in a small town in Maine where we went to school in the same yellow building from Kindergarten through 8th grade. After that we moved up to the High School, where we merged with kids from the town next to us. By senior year, our graduating class was about 150 people. Everyone knew everyone else, and almost everything about each other.

This was the first reunion I’ve been able to make since we graduated. I’m in awe of what it felt like to be back together in the same room with people with whom I share so much of history…and yet in most cases, we knew next to nothing about each other’s current lives. I was surprised how NICE that was. Sure we did some updating. I have friends with grandkids, and friends with newborns. We’ve had moves and career changes, big wins and hard hits. But mostly we reminisced about what it was like to grow up in our little corner of the universe, and how differently we see it now.  We were all sort of staring at each other in this happy way, saying things like “this is surreal…” and “I can’t believe you’re here…” interspersed with the most common comment of the night, “WHY did we all have such ridiculous hair???”  It was so much goodness wrapped up in one event.

I realize how protected we were back then. And how privileged. We weren’t wealthy (at least most of us weren’t) and our families weren’t perfect. But the world was manageable, and there was time and space for us to grow into it. And we were just a good group of people. That makes a difference.

I hope to have more thoughts on this at some point. But for now I’ll just say, Kids: go ahead and perm your hair before your senior pictures! It will give you a great icebreaker at your reunions for years to come ;)




In case you were wondering…

I kept the Moto Jacket.

I know you were all up late last night wondering how this cliffhanger played out, so I won’t keep you in suspense.

Five items arrived on my doorstep just before lunch.

Four were back at the post office in the prepaid drop-off bag by 2:00pm.

Never has the transition from soccer mom to bad-a** motorcycle chick been so quick & effortless. (At least that’s what I’ll tell myself as I pull up to my class reunion in a slightly dented SUV.)

Here are the items I received, in case you want to request them. They were all great, which isn’t always the case (see: triangle dress & purple jeans debacle) They just weren’t great for me.

IMG_5816 I loved the Kelin Henley Knit Top before we even met. It’s a perfect blue-red, a great casual style, and it reminds me of a picture of Lorelei Gilmore I kept close to my heart as I imagined what my first author picture might look like.

But this shirt has SO MUCH fabric flowing down from those pretty crochet-detailed shoulders. It’s thin, and a bit clingy.  In the back, there was so much extra, it actually piled up on the top of my butt, creating a shelf effect I’ve never before seen in 40+ years of looking behind me and wondering, “Does this make me fat?” The answer here was, OH YES IT CERTAINLY DOES! Back it went.


IMG_5817My first thought as I pulled this from the box was, Hello Oktoberfest! 

It’s the Yezzi Embroidery Detail Top. To which I say, Yezzi, it’s going right back to the warehouse!





iu-2The exact jeans I asked for…in the wrong size. My size wasn’t available for exchange, so just like that I saved $88!





IMG_5818The FERNIE Embroidered Detailed V-neck Knit Top. Which is a lot of words for a basic cotton tank. Too big, a bit too orange, far too much fabric sitting on my backside (I’m beginning to think the fabric isn’t the issue…) and too much like something I could get at Target for $10.  It looked cute under a jacket. But summer will come to New England at some point, and I won’t be able to cover everything up. Plus, the price was WAY too much for something that would essentially function like a camisole for me.  So back it went.


But THIS made it all worth it.

Ladies and Gentleman (particularly guys who can’t believe I’m doing another post on clothes), I give you…the Liverpool Blaine Denim Moto Jacket:




I love it. I am practically a Beatle in this jacket (they were from Liverpool, right?) It makes no sense whatsoever for me, but it’s exactly what makes Stitch Fix so great in this season of my life, when it feels like fashion is defined so much more by things I shouldn’t wear than by new things to try.  In an alarming world of cold-shoulder tops and ROMPERS (??!!!) this is a really fun surprise.

Just call me Blaine. It’s my new motorcycle name.

(And yes, our bedroom is STILL resplendent in three different paint colors, missing outlet covers, and a rug we dragged up from the basement so THIS DOG wouldn’t slide so pitifully across the new floor.  All that chaos? Looks like progress when you’re wearing a Moto Jacket!)

(Not really. But doesn’t that sound good?)

The Moto Jacket was $98, but I had a $25 referral credit because one of you filled out a style profile and scheduled a Fix to try yourself. Thank you! It makes shopping so much easier to have a break on the price, and I hope you get at least one awesome thing when your box arrives.

I’ll be back this weekend with deep thoughts on adoption and foster care. There are a lot of them churning in my mind right now. Thanks for humoring me as I take a detour through lighter topics :)


The One With The Fake Trish

I found a tube of toothpaste in the laundry this morning. This is the second time this has happened (we’re averaging 1 a year) and it shows that I’m really getting through to the Cherubs as I share my wisdom on how to do life.

But the great news is, I have a cold, so I DON’T CARE! Honestly, who knew congestion and a bit of lightheadedness could be so positively freeing? I pulled the Crest out of the wad of t-shirts, hit “start” on the laundry, and went back to bed.

Folks, THIS is living.

In other whatever, I’m not thinking clearly news, Stitch Fix is sending me a Moto Jacket today.


When I first saw it in the reveal (you can peak on the app once it ships) I laughed so hard the coughing started up again and I had to drink a whole glass of water. Who does my algorithm stylist Katelyn think I am?  More interestingly, can I be that person? I feel like that FRIENDS episode, “The One With the Fake Monica,” where Monica’s credit card is stolen and she looks at the bill and realizes that this interloper is having a better time being her than she is.


But a moto jacket? The closest I’ve ever been to “moto” was my senior year in high school, when my Dad bought our family a secondhand moped to help with all the teen transport. Only it wasn’t one of the cool, easy-start key mopeds. Nope. Our moped was some special brand that was a BIG DEAL IN EUROPE.

I called it The Puke.


It looked like this.

Perhaps my favorite feature of The Puke was that, instead of twisting a key to start it, you had to push a little hidden button down near the engine to release drops of oil (gas? angel blood?) to prime the thing…then use a KICK START to get it going. I could not get that stupid kick start to work no matter what I did. It was endless, fruitless, and loathsome. You’d think at age 18 I wouldn’t mortify so easily, but that moped was my nemesis. I remember standing in the back parking lot of the restaurant where I worked at 11:00pm, trying and failing to get that stupid engine running. Never have I been so glad to be in the dark (although I wasn’t exactly hidden – I’m pretty sure there was swearing). Once, I just left it behind and walked home.

I do have one special memory of riding The Puke, though. I don’t how I got it going, but there I was, cruising through our little town at 22 mph, the wind blowing through my hair…when I hit a patch of gravel and wiped out. The beast fell on me, burning a big scar into my leg.

So moto? No no.

And yet if it’s just a white jacket with some funky zippers that will replace the white cargo jacket I ripped last year, and requires no mechanical know-how? I’m open to that.  As my friend John the Lawyer used to say, “I’ll pay a lot of money to look like someone I’m not!”  He was joking, as he stood there in Center City, Philadelphia, decked out LL Bean gear that would never see a tree. But I remember his point all these years later.

I doubt that this jacket will propel me into a life of new possibilities, the way Fake Monica challenged real Monica to try roller skating and tap dance. But my high school reunion is this summer. What if this is JUST the motivation I need to roll up on a Yamaha Supersport?


Me. Only the jacket will be white.

It’s amazing the things that seem possible after a day or two of cold meds :)

I’ll let you know how it all works out.

My Epitaph, from an 8 year old


IMG_5745 2

An 8 year old friend at our church gave this mug to me last night at Life Group. Isn’t it adorable?

Since then, I keep thinking, If that’s what it says on my tombstone someday, I’ll have done alright…”

Until recently, I have given no thought whatsoever to what I would want carved in granite over my body’s final resting place. The plan is that I’ll be hanging out in heaven (where the events of the past 7-8 years have secured me an EPIC condo with simultaneous views of the Atlantic, Pacific, and a wide swath of the Mediterranean…) So I haven’t considered how I’ll be remembered here on earth.

Then last week, my friend Sonya, in town from Hawaii to speak at our women’s retreat, invited me up to the North Shore to spend a day writing together. We had solid artistic intentions. But it turns out what we both needed was time to talk. It was as if we each had pieces to a larger puzzle of shared experiences, and this was an opportunity to see  how they fit together.

We had a long breakfast overlooking the ocean. Then out of nowhere she asked, “Do you want to see my favorite headstones?”  

Of course, my gut reaction was No. I mean, that’s weird, right? We were by the ocean, drinking coffee, with an endless supply of carbohydrates. Why would we move?

But of course I said Yes. I’ve been at this Jesus thing long enough to know that when a respected friend invites you to do something a bit peculiar, the Kingdom of God is often at hand.

So off we went.

A few winding miles from our breakfast table, Sonya introduced me to two of her heroes:  Ebenezer and Abigail Cleaveland.

They lived on Boston’s North Shore in the late 1700’s. He was a pastor. She probably was too, although that sort of thing was entirely informal in those days.  They lived long lives in a tough climate. What stood out to me most was that they believed in free grace – the idea that we don’t earn God’s love, or Jesus’ salvation, or the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We receive them. We respond to Jesus’ offer of love, forgiveness, freedom and help. And as we respond, we are saved. This was a radical stance in Puritan New England. And yet Ebenezer and Abigail lived long, full, intense lives…and they finished well.

Sonya said something so poignant as she showed me these headstone inscriptions: “We make public statements about who we are and what we stand for every day on social media. But back then, this was your one chance to tell the world what your life was about and what mattered to you.”

I’d never thought of it like that.

She described how, in the aftermath of a difficult season in their lives, she and her husband Jordan found comfort in this couple’s legacy, as well as faith to move forward toward their own. Sometimes when you’re in the midst of betrayal and loss, it helps to have someone to look to who has forged a path through the darkness. You need someone up ahead who is saying with their lives, The Light is real. Keep going. It matters! 

And then I got to tell her how she and Jordan have done that for us.


We had a good time, there in the cemetery. As we watched the boats fishing out in the harbor (Ebenezer & Abigail have A VIEW!) it made me wonder in a new way what it means to be from a place. Not in terms of preferred sports teams, or whether or not you own winter clothes, or if your reaction to an approaching stranger is to invite them in for dinner or pretend you don’t see them. But to be the ones who were born into God’s plan for a place. Perhaps those things matter more than we realize. Steve grew up in Cambridge. I’m from Southern Maine. In some way, we’re decedents of Ebenezer and Abigail, charged with living out the message that even in the midst of this harsh, beautiful New England climate, God is near and He has something better for us.

This morning, as I look at this mug from my sweet little friend, it gives me vision for how I want to live these days in this awesome place. I’m usually funny – it’s a genetic thing. Sometimes I’m kind because I try. But happy has been a bit of a stretch goal. Enough so that when it comes, I know for sure that it’s God. Telling stories about how that unfolds is a fun way to spend a life.

I want that to be my legacy – that we helped others make that connection, here in this place that I’m convinced really IS the best place in the world to be. It seems like something worth living…and dying… for.

My Latest Escape

I mentioned a while back how I deal with stressful times by picking up embarrassing hobbies. Making jewelry, reading about the apocalypse, almost burning my face off with peppermint essential oils. Good times!

I didn’t know how stressed I was about this coming summer (so many long days…so few plans…such bored Cherubs) until I scheduled my sixth Stitch Fix shipment in three months. I. Am. Hooked. I have officially entered the Random Modes of Escapism phase of my stress cycle, where the anticipation of a box of clothes – items that may or may not fit, be my style, or be anything close to what I need – brings me HOURS of joy. And because the financial commitment is so low (I might keep 1 or 2 items of what they send) and the wonder at having a few select items that actually fit is so high, I keep updating my Pinterest board and watching my email to see when my next box of Things to wear while listening to the Cherubs complain about how bored they are will arrive. (Seriously. This is a new fashion category for me. I have business casual stuff I wear to speaking events; jeans & tops I wear to church, meetings, appointments, etc.; and a small but growing collection of items I wear while sitting my home office deciding how long to let the Cherubs bicker before I intervene.)

The Serenity Prayer says something about accepting the things I cannot change/having courage to change the things I can. This is right at the heart of that. I cannot change summer. I have tried. I have failed. Camps were full by the time I called. #1 just wants to play video games, and #2 just wants to go shopping and paint pottery. I don’t blame them, but that seems like thin stuff to fill the seven weeks for which we don’t have plans. So to fend off worry (because panic is not helpful) I distract myself with lesser things.

To wit:

Here is a picture from my most recent Fix.


Out of the box, I thought this top was the ugliest thing I’d ever seen, and the jeans looked like mint gum. Then I put them on and fell in love. I look like Kate Middleton! I thought, woozy with delusion. You know…when she’s twenty years older, and has finally made Queen, and can eat sometimes….

I’m Kate at 48!

I’m not sure Kate will ever have a crowbar lying in her closet because her bedroom renovation got a bit out of hand, but whatever. Now I have a DEFINED STYLE! It involves mint gum jeans, which I didn’t see coming. But whatever. It’s a distraction. I’ll take it.

Here’s the rest:



The white top was too big, and I sold the blue bag on Facebook because I have one sort of like it. And the shorts…are just shorts. But as you imagine me saying to the Cherubs, for the 129th time this summer, No, you can’t go roam the northern suburbs with your friends for nine hours…no we can’t do unlimited screen time again today…Yes, I know you’re bored… isn’t it a more pleasant to picture it coming from Kate Middleton’s Future Self, rather than me in stretch pants and a giant T-shirt that used to be Steve’s?

The good news is, this too will pass. Actual summer will come. The sun will shine, temps will go up, and I’ll remember that if the kids are home and bored, we can go to the beach every single day if we want to. We won’t (want to, that is). But awareness of that freedom will permeate my brain when some critical combination of Vitamin D & salt air is reached, and I won’t need to manufacture fun surprises at quite the same pace.

But for now? I’ll take it.

If you need an escape, this is a fun one. If you try it through this link, I get a $25 referral credit, which brought the cost of my last Fix down to $13 for the sweater I kept.

I expect to hear from twenty-something Kate any day now, thanking me for giving her a vision for her future :)

Sharing a Win

I told you about the Women’s Retreat. And the CFCS Gala. But I also want to share a big family win that happened in the midst of it all.

Last Friday was the first night I’ve spent away from home & the kids since they moved in with us almost two years ago. We hugged goodbye Friday morning before school, and they saw me again Sunday morning before church because it was after midnight when I got in Saturday night.

When I think of what a disaster this would have been a year or two ago, I am in awe of how far we’ve come. I’m sharing this for those of you who are in the weeds of adoptive transitions right now and are terrified that the state of suspended existence you’re in right now might be your new forever normal. It’s not. 

Two years ago, if I’d tried this, the Cherubs would have been certain I was off doing something illegal. They would have been ANGRY, SCARED, and completely dysregulated (a psychology word that describes the state where you’ve lost your ability to cope and your behavior gets disruptive. The phrase, “He’s lost his sh*t?” Yeah, that’s dysregulation.) It would have been a mess, and totally not worth the damage and the aftermath.

One year ago, if I’d tried this, the Cherubs would have been mildly suspicious. The term shady would have been thrown around repeatedly, searching for a place to land. There would have been stern looks and mumbled comments about Don’t your kids matter more than a bunch of women? and I bet Dad wants you to stay home…  It would have been frustrating for everyone and probably not worth it, which would have left me ANGRY and SCARED that I’d always be hostage to their emotional ups and downs.

This year, there was none of that. The kids ate junk food they couldn’t wait to tell me about. Dad took them to Target and was in & out in under five minutes, a feat I cannot duplicate.  They slept normally, and jockeyed for who got to have their screen time first. They missed me, for sure. But they were free from worry and anger and fear, and able to continue on with regular life. That’s a gift.

It probably helps that we started talking about this retreat back in October. They saw the flyers, and the web page. They heard me announce it at church, and talk to people about logistics. They knew how stressed I was about low registration in the weeks before the event, and saw me grin with stunned relief as the registrations poured in during the last few days, putting us up over 100 people and squaring away the finances.  They knew who would be there, and a bit about what we’d be talking about. They knew it would be all women (which probably helped a lot.) A lot of preparation went into this on the family side.

But still. They were happy kids all weekend long. That is a miracle.

And on Tuesday, when we had another event to go to, and I told them “We’ll be coming home around 7:30pm”…then texted Steve’s awesome parents who were watching them at 8:25pm to say, “We haven’t even had dinner yet…” they kids were unphased. Grandma brought them upstairs and they put themselves to bed. And I had a glimpse of a world where these sweet children are truly able to launch out into the world feeling secure about things at home

I think I underestimate the role of consistency in relationships. Of being who you say you are, doing what you say you’ll do, and showing up where you say you’re going to be, over and over again.  Nothing we say can duplicate the power of trust earned over time.

I want to remember this in other areas of my life. I’m not always consistent. But one of my life goals is that whenever people from different areas of my life meet, if my name comes up, they will find that their experience of me has been more or less consistent. I spent a lot of time in my 20s & 30s (and early 40s) like a chameleon, adapting to my surroundings. I thought it was what I was supposed to do. It was pretty lonely, not to mention exhausting. At a certain point about five years ago, I sensed God (and Steve) telling me to stop, to be me, to trust that while no, I wouldn’t fit in everywhere anymore, in the places I did fit in, it would be a better fit.

I am stunned by the way this has shaped our new family. The Cherubs know this about their Round #2 Mom: I’m not that exciting. I wear mostly the same clothes, go to the same places, hang out with the same people. I like things other people might not like (such as writing books and starting a church and throwing retreats where people can connect with God) and don’t like some things others think are great (such as roller coasters and spicy food). I’m a little weird, but I’m consistent. And consistent is better than cool when you’re building a family. 

The Amish Nun Strikes Again!

Last night we went to a Gala to raise money for Cambridge Family & Children’s Service, the awesome organization that helped us adopted the Cherubs. Last year, my friend Super-G & I went. This year, Greenhouse Mission sponsored a table. (Next year we hope to WOW THE ROOM with a 40 person roller skating performance to the tune of Stayin’ Alive, but the room has carpet, so we have a few things to figure out…)

mentioned before how I had a bit of a struggle over what to wear to the Gala (and how I don’t do well with dresses generally), and that I turned to Stitch Fix in my hour of need, hoping they’d find me a certain dress. My algorithm/stylist Katelyn tried, she really did. And while I was cautiously optimistic when I opened the box and saw this pretty array of Spring possibility…


My hopes were crushed in a brutal collision with reality.  Let me remind you…

The dress in a picture:


The dress on me:


You know it’s bad when your first reaction to a photo like this isn’t, “I need to delete this immediately…” but rather, “Oh I need to show this to EVERYONE!”

So last night, after trying on all four dresses I own, I went back to the Amish Nun Dress. It IMG_5654really was the best of the bunch, and I knew that I wouldn’t run into the same Everyone  else is wearing a ball gown issue I had with Steve’s holiday party. I wore cuter shoes this time. Honestly, I thought I’d be okay.

I walked into the gala feeling cute & confident. But then, out of nowhere, I was TOTALLY BUSTED.

A nice woman I’ll call D came up to chat. I’ve met her before at other CFCS events, as she’s on their Board. She’s really fun so was excited to see her. BUT THEN she told me, trying not to laugh, that SHE READS THIS BLOG. She even forwards the link to friends (Hi Kathryn!) And therefore she knew that not only was I not wearing the Stitch Fix dress, I was wearing my Amish Nun ensemble. Again.

I was hilariously mortified.

Just as I was struggling to justify my choice (I was working on a line about how Nuns help children, so it was the right thing to wear…) she confessed her own dress struggle, and mine faded far into the background. She gave me permission to share it here, and you should thank her now.

D. told me that, as she got dressed that morning, she thought she looked pretty good. She called to her husband for his take on things, and he (being a wise man of discernment and kindness) told her gently, “Um, something’s not right in the front…” She could see what he meant – things around the tummy area were bunched up in an unusual way. But she couldn’t hone in on the problem and had to get on with her day.

Later, she discovered the problem. She had her Spanx on backwards. 

Her shapewear was diligently doing it’s job in all the wrong directions, lifting and separating her tummy into butt cheeks.

I laughed so hard my face hurt.

I feel like this is a theme of my week – how, when we get together with our hopes and dreams and stories, and lift each other up by sharing the funny things that happen, the atmosphere changes. The world actually becomes a better place.

Thank you, D. for making my night! (I so wish we’d grabbed a picture!)

Here’s part of our Greenhouse Mission crew at our table.


Behind us you can see some of the young ladies who live in one of the CFCS group homes. The money we were raising will go to support them, and the young men at the next table, as they transition into adulthood. Such a cool thing to be part of. If you want to donate to CFCS and the work they do, click here and be part of the fun.

And if you’re curious about the rest of my “Fix,” here’s a gallery:


I liked the purple pants more than I expected. But can’t really see them becoming a key part of my wardrobe, so back they went. I loved the off-white top, until I realized it’s entirely sheer in the back (not nearly as sexy as it sounds). Back it went. And the shorts were so cute! But huge in the waist and, well…bunchy in the front. Back they went. But I kept a blue sweater! I’ve worn it 4 times already and received at least 3 compliments, so I’m taking that as a solid investment.

At last weekend’s women’s retreat, several us us were attired by Stitch Fix, so much so that we had a running joke about getting “Stitch Fix 4 Jesus!” bracelets with the tagline, If we look good, HE looks good!

We won’t actually do that. :)

If you feel like you’re in a style rut, give it a try. (If you place your first order via this link, I get a small discount on my next Fix. Thank you!) You might get a whole new outfit…or maybe just a nice sweater that goes with everything. That’s part of the adventure. And now you know that if something looks wonky, the first thing to do is check to see if you have your Spanx on backwards!

We’ll file this post under fashion tips ;)