Archives for November 2012

Terrible Two’s and the Grocery Store Meltdown

Kolby Keller (AKA “Lamby-Pants”)

It’s a hard sell after a long day at pre-school to get little Kolby anywhere near the grocery store.  I’m afraid to even suggest the appalling word –Pavilions, knowing it will bring on growls and whining.

All Kolby can think about is driving straight home, noshing on MACANONI, plowing through eight or nine books, taking a bath with her Dora shampoo and falling into mommy’s arms exhausted by 7:45pm. 

My two-year-old loves routine.

But mommy had to pick up dinner for the family and the pain of a cranky toddler was a necessary evil.

In we trooped to the store and quickly made our purchases.  Kolby commented on the balloons, the cards, and the Christmas decorations.  She pointed out the green bananas, offered her critique of pepperoni vs. sausage pizza and spelled out the letters on every sign. 

In the checkout line Kolby noticed the man behind her.  She smiled at him and struck up a conversation.  I felt a tug on my leg.  “Mommy, who is he?” she whispered.

Overhearing her, the man replied, “My name is Garrett.  What’s yours?”

Kolby stuck out her tiny hand.  “I’m Lamby-pants, nice to meet you.”

I corrected her and giggled, “Her name is Kolby and sometimes Lamby-pants.”

Kolby’s smile vanished.  “Mom, I am Lamby-pants!  That’s what you call me,” she shrieked as only a small child can. 

(It’s the scream from Hades every parents fears and it ALWAYS happens in the checkout line)

All commerce stops.  All eyes turn to the parent to see how they will react.  After three kids I know the routine.  If I freak out, I can guarantee someone will recognize me as the pastor’s wife and make a thinly veiled comment. My only option is to ignore the pounding in my head, offer a firm but calm response and to flee from the scene ASAP.

“Mr. Garrett my name is Lamby-pants,” she spitted out, glaring at me with all the hostility she could muster.

Mr. Garrett nodded at my small child who morphed into Carrie, afraid her head would spin around and spew out green vomit if he disagreed.

I raised my eyebrows, shook my scarlet cheeks, and paid for my frozen pizza and wings.  “Ok Lamby-pants, let’s say goodbye and get the hell out of here,” I muttered under my breath, trying not to look at anyone.

I tried to knock off the big L on my head as I ran out the door, but it refused to budge.

Note to self * After 5:30pm, Dominoes is always WORTH the cost of delivery*

What’s your most embarrassing moment as a parent?

The Gift of Present


Kyle, Kolby and Faith


I’ve never been one to understand the folks who bemoan a holiday or associate it with pain. My lack of empathy, while unintentional, comes strictly from a bundle of delicious memories tucked away in my heart .

While I know there is rampant family dysfunction and a thousand other awfuls abounding in the world –it’s never touched me during the season. Thanksgiving and Christmas were my respite from the chaos of life. I still catch myself searching for Santa and his sleigh on Christmas Eve after so many years of wanting to believe.

I relish the thought of pumpkin pie and chats with grandma, cheesy small talk with cousins and hours of football. I dress my kids in party frocks and it’s a no-brainer that I will gain at least gain two pounds from my mom’s pecan pie alone.

Unfortunately, due to some rough patches, I’ve now crossed over to the dark side.

Just the smell of turkey bums me out.

Two years ago I lost a favorite uncle while the turkey was in the oven, a year ago my aunt (his wife) joined him and I watched in disbelief as my cousins buried both their parents back to back. But now I am hit with the hardest pill of all to swallow –the diagnosis of my father with Dementia.

I look around the table and there are empty seats where smiles used to be. My heart lurches and pangs. The cranberries taste more bitter than sweet.

As we shared our blessings at dinner this year I wasn’t honest. I muttered out the typical Jesus-y pat answer. Certainly, I am fortunate to have a loving husband and beautiful children. We have health and provision and faith. I get it. I am thankful beyond words.

But I didn’t share what I was most grateful and most greedy for –these precious and now fleeting moments with my dad.

I don’t know how many Thanksgiving’s I’ve got left with him and quite frankly, it ticks me off. I couldn’t be truthful. I didn’t dare. I would have broken down and bawled like a baby all over the green bean casserole.

It took a long time (too long perhaps) to finally have the relationship I’ve always dreamed about with my dad. But this dream is is as delicate and fragile as the ones in my slumber. I’m afraid to wake up and watch it dissapear while I rub the sleep out of my eyes.

Will my father carry the tinkle of my daughter Faith’s laugh in his heart? Will he be able to recall the golden curls of little Kolby? Will he recognize his grandson’s smile and gentle spirit?

What if he forgets me? What happens when I call and my daddy doesn’t know my voice?

How do I enjoy this moment and swallow turkey when I am mourning over the tears which I know will inevitably follow?

I am envious of the peace my dad has discovered through suffering. He has surrendered to the inevitable and placed his hope in God. I, on the other hand am stubborn. I play a tug of war.

I know God is able to heal but his will is a mystery. I don’t understand, but I trust -sometimes begrudgingly. I worship through tears coming out my nose.

Stupid turkey. Stupid holiday.

Stupid me… for not appreciating every precious second.

My favorite part of Thanksgiving? Sitting next to my dad, breathing in his familiar coffee breath and taking mental snapshots of his every single move.

Reason #28 to be thankful –finally understanding the gift of being present.

What are you thankful for?

Paybacks are Hell

I grew up as an SC fan.  Not many people know this about me.  My father finished his graduate work at the University of Southern California and went on to become a Dr. of Optometry.  Our home was a bastion of all things crimson and gold and as season ticket holders –we never missed a game.

I dreamed of becoming a USC song-leader and leading the “Fight On” song with bouncy curls and overpriced pom poms.

Until the day I applied to the prestigious school and daddy balked.  When costs were considered, my always frugal father had second thoughts.  He wasn’t sure he wanted to spend so much money on a “girl child.”

So the pissed off girl child retaliated.  She became a Bruin and graduated from the enemy school.  From that day forward, the rivalry in the James home began.

We tease, we jibe and we call from games and leave voice mails with the roar of the crowd.

When I was in college, (class of ’98) Cade McNown was in his QB element and the Bruins were on a roll.  We ruled the hoops (back to back NCAA champions) and ranked high in the BCS. 

But as we all know…it’s been a long time since the glory days and I’ve been the recipient of years of brutal bombasting.

Until now…finally, I sense a glimmer of hope.  Coach Jim Mora is staging a comeback! 

So when our USC neighbors covered our lawn and trees with toilet paper in broad daylight right before kickoff, we figured it was game on in the rivalry department.

They left a USC sports drink on our porch as a nice little jab.

I love pranks and thought this was classic.  I laughed and laughed.

After a FANTASTIC game, which UCLA pulled out (thanks to about 17 errors from USC) we scraped by and won.  The Keller home exploded in cheers.

Then we took our UCLA flag down to our neighbor’s home and quickly replaced their USA flag with our tattered Bruin’s flag and took a picture.  It hung right next to their large USC flag.  We posted it on Facebook and chuckled all the way home.

The payback was awesome…until we received a message from the owner of the home expressing his dismay. 

He was not a happy camper.

Confused, I quickly apologized to the wife and groveled. 

(It didn’t make any sense…why would the neighbor be so upset when he and his kids had trashed our yard?)

She then explained they weren’t the ones who toilet papered our home.  It was another neighbor WHO LET US BELIEVE it was the other family.

Oh Shiznet!

We were FRAMED by a stealth USC fan.  And we bought it hook, line and sinker.

Paybacks really are hell when you screw up the payback.

Now who feels like the JACKWAGGON of the century!!!

It’s time for more groveling.  A large case of beer and cookies will soon be delivered along with more apologies.

UCLA may have won the game, but in our neighborhood, USC came out on top. 

 Have you ever experienced a misunderstanding of epic proportions? 

Photo Credit: LA Times

Violent Hands


Monday night was a heart racy night for me.  I held my breath.  I tried to be calm, but the anticipation and anxiety of the awards ceremony was way too much drama for this mama.

Monday was the end-of-season football banquet for J Serra High School where my son Kyle plays on the freshmen team.

Kyle is a tight end and middle linebacker.  And although he scored about ten touchdowns over the season, it’s the defense that captures his heart.

One of his coaches’ told me in private, “Your boy has violent hands.  You can’t teach fierceness.  Either you’re born with it or not.  Kyle’s a playmaker.  He disrupts, he intercepts, he makes fumbles and quarterbacks run when they see him.”

Yep, that pretty much sums Kyle up.

When he was little he had an over-abundance of energy.  I took him to the pool or the park religiously to wear out the little tyke. 

Now Kyle always shared his toys.  He was gentle with girls and small children.  But woe to the boy child who stole from him, pushed or bullied.

That kid was going down.

I don’t know how many times I had to jump in the baby pool as my son confronted  a bully or an out of control water-gun shooter and knocked him on his butt.

Kyle was the Chuck Norris of the toddler set.  He was the defender of the weak.  He was also very difficult to peel off when he was tackling (I mean teaching) another kid a lesson.

Football was a Godsend.

He was seven years-old when he set foot on the field.  After the first week of full gear and contact he came to me with tears in his eyes.  “Mommy, thank you so much for letting me play football.  I get to hit people and its ok!  Thank you so much!”

You’re welcome?

Seven seasons later I sat next to this tall, muscular and mature young man at an extravagant awards dinner and held my breath as they called out names.

They announced the big awards last.  The suspense was killing me.  I sat there and thought, “Why am I so nervous?  Why is this so personal?  Why do I care so much about his success?”

I guess it’s just what football moms do!

This is the kid I’ve pushed up and down the street a thousand times in his Flintstone car to hear his giggle, the kid I’ve loved and battled with and washed a thousand stinky jersey’s for, this is the kid who is a gentle giant (off the field) with a wicked sense of humor.  This is the kid whose smile and soothing personality brighten every day…

I looked over at Tim and Brent.  They were sweating bullets too.  I smiled and laughed inside.  We all care so much about Kyle’s journey.

As the coach started talking about the last defensive award, I knew he was referring to my boy.  He mentioned how the quarterbacks at Orange Lutheran want nothing to do with this kid. (Kyle knocked both the starter and the second string QB’s out of the game).  He mentioned his ability to make magic on the field, his work ethic second to none and his leadership that set the tone for the entire team.

He paused and grinned at my boy, “The Defensive MVP Award goes to…Kyle Adams.”

Is it ok to thank Jesus for “violent hands?”

Party Pooper

I wanted to help a new friend.  So I broke my own cardinal rule and hosted a jewelry party for her at my home. 

It’s never a good idea to stray from core values and it didn’t go well for me.

There may be something to picking a bad event date.  Note to self  *Nov. 7th SUCKS!  Most of my good friends were previously engaged with kid’s activities and work and board meetings. I should have canceled the event or picked a new date.

I get it.  We are busy, busy people. But almost a dozen ladies agreed to join me, so I went ahead and forged on with the party. 

Some cancellations are explainable.  My sweet neighbor has a three day old baby.  She gets a pass.  Another dear friend is moving –she fell asleep accidentally early in the evening.  I hate moving.  I understand.

But the other ten people who RSVP’d to my party and didn’t show… I need a note from your teacher.

Because I felt like a BIG loser. 

It’s like waiting for your date to show and waiting and waiting and waiting.  And then you take off your makeup and try not to look in the mirror to see your sad face.

I did however have three of my daughters friend’s over.  We played Just Dance and ate all the food I prepared.

We ate a lot.  Hey ladies…the appetizers were awesome.

I sat on my barstool next to my jewelry friend and tried not to panic.  But we both knew by 8:30pm the party was a disaster.  My cheeks burned with embarrassment.

It stinks to feel unwanted and discarded for the “Voice” or something better that came along.

My pride prickled.  I wanted to cry but I honestly didn’t have it in me.  I was too exhausted from cooking and cleaning. 

It was a great opportunity to be reminded of my true worth and value which is not dependent on a room full of women purchasing jewelry.  I spent some time in Psalms this morning refreshing my wounded spirit.

“Although you and your circumstances may change dramatically, I remain the same throughout time and eternity.  This is the basis of your confidence.  In my presence you live and move and have your being.”*

I’m guesing Jesus had some parties that didn’t go over too well either.  It brought back my smile.

Next party…no jewelry. And just so you know, if you no-showed, I still love you.  A lot!

Have you ever had a party where no one came? 


*(Taken from Acts 17:28 Jesus Calling)

One Click at a Time

My post Why Guys aren’t Asking Women Out has created a big buzz.  The comments are pouring in and Ruth Rutherford even blogged about her struggle with some of the male comments in “Oh Henry! There’s Gotta be More.”  In this controversial post I suggested the over-sexualization of our culture (and porn specifically) is one of the biggest contributors to the problem of women not getting asked out.

Some agreed, while others clearly did not.  I was dismissed by a few guys who by their very own comments proved my point that many men in our culture are driven by the sexual images they see.  I was also affirmed for identifying this as a cultural crisis, but my FAVORITE response came in this morning from Brandon. 

I wanted to share this because as a woman I lose credibility by the sheer fact that I don’t have a penis, AND maybe some of you can hear this message better from a man. 

(Although this whole post was done in collaboration with my husband –a male pastor and we deal with this issue on a daily basis in our church, ministry, through counseling and in the relationship seminars we speak at.)

Here is Henry’s comment, which I confess I struggle with a bit.

As a guy I have a very different perspective. I’ve dated a ton of women – more than I care to admit. I don’t think porn is the real problem as to why these girls aren’t getting dates. Any honest Christian single guy will admit he’d much rather marry and sleep with his wife/best friend than settle for porn.  Read more…

Brandon replies…

“Henry is right…men DO want somebody to cuddle up with in front of a Cowboys game, enjoy bedroom life with, and read the Bible with…but that’s about it. The long drivel that makes up the rest of his comment is incredibly shallow, ignorant, and short-sighted.

When I first saw the title, “Why Men Aren’t Asking Women Out”, a little thought popped into my head… “Why men aren’t asking women out? That’s simple. Porn.”

For Henry to dismiss pornography and the general sexualization of our society as one of the biggest, if not THE biggest, contributors to this problem means he has his head in the sand. Recently, I have discovered that multiple men very close to me…older men that I have looked up to, some of which that are in ministry or deacons of churches who have by all accounts healthy, close relationships with the Lord have struggled with pornography recently or in the not so distant past. These are men who have served as my personal heroes and confidants, all of which are in their 40s and 50s, all of which have daughters… And they have all come to me separately in the past year to confess that while they were giving me advice in my struggles…they were struggling with lust and secret sins of their own in a way that boys do now starting as early as elementary or middle school.

If these types of men are struggling with this, it’s undoubtedly even bigger than any of us probably even realize.

Pornography and constant easy access to sexual imagery is re-programming our brains one click at a time and the result will be many men and many women that are single much later into their lives, if not for the rest of their lives as well as many ruined marriages that are entered into without full disclosure of the digital women that the groom brings into the equation from Day 1.

In the spirit of transparency, I have met girls before and thought to myself, “She seems awesome. I would ask her out but [insert physical feature] doesn’t really match up with what I’m into.”

I’ve tried to capture those thoughts and re-train my thinking in these areas but with a world full of men that are more likely driven by lust and fulfilling physical desires with such quick and simple ease rather than being driven by Christ-like motivations, there will undoubtedly be millions of women who will continue to pay the price.

The only thing women can really do is pray and ask the Lord to show them areas that they’re falling short in their relationship with him, which will undoubtedly make them more attractive to the right type of man. Also, continue to pray for your future husband. It’s very likely that he is in a spiritual battle with sin and the enemy that needs your interceding. As for men…there are a lot of difficult choices to be made, but the first of which is to step up, take responsibility, get our heads out of the sand, and start fighting for the wives and the children that God has yet to entrust us with because we’ve been warped by a computer screen.”

Brandon, THANK YOU!  You articulated this beautifully. 

What do you think about Brandon and Henry’s different perspectives?


Photo credit: Via pinmarklet

Dreading the Evil Christmas Card Photo

I went cold-turkey for a while.

I just couldn’t take the pressure.  I didn’t want to play the suburban game of my kids are cuter than your kids.  I didn’t want the pressure of feeling inadequate as a single mom.  So I just said “to heck with it” and stopped taking the dreaded picture altogether.

What dreaded picture you ask? 

Oh right…I’m referring to the DREADED Christmas card picture!

The one that gives a mommy shingles just thinking about it.

Now that I am married and added another munchkin into the mix it seems like the card thing is necessary again.  Our extended family wants to see images of the kids and it’s expected that I make the effort.

The truth is, I shudder with anxiety just thinking about trying to get my family to match

My son wants to spike his hair up in a faux-hawk and look edgy, my tween girl wants to wear lip gloss and roll her shorts, and all my two-year old wants to wear is her lion costume.


When I try to get some love from daddy he’s already ticked because I booked the picture on Sunday afternoon (his only day off) and he is missing his favorite Seahawks game. 

Everyone is grumpy when I bark out orders and turn into Scrooge Mom for the perfect picture.

Look happy or mommy will have a MELTDOWN!

Seriously, Pinterest has screwed us all when it comes to photos, parties and crafts.  No one just schleps anything together anymore.  Every kid’s party is a cutout tribute to graphic design.  Every sepia card and Martha Stewart wannabe has upped the stakes. 

I just can’t engage in this virtual game of crafty awesomeness anymore.

For crying out loud, I’m still six months out on my thank you notes.

Man I miss the easy days of ice-cream and cake and Polaroid’s.  A few balloons, a dash of streamers and we were rocking.  I bought my pre-made Christmas cards at Target and threw in a few school pics. 

But then the game changed and everyone’s cards got really cool.  My pride prickled at my measly offering.  So I bought the Pinterest lie to be more creative than I really am.

So how do I wrangle my family to look joyful, be hip and cool and wow my friends?

I think I don’t. 

I think I might let my family wear whatever they want to. 

I’ll just let them be themselves and maybe their smiles will be genuine instead of fake like some poster child for Stepford-ville.  

Maybe we won’t match. 

Maybe one of us will be a LION.

Rebellious?  Possibly…

Then again, Kolby was the only lion this year for Halloween in a sea of princesses.  Maybe she gets it from me.


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