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Monthly Archives: June 2013

“Handle so hot I can’t stand it, might shrivel up and blow away, noonday sun make you crazy, least, that’s what the old men say…”

The heat of summer is officially on us, as crayons melt in cars and eggs fry on sidewalks. Yesterday in Dallas, as the heat climbs towards triple digits, I was out running errands with the kids, and they began to complain about the heat. As we walked back to the car, the whining had reached a fevered pitch, and I was on the verge of pulling out my hair. When we got into the car, after the fifth request for waaaaaaateeeerrrrrrr because we are dyyyyyyyyyinnnnggggg….I told the kids that if they were going to complain about the heat, they were going to have to do it creatively. I told them that the most creative way to describe the weather would win a drink from Sonic.(highly coveted in our house, as Sonic ice is made of unicorn wings and joy). The following are the most creative entries, and I told the kids that my readers would get to choose the winner.

“I feel like my hair is made out of sparklers”

“It’s so hot that the desert is crying because they are so hot even though they are the desert”

“It’s really really hot and I don’t like it at all. For real, yo”

I think if I tried to eat ice right now it would run away and scream because my mouth is too hot”

“My feet feel like they are made out of sparklers. Wait. no. My feet feel like they are made of roller skates but they are shooting fire.”

“It’s so hot that Taylor Swift isn’t going to be modest anymore. That’s sad.”

“It feels like there’s no more hope in the world because it got burned up.”

“If I went swimming right now it would feel like jello but before you put it in the fridge”

“I think if mommy tried to turn the oven on for dinner, it would scream NO at her”

“My eyes feel like they have melted in my head and now I have brain eye soup”

“It feels like God might be just a little bit mad at us.”

“If I was a tomato plant, I would be making spaghetti sauce right now”

“If it rained right now, I would cry in disbelief”

“It feels like I’m best friends with the dragon in Harry Potter and I don’t want to hang around him because he’s too hot but I have to because he’s my best friend. And sometimes he takes me to Sonic.”

“It’s hot enough to write a rap song about how hot it is but it’s too hot to perform it.”

“I just want to sleep at Braum’s house”

“I feel like I want to shave the dog”

“I think Santa is smart.”

“I wish I was a boy. Wait, no I don’t want to be a boy. But they don’t have to wear shirts. I wish I would be a girl and not wear a shirt and no one would look. Yeah.”

“My heart feels broken. Like someone tried to make a s’more on it”

“Maybe there is a giant with a really big glass and he’s burning us”

“Would God flood the earth again if we said please?”

“I want to go to New York. I know it’s hot there but they have really tall buildings and we could climb to the top and pull the string thingy to turn the sun off”

“It’s too hot to play this game anymore”

All in all, I’d say they were pretty creative! Mamas, this worked for the afternoon and I’ve used it since then- if they want to complain, they have to describe it creatively and I’ve been making them write them down- usually they giggle so much that they forget to be grouchy, AND we are getting some good writing skills in!

So what’s your vote? Winner gets a drink of their choice: )

Have a question or subject for Mama Mondays? Email me at

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“Here is all I have to give, I offer up this life I live, I am sincerely yours, now in all sincerity, I give You all of me Jesus, I am sincerely Yours…”

“Use me, use me, I will give my all and I’ll shake the ground with a holy sound, all the walls will fall”

When Pete Orta, songwriter and guitarist for the rock band Petra, penned those lyrics years ago, he didn’t have any idea how the words would play out in his life. A beautiful wife, healthy children, and success in music and ministry characterized Pete’s life, but there was a side that few saw.  Behind the guitar, there was apathy. Behind the touring and concerts, was sadness and dysfunction. Behind the Grammy, a family slogging through the muddy waters of “success”, and slowly being strangled by their forced smiles. Pete and Kelli have walked the tightrope of marriage, but like all good stories, they limped along to a crossroads…and it was no pretty paved road with beautiful landscaping. This was defeat. This was ashes, and beauty seemed too far to ever draw close again.

“When I feel my self slip away, I pray with all my heart, I let You in, take my life and start again, open me, up to You, make me into something new”

Out of a passion for the lost and the forgotten, In Triumph was “composed”. Music, art, creativity- all are used as part of the healing process for the young adults who come into Pete and Kelli’s living room. The lyrics of In Triumph’s song are rooted in scripture, and the melody is wrapped in the love and compassion that Pete and Kelli display for these “unchosen” ones. When a young man or woman walks through their doors, they are greeted with physical care, both through sifting through various addictions, and meeting nutritional needs, which for almost all of them have been grossly neglected or misused. They attend required Bible classes twice a day. They learn life skills, and are required to help run the household. They form relationships, and for some, it’s the first safe appropriate relationship they’ve ever experienced. The roads these men and women come from is varied- some come from aging out of the foster system, some come as a result of the criminal justice system, some come from desperate parents seeking help for their young adult child. This journey started with one, and to date, Pete and Kelli have seen about three hundred men and women come through their door since.

“Sometimes I fall, sometimes I fly, but You have been here to catch me every time.  Sometimes I start, sometimes I stall but You have been right beside me through it all.”

Imagine your family’s expenses, and now imagine adding ten more people to the mix. How would you feed them? Clothe them? Take care of their medical needs? Pay for the materials needed to teach them? Take care of any legal needs? Pete and Kelli pay for these expenses out of their own budget. And at the end of the day, after Kelli has homeschooled their four children and taught life skills to the teens living in their home, after Pete has taught bible classes, counseled men and women, and been a husband and father, they pray together and wait patiently for the Lord to provide using His people.

Now here’s my confession- Pete and Kelli are family. So I happen to think they are pretty awesome. I wrote the above to be used to help build exposure and support for this ministry, and wanted to share it here as well. But here’s the truth- I’ve been asked to write things before, either for blogs or organizations, and I’ve said no, either because I couldn’t spare the time or because I couldn’t fully support the mission of these organizations. I had absolutely no reservations saying yes to Pete and Kelli.

If you would like to find out more about In Triumph, check them out here-

Follow on Twitter @intriumph

“Just me and you, not so many things we got to do or places we got to be, we’ll sit beneath the mango tree now, yeah it’s always better when we’re together…”

After a bit of writer’s block, Selah wandered into my room and asked why my screen was blank. I joked with her that I was waiting for her to write for my blog, since my brain wasn’t working. She asked me what I wanted her to write about and I told her she could tell people how to make the summer really fun for their kids. About fifteen minutes later, she walked back in with this. Clearly, she doesn’t suffer the same block as her mama does!

Dear Mommies and Daddies, I want to tell you about how a summer can be fun. First, plan fun things. We don’t like being bored. Choose really fun things like putt putt, swimming, fun houses, or Papa Johns. Second, you gotta get them ready. Tell them where you are going if they don’t like surprises. If they do like surprises, lay out their clothes the night before so they can guess what you are doing. Third, have a date with them. Maybe go painting pottery or trying on jewelry even if you don’t buy it. But girls like it when you buy them a bling. Maybe choose a movie like some boy movies and some girl movies. Maybe some dog movies too. Also maybe have a dress up party. You can dress up like a horse or Mary Magdalene.

Let us sleep. School is hard, you know? Cook fun snacks. Snacks are what summer is all about. Have sleepovers WITH nail polish. I can do it myself. Go to concerts even if you don’t want to because music is beautiful and very important. If you don’t like it you can wear earslugs. I know they are called ear plugs. That was a joke. Teach us things. Teach laundry. Teach us about cupcakes. Eat cupcakes. Clean the house but not too much. Make popsicles with no food dye. Say, hey why don’t we and then say something fun.

Don’t leave babies alone. They might crawl out of their cribs and chew on coins. You can leave teenagers alone probably unless they chew on coins too. If I had a perfect day I would eat donuts and then ride horses all day. I would eat lunch in the field with my horse and I would eat chicken and carrots and mashed potatoes and share with my horse. I would have a sleepover with my horse. I would stay up late telling my horse I love you. I would also eat cake. The most important thing for you to know is to love your kids and love Jesus. He helps you when you don’t want to love ANYBODY.



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“Baby you make the difference, it’s just like day and night, baby you make the difference, you make it all seem right…”

(I’m postponing Mama Mondays post until Wednesday. I’ll call it “Whatta I do Wednesday”.)

Dear Wes,

On Saturday we celebrated Fathers Day because you were going to have to work all day on Sunday. I asked you what you wanted to do to celebrate and suggested that you have some time alone in the house. Your idea was mowing the lawn, having lunch with me and the kids, and spending the afternoon at the house, just hanging out. I’ll admit that I probably would never suggest celebrating Mothers Day by engaging in a rousing round of washing dishes, but that’s just the crazy guy you are. This is our tenth year with the mom and dad titles (although I personally am making them call me mommy FOR-EV-ER), and like in any job, there’s been a learning curve, but I am grateful to have you as my teammate because I’ve learned that there are multiple things I just can’t do. I know if you weren’t here, the Lord would provide for us and fill in the gaps, but I wanted to take a minute to tell you the things our kids would be missing if I didn’t have you.

Knowledge of pop culture- I’m sorry that I still can’t really tell you who “Legolas” is. I know he’s in that movie with the giant spider but come on, that movie is 17 hours long, so no one understands the plot. Without you, our kids would be able to quote every line from The Princess Bride, but would never know Indiana Jones or Anniekin. They would refer to sad moments as “this is totes Beaches”, but sadly would never know anything about why Frodo might choose the red pill over the blue. I realize that knowing that George Michael will never musically top his Wham! days is important information for the growing mind, but without you, their little ears would not enjoy the mulleted musings of a young Steven Curtis Chapman. They’d never know Michael W. Smith and without that, who knows what direction they’d go in? It could be west, but that’s not a chance we need to take!

Dishwashing how-to- its entirely possible that without you, I’d just throw dishes in the dishwasher until it looked like it needed to close. I mean, it all gets the same soap and water, right? No need to pay attention to where they are supposed to go! The utensil drawer is just a suggestion! And I also realize that I am a smidge more “liberal” when it comes to what can and can’t go into the dishwasher. For you, a dinner plate needs to be rinsed and washed with some soap before being gently placed in the correct place within the complicated dishwashing grid. I think a plate housing a small mountain of spaghetti is probably okay to throw in there. Don’t worry- I checked the manual. (we both know that is a lie- I don’t read manuals). So without you, our kids would be breaking dishes and dishwashers willy nilly, and I’d be shaking my head and saying sympathetically to them “it’s okay. The manual said this could happen.”

The ability to shake it off- without you, our kids would probably be on a first name basis with the triage nurse at our local emergency room. I’m not saying am paranoid because I’M TOTALLY NOT WEBMD WOULD NEVER LEAD ME ASTRAY but I am saying that you are a good balance in knowing that a sneeze is probably not Belgium Nose Flu and that that one spot on under his arm is a freckle EVEN THOUGH IT LOOKS EXACTLY LIKE THAT ONE THING I SAW ON THAT ONE SHOW THAT ONE TIME. Because you are their dad, they dive headfirst into lake water without thinking about those amoebas that drift into your brain and make you start barking at cars, and they don’t check their shoes for baby cobras. Not that I do that. That’s crazy. It was just an example.

Leaving the house- In this modern world, there really isn’t much use for this. Need food? Home delivery service. Want to watch a movie? Hello Netflix. Education? On line classes! Human companionship? Skype, baby! But you are different, sweetheart. You like this “great outdoors” that you often speak of. While I could be content in my home, you make us get out into the sunshine and interact with the world. Thank you for that, because without you, our kids might end up on one of those shows where they have to bulldoze the house just to find the owner and forklift them out. I know because I watched that show today instead of having a playdate.

Aside from all these super important skills, our kids would not be nearly as kind, compassionate, selfless, generous, and loving if you weren’t their dad. Truly, our kids will know this someday, but right now they don’t know how blessed they are to be yours. And I would not be half the mom I even want to be without you. You encourage and sharpen me. You stand by my side and hold me up when it’s hard. You trust me and honor me. You bless me with your love for Christ. I love you.



“Everyone used to tell me big boys don’t cry, but I’ve been around enough to know that was the lie, that held back the tears in the eyes of a thousand prodigal sons, well we are children no more, we have sinned and grown old, and our Father still waits and He watches down the road, to see the crying boys come running back into His arms…”

You sit on your couch, your eyes watching the game, but your heart is in your stomach. She just left, hair fixed and too short skirt in your opinion, out the door with that kid. You don’t know much about him, just that he looked shifty eyed and nervous tonight, and you wonder if he’s nervous about meeting you or about what he has planned for in his car later with your little girl. The cheering and whistles fade into the background of your mind while you rewind the last five years, flipping through memories and hoping to find the moment where you taught her how much she’s worth, and how she should be treated by a boy…but you come up empty. As the clock ticks, you wonder what choices she is making right now, and if she knows all the things you have somehow forgotten to say.

You wrap your arms around her while she cries after the doctor has left the room. The whispers of “I’m so sorry” echo around the room as if they were shouted from a bullhorn. You wonder how it is that dreams can vanish so quickly, for one minute you were imagining coaching little league teams and passing down your father’s name, and the next you are trying to make sense of the word miscarriage. You slip into the comfortable robes of action and productivity, and barely notice that while people tell your wife that they are sorry for her loss, that they understand, that it is okay for her to grieve, no one seems to remember to say that to you too. You drive home and glance at a man playing catch with his son. The lump that contains all the blackness of hurt and anger rises up and threatens to choke out any joy that remains. You pull into your driveway, and dry your eyes. “She’s hurting enough”, you think, so you take a deep breath and go inside, ready to pick her up when she falls.

The kids wave and get into the car as you watch. It disappears around the corner, but you just stand there, because you know that the *click* of the door shutting is the beginning of long days until it’s your turn to have them again. At first the quiet is nice, a reprieve from the chaos and noise. At first, relief. It’s difficult to keep your voice and face neutral when your boy mentions Mom going out on a date. But soon the quiet feels oppressive, like the weight of past mistakes is slowly pressing down, the vapors of regret chilling the air. You turn the television on, hoping it drowns out the voice that wonders if “Dad” will soon be a shared title.

The conversation is stilted, lines of polite clichés interrupted by moments of awkwardness. You and he avoid the landmine topics, and stick to the safe. You see him less now, at first it was weeks, but now it’s months and you know it will  eventually be years between visits. His life is a mystery to you, although you are sure he is successful, because he’s smart and engaging with others. You don’t know if he is happy. You don’t know if his marriage is secure. And you don’t know how he feels about coming to visit you. The conversation skirts close to the past and like a skittish cat, you quickly divert back to safer ground. He’s your son, but there’s no real warmth there. He’s tried to talk to you about the distance before, but your pride deflected the words. And now you sit, the loudest silence between you both, and you wonder if it’s too late for things to be different. You wonder what he would say if you said you were sorry. You wonder if his eyes sting from held back tears like yours do. He stands to leave, you take a deep breath to jump off the high board of vulnerability, and then you step back, climb back down the ladder and walk away. “Maybe next time”, you think. You hope his relationship with his son has fared better.

You open the Fathers Day card, and smile at the misspelled words and smudged coloring. You never thought you had this much room in your heart for this amount of love. You never thought hearing “daddy!” would evoke feelings of protectiveness and joy. You never thought you’d spend Saturdays watching soccer games and playing tea party. You never thought you’d spend a bonus on a guitar for your boy, because you keep catching him staring at yours. You never thought you’d be in awe of the woman who made you a father, and who keeps track of shoe sizes, school papers, and doctor’s appointments. And in the quiet of the night after the kids are in bed, you are alone with your thoughts and remember your oldest child. The child you don’t tuck in or chase the ice cream truck with. The child you only saw on a blurry piece of paper in the hand of a trembling woman. That one that ceased to be a child in your head, and was instead a choice. You close your eyes tight and take a deep breath and comfort yourself with the knowledge that there is forgiveness. You allow tears for the child that doesn’t have a face, but who made you a father for the first time.

You see pictures, but hear no words. You are a father, but not a daddy. When people ask how many kids you have, you don’t exactly know how to answer. You know they have questions, but you don’t have any answers- at least, not any answers that you think will satisfy. You wonder how far forgiveness could possibly extend. You only allow yourself snippets of thoughts about them, because otherwise the pain is too great. “Abandoner” is your scarlet letter. You justify that maybe it’s not a big deal, lots of people grow up without fathers, but deep down, you know you inflicted a wound that won’t totally heal, just scar over.

You sit, reading this. You are relaxed, the children are healthy and your wife is happy. You are surrounded by strong men that you can look up to and imitate their parenting. Your kids are well-behaved, and learning how to be responsible and caring towards others. There’s money in the bank- enough to be comfortable, but not enough to feel excessive. You are respected at work as one of the good guys, and are approached frequently for advice. You serve in your church, give more than the ten percent you think God wants, and teach your children to study God’s word. Your life isn’t perfect, but you are grateful that you seemed to have avoided many of the tragedies that you’ve watched your friends walked through. Loving husband and father, life is good…except for that raging pornography addiction. You try to convince yourself that the tiny weed you started with hasn’t spread to your entire yard, choking the life from any of the beauty that is living there. You know it’s a lie. You know you are fooling yourself. You know she will find out eventually. You know you should stop. You plan for your next hit when your wife goes to bed. You are held up as a great father, but you fear your legacy will shatter someday.

When I thought about what I wanted to say for Fathers Day, it was this- there is a Father who is perfect, and He takes all the mistakes, the selfishness, the fear, the blame, the escape, the darkness, and can turn them into beauty. He can turn fathers into daddies. He can restore and redeem what you think is broken beyond repair. It is never too late. 

Jesus, heal us. Remind us that you are not an absent father, and that you are the only thing that can truly repair broken hearts. Give fathers courage to love and lead, in spite of a world that devalues them. Give children compassion, because those father wounds are stubborn and slow to heal. Let us not be adults who hold onto pain without mercy. 

Have a question or subject for Mama Mondays? Email me at

Follow me on Twitter @brandyb77

“And it’s knockin’ heads and talkin’ trash, it’s slinging mud and dirt and grass, it’s I’ve got your number, I got your back when your back’s against the wall, you mess with one man, you got us all, we’re the boys of fall…”

Things overheard during a playdate with five boys…

“My mom says drums are okay, but I know she really doesn’t like them.”

“Las Vegas is a spanish word, but that doesn’t mean there’s ONLY spanish people there.”

“Yeah but mostly.”

“Are you sure?? I thought Las Vegas sounds like fancy, like french or Chinese.”

“Dude, I know A LOT about Las Vegas.”

“Lying is a sin. It’s in the ten commandments. I hear that all the time.”

“Is there an 11th commandment?”

“Yep. It’s that you aren’t allowed to say boogers.”

“Did you know if you jump into the pool real fast, the water goes up your shorts and it makes like a farting noise?”

“Girls care about things that are so weird, like hair. I mean, it just grows, it doesn’t DO anything!”

“My mom doesn’t really care about her hair I think. But she cares about plants and that’s just as weird.”

“Hey guys! I love drugs.”

“Haha, I meant medicine!”

“Dude, that’s not funny. You aren’t supposed to take drugs, it’s in the bible”

“Yeah, don’t take drugs and don’t say boogers”

“I think snow cones should be pizza flavored.”

“Wouldn’t it be cool if Tiger’s Blood snow cones were made out of real tigers?”

“They aren’t made of tigers. They are made out of falcons.”

“I think if a tiger and falcon got into a fight, the tiger would win.”

“That’s crazy! A falcon has like super sharp claws and it can fly away!”

“Yeah but a tiger can jump and grab it and break it’s little wings.”

“Well a falcon could take drugs though and make it crazy”

“Why would a falcon take drugs?? Where would they even get drugs in the wild??”


“Dude, relax. Falcons can’t read.”


So many things I did not know.

Have a question or subject for Mama Mondays? Email me at

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Mama Mondays- “Make the money, don’t make the money make you, change the game, don’t let the game change you, I’ll forever remain faithful, all my people stay true…”

“How do you handle all the activities your kids want to do without spoiling them or going into debt? My kids seem to have a new activity or camp they HAVE to go to every week!”

SUCH a great question. Wes and I have been dealing with this exact same thing (it doesn’t help that for the last six weeks, they got flyers almost daily about different camps in the area). The summer can be stressful financially because of maybe increased childcare, camps, and traveling. Preparing ahead of time is great, but sometimes the demands of the rest of the year won’t allow for that. Some of the things we’ve decided to do are…

Set the priorities with the kids. If your child doesn’t have a realistic view of money and the cost of activites, it will be easy for them to want to do everything and not understand why you need to say no. They will also probably be bombarded with invitations, so it’s our job to help them understand what is reasonable. For some families, setting a price limit might work best, and for others, setting a limit on time works better. For us, we narrowed it down to what our kids are interested in the most for camps- soccer for Josiah and Malachi, and art for Selah. For Josiah’s camp, it it the most expensive one and so we have explained to him that we would like him to earn some money to try to help pay for it. I understand that for some people, the idea of asking your child to help pay for camp seems extreme, but the truth is, we believe he will appreciate it more if he is helping pay for it. We will ask Selah to do the same thing.  For each activity that they would like to do (zoo, aquarium, etc), we will sit down and show them what it costs for our family, and ask them to help us adjust the budget so it can be more affordable.

Manage your guilt. I remember going to a summer camp when I was about eight years old. I remember that there was a boy who wore a red plaid shirt all week (in the summer in Texas) who followed me around. Finally on the last day of camp, he played Richard Marx’s “Right here Waiting for You” on a portable casio keyboard. And I remember losing my glasses in the river. Other than that, my summer memories consisted of walking to the Circle K, playing barbies in the mud, and climbing countless trees. No fancy lessons, no specialized latin camps, no six foot blow up waterslides.  And I have turned out to be a (reasonably) well adjusted person.  There is a lot of pressure, both on kids and parents, to provide the ultimate summer in fun, education, and spiritual maturity. This pressure will only lead you to overspending and overscheduling! Choosing to do things that will build memories is wonderful, but you don’t want to mar those memories with stress over money or time. Remember that school IS coming…and relaxed intentional time is what will build up your relationship with your child the most.

Be creative with income. I’ve sat down with my kids and talked to them about what they could do to earn some income for the summer to help offset the cost of activities. Josiah is exceptionally good with little kids and very responsible, so he has decided he might try to earn some money as a mother’s helper. He also wants to do some lawn care for others. Selah has…interesting ideas of how to earn income. After explaining that people are unlikely to pay her to beatbox for them, she has decided to sell hand painted fans, and help with gardening.

And that brings it to me. Ultimately, I’d love to make some kind of income writing, but until that happens, I’ve decided to try to generate income in other ways. One of those is making these tutus-


Prices start at $10 and increase depending on color choices and size.

I”m also available to provide cakes and baked goods (pies, pastries, candy, etc). Prices vary. Here are some pictures of cakes I have done-

animal jungle cake cinderella cake clothesline baby shower cake noah's ark cake baby shower cake flip flop cake

If you are interested, you can email, tweet, or friend me on Facebook!

Follow me on Twitter @brandyb77

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