Helmets: A Story About Coincidences

I was alone with the twins in the living room, in the early stages of our morning routine when I heard someone on the front porch, fumbling with the front door.

It was still dark outside. I was in my pajamas.

I stopped, listening. No burglar would make so much noise. It had to be my son.

I ran to open the door, alarmed that he was back home. He had left for cross country practice several minutes before. Why was he back?

I opened the door, and there he was – covered in blood. He had fallen off his bike and gone head-first over the handlebars into the pavement.

And he was not wearing his helmet.

Even though, just the day before, I reminded, encouraged and flat-out asked him to.

Even though.

Coincidence number one.

He had been alone, in the dark. He had his phone, but he didn’t call. Instead, he hobbled back home, bleeding from his head, chin, elbows and legs. Dragging his bike.

My son.

I didn’t yell or lecture.

He was nauseous and panicked. He was as worried about his head as I was. He was devastated to miss cross country practice – he loves to run. It gets him up in the morning.

His pain was enough.

Three hours later, the nausea passed, and he had no other symptoms, so we took him to school. If nothing else, we decided it would help him stay awake, and he would be well-watched.

I spent the day feeling raw. My son.

That afternoon, I picked him up for a dentist appointment we had both forgotten. And because God is merciful, my husband was off work and able to watch the little kids.

So I got to take my son to his appointment on my own – a luxury when you have five kids, trust me!

He was well, though tired and so scraped up from literal head-to-toe, and I felt reassured.

Coincidence number two.

I took this picture, bless him.

If you want to fully believe in the love of God, you have to stop believing in coincidences.

After seeing my son, God impressed a word on me: discipline. God knew my son needed to be disciplined. And though my eye was not on him, God’s was. Just a day after our talk about helmets, God allowed an accident to happen that would (I hope) teach my son a very powerful lesson.

But God’s eye was also on me. He knew I was so worried, that I needed reassurance. I believe God allowed me to spend time with my son alone later that day, so that I could be comforted.

If want to see God at work, to believe that He sees you, that He loves you, look at the coincidences in your life.

You will find Him there.

“We may toss the coin and roll the dice, but God’s will is greater than luck.”

Psalm‬ ‭16:33 TPT‬‬

“Pour out all your worries and stress upon him and leave them there, for he always tenderly cares for you.”

1 Peter 5:7

“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.”

Hebrews 10:35 NIV

Helmets Meditation

Affirmation: There are no coincidences.

Scripture: Psalm 16:33 and 1Peter 5:7 and Hebrews 10:35

Music for Reflection: Do It Again

Rabbit Holes: A Story About Rescue

The postpartum season of motherhood is a blessed fog.

Four pregnancies and five babies in, I always feel like I spend the first twelve months after birth blinking. Blinking in disbelief that my body made such a miracle. Blinking in an effort to burn every precious moment of infancy on the back sides of my eyelids. “Remember this moment. This one.” Blinking and the moment to remember is gone.

And of course, blinking with complete exhaustion.

In all my blinking and in an effort to focus my heart on my new baby – and in this most recent case babies because twins – I almost always lose my way in my relationship with the one who created us.

Recently, despite my fog, I realized my spiritual life had once again fallen down the proverbial rabbit hole – an unforeseen pit in my faith, a pit with many tunnels and coves and hidden dens. I confessed to a friend that I felt like I had disconnected, numbed out, fallen farther than ever before, and I despaired whether I would ever find my way out this time.

And back to him.

Camilla the family rabbit. Photobomb by Nan the cannibal chicken.

In her wisdom, and she is wise, she reminded me he always comes for us. He has always reached down to us – we don’t have to strive to reach up. And in fact, he is already near.

I’m working too hard.

As a salve for my discomfort, as a place of rest in my season of blinking and disconnection, she suggested I just spend time in prayerful gratitude – not to pray for guidance or for nearness. Just to be glad. In prayer.

So I did. I am. Days passed. I rested.

And then while taking a walk around the block in the Texas heat, holding one of my twins who in turned leaned heavily on my chest, I heard him. I heard him reminding my heart. He said, “I know that rabbit hole.”

I know that rabbit hole.

I nearly stopped on the sidewalk. Of course he does.

He knows how I got down there, how I long to be out, and he knows just how to get to me.

And the rescue was underway.

When I sat down to write this, I thought it was going to be a story about confidence. But now, in just a few paragraphs, he is telling me not even my confidence is required. He promises to come for us. And he will. It doesn’t matter if we believe it will happen or not. His faithfulness is not dependent on our belief.

We just have to sit in the rabbit hole. And be glad.

He’s coming. In fact, he’s already here.

“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.”

‭‭Psalm‬ ‭139:7-10‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Rabbit Holes Meditation

Affirmation: I am not lost.

Scripture: Psalm 139: 7-10 NIV

Music for Reflection: Came to My Rescue

Daffodils: A Story About Knowing

This story begins with loneliness in a house full of napping children, a text conversation with a friend and my grandparents’ green armchair.

That’s where I am.

My plan was to drive four of my five children at rush hour to a big Good Friday production in downtown Austin to worship with thousands of my fellow Christians. I had been looking forward to it all day. It and it alone.

The friend I was going to meet for the event and I are texting. She is willing but doesn’t really want to sit in traffic. I can’t blame her.

I still want to go, but I’ve been alone for going on 10 hours with my three youngest children who could care less what we do, my teenage son just went upstairs grumbling about going, my husband had plans to worship on his own that I was unaware of…

and I am so much more than tired.

I don’t have it in me to motivate one more person to worship Jesus today.

The overwhelm in the pit of me stings.

I can feel myself start to sweat across the bridge of my nose. It’s a symptom of my anxiety that signals the rope I’ve been free-sliding down all day is dangerously near its end. I don’t often pay attention to these signals, but I’m trying to learn.

I casually and half-sarcastically her text that I need to sit still for a moment to think.

“Maybe something brilliant will happen,” I joke with my friend.

So I sit, coaching myself toward calmness. Sort of.

Really I’m still trying to solve the problem of what to do when no one I want to be with wants to do anything I want to do. (Been there?)

Just be still. Be still. Get your sh-t together, Jen.

Then the phrase, “Be still and know,” pops into my head.

I laugh at myself. And that is why they say you should memorize Bible verses, I snark to myself.

I’m still sweating. I spread my fingers out wide on the rests of the chair. Get a grip, Jen.

But the armchair is cool and smooth and pleasant under my forearms.  And I am actually still and breathing.

And now I’m also longing to be saved from this – for God to save me –

when the phone rings.

It’s my neighbor.

A neighbor I’ve seen outside her home only a handful of times in seven years and have had dinner with exactly once. A neighbor with whom I have not shared my heart. A neighbor I have a wave-only relationship with, though I have recently come to realize how darling she truly is. A neighbor I was not expecting.

“Hi, Jen. Are you home? I have some daffodils.”

I’m sure I must have said something – phone pleasantries – but I could not tell you what.

Because just then God showed up.

“Can I bring them over?”

Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth.

He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth.”

The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Psalm 46: 8-11 NIV

Daffodils Meditation

Affirmation: Be still and know.

Scripture: Psalm 46: 8-11 NIV

Music for Reflection: Hills and Valleys

The Three Sisters

The monkey and the kitty and the otter were sisters, three. They lived together under the large, whipple nut tree.

The monkey was lively and jolly but also tender and kind. She climbed daringly to treetops to greet every wind she could find.

The kitty was alert and quick but also equal parts dear. She mewed friendly at every mountain she came near.

And the otter was shy and cautious but full of wonder. She watched and admired every ripple of water before she went under.

The monkey and the kitty and the otter were sisters, three. They lived together under the large, whipple nut tree…

What Does “Success” Mean as a Mother-Artist?

When submitting a piece of work for publication not too long ago, I was asked these questions. And I thought they were interesting enough to share. I never thought about being a mother-artist…or qualifying as one.

As you think about your personal definition of success as each – as a mother and an artist, consider the following:

+ How does society/culture influences definitions of success?

Social acceptance is the masked murderer of artists today. And mothers. It is hard to feel successful without fully embracing a definition of success that is completely counter-cultural. 

+ What tools do you use to measure your own success?

I am constantly re-evaluating what success means to me, and how I should or should not be measuring it. Today, my success is measured by completion and consistency – as in, can I write and draw something to completion and can I do that consistently. I find completion and consistency are particularly challenging for mothers. 

+ What role does financial success factor into your overall definition?

Money matters. With one kid money matters, but with FIVE kids, money really matters. The problem I have with this is, I love the work I do – it all comes from a deep, creative place inside of me. How do you monetize that? How do you put a value on that? I’m not sure I can.

I don’t know how married I am to these musings, but the exercise was interesting. What makes you successful, you mother-whatever-you-may-be? 

What my “studio” often looks like…

It’s Me Little Sister Art

Learning Experiences

My first book, being published by Christian Faith Publishing, has been a learning experience. This book is not going to be illustrated by myself, so I am learning a lot about “surrendering” to someone else’s art. 

These are some before/after final drafts – they won’t be in black and white at publication – that expose some of my pickiness. 

Poor illustrator…

What Should I Write Next?

I’m taking a picture book course with Children’s Book Academy, and I need to pick a book to workshop. My classmates, of course are sharing their opinions, but your’s would be fun to hear, too!

1. “Some times life doesn’t give you what you need. It gives you buttons.” A story about what to do with what you have.

2. “Sometimes you make friends you don’t get to keep.” (A book about friends who come and go and friends who last forever.

3. A story about how different we are and friends (in this case a butterfly and owl) who take us as we come. Very lyrical text. “It is I, it is I, Butterfly, Butterfly. It is I, It is I, Butterfly, Fly!”

In the spirit of Anne Lammont, have really $#!%@& drafts of all three. Thoughts?

Growing: The Story

Inspired by my husband with whom raising children has been an experience bursting with surprising joy. And in memory of my dear friend Jeni, who grew both the most beautiful family and flowers in her short time with us on earth.

They were alone, before.


At first we were alone. (Above) We were apart. (Below image)

Alone in the sun.


Growing alone (above image) in our own sun. (below image)

Alone in the rain.


We were apart in the rain.

Alone in the dark of night.


Apart in the dark of night.

Then a wind blew


Then the wind spun us right around (above image) toward each other (below image)

And brought a seed.

OR: And it brought us a seed.



And suddenly, we were together. (before) Waiting for you. (after image)

Then they were together.


Hoping together (before image) under the same sun. (after)

Together in the rain.


We waited for you together through the rain.

Together in the cold.


Together in the cold of winter.



Though we did not know you yet, we waited. (above image) Loving whatever you might be. (below)

Then there was you!


And then there was you. (above) You! (below)

And your first bloom


There was your first bloom.

Your first bee


And your first bee.

And your first winter.


Your first winter with us, (above) together. (below)

And a new season!


And your first spring, too.

You grew –


And you grew

Grew so fast.


And grew.

Stop growing!


You made us a family. (brought us together)

They were proud.


We could not

They were love.


love you more.

Then a wind blew


Then the wind blew (above), And with it (below)

And brought a seed.


came a seed.