Thursday, May 29, 2008

Loving Those Kids

Childbirth is hard. But parenting takes hard to a whole new level.

Joy is caught in fleeting moments—sparkling eyes above a dimpled grin, grubby arms wrapped around your neck in a tight hug, and the occasional, “You’re the best mom in the whole world.”

Our hearts expand with the unique bond of love that feels uncontainable and unbreakable. We would give our child the world in that instant, certain his heart is united with ours in love and purpose.

Life is magnificent. Our child nearly walks on water in our eyes . . . until we put the lid back on the cookie jar, or ask him to do his homework, or limit TV and computer time.

The loving togetherness is shattered as storm clouds roll over his features and thunder erupts from his mouth. Our own anger may rise to meet his. We walk away from the exchange in guilt and frustration. How did we go from loving him so completely to disliking him so intensely?

We love our children more than life, yet they can exasperate us with a word or a look. How easily we forget that children are not tiny versions of adults. They are another “being” entirely. Children being foolish, being naughty, being curious being tired . . .

Without limits and guidance children will always choose dessert over dinner, computer time over homework, and short sleeves in the middle of a snowstorm.

God entrusts parents with the mammoth responsibility and privilege of raising these precious gifts. As difficult as parenting can be, if we keep love as our focus, we’ll be well on our way to doing a great job. (1 Cor. 13:1-3)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Tide Pools and Clam Digging

Had a few unexpected experiences this weekend. The weather was unexpectedly beautiful considering we were camping along the Oregon coast--notorious for wet, rainy and cold weather this early in the season.

My brother's family joined us which meant there were seven children ranging from seven to eleven years.

Normally a setup for craziness that leads to exhausted and irritable parents and defensive and sullen children, but was actually a pleasant and delightful interlude (might have been the earplugs and blinders we wore).

Could also be that we ran them ragged. We hiked, we fished, we tide pooled, we grilled oysters in the shell over an open fire (heavenly...drenched in butter and garlic).

We even stopped and dug for clams on our way home. May I interject a word of advice here?

When TDH (tall, dark and handsome) parks the rig and says, "Guys, there's only going to be a couple of us going down there," just smile and nod.

Don't get it into your mind that most certainly you all are going to go clamming with him. And NEVER NEVER NEVER wear your favorite running shoes.

Especially when that black, stinky strip of land is the only way to traverse the area between you and the flats where the clams reside. And that wet, black, marshy land looks deceptively firm.

Life can be, shall we say . . . unexpected.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Blog Appreciation

I had to jump in from my normal blogging and thank all of you who are participating in my blog tour. And a warm welcome to all who've come to say hello! Thanks so much! Today's post follows below . . .


School is so hard on kids. Or rather, kids are so hard on kids. Their mouths have no governor to stop hateful words. They lack wisdom to help guide their choices.

The dark cloud followed him home from school today, or perhaps blew into the full scale thunderstorm on the long bus ride from school to home with seventy other kids and one harried bus driver.

He slunk into the house, fire in his eyes and hurt in his heart. A wise mom won’t take it personally, but how often am I that wise?

A few words of anger were blasted toward me. Sometimes I shoot right back, other times I retreat, not knowing what to do. Today, I ignored the words and wrapped an arm around his shoulders.

He shrugged it off, but I saw the cloud waver. A verse softly blew into my mind, “A gentle word turns away wrath.” Another round of cutting remarks, but I held onto that promise with gritted teeth.

I climbed onto his bed that night and lay next to him. His heart had softened and he shared his day and the hurtful things that had shredded his feelings. I comforted and consoled and was so grateful for holding my tongue when I could have lashed back.

I want to be more like my Father for whom lashing back isn't considered. Doesn't even cross that holy mind. Comfort and correction are bathed with his consuming love. A love that fulfills and never hurts.

A love I want to know more fully.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Blog Tour

There’s another mom I’d like you to meet. She lives between the pages of my debut novel, Leave it to Chance and has many of the same struggles we all share.

This week I’m delighted to be promoting the book on some cool blogs. I'd love for you to come along and say hi, and meet some great people.

Each blog will have a drawing to give away a free copy of Leave it to Chance. If you leave a comment here, I'll enter you into a drawing to win a free book. Be sure to give me your email addy, and use this format: sherrisand(at)gmail(dot)com.

Here is a list of the awesome ladies who will be hosting me throughout this month:

Toni V Lee:
The Writing
Blog Tour Spot:
Margaret Daley:
Ma Space:
Portrait of a Writer . . . Interrupted:
Sharon Hinck:
Sips ‘n Cups Cafeteria:
Amber Miller:
Camy’s Loft:
Chatter Matters:
A Christian Romance Writer’s Journey:
Cliffy’s Mom’s Blog:
Flying Changes:
The Friendly Book Nook:
Horse Book Reviews:
I Don’t Wanna Blog:
In the Dailies:
Leap of Faith:
A Little Bit of Sunshine:
Musings on This, That & The Other Thing:
Mystery, Suspense and God, Oh My!:
Net’s Notes:
Novel Journey:
Penning Prose:
Readin N Writing with Patricia:
Real Women Scrap:
Relevant Blog:
Mary DeMuth:
Smells Horsey:
Writing by Faith:

Thanks so much for joining us!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Enough Already

There’s this nagging angst that follows me like a black cloud that says I haven’t done things well enough or right enough or productive enough or timely enough.

And it compiles.

There’s the counters, the sinks, the floors. The drawers, the closets, the toilets. The vacuuming, the dusting and the organizing. And that’s just the house.

There’s also the writing, the marketing and the new book I need to start—but fear that it won't be good enough.

And my quiet time with the Lord—I never start it early enough or make it long enough or read my Bible enough or pray enough.

And then there’s the parenting.

With its swirling black hole of guilt that wants to swallow every good mommy thing I’ve done and spit back all the should haves: I should have read to them more, hugged them more, snapped at them less, and savored their toddlerhood instead of counting the days to school. I should have known they’d grow up and not rushed them through it.

Can I say enough already?

Did you know that you can rearrange the letters in “doing it right enough” and get a whole new phrase? Kind of like an anagram.

Here let me show you. “Doing it right enough” also spells: Satan’s Big Lie.

Okay, so the letters might not exactly fit, but that’s the ingenuousness of his plan. He hides behind words. He deceives us. And we take ownership of his suggestions until they are running our lives.

He railroads us straight into performance until the “should haves,” “right enoughs” and “if onlys” plague our minds like some kind of disease that devours peace.

We’re like hamsters on a performance wheel wearing a black sign that states: WE WILL NEVER ARRIVE AT THE DESTINATION. Those lies take us in circles because just as soon as we think we’ve nailed it another “should have” or “need to do” pops up.

The part that is both sad and yet so cool, is that if we have asked Jesus to live in our hearts, we already have freedom. It’s sad that we don’t believe it and yet cool that He’s waiting to teach us how to walk in that freedom NOW.

For those of you that need some concrete truth to back up what I just said, check out Gal. 3:2b-5:

Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? . . . After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by human effort? . . . Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by your observing the law, or by your believing what you heard?

Pretty neat. He died so that we might live out from under the weight of the should haves and need to dos. Ask him to show you how.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Queen of . . .

Okay, I blushingly admit I am the Queen of Micromanaging.

Sunday was a day of revelations. And not the church kind when you’re listening to your pastor and God highlights something that explodes with wonder in your heart. Your eyes get a little wider and you want to nudge everyone around you and ask, “Did you get that? No, I mean did you really get what he just said?”

This was more like an out-of-body experience when you become an outside observer to your own behavior. Where you want to slap yourself on the forehead and yell, “Grow up!”

I’m pretty sure my husband was thinking the same thing.

You see, I’m having a web site designed and after studying one of the pages my designer sent me, I decided it’d look a whole lot better if I’d been wearing a different outfit.

What had I been thinking when I picked out that shirt all those months ago? I wanted to hit rewind and go back to the day I had the pictures professionally snapped and put on something more elegant.

Then inspiration struck.

I could retake the pictures. I, of course, meaning me and tall, dark and handsome (hereafter known as TDH).

Thirty seconds into the shoot (that’s the professional term for a photography session), I was wishing I could clone myself and be both in front of and behind the camera. But I managed pretty well at directing things from where I stood in the perfect outfit.

Okay, maybe not so perfect.

Three outfits later, I was back in my model pose, waiting for TDH to straighten up from pulling weeds in our yard, my camera dangling around his neck. He patiently resumed his position in front of the tree I leaned against.

I cleared my throat, tilted my head and pasted another lovely smile on my face.

That’s when things started to unravel.

Of course, I needed to see every shot he took. He was too far away, and then too close. Then he decided to experiment from unique angles that made my head look bigger than my body.

I muttered the cloning comment. He muttered something I couldn’t hear. His smile, ever patient, grew thinner and tighter.

Did I mention that this went on for two days? There hadn’t been enough sun Saturday for the pictures to turn out well. Sunday morning it rained. I agonized through church that I’d be forever stuck in a web page in that hideous shirt.

But fortunately the sun peeked out for minutes at a time Sunday afternoon. I hair-sprayed and lip-sticked myself back up and we went at it again.

I told myself before we started that I would keep my mouth shut, smile prettily and let him take the pictures.

I tried. I truly did.

That’s where the out-of-body experience occurred. I didn’t want to micromanage him. It’s just that I thought I knew best how to do it.

My alter ego, wearing the black and white stripes of a referee, was blowing the whistle and shouting, “Boundary crossing.” The whistle blew again. “Control penalty.”

Ei-Yi-Yi. I wanted to duct tape my mouth shut. And I wasn’t the only one.

We got the pictures taken. He still loves me. He understands me and knows I’m trying to tame the control beast.

And I’m hoping for sun tomorrow. I think the red shirt really would look better . . .

Thursday, May 8, 2008


It all started with a late night.

Too much playing, too little settling down. She overslept. Too late to pack a lunch and she forgot her lunch money. Her blood sugar sank into the toilet along with her attitude.

After several hours of banging my head against the wall, I dragged myself down memory alley trying to convince myself that life is easier now than it was several years ago. That four children aged seven to eleven are less draining than wee ones that have to be monitored constantly.

That ten-year-old attitude is easier than nursing twins several times in the o’dark hours while tall, dark, and handsome snoozes in the warm bed as I attempt to hold one twin close to nurse while trying to wake the other one up enough to eat.

There are times I’d prefer not to revisit, like the period when Logan went through his interest in all things creepy crawly and we discovered the stinky pile of molding worms on the window sill. When the window was open a breeze blew over their little carcasses, stinking up the playroom.

Or the time he stored the cat in his closet and she pooped in his sock drawer and his method of cleaning it up was to stuff the whole mess down the laundry chute.

And when my oldest was five and as he and I stared at our new oven he turned to me and asked, “What are you going to burn in our new oven?”

And the honesty of children like when my almost three-year-old daughter asked, “Why do your teeth get yellower, yellower and yellower?”

But as I scrolled through my journals I noticed that the hard moments, were just that.


Moments that you get through. That you grow from. And the space between those moments holds precious memories.

Like the time my daughter pointed out a rainbow and with a huge smile said, “God painted that.”

Or the time when she said with a beaming grin, “The first thing I’m going to do when I get to heaven is hug God.”

How can you fully appreciate something when all you know is the good? It is the rough times that give flavor and depth to the beautiful ones.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Performance Lie

My eyes brush open to the dim light of early morning creeping into our bedroom. I stretch that luxurious stretch of the deliciously rested and ease out of bed so as not to disturb the gorgeous hunk lying next to me (drop those eyebrows, we’re married).

I head for my quiet spot and spend an hour basking in the richness of my Father’s love. Heart radiating joy, I pull on my running gear and head for the trail for a hard workout.

Forty-five minutes later I saunter through the front door and the kids come running. After a round of hugs and smiles they pull me toward the kitchen table where a plate holds half of a glistening ruby red grapefruit next to a bowl of steaming oatmeal.

With a grin, I pull the beaming kids close and—WAH-uh, WAH-uh, WAH-uh. Bleary eyed I smack at the blaring alarm clock and fall back into the pillows, exhaustion dragging me toward sleep. I resist and sit up throwing an aggravated look at the clock.


I was supposed to be up at six o’clock to get my run in and have some quiet time with the Lord, but instead I stayed up and watched that stupid movie. I could have smacked myself.

I drag on my sweat pants as the hollering of fighting children ricochets around the kitchen just outside our door. Frustration builds in my chest before I’ve been awake five minutes.

After I join in with the general hollering and bad attitudes that have steamrolled the Sand household that morning, I finally haul my unruly bunch to school and head back for home. I walk into the kitchen and drop my keys into the drawer.

My gaze snags on the Bible sitting on the counter and slides away. I’ll have my quiet time just as soon as I get the peanut butter put away and the smear of jam off the floor, and . . . the phone rings and a half hour later I finally hang it up.

Now I’m way behind. I need to start in on my day and sitting quietly before the Lord doesn’t hold any appeal. I head for my computer, trying to avoid eye contact with God who surely has his arms crossed in disapproval.

This is my reality more often than not (though the hunky guy does sleep next to me every night).

Doing it right. Or right enough.

I fall prey to the lie way too often that says my performance doesn’t quite measure up. That God isn’t pleased unless I do “it” just so. It, of course being, just about everything from how I order my day to how I parent my kids.

And of course the biggie—my time with him. The lies taunt me: you didn't start early enough, you didn't do it long enough, you didn't worship enough, you didn't read the Bible enough. As if God were some magic eight ball that I didn't shake hard enough. You see, the lie states that if you don't do it right enough or often enough, the blessings won't flow, and even worse . . . he might punish you. Or cause something bad to happen. All because you didn't get it right.

And we live under fear, avoiding God in case we draw too much attention to ourselves and lighting strikes in the form of a lost job, illness or even the death of a family member.

Exactly the opposite is true. God is good. Anything that we believe that contradicts that makes us wrong. He is unchanging, his love for us is unchanging.

Many of us know this truth in our minds, but the knowledge hasn't dropped those eighteen inches to the belief systems of our heart.

Ask God to make his truth real to you. Ask him to show you his character so you can discover his trustworthiness. Ask him to reveal his kindness to you so you can experience his love.

Just ask. It'll be the beginning of a wonderous journey with Him.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The List

The little girl walked on quiet feet into the study. A man with graying hair sat reading in a weathered armchair by the fire. A soft rustle caressed the air as he turned a page.

The girl hesitated then strode forward. “Father, I’ve written a list of things I’m going to do for you.” The paper trembled slightly in her small hands as she cleared her throat and bent her head to read.

• Obey everything you say.
• Study with you each morning.
• Try to remember to talk to you every day about everything.
• Work hard to make it up to you when I disobey.
• Remind myself how hard I need to strive to please you.
• Hate myself when I hurt others.
• Try harder to be a good person when I do bad things.
• Learn how to do it right on my own so you won’t be disappointed in me.

The man’s gaze enveloped her, seeming to look deep into her being for several long moments before he reached for the paper. His expression grave, the man pulled a pen from his shirt pocket as the girl anxiously danced from one foot to the other. For long moments, the minute sound of pen scratching on paper joined the soft pops of wood being transformed by fire.

Finally, he handed the list back. The girl’s eyes clung to the man’s a moment before taking the sheet.

Over the top of each one of her carefully crafted statements, a message had been written:

• Your sins are forgiven. (1 John 2:12)
• I have loved you with an everlasting love. (Jer. 31:3)
• It is for freedom you have been set free. (Gal. 5:1)
• You are not accused or condemned. (Rom 8:33-34)
• The law of the Spirit of life sets you free from the law of sin and death. (Rom. 8:2)
• You are a new creation, the old is gone, the new has come.
(2 Cor. 5:17)
• It is not you doing the wrong, it is the sin living in you.
(Rom. 7:17)
• Apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15: 5)

Tears glistened in the little girl’s eyes as she slowly raised her head. “Really?”

The Father nodded with a wise smile and opened his arms wide, the firelight catching the scars on his palms.