Category Archives: naming

My 2016 Goals Post

Thinking. Sorting. Writing. Dreaming. These are exactly the kinds of things I don’t have time for. When I finally snatch a few moments of silence, my brain goes into a freeze and my eyes go buggy. These are exactly the things my girl challenged her readers to do over the weekend in preparation for a 2016 goals link-up that she is hosting on her blog.

Go ahead and search the blog for my other goals posts. I’ll wait.

Did you find them? That’s because they aren’t there. The closest thing I have is the Mommy Muscle Monday series that I did to work on loving my children well one summer long ago.

It’s not that I haven’t set intentions or chosen words. I have done both.

I have never written down specific goals or put my goals out there for others to read and weigh in on. I don’t know that I have spoken many goals to anyone. There is a fragile place inside of me that feels quick to shatter, quick to defend, quick to take any off-blog comment made in humor or jest as a direct affront and mockery of me as a person.

There are deep, deep wounds that remind me they still need attention.

All of this leading up to a post about your goals, Julie? Really?

Do you hear it, too? The unkindness?

That is the background noise plaguing me as I work to organize my thoughts, but as I read on the wall of another daughter’s middle school this week while waiting for parent-teacher conferences,

You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.

I am ready to take a shot at this.

Goals for 2016:

  • Spiritual ~ Maintain daily quiet time and prayer, following current Bible reading plan. Journal responses and thoughts that result from that time. Spend time in stillness. Read one faith-based book/month.
  • Family ~ Connect with Steve intentionally each week on a heart-level. Risk sharing something scary or overwhelming inside of me with him during that time. Connect with at least one child intentionally each week. Keep track. Make the most of one~on~one impromptu moments that arise with the children. Keep track.
  • Social ~ Connect with at least one friend for coffee or conversation time each week. Say yes to fun. Make an effort to have people over to the house again starting with once/month. Adult kids and their guests are a bonus and not part of this number!
  • Physical ~ Do 20 minutes of yoga at least five times a week. Longer or more times is a bonus. Improve flexibility in my down dog. Practice presence on the mat. Consider walking Dewey as an opportunity to get exercise and fresh air and not an annoying burden built into my already full day!
  • Teaching ~ Organize my teaching materials and office space. Write an encouraging note to one student/week recognizing individuality and strengths.
  • Personal Development ~ Pursue the Allender Center’s Lay Counseling Certificate. Read one book per month related to personal growth.
  • Ministry ~ Attend Stephen Ministry meetings regularly. Participate actively. Return to worship team rotation at least once per cycle.
  • Financial ~ Take intentional time with Steve to go over the family finances and budget and grow in understanding of our financial goals together.
  • Writing ~ Schedule intentional time each week to write and work on the blog. Submit one Red Tent post for consideration each month.

Return to Year’s End

It’s another year’s end. Almost. Today I sit in the tension of a messy house and messy relationships and messy conversations and a messy heart.

Floodplain, the latest project by Sara Groves, plays in the background while my youngest plays in a box in the living room for her not-so-quiet-time.

Really we don’t need much
Just strength to believe it
There’s honey in the rock
There’s more than we see.

These patches of joy
These stretches of sorrow
There’s enough for today
There will be enough tomorrow.

I’m trying to trust enough for today.

My brain works faster than my fingers as thoughts bombard my head, trying to connect in a coherent way. Last year’s word drifts through my mind, filtering experiences and thoughts through its grid.

Did I do enough? Get it right? How was my progress?

I’ve been here before. . . Sara croons in the background. Friends, get this album. *She has an incredible gift . . . wondering why I can’t do better than I’ve done.

The hand of grace reaches down to me ~
A voice inside says that I can be free.

And I sit here wanting to be anyone but myself.

A voice inside says that I will be free.

Ah, yes, it’s another year’s end.

*When I say get this album, I mean it is amazing. I receive nothing from this link other than the joy of knowing that others may discover Sara’s gift of singing to the heart.*


Have you ever wondered about my screen name? Have you even noticed it? Sometimes I get asked about it by those who wonder how it came to be. What’s the story? It has to do with a ten or eleven year old girl and her baby brother.

I was ten when the baby boy of our family was born. That was thirty-four years ago. Thirty-four years?!

I remember that baby boy. He had a rattly sound when he breathed due to a floppy epiglottis. I had one when I was born, also. We had that in common, separated by ten years. I loved holding him, playing with him, and watching him grow.


When he was a toddler I remember thinking he was the cutest thing. Maybe it was because I was growing up and becoming more maternal. Maybe there was now enough distance between me and a younger sibling that he wasn’t viewed as a threat for attention. Maybe I understood that he was a baby. The baby.

I gave him a nickname. Gregorypancis. Pronounced Greg-o-ree-pahn-sis.

I don’t know how or why it came about. It just did. I give the ones I love nicknames, just ask Beatrice, Kippy, Mabeccabo, Kierbear, McTirkle, Coco, Roo, and Maemo (Little Mae).

Fast-forward to the internet age and the advent of AOL and email addresses. When I set up my first email account and was looking for a screen name that didn’t need a number in the thousands after it, I thought, mommypancis. Mom-me-pahn-sis.

NOT mommyPANICS, though she often does.

I was in the thick of being mommy. It was available. Whenever I need it, it is there. It’s me. Mommypancis.


This is the face of Mommypancis, designed by my firstborn girl. With Maemo, of course. Can’t you tell?

And what about that little Gregorypancis?


He is a Daddy who will meet his little one face-to-face in a few short months. Babypancis will make an appearance in late November. I am thankful.

Happy Birthday, Little Brother! I love you much.

And, yes. I DID sew that orange and blue patch pillow in fourth grade. That is another story in itself, but the fact that it graces my baby brother’s toddler bed attests to the love and affection I had for him. Still do.

Introducing Dewey

Another one of my nevers bites the dust.

walking Dewey

I posted this caption on Instagram with a picture of me walking a puppy. Yes, we now have a puppy.

And a guinea pig.


And a cat whose world is still rocking.


How did this come about?

Those who know me may be surprised by this news. I am not a fan of animals and certainly not puppies. I have shared my firstborn’s story and her disappointment with not getting a puppy in childhood.

Our cat, Zephyr, eased her way into the family via a friend whose husband was found allergic after a sweet little kitty was brought home. On a completely random note, her visit to the vet alerted me to the fact that this year we are the same age. She is 44 in cat years. I feel however old people years are in cat years!

Back to the puppy.

Child 6 has longed for a puppy just like her big sister. As the littles have grown, the possibility of a dog has been considered. We even watched a friend’s dog for a few days earlier this summer to see what it might be like to have one of our own.

We weren’t considering a puppy.

However, one evening two weeks ago, some serious discussion began surrounding the addition of a dog to our family. Lists were made and cases were made and preferences disclosed.

A puppy entered the equation.

An after-dinner family visit to the SPCA introduced us to Dewey on a Wednesday. The following day found us taking Zephyr to the vet for some last minute catching-up on her vaccines. She was supposed to have gone weeks before but disappeared before her appointment, and we had to reschedule.

Thursday also brought the news that there was a family approved ahead of us in line for Dewey. They had been called to alert them to our pending status and to give them a chance to adopt him first.

This caused much angst in our home Thursday night. Prayers went up that if Dewey was the right dog for our family, we would get him. There were many tears.

Friday morning dawned with Wren arriving to be watched for the day. This plan had been on the calendar before the possibility of our own puppy was even a thought. My daughter gave me wise advice and alerted me as to how the dogs might interact if we did, indeed, get Dewey that day.

The little girls and I loaded up in the van at 9:30 to be sure to arrive at the SPCA before the doors opened at 10:00. We sat in the parking lot, waiting.

There was much trepidation when another car pulled in a few minutes later, only to find that it was Daddy in the little car. I was grateful for the moral support.

When the doors opened, we were the first ones in, turning in our completed paperwork. We were approved and Dewey was still there, waiting for us to bring him home.

Baby Dewey Dewey

Which we did.

meet Dewey

Introducing Dewey, our terrier-mix puppy. He was 2 and a half months old when we got him from the SPCA and is an answer to all kinds of different prayers, ultimately working together for the good of our family.

Messy House

My adult son was home for a visit. Our house is just off of the interstate, and he was en route to a job interview two hours south. Afterwards he stopped in and stayed for a few days.

It was wonderful to have him here and so helpful while fitting in all of the counseling appointments . He graciously spent time with his younger siblings while his father and I sat in an office one morning, and while I sat by myself another.

Time together passed too quickly. I enjoyed listening to him playing guitar while my drummer son played the djembe. We laughed over memories. He was starting to understand and appreciate the parental perspective and was surprisingly gracious.

He patiently kicked a soccer ball in the yard and threw the frisbee in the street and played Cranium and Spot It! with the siblings. There was media thrown in for good measure.

As he was leaving, we chatted a bit about his future and hopeful possibilities. In between gathering laundry and giving out last-minute bits of attention, we shared thoughts and ideas about what might be coming down the road as he ventures further into adulthood.

There was one more thing that he wanted to say, not to be mean and not to make me upset, but there . . . he said it.

It was hard to hear, but it was truth. I assured him that speaking his truth, his reality, about growing up in our home was not mean. It is important to name the hurt, the pain, the broken. To face it honestly.

I could only say I’m so sorry and that this may be a reason why his parents are needing so much counseling, still. That response wasn’t meant to minimize or to fix anything. I let him know I am happy and willing to explore and converse further and to process more deeply with him how he was hurt, wounded, shut down by our clumsy parenting.

At least you don’t pretend your house isn’t messy, he said to me.

I pondered that a minute before asking for further explanation.

Well, you were willing to get help and go to therapy. Things really turned around when that happened. You didn’t pretend everything was good. Not everybody does that.

If only he could see the fear in my heart even that day as I exited my current therapist’s office with the week’s assignment. If only he could feel my pain of not only being wounded but of wounding.

The wounding is far is worse.

No, I don’t pretend my house isn’t messy. To prove it here are some very real pictures that mirror externally what has been going on in my heart. They were taken on my arrival home from said counseling appointments with the intention of blogging somehow about the mess.




Play circle.


Dining room.


Living room. Can you spot Zephyr?



And through it all, grace.

Friendship Friday ~ Missing a Friend

It’s two days before Little Mae and I celebrate another birthday. It’s a bittersweet time. The excitement (for her) of growing another year older brings with it the memory of the friend who isn’t here. Her cousin, Porter, should be here. We should have just celebrated him turning seven. They were due just days apart.

He is in heaven.

I felt it this morning. The heaviness surrounding his loss. The reminder that my child’s name means bitter grace for a reason. I wonder if this ties in with my word this year, as my heart returns to a place of sorrow.

I checked. Her nickname, Mae, means bitter, as well. Bitter or pearl. Interesting since the pearl is June’s birth stone.

So as I try to start the day in all of its crazy chaos, I am reminded that this heaviness in my heart is real. That things are broken on our side of the stormy banks. That just because time passes and seasons change doesn’t make it right or ok or suddenly all better.

Seven years ago I thought Little Mae was going to be born today. I thought that June 5 would be her birthday. Turns out, she had other plans. Birth-curious people can read all about them here.

With all of this swirling around inside, I will engage the now which has an almost-seven-year-old asking for an episode pick in spite of my many no responses and bellies that are becoming ravenous and need breakfast.

All while remembering.

Refuse of the Heart

I have a lot of this surfacing in my heart again. Refuse. The noun.

something (such as paper or food waste) that has been thrown away : trash or garbage

Not to be confused with what I am tempted to do. Refuse. The verb.

to indicate unwillingness to do, accept, give, or allow

I am tempted to refuse to deal with the refuse that is cluttering my heart. To just go along and pretend it is not there. For a long time I tried that route.

It didn’t work for me very well.

So here I sit with the refuse and the reminder of why I chose that word in this blog’s tagline.

mixing refuse of the heart . . .

I chose that word because of all of the unnecessary emotional garbage I had buried. And there still is much there. It’s packed down tightly. Needing space to move and process and breathe.

I can tell when I am short to hear and quick to speak. I can tell when contempt flows freely in the face of adversity or conflict. When kindness is lacking and impatience abounding. When I’m feeling too big and too important in realms that are not my responsibility.


I can tell it’s time to slow down and return to the basics of listening to what is going on inside and processing it with kindness and compassion.

I’m thankful for those in my corner who help me remember. I’m thankful for those who do the dishes and put the kids to bed, giving me space to write.

Birds Bearing Words

Julie, there’s an interesting kind of little bird in the honeysuckle. Actually several of them. Come and see!

I’m busy in the kitchen, sorting groceries, prepping food for the upcoming week. There is meat to process and put away. Marked down for quick sale means taking extra time to wrap and freeze it when I get home.

I’m not surprised that there are birds. We often find the little creatures nesting in the thick honeysuckle that lines the fence. We tease that it is Zephyr’s lair where she hides to pounce on them.

Since this is one of the first spring-like days, it makes sense that birds would show up. It doesn’t make sense that Steve is heading to our room wanting me to join him. I follow semi-reluctantly. After all, there is work to be done!

It seems he is talking about the honeysuckle outside our bedroom window. I wonder if my neighbor, Melody, is having a party. There are shiny silver balloons bouncing in the breeze, blocking my view. That is the first thing that pops into my head as I peer out the window trying to see the odd little. . .what?!!


Sure enough, there are little birds. They are brightly colored and oddly still. I hurry outside, confused.


This sight greets me. These balloons are for me. I notice writing on one and pull it down to read it. Then another. And another. The birds are holding onto words written to me by friends who care.

blue birdIMG_3030

IMG_3029 IMG_3028 IMG_3027

I am overwhelmed.

The first thing that happens inside is I try to figure out and make sense of it. Who? What? When? How?

I know why.

And all clues are pointing to who.

A quick text confirms, and she quickly reassures that she didn’t gossip about me, something that is a given, but that she told some mutual friends I could use some encouragement.

The thing is, every name represented holds a special place in my heart and has crossed my path in a unique way this week, either herself or by means of her husband crossing paths with mine.

I know it’s not random.

This week has been big. It has been hard. There are things in all of our lives going on behind the scenes. In my world I was hit with my word this year in a big way. My heart is in a struggle to believe truth. I was hijacked to a difficult place in my story, and feelings began to return that I couldn’t feel back then.

We are all in process.

Completely separate from the words offered up by these precious friends were those in texts from others who are walking with me through this hard place.

Thank you for battling this out, Julie. You are an amazing, gifted, courageous, war-torn, lovely woman.

Savor the small moments. . .now is not forever.

I am praying for you today. I hear the heaviness, and my heart is aching with you. Be gentle with you.

I know I am not alone. Yesterday, evil wanted me to believe that I. Was. Alone. It was dark and painful and so very hard.

And it is still hard. But I know the truth. In the words of one of my sisters, God is shouting out his love for you out loud.

Thank you for being his hands and feet to me, Sweet Friends. All of you. Those who read, encourage me to keep writing, pray for me, tie balloons to my honeysuckle, text.

You are amazing and help me to. . .

see the beauty

                                                                                            . . . even in the midst of all that is messy.

Embracing the Introvert

It’s my final embrace of 2014. Embracing the introvert that is me.

I have known this since the mid-nineties when I first took the Myers Briggs Test using a pencil and paper and found out that I was an INTJ.

Really?! You are the same thing as (insert mutual friend/acquaintance/church leader here who I don’t seem much like at all)? That’s interesting!

The above response came from my worship pastor as we spent several hours together traveling with two others to visit and encourage church members.

Well, I took the test in my early to mid twenties which was twenty or so years ago.

Ok. No. I just wouldn’t have thought those letters for you.

He didn’t know early twenties me.

Steve took the test while finishing his undergraduate degree at EMU and was an ENTJ.

There’s a great website that gives a fairly accurate response called 16 personalities. You could try taking it again to see what you get.

Interesting. I made a mental note about this as conversation surrounding personality types continued.

Later that evening, I did just that. I located the website and took the computerized test and found that my results were INFP, a change from thinking and judging to feeling and perceiving. Encouraging Steve to take it again, he, too, changed to ENFP.

That’s not surprising. I would have guessed those personality types for both of you.

This was my pastor’s response to the updated letters I messaged him. He knows the me, the us, of the last seven or so years.

Twenty years and much work later, our hearts and feelings and skills have changed. We have grown.

We are still introvert and extrovert, though.

Are you surprised?

What are YOU?

It was helpful to read over the basic profiles given for the different aspects of the personality types and to name what can feel ambiguous. Like the need for recovery after being around people. Because I am always around people. Lots of them.

I have jokingly said Introverts shouldn’t have eight children.

I know I have exactly the right family for me.

But it’s really 2014

It’s also really fun to see what is emerging from this messy family mix of introverts and extroverts who have learned to feel more and judge less.

And now I need a nap.