A Marginal Morning

It’s not even 9 am and it has been A DAY! It started relatively peacefully with me waking early and getting in a walk and prayer time. When I went up to hop in the shower, I noticed that Michael was awake. He’s been waking up pretty early lately (between 5 and 5:30) but usually enjoys playing and singing (or yelling) in his bed. Having made sure that his noise isn’t waking up his sisters, we’ve decided to leave him there until we’re ready to get his breakfast going. But today, he was crying – so I went to check on him. This is when I discovered that my morning was officially derailed.

The precious boy had pooped and decided that he didn’t like how it felt and so removed the offending diaper from his body and threw it across the room. Unfortunately, that didn’t actually remove the feeling from his body and he only succeeded in spreading it over his bed and hands and body. So, we cleaned up.

And this is where the margin comes in – my husband was around and could help. A few months ago when my business started taking off some more and I was working more regular hours, I told him that what I needed in the mornings was margin. Anyone with children of any age knows that parenting is often a series of interruptions to what you thought the day would be. So, when I wasn’t managing clients and deadlines, basically all the interruptions just dictated the flow of my day. But things have shifted now that my work life is different. So what I asked Tom is to provide some margin in his mornings just for situations like today. Most days, it just means that we both have a little more time to sip the coffee or check in to our apps/games/books. But today, it meant that I didn’t have to clean up poop by myself. It’s just one of the many things I’m grateful for in the scheme of this morning….

…because unfortunately that wasn’t the end.

After the cleanup of room, baby, bedding, clothes, and self, I allowed myself to just sit for a while. Which was totally fine until we realized that we had just missed the high school bus. Oy. Insert second derailment of the morning. The High School is about 10-15 minutes away depending on traffic and the third kid wasn’t even awake yet for the elementary school bus that was coming in 40 minutes. Oops. Everyone shot up into full go-go-go mode and miraculously everyone got to where they needed to go and had what they needed to have (except for a lost very important piece of paper that has disappeared into the unseen regions of a home with 6 active people living in it.).

What’s interested me about this morning the most is how I’ve handled it. This kind of thing – cleaning up poop, missed buses, missing papers – this is normal. It’s the everyday stuff that adds to the chaos and stress of managing a family. But today, I didn’t feel overcome by the stress of it all. I for sure blurted out in frustration – Oh no! We missed the bus!!! But I didn’t yell at my daughter for not telling me or spend the whole drive berating her about time management skills. I was definitely frustrated with the toddler – and ohmygoodness did he hit the ground running this morning after being cleaned up – we are in the toddler chaos zone right now. But it wasn’t pushing me over the edge and into snapping at everyone in the family.

Why am I telling you this ?  It’s not to brag really. It’s just an observation of how things have changed in my heart and mind over the past almost 15 years of being a parent. And I guess I just want to say that things really can get better. My usual way of dealing with mornings like this has been to devolve into just more and more frustration with every. little. thing. going exactly the way it shouldn’t. And today it didn’t. So I’m marking a moment. I don’t want it to be a marker that brings shame to anyone, not the least of which my old self or my future self. It’s just saying – today, love and peace won over the chaos.

Thank you God!



My mom, part 2 – The Reverend

Last week ended up being too full to get this part 2 post wrapped up and sent out, but I didn’t forget about it! If you missed Part 1, check it out here – it’s a few snapshots of my relationship with my mom and is a great setup for today’s post.

I’ve been a pastor’s kid my whole life. Someone once asked me if it was strange that it was my dad up on the platform preaching, and my response was, “No, because it’s always been that way. It feels more strange when it’s NOT him.” When I moved away from home and those conversations came up about who we were and where we came from, I almost always answered that my parents were pastors. Many would exclaim, oh really?! They’re BOTH pastors?! And I would correct them and say, “well, technically, my dad is the pastor, but they’re both so integral to the running of the church that I see them as a unit, pastoring the church.”

IMG_8396This past week, my mom made it official – she is now an ordained minister of the Assemblies of God. In addition to her decades of real-life ministry experience, she took classes at night and over weekends to fulfill the requirements: classes on theology, biblical history, and leadership. She did this in addition to her full-time job and her role as worship leader at our church, all while still showing up as a wife, mother, and grandmother. My dad gave her the pulpit several Sundays to give her time to practice preaching and teaching and finding her own voice. Watching her pursue this goal and watching my dad support her in it has been life-giving to me as their daughter in innumerable ways.

I may write something a little later that fleshes out my thoughts in a more general manner regarding credentials and ordination of women and what it all means. There are interesting conversations happening around this subject, and I may dive in sometime.

But today – it’s really about my mom and my daughters. I’ve heard it said that “you can’t be what you can’t see.” It occurred to me last Monday that my daughters are seeing a woman step up into roles of leadership and pastoral authority and to them, it feels obvious. It is the next step. They won’t think it’s odd to hear their grandmother preach – they’re growing up with it. We adults all felt the gravity of the moment. There were tears through the smiles. In these days, in this society, with our history, my mom’s ordination MEANS something.

Family row at the service – forgive the lighting

I tried to explain a little bit of the significance to my daughters but truly it was foreign to them that some would (and will continue to…) find this step offensive. They really didn’t get it – and for that I’m thankful. While I do want them to understand the history that we stand on, I’m grateful that this moment was one of simple celebration for them.

It was such a pleasure going to the ordination service. There were about 30 other people getting ordained that night and watching the diversity of age, gender, and race walk up to the podium was very meaningful. There were at least two married couples who had gone through the process together and were being ordained together. It is our network’s 100th year anniversary this year, so the service was extra special and drew national leaders to the stage. These new leaders were charged with some excellent (and challenging!) remarks by our General Superintendent Dr. George Wood. IMG_8390

As a participant in the service, I couldn’t help but feel hopeful for the future of at least our small corner of the church world. There is so much pain and brokenness going on in the church. Last week’s service didn’t change that and won’t heal the wounds overnight. But I couldn’t help but begin to see a rising tide of sound, strong leaders taking their place.

I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

Proud granddaughters. My little one wouldn’t stop hugging her! #allthefeelings


A two-part #WCW: My mom

The next two week’s #WCW will be dedicated to my mom. We’re coming up on Mother’s Day and she has a big professional milestone around the corner so I wanted to give some extra space for that!

Next week, my mom will be ordained as a minister in the Assemblies of God. She’s been working towards this step for several years and I couldn’t be prouder. I’m taking my big girls at least to the ordination service and next week’s #WCW will be much more about that side of things.  This week will be mainly about the mothering side – childhood memories and the ongoing relationship of an adult relationship with my mom, and next week I’ll brag on her other “outside the home” accomplishments. What follows are some snapshots – a few memories that try (and will fail) to capture a lifetime of moments.

no bedhead pictures – but this smile is the one I think of while singing that song…

Childhood:  I’m sleeping and my mom pops in the bedroom and starts singing in a loud whisper voice – “Rise and shine and give God the glory, glory! Rise and shine, and give God the glory, glory” – then her voice increases to a regular tone and she almost shouts the last phrase – “RISE AND SHINE AND [clap] give God the glory, glory, children of the Lord!”  We didn’t use alarms – my mom preferred to greet we non-morning-loving people with overly cheerful and peppy songs! It makes me giggle remembering shuffling out to the breakfast table with eyes barely open with the soundtrack of my mom’s voice in the background.

Senior Prom – the only teenager picture I could find of me and my mom…

Teenager: It was the weekend of my 16th birthday and my mom had driven me several hours away to a softball tournament.  In the middle of one of the games, my teammates stood up and started singing Happy Birthday to me and then my mom told me it was time to leave. I had no idea what was going on – I left in the middle of the game!! She told me she had already cleared it with the coach and that she just needed me to trust her.  We head out in to the parking lot and she throws me the keys to drive home. I’m in shock, as I’m still in the learning phase and wasn’t sure she quite trusted me. In the next 2 minutes, I gave her cause NOT to trust me driving, when I turned too much pulling out of the spot and slammed in to the car next to us. Yes, my first ‘accident’ was pulling out of a parking spot. I’m pretty sure my mom shrieked, but then just calmly came around to my side and switched places with me, leaving a note on the car that we hit to call us for any damages, and drove home. Fairly quickly her annoyed attitude shifted to excitement and she tried to draw me out of my ashamed sheepishness. Unbeknownst to me, my parents had invited several of my friends to the symphony playing at Constitution Hall downtown and we were going to be getting home just in time for me to shower and change into something nice. She was dropping all these little hints about what I should do when I got home – and I was so confused because none of them were related to my driving disaster! I actually still don’t even know what happened with that, because once we got home it was all party time. She graciously allowed me my moment and didn’t allow it to squelch the day’s fun.


Adulting – I had just had my first baby. We’d been home for a few days and my mom was about to leave to go back home. My husband came home, a bit shell-shocked, to tell me that his chain of command had decided that instead of remaining behind as the commander of the rear detachment, as had been the plan leading up to my delivery, he was now going to be deployed with the rest of his company to the Middle East for an indefinite number of months.  I remember vividly seeing my mom on the couch, hearing this devastating news, and then literally crawling into her lap. I for sure didn’t fit there any more, but it was the only place I could figure out to go. I just bawled there for a bit and she let me cry it out. Then, we started figuring out how we would handle it. It would be ok, we decided. We could do this. THANKFULLY, the powers that be came to their senses and changed their minds. We didn’t have to figure it out. But I’ll never forget that moment of crawling back in to my mom’s lap like a little kid and her letting me, and then helping me get back up on my feet.

Mom and Becca admiring a fish I caught. Several months post-breakdown

These are such short moments in a lifetime of fun, surprising, and calming ones. Love you mom!

Local Business #WCW – Play, Work, or Dash

It’s been awhile since I highlighted an outstanding woman in my circle for #WCW.  I’ve got one for you today PLUS a teaser about some new things coming down the pipeline for me.

If you don’t already know this about me, I have four children with a large age gap between numbers 3 and 4. Just when I was beginning to think about starting back up a career again after being home (for the most part) with the kids for 12 years, I found out I was pregnant with baby number 4. One of the things that I remember my husband saying to me during those early weeks (okay months) of reeling with the news was that we didn’t have to do things the same way this time. He was supportive of me continuing the journey of what I’d already started – figuring out what I want to do when I grow up, pursuing opportunities, etc.

But, HOW??? For real? Well, when Michael was a few months old, I learned about a new place in our area, called Play, Work, or Dash that was offering a unique solution to moms like me.

The founder of PWD is Nicole Dash; she and her little community over there at PWD are my #WCW for today.  This spot is so wonderful and has been an incredible asset to my life these past several months. Here’s the basic concept – it’s a co-working space with childcare.  There’s a cute office suite over in Tysons – you walk in, drop your kids (ages 9 months up to 8 years old) in the lovely playroom that is staffed with great childcare workers, and head out in to the lounge area to do some work, or upstairs to the shared office space. Upstairs is a kitchen with snacks and coffee, multiple workstations with outlets, a printer, and miscellaneous office supplies. There’s also a conference room that you can book for meetings or just reserve to have even more quiet space to work.

If all of that wasn’t enough to radically open up the possibilities of pursuing my career options, Nicole also began offering workshops to her members. Each one of these that I have been able to attend have been very worthwhile. I’ve gained skills that helped me in some of my volunteer roles, my paid jobs, and also just overall with managing my life.

I’m so grateful to Nicole and to the other women entrepreneurs I’ve met at PWD for having the courage to pursue their dreams. It’s been such an inspiring thing to learn about all these people in my area pursuing very interesting careers in various industries.  I love the little community you’re building at Play, Work, or Dash – the sense of camaraderie and “me too” of young moms trying to do life around the chaos of toddlers and preschool, the environment of empowerment without competition.

That saying of a rising tide lifting all boats rings very true at Play, Work, or Dash – I see women being able to go ahead and take on that new client, get back to doing what they love, or start a new thing.

As for me – I am starting a new thing. I’ll talk more about it another day. There is lots of background as to why, how, and when I’m starting this new thing. But one very large reason I went ahead and took the plunge is because of the air I breathe at Play, Work, or Dash – parent-honoring, business-savvy, child-loving air.

Thank you Nicole!


Sheltered: On media exposure and parenting

Lately, I’ve been thinking about how sheltered my kids’ lives are in comparison to how my life was sheltered as a child. I grew up in a fairly strict conservative household that limited tv and movie viewing and book reading to titles with only G or PG rated material, and sometimes even the PG was a little much. Little to no secular music was played in the car or at home.  We watched Gospel Bill and SuperBook instead of the Smurfs and Scooby Doo. I went to a Christian school through middle school so I didn’t get much exposure at all to the popular music of the time.  My kids are growing up a bit differently.  We still limit a bunch of tv and movies, mainly because we don’t have cable! The tv is rarely on. But my kids know the words to several classic rock songs thanks to my husband, and are constantly humming top 40 tunes thanks to the music they hear on the announcements at school.

So, in some ways, my children are less sheltered than I was. But in one way particularly, they are extremely MORE sheltered. What way is this? The News.

Growing up, the evening news was always on the tv from around 5ish until dinner and then back on while dinner clean up was happening. I rarely sat down and watched it with my parents, but I was very aware of things that were happening. I watched the videos of the Rodney King beating, Gulf War SCUD missile strikes, DC protests of all manner, etc.  (Interestingly, somehow I missed the Challenger explosion. Apparently every other kindergartner was watching it, but not me. Maybe I was sick that day? who knows.) But now? Like I said before, we don’t have the tv on much at all. We don’t have cable (mainly a financial decision, not a philosophical one), we haven’t sprung for a roof antenna, and the tv just doesn’t get great reception down in the basement. I don’t have a little tv in the kitchen either. So my kids just don’t really get the exposure to current events like I did. I get the news on my phone, usually during the day while they’re at school and after they’re in bed. Sometimes on the radio – but I usually switch it off in the car when the kids are with me, because it’s usually the only time I have one on one time with them and it’s a good time to talk.

I know they hear about some things at school. For example, my husband and I had not really been talking about the election at home, but my big girls all still knew all about Trump and were fairly flabbergasted at his success. What’s interesting to me is that this sheltering is not intentional. I’m not trying to keep things from them; it’s just that my consumption of media and news is not as public or in front of them as my parents’ was.

I’ve read blog posts and articles about how to handle kids’ anxiety in today’s news world where it seems that some major disaster is happening every few days. I always read these and am like – wait, does my kid even know that happened? Should she know it happened? Just what does my child/teenager need to know about what’s going on? About Black Lives Matter? About the cultural battles being waged over LGBTQ issues? About abortion? About this mass shooting? About that terrorist attack? etc, etc, etc.

I don’t mean to be doing them a disservice by not opening the door to current events.  I also don’t necessarily think they need to know about everything happening – it’s overwhelming for me as an adult to engage with every story. I simply do not have the emotional capacity to handle caring so deeply about all of the major cultural discussions swirling today.

I would love to hear how other parents are handling this issue – are your kids media exposed? Are you intentional about it? Any lessons learned?

Movie Review: Cinderella

In this new year, I’d like to write more.  I haven’t yet set a specific goal for myself – I probably need to work on that, since “write more” is such low hanging fruit and yet, totally unmeasurable! I’m hoping for at least one post per week. To help with that I’m going to do some movie reviews of the things our family has been watching. From time to time, I will have my kids offer their perspectives as well – they need writing practice too!!

First up – Cinderella, the original AND the newest release from Disney.

Cinderella – 1950

There are lots of things to love about the classic version. The animation is beautiful, the songs are lovely, and the animal sidekicks are fun.  Cinderella herself is sweet, kind, resilient and without bitterness. She lives every day with hopes and dreams even though her environment is the very definition of hostile.  Somehow within such an abusive situation, she finds ways to stay true to herself: seeking solace in her animal friends and finding small moments of joy in her chores, even looking for small victories over the one member of the household she has the power to subvert (Lucifer, the cat).

I’ve seen many internet memes, articles, editorials, etc. focused on girl empowerment with emphasis on self-rescue and a push back against the classic fairy tale versions of love at first sight and the prince rescuing the princess. Since I have three daughters, I am very open to messages that are all about girl power. My girls are extremely strong-willed and independent and could certainly rescue themselves in many situations. But, I see absolutely nothing wrong about a story that highlights kindness and encourages the magic of dreams and hope.

There are also plenty of times when it is reasonable (and brave, I might add) to acknowledge that you can’t do anything to change your situation and to cry out in despair for help. I love how the fairy godmother gives her a lovely night and Cinderella accepts the gift with an open heart and just goes for it.

The whole love at first sight thing makes me roll my eyes a bit, but I’m a romantic so I also kinda love it. The fanatical need of the Prince to find that girl is such a testament to Cinderella’s sparkling character.  That she was able to display it after living under such intense oppression is, in my opinion, just as magical as her carriage made from a pumpkin and her glass slippers. I have enjoyed several other versions of the Cinderella story that make it seem as if the prince and Cinderella had met before, but with animation, I’m much more wiling to suspend my disbelief and just be willing to enjoy the moment.

For me, the overall message of the animated feature is that hope can bring light to the darkest of days, and that sometimes you can’t just work or think yourself out of a bad situation.  It’s also a great movie for young kids or kids who can’t handle a lot of tension/drama. It’s one of the few Disney movies without an incredibly scary villain and the climax of the conflict where Cinderella is locked upstairs has just enough tension to keep the kids wondering, but not scared or overly anxious.

Cinderella – 2015

My girls love this version just as much as the original, although the youngest was most certainly more interested in the much anticipated Disney short, Frozen Fever… All the same positive elements are in this movie and there aren’t really any surprises or big variations from the story we all know.

There is, however, much more of an emphasis on Cinderella’s father and mother. Their deaths are quite emotional for the viewer.  In fact, all the stakes seem higher in this movie, perhaps because it’s live action instead of animated. The step mother and step sisters’ treatment of Cinderella is very hard to watch.  The emotional abuse is unrelenting and sometimes shocking. In the animated version, it seems charming that she has little mice and bird friends.  In the live version – it’s a bit of a rude awakening that a person would only have mice as an ally, and quite honestly disgusting to watch her “eat” with her friends.

The message of this movie is practically shouted about every 5 minutes – ‘Have courage and be kind.’ It was not exactly subtle, but hey – there are MUCH worse messages the entertainment industry could (and has) peddled to my kids, so I’m ok with it. My husband and I were both a little concerned though about how courage and kindness were portrayed. It definitely feels like Cinderella could have stood up for herself more.  There’s even a conversation in the film where Cinderella runs into one of her father’s former servants in the marketplace and the servant asks her why she doesn’t just leave? Cinderella basically answers that’s she’s staying because of the house; because she promised her father and mother to care for it as a symbol of their mutual love.  This strikes me as a lousy reason to endure abuse.

However, the tale of Cinderella does not take place in a particularly enlightened time.  There were not many safety nets for a person like her to fall into if she did decide to leave on her own.  So, given those realities, I get why she stayed.  My oldest daughter picked up on the theme of forgiveness as well and connected the ability to forgive with having courage. All around – a pretty great message to come away with.

On to other more shallow things – the actors are great. Fans of Downton Abbey will enjoy seeing Sophie McShera, who plays Daisy, a very plain kitchen maid, show up as one of the step-sisters who wears extremely extravagant and gaudy costumes.  I got a kick out of it for sure.  Cinderella is also played by a Downton actress –  Lily James (Lady Rose). Cate Blanchett obviously had fun being the wicked stepmother and it seemed that Helena Bonham Carter enjoyed playing a much less evil character than some of her recent roles.  I’ll admit it took me a second watching to be ok with Bellatrix Lestrange from the Harry Potter world embodying the place of benevolent fairy helper, but my girls, who haven’t seen the later HP movies, didn’t bat an eye.

Cinderella’s transformation scene and the ball are wonderful.  The family all laughed aloud multiple times while the garden and animals were turned into Cinderella’s entourage.  Everything about the ball was gorgeous – costumes, music, set – just really lovely and fun to watch.  When the prince and Cinderella dance, you’ll be tempted to immediately sign up your children for cotillion so they’ll know how to waltz effortlessly.

We love both versions. Thanks Disney for these fun, positive, beautiful films!

Family Christmas Trip – or – a practice blog post

(I’m calling this a practice one because I’m doing this mostly on my iPad! It’s also the first time I’ve played with putting in pictures…)

This year, our family traveled to Nashville, TN to celebrate Christmas with my brother and sister and their families. We started Christmas morning in Vienna with presents, hot chocolate, and cinnamon rolls.

TDK Camera 056

Santa ate the cookies and wrote back to the girls' notes.
Santa ate the cookies and wrote back to the girls’ notes.

The girls were suitably pleased with their gifts.

The Lego Friends Cruise ship Lydia's been begging for!
The Lego Friends Cruise ship Lydia’s been begging for!
The super soft nightgown that Becca wanted to immediately put on!
The super soft nightgown that Becca wanted to immediately put on!
Bethany was happy about most everything - big grins though for a bag of gummy bears...
Bethany was happy about most everything – big grins though for a bag of gummy bears…

I got a sparkly surprise!

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Tom got some fun goodies too – a fryer (it won’t quite do a turkey, but will work for beignets – yum).

His new Dremel tool will help all those “honey-dos” disappear! Hooray!

Then, we headed over to my parent’s house for a delicious brunch (Thanks mom!!) and headed out on the road.


Bethany was so exhausted from everything leading up to Christmas that she fell asleep in the van, undeterred by the blinding sunlight streaming in.


We stopped for dinner at (what else?) a Chinese Restaurant. We had fun reading our fortunes and eating with the other Christmas day travelers.


We rolled in to Nashville late Christmas night and thus began the epic 2014 Burns Christmas trip!
My nephew Leo, is probably the best snuggler on the face of the earth (no offense to other cute babies…)


He especially enjoyed snuggling with Tom. (I know, Leo – he’s my favorite too!!)

There were cousin playtimes, drum solo sessions, video gaming, board gaming, guitar jamming, present opening, outside walking, and long talks with siblings.

The game – A Ticket to Ride. Is this the new Catan?? we’ll see…
There are several videos. I think they might deserve their own post.



Dan and Robyn gave the family an outing to do Laser Tag all together!! It was a blast. Robyn offered to hang out at the arcade with Bethany so the rest of us could play together. Becca, Lydia, and I teamed up and had a fun time even though we got hit a ton of times 🙂 Downtown Nashville was comedically busy for a Tuesday night – there was a college football bowl game, a NHL hockey game, some music festival on one of the streets, plus a big show at the Ryman (a music venue). It made the trek to get pizza exciting – but we all still enjoyed the excellent Pizza Napolitano at Desano’s.






It was a great trip – I love my family!! Hope it’s not too long before the whole crew can get together again. Love you all.