On the Importance of Wanderlust (and Why the “10 Women Christian Men Should Not Marry” List is WAY Off Base)

Jan 18 2015

I read a terrible article yesterday titled 10 Women Christian Men Should Not Marry. It made me crazy because it was so full of judgement, teeny, tiny boxes in which to shove women (and God), and proof texts, that poorest form of theology which makes the Bible into a rule book instead of an epic love story and makes a mockery of Jesus’ life and the way he championed people again and again.

To spare you reading it, the author’s list of women who make poor candidates for wifery is as follows:

  1. The Unbeliever
  2. The Divorcee
  3. The Older Woman
  4. The Feminist
  5. The Sexy-Dresser
  6. The Loud Mouth
  7. The Child-Hater (aka, any woman who’s unwilling to procreate)
  8. The Wander-Luster
  9. The Career Woman
  10. The Devotion-less Woman

He includes Bible verses after each category and explanations.

After I finished reading the list, gasping aloud in horror (honestly, I sounded like I was watching a YouTube video of serial kitten murders), and then checking the internet to make sure it wasn’t some sort of satirical joke, I realized I’m 40% a Good Wife Choice by this man’s measure. After all, I cling tenaciously to the ideal of equality between men and women; I wear v-cut t-shirts regularly (sexy, baby); I am very, very loud, although I’m certain the man who wrote the list would be somewhat relieved to know I used to struggle with accepting the enthusiasm and volume at which I live life; I’m a career woman; and I discovered years and years ago that the rote morning devotions I thought I had to have to be a good, Christian woman don’t have as much to do with faith as letting God out of the box, discovering that Love is sanctuary in the midst of the storm, and letting grace unearth the light and not just the darkness inside me.

I shared this guy’s article on the Five Kids Facebook page, because I just couldn’t stand it, and I am so grateful for all your “wows” and “what the…?s” because I felt so much less alone. But someone asked why I’d even bother to give this guy publicity for his article, which is a really great question that deserves an answer. My answer is this: there’s an enormous amount of garbage and judgement that happens in the name of Jesus these days from voices so loud they drown out the rest of us, and I’m not willing to allow this man or those who believe like him to speak on behalf of Christians like me who try and fail and try and fail and keep trying anyway to love each other well, and love each other loudly, and love each other with wild grace, which is the greatest commandment, above all other “rules.” (Matthew 22, etc. Proof text that, dude.

But the thing on his list that just astounded me — even more than the prohibition against Older Women which is just laughable — was his denigration of Wanderlust.

The more I thought about it, though, the more Wanderlust’s place on the list made terrible sense. It made sense because, of course, when we keep women only home, only focused on husbands and children, only giving of themselves and never caring for their own needs — when we feed women the ideal that their fulfillment comes solely from being a wife and a mother — when we tell them their dreams of both/and — both home and travel, both family and friends, both children and career, both God and grace, both boundaries and freedom, both our dreams as a family and my dreams as a person — are rich and full and a reality to reach for, we risk losing women to the wilderness. We risk losing women to complexity. We risk losing women to the place where they’re both human and divine — utterly fallible and also made in the very image of God – full of grit and grace and gratitude and grime and gory and glory all at the same time. We risk allowing women to be more than Stepford Wives and participate in the mess and find magic there and learn that there is that of God in everything. Just all of it. God in everything. Or Love, if you, like me, like to use God’s other name when The Whole God Thing becomes too muddied to understand.

It is easier, of course, to keep women contained. To squash the wanderlust that takes us physically away and the wanderlust of our hearts which lets us dream. It’s easier to keep us only home. To keep us feeling guilty when our entire fulfillment isn’t found in being a wife and a mother. Because when we women are set free to be fully who Love intended us to be, we are a force. WE ARE A FORCE to be reckoned with, and there are men and women in this world who are unwilling to do the reckoning.

To be clear, I am a woman who finds my greatest joy in my family; and they also drive me up a freaking wall. A FREAKING WALL, friends. Because my family is made out of humans, and I’m one, too, which is as awful as it is awesome, but my simultaneous desire to snuggle all five of my babies on my lap and also run away screaming to Mexico has nothing – nothing – to do with the depth of my love for or devotion to Jesus, nor my worth as woman, nor my value as a wife and a mom.

Truth is, I am a better mama and a better wife when I escape from time to time. To recenter. To rest. To live. To wander. To wonder. To think. To find myself beyond wilderness boundary and also longing to come home. To be terribly, deeply, beautifully both/and. And to be a woman fully loved and worthy of choosing, exactly as I am. 


P.S. After I read The Terrible Article, I offered to divorce Greg and remarry him ’cause I had an enormous urge to be an even bigger disappointment to the guy who wrote that drivel. 

P.P.S. Greg hasn’t responded yet, so I assume he’s considering divorcing me just to make me happy. That’s why I love him, and I’ll never leave him.

P.P.P.S. I’m writing this as I’m wander-lusting to Australia.

P.P.P.P.S. These are some pictures of me leading my daughter, Abby, astray and teaching her to be wanderlusty, too: 




Because if I bring a child up in the way she should go, when she’s old she won’t depart from it. 



A Gift

Jan 9 2015

I walked in my chunky Mary Janes and my worn jeans and my favorite sweater through the outdoor market on a sidestreet next to a chocolate shop. It was only a glorified garage sale, with tables cobbled together and stacks of clothes and books, but it was in Paris, so it was charming. Chipped pottery. Rusty keys. Books stacked haphazardly to the overcast sky, daring us to brush by carelessly and topple ancient texts to the pavement.
I felt old like the books that day. Barely standing upright. In danger of falling to the earth. Brittle and fragile and more beautiful and wise than I could see.
I was dirty and rattled and deep in the throes of mental illness, although I hadn’t discovered it yet. I mean, I was on the brink of discovering it, filled to the brim with anxiety and rage and the teeniest bit of self-loathing which is like saying there’s the teeniest bit of cholera in the water; it doesn’t matter how much is there to start — it will pollute the whole damn thing and kill you regardless. 
Yes, I was on the brink of discovering my depression in disguise, but I wasn’t there yet, and so I was still dying and not yet reborn but trying bravely to soldier on as though I wasn’t emotionally and spiritually bleeding out. 
We were on vacation – the vacation of a lifetime – and the pressure to enjoy myself was fierce, though mostly from within. 
How often do you visit Paris, Beth? PARIS. Geez. Seize the Day! Breathe it all in. Practice gratitude, for God’s sake. JUST BE MORE GRATEFUL already.
But, of course, I couldn’t give myself credit for being merely mindful of gratitude. For trying. No; I had to TRIUMPH at gratitude. WIN at gratitude. Beat myself with the gratitude stick until I was bruised and battered and had the joy in my heart to prove it. Like making a child both apologize and mean it, which is, of course, impossible, and yet we insist upon it. You will apologize to your sister for licking her doll again AND YOU WILL MEAN IT, except the Adult Gratitude Version is you will recognize not everyone gets to do this/have this/experience this, and you will be HAPPY YOU DO because we lie and tell ourselves that acts of contrition and mindful gratitude are nothing unless we can conjure the right feelings to accompany them, which is, of course, bullshit.
I wandered through the market that day and lost my companions to the tables that beckoned them. Old records. New scarves. And me to the middle-aged woman in the frumpy coat on the low-slung chair selling jewelry. Nothing vintage. Nothing from old Parisian estates. Just a few earrings carved from wood, some found agates strung into necklaces, and a polished rock or two.
My daughter came over and we haggled for earrings – the woman without English and me without French – over a small piece of paper with a pencil, writing small numbers back and forth until we agreed. The money changed hands, and I found myself with a little package in my hands, and then, because I was weary to my soul, I muttered something uncharitable to my kid about how we probably could’ve worn her down even more on price. It was a small and petty thing to say, and also probably untrue, but I consoled myself with the fact that I’d said it quietly and I’d smiled at the woman and she’d smiled back, and I turned to go which is when the woman stood and reached across the table and grabbed my smooth hand with her wrinkled one.
She grabbed my hand and held it in hers and looked at my eyes and gestured to the table between us, saying something earnestly in French.
I didn’t understand, so she said it again, but no luck or Babel Fish or translator appeared so she held my hand tighter in one of hers while she lifted a small, blue, stone pendant off the table with the other, and she held it out to me to see. I agreed it was pretty, but shook my head to tell her no; I was done purchasing for the day. Still, she wouldn’t let me leave until she pressed the stone into the hand she held and closed my fist over it. Then she shooed me away. 
A gift. 
I finally got it. 
A gift, she was saying. 
I said no, no with my mouth and my gestures; I couldn’t accept. I’d spent what? $5? $6? on the earrings. A “gift with purchase” made no sense. But she wouldn’t take no for an answer. 
A gift, she insisted while she held my eyes, the pendant inside my fist.
I said, Merci and Thank You, and I left, wiping away sudden tears that confused me. 
In the years since I took her gift and walked away, I’ve wondered why she did it. Whether she heard my unkindness and chose to repay me with love anyway, which is the best kind of miracle I know. Whether she simply recognized I was lost and offered what she had to light my way home. Whether any part of her knew how much I’d come to treasure that stone and use it to remind myself to see people, too, the way she saw me that day at the market. To choose kindness to the stranger. To treat strangers like friends. And to believe, always, that the small lights we shine help each other find our way home. 

How to Know If You Have Buns of Steel

Jan 6 2015

I accidentally played Buns of Steel with my 8 year old twins.

FYI, for the uninitiated, Buns of Steel is played in one’s laundry room whilst clad in undies (or skivvies if you’re part of the Under 10 crowd), and the rules are as follows:

1. Clench your butt cheeks as tightly as you can.
2. Get someone to punch your butt - HARD.
3. Have the puncher declare whether you do, in fact, have Buns of Steel.

There I was, in the laundry room, minding my own business, trying to find something, ANYTHING, clean to wear when I was ASSAULTED by 2nd graders.

Now I have worked for years… yeeeeeears… to try to convince my children my butt is not a bongo nor is my tummy a timpani, although they’ve been reluctant adopters of the No Beating Your Mother philosophy. Similarly, I’ve tried to assist my adorable cherubs in understanding it’s impolite to giggle, and — OK – guffaw as the case may be, at the way my fine flesh reverberates and wobbles at the smallest provocation.

I thought we were making progress, too, walking that fine line between teaching my children that, while I refuse to be ashamed of being what my maternity nurse generously called “fluffy,” I also don’t need to be poked and prodded to gleeful cries of, “We just watchin’ you jiggle, Mama!” 

Yes, I thought we were making progress ’til I was punched in the rear in the laundry room.

I thought we were making progress, so I wheeled around — unhelpfully sending the whole ship a’shakin’ — to spear my precious angels with the hairy eyeball. The LOOK. The Oh No You Dih-Unt. 

They backed away with their hands raised, protesting their innocence. “We weren’t punching your butt, Mom!” they said. And, to my raised eyebrow, they followed up, “Well, OK, we WERE punching you, but just to see if you got Buns of Steel.” Because that’s way better than beating my butt like drums, I guess. 

So I asked, because I could not help myself, “And do I have Buns of Steel?” And they were caught.




Because not only had they punched me in the butt! Now they were forced to make a commentary they did not want to have to make. BWAHAHAHAHA.

No way out, baby dolls!

Full speed ahead!

Let’s see what you’ve got!

Which is when one twin looked at the other, beckoned him forward, whispered in his ear, garnered his agreement with a quick nod of the head, and said, “No, Mom. You don’t have Buns of Steel. You have Buns of Flexible, and that kind is good, too.”

So here I sit — on my battered Buns of Flexible — realizing we have, in fact, made progress. And for today, it’s enough.





P.S. You can see my Belly of Flexible – and read why I love it anyway – here.

Housekeeping, Stories, Some Photos, News About Jeans, A Skin Tag Named Harold, And Let’s Hang Out in Person

Jan 5 2015

I feel a little bad titling this post “Housekeeping” because I’m afraid it might give the false impression it’s about keeping house, a subject I’m patently unqualified to discuss since I’m exceedingly pathetic at the whole lot of it. However, if you clicked on the title hoping for some advice (or, more accurately, some quick ways to feel way, WAY better about your housekeeping by laughing at mine), you can disregard the rest of this and go to one of the following links, instead:

Alright, that said, let’s proceed with some housekeeping for the blog. Small updates on what’s been happening. Some updates on what’s to come.

  1. A Story: Why Twin Brothers Suck

    Today is January 5th; also known as The Day the Kids Went Back to School.

    At this point, I’d normally say, OH MY WORD, PRAISE JESUS AND ALL THE SAINTS… and GOD BLESS TEACHERS… and WOO to the HOO, YEEHAW, and PARTY ON, DUDES… except I had one little 2nd grade boy in tears this morning, not sure he was ready to return.

    He wasn’t recalcitrant or disobedient or obstinate, or even whiny and complaining. Instead, he was just quietly brokenhearted with tears slipping down his soft cheeks, hugging his teddy bear, Beary, whom he wasn’t sure he could leave behind. My mama heart
    sunk which is another way of saying he totally ruined all my plans to rejoice and skip away from the school and dance a jig in the parking lot. Ruined them completely, since now I’m left wondering whether he’s OK. 

    The only way I got Cael to school sans break-down, in fact, was by telling him he could take Beary along. “There’s no reason you can’t just put Beary in your backpack, Man. Would it make you feel better to bring him with you?”

    Cael sniffled and said that would help, which is when his pesky twin brother said, righteously, “Except we’re not allowed to bring toys from home.”

    “I’m sure it’s fine to bring Beary just for today,” I said.

    And Cai said, “Nope. No toys from home. It’s the rule.”

    And I said, “Well, then; good thing Cael’s leaving Beary in his backpack ’cause then no one will know.”

    And Cai said, “And that would be a good solution except we’re supposed to follow the rules even when no one’s looking, MOM.” Which is a GREAT thing for a kid to know and it’s AWESOME that he has convictions, and, of course, we want to honor that kind of thinking because it’ll totally keep him off of drugs and from robbing the liquor store one day, but GEEZ, kid; give your brother a break.

    So, when Cai wasn’t looking, I smuggled Beary into Cael’s backpack, winked at Cael and said, “I won’t tell if you won’t.” And he winked back and said, “DEAL.” 

    All of which is to say, having a twin brother sometimes sucks, and if Cael grows up to rob the liquor store, now you’ll know where it all began. 

  2. A Photo: A Dog and Her Boy

    I told you just before Christmas about our oldest boy’s new service dog, Zoey. I’m trying not to totally overreact, but she’s perfect, and I love this pair so much I can’t stand it.


  3. A Photo: Diversion

    This is a picture of Greg and me last week. I have the least number of double chins in this photo than of any other recently taken.

    Also, this one nicely cuts off my butt so I’m using this to distract you from the next photo. Let me know if it works.

  4. An Update: On Jeans

    ButtNoSpeaking of butts, yes I DID get the jeans I special ordered from the made-to-fit company following the Great Pants Splitting Episode of 2014, and I DO like them, but I keep delaying updating you because it means more butt pics, and I’m having to gear up for that.

    It’s not the posting of the pictures that’s so awful. I’ll get there; I promise. (I PROMISE to show you more pictures of my rear, Internets, because mine is totes the kind of rear one looks up online.) It’s the fact that I have to find a human being and ask him or her to take photos of my butt.

    I mean, it’s one thing to discover your pants have split and have likely been split for hours while you run errands around town, and then, while still in shock, shove a phone in your husband’s hands to snap a pic.

    It’s an entirely different mental process, I assure you, to plan a Butt Photo Shoot, so you’ll have to wait a tad longer.

    In the meantime, it’s important to know a) MakeYourOwnJeans.com works as advertised, b) you shouldn’t cheat on your thigh size or the thigh parts of your jeans might end up snug, c) the fabric and construction are extremely high quality, d) it takes longer to get them (5-6 weeks with back pocket embroidery which adds time) than I would like, and e) I’ve ordered a second pair with *ahem* bigger thighs.

  5. Facebook and a Skin Tag Named Harold

    I updated you on the Five Kids Facebook page about Harold, my armpit skin tag. It’s important you join our Facebook community or you won’t get useless, gross and somewhat disturbing updates like these. Just thought you should know. Because I love you.

  6. NEWS: I Might Be Coming to a City Near You in 2015 (California and Australia in January!)

    I might be coming to a city near you sometime this year, and I would LOVE, love, LOVE to meet you in person. Thanks to my parents, whom I love and with whom I’m well pleased, I get to TRAVEL this year. I’m not traveling for anything writing or book-related; just traveling to see what we can see, and would love to see YOU. I’m positively GIDDY with excitement, and I’ll give you updates on locations as I know more. 

    THIS Friday, January 9th, I’ll be in the Fullerton area of Southern California. If you want to meet for a bring-your-own lunch in a park nearby, please email me at fivekidsisalotofkids@gmail.com with “SoCal Meet-Up” in the subject line so we can work out details. 

    On Monday, January 19th, I’ll be in Sydney, Australia along with my daughter, Abby. (I KNOW – I can’t believe it, either!) If you’d like to hang out for the day, please email me at  fivekidsisalotofkids@gmail.com with “Sydney Meet-Up” in the subject line. We have a hang-out plan I’d love to send you.

Those are my updates! It’s been a LONG few weeks of Winter Break full of glorious, grimy, grouchy, messy, mucky, magnificent time focused on my family, and I’m as sad as I am eager to move on to the mundane and magical days ahead. How are YOU? What are YOUR updates?


This is how Christmas break is going…

Dec 29 2014

This isn’t a real post. This is Christmas break. This is Christmas break, and this is how it’s going, in three small bits…

A) We had lovely Christmas. Truly magical. Really rad. Totally awesome. We baked. We wrapped. We cleaned. We unwrapped. We made majestic messes. We were kind to each other just as long as we could stand to be, and now we’re done with all this Quality Family Time.



Done ditty done done done.

We’ve peaked. For sure. It’s all downhill from here, man.

Oh, sure, we may have a surge or two; a nice family meal where no one makes retching sounds because “GAG, Mom; you know I HATE cheese sauce,” but by and large it’s all puking noises from here on out, and running straws from our lips to our armpits to make farting noises in our sisters’ faces, and punching our brothers in the nuts because they wrecked Minecraft AGAIN and that totally deserves a good nut-punch.

Even our kid whose sullen communication is more subtle these days has made her feelings known.


Yep — that’s every single stocking turned around backwards except hers.

I asked her why, and she said, “I guess that’s Santa’s way of saying he hates everyone except me.” Then she shrugged her What Are You Gonna Do? shrug and brushed her hands together in the universal Pontius Pilate I Wash My Hands of You sign and sauntered off. Probably to light someone on fire. 

B) I am pathologically incapable of not commenting when my kids use up all the toilet paper and don’t replace the roll. 

I tried to not comment yesterday when it happened again.

I did. I really tried.

I sat there staring at the empty cardboard tube and the full roll someone had helpfully plopped on the wet counter 4 inches from the empty roll, and I tried to simply replace the roll myself and say nothing

Saying nothing lasted 12 seconds.

It was like trying to cap a hose. 

I tried, but then my words sprayed all over. 

“This only takes seconds, you guys!” I hollered coming out of the bathroom and raising the toilet paper over my head like the Scepter of Motherhood. “Seconds. SECONDS.”

They all ignored me because they were playing Minecraft and punching each other in the nuts. That’s OK, though; being ignored and watching nut-punching rarely shuts me up. I soldiered on.

“Did I mention that it takes seconds? Because I timed myself, and I can put a new roll on in FOUR. FOUR SECONDS! Why do you not do this?” I cried, “WHY? It take NO time out of your day. It’s SO Not a Big Deal. WHY?”

One of the nut-punchers piped up and said, “Obviously it is a big deal, Mom, or you’d just do it and not complain about it so much.” 

GAaaahhHHH. I just HATE it when my kids are right. 

C) We did family photos.

There we were, all dressed up for the first family photos we’ve taken in 6 years. It’s been SIX YEARS since we last got our poo together enough for group pictures, folks, and we were, I kid you not, clean and groomed, and we even smelled OK, but my youngest had that terrible, fake smile plastered on his face. You know the one that elementary school kids do that looks like they’re half way between a vicious sneeze and losing their breakfast? That’s the one. 

The photographer, bless her kind, Christian heart, asked my kid to think of something that makes him laugh. He lit up, and his eyes sparkled, and he said, “You know what always makes me laugh? Like, every single time? Thinking about that time my mom got mad in the car and yelled, ‘You have got to be fucking kidding me!’” 


So, yeah. We’ve got a week to go before school resumes, and you can pray for us.

The End


P.S. Are you on break? How’s it going? How are everyone’s nuts? 

Christmas Came Early: Introducing Someone Very Special…

Dec 20 2014

The tentative whispers and the cautious what ifs — the quiet perhapses and the hesitant maybes — can change your life. 

I know they’ve changed mine.

Again and again, the what ifs and maybes changed mine.

Like, maybe I love him. And, what if I marry him? And, perhaps I should follow my heart.

Changed my life. 

They were toes in the water and the slow first steps, those perhapses of wondering which were born out of longing and transformed into hope. 

Hope for a future.

Hope for a family, because the what ifs of marriage turned into the perhapses of having a baby… and then two more perhapses and a couple of maybes after that, and, whew, five kids is a lot of kids, you know? Like any number of kids is a lot of kids. Any number of kids is a LOT of kids because kids are made out of human like the rest of us and, well, any number of humans is a LOT of humans because we’re all wild and weird and wonderful which is a LOT to take all at once.

Over time in our family, we’ve wound up and down that ladder of perhaps and maybe. A whole lifetime of ups and downs, and downs and ups, and a few more downs, and not all of them pretty. 

What if we never should’ve done this?

What if it was all a mistake?

What if I’m lost forever? What if I can never find myself again?

Maybe they’d be better off without me.

Perhaps I can’t fix this.

I’d be lying if I told you I’ve never wondered whether my kids and my partner got the worst end of the deal when they landed me as a mom and a wife. I’ve wondered that a thousand thousand times. And I’ve wondered it most of all for Ian, my kid with special needs who’s strong and kind and suffers all the time because the world is an anxious place and he’s unsure where to find safety and solace. 

Maybe if I was a better mother.

Maybe if I was a better comforter.

Maybe if I wasn’t so totally batshit crazy.

It doesn’t seem to matter that I know my son’s early years, without us there yet, were full of uncertainty and neglect.

Maybe if I’d gotten there sooner…

Maybe if I was more patient…

Maybe if I’d advocated better or got to the specialists faster…

But it turns out that one of the biggest challenges of my life this far is the act of forgiving myself for everything I cannot be and all the things I cannot fix and to embrace myself for being one of those wild, weird, wonderful humans, after all… and then choosing, somehow, to dip my toes into the hopeful side of perhaps again. Choosing, somehow, to believe in the good what ifs  and the magical maybes

We sat in the counseling office a few months ago with our son. We talked again about the panic attacks and the scariness of the night. We talked about the fight or flight of anxiety. We talked about watching our kid hurting. And we talked about hope and help, and the counselor had a what if.

What if… a service dog? What if… a warm companion? What if… affection, no strings attached? What if… she’s trained to help? What if… she can do for him something special? Something extraordinary? 

I said no. It’s too complicated. It’s Another Thing in our Busy Lives. It’s unmanageable and unrealistic. My husband won’t go for another dog – no way, no how. 

But my son’s whole face lit up, and his body relaxed, and my heart whispered maybe.

Zoey5And so I’d like to introduce you to our new Zoey… a maybe born out of longing, transformed into hope, and here in the flesh and the fur.

Christmas came early in our house, no question.

Christmas came early, and Love is made real. 

Again and again, Love is made real. In the form of a Baby. In the whisper of maybe. It’s just, this time, she came with floppy ears and a tail.

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas… or a Happy Hannukah… or a Wonderful Kwanza… or whatever says Love and Light to you this season… and sending Joy and Hope because I have extra right now,





P.S. Here are some pictures of a Dog and Her Boy.


Pardon me while I use this entire box of tissues. 

And P.P.S., for those of you wondering who we went through to make this happen, we’re incredibly thrilled and grateful to be working with Aliesha Shepherd at Sit Spot Click Dog Training. Aliesha found Zoey for us and is training her and… the biggest challenge… training US. 

3 Wise Men and a Virgin Are Coming to My Church; You Should, Too

Dec 18 2014

I’m not saying my church is better than your church, I’m just saying that one pastor at my church (let’s call him “Nate”) recently found another pastor’s email (let’s call him “Paul”) left open and sent a message from Paul to his two adult sons disclosing Paul’s recent breast augmentation surgery.

Which Paul did not have.

Which is why that’s HILARIOUS. 

Gosh, I love my church.

We are weird weirdos who are weird.

And funny.

We are weird weirdos who are weird and funny and not afraid to play.

More churches should try that tack. The whole Be Your Weird Self approach. And Laugh. And Play. Someone should probably elect me President of Church, is what I’m saying. We’d send bizarre emails to each other’s family members. And tuna casserole would be BANNED FOREVER. And the punch would be full strength. And there’d be real half and half for the coffee. And we’d host weekly Beer and Bible Study; heavier on the beer or the Bible, depending on the week. And I’d award bonus points for every person willing to tell an embarrassing story out loud in front of the congregation; it’d be a Regular Sunday Feature like the Offering or Announcements or the Sermon or Prayer… except it would be Embarrassing Story Time and we’d have to provide good quality tissues for laughing ’til we cry, and maybe some inconspicuous absorbent pads on the pews for those of us who laugh ’til pee. And on sunny, warm Sundays, we’d ditch the plan and the building entirely and go lay flat on the lawn, and not care about grass stains or dew or children jumping over our heads, and we’d stare up at the sky and tell wild truths about being both lost and found at the same time, which is grace. 

In addition to being weird weirdos who are weird, though, we have some amazing musicians at my church. Like, professional musicians… recording artists… members of the Portland Symphonic Choir… blah-di-blah-blah blah… and, along with their completely talented musician friends (of whom I’m surprisingly not one), they’ve put together a series of Christmas Concerts which I’m telling you about for two specific reasons.

  1. 3WisemenandaVirginTheir group name is 3 Wise Men and a Virgin** which is, obviously, the VERY BEST name for a 6-person music group EVER. 
  2. 3 Wise Men and a Virgin** are playing in the Portland, Oregon area this weekend, including at my church on Sunday, and I’d love for you to join us for the concert and hang-out time afterwards.


**P.S. The group name is technically not 3 Wise Men and a Virgin. That name was proposed and discarded in favor of “Eclectic Christmas,” which may be more accurately descriptive but isn’t nearly as entertaining. Whatever. I’m still calling it 3 Wise Men and a Virgin, and you can, too.

P.P.S. In case you want more details, here’s the scoop: Eclectic Christmas 3 Wise Men and a Virgin is a Christmas concert for all ages, with music from jazz to folk to blues and everywhere in between. The group is comprised of Aaron Pruitt, Frank Verhoorn, Nate Macy, Nathanael Ankeny, MelissaThomas, and Nolan Staples. Desserts to follow the concert on Sunday evening. $10 suggested donation.

Friday, December 19, 7:00pm: West Hills Friends Church
7425 SW 52nd Ave, Portland, Oregon

Saturday, December 20, 7:00pm: Newberg Friends Church
307 S College St, Newberg, Oregon

Sunday, December 21, 7:00pm: North Valley Friends Church
4020 N College St, Newberg, Oregon

(CAUTION: They’re letting Woolseys attend that last one. You’ve been warned.)

P.P.P.S. All the best bands have riders attached to their contracts so their needs are met. Through secret sources, I obtained a copy of the Backstage Rider for 3 Wise Men and a Virgin. 

The following are the expectations of you as the host for Eclectic Christmas 3 Wise Men and a Virgin:
  1. You will provide cash in the following amounts for our merchandise table: 17 $1 bills, 14 $5, 2 $10, 3.5 $20, 7 $50, 32 $2 bills, and 7 quarters. This can be Monopoly money as the merch table is imaginary.
  2. We will sign autographs provided Nate has a minder since he can’t spell his own name.
  3. We do not require food, but there should be a veggie platter. The platter must not include carrots, broccoli, celery, snap peas, peppers, or cherry tomatoes. 
  4. In and Out Burger is our preferred catering institution. Nolan insists on pickles. Aaron will not eat anything that has been in a bag with any pickle products and consequently will not play due to emotional upheaval.
  5. Melissa requires the green room to literally be green and kept at 65.7 degrees.
  6. Frank prefers to be called Jim.
  7. Nathanael’s children often have serious communicable diseases. They will require oxygen tents but need to be in the front row. There are restraining orders against his parents seeing the kids, so they will need to sit behind the organ and have an usher blindfold them. Nate’s uncle has a violent dislike of Nolan’s mother so they will need to be monitored and seated at least 50 yards from each other.
  8. Our sound person, Joel, will only answer to the Spanish pronunciation of his name and is likely to charge anyone wearing red.
  9. All power outlets will need to be 220 volts with a provided 110 watt diffuser.
  10. We require spouses to be checked in with their names written on masking tape and placed on their backs. Spouses will only be released from the care of the meeting with an approved signature.

P.P.P.P.S. I can’t be held responsible for what I or my children will wear to the concert. I’ve got one who plans to wear her dragon wings and tail, one who’s back in love with his kilt which is now a mini-kilt since it’s 4 sizes too small, and I can’t guarantee I won’t have given up on real clothes and be back in my pajamas by 7pm on Sunday. Just saying – you get what you get, friends, and All Hail the Weird Weirdos Who Are Weird!

P.P.P.P.P.S. I hope to see you there.