Monthly Archives: May 2011

In My Swagger Wagon

Where my kids at?

In August 2009 my fate was sealed.

I discovered I was pregnant with our third chid.

No longer could I continue to drive my beloved Honda Accord.

I was emotionaly attached to Stitch, my stylin’ silver stallion.  

I had countless adventures driving Stitch all over Europe, not to mention the cross country road trip in the Accord.

But, three car seats cannot fit safely in the back of a sedan {or at least not our sedan}.

We knew we needed a larger vehicle.

With 2 adults, 3 kids, and 2 dogs, you need a lot of space-especially when going camping.

So, I resigned myself to the fact that a minivan was in my not too distant future.

I moaned and groaned about it.

I wrestled with it day and night. 

Sure, an SUV or a crossover vehicle were options, but they were either more expensive, not as practical, or not as roomy as the minivan option.

The thought of driving a minivan made me feel old. 

I even had a bit of a quarter-life crisis over this situation.

I had nightmares about middle schoolers pointing at me and laughing as I drove by.

So, about six weeks out from Korbin’s birth, we purchased our Swagger Wagon.

My friends and family oohed and ahhed over it. 

Everyone kept asking, “So, how do you like the Sienna?  Don’t you just love it?”

“It’s okay.  It’s a vehicle.  It works,”  {she says in monotone voice, walks away with head hanging low}


While I was still suffering my loss, my hubs showed me this video:

And, I was happy again. 

I had a new reason to take to the open road with unabashed passion and pleasure.

I could roll with my posse in the HOV.

In my Swagger Wagon.  Got the pride in my ride in my Swagger Wagon.

The greatest turning point came when I fit 6 of my girlfriends in the Swagger Wagon.

We had a blast on our joy ride, giggling over {you guessed it} SEX, enjoying just being together for a little girl time.


Isn’t this so often how we react to God?

He offers me something I think I don’t want: a plan, an opportunity, something that requires a surrender of my will and a step of faith.

He wants to give me something good, but I reject it.

Because of fear.

Because of pride.

Because I.just.don’t.wanna!

Things would go much smoother and much easier, if I would just stop to remind myself of Isaiah 55:8-9,

8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.
9 “Foras the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts.

God always knows better than me. 

 He’s totally Swaggerific like that.


What makes your vehicle Swaggerific?

Have you ever resisted a gift from God?

My 10 Favorite Things I Learned on Oprah

1.  If a man loses 30 lbs, he will gain an inch on a certain part of his anatomy (use your imagination…yes, yes, it’s that part you’re thinking of)

2.  You should have your bra properly fitted by a professional

3.  Healthy poop is in the shape of an “S”

4.  Men AND women pass the same amount of gas every day

5.  Calm assertive energy (whatever that means!) is the best way to train a dog

6.  Your house should rise up to greet you (whatever that means!)

7.  Getting a makeover will change your life and make you unrecognizable to your children and your husband, but he will still want to sleep with you

8.  If you write a memoir based on lies, don’t let it become an Oprah book club selection.  The world will hate you afterwards.

9.  If you’re really in love with someone, you will jump up and down on a couch to prove it. 

10.  Even white people can sport a weave and wear extensions.


So, what’s your favorite thing you learned on Oprah?


Edited to add: I’m guest posting for my friend and fellow Westsiiiiiiider, Chris, on his blog Goforth’s Journal.  Stop by and read my post in his series about Girls of Purpose. Don’t forget to tell him I sent ya.  :)

Guest Post: Extreme Couponing and the Condition of My Heart

Meet my dear friend and fellow blogger, Angela Russell.  It’s so appropriate that she should be my first guest poster because she’s been my mentor in this blogging journey, the {Fairy} godmother of Pop Parables, if you will.  She’s funny, thoughtful, innovative, witty, and empathetic.  And, she runs an amazingly successful blog known as The Coupon Project.  That’s why her words on this topic are so relevant. 


In the season opener of TLC’s Extreme Couponing this April, J’aime Kirlew extended her arms over a thick stack of coupon inserts and proclaimed: “I would say this is 100 Holy Bibles.” It was clear from the
get go that TLC’s show was sensationalism at its worst. Was it any coincidence that the season opener of My Strange Addiction would air the same night?

No doubt, Extreme Couponing has caused an Extreme Stir.

Keri recently approached me to write a guest post on this topic as I am an avid coupon blogger. As I contemplated this task, I questioned, “What more can I add to this conversation?” It seems to me the complaints people have about the show are basically the same:

  • The people on the show are hoarders.
  • The people on the show spend too many hours clipping coupons.
  • The people on the show only buy unhealthy foods.
  • The people on the show clear shelves and are greedy.
  • The people on the show take too long at checkout and some are rude to cashiers and store employees.

Now that we’ve gotten that riveting recap out of the way, let’s move on.

Extreme Couponing or Extreme Deception

Through creative editing tactics, TLC left millions of viewers with an unfair portrayal of coupon usage.  Consider:

  • The majority of people on the show run coupon blogs or forums as their part or full time job (the reason they may spend 30-40 hours a week on “couponing”). It appears TLC prohibited them
    from mentioning this fact on their show. 
  • Items purchased on the show were pre-ordered with the stores, but TLC led viewers to believe shoppers were clearing the shelves.
  • Several people featured later donated some or all of the items purchased on their store trip.   This information may or may not have made it onto the final TLC episodes.

It would be easy to continue on, railing the show or the people who chose to be on it for this, that, or the other. And that was honestly the direction I wanted to take this post.

But God had another idea. It seems, as usual, He is far more concerned about my own heart than the judgment I can so readily heap on others. Here is how he challenged me.

How I go TLC Editing Style on My Life

TLC edited their show to lead their viewers to believe something about people that use coupons.

But how do I “edit” my life for others to believe something about me?

I want people to like me. So it’s easy for me to share my successes and the good stuff about my life in hopes you’ll think of me a certain way. But God wants me to live my life honestly. No edits. Here’s what it says in James 5:13-14:

Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise.  Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.

And then, He asks this of me (v. 16):

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.

God wants me to live my life in a very real way, before Him and with His people. No slick camera tricks needed.

“Extreme” isn’t Just What Someone Else is Doing

The truth is anything done to extreme levels may be unhealthy, whether it’s couponing, working, dieting, or ironing (yes, ironing). It’s especially easy to sit back and criticize others that struggle with this in a really obvious way, particularly in a way we don’t struggle with ourselves (like hoarding ferrets, for instance). However, I think we all have things that we can let consume our time and thoughts if we gave pause.

Proverbs 25:28 has this to say:

Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.

In ancient times, walls were used to keep some things in, and other things out. They protected the city by creating boundaries. I believe God wants the same for me. He asks me to live a life of self-control and it’s for my own safety (and sanity!).

While Kirlew’s comparison of coupon inserts to Bibles may have shocked us, isn’t it possible we have things in our lives we’ve elevated in an unhealthy, and possibly, idolatrous way? Perhaps it’s time we put on our construction hats and do a little wall rebuilding.

The post that wasn’t the post I set out to write

And there you have it.

As I wrap up this post, I’m fighting letting go of all my “good points” and “relevant scriptures” on why hoarding is bad and how coupon fraud hurts everyone and how…


The words didn’t come so easily for this post (as I’m sure they would’ve on the post I wanted to write).  That seems to happen when confronted with one’s own shortcomings and not someone else’s.

That’s what it all came down to. My own heart.

Angela Russell launched The Coupon Project in February 2009 as a way to teach others how to best use coupons to save money on groceries. She lives with her husband and two children in Tacoma, WA. She sincerely hopes she hasn’t offended anyone who enjoys ironing or raising ferrets.

Captain Underpants: Top 5 Lessons in Building Community

Kaleb & Lukas

Those are my 2 oldest boys.  Ain’t they caaaa-ute?  ;)

Kaleb is in the midst of that lovely period known as potty training.

Normally, I don’t broadcast such news because it is an excruciatingly painful and humiliating process to potty train a child.

Anyone who tells you otherwise has only just begun the journey and is in for a load of crapola, in more ways than one.


The other day, Lukas overheard me telling my hubby, Mike, that it was high time we ventured to Target and had Kaleb pick out some underoos.

Ever the supportive older brother, Lukas eagerly interrupted our conversation with this statement:

“Mommy!  Mommy!  I have a really good idea.  We don’t have to go to Target.  Kaleb can just borrow MY underoos!”

In that moment, I tried really hard not to laugh.  He was just being loving after all.  And, in a houseful of boys, encouraging sharing is always a good thing.

But, how did he get the idea that underoos are meant to be shared?!  Because, they aren’t.  Ever.  Ever, ever, EVER meant to be shared.

I’ve retold this story a few times since that day.  And, today, while talking to my bff Cindy about community, it hit me: THIS is a real life pop parable.

Lukas was offering Kaleb something intimately his.  He wanted to encourage him.  He wanted to be in the journey with him.  He is so excited for his little brother to grow up.  And, the best way he knew how to show all of that, was to share his underoos.  {Mental note: teach Lukas a love language that doesn’t involve unmentionables.}

In Christian circles we call that community: doing life together, being Jesus to each other, iron sharpening iron, and all that good stuff.

Yet, I know some of you out there are lacking community and don’t know how to go about building it.

As a person who has moved many times, let me assure you I’ve had my fair share of experiences in building community.

In each place that I’ve lived, it’s the community that I long for when I leave. 

It’s the community that I get homesick for, the family that supported me when my real family was thousands of miles away.

So, I thought I’d offer my Top 5 Lessons in Building Community

None of these is earth shattering, but if you put them all together you’ll be on the road to finding the kind of friends who you can’t live without, friends who become like family.

{Caveat: I’m talking specifically about building community at your place of worship, but I think these things can apply in all areas of life, too.}

1.  Be friendly…seems like that should go without saying, but I’ve come across a lot of unfriendly people complaining about not having friends.  To find a friend, you have to be a friend.  ‘Nuf said.

2.  Try New Things…do things that are out of your comfort zone.  Sit in a different area of the sanctuary than you normally would.  Get involved in a ministry opportunity or service project.  Sign up for a class.  Check out a small group. 

3.  Share Stuff…but, NOT your underoos.  But, do share your crap.  Well, at least your figurative crap, not your literal crap.  Don’t go around verbally vomiting all of your deep, dark secrets.  But, if it’s appropriate in a small group setting and relative to the conversation, reveal some of your struggles.  You don’t have to give a ton of detail.  Just enough to say that you’re human and willing to admit your imperfections.  You’ll be surprised at how this opens the floodgates with others to reveal their crap, too.

4.  Get together outside of the normal setting…if you meet someone you connect with, ask them to meet up outside of church or small group.  Grab a cup of coffee.  Plan a playdate.  Catch a concert together.  You’ll build some shared memories, and have a good time!

5.  Be patient…it takes a loooooooong time to build community.  In my experience, it takes an average of 18 months to 2 years to get really connected.  That’s a long time, I know.  During that time, you may feel lonely, unnoticed and like you don’t fit in.  Just give it some time, and don’t give up.  Just repeat the first 4 as often as it takes. 


What advice do you have on how to build community?

Do you think people should share underoos?

Don’t go just yet!  Do you enjoy reading Pop Parables?  If so, would you be so kind as to vote for me as one of the Top 25 Faith Blogs by Moms?  All you have to do is go here, and click the thumbs up.  You can vote EVERY DAY until June 8!  While you’re there, be sure to vote for my friend Melissa Brotherton, too.

In Case of Rapture…

Disclaimer: I am in no way a Biblical scholar or theologian.  I can read.  I can type.  I love God.  Those are my only qualitifications for writing with any smidgen of authority on this subject.

I grew up in a church environment that emphasized eschatology (simply put, “end times theology“).

Not only did I have the…ahem…pleasure of watching Hells Bells, but I was also subject to a viewing of A Thief in the Night.

This movie seared fear into my heart that if I wasn’t right with God, I would most certainly not be called up with Him when the rapture came.

In all likelihood, I would be left alone in the middle of the grocery store and my parents would be called to Heaven, leaving behind an orphan child on Aisle 5.

When I was about 5, my brother and I were at the park with my older cousin.  He convinced me that the appointed time was upon us.

We noticed a strange light in the sky that seemed to be panning from left to right, over and over again.

Having never seen anything like it before, I asked my cousin about it.

“Keri!  Run!!  It’s the rapture!  He’s coming!  He’s coming!  Run home and tell your parents!”

I bolted outta there like there really was no tomorrow, stopping for a moment to hear my cousin’s roaring laughter in the distance.

It wasn’t the rapture after all.  It was a spotlight from a car dealership.


Surely you’ve seen the billboards or heard the reports that {allegedly} Saturday, May 21 is Judgement Day.

If you’re on board with that message, you should purchase this t-shirt.  It will make everything much more efficient for all involved.

Certainly, 89-year-old Harold Camping and his followers have removed this verse from their copies of the Bible:

32“But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.  33Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time will come.”  (Mark 13:32-33)

Is there anything we do know for sure about Judgement Day?

Yes, we can say with certainty that Judgement Day is in fact coming.

27And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment,  28so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.  (Hebrews 9:27-28)

Collectively, Christians are in agreement that Jesus Christ will return again

And, we can rejoice that His Second Coming is not solely for the purpose of bringing judgement.

I took a look in my handy dandy Handbook on Christian Belief where Bruce Milne outlines the four fold purpose of the Second Coming.

  1. To Complete the Work of Redemption  (II Peter 3:10, 13)
  2. To Resurrect the Dead  (John 5:28-29)
  3. To Judge all People  (Acts 10:42)
  4. To Deliver the Church   (I Thessalonians 4:16-17) 


We who have been adopted into the family of God, look with hope to His return, not fear or trepidation.  But, with a heart full of anticipation for the fulfillment of the promise that

 4…He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”  (Revelation 21:4)

It is is the same promise that propels us to take up the Great Commission.

And, while I may not agree with Harold Camping and his crew, I certainly respect the passion and compassion with which they have shared their message.

They have gathered caravans of vehicles, traversing many areas of the country to spread the word, through tracks, billboards, and loudspeaker.

It forced me to ask myself, “What are you doing to get the Word out?”


Do you partake in eschatology?  Why or why not?

What does the Day of Judgement reveal to you about God’s character?

What are your plans for Saturday, May 21, 2011?