On Being Understood (or not)


This Sunday in church, some friends read Psalm 139 as a meditation to start the service. It was a friendly reminder from the Lord that even when I feel misunderstood and unheard, he knows my thoughts even before I say them out loud.

I struggle with a child-like need to be understood, and nothing derails my day more than the inner turmoil that comes from being unable to explain myself.

Of course there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be understood — especially by those close to me — but the lie I believe in the midst of it is that I have the power to win people over to my point of view if I could just make them understand.

Sometimes I can’t see that my point of view is wrong. Sometimes I can’t convince a listener that their point of view is wrong. Sometimes I can’t get anyone to listen at all. But I’m learning to say what I feel needs to be said, then release it into God’s hands.

I’m learning that, for me, the hardest part of following Jesus is being content that his unconditional love and intimate knowledge of my inner thought-life is enough.

It’s a painful, heart wrenching lesson, and each time I release the burden I feel like a child who wails in that instant her hand opens up to release the string of a balloon. She panics as it floats away, but then is mesmerized by the way it dances in the wind and floats against the blue sky.

It really is a beautiful thing to let go of a burden, if we can just open our hand and trust the wind.

Hearing Psalm 139 read out loud on Sunday felt like Jesus speaking audibly to me. I know your heart, he said. Let me heal it for you. Trust me that I can comfort you more than you realize.

Here’s an excerpt of the full passage:

O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord , you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.

Keeping Our Kids Safe Online – Part 1

One evening a couple weeks ago, Ruthie’s friend called and said, “Go on your Google hangout!”

Ruthie didn’t know what that was, so Bryan set up her own account on the family computer in the living room, and within a few minutes we were flies on the wall to a pre-teen conversation.


The timing couldn’t have been more perfect: I had just heard Katie Greer speak about keeping our kids safe online, and I felt ready for this moment.

I didn’t know what to expect from the event, since I’d never heard of Katie Greer before. I thought – worst case scenario – that it might be a fear-inducing call to ban all technology from the home, but I was so pleasantly surprised.

I don’t know how the other parents felt, but I came away completely at peace about our family’s use of technology, and armed with helpful information about keeping them safe online.

Over the next few posts I’ll share my main take-aways from the event.

In the meantime, I definitely recommend checking out her site for helpful tips and information on where she might be speaking near you.

A New Era, Inspired by Lazy Parenting

No TV Until.jpg

I’m a lazy parent, and also an introvert. As such, I’m inclined to let my kids watch tv all weekend just so I can have time to myself doing things that recharge me.

(By the way, what’s your tv policy? The Zuglets don’t get any tv time on school nights unless we watch something together as a family. After homework is done, of course.)

Also related to being lazy, I don’t like to clean my house. But when I do clean the house, I do it with great bitterness because all my kids do is watch tv and make a mess and they never lift a finger to do anything around here.

This is what we call a conundrum.

I’ve been quite convinced lately that in prioritizing myself as the Most Important Thing, I could possibly be turning my children into the sort of people who live in my basement and eat the Frosted Flakes I buy until they’re well into their 30’s.

At this thought, I decided to start weaning myself off the kids’ weekend tv time by first setting some ground rules about what needs to get done before they watch.

These are not unrealistic expectations, as you can see. And what I like about it, is that it removes any drama from the situation, which I tend to invite because I hate strict boundaries.

(When you have a child who tests the limits of every boundary to see what will happen, setting squishy boundaries invites LOADS of drama.)

Now I am no longer the gatekeeper to the kids’ tv time. They are their own gatekeeper.

(She said optimistically on Day One.)

Jesus Is Bigger Than The Pile I’m Standing In


Life is good at the ZugHaus. Not rainbows-and-puppies good, but I-have-a-basement-during-a-tornado good. I’m continually encouraged that Jesus trumps All Things Shitty, which leads me to complain less when circumstances are less than desirable.

Our car broke down again, for instance. We were on our way home from the Folk Life Festival – tired, hungry, thirsty, and cranky. We have a knack for breaking down late on Sunday afternoons, by the way.


Usually I’m a glass-half-empty kinda girl, and I’m also likely to complain that the glass has a piece of food stuck to it or is the wrong color. “Fuck you and your stupid glass metaphor!” is what I often think (and occasionally say out loud).

But I can’t deny the miracle that is happening in my heart. Specifically, the miracle that happened in my heart as we sat on the side of the road while I tried to keep my kids from running onto the highway. As my mind clicked through all the events our car was needed for in the coming week – a school play, hauling video gear to an event, grocery shopping – my heart kept not freaking out.


The miracle in my heart that week was not that I saw the glass half full for once, but that I found it SO AMAZING THAT I HAVE THIS AWESOME GLASS!

At the time, I didn’t know how the week was going to come together, but as it played out I realized…

  • I got to snuggle on the bus commute home from an event with Bryan
  • We got to ride the bus as a family to a school event, and my kids thought they were on a roller coaster adventure
  • A friend was able to serve and bless our family by replacing the broken hose in our car
  • Grocery shopping became a social event when a friend let me tag along with her to the store

When I’m in my Eeyore mindset I see those things as burdens, not blessings; disruptions, not adventures. But a changed perspective and open heart made a stressful week so much more fun.

I’m curious… How has your perspective toward shitty circumstances been challenged?

Momageddon: The Helpful Advice Edition (please disregard).

Sometimes I get really clingy about my advice books. As a new mother, I remember frantically reading every book about sleeping babies while nursing a 6 week old who decided to stop sleeping. I was frantic, and exhausted, and livid that she was not sticking to The Plan.

The Plan which included sleeping.

I was so beyond the end of my wits that I wasn’t even reading books straight through. I was skimming chapter titles and bolded sentences, and copying bulleted lists and charts with pen on paper.

My brain became like those videos on David Letterman where they edit together random words from a speech so it sounds like a Presidential candidate says, “I bork Sarah Palin every Thursday.”

Recently I read a couple books that were helpful and encouraging to me as a parent, but I found myself hoarding facts again like I tend to do. Only now I’m older and displaying signs of hereditary dementia and start to panic because I can’t remember what to say when it’s the moment of truth and I need to say something really… parental.

A few weeks ago as I contemplated making a list or pie chart to help me remember a few methods (has anyone seen Memento? Reminder tattoos, anyone?), I started approaching despair again as I wondered how I would keep it all straight.

And then it hit me: Jesus has already given me everything I need to raise my kids.

I’m not dissing all the practical knowledge available in books, but I was giving methods more weight than grace. I realized that practical teaching is a great supplement, but what I really need to do is read my bible & pray for wisdom, get over my fear & selfishness, and teach my kids about Jesus.

in hot pursuit

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2:13 ESV)

Today I worked straight through lunch, and when I finally unplugged my headphones at 1:30 to see what Bryan was up to, he asked if I was ready to eat.

I was surprised to hear that he’d also skipped lunch because he was waiting to spend time with me.

At first I was irritated because I hadn’t planned on taking a break at all. The Task Master in me had things to get done and no time for fraternizing!

Then as I stood there at my kitchen island slicing an apple and considering my inconvenient situation, I saw a mental picture of myself running away from the people I love the most – my kids, Bryan, and even Jesus. My heart doesn’t pursue them with a never stopping, never giving up, unbreaking, always and forever love, but retreats into selfishness and bitterness.

But just like my diligent and loving husband pursues me over and over, Jesus continues to pursue my heart.

So I repented today.

I repented for always running away and making myself the most important person in the room. I expressed my gratitude for a husband’s love that clearly images the unconditional love of Jesus. And I said, “Help me! Help me! Help me!” because I have no idea how to live differently, but I know enough to trust that Jesus will change my heart.

No one said it would be easy, but sometimes it can be.


I’m pretty sure this was the best Mother’s Day EVER.

Breakfast at my favorite spot, church, sun, a nap, and time in the garden. It’s how we spend most Mother’s Days, but this year I felt like the party drunk hugging everyone and crying, “I LOVE YOU, MAN!”

Everything about this day felt perfect before it even started, and I didn’t even care what happened. I just knew it was going to be GREAT.

I attribute a huge part of this to the fact I really like Bryan these days. And when I say I really like him, I mean I REALLY like him. A lot. In fact, I like him so much right now I barely leave the house because I can’t imagine doing anything else besides snuggling up next to him.

This generally makes life bearable for a married couple, so I highly recommend doing whatever you can to really like your husband.

(Hint: attempts to change him will NOT make life bearable).

Really liking my husband has a trickle down effect because even though my kids are making me grate my teeth, I actually wanted to be with them today – a far cry from the Mother’s Day Escape Plans I tried to get away with the last couple years.

I also attribute the general success of today to the fact I totally forgot it was Mother’s Day weekend until late last week. This left no time for me to build up expectations, which gave me no reason to bitterly seethe when my expectations weren’t met.

Maybe I should only speak for myself, but I’m convinced marriages break down from a fatal cocktail of equal parts selfishness and unmet expectations. I know I’ve spent a lot of the last eight and a half years wanting what I want, expecting Bryan to give it to me, and growing bitter when I don’t get it.

Personally, I’ve never been happier than when I simply decided to like my husband again, for better or for worse.

Thanks for a great day, Babe. And kids? GET IN BED!