Category Archives: Church

Filipino Folklore, No More

I remember sitting on my mom’s bed when I was a little girl and asking her about Easter. What was the point? What were the egg hunts and church services about?

Background: At this point in time we were “Catholics.” Quotation marks because I was never a member of the Catholic church, but my mom was. And when we did go to church it was to a Catholic one. To Little Girl Marie this was enough to make me Catholic. 

My mom explained that Jesus was crucified on the cross and 3 days later He rose again. Easter is about celebrating His resurrection.

I specifically remember thinking, “This lady misunderstood my question. I want to know about Easter, the American holiday we are participating in, and she just told me a Filipino folklore. Oh well, guess I’ll never know what the Easter thing is about.”

Seriously. I thought my mom was lying. That she had no clue what she was talking about because this answer, Jesus dying and coming back to life, was insane. That’s not a real story. That couldn’t happen. That’s not how science works. More than that, there is no way that that’s what the Americans were really celebrating.

Years later, like a full decade, I found out my mom was right. The Americans were celebrating the death and resurrection of Jesus, no Filipino folklore here.

I think this memory helps me celebrate Easter. It helps me see just how insane Christians sound and look to the world. How this holiday, when you strip away the Easter dresses and chocolate bunnies, is the biggest leap of faith a believer can ever make in her entire life.

I believe that God sent His son to die and serve as a sacrifice for my sins. I believe He was crucified on the cross, and that 3 days later He rose again. I believe that the Power that it took to raise Jesus from the grave now lives in me in the form of the Holy Spirit.

These are not rational beliefs. Christians are not rational. It is radical to believe that the Bible is correct about this moment in history. Our God is asking us to have faith in something even a child can see makes absolutely no sense. In return, He is promising that a faith that looks foolish to many is what sets me free from the bondage of guilt and shame and fear and anxiety.

I am so thankful to believe in the Filipino folklore Easter.

But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

And you will spend eternity in Neverland

First, please consider sending $5 to Jandy to help her get the surgery she needs. Donate here.

Second, can I tell you a funny story? Of course I can.

Most people treat teaching Sunday School to preschoolers like babysitting because, well, it kind of is. I mean, yes, it’s the first time that these kids are hearing about Jesus and this is foundation building stuff, but if you’ve ever had the pleasure of hanging around a preschool Sunday School class it can kind of feel like talking to a bunch of petting zoo animals that will do anything for a handful of goldfish crackers.

My mom takes preschool Sunday School seriously. Seriously. First, this is because she takes Jesus seriously. Second, this is because she is an Asian mom and takes anything with the word ‘school’ in it seriously.

She sincerely expects all of the preschoolers under her care to walk around singing hymns and memorizing scripture and taking it all very seriously because you better not get a B in Sunday School.

And then she got Otis as a grandson.

See, we haven’t exactly had Otis in Sunday School. And by ‘exactly’ I mean we’ve been to church about 5 times since he’s been born. So I think we can safely say he isn’t exactly singing hymns and preaching the gospel.

Needless to say, my mom turns any moment she can into Sunday School for poor, deprived, his-parents-don’t-really-love-him Otis. Which is why this conversation happened:

My Mom: (pointing to a painting of Jesus calming a storm) Otis, which one is Jesus?

A similar painting for dramatization purposes:

jesus calms the storm
Otis: (looking seriously at the painting) Here. Jesus here.

jesus calms the storm


(Not Jesus for those of you that got a C in preschool Sunday School.)

My Mom: (giving me some serious side eye) No, baby. Who is this one? Do you know who this is?

jesus calms the storm

Otis: Captain Hook.

My Mom: 

And that’s the story of how I got grounded at the age of 31 and Otis got sent to Linda’s Bible Boot Camp.

Did you laugh? Then go donate $5 to Jandy!



We See You, Jandy!

I was casually scrolling through Facebook the other day when I saw this post from my friend (and Otis’s hair stylist), Marilyn:

marilyn facebook

I am not going to lie, normally I scroll right past these kinds of things because it hurts too much to look. It hurts to know about all of the horrible things going on in the world that I have no control over.

But I stopped and I watched the video. You can watch it here.

They are speaking Tagalog (or another dialect from the Philippines, I don’t even know), so I don’t know what they are saying, but when it’s about 10 seconds in and the mom starts crying? And that look of helplessness on her face? Because her 5 year old daughter, Jandy, is in pain from 3rd degree burns and she doesn’t have any resources to make any of it go away? My heart broke.

I joke on here about being a “Poor Mom.” But the reality is that I’m far from poor. If something happens to us we have options, we have resources.

Jandy’s mom? She doesn’t have options or resources.

See, on January 15th Jandy’s mom was cooking fishballs that she would sell on the streets of the Philippines. She was simply doing what she needed to do to make ends meet, to take care of Jandy. Then Jandy grabbed the boiling oil from the pan and it spilled all over her and now she has 3rd degree burns. For more than a month she has been confined to a hospital in Dagupan City. She is on pain medication, and she hasn’t been able to have any surgery that might make her feel better. The family can’t keep up with the bills they’ve incurred, much less an expensive surgery.

But maybe we could change that.

I’m praying that God sees her. I’m praying that God reveals how absolutely huge He is to Jandy’s mom. That He is a God that can and will.  That He loves her in a way that will absolutely blow her mind. I’m praying for them to be flooded with resources that will make Jandy’s surgery and healing a reality. I’m praying for a miracle because I believe in His power.

Of course, faith without action is useless, right? Right.

What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone?  Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing,  and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?

Here is where ‘we’, the Body of Christ, come in. I set up a Go Fund Me page for Jandy. I have no clue what amount is needed to make the surgery a reality, but I’m starting at $1,000 because why not?

Also, before you let yourself believe that a small donation can’t make a difference I was thinking what if we made this ONLY small donations. What if we ALL just commit to $5 for Jandy since she’s 5 years old? I mean if God can feed thousands with a fish and a loaf of bread, what can He do with $5 and a Facebook share?

But more than anything, let’s let this mom and her daughter know that we see you from all the way on the other side of the world. And even though you are feeling alone and forgotten and helpless, we want you to know you matter and you are loved.

5yo burn $5

Top Poor Mommy Blog Picks for the New Year

So a couple of months ago ChatterBlock contacted me about a writeup they were doing on Nashville Mommy Bloggers. I was happy to talk to them, and gave them a description of my blog:

The Poor Mom is a blog that features humorous insights, DIY projects, and recipes that are more relatable to the average (ahem, poor) mom than what is currently seen on more mainstream mommy blogs or Pinterest. This blog is low on cash, but big on love.

L ook! They even gave me a badge to put on my blog!
Obviously that description is filled with lies. Because this blog is really about the drama, intrigue, and hilariousness of being a mom that is kinda-almost a grownup. Oh, and if I can’t say it with a gif it probably isn’t worth saying.

When they did the writeup they included me on a list of Top 2014 Mommy Bloggers in Nashville, and you know what that did to my ego, right? Of course you do:

Who cares that I’m at the bottom of the list and most people probably clicked away before they saw my blog? Not this girl! I was ecstatic to be on a list, any list.

And because I know how good it feels to be on a list, I thought I’d put together my own list.

As you can tell from the name of this blog, I am a poor mom. We don’t have money, and sometimes I read other blogs and I’m like, “Seriously? You’re blogging about money trouble while you pack for your month-long vacation to the Cayman Islands?”

No, we are normal people poor. Like, we pay our mortgage on time, but we laugh heartily at the idea of spending the full retail price for clothing (hello, Target clearance rack!)

But poor people want better lives! And we especially want better lives during the New Year because that’s what people do in January, we dream of the Me I Want to Be. So I have put together a list of ways to make this year better without going into piles of debt!

Top Poor MOm

Barre3 – Workout Like a Rich Person

I had heard people talk about barre workouts for a couple of years, and have always had dreams of being a short and slightly chubby ballerina. Everyone said barre workouts were the bomb dot com, and would get you in shape in no time for the estimated price of a gabillion dollars per month.
Then I found Barre3 and it’s so wonderful. I have full access to their online workouts, they have some suggested 28-day challenges, and I love the instructors. My goal in 2015 is balance, don’t kill yourself but still push yourself. And these instructors are constantly talking about finding “your truth.” So when I have felt like sweating I do the hard version of a workout, and when I am doing a workout just to cross it off the to-do list I do the easy. I am committed to my truth, and everyone (me and the instructors) is totally cool with that.

Revelation Wellness Podcast – Get Your Spirituality On

Ever since I went to a Revelation Wellness workout class I’ve been obsessed with praying/meditating while working out. So while I hop around during a Barre3 workout I play one of Megan’s podcasts. This isn’t exactly the Revelation Wellness way, but her thoughts are powerful and convicting and I like listening while I’m trying to hold the plank for one… more… second.

eMeals – Basically Like Having a Personal Chef

Y’all know how I feel about meal planning and cooking and eating food that isn’t McDonald’s. Not a fan. I’ve done the eMeals thing before and loved it, but then slid back into my ways. Not completely sure that I’ll be better this time around, but I’m giving it a try!

Nashville Marriage Studio – Better Than a Date Night

Membership Pay Attention
What? I’m on another list? I don’t care if I’m putting the list together, it’s still a list, right?

We aren’t paying enough attention to our marriages. There. I said it. We aren’t paying attention and then we’re getting side-swiped by The News or uncontrollable resentment or loneliness. And us poor people? We are particularly susceptible to crappy marriages and crappy communication and crappy divorces. So I thought I’d open up Nashville Marriage Studio as a $10/month membership site so that anyone can get affordable help for their marriage. This membership is designed to help mostly happy couples start paying attention to their marriage before it’s on life support.

So that’s how this Poor Mom is going to change 2015 one section of my life at a time: Heart, Body, Wallet, & Spirit.

I’m Listening, Poor Moms of the World:

How are you investing in yourself without going into massive amounts of debt?


An Exercise of Faith

I quit my job last week.

No. I’m not joking.

I have been agonizing about this decision since the day I got my masters. That’s a lot of agony, y’all.

Over the last couple of months, though, God has been truly stirring things in my heart. And making me take a serious look at what I say I believe about Him and what I actually believe about Him.

And there is something terrifying to me about admitting out loud and to a religiously-mixed audience that I believe God told me to do this. That God told me to take His word seriously. That He told me to take His promises seriously. That He told me to take Him seriously.

I know you think I’m nuts. It’s ok.

Can I tell you that I asked Him to shut up? Nicely (of course). But I did. I was like, “I get it. Trust you. But can I do that next year when we have a little more money saved and this whole leap of faith is a little bit safer?”

Because the last thing I want is to have to raise money on Go Fund Me so that my kid can eat lunch:

otis eating

Because this extravagant faith thing? It isn’t like me. At all. I mean, I’m weird and I take “risks” but I have always had a job. Always. What can I say? There is nothing better than a paycheck. I love paychecks.

But here I am. Saying goodbye to paychecks because I believe there is a God that made me in a very unique way. And He wants to see those unique gifts and talents used. And He tells us to look at the birds and that He cares for them, so why wouldn’t He do the same for you us?

And I’m not going to lie. Every time I think about birds being taken care of this comes to mind:

I love chicken nuggets, but I did not want to BECOME a chicken nugget.

But I think God is wanting to show me that He doesn’t want me to be a chicken nugget, either. Or a chicken for that matter.

So we are headed full time into marriage coaching and book writing. And we are excited. Some of us more than others (Mark, meet Blog World. Blog World, meet Mark).

And with this exercise of faith and jumping into the great unknown, I’d like to ask for your help. No, you can’t sponsor Otis for $1 a day (yet). But you can do one of these things:

  • We’ve had some success with marriage workshops, but we’d like to get some feedback about what people think about them. We have a survey up right now to get your thoughts, and I’d love you forever if you’d take some time to answer the questions. Click here to take the survey.
  • Write an Amazon review of This Bleep is Hard if you’ve read it. I don’t even care if it’s a positive review. I mean, obviously a positive review will make me smile and a negative one will make me vomit, but ALL reviews are golden/much appreciated in my book. And if you want to tell your pregnant/new mom friends about it that would be very cool, too.
  • Tell your friends to check us out. You can learn more about what we do at Nashville Marriage Studio, but basically Mark and I are marriage coaches and we help couples walk through conversations that are normally tough for them (in-laws, household duties, parenting styles, love languages, etc.). I don’t know that there is anything more rewarding than helping a struggling couple regain hope in their marriage and in each other. If you have any friends or family members that could use some guidance, we’d love to chat.

That’s what’s going on in my neck of the woods, what about you? Jumping into any scary endeavors and want a shoulder to cry on? Let me know. Scaredy cats love company.


A Psalm 23 Parent

I always think it’s funny when someone complains that an advertising message makes them feel bad about themselves. That the bikini models don’t look like real people, and the moms in the diaper commercials look like they had time to shower and find clean pants. That the couples in the Viagra commercials look too emotionally connected, and teeth will never be that white.

Am I nuts or does this baby look photoshopped in?
Also, no dad looks like this when he gets home from work :p

It’s funny because the whole point of every advertising campaign in the history of the world IS to make us feel bad about ourselves. If we felt good about the way we looked, where we lived, how clean our floors were, the kind of man we married after watching a commercial then we wouldn’t buy their product which is the entire point! That’s the formula: Feel Bad —> Buy Stuff

The thing is we get a bajillion advertising messages a day. So all day long we are bombarded with images and words desperate to convince us that we are not enough.

And when you consider that moms are one of the most marketed to demographics in the entire world I have to think they know exactly where our “not enough” buttons are located.

Am I good mom?
Is he eating enough?
How many cookies can I give them before DCS gets involved?
Will she be ok if her clothes aren’t monogrammed?
Why isn’t she walking/talking/jumping yet?
If I take time out to clean the kitchen will I miss out on his entire childhood?
If I sit and play instead of fold laundry will he become a drain on society because he never saw responsibility in action?
If I go to work will she think the nanny is her mom?
If I stay home and get bored will he think I don’t love him completely?

And some of us are drowning in the anxiety that comes with a mixture of being the perfect mom as defined by Pinterest and being thoroughly convinced, no matter what decision you’ve made, that you’re screwing up all day, every day.

We try to relieve the anxiety. We put down other moms because that helps the focus on ourselves go away for a little bit. We get caught up in proving to an imaginary audience that we’re having the time of our lives with status updates and Facebook photo albums. We read books and blogs and forums looking for someone to validate our instincts. We pin things like 52 Crafts Every Child Should Have Made Before Entering Kindergarten. We drink, we smoke, we obsess over the baseboards.

And we’re doing all of this because we love our children. We want to give them the best, and we want to be the best. But all day long we’re hearing that nothing is enough. Nothing. Keep trying. But it isn’t enough.

(This is precisely why I believe any mom whose children were loved, fed, clothed, and not misplaced for long deserves truckloads of grace. It’s why I can’t be mad at my mom for her any of her failures because I know she was doing her best. I know this because I’m failing every day despite my desire to be my best. And just like one day I hope Otis has grace on all the ways I screwed up, I am extending the same grace to my own mom.)

I don’t think God wants us to live in this bondage to images that aren’t from Him so I started praying. God, what does parenthood look like to you?

I was scared of His answer. Because in my experience there aren’t many places more consumed by the desire to fit in/look like everyone else/have what everyone else has than the church. What if God laid down Proverbs 31 woman level standards? What if He showed me another image of a woman that has her life together in a way that simply reminded me that I am not enough?

The Lord is my Shepherd;
I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
He leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to His name.
Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord

Psalm 23 is one of the famous verses. You don’t even have to be a Christian to be familiar with it. Obviously I believe all of Scripture is from God, but this passage has some kind of supernatural power punch. Any anxiety I carry around melts away quickly when I consider that God is my shepherd and it’s all going to be ok.

But what if we applied that verse to parenthood? What if we are called to be our children’s shepherds?

Can I be a constant and stable presence in Otis’s life?
Can I let him rest and enjoy his childhood?
Can I lead him by streams that nourish him and give him strength?
Can I guide him towards obedience and travelling along paths that were made for him?
Can I stick close by him when he is afraid or going through a difficult time?
Can I remind him during the scary times that I am there and ready to protect him from anyone trying to harm him?
Can I encourage him when his mind or his peers or the devil want to convince him that he isn’t enough?
Can I let him live in my house forever?

Just kidding about the last one. Heh.

So this is my new parenting guide. Not Pinterest, not a Babycenter advice column, not a book about the happiest child in the neighborhood.  I’m going to focus on my Shepherd and how He walks through life with me so that I can be a shepherd to the little lamb given to me.

Every Praise

A little boy was kidnapped. Snatched from his driveway. Driven around for 3 hours by a stranger.

Do you know what he did?

He sang. He sang a gospel song. He sang Every Praise.

For 3 hours he sang. The abductor told him to shut up. He kept singing.


And the abductor kicked him out of the car. Let him go.

I don’t know how I came across this story, but I’ve been thinking about it all day.

If I was him I would have felt hopeless. I’m 10-years old, in a stranger’s car, and I have no clue where I’m going or how I’m going to out of this situation. I’m sure all I would do is cry. Sob my little heart out about the situation I was in.

This little boy? He annoyed the devil with praise. I love it.

And then the little boy met the man that wrote the song, Hezekiah Walker.

Walker was so moved by the story because what if he was given this song for this moment? What if this was all orchestrated by God? To write a song to save a boy?

Then I thought about Pharrell and his song “Happy”, and how the entire world is literally a better place because of it. How Pharrell sobbed when he saw people all over the world dancing to his music.

We think our praises are petty. We think our art is petty. We think it doesn’t matter if we sit on the sidelines of life because, well, I’m just one person. It was just one song. It was just one blog post. It was just one necklace. It was just one store. It was just one recipe. It was just one photograph. It was just one diagnosis. It was just one case. It was just one audit. It was just one potty-trained toddler.

But the stuff we create matters. The stuff we put into the world really does matter.

And I feel like the devil is always asking us to shut up. Stop creating. Be ashamed. Nobody needs what you have to give. You’re worthless.

Praise anyway. Sing anyway. Create anyway.

Because we have no idea who we are going to touch or save or help when we start being brave.

Crap, meet Fan. Now, let’s go find Jesus.

A few months before we found out my mom had cancer things were no bueno in the McKinney family. Some of us had made some dangerous decisions that had the entire family wondering which way was up. And that image of a perfect family with its crap together felt like it was a distant memory.

I was at work when things were going down, and texting Mark real-live updates/panic attacks. We were living with his parents at the time, waiting for our house to close, and somewhere in deluge of texts I asked him to not talk about the McKinney’s family drama with his parents. It was too big and was way too fresh (like, happened 2 hours ago fresh) and, well, I just didn’t want them to know.

Mark didn’t read that text. And he had shared the drama with his parents because he knows they care about my family and truly didn’t think there would be anything wrong with them knowing. I mean, we were all family, right?

No, no, no, no, no!

In that moment, finding out that “outsiders” knew some really ugly details about my family before any of us had time to sort out what was happening made me want to throw up. I immediately became defensive because I was sure that they were judging us and looking down on us and I knew I would be ready to brawl if any of them said anything even close to judgmental about my family.

Remember how I said we were living with them? So, I’m mad because I’m imagining they’ve sat around all day casting judgement on my family and now I have to go home and see them?! And I can’t go to my family’s house and hide out because a nuclear bomb went off just hours ago.

I let Mark know that no one should talk about anything with me. That when I got home everyone should talk about the weather or a funny Youtube video they saw that day because if anyone even hinted at my family’s drama I would lose it. I did NOT want to hulk out on them, especially since I knew they didn’t deserve it.

When I got home that night there was tension, and I’m pretty sure everyone was scared to talk to me. I couldn’t take it, and was so thankful that they were respecting my wishes, that I went and found Mark’s mom in her craft room (I’d almost bet she was hiding from me).

I was most afraid of her reaction to the drama. I was terrified that she would say or do something that would suggest that she thought my family was beyond repair, and that I would literally lose it on her.

I shared with her that I wasn’t trying to be mean, but I didn’t want to hurt our relationship. I didn’t want to misinterpret her or her concern, and that it was better to just not talk about any of it right now. Connie is wonderful at giving advice and sharing wisdom, but everything was too raw and I knew that I’d interpret every word out of her mouth incorrectly.

Letting her know that she wasn’t “in trouble” seemed to melt something in both of us (probably more me). I didn’t feel defensive any longer, and I could see that the look in her eyes was one of love and tenderness.

“Is everyone ok?” she asked gently.

I think that was when I broke. A whole day of wondering if everyone was going to be ok and whether I was the worst daughter, sister, and mother in the history of the world took their toll, and I broke down in the window seat of my mother-in-love’s craft room. I was able to break down because the look in her eyes and gentleness of her smile told me that she loved me and my family, and the ONLY thing she cared about was whether everyone was ok.

We ended up having a really wonderful conversation about not knowing what to do when your family goes nuts. And making bad choices and hoping people can forgive you. And having faith even when things look the very opposite of hopeful.

It’s not exact, but sometimes I think our little powwow was a lot like the one between Jesus and the woman accused of adultery. Something about Connie’s presence, the Jesus in her, stood in between me and all of my accusers, the thoughts I’d had all day long about how I’d simply failed at life. And instead of the condemnation I expected, she gave me a beautiful gift of love and grace and mercy. Just like Jesus.

Link Parties & Book Clubs


Last week I went looking for an old post from either my Xanga blog days or my Myspace blog days because who doesn’t love a walk down Marie’s Memory Lane?

I wanted to tell you the story of how I once got a bubble jet print out of a picture of flowers for Valentine’s Day, and I wanted to link to the original blog post in case you thought I was lying.

Unfortunately, all those places I used to blog? Yeah, they didn’t think my art random stories and thoughts were worth much and they basically through my entire life’s work away.

I cried myself to sleep the night I found out. I have no shame.

I wanted to tell you the story of getting a bubble jet print out of a picture of flowers for Valentine’s Day because a) it’s funny and b) the guy that did that is married now and gets his wife REAL flowers. Not ones made of ink bubbles. Also, hat tip to Instagram for the Intermediate Level Stalking Skills. 

It’s a perfect example of how romance evolves. When you’re 15 and not sure if you’re together or not bubble jet printers are a great choice. When you’re 28 and married to the love of your life then beautiful bouquets are the obvious choice.

Well, Nashville Marriage Studio (my bidness) is partnering up with the Thriving Wives to host a monthly link party, Thriving in Marriage, where we’re discussing various marital topics (in-laws, chores, finances, personality differences).

For February we’re talking about (ooh la la) Romance.
thrivinginmarriage-01The question we’re posing is: What does romance look like in your marriage?

Because it changes, right? What you need and expect seems to morph every year, so let’s talk about it!

If you’re a blogger write a post answering the question and link up with us at Nashville Marriage Studio between February 14th and  February 20th. Feel free to use the image above (Nic at TW is soo talented, right?) and #thrivinginmarriage to follow along.

ALSO, I have been tumbling around the idea of a book club for a while, and this morning I was listening to one of my favorite pastors and he is releasing a new book in a couple of weeks so, yeah. If you want to read and discuss The Artisan Soul by Erwin McManus at my house on March 22nd at 10 AM (babies welcome) then buy it, read it, discuss it. #endbookclubannouncement


I don’t really talk about the part of 2012 when we found out my mom had lung cancer. Or when she had surgery. Or when she went through chemo treatments. Or when she was healed.

Part of this is because it’s my mom’s story, not mine. It’s a powerful story that I watched play out in real time and it still brings me to tears if I think about it long enough.

I also don’t talk about it because my mom’s still here. She survived. Cancer didn’t get her. And sometimes that makes me feel guilty.

One of the myths that World Cancer Day wants to dismiss is that we don’t need to talk about it. So I’ll share what her cancer taught me.

The other day I was listening to NPR and they were interviewing a cancer survivor. She said that she looked at her cancer cells under a microscope and was struck by how small it was. That this small group of misbehaving cells was about to wreak havoc on her life. Something about literally looking at her cancer empowered her, and let her know that she could beat this. And she did.

My mom never looked at her cancer cells under a microscope. But she did look at Him.

My mom can be a worrier. If one of us coughs too loudly she is giving us this look. It’s a mixture of concern and anger. Mostly anger. She’s angry that you’re sick. She’s angry that you haven’t been taking the vitamins that she bought for you 3 months ago. She’s angry that she can’t take away whatever is hurting her baby.

She can try to hide the look, but it’s impossible and hilarious. At Christmas my brother had developed a kink in his neck and couldn’t look over his shoulder. We were at a Christmas party when I noticed he was doing a rhythmically challenged version of The Robot.

Me: What’s wrong with you?

Bobby: My neck. It hurts.

Me: Does mama know?

Bobby: No…

Me: (Evil laughter)

I go find my mom. She’s with a small group of friends, and I pull her aside.

Me: What’s wrong with Bobby?

Mom: What? What do you mean?

I point across the room to Bobby who is in the middle of a painful-looking attempt to work the kink out of his neck. Before I could look back at my mom to put more thoughts in her head she was marching across the room with her angry eyes on ready to give Bobby a physical right there in the middle of the party.

Mission accomplished.

The point of that story was that my mom can’t help herself. Her emotions, all of them, but especially fear and concern and worry and anger, are written all over her face. It doesn’t matter where she is or what she’s doing, if she’s upset you’ll know it.

The weird thing is that I never saw any of those emotions on her face the entire time she dealt with cancer. I did see peace, though. And faith. And, well, Jesus.

I think, in the same way that the NPR lady saw how little her cancer was and focused on that, my mom saw how big her God was and focused on Him.

I will never say that there was something about my mom’s faith that “saved” her from cancer. The power in her story is not in how it ended (though I am thankful every single day that she is here and will hold my breath every time she has a scan). The power in her testimony, for me, is that she walked out into a storm and kept her eyes on Him.