Sunday, December 29, 2013


i lost a friend a week and a half ago.  and i'm watching one of my best friends go through the grief of losing someone she loves very much.  his name is chris - i say "is" because whenever someone dies i have a very hard time talking about them in the past tense, especially when i truly can't believe they are gone  - chris...or, peter christopher bohler as he has been mentioned on the news, was serving with the army in afghanistan when his black hawk helicopter crashed.  i met him about a year and a half ago when k and i were out and he was in kc with a group of his army buddies from ft. riley.  chris and k hit it off immediately and he quickly became a bigger part of her life than i know she wanted to admit.  a gentle soul, quiet and unassuming, quick-witted and funny...his deep eyes took everything in and his wide smile made everyone want to be his friend.  always a gentleman, he had the ability to make everyone around him feel at ease.  he went along with our shenanigans and was always willing to do whatever it would take to make k smile.  he loved her and accepted everything about her completely - something many of us never know.

there is an internal reflection that comes when we lose someone.  the fragility of life is suddenly a reality and for many of us, we are faced with the need to look within our own lives searching for anything that makes sense and grasping on to those who make our life worth living.  i am no different.  for the past week and a half since hearing k's voice on the other end of the line, i've spent a lot of time looking at my life and trying to make sense of where i am and what i want from here on out.  we only get so many days and it's up to us to make them count.  i've always said it's important to tell those we care about how we feel about them - never should someone we love question their value in our life - and losing chris makes me believe this even more.  i'm not saying every conversation needs to be one that matters, but i do think it's important to remind the people we share our life with that they matter...that they are worth more to us than anything else...and to not wait until it's too late to tell them.

i am so thankful for chris...for the difference he has made to my dear friend...for loving her the way he did...for showing her that she is worth that...for his friendship and his genuine kindness.  his short life was a gift to many and i feel blessed to have had the privilege of knowing him.  i am angry he is gone...there is much i don't understand.  i keep thinking back to that friday night in early august when we all went out the last time...we knew he was leaving that week and i remember us talking about when he comes home and telling him to be safe...all the while knowing in the back of our minds there was the possibility he wouldn't, yet never in a million years believing it would happen to him.  but it did and now what i keep trying to do is remind k of the blessing she was to him and to take the lesson placed in front of us...don't take one day for granted and if there is someone who makes your life better just by being in it - tell them.

so, my are missed.  your life mattered more than you will ever know.  29 years wasn't enough, but you touched lives and changed hearts in that short amount of time and for that you will always be remembered and loved.  and, to all of you reading my words...many of you i know and some of you i will never meet...please keep k in your prayers, please honor chris by taking the time to tell those you love how important they are to you, and please take a moment to remember the men and women serving for all of us - the sacrifice they are making is much greater than dying for their country.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


i went to bed last night thinking about the past eleven months and how little there is left to 2013.  i thought about how i tend to write a post at the end of each year looking back over the months, the weeks, the days...the memories...remembering with nostalgia the months behind me and looking forward to the clean slate that lies before me with the coming of a new year.  what i realized last night is that i have a few short weeks to make something of 2013...and these thoughts kept running through my mind:  what will you do with the time left?  what will you do to make the most of these next few weeks?  what do you want to remember from 2013?  what do you want to be remembered for this year?

we spend so much time looking back this time of year.  then we spend a few days looking forward to the wide expanse that is the coming year...we make resolutions (well, not me, but many do), we make plans, we discard what we disliked from the past and vow to do better next year, we set goals and get excited for a short time about the future.  but, what if we looked at each day, or even each week, with that same level of excitement and commitment to do better, to give more, to live with every bit of life we have within us?  what would our lives look like if we did that?  what if we didn't wait for the hype of new year's eve to create the life we want?  what if we woke up tomorrow and decided to make even one little change?

then i woke up this morning with all the "giving tuesday" stuff all over the news...a day dedicated to helping organizations like the one i work with...a day designed to give people a little nudge to give something back or to pay it forward - to make a difference in someone else's life.  honestly, i hadn't thought too much about it.  it's all around me.  food drives and donations and asking generous people to give so that others can have even the simplest of needs met.  i see it everyday - some stories are beautiful and others heartbreaking...some remind me of the pure goodness that is often so hard to see and some make me wonder if everything we do matters at all.

but, then i got a phone call...from a stranger, someone i've never met who knows about our program and wanted to give something to help our families.  ten minutes later my door opened and she handed me a check...and i found myself crying in front of a complete stranger.  the amount matters none...but it will make a difference to others and that's what matters.

i am again wondering what the next few weeks of 2013 hold...not 2014, but 2013.  there's still time to make a difference.  time to make a change.  time to live a little.  time to say the words you've been afraid to say.  time to make time for someone.  time to be brave.  time to create memories.  time to love.  it's not about the holidays or the gifts or the food or the parties.  it's so much more than that.  those come and go.  it's what's left when all that's over that matters...the people...the time...the memories - from even the most ordinary days.  a hand held.  a door opened.  a look, a glance, a smile.  live with purpose, live genuinely...give with no expectations - give love, give time, give a hand...i can guarantee that what you will get back will be much more than anything you could give.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


i hate that with the onset of fall comes shorter days and longer evenings...with that, i find myself tired much earlier and in bed often before 10 because i simply can't keep my eyes open any longer.  but, with that, comes the ability to yet again wake early in the morning, wide-awake full of thoughts...see, i'm a morning person by nature yet have lost some of that as i've gotten older - i blame having a child who never slept well...i think i've been tired for 10 years straight.  i've always loved the early morning - much as gran did.  maybe it was all those mornings waking up at her house, finding her in the kitchen playing solitaire and drinking coffee.  i would join her and she would make me something special to eat and we would share some time together before anyone else got up.  at home, i was the family alarm clock, waking much earlier than everyone else - i think i enjoyed the responsibility...and maybe the alone time.

regardless, i woke early this morning with sara bareilles' song "brave" running through my head...

you can be amazing
you can turn a phrase into a weapon or a drug
you can be the outcast
or you can start speaking up
nothing's gonna hurt you the way that words do
when they settle 'neath your skin
kept on the inside and no sunlight
sometimes a shadow wins
but i wonder what would happen if you

say what you wanna say
and let the words fall out
honestly, i wanna see you be brave

with what you want to say
and let the words fall out
honestly, i wanna see you be brave

everybody's been there,
everybody's been stared down by the enemy
fallen for the fear
and done some disappearing,
bow down to the mighty
don't run, stop holding your tongue
maybe there's a way out of the cage where you live
maybe one of these days you can let the light in
show me how big your brave is

say what you wanna say
and let the words fall out
honestly, i wanna see you be brave

and since your history of silence
won't do you any good,
did you think it would?
let your words be anything by empty
why don't you tell them the truth?

say what you wanna say
and let the words fall out
honestly, i wanna see you be brave

with what you wanna say
and let the words fall out
honestly, i wanna see you be brave

i'm honestly not sure why i woke with these words in my head on this particular morning.  m and i love this song and always turn it up and sing along when it comes on, but for whatever reason, it's on repeat in my little brain this morning.  which, typically means something in my world...

it's no secret to those who know me best that while i can talk...a lot...i am good at talking over, or around a subject - especially when talking about something i'm uncomfortable about or even more so when it comes to how i feel about something.  see, i'm a peace keeper.  i hate conflict - big surprise, i know.  i avoid it at all cost, always have, nothing new here.  but, in doing that, i've often sacrificed my feelings, my hurt, my words for the greater good.  or, whatever i perceived to be the greater good at the time.  i've been known to use words like "fine" and "okay" and "don't worry about it" and "it's not important"...even when asked point-blank how i felt or what i thought about something.  some of you - mostly women i'm guessing - are nodding your head in complete understanding because you do it all the time as well.  some of you are shaking your head at me in frustration because either you would never do that or because you know me well and can see the negative effects this has had on me and my life.  you may wonder why i do this...well, most of the time it's because i don't think my feelings matter all that much, or that whatever i'm upset about isn't all that important and the situation will blow over soon enough so why bother making it bigger by saying all the stuff i'm thinking.  maybe it's because when i'm upset, i have a hard time putting my thoughts and feelings into actual sentences so when i do try to get them out it comes out a jumbled mess and i look like a fool and am ultimately more upset with myself than if i'd just kept my mouth shut.

and...maybe, just maybe, it's because when something is really important to me...i become afraid...afraid to put words to it, afraid that if i do that, it becomes completely real and once it's out there it can't be taken back.  i keep those thoughts and feelings safe inside of me; protected from judgement and rejection.  but, why?  sure, there have been times when i've been brave with my words...when i've trusted myself...and the one standing in front of me...enough to say what i wanted to say.  and, in so doing, i've had different reactions...good and bad.  but, most of the time, i've just kept it all in...because i rarely trust anyone enough to share my true words...

my favorite part of the song is:

maybe one of these days you can let the light in
show me how big your brave is

say what you wanna say
and let the words fall out
honestly, i wanna see you be brave

and since your history of silence
won't do you any good,
did you think it would?
let your words be anything by empty
why don't you tell them the truth?

show me how big your brave is...i wanna see you be brave...let your words be anything but empty...why don't you tell them the truth...i need a sign with these words on it, or maybe a tattoo...

i know people who are brave - in every sense of the word.  that's just never been me.  i've made a few brave decisions...some of which i was terrified to make...and with each one i learned more about myself.  a few of them made me trust myself, and my ability to make those tough decisions, less...but, more often, i learned to trust thoughts, my feelings, my gut...more.  sometimes my feelings are shared by the one standing in front of me, and sometimes they aren't...and what i'm learning to accept is that it's okay, that i will be okay, when they aren't.  clearly, holding my feelings in hasn't served me well in the past.  i end up feeling misunderstood and ultimately resentful that i'm not being heard or that i don't matter.  well, whose fault is that?  

i have some amazingly, brilliant women i am blessed to call friends and one of them has the best words for any situation.  a while back we were talking about something going on in my life and she said to me that no matter which way it goes it will be better than it currently was...and - these words have stuck with me the most - to do something, anything, because all i was doing was prolonging my joy.  i think about her words often.  she was totally honest with me, but in a gentle way that she knew would get through to me...mean something to me.  and, it worked.  i want to be wise like be still long enough to hear what others have to have the right words for my friends when they need them...and to never let my words be empty, but always truthful and brave.  even when i'm afraid.      

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


"give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.  send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:  i lift my lamp beside the golden door."

- quote on the statue of liberty

i have always said it's not my job to judge...not people, not their choices, not their beliefs, not their experiences, not their interest in, or lack there of, in things i care about, not their sexual orientation, not their desire to marry or to create a life with someone that doesn't involve a ring or legalities.  we aren't here to give our opinions on other people's lives simply because they differ from our own.  while we are allowed to have opinions and beliefs, i find that many deem theirs superior and build a platform based upon "christian" beliefs -  most of which truly undermine all things Christ lived - and died - for.  who are we to tell others how to live or who to give their hearts to?  who are we to look at another and take one piece of their life and diminish the value of them as a person because we dislike or disagree with that one thing?  is our conscious so clear, our history so pristine, our closet so empty that we can honestly justify the judgement and persecution of others - most of which we have never even spoken to or know?  

if you look back, the people who did the most good - who helped the most people - did so without question or hesitation.  never did they ask someone who was hungry if he was gay or straight before feeding them.  never did they question the validity of a relationship between a man and a woman before opening the door to them or giving them something of need.  these things just don't matter when it comes to helping people.  how does one's sexual orientation affect whether or not someone is worthy of help?  it just doesn't.    

the reason behind this post - this rant - is irrelevant.  what is relevant is the sad reality that we have people - families with children - who go hungry, who sleep in cars, who search for one person to believe in them just enough to give them one little break.  they love their children the same as i do, as you do.  they want the best for their family just the same as you and i...they simply have been dealt a different hand and for many of them, the deck is stacked against them.  i sit across a desk from people who open their lives to me...every dirty detail, every mistake, every fear...every hope, every dream, every plea...each laid out before me in the form of one simple request.  for me to open our door to them and believe in them enough to give them the chance they need to step make a better life for them and their children.

one such mom literally walked to my office a couple weeks car, no job and three kids who were barely scraping by in the extended stay motel a few miles up the road.  she poured out her heart, told me her story, opened the book of their lives to me hoping i could see past who she had become.  what i first saw was a woman who had been beaten down, abused verbally and emotionally, left to flee with her children from everything they knew with nothing other than a few possessions....i watched her swipe away prideful tears and i saw a woman, a mom, who had a fire in her eyes...something i could only describe as hope...which is the one thing so many people are lacking when they finally reach our door.  but, she had it and i instantly felt a connection to her.  two days later we moved them in and a few days after that she was offered a job and found a car.  she has told me more than once how thankful she is that i believed in her enough to give her a chance...that she believes she was lead there for a reason and that she can't believe a stranger would care enough about her to have faith in her...not just help her, but see her for who she is underneath her "homeless" exterior.

what she doesn't know is i am inspired by her...that her tears weren't the only ones shed...that her words gave me hope and helped me believe in myself and my ability to do my make a difference.

i often wonder if Jesus were standing in front of me who He would see.  would He say "well done, my child" or would He turn His head in shame.  at the same time, i often wonder what others see when they look at they see my invisible scars?  are the aware of my insecurities and crazy obsessions?  do they know i fear being misunderstood and forgotten?  are they able to love me in spite of my uncontrollable interrupting and unending excitability that i know drives many crazy.  do they know that when i'm quiet i am likely nervous or anxious about something?  and do they know that while to most people i appear confident and extroverted, i'm actually quite shy and still feel the same need to be accepted as i did when i was 15?  are they proud to call me friend?  do they look forward to our time together?  if asked, could they truly tell you who i am?

i'm honestly not sure.  what i do know is i'm thankful to be surrounded by incredible people...a support system of family and friends who are counted among my "strengths".  that is something so many i encounter are missing and it makes life that much more difficult for them.  trust me, i struggle with lots of things when it comes to the families we serve...i have things that, for me, are more than i'm prepared, or equipped, to handle.  but, i'm trying.  i've always believed we never know who may be standing before us...that we should see others through Jesus' eyes and show them the same grace and kindness He would.  so, i try.  i may not always succeed, but i try.  and i don't give a damn if they are married, single, straight, gay or living "in sin".  none of that matters in the grand scheme of things and i'm fairly certain it doesn't matter what i think or believe when someone needs a roof, food and a little bit of hope.

Monday, September 23, 2013


i stepped off the elevator unsure of what to expect...nervous anticipation filling my chest as i watcher her walk towards me, certain of nothing other than the overwhelming sense of sadness i saw as i looked into her eyes.

she loved him deeply...something shared between only a few very lucky people i'm discovering.  i've known her many years, watched her experience heart ache on more than one occasion...but nothing like this.  he was the love of her life...if only for a few very precious years...once a neighbor, something so much more in the end.

we talked about their much they shared, the importance of what really matters...and that they had something special and, while it was ironic and sad that it was so short-lived, they still had it and that's more than many can say in a lifetime.

i ached for her...for the love she was letting go...for the cruel reality that after all they had each suffered through they only got to enjoy something so wonderful for such a short amount of time...for the eleven year old son she would have to tell...and for the shared life she would have to learn how to walk through alone.

i don't understand why these things happen...why some people wait an entire lifetime to find the one person who completes them only to lose them after a few short years...why it's so hard to find that person and why some of us never do...

i left there knowing he was dying...that she would never hear his voice or see his smile or look into his eyes...that his hand would never hold her's again and never would they share a decision or a meal or a day at the lake...and i hurt for her...and maybe even a little for me and everyone else i know who longs for that type of love...even to only have it for a little while.      

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


it's a cheese puffs and red wine kinda night around here...

i'm not sure if it's the absolute exhaustion i'm feeling from being awake since 3 a.m., the raging PMS (yes, i sure am admitting to that on here), the stress i'm feeling at work now that the "newness" has worn off, the sore throat that started earlier today or some wretched combination of everything but i feel fat and ugly and find myself eating junk food, drinking wine and daydreaming of vacations in beautiful places where scantily clad, gorgeous men wait on me hand and foot.  that's not too much to ask, is it?

i'm watching julie & julia and remembering the streets of paris...the pain au chocolates and the baguettes...the little doors of every color down each windy street...the view of the city from sacre couer...the way i felt almost transposed into another era as i stepped out of the stairs of the metro and looked up at the century-old buildings, imagining the stories they each held.  

then i find myself imagining a white sandy beach...the crystal clear water never getting more than waste deep no matter how far out you go.  i want to take her to swim with the dolphins and watch the sea turtles hatch...wander up and down the shore looking for sea glass and sand dollars...little things that when added all together become some of life's greatest memories.

i want a big, double-wide chair in a bedroom next to a window with a little table and a pretty lamp.  there i would find all my notebooks, pens, stationary, laptop and a stack of my favorite books...a soft cozy blanket draped over the back and a vase of pretty fresh flowers.  i would read and write in my very own beautiful little corner.  this space doesn't exist in my current bedroom...

my small blonde one is sitting behind me talking to no one in particular in a fake brittish accent - i almost expect to hear "the rain in spain falls mainly on the plains", but she knows nothing of eliza doolittle.  she is spending great amounts of time creating special bracelets for friends and practicing an accent she shares during the day with her little redheaded friend.  she knows not of the battles i fight within...the fears i carry and insecurities i try hard to hide.  i still find myself struggling to feel like much more than a wanna be adult who can't quite figure out how to do it each day wondering if i'm giving her enough of myself or if she will look back on this time and see me as selfish and lazy, or wonder as i often do why i didn't try harder to do more with my life or make plans to do something instead of sitting back waiting for it to come to me.  i'm not sure why i worry so much about her knowing me and seeing me for who i am instead of the me she will likely conjure up in her mind based on moments spent in anger or embarrassment, mingled hopefully with joy and love.  maybe because it's just me and there is no one else here with us to help her see what life is like (yes, i realize she has a fantastic dad and incredible step-mom who do plenty of that but i mean right here, in our home, our life).  what am i teaching her?  what example am i setting for her?  does she know she can do anything or will she have a dream and make it smaller to fit into whatever box she is comfortable with?  will she know how to share a life with someone even though she may never see that here?  am i teaching her how to be a woman of virtue?  a true friend?  am i teaching her to respect herself and stand up for what she believes in?  am i inspiring her to live her life and to appreciate the people within it and the memories she creates?  please, god, i hope so.  there are many ways i know i am failing her.  ways i don't even want to get into right now because there really is no point and i don't have the energy to address them tonight.  

what i do know is, i love her.  i fiercely love her with all that i am and if she knows nothing else about me, from me, she will know how to love and that, in my opinion, that is the greatest gift you can give anyone.  

for now, i will finish my glass of wine and heat up a bean bag for my achy back and crawl into bed with the hope my night doesn't end at 3 a.m. again.      

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


note i put no "13" on the title...i feel it goes without saying that the year matters none.

there's no question i remember exactly where i was that day, no question i remember exactly what i was doing and no question i remember exactly how i felt that day and during the days that followed.  i hated knowing that living here, so far away from everything that was happening, i couldn't make much of a difference.  watching those images over and over again, i couldn't help but think about the lives lost and the families they left behind.  each life valuable in its own way, all ordinary by typical standards yet made heroic at the hands of cowards on a beautiful, sunny september day.

i remember questioning every aspect of my life, feeling so insignificant and like every decision i had made up to that point was potentially wrong.  it took me a long time to get past that part, and i'm not really sure why.  i guess it has something to do with wondering if my existence really mattered at all given how quickly it can all change combined with the fact i knew i had done little up to that point to make a difference or give something back.

a couple years later i had a little girl and the value of my life changed.  i became someone to her, if never to anyone else.  suddenly i knew that if something ever happened to me, there was at least one person whose life would be forever impacted...and, more so, that whatever i do with my life - then, now and in the future - will be an example to her.  while i may never again be someone's wife, i am forever her mom.  while i may never do anything to change the world, i make a difference in her world every single day.  while i can't influence many, i have the opportunity to guide and direct her when she asks for it and even more with my actions.  if i never do anything else, i want her to know the value of her know she has the power within her to lead believe in herself when others don't...and to take the gifts she's been given and go into the world with an open heart and trust she can make a difference to someone.

it's vital that we never forget...what happened that day 12 years ago...the lives that were lost and the lives that were forever changed...and, maybe most of all, that fate takes place of all plans and expectations...that we never know what the next moment holds and we have the ability to be something to someone even if it's not heroic by most standards.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


generosity.  to give.  freely.  of one's time, talents, money...of one's spirit, heart, soul.  over the past few weeks i've seen generosity pour from people in ways i never could have imagined.  lives changed through the kindness of strangers giving whatever they can for people they likely will never meet.  sometimes it's groceries, other times it's diapers, on many occasions it's money and often it's time and labor making an old building a home for a family to live in while they figure out how to provide for their children and get back on their feet.

i have always said we each have a story.  this is even more evident to me now.  some are painful to see, difficult to hear with chapters so badly written they almost need to be torn out.  we each walk a fine line...the line between a simple, "normal" life and a drama-filled, messy disaster.  yes, some are a little farther away on either side of that line than others, but at various points in our lives we teeter dangerously close to the breaking point - whatever that may look like to us.  i'm often amazed by people who seem to always have it together; whose lives are always in tact and never seem to be falling apart - that's definitely not me, and i'm guessing it's not really them either but they are just better at hiding the junk...or living in the land of denial.  it's said we will not be given more than we can handle.  yet, when i look at some people i am left wondering exactly how that makes sense.  i get the idea of having faith - i have lots of it...i get the idea of trusting that He will provide - i've seen it happen...but what i don't get, no matter how much i believe or how much i trust, is why some are left to carry such heavy burdens while others have so little.  yes, i get that we all make our own choices, that we each have some say in how our lives end up...but, how then do we justify the lives that are plagued with difficulty, most of which is truly out of our control - health problems, the loss of loved ones, difficulty finding good jobs, constant car trouble?  where did they go wrong?  especially when i know their faith, their trust is more than many i know who have much easier lives.  i know, i know...who am i to discern the ease of someone's life?  it's really not my place, but i just call it like i see it and until someone shows me otherwise i'm gonna go with what i see.  i just have a hard time believing that some of us are just meant to have such rough lives.

maybe that's where the rest of us come in...where the idea of generosity comes in...we are His hands and feet...His strength when others are too weak on their own.  but, again, i struggle with this more often than not.

sunday during worship, we sang two songs with powerful words that hit me so hard i had to pull out my little ragged notebook and write them down...

your grace has found me right where i am
i am empty but alive in your hands


"beautiful things"
you make beautiful things
you make beautiful things
out of dust
you make beautiful things
you make beautiful things
out of us

we are taught to extend give it...and, often the more difficult task - to receive it.  we are met right where we are...not where we try to be, not where we think we should be...but, right where we are.  empty but alive in your hands...this line makes me think of our Hillcrest families...much of the time they come to us just like that - empty, with nothing...yet they are there, alive, willing to trust us (to trust Him) to help fill them up again.
i love the idea that He makes us...He can make me...even when i'm so much less than He wants me to be, even when i fail miserably, even when i'm ugly and selfish and unkind...He can make something beautiful out of me.
i pray all the time to see others as He sees them...and to not waste this life because up to this point, i've had it good...i've been one of the lucky ones - sure i've had my moments, never is life perfect all the time; but overall mine has been a piece of cake compared to others and i feel it's my do something more with what i've been given.  give more than you have, love with all you are, expect nothing in return and give grace even when it's hard.  

Monday, September 2, 2013


it is early...4:59 a.m. kind of early.  my mind tosses and my mind turns, giving way to thoughts i can only hear clearly in the early morning silence.  i've taken in a lot the past few weeks...some of which i welcomed, much of which i would rather forget.

 fragile.  we are all fragile.  we crack and we shatter like glass and over time we begin to see pieces of us, tiny slivers really, missing...shards of trust, self-confidence, worthiness, guilt, inadequacy surrounding the super glued shell we work so hard to maintain.  yet, over time, these slivers seem to become harder to ignore and we find ourselves bitter, lonely, empty, sad.  we become every hurt we've ever felt, everything we think others think about us.  are we incapable of hearing the good things, unable to see ourselves as those we love see us?  maybe the really hard part is letting go of what we think others think and see and truly allow ourselves to be who we are...cracks and all.

i have a scar on my right hand, close to my thumb.  there isn't a day that i don't notice it and if you watch me, you'll likely see that i rub my finger along it quite often.  this scar is one of only a few visible scars i possess...the story behind it nothing exciting:  it was a saturday evening, the night before easter.  i had just fixed dinner for d and i in our little white house and i went to wash dishes.  we had no dishwasher there so i did them all by hand; something i actually found relaxing most of the time.  i stuck my hand inside a glass as i had done countless times before, but didn't realize until it was too late that it was broken.  a trip to the e.r., ten stitches and a tetnus shot later, i was good as new.  what you don't know when you see me run my left thumb over that spot is, i was already pregnant with m at that time but didn't yet know it.  and, that is the same place i cut falling out of a carriage ride years later.  what you don't see when i touch that crooked white line are the memories that come with it...the excitement i felt days later when i learned i was pregnant, and nervous embarrassment calmed by another's touch.

i have an amazing group of girlfriends.  women i've known my entire life, each of which hold a very special place in my heart.  we know each other inside and out, sharing pieces of our lives as honestly as we possibly can.  over the course of a couple hours, several drinks, lots of laughing and even a few tears...we counsel and we guide, offering support and encouragement...yet, i often walk away knowing we have each left with needs unmet, questions unasked and problems unresolved.  there are dark, dusty corners of our life...our hearts, our souls...we don't bare even to each other...things we are ashamed of, afraid of, don't want to bother others with...things we alone carry that we fear make us less somehow.  why is this?  are we afraid that, like so many others we have loved and trusted, they will leave us too?  do we fear them thinking less of us, or pitying us or feeling like we are just too hard to love?  probably.  but, the reality is, at this point in my life, they are it for me...they know me inside and out, they know my insecurities and my faults and have picked me up, dusted me off and helped me regain my footing more than once.  it is such a relief to have friends who know my cracks like their own, and who, when i let them, want to be the glue holding me together.

i don't like letting others see my flaws...or, rather, the less than pretty parts of who i am.  i prefer to hide all of that someplace deep inside so no one knows all the junk i carry.  yet, i long for one person who i can be totally honest, totally real with.  someone who will take all the scars, all the cracks, all the slivers and love every piece of me.  the question is, is it possible to see myself as i would hope they would see me?  is it possible to love myself in that way...forgiving all the faults, repairing all the cracks, loving all the scars for the stories behind them?  or, will i always see myself first as the discarded version...with my eyes open primarily to the pieces of myself that others haven't loved?  we are our toughest critic, often pushing away something good and rarely giving ourselves the same grace we give others.  the grace that would likely put us back together and make us whole if we let it...          

Thursday, August 15, 2013


yesterday morning i woke early, unable to sleep...likely from the excitement of starting my new job....i found myself looking for something specific i had pinned on pinterest - 52 key bible verses to memorize - i set it aside a couple weeks ago thinking it would come in handy at some point.  i looked through the various verses listed...many i was familiar with, a few i knew almost by heart...but one stood out above them all:

colossians 3: 12-15 "...clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  bear with each other...forgive as the Lord forgave you...let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts..."

i looked at others, but my heart kept going back to these words, drawn in a way i haven't been drawn to a passage of scripture in quite some time.  it's not hard for me to imagine why i was so drawn to these words...with the spectrum of my new role, i felt like God was reminding me (and maybe preparing me) to be compassionate, kind, humble, gentle and patient...and it is His command to bear with (lend a hand, offer support, simply just be there, help carry a burden) one another in moments of suffering or trials...i have always said it's not my job to judge anyone, but it is my job to forgive even if only because He has forgiven (and continues to forgive) me...and, lastly, it's no secret i'm a smidge high-strung and anxious so just reading the words "let the peace of Christ rule in your (in MY) heart" is very comforting to me - if i allow my thoughts to stop long enough to really meditate on it.

i was starting to think i couldn't hear Him anymore, couldn't feel Him, couldn't sense His direction for my life...i would look at my bible and not even open it the past few months, never once feeling the urge to look there for guidance even when i was really needing it.  i felt so disconnected...yet had zero motivation to do anything about it.  but, just as is always the case...just when i need it the most, my heart...are opened and i can feel again and i'm reminded i'm not on this journey alone.

i find myself surrounded by people who believe in the power of grace, who seek to serve, who see the world around them and want to do something to make it life at a time.  i know God is working through them, through me...again...finally.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


the last day of summer...well, the last day of summer as defined by the start of another school year.  it's 9 a.m. and m is still in bed...i did the right mom thing and made her go to bed "on time" last night for the first time since coming home, but am letting her get every little bit of sleep she wants this morning.  i've always loved the start of school...the anticipation of a new year, the excitement of seeing friends i hadn't seen all summer, the smell and feel of new school supplies...but, it's different now that the one starting school is my little girl.  last night we went to her school - a place we both love, mostly because it's filled with people we love and there is such a sense of security, familiarity and encouragement there.  we met her teacher...her 4th grade teacher...those words are still hard for me to say, but it's exciting for me none the less.  she unpacked her overloaded backpack and put all her shiny, new supplies away all the while looking around at each name on the surrounding desks searching for the comfort that comes with even a single friend to share the next nine months with.  watching her navigate her way through the building, talking easily with teachers and seeing her face light up as she found the friends she hadn't seen in almost three months.  i followed behind giving her room to find her way...the distance creating room to truly watch her in her element, something i find magical.

i'm not entirely sure where the summer went.  i accomplished some of what i hoped to and ultimately had a lot of fun, which is (in my opinion) exactly what summer is for.  some of the things i worried about three months ago have managed to work themselves out, others still are giant questions looming overhead.  the past week and a half with m has flown by...we've had so much fun being on vacation without ever really leaving the area!  shopping and movies, oceans of fun and the state fair, hanging out with aunts, cousins and grandparents and visits with friends...every moment memorable in even the most simple of ways...because we were together.    

tomorrow marks the beginning of a huge change in my life as well as i start working with (i know the correct terminology is working for, but i honestly feel more like i'm working with this organization and the people within it) hillcrest transitional housing.  i don't feel the trepidation i felt last year when i left the chamber for the hospital...i feel a huge sense of peace, a quiet reassurance that i am going where i belong...that maybe God has finally found a use for me...that maybe i'm finally doing something i was created for.  or, at least, that's what i'm praying for. 

today i wiped her tears and held her hand and combed her hair after her shower...i watched her skate and answered her questions...i listened as she told stories and watched her take in the world around us...and then i tucked her in and reminded her just how much i love her.  somedays i'm not so sure i'm good at this mom was not one of those i had the answers and had the reassuring touch...something i'm so thankful for.

i haven't written much recently...i'm not sure why, only that the words just didn't come.  something i find frustrating as i long to sit in front of the screen, feeling the thoughts pour out of my fingers into the clacking of the little black keys.  for stretches of time there is...nothing...not that i don't want to write, just that the thoughts don't manifest into something worth sharing, or that i don't allow myself to think or feeling enough...or, that i'm too wrapped up in myself to see the world going on around's typically a mix of all three.  so...i'm hoping that with this, i am giving myself a kickstart of sorts and will find my way back to the thoughts...the feelings...the words i'm so longing to express.         

Thursday, July 25, 2013

35, er 36...

I turned 36 today.  36.  Thirty-six.  I gotta say, I'm good with it.  Really good.  What is it that they say?  Age is just a number?  Well, I don't think that's entirely true.  Whether we wanna admit it or not, we are somewhat defined by our age...both good and bad.  I'm well into my mid-thirties.  I won't lie, that sounds weird, yet kinda awesome.  Of course I worry that some of the best parts of my life are behind me...that I've maybe missed opportunities or wasted time.  But, in the same token, I choose to believe I have so much more ahead of me.  I am entering this year of my life looking forward to some great things...M comes home in just over a week...I will be starting a new job that I truly know will allow me to use my real gifts...time off with my girl before school starts...and this feeling that good things are coming, as strange as that sounds.  I'm excited and peaceful all at the same time.  Like I'm on the verge of something yet I don't quite know what. 

There isn't much to say about the past year.  Looking back there are things I am beyond thankful for...people I am even more certain I can't imagine living without...moments that scared the hell outta me...and moments that taught me to fly.  I have a tiny red bow on the inside of my left wrist that will always remind me of this year.  I have memories that are mine alone and others made richer because of those I share them with.  All in all, I am happy to turn the page on 35 and start a new chapter with 36.  

I can see glimpses of the future and I'm crazy excited to experience every bit of it!  So, this 36 year old who did nothing less than play kickball in her high school cheerleading skirt the night before her birthday, can't wait to see what the next 364 days hold!  

Monday, July 1, 2013


she's been gone just over three weeks. i've had some fun and i've spent more time alone than i'm used to. i haven't written...i just haven't felt like it. i promised myself that i would take this time to work through some things i'm struggling with and to do whatever it is i feel like doing. which, for over a week, wasn't much because i got a terrible summer cold (cue pity party) that left me fairly miserable and absolutely exhausted. so, i've laid and watched tv and allowed myself to struggle with the demons that tend to overwhelm me when i'm like this. you know, all the things most people don't see and assume i don't deal with because i do a decent job of hiding them the rest of the time. some of which are there all the time and some that only surface when she's gone all summer. 

i have a friend who always tells me how strong i am, that she wishes she were more like me.  she has no idea the things that go through my mind, especially when it comes to my insecurities as a mom...especially when she's gone like this and i can't see her look at me or reach for me when i know i'm the only one who can make something better or reassure her when she's upset or scared.  they took her to see her favorite music group ever and are leaving in the morning for vacation...they are able to give her things i just haven't and ultimately i fear more than anything she will want to stay...there she has a whole she only has me.  there.  i said it.  the one thing i don't ever verbalize because if i do then it's out there.  the thing i fear most, the weight i carry that never fully lessons.  just typing it makes my chest ache.      

and then, i read something that helped put things in perspective...something called "handbook for life", or 41 incredibly simple things - many of which i think i've lost sight of over time.  things that help me remember the simplicity of life, that it's so important to find joy in the little things and to remember the world is so much bigger than me and whatever silliness i'm making a big deal out of in my head at the moment. 

tonight i called my grandma and found a comfort in her voice that i've not felt in a long time...i walked through the stacks in a brand-new library, touching the spines, reading passages and taking in the stories around me....tonight i took a yoga class and focused on nothing but my breathing and poses...i walked charlie and called m - making her ask why i was calling because she had called me earlier this afternoon when she knew i wouldn't expect it - yet, i just needed to hear that little voice and remind her of how much i love her...and, finally...turned the tv on to find my favorite movie like God had cued it up just for me.  little things.  nothing of any importance.  but, each made me feel a little better in their own way. 

people ask if i miss her.  they ask how i'm doing.  yes, i miss her.  constantly.  like a piece of me, like my right arm, is gone.  but...i know she's coming home.  i'm thrilled she's having fun and that she is so comfortable there and that she doesn't need me next to her all the time.  but, yes...i miss her and wonder if she ever needs me when we're apart like this.  it's funny.  when i'm like this, i know how weak i become and every insecurity i have is magnified for some reason. 

so...things to think about...or, my own version of the handbook of life...

1.  make a difference.  for someone.  each day.
2.  give more than you take. 
3.  love.  just love.  honestly.  openly.  with everything you have. 
4.  stop being afraid of the what if's and stop looking back on the coulda been's - they don't matter and only make you unable to appreciate the right now's.
5.  look around you.  see the people around you and be open to their needs.  chances are good someone needs you more than you think...even if all they need is a hand to hold.
6.  hug someone.  tight.  with both arms.
7.  stop.  whatever it is in your life that doesn't add value or make you feel good, just stop. 
8.  surround yourself with people who make you a better person. 
9.  take time to pray.  talk to Him.  and then watch to see what unfolds.
10.  remember, you were created for a purpose...find it, and live it.
11.  look someone in the eyes and remind them of why they're special to you. 
12.  slow down.  it's not a race and no one really cares who gets there first anyway.

okay...that's a start.  and...while i miss her beyond's now my BIRTHDAY MONTH and i plan on making LOTS of memories over the next few weeks so if you're interested in helping me make one or two, let me is too short to sit on the sidelines, i want to know that no matter what i got out there and lived, that i made a difference even if it was only to someone who heard my laugh across the room or saw my smile and for whatever reason that was enough...       

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


i've believed on a few very important occasions that i truly heard God...the first time His words scared me..."it's bigger than you, faith." and "trust me, i am with you."  i heard those words very clearly on a late january sunday while sitting in church with the ex-amazing boyfriend just a few weeks before he turned our life upside down and broke my heart.  i remember being acutely aware of the weight of those words...knowing that it couldn't mean anything good...and, ultimately, i was right.  at least at that point.

then, after meeting a very special person i remember praying often about our situation.  it was anything but typical, and on many occasions i felt like no matter what i gave it wouldn't matter...but, each time i prayed about it, i felt God telling me to be patient, that He would take care of me in the moments when i needed more than my friend could give me.  each time i trusted those words and gained strength from them.

and, last fall, when i interviewed for the job at the hospital...i felt God leading me, opening the doors with ease.  heard Him telling me that this was the next step and i trusted that guidance.

yet, now, i feel mislead in so many ways.  while i don't regret the time i've spent with my friend, or the pieces of my heart i no longer hold...things are probably at their worst at this point between us and i'm hurt and sad.  the job i wanted so badly has been a terrible disappointment...i can count on one hand the number of days i've truly been happy there and i feel like a complete failure.  i truly feel like the ways in which i trusted God over the past couple years have lead me to a point now where i feel lost, defeated, broken down...and i'm afraid of trusting that voice i put so much faith into in the moments i needed guidance the most. 

i am these situations, in myself, and maybe even in the belief that God was truly speaking to me in those moments and either i didn't understand what He was saying or i somehow made the words mean what i wanted/needed to hear in those moments.  i honestly have no idea, but at this point, i'm leaning more towards the latter....especially given my current situations.  i really have little trust in my judgement right now and am afraid of what else i could screw up in my life. 

back to the first words...looking back, i can see that He was right...that He was with moments when i needed Him more than words could say.  and, it was bigger than many ways.  if i hadn't gone through that, i wouldn't have met my dear friend when he needed someone...if i hadn't gone through that, i wouldn't have this little life that m and i share...if i hadn't gone through that, i wouldn't have the renewed friendships i have with the girls who mean the world to me...if i hadn't gone through that, i wouldn't have stood up for myself when i needed to...if i hadn't gone through that, i wouldn't have been able to be as empathetic for yet another friend as her world fell apart not long after mine....if i hadn't gone through that...well, the list goes on and on...way beyond ANYTHING i could have ever seen in those moments when His voice was loud and clear even though the sanctuary was full. 

so...maybe, just maybe...there is a bigger meaning behind the other messages as well.  maybe i'm unable to see the rest right now because i'm blinded by my own emotions, my own issues, my own own pride.  i'm honestly not sure what to do about some of it.  but, i'm working on it.  the worst part is, i find myself unable to lean as much on God right now...unable to fully trust His plan...unable to give all of my problems fully to Him.  so, if you find it in you to say a little prayer for me...i'm looking for discernment and for grace.  i'm beating myself up pretty bad right now and that isn't likely to end anytime soon so the grace is for me. 

right now i just feel...icky (i know, super mature word but it's honestly all i've got at this point)...about many things in my life.  i'm a little freaked out about how that will affect the way i feel about m leaving on saturday.  my anxiety is at an all-time high right now and i know that to anyone around me i likely seem less than pleasant. i'm sorry for that...sorry for my crazy girl moments...i really hope i get this all figured out soon so i can get back  normal, happy me.  until day at a time. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


i noticed it early one morning...when she lies next to me her feet now lie next to mine rather than somewhere up around my knees.  she doesn't hold my hand like she used to...only sometimes and when she does it's often because she feels insecure or afraid...never when i reach for it as we walk through parking lots and rarely just because.  she is increasingly aware of how her friends see her and wants desperately to fit in in all the typical girly ways.  i'm thankful for mismatched outfit choices and constant spinning through stores and down sidewalks...these simple things remind me she is still a little girl, at least in a few ways.  to me, she has changed in so many ways over the past nine months...which is mostly to blame for my anxiety over her leaving this weekend - i can't even tell you the number of times i've said from the front seat while looking at her in the rearview mirror to not grow up too much over the next eight weeks.  i'm pretty sure she thinks i'm crazy.  i find myself trying to absorb as much of her as give as much of myself to her as possible...enough to hold us both until she comes home again. 

see, i know she's growing up.  and, i'm okay with that...there are some really great things about her growing up, but with those come the realization that i'm slowly becoming less and less important...that, in time, i will be a nuisance to her - a last resort when it comes to someone she wants to spend time with.  and that simple fact literally breaks my heart.  there's something about having only get one shot...for everything.  when that's over, when she grows up, there isn't another to fill her fill my hand or my time.

she called me "mommy" tonight...that doesn't happen much these days.  she's outgrowing that too.  on occasion she even rolls her eyes when saying "mo-om" out of exasperation.  the little girl who, at the beginning of the year, needed me to wait and wave to her until the bus was out of sight barely waves most days now as she climbs on board.  she still kisses me quickly on the cheek as she climbs out of the car while we exchange our "i love you's" and "have a great day, i'll see you this afternoon's".  i am thrilled she is confident enough to not need me next to her constantly at this point, proud of the girl she is becoming.  but, i'm terrified of the next stages in more ways than i'm even prepared to admit. 

sometimes i wish i could stop the clock, rewind it even. back to the days when she fit on my chest as we slept and rarely was her little hand far from mine.  but, i know we can' i'm doing all i can to enjoy every bit of where we are right now.  focusing on the person she is now and trying to not screw up the woman she will become.  i remind myself often as i look in her big blue eyes that i am so blessed to be her mom...that having a healthy, happy, well-adjusted child is more than i could ask for...and i try really hard to simply be her mom despite all the ways i seem to undermine my own abilities.     

Thursday, May 23, 2013


looking back, i'm not sure which one of us was more of a mess...which one of us needed the other more.  in the beginning, i thought it was you but now i'm not so sure.  on paper you were clearly in a worse spot while i was fairly certain i had my act together.  what i couldn't see at the time was how with each moment i spent with you, a part of me i didn't realize was broken...was healed.  with you i was never alone....something i swear i'm not afraid of, yet if i'm completely honest, is a part of why i've hung on.  no one has forced me to be as honest as you, no one has ever allowed me...encouraged actually be honest with what i think, how i feel.  in exchange, you gave me honesty and truth...even when you knew it would hurt me.  and, you have...more times than you may remember...yet, from the moment you walked through my door i just...knew.  i knew you were meant to be in my life, and i in yours.  to me, we were the epitome of my greatest belief.  while i've accused you of not listening, you always heard me.  gently you've pointed out faults of mine no one ever has...things i'm sure have annoyed not only you, but are likely to blame for other relationships not working as well.  you've been there in your own way when i've needed you...rarely as i've expected, yet always exceeding any expectation i could have had.  friends is all you've ever been able to call us...all you were capable of giving.  but, for some reason, no matter how hard you worked to convince me of this, i always put us somewhere above that.  this, our greatest difference, is the only one that matters now.  the words "i'm not going to force my feelings anymore" were the final blow.  you could have slapped me and it would have hurt less.  you have a good heart, of this i have no doubt.  while i see potential in you that may no longer exist, i choose to believe somewhere inside of you is the man i've seen glimpses of in the rare moments you've let your guard down with me.  you've come so far in the time i've known you, but i know you aren't yet where you want to be.  i deserve to have everything from someone...just as you've told me so many times.  and you deserve to not have to worry about whether or not you'll hurt me as you continue to find your place.  we both fear not being enough...and now i fear being "too much".  what i have to remind myself is, for someone, i will be just right.  i just hoped that someone was going to be you.  i know we met when we were meant to...filled needs no one else could at the time.  in many ways you are my best friend, but i'm having a hard time letting you be just that.  but, i'm trying.  i'm trying to let it be.  trying to trust that the future holds things i can't yet see. friend...i won't ask you to force your feelings ever again.                 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


tomorrow.  may 22.  seven years.  i will wear my ladybug shirt and be all-too-aware of the time.  i will likely find myself drifting back in time as i always do on that day.  i will think often about sarah and wish, yet again, that i could take this from her knowing full-well i can't.  and then, i will remember what we did tonight...charlotte's pre-school graduation.  somehow the little girl i connected with the moment i held her is five and on the downhill side to kindergarten and i love her to pieces.  she and her incredibly cute little brother do a very good job of filling the holes left by one very precious little soul. 

time is flying...too fast for my liking at the moment.  in just over two weeks m leaves for the summer and for some reason i'm terrified she will leave in june and come back in august all grown up.  i have a different kind of anxiety for this trip.  maybe it has something to do with the fact i've watched her change so much over the past nine months.  maybe it's seeing all the footage from things like the sandy hook shooting and the boston bombing and now the moore tornado...i was watching a mom as she finally found her son sitting on a curb yesterday after the tornado and i found myself crying along with her; certain that if it were me and m i would never let her out of my sight again.  now, don't get me wrong, i want her to go and enjoy her time with her dad and step-mom...and, while it's very hard for me to admit, i selfishly enjoy a little time to myself.  but, there will be a hole inside of me when she gets on that plane and sometime about three weeks later i will find myself wandering around feeling like someone has cut off my right arm.  but, tomorrow we get to do something we've never done.  tomorrow we are going on her third grade field trip and i'm honestly not sure which one of us is more excited!  she asked me to go, not just kind of suggesting that she might like for me to meet them down there; but, rather, a "mom, i really want you to go.  to ride the bus and lead a group and be a part of the whole day."  okay, m, okay.  so, i will ride a school bus for the first time since the last away football game in 1994 and be in charge of a few nine year olds who (in her words) usually think i'm her baby-sitter instead of her mom.  i. can't. wait!  and i pray we make a few memories neither one of us will forget...not just over the eight weeks we're apart, but maybe one or two that might last a lifetime.

Monday, May 20, 2013


the past couple weeks i've found myself thinking back to this time 18 years ago...

i was 17, one of the youngest in my graduating class.  hair long and curly, bangs i forced to curl under to be like everyone else, the shortest one in my class of 66, determined to take on the world yet hiding a fear of the unknown to anyone who asked what my plans were.  i was a 13-year of many in the LHS class of 1995.  we were a close group, most of us friends from before kindergarten and some second-generation friends from parents who had also grown up in those same halls we walked for four years.  i have no doubt we thought we were special - maybe that's typical for the age, but looking back i'm pretty certain we each thought we had it all figured out, or at least pretended that we did.  little did we know, the things that would ultimately make us special were the friendships we made in those years spent there - friendships that, to me, have become family.  invincible as only teenagers can be, we each laid a plan for the next few years of our lives - for most of us this meant college, and for many of us, the first time leaving our little town.  my own plan changed many times over the next few years leading me ultimately to las vegas - someplace i can guarantee no one i grew up with ever thought i would be!  we crossed another stage, taking another piece of paper and started off on the next chapter of our lives.  weddings, houses, babies and jobs became the focus for many of us.  life took us in various directions in our 20's...some moved around, some settled down...conversations surface-level much of the time because we had yet to find the common ground that would, in time, help us see just how blessed we were.  by our 30's each of us had experienced a little  and by 34, the original group of friends i started my life with had found our way back to each other. 
this weekend i was blessed to celebrate with four high school graduates...each of them holding a different, yet very special, place in my heart.  one i've known literally since the day she was born...her mom and i friends our entire lives.  watching the pictures flip past on her slideshow i saw images of me holding her and realized not only how much (and how quickly) time had passed, but that in different ways we grew up together in those first years.  with a heart for christ like none i've ever seen, she knows her path and will walk it with grace.  the second, a cousin...oddly, not by blood, yet i was there, too, the day she was born.  smart and funny, she knows a lot more about life - and loss - than anyone her age should.  she has a spirit that is contagious and i pray she holds fast to the plans she is making because i have no doubt there are great things ahead for her.  the third, the only boy in the group...a young man i've known less than two years yet love like it's been a lifetime.  this kid could do anything he puts his mind to...he is driven and smart, but in unconventional ways.  his heart is huge and his will is strong...i pray he never loses either.  in him i see so much and hope he never loses sight of who he is or everything he is capable of.  the fourth, a young lady i first met when she was nine when her family moved in across the street.  it's no secret i love her like my own...i've laughed with her and i've cried with her...worried about her and prayed for her; and last night, watched her cross that stage next to her mom feeling almost as proud of "our" girl.

i've learned many lessons over the past 18 years...most of which hinge on the basis of relationships.  the people in my life mean more to me than any job, house or car.  i'm the first to encourage all teenagers to go to college...not just for the education, but more so for the experience.  honestly, the only real advice i can give is to live your truly is the journey, not the destination that matters...feel every bit of it - not just the good parts - the unbelievably painful ones too; they will shape you in ways you can't imagine...ask questions and seek true to yourself, respect yourself and demand the same from open to new things - foods, places, people, experiences - all of it; you never know who or what you might gain...give more than you take...find something you're passionate about and learn everything you can about it...and, surround yourself with people who make you a better person.  and, when you get hurt or disappointed - which you will...more times than you think you can handle...give yourself a break and then choose to find happiness again.  life is too short to waste it on those who don't matter - in any given situation.  live a life you're proud of and find your purpose; whatever it may be. 

Friday, May 10, 2013


"walk by faith" by jeremy camp...

"well i will walk by faith, even when i cannot see.  well because this broken road prepares Your will for me."

i heard this song this morning as i pulled into my parking spot and it just spoke to me.  i wasn't sure why at the time, had no idea what the day would hold, had no idea the people i would meet.  there was no way to know the things i would witness, nor the words i would hear...

sometimes you meet people and your life is forever changed.  today was one of those days.

wil and susan lala.  just names.  nothing more...initially.  their story is special to say the least - a tragic plane crash 20 years ago...killed susan's father and almost killed wil.  he wasn't expected to live, but within this man lies a spirit like none i've ever seen.  after numerous surgeries and months of rehab, he proved everyone wrong.  susan and their then college-age daughter sat tirelessly by his side, cared for and loved by the same staff who had taken to wil like he was nothing less than family.  a dentist by trade, he and susan had created a life in belize where they ran a small hotel.  after his accident, they returned to belize where fishing was his passion.  while offering dental care to those on their island, wil discovered a talent for creating beautiful tapestries out of aluminum cans and today he donated one of those tapestries, called "first love" to liberty hospital in honor of the people and place he credits for saving his life.

his story isn't what got me.  it's touching and beautiful, but it was the life in his words...the amount of genuine love, gratitude and grace he displays no matter who he's talking to.  there is more life in this one man than i've seen in anyone.  i was truly humbled in his presence, reminded of all the good surrounding me.  within moments of meeting them, i felt as if i'd known them my entire life and longed to visit with them extensively to somehow take in even a little of the joy they radiated.

there are people who just know how to live. as i watched wil today...with the doctors, nurses and numerous staff who had cared for him over 20 years ago...i witnessed so much more than what my eyes could take in. wil lost the vision in one eye and his hearing is impaired, but you would never know it. he and susan said repeatedly that there were so many miracles, so many blessings that brought them to this moment...that gave them the past 20 years.

we are shaped by everything that happens to us...molded and polished to be His hands, His words. the path before us is often one we cannot see, a seemingly broken road that we must walk by faith to prepare us for so much more.

that was what i saw in them today...two people who faced a terrible situation, who could have become bitter or angry at what they lost but did just the opposite. they are walking through this life together, a living testimony to what genuine love and grace can do. i left them inspired and renewed, excited about nothing in particular but simply about the possibilities this life holds. i want to be better, to live stop taking precious moments for granted, to be fully present to those who matter and let go of the insecurities and demons that do nothing but make me less of a person.

i know everything in my past, everything I'm living now, is preparing me for something greater. that man likely will never know the impact he had on me today, but that's okay. this is exactly what i mean when i say we meet the people we're supposed to meet when we're supposed to meet's just an amazing feeling when you can actually recognize it when it happens. more often, i don't realize it until much later, after the moment has passed. it's a God thing, i'm sure of it.

so, walk by faith and see where the road leads you. be open to the life in front of you and the people within it. you never know where you will be inspired or where you will make a difference.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


what does it take to be completely honest with ourselves?  it's one thing to be honest with others, with people we trust, with complete strangers...with the world.  but, from my perspective anyway, more difficult to be completely honest with ourselves.  we sugarcoat actions, justifying choices (ours and those of the people around us) to make us feel better about a situation, a person, an event.  why?  to protect us, to protect them?  from whom? are we afraid of what we'll discover in our honesty?  i think that's the answer...fear of what we'll find, fear of seeing things as they really are rather than how we want to see them.

it's easier to see things as we want to see them.  we can hide from the ugliness of life, ignoring the reality of where we really stand, allowing us to blindly enjoy something or someone just a little bit longer while putting off the inevitable.  i'm not brave.  i hate confrontation, hate making uncomfortable decisions and changes.  but, sometimes i find myself overwhelmed with anxiety when thinking about situations in my life...anxiety that i'm fairly certain i could eliminate if i allowed myself to be completely honest and stopped seeing things as i want to see them, stopped putting off making the tough decisions and do something about them.

what's that old saying?  something about how you can't expect different results if you keep doing the same things?  i realize this applies to all sorts of things, but for those of us who aren't so good (insert the word "hate") with change, it's easier (less painful, or so we think) to just let things stay the same rather than face the issue head-on and do something about it.

i'm not sure what the answer is...nor do i think it's as simple as just making the decision to make a change; any change. rather, i think maybe it takes looking at your life for what it is and comparing it with what you want it to be. time is short, each moment precious. don't waste the words or thoughts God puts on your heart. be completely honest with others, but more importantly with yourself and see where that leads you...

Saturday, May 4, 2013


thursday morning i got out of the shower and looked in the wet, no make-up...and saw 17 year old me in my reflection.  full of promise and innocence; the eyes that looked back at me weren't drained, the lines not so pronounced...and, for a brief moment, i remembered exactly who i was, everything i wanted, at that point in my life.  then, somehow, as i dried my hair and put on my make-up, that 17 year old disappeared and was replaced with 35 year old me...promise and innocence replaced with disappointment and worry, the reality of my life - the one i've created - evident in the lines around the less than bright green eyes staring back at me.  and i didn't like what i saw.

i realized the other day that i've made very few changes in my life over the past year and a half.  the new job being the only real change.  otherwise, i've pretty much sat still in my little life...mostly because i'm afraid of creating a problem i can't handle or upsetting the fragile balance i've worked hard to create.  or, so i thought.  then, i started thinking about things and the truth is, i have little balance - only some very restrained self-control that has gotten me nowhere.  i haven't grown much as a person.  i haven't traveled at all.  i'm hardly going to church.  i'm not dating anyone.  i haven't been exercising. i have made no plans, given myself nothing to look forward to...and all of a sudden i felt clausterphobic in my own life.  i felt small and insignificant, like it wouldn't matter if i was here or not - no, not depressed or suicidal or anything like that - just that my existence is merely that...that i'm just here, not really living...and all of a sudden i felt the overwhelming need to find balance, to make plans, to give myself SOMETHING to look forward to.

for months, years maybe, but months from what i can clearly remember, i have felt a consistent tug to do something very different with my life.  while marketing/communications is my job, it is not my passion and while i am beyond thankful for my job and do not regret the change i made; it fills a need in my life - a paycheck - but not a desire. 

on tuesday night, while on a bit of a road trip with a dear friend and his son, that very subject came up.  i've spent a lot of time with them, yet we've never talked about this before, but on a long stretch of highway as my friend rested, his 17 year old son said this to me..."i think you should be a counselor.  for high school kids.  you would fit in at our school, they are all really great people and you would be really good there.  kids would talk to you."  and as i sat in that backseat i almost cried.  he doesn't know my heart, has no idea all the things i'm thinking about...but this 17 year old kid saw the exact thing in my that has been pulling at my heart and put it into words - gave it life, made me feel, for the first time, that what i've been thinking/feeling could be a possibility.

thursday afternoon i got an email from a good friend who won a trip to turkey while at a conference last week and she's asked me to join her.  we are waiting on the details before making a final decision, but if it's as good of a deal as it initially appears, i'm in!  it's possible that for nine days in november i could be putting another stamp in my little passport, seeing beautiful historic places, eating new foods, meeting unique people...and i'm pretty excited!  i have been itching to get away, to travel and see something new.  i look at discount travel sites often and spend more time daydreaming about laying on a white sandy beach than i should probably admit.  while the turkey trip may not pan out, i've decided that no matter what, i will make plans to go somewhere this year and just making that decision gives me something fun to think about.

i don't make decisions well.  food courts are an excellent example...they overwhelm me.  i would rather (and, it's safe to say this simple fact alone says a lot about me as a person) someone just tell me what to do, what to eat, where to go, etc.  i have never liked making evident in my previous paragraphs.  this also mirrors my dislike for change - even good change.  i think i believe that if i don't make a decision - don't allow change - i am better able to control things in my life, giving less room for something bad to happen...and, in turn, less room for something good to happen.  and, yes, i realize as i type these words how crazy this all sounds.  but, as my friend lezley said earlier this week, sometimes we just have to make a decision...a change...because sometimes making a wrong one is better than making none at all.  true.  scary, but true.  *sigh* 

that said, i'm playing kick ball.  yes, kick ball.  me.  one of the last ones to be picked when we played as kids in gym class.  me.  the least athletic person i likely know.  and, funny enough, i'm loving it!  i'm not as terrible as i thought i would be.  i'm not great, but i'm not terrible.  in fact, i scored last week and while i can't catch a ball to save my life, that little contribution (although we still lost) made me feel pretty darn good.  so, yes, this is one thing outside of my comfort zone.  and i'm really glad i'm doing it.  fingers crossed i can actually get under a fly ball and not drop it just once before the season ends.



Tuesday, April 16, 2013


there are so many things beyond my comprehension.  the senseless actions of others meant to do nothing but cause harm, fear and pain to complete strangers...innocent people caught off-guard...a tiny soul the same age as m taken by the hands of someone with malicious intent and a heart full of hate.  yes, these are my assumptions...harsh opinions from a mom who has a hard time finding the words to explain the magnitude of events that continue to unfold in seemingly innocent situations to a daughter who thankfully hasn't grasped the full extent of fear intended by the monsters hiding behind the term "terrorist".  i seek to find the right explanations, grapple with understanding these horrific events enough myself in order to answer the many questions that come from her.  i read these words from the infamous mr. rogers several times on facebook last night:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” ― Fred Rogers 

i've read them many times in the past, but this time i think i REALLY read them for the first time...really heard the meaning, the depth behind them.  ..."look for the helpers" - even when things are scary, even when things are hard...there are ALWAYS people who are helping.  that simple fact brings me peace.  and...the desire to be one of those people...a helper.

seek first goodness and mercy...reach out to those who have needs greater than yours...look for beauty no matter the circumstances...and love without boundaries or reservation...

Friday, April 12, 2013

ghosts of boyfriends past...

the last two nights i have been visited in my dreams by the ghosts of boyfriends past.  let me back up, or at least preface this with the fact i rarely dream...i mean, hardly, for me to have dreams i remember not just one night, but two nights in a row is basically unheard of.  okay, back to the story...

on wednesday night i have no idea where i was in my my dream...some random place, and i've decided that doesn't matter.  but, in my dream, the ex-amazing boyfriend (honestly, he is far from amazing, but since that was how i had referred to him in the past i'm using that term for relevance) showed up wherever i was and approached me.  i appeared uninterested, totally distracted and seemed to do my best to walk away.  he followed me and kept trying to talk to me...saying things like he had heard about my new job and had seen my writing and that he was really proud of me and excited for me.  i simply said thank you and congratulated him on his marriage...something he totally blew off and showed no interest in discussing.  all the while i was moving from place to place, seeming to want nothing to do with him even though he was trying very hard to get my attention and compliment me.  i wish i could say there was some big ending, but as is the case with most dreams, it just ended and i woke up.  i didn't think too much of it, only that it was weird i had the dream in the first place.

then, on thursday night, i was visited by a guy i had dated for a while last year...never were the boyfriend/girlfriend labels used between us, but for the purpose of this we'll call him that.  this dream was very similar...vague, unknown location without anyone else around...he appeared from out of nowhere and approached me saying the same sorts of things.  again i blew him off, again i showed no interest, no emotion.  again the only real thing i remember saying was a congratulations on his engagement that he disregarded.  and, again, it simply ended.

i woke up and literally almost laughed out of the sheer coincidence of it all.  i mean, how does that happen?  what does it mean?  why on earth did i have those dreams?  i've thought i was long over both of them, but after telling this story to a couple people, their response was unanimously that i must feel i'm in a really good place and that i'm fully over them and know i'm better off.  i agree with that completely for more reasons than what happened in my dreams, but i guess it's good to have a little affirmation.  i am happy with where i'm at...there are things i want of course, situations i wish were different, emotions i can't fully express sometimes...but, overall, i'm really good.  and, after looking back to this time two years ago, i can easily see just how good i am...and, even better, how much better off i am. 

now i'm just wondering who will be ghost number three...

Thursday, April 11, 2013

I am so excited!!!

i can't even begin to tell you how excited i am about this!  i was asked by my dear friend, kaylen, to be the FIRST guest blogger on her site The Penny Project!!!  i am humbled and honored to be asked (this is also MY first time as a guest blogger!!!)...The Penny Project is an incredible concept designed by kaylen to help raise money - small change makes a big difference - and awareness for those who need it most.  please visit her site and if your heart is called, do what you can for those she is serving.

you can read my post here.

Monday, April 8, 2013


when do we stop believing in wishes?  in magic?  in miracles?  is it around the same time we discover it's embarrassing to cry in front of others so we force ourselves to hold everything in, stifling our cries so no one will hear us and think we're weak?  maybe it happens when our trust in the things unseen is tested and we become a bit hardened and cautious; looking for proof to either back our understanding or undermine that of someone or something we would rather not. regardless, it us all. 

i have one wish right now.  just one.  and it's for something i can't have, yet want more than anything.  i would give almost anything to make it happen, but there is nothing i could give that would make a difference... 

she climbed the three flights of stairs to my apartment and i didn't even have to look at her to know the affect that climb had on her...the stillness in her pause, the deep breaths she didn't even bother trying to hide...and i knew things were different this time.  something new is wrong with her heart and, for the first time, she is afraid. 

she is my younger sister yet she has always been larger than life to me in many ways.  with her beside me there was nothing i couldn't do.  my fears were always matched with her bravery.  so, to see the fear in her hear it in her voice, breaks me in ways i can't really put into words.  there are two amazing children who call her mommy...two beautiful little people who deserve to know her without the exhaustion, without the pain, without the worry of what if.  in 34 years she has touched so many people...explosive and passionate, she gives all of herself to anything and anyone she cares about.  her eyes hide more than most know, a lifetime of being different weighed down by the constant effort to be the same.  yet...nothing about her is...has ever been...the same...typical...normal.  and that's part of what makes her so special.  it's part of who she is, part of her gift...and it has given her the ability to love freely and without measure, judging no one and openly accepting everyone she meets. 

i wish for a new heart...i would give her mine if i could.  maybe that's too much to wish for, but right now i would use every birthday candle...every heads-up penny...every necklace clasp turned around the wrong way...every good fortune...every falling star...every four-leaf clover...every wishbone...every puffy dandelion...just to increase the chances of it coming true.  so, right now i'm choosing to believe in wishes...choosing to believe in magic...and maybe most of all, choosing to believe in miracles.        

Thursday, March 28, 2013


luke 22:42 "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done."

luke 23:46 "Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands i commit my spirit."

twenty-four hours of prayer...that's how i think of good friday...or, how i had always thought of good friday...  growing up in our little church the members signed up for 30-minute prayer shifts to cover 12 a.m. on friday to 12 a.m. on saturday.  i watched my dad pass the clipboard on early in the process, initially wondering why until i saw his name on the spots no one else wanted...2:30 a.m., 4:00 a.m. 11:30 p.m....filling in wherever there were holes, making sure someone was always there, praying.  i remember when i was finally old enough to take a time of my own...i, of course, took some totally normal time like 2:00 p.m. when it was daylight and it was convenient...i remember walking into the silent church, a building i'd been in thousands of times, alone even on multiple occasions because that's where i went to really play the piano...i passed through the sanctuary and entered the parlor - which incidentally served as my high school sunday school room - and chose a corner of the couch to spend my time.  i remember initially having a hard time getting centered, not focusing well and just generally feeling out of touch...but then something changed and i remembered the things i had learned year after year about that very day.  it was in those moments i realized exactly why my dad had no problem taking the crappy shifts...why he didn't mind sitting in this room alone...why we make such an effort to make sure the church has someone in it for 24 hours one day a year...and i felt humbled to be a part of it.

trust.  humility.  sacrifice.  He asked that God grant Him mercy...begged for it even.  He spent hours in prayer...knowing it was His job to fulfill the prophecy...His job to die a horrific, humilitating death for people who may never know...may never understand the significance.  God walking among us...the Holy Spirit here on the know feel what we live and love and hurt just as we do...and then to make the greatest sacrifice known to man...i've been a christian my entire life and i still have a  hard time wrapping my mind around that.  He could have walked...could have said "no"...could have lied when the soldiers said they were looking for Jesus of Nazareth...but He didn't.  He carried a cross to the top of the Skull - Calvary - and was crucified - nails driven into his hands and feet, a crown of thorns around his head...for six long hours he hung there and at 3 p.m. he took his final breath, leaving our world and joining His father in heaven, opening the door for each of us who, through His grace, are granted that same opportunity.

i only participated in the prayer vigil a few times...i can't honestly say why, only that i didn't make time for it i suppose.  i am always mindful of what day it heart a bit heavier thinking of the sacrifice that was made for me - someone undeserving for sure.  i walk past our chapel at the hospital mulitple times a day...i've peeked in a time or two, mostly out of curiosity and on one occasion to investigate the sound of hymns coming from within. i found an older gentleman playing the piano and singing to himself - perhaps one of the most unique and beautiful things i've seen.  but, tomorrow i will make a point to go in because getting to church just isn't going to happen...i will go in and find a spot and sit...likely working hard to still my mind long enough to open my heart and allow myself to feel hear Him.  it's something i've been waiting to do...i know that sounds strange because of course i could go in at any time, but i don't and i have no real reason.  i have much on my heart right now...but have been reminded that any sacrifice i make in my life is nothing compared to the one made for my life...humbling words for this all-to-human heart.

so...i guess my words for you are these...believer or not...take a few moments tomorrow to just imagine if the words are put yourself at the foot of the cross, witnessing what His mother saw....and give yourself over to Him if only for a second.   

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


one man.  one man with more stories in his 62 years than i could ever imagine in 100...many of which i wouldn't want to imagine, but still.  today we took a man to lunch because he is retiring on friday and he has been a lifesaver to us on many occasions and we just wanted him to know how valuable he is and how very much he will be missed.  over the course of an hour we sat and talked and per usual i asked questions...lots and lots of questions of a man who under most circumstances is quiet and unassuming with little to say unless it has to do with work.  but today, today he answered all my questions and told us story after story...some of which surprised me, some made me a little sad, some made me wish i had known him much longer, some made me want to know more...and some...some touched me enough that i've thought about little since then and have wanted nothing more than to sit here and share a little of him with you...

he has lived most of his life in and around kansas city, and those he didn't he spent in the military in the early to mid-seventies on some of the more dangerous missions in vietnam and traveling throughout much of the world.  from the way it sounded, his life was never easy yet for the most part simple.  he spoke of walking the streets at night as a kid - saying he's always been more of a night owl and needing next to no sleep..."in vietnam you maybe got an hour, but that was with one eye open so it didn't really count."  he is tough in every way you can imagine, yet carries within him a heart of gold.  he spent 21 years as a KCMO cop never taking a partner, always on the toughest streets and never sitting still.  he refused to take a promotion to sergeant because he said it was "hard enough keeping myself alive, i don't want to be responsible for 13 others.  plus, i wasn't made for paperwork.  i liked the movement of the streets."  he has been shot five times, stabbed four and beaten up more times than he can count.  "twice i spent time in the ICU...the last time i got shot was the worst - going after a man robbing a payday loan store.  he snuck around on me - and, you know, i was all alone so when he shot me in the back (the bullet missed his heart by a quarter of an inch), i was left to die.  thank goodness it was winter so my blood didn't drain so quickly as i was lying in the cold snow waiting for them to come get me."  father of ten, the first born when he was only 15 - the only question i never asked was how many wives...he only mentioned one, but that was during the time he was working undercover as a member of a hippie commune here in KC "i had to be real when i was there.  you couldn't fake it...i had the long hair and we lived in the park and in this old house someone found.  there were drugs and sex and everything else you can imagine...and i couldn't fake it."  he lived in that commune for over two years only going home to see his wife and kids once a month...i'm not surprised that marriage didn't stand the test of time.  the man works harder than anyone i know.  his body is full of metal and at one point was told he would never walk again...after a year in a wheelchair and a will to live his life, his way, he proved them wrong.  we asked him how he gets around so well, how he does everthing he does (he is responsible for setting up every single meeting and event in the hospital as well as moving anything and everything - often single-handedly) and his response was that he likes to keep moving...that he does hurt, that when he gets home he lays in his recliner with the heating pad all evening and sometimes can barely stand up straight for a couple days.  he credits his time in the military for his innate ability to push the pain aside, stating that in that time he learned to put it out of his mind and focus on other things - something which has served him well in all the years since.  he has no problem admitting he lives alone, that it's just him...says it has given him the flexibility to be available anytime he's been needed at work...."most of the other guys are married so they don't have that."  he doesn't really see much of his children...for reasons we didn't get into.  his life of late is apartment close to work...he travels to visit friends and sometimes to see the lights and shows in vegas...he wakes naturally at 3:30 a.m. and spends time drinking coffee, watching the news and caring for a little stray cat who seems to have found a home with him.  often while he was talking he got a faraway look in his eyes...almost like he found himself back within whatever story he was telling us.  on occasion he became wistful...his eyes looking away as he paused to find the right words.  and, once or twice, he grinned...the same eyes shining a little brighter as he recalled something funny....mostly about how he feels he's cheated death enough, that he's like a cat who has likely used up his nine lives and he better not push his luck because "luck does run out."  he hopes that he has seen the worst of his life already, that it is smooth sailing ahead of him.  i pray he is right.  gentle and kind, helpful beyond measure and gracious on top of it all...he is quick with a thank you and expects little from anyone, showing clear surprise when something thoughtful is done for him.  his is a story full of life...he has met and protected every president from ford through clinton, had many a movie star do ride-alongs in his police car...he's faced death on more than one occasion and fought hard for his place in the world...he has loved and lost and given much to many...and while he is closing one chapter he is looking forward to another where he can do as he pleases.  i asked him if there was anything he still wants to do, anywhere he still wants to go...he easily said "no, not really.  maybe i would like to see russia, but i've been everywhere else." 

i took much from this conversation and am thankful for the short amount of time i've gotten to know him.  i truly hope there is nothing ahead of him but good.  he's no saint, but what of that?  he has lived...for 62 years he has lived with everything he has...given more than was asked in many situations and likely dealing with his own demons over the instances where he hasn't.  i walked away from lunch looking at my small and insignificant it is...wondering just what i've done with my 35, soon to be 36, years...and coming up with little in the way of answers.  i feel my heart being pulled lately...i'm not sure how else to describe it.  as always there are things i want for my life, but mostly for it to mean matter to someone....i'm always afraid i'm missing something, that if i don't hurry i will miss out on something and my one chance (at whatever) will be over.  i have no idea what makes me think this way, but i do.  it's like time is mocking me and out of inability to focus on what really matters i sit still and do nothing or waste time worrying about stuff or people who don't.  so...once is short.  live it.  tell people what they mean to you, even if you risk not hearing the same in return.  give...give more than you think you can, more than you have and ask for nothing in return.  open yourself up even when it hurts, even when it's scary.  surround yourself with people who make you happy, who help you be the best you can be., honestly and without reservation or hesitation.