Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Words from the heart of Marianne Jones

Friends, you are in for a beautiful treat. One of my dearest friends is a dragon slayer and full of grace and beauty. She wrote this wrenchingly touching piece that captured my heart. I asked if I could share it with all of you and she generously agreed. My hope is to feature more of her writing here in the coming weeks. The world needs this voice. Let me introduce you to the incomparable Marianne Jones. She is as gifted as she is tender and dear. She has my whole heart and you're going to love her too. Enjoy~

Honesty check: This week I’ve been wrestling. Wrestling with this word “favored” as in when the angel said to Mary “Greetings, one who is highly favored. Mary, Did You Know? Is a fan favorite this time of year. Love it – esp by anyone singing acapella - But Mary, DID you know? How COULD you know?” What were you expecting when the angel said your son would “be great and will be called the son of the Most High…..and his reign will never end. (Luke !:32-33)” Whoa! That sounds like favor. As in I was picked. As in I’m privileged to do something and see something and be a part of something very very very special. I can get behind that kind of favor. Her response was “be it to me as you have said” Not sure mine would have been – but I surely understand she was a very special girl. I’m in her corner. Go Mary. I get “favored” in that context. But this week I’m struggling to juxtapose “favored” with the hard things we’re asked to go through. (Not that we’re really asked) Mary….DID you know? How could you know that your privilege of raising the Son of God would come at such a heart wrenching cost? If you did, would you have said the same thing? (probably so – or you may not have made God’s short list) I know there were joys, but did you know you would have to watch your baby boy turn into a man who was rejected and spit upon and listen as pound by pound they hammered nails into his near naked skeleton? How did you manage the sorrow? Where is the favor in that context? That’s just really really hard. And so I wrestle.

And it’s about Mary, but not really. It’s about me and where I find myself these days. There is a part of my heart that feels extreme privilege somewhere within this cancer diagnosis. Really and truly. It has allowed me a light-hearted perspective about much in this life and a satisfying sobriety and confident assurance about the perfection of the next. Things that I used to think glitter have shown their illusive properties. I value and strive toward substantive things like never before. My life is rich. People around me love deeply. It feels so good to be cared for. There is a part of my heart that feels chosen to walk a road of privilege with God – going to places in my soul where He meets me in the most ridiculously satisfying ways. Favor. In that regard, weird as it sounds, I feel highly favored – as if I’ve been given a trust. But the day in and day out can be really really really hard. And not favor-ful at all. I wrestle like the Psalmist who says “how long O Lord?”

My body is weary. My body hurts. I find myself resentful of God’s interruption….especially during the holidays. Sometimes I see a soul my story touches or encourages and that feels good…but often my days pass by and there are no great lessons learned…no tidy ribbons to tie around blessings gained….just mundane naps and meds and needles and nausea and fears about the future. Just being honest. At least that is what it looks like from here. So I wrestle. And in the quiet of my heart I hear God whisper his name. He is God. He has a plan in motion to point the world to the love He has for them and expensively displayed on the cross. I know very little of the workings out of the plan except one day He asked (well not really asked) Mary to be a part of it. He called her favored though much of what she went through was far from my “I won the lottery” definition of favor. And somehow He is asking me to be a part of it my little corner of the my little way…and I struggle with frustration…because I don’t want to have this c-word. But He is God and this is ultimately His story and so the deeper part of me (though lately reluctantly) cries out “be unto me as you have said.”

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Joy is Always Possible

I posted this on Facebook last week but wanted to leave it here as well.  

Emerson’s school choir performed a selection of songs from their Christmas program at a retirement facility yesterday afternoon. When we walked inside the director asked us if the choir was performing in the Memory Care community or in the Assisted Living. I was unsure and was silently praying that we were not headed to Memory Care. I didn't think my heart could take being in a place like the one my mom lived. A place, though beautifully appointed, is where one’s memories are... entrusted to people who never knew them. And while I was lost in thought I heard her tell us that indeed we were headed to Memory Care and to please come with her. I straightened up and followed obediently with Emerson and the other eager children. And then I got the most surprising and delightful gift I never knew I wanted.
With a wide grin and outstretched hands she came toward me as though we were dear friends. Her black sweater was on inside out and runaway white hairs fanned across her shoulders and sleeves. Her hair, though slicked back in a wide headband, was neither washed or styled. Yet she exuded an undeniable beauty. She clasped my hands in hers and said excitedly, “The children, they’re all so precious. Every single one!” I agreed that indeed they are. I kept my eye on her throughout the program and saw that she beamed with jubilation and kept her hands clasped before her as though she could not contain her delight. After it was over I went up to her and she grabbed my hand again and said, “Every one of them –a gift.” I told her that she was a light and was so full of joy. She looked directly at me and said, “Well, of course.” This woman may have no idea who she once was or what her life was once about, but today she knows this: she is a person of joy. To her it appeared to be the obvious and only choice.
 And just like that, I received my first Christmas gift of the season, one that I feel sure my mom was a part of. This beautiful soul with Christmas in her heart lit the kindling within me and set ablaze my gratitude for this moment, this season, this life in which joy is always possible when I choose to embrace it.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Proud Mary

I wrote this post two years ago about Ainsley's role in her preschool Christmas pageant. It remains one of my favorite narratives about trusting the playwright and walking bravely in the role we've been assigned.

Our Ainsley was selected to play the part of Mary in her little school's Christmas pageant this season. I wish I could say that as they searched the class over they could find none more blessed among women than her. Instead, I'm pretty sure she was cast for the role because the costume fit her the best. In any case, a proud Mary she was.

In truth she didn't really feel especially blessed to have been given this role. On the way out of school the day she'd been given the big casting news (albeit not as big as the first Mary's announcement) she was decidedly unenthused. With a sigh she said, "Well, I'd rather be the donkey because he gets to sit down during the pageant." Of course. Why pick the blessing of all generations when you can be a jackass? Is there really a contest? Mock though I do, I've felt the same way more times than I care to recall.

There have been times when the role I've been assigned in the story of my life was one I wouldn't have chosen first. And I'm sure that's because I knew it would require me to stand. To truly stand firm on the foundation of my faith in a sovereign God even when the road ahead looked terribly treacherous and scary. Botched plans and real heartache looked imminent and had I been given the choice, I would have much rather taken the role where I got to sit down. To sit it out. To leave hope on the floor and not risk the pain or embarrassment if things didn't go according to the plan or role I'd dreamed up for myself. But somewhere along the way I realized that it's not up to me to stand upright all the while---that there's Someone who will steady my shoulders and get me up and over the steepest hills and through deepest caverns and I'll be the better for it.

And when the scene changes, God raises my hand above my head for me, still gloved and wet from the fight, declaring me victorious. Fight well fought! Struggle overcome. And we both know that I fell more than once. That had I not leaned on Him I'd have sunk to a place I couldn't have escaped without His help. But together we got through. Moved ahead. Overcame. That's the good stuff. The stuff worth standing up for (no matter how tiring) and taking the role chin up. If I'm sitting the whole time (with the other donkeys), besides being decidedly smelly, there's just nothing happening down there. Nothing to be learned or gained. Nothing to make me better.

I'm not sure that Ainsley got such a life changing lesson out of her part in the play, but she did come out the wiser for it. Just last night she pulled out these little finger puppets and proceeded to enact this simple play:

Mary:(As the angel hops up next to her) Ahhh! Shrieks in horror.
Angel: Don't be afraid. I bring you special news!
Mary: What?
Angel: You will have a baby and will name him Jesus.
Mary: Can I name him Bob?
Angel: No, Jesus.
Mary: Bob! (in a shout)
Angel: Jesus! (also a shout)
Mary: Bob!
Enter the alligator puppet,
Mary: Ahhh! Shrieks in horror.
Angel: Mary, I told you not to be afraid.
Mary: I know, I know but don't you see there's an alligator right there?!

I realize that most modern translations of the Bible don't carry the account of the foreboding alligator entering the scene in Nazareth. Or of Mary and Gabriel arguing that the coming Messiah's name should be Bob, but it's a version I can appreciate all the same.

I really love this story. Mary believed. Sure, there was that moment that she did begin to freak out when an angel appeared to her teen-aged virgin self and told her she'd give birth to God, as one might expect, but she still trusted him very quickly. She bravely said she would do as the Lord desired no matter the great personal cost she would pay.

Then the alligators came. She found herself riding a donkey while nine months pregnant for weeks on end only to wind up in a stinky barn to give birth with nary a doula or epidural in sight. For the love. But it got worse. People wanted to hurt her son. To kill him, even. And she might have felt compelled to remind God that trust is a wee more challenging when a horrendous death was prepared for her beloved child. Of course I trust you but don't you see the alligator that's right there?!

How many times am I just like this? I say that I trust God. I mean that I trust God. Yet when the big alligator challenges come on the scene, I feel it's urgent that I check to see if God's aware that new characters have emerged and they look pretty awful. That things do look ominous and is He aware of that tail slapping the water like crazy and has He seen those fang teeth?

The thing is, of course, He already knows the alligator is there. And where He sits on heaven's throne the alligator is 1/100th the size of a grain of sand. (Probably smaller but math's never been my strong suit.) And He knows when it's going to leave me alone and how much stronger I'm going to be for having braved my time in the cold water with the predator swimming all around me. How much less afraid I'll be of smaller prey and schemes the next time around. How I'll be reminded of His protection, His care, His ability to swat my fears away like so much rippling water. How that alligator couldn't have even yawned its mouth open unless God allowed it. He's the dearest and most compassionate playwright and the role He has for each of us is so good. Maybe not always easy but always good.

Oh, how He loves us and cares for our every need without any reminders from us.

Ainsley, blessed among women then and now.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Well, What did you Expect?

Before we roll full-speed into December, I have to take a moment to give thanks for our sweet season of Thanksgiving. Oh, November, you were such a favorite. I love this time of year and the nearly universal focus on gratitude. Thanks to beautifully fashioned quotes on Pinterest, and gratitude journals, being thankful is trendy now, and that's a great thing! I wrote about Why I Don't Tell Facebook What I'm Thankful For, but I am all about being thankful for this life and this season.

At the same time, holidays are multi-layered for me, as I'm sure they are for many others. I have Hallmark movie inspired visions and expectations of how they will play out. A toasty brown turkey cooking in the oven while home baked pies cool on the counter. A beautifully decorated home full of people I love serenaded by a fantastic soundtrack. But the reality of the holidays often looks much different from the dream in my mind's eye, and you know what? Sometimes the real thing is way better.

A week before Thanksgiving, as I was tucking Ainsley into bed, she asked me when her cousins were arriving. What she didn't yet know was that there was no plan for them to come this year, they drove all the way from Orlando last year and this year they were headed to my dad's in Illinois. When I told her they weren't coming, her eyes brimmed with wet tears and she said, "I've had six Thanksgivings and my cousins have been with me for three of them." Pensive and darling child that she is, she went on to ask, "How can we have a giant feast and celebration when there are only four of us?" It made no sense in her little seven year old mind, and I admit to pondering the same thing more than once. I too couldn't imagine how a big festive holiday celebration could happen if there wasn't a big gathering of people to go with it. Such are the musings of a girl with loved ones and family scattered in multiple states across the country.

Emerson surely would also have preferred a house bustling with people too, but true to her character, she brought her best self for our holiday foursome. She decorated and planned as though we were set to host the masses. She and Ainsley wrote a script for a Thanksgiving play, a tradition they have enjoyed with their cousins since Ainsley was a babe. But this time, with just the two of them, Em gladly took on the challenge to write a story featuring just two characters: a pilgrim and a turkey. And indeed it was a darling tale of a bird who couldn't understand why she was being hunted by her pilgrim friend. At long last, the pilgrim decided to spare the turkey and invite her to join the other pilgrims for a Thanksgiving feast.
 And somehow the holiday stars aligned and all of the dishes I prepared come out in harmonious synchronicity. Sure, the rolls got a little over-browned burned to a crisp on the bottom (which I promptly sliced off), and the cranberry sauce boiled over into charred and smoking ruby crystals (but the rest was so yum), the truth is, even still, everything turned out beautifully. And not just the feast, but those who gathered around our table.

We sat where we sit each night for dinner with the same four people that make up our family, and yet it felt, different. It felt festive, special, celebratory. Ainsley had set the table so that everyone had a turkey place mat and place card.
Emerson had collected Thanksgiving trivia questions and quizzed us as we ate our feast, which was giant indeed! Ainsley passed a box of Thanksgiving gratitude prompts that made my heart melt into a puddle. They had done it. They had brought as much cheer and celebration into our home as a bustling crowd ever could have. Maybe more.

As we sat around the table my heart was overfilled with thanks. Goodness, these people light up my whole world and have brought such beauty to me. I sat there bowled-over with peace in my heart. Peace in seeing that we are a unit, a force, a team. Everyone of us brings something different to the group and together we are better, stronger, fuller. Our little tribe still loves the opportunities to host gatherings and join them as well, but I have learned that there is something beautifully sacred about celebrating with just the tight knit bundle that we are.

So for me the best part of the holiday was the lesson I learned about expectations. My friend Johnny used to define stress as unmet expectations. I have found this to be so very true. We're stressed because we didn't expect their to be so much traffic and now we're going to be late. We're stressed because we thought the package we ordered would have been delivered today and now we're left without the item we needed. Or, we're stressed and sad because we expected to celebrate holidays with a house full of extended family and friends, but here we are, just our little group. Well, it's time for me to put those expectations in check. Some of the most fun I've had is in taking winding detours because of unexpected traffic. Opportunities for me to receive grace from others has abounded when things I had planned for and expected didn't pan out. And maybe my favorite prize of from the gift of unmet expectations has come on holidays. 

The notions of how things are "supposed to be" don't leave much room for the magic that comes with the surprise of finding my children spinning beauty out of thin air. All of those dreams of the "big fun" I'll have with lots of other people don't leave room for the sacred essence that is this nestling in close with this family that I dreamed and prayed about for years before they came to me.

Sometimes things really do go better than we could have hoped, once we bravely lay down the ideas of how we think things should go. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

On Birthdays and Celebrating

I was tucking the girls into bed the other night when Ainsley said she was almost too excited to sleep. She asked if I thought I would be able to get any sleep at all. Because, you see, the next day was my birthday. Remember birthdays as a kid? We'd mark off the days on the calendar and countdown for months before the big day. Party plans and wish lists were in place well before the expected month rolled onto the calendar let alone the week. Wishes were made well before the candles were lit and when the day finally came, it was time to celebrate BIG! But as we get older, our birthdays are not quite as eagerly anticipated anymore. When they arrive the alarm still rattles off so very early in the morning and the to-do list doesn't take a holiday. Oh, and gravity doesn't  stop either. We begin to feel a little childish to clap our hands and say to anyone listening, "It's my birthday," with our greying hair and crease lined foreheads. But it is a day to be celebrated irrespective of age, or maybe because of it.

You guys. I turned 48. That means in two years I will be 50 years old. My AARP card will come in the mail and I'll be eligible for senior discounts for dinner before 5:00p.m. That used to mean you were so old--- a half a century, {for the love of Willard Scott}. But now I know better. Being old has nothing to do with the number of years you've walked the green earth. Age is in the heart. I know people 20 years younger than I am who are old in their spirit. I also know people 20 years older than I am who have an enviable skip in their step that I long to emulate. 

It's a funny thing this aging. We're told to fight it, resist it, and lie about it. Youth serums and age-defying potions fly off of the shelves (and a few into my medicine cabinet), but maybe aging well is more about embracing our age rather than battling it. Since I don't know how many birthdays I'll get to have, I intend to celebrate each one well and good. I keep getting an unwelcome refresher course in the brevity of life lesson, and I got the message: It's so quick, this life. I don't plan to spend any of it begrudging how many years I have had the good fortune to be around for it.

My girls surely captured the idea of celebrating and could hardly contain their excitement and anticipation for my day. They had been crossing off the days on their calendar even if I was not.  Ainsley wanted to know what theme I wanted for my party because every party has a theme, right? Love seemed the obvious choice since that is what I celebrate. They ran with it and covered the made-from-scratch cookie cake with hearts and sentiments of love without end. It was a hilly terrain of smudgy brown, white, pink, and red frosting hills, and it was perfection. I was told that the four figures inside the goopy heart were meant to represent our little family. Divine. Oh, to be loved, to be celebrated.

We sat around the dinner table where their dad and I drank wine and ate salad and deep dish pizza (God bless hot carbs!) and my heart took flight. I thought I might burst with love and gratitude for the people around that table. On so many birthdays before, I wished for this very thing--a family of my own. And there around the table sat my wishes come true. My whole world. My whole heart. The theme of love was prevalent both in the mountainous frosting and in my heart. Gracious, I am so fortunate.

So here's to love and aging well.

Another upside to getting older is that you care a lot less about how you look taking a selfie in your car.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Why I Don't tell Facebook What I'm Thankful For

I'm over at  The Glorious Table  today. Stop over and see why you won't find any 30 Days of Gratitude Posts from me on Facebook.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Lessons Learned from the Gleeful Greeter

So Ainsley applied for a job at school. Apparently it's not enough to be in class for seven hours: her day must also include a vocation in the first grade. 

Catty comments aside, I do like the idea of everyone having their own job in school. I like that it offers each student something in which to take pride aside from their schoolwork. 

Each child was asked to select from a list of potential roles and rank them in order of preference. There must have five or so choices on the list, but there really was only one that appealed to Ainsley: Able Ambassador. The ambassador accompanies new students and their parents on tours of the school and assists new students once they are enrolled. On her application, Ainsley added that what set her apart from other candidates was that she knew where everything was in the building and was friendly. Seemed true enough.

"Need the restroom?" Right this way.

"A trip to the nurses station?" Gotcha covered!

"Looking for the gym?" Follow me.

 Any leadership role within a small group is Ainsley's song. Her second, and admittedly reluctant choice, was that of Gleeful Greeter. The greeters stand at one of the school's entrances or just inside the building by the staircase. Their job is to greet students as they come in each morning and wish them a good day. Not as exciting as the Ambassador's role, but valuable all the same. Ainsley wasn't terribly excited when she learned all of the ambassadors slots were filled and a Gleeful Greeter she would be.

She attended a brief training in which the teacher told the team that their task was simple, "To cheerfully greet students and wish them well." She went on to tell them that their welcome was to remain unchanged irrespective of anyone's reactions (or lack thereof) to their friendly salutations. 

If no one said good morning in return, they were to carry on. If someone dissed their attempt to offer a high five or hand-shake, keep it up. In other words, they were to continue to greet everyone cheerfully even if not a single soul said Good Morning in return or extended any kindness to them.

 After this training, Ainsley was up for the challenge and excited to give it a go.What a life lesson this turned out to be.

She came home after her first day and said she kindly greeted more than 150 kids that morning. Some happily returned a kind greeting, while others ignored her altogether. But she was unmoved. She talked about how fun it was to cheerfully welcome so many of her classmates into the their day. Such a sweet and tangible example of how good it feels to brighten someone's day whether or not it's reciprocated.

I love the lesson for us all: You are lovely and kind. Be that. Keep being that no matter how anyone responds. 

Isn't that it? If we let someone's dismissal (being ignored) or someone's attitude (dismissing us) cause us to turn our light off, to leave the kindness behind, everyone misses out. People in our circle miss the encouragement and warmth of a friendly greeting, but the bigger loss is that we miss out on the joy that comes from extending the best of ourselves to others.

On the days in which I have intentionally sought to share kindness, the results were unmistakable.  I saw people's shoulders relax, their face soften. It's as if those kind words were exactly what they needed in that moment. All I did was note something lovely that I saw in them and speak of it. Have I changed lives? Maybe not, but I have changed moments.  Encounters that could have been routine became moments of encouragement and light for someone.

The world needs more Gleeful Greeters, turns out, and I'm all in. 

Monday, November 2, 2015

Happy Hearted Homecoming

So we were in Illinois last weekend. It was such a treat for me to bring my little family back to the home of my youth. My dad still lives in the house they bought the very month that I was born. My walk through the front door brought a flood of nostalgia as I entered the place where so much love and laughter was poured over me.

Since we landed in Chicago in the late evening and drove down from there, we didn't arrive until midnight. But my dad was up and waiting just as he and my mom used to be when I walked in at about that time so many times before. But this time I hadn't just come from Gully's or Doyle's and smelled only of soap and Goldfish crackers rather than stale beer and nachos. This time I didn't come in alone. In front of me walked my dear husband hand-in-hand with a sleep-walking girl of only ten. In my arms I carried a sleeping little darling only seven years of age.  My people in my home, oh the fullness of my heart. Yet my mom wasn't there to greet me as she had been every other time, but I sensed her nearness all the same. 

The girls slept in the room that had been mine where this plaque remains firmly attached to the door. I still remember how thrilled I was to find it since rare are the miniature license plates, key chains, or just about anything with my name on them.

After a sweet sleep we visited a reindeer ranch, apple orchard, and the girls raked just about every fallen leaf they could find in the spacious front yard. Another reason to miss autumn for the built in playground it provides.
On Saturday we all went to the Homecoming game at my alma mater the University of Illinois. I cannot explain my sheer delight in finding October there. The crunching leaves beneath my feet, the gorgeous spray of color in the trees, the crispness in the air. Home. 
Showing my girls a bit of the glory that is college pre-game tailgating made my heart soar. At one point as we walked through the sea of happy co-eds, Emerson turned to me and said, "This is where you went to college?" and I was so proud to tell her yes. 
We had so much fun with my dad at the game in sweatshirts and closed toed shoes. Emie's even wearing a knit hat! Oh, autumn, I've missed you! 

The most fun of the weekend was reconnecting with family and sharing my girls with some of my mom's dearest friends. These women knew me when I was the age my girls are now. They see me in them and say the things my mom would say if she were here. How much Ainsley looks just like me and how Emerson's demeanor is so like mine. They speak of what dear girls they are and how polite and well behaved. My mom's essence is ever near in the presence of her friends and what a gift they are to me. I regret not getting a picture with each of them but their faces are forever etched in my heart. 

So though my mom wasn't there to greet us when we arrived, she most assuredly was there. Her essence, her love, her encouragement was everywhere I turned.

This chalkboard has hung by the home's backdoor for as long as I can remember. I know we kids tried to erase it more than once but I'm so glad we never succeeded. This encouraging decree in my mom's consistent cursive remains to this very day. I love it now more than ever. I can hear her urging me on to savor the moments and know she would want all of our days to be great. I know she's front and center in the great cloud of witnesses in heaven cheering  us on. I don't know how many days I will have or what they will hold, but I can promise to appreciate what is great about today and will savor the present moment. Thanks, mom for that and so many other things.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Who You Are When No One's Looking: The Epilogue

Happy day here since Ainsley was awarded the school's Character Award for her grade. Awards and recognition aren't what make me crazy about this girl, but I'm so happy that she was honored. She wanted this bad last year which made today all the sweeter. 

Here's the post from June that tells the sweet story of the power in celebrating the success in others.

Who You Are When No One is Looking 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Genevieve Georget: Isn't She Lovely?

You all know how finding wonderfully crafted sentences can make my entire day and how reading beautifully chosen cadence weaves this lovely tapestry before me. It's something I want to wrap around my shoulders while I sip my tea. Well that happened last week with my new friend Genevieve Georget. Okay, we're not exactly friends nor have we ever met or had any kind of correspondence, but she feels like a friend to me. I immediately wanted to share her with all of you.

The post that introduced me to her was one she had originally published a few years ago, but recently shared again on Facebook. I had never heard of her before, but found her words in my newsfeed and I liked her immediately. So did a whole bunch of other in tens of millions of people! Maybe I don't really need to make an introduction after all since you've likely already heard of her and feel like you have already been introduced. I read that she, a successful wedding photographer in Ottawa, just wanted to dip her toe into writing again and then, much to her great surprise, the words she shared took rocket speed flight.  Her post kind of broke Facebook for a few days. The Zuckerberg people actually contacted her and asked if she was a celebrity pretending to be someone else. The explosive growth of her page made no sense to them because regular people don't typically garner that kind of attention in one week. Though she's not a celebrity, there's nothing regular at all about this gem of a girl or her gorgeous gift with words.

Her post was an essay about a visit to Starbucks that was everything routine and yet so much more. She wrote of how her dear barista called her life golden when she heard she and her husband were on their way to Italy for a getaway. And it wasn't spoken with any malicious intent or sarcastic banter, the girl really thought Genevieve's life deserved a gold star. She wrote of how she greeted this girl for her daily coffee in great clothes on her way to an exciting and fulfilling job, and how on that particular day on her way to a European vacation, her life did seem pretty sparkly.
"This is what she saw. Therefore, this is what she knew."

"And truth be told, there is darkness in this kind of knowledge. Especially now, when so many of our connections happen only five minutes at a time…fully filtered and perfectly hash tagged. In our defense though, it’s not entirely our fault. That battle we’re fighting…those rough days were having…they don’t tend to translate very well when you have twenty people in line behind you for coffee or a hundred and forty characters to spell out your day."

We don't show most people our battle scars and wounds, certainly not when we are still raw and healing. It's become a bit trendy to share vulnerabilities or struggles with the world, but only once they are tidied up and mended. Though still valuable, this type of sharing can feel more akin to a successful spot removal tutorial rather than a compelling narrative with the spill still in full view.. Rare is the public post that highlights the unedited version of us where we're still blotting things up. Yet there's something so lovely about this type of unveiling where we let others in as we're still tidying up. 

But Genevieve let us see her. She gathered her list of real time loss, fears, and insecurities and typed it all out for everyone to see. She went on to share the wisdom she's gathered through reflection on the less glistening parts of herself. How she's learning that these are actually the golden parts, the shiniest parts after all. And how even when she doesn't have it all figured out, she's grateful for the entire picture of her life, not just the polished parts.

"I do know one thing for sure; that even with all of my frailty…all of my fears…and all my faults…none of those things make my life any less golden.

Scars tell stories. Scars mean survival. Scars mean you showed up for the fight instead of running from it.

And we’ve all got them…even the sweet girl serving my coffee. She’s fighting her own battle…defending her own frontline…struggling in her own way. And maybe it’s not about collecting gold stars for the perceived reality we give the world on Facebook…but it’s about the purple hearts we get for living bravely among the real one.

Because life requires guts…it requires bravery…and it requires vulnerability."

So I don't really know Genevieve Georget, but I sure find her lovely. I like her so much already and would love to sit across from her with a steaming cup and open heart.  Her words feel like a soft blanket on a chilly day. Her voice makes me feel like she's pulled up a chair next to me and whispered, "Me too." I love that her unfiltered words were the ones the world carried into viral stratospheres. The internet is full of crazy, and sometimes it's impossible to understand why certain phenomenons and tidbits are so crowd-pleasing. But this one I understand and it encourages me greatly. This lovely girl was simply herself in bold braveness and half of the sky took notice and said, "Yes, more please!" 

I love how it baffled Facebook and they just couldn't imagine why millions of people were sharing her post if she was just one of us. But that's precisely why her words took flight. When she told us about her battles and wounds and we got to see that she is still standing, it inspired the bravery in all of us to stay in the ring and fight the good fight. So I'll keep leaning in to listen to the words she shares and will keep writing and sharing. I'll share with even more bravery from my own little perch because of the shiny trail she's blazed before me. 

Carry on, lovely. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Be my Guest

I'm honored to be guest posting today on a friend and fellow For the Love Launch Team Member's blog, Unveiled and Revealed. 

Come on over by clicking the link above. I wrote this post two years ago but it easily could have been two days ago. Goodness the times goes quickly, but I was there for each minute. I was definitely there.

Little Things the Heart Finds

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Birthdays in the great Beyond

Happy Birthday, mom!

Today you would be 77. I think you would have liked that number, liked the way it sounded though it would have surprised you that you were actually "that old". But instead of celebrating here with us, you are in heaven. It's only your second birthday there so that must make you feel a little bit younger. The whole "renewed body" trade-in, must add tremendously to one's youthful glow. You also have a few new friends there to celebrate with this year. Judy's there now which is still so impossible to believe. I'll bet you were so surprised to see her arrive in mid-June, as we were to see her leave the party here. But I'm equally sure you have had a big time catching up and showing her around the place. We're fine here. We really are. We miss you terribly and sometimes, even still, I think to call you to see how you are. Fortunately I stop myself before dialing the phone since I already know how you are. New, restored, healed, whole.

I'm really glad I don't complete those calls since the ringing phone would only send dad racing for it before it had a chance to ring the second time. Remember how he used to do that? How you would tease him that it was not a footrace to put the receiver to his ear before it had a chance to ring more than once. He still loves the phone more than anyone else I know, and that's a good thing. Just means he's well connected to lots of loving people and dear friends. He's doing fine. He really is. You'd be so proud of him. We sure are.

The girls and I talk about you a lot. I'm making sure they know you, mom. I promised myself I would, and I am. I'll turn anything into an opportunity for them to learn a little more about you. "You know who loved chocolate cake?" "Granny did," I tell them. Or we'll be making a plan for a vacation and I'll tell them about how you loved to travel and used to count down the days and carefully laid out things to pack a week before you left. They're getting to know you, even still. Sometimes they'll bring up facts about you before I have the chance to. Emerson will say, "Granny loved to sing," and I'll let her know how right she is. She loves to sing, too. Maybe the gift of a beautiful voice really does skip a generation and she's the recipient of your talent once removed. She loves to travel too, that girl. She definitely has the wanderlust you and I shared. Remember when she was brand new and you came to visit us in Minnesota? It was your birthday. It was your 67th birthday ten years ago today.

We went out to lunch to celebrate and I reluctantly left that two and a half month old baby with my friend Jean so we could go to Enjoy for lunch. I remember not being entirely engaged sitting across the table from you. I was anxious without Emerson right on my lap as she had been for the sixty plus consecutive days before. I remember how the waitress asked if we wanted dessert and in my mind I was hoping you would say no.  I wanted to go home, to get back to her. But you said yes and we sat there longer than I wanted to. I wish I would have savored our time. I wish I would have been fully present and realized baby girl was more than fine at home with Jean---that you would not be fine for much longer. That soon you wouldn't know how to order dessert, or walk alone, or know just exactly who I was. I'm sorry about that. About all of it. Sorry that I was distracted that day, sorry that you got sick. I really am. I have learned so much since then though. Truly. I now sit and savor every moment.

I'm learning that there's nothing more important than being fully present right where I am. I get the brevity of this life. I kind of wish I didn't, but I do, and I am grateful for that.

I wish you such a Happy Birthday. A day of celebration and time to linger at the table with loved ones surrounding you who are fully engaged in the celebration. Loved ones who have no concerns about what's going on away from that table. Order dessert, two even! Enjoy it all, savor it all, I'll sit with you as long as you like when I get there.

Friday, October 9, 2015

"In Every Gardener there is a Child who Believes." Robert Brault

Ainsley has wanted a garden for a long time. I have been reluctant to oblige her because, Texas. We live on the surface of the sun. I wasn't entirely sure that anything left outside under the dirt could actually survive here. Also? I wasn't a good gardener in the Midwest even with its rich dark soil and plentiful rains,  nothing I planted there grew terribly well there either.  But, Dirk, at long last gave in to baby girl's pleas and prepped a spot in our front flower bed for her to plant her seeds.

She's been collecting seeds for months. I mean lots of seeds. She carefully scraped seeds off of strawberries and out of cucumbers, apples, and watermelon. She kept them in a basket in the windowsill where I assumed they were shriveling up into useless crumbs. But when it was time to sow them she carried them out to the garden like so many nuggets of gold and planted them carefully into the soil. She has since tended to them with daily watering and loving care and has every confidence that she'll grow blossoming apple trees and patches of hearty melons. The plot is  18x24" mind you, but the girl has faith that this is just a beginning, and she can transplant them when they begin to grow.

Her faith is so beautiful and inspiring to me. She believes without a doubt that she will reap a beautiful harvest for all that she has sown. May it ever be.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015


Timehop Tuesday
This post was originally published in June of 2013

The other day little Ainsley's face was awash with fresh tears and she was calling out to me. When I asked what the matter was, she could barely speak the words through heavy sniffles and sighs. But when she finally caught her breath this is what she said: "When I'm in second grade I'm going to have to learn about silent "E"s". We should take note that she will be in the second grade in no fewer than three years.

Listen. I know silent "E"s don't scare everyone. I know silent "E"s may be some people's favorite. But for this little moment in time, my baby is afraid of their looming nearness. In just 1,095 days she'll be chased down by the likes of well, like, side, and drone. It is freaking her out. We don't always understand why people are afraid. We certainly don't always understand why they are afraid of what they are afraid of. But all of us, somewhere deep in our inner parts, know what it is to be scared. And we can extend the hand of grace and meet people where they are in their battle with fear.

It might be tempting for another mom to hold her tongue and resist saying, "Are you serious right now? You are a sobbing hot mess over a silent E. A silent E you will probably not have to even talk about for a thousand more sleeps!!?" But that's not me. I blow it in other ways, I'm reasonably sure. But empathy for a fearful heart is where I Rock the Casbah. I've.been.there. And I just never want to judge a frightened heart. I also don't want to give fear titanic power over anyone, least of all one of my children. Because there's something else we all have in common in our fear, our battle, our struggle. We just want one moment of validation. We want someone to say that they understand that life is scary sometimes and remind us that we know the dragon slayer--the fear conqueror. That never, not for one instant, are we alone in our fear. It doesn't always mean the fear disappears instantly but it does mean we are not alone in it, and that my friends, is very good news.

Now, some two and a half years later, silent "E"s are a regular and welcome part of Ainsley's life. I don't remember any notable trauma when they were introduced into her world and she appears none the worse for wear. Yet another example that our "what if" projections on to the future are almost always more terrifying than the real thing. 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Tower of Texas

We had the most fun yesterday. We piled the girls into the car and drove to check out a newly refurbished park in Downtown San Antonio. The  HemisFair park has been around since the 1960s when it was built as an attraction at the World's Fair. Though I'm sure it was state of the art for 1968, it was desperately in need a makeover. The designers did a phenomenal job bringing it up to date with creative and beautiful touches this year.

There are fantastic structures for kids of all ages.

 And super fun swings in which you lie down.

And spinny seats to rotate kids into vertigo-esque oblivion. 

Once both girls were good and dizzy, we made our way to San Antonio's tallest structure which is right next to the park. Why not take the wobbly kneed young ones into the tallest building in the city when their center of gravity is at large? We're clever parents, obviously.

The tower,  which was built as the theme structure for the 1968 World's Fair remains the tallest building in the city. In true Texas form, it's called the Tower of the Americas because it's in Texas. I mean, 'merica, baby! The state pride of native Texans continues to both amuse and baffle me. But mostly it's amusing and inspiring to find so many people downright smitten with their homeland.

In truth, we learned that there was a contest held to name the structure in which it was suggested that submitted names be original and continue to live on as a tribute to the community of nations in the Western Hemisphere. But I prefer my version that a bunch of natives named it for "The Americas" because it is here on their beloved homeland which they believe should be its own nation anyway. Whatever the story behind its namesake, this impressive spire is 750 feet tall, has a wonderful observation deck, and offered a beautiful view of downtown and beyond. Best part? It's breezy up there. As in cool winds on a warm October afternoon in Texas blow wild and free up in the sky. Experiencing that bit of goodness was worth the price of admission and then some.

I love this picture of the girls showing how relaxed they were high above the earth while Dirk kept a death grip on them just in case. Sure, it was fully enclosed with steel encasements, but there's something that made him want to hold them with his own hand all the same. They might have still been dizzy, after all.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

On Wednesday and a Parenting Milestone

It's something she's been asking to have for years. But I just didn't know if she was ready, if I was ready. I mean there are probably debates on every side of the issue as to what age is appropriate for such a thing but, at the end of the day,  it's something one has to decide for themselves. So, before school started this year, I gave in to her request. She seemed so happy with the decision that I couldn't help but celebrate with her even though I was unsure if either of us was ready for such a vow. 

I'm sure by now you've figured out what I'm talking about: 

Days of the Week Panties. 

As I suspected, now that they are a part of our lives, my fears are confirmed that I am absolutely not ready for this kind of commitment and preparation day after day. Though I aim to keep them washed and organized in some semblance of calendar order, still, I have to go all Christopher Columbus each night in her dresser in search of the next day's prescribed pair. And when I find them washed and ready, it's glorious. I mean I really do feel a sense of relief and celebration inside. I have braved a new world and made a timely discovery, which maybe is worth the price of the seven pack after all. 

So, without further ado, I welcome you into this world of goodness and present Wednesday to you on, yep, Wednesday. 

Cue the angel's song.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Sleepovers and Bedtime Stories

Ainsley went on her first sleepover on Friday night. I felt so grateful that such a dear family whom I trust and like so much were the ones to invite her. I had no hesitation in sending her to their home other than the swarm of butterflies in my stomach at seeing her off without me. She insisted on packing her own overnight things into a messenger bag designed to hold a few pocket folders and maybe a slender notebook. But baby girl managed to pack a stuffed animal, PJs, a change of clothes, toothbrush/paste and a full sized pillow into that thing. I'm reasonably sure the contents exploded into the house like a coiled up toy snake from a tin can when she went to unpack. 

The mom was dear enough to tell me she would call if Ainsley experienced any homesickness or cold feet and she would whisk her home no matter the time of day. I really thought I might get a call since Ainsley and I are together all of the times.  But the only correspondence I received was a simple text and photo of my growing up girl having a wonderful time out to dinner at In-N-Out and later playing happily in the home of her dear friend. 

It still seems impossible to believe that she's old enough to stay anywhere overnight without me. She has happily been my Velcro child for seven years now. Her favorite place to be is on my lap, much to my dismay when I am trying to see the computer screen over her shoulder. But I did miss her warm snuggles even after just one day apart, turns out. 

Her absence opened up a spot for Emerson and me to have some time alone, which is a rare treat. We watched cake decorating shows and made a simple dinner together. Dirk was under the weather with a cold so we submerged ourselves into a girls night without hesitation. In the girls' room, Em and I sat up and read stories together and after about an hour or so, Emerson said, "This is just the most fun." My heart was warmed to the very middle. She's ten now and isn't as keen to sit on my lap or shadow my every move, but she loves time with me all the same. When we laid down to sleep she asked if I would make up a story for her like I used to do when she was a tiny girl. 

I gladly told a tale of a girl who was as dear as anyone who walked the earth. She was so lovely both inside and to look at and she was in fact a princess by heritage, though she didn't know it yet. This girl was misunderstood by some who didn't yet know of her heritage, but she lived in confidence in her unique identity, even  before she understood the fullness of it. On a walk through the forest, she came upon the King's footman, who asked if she'd like an audience with the King.  Though she felt herself unworthy, she went with him since he was worthy of her trust and assured her that she would not only be welcome, but be received as an honored guest. She went to the castle with the footman, met the gentle and loving King, and was bowled over to learn from Him that she was a daughter of His and royalty was her birthright. Of course the story was about the very girl who was laying in the bed next to me, a princess of the Most High God.  I hope she'll hold the message close in her heart. I pray that she will continue to realize all that is hers as a child of God whose identity is unshakable and sure, whose birthright is glory.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Autumn full of Wonder

"Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns."  George Eliot

Yesterday was the first day of fall, or so I've been told. In Texas, September 22 is simply another hot Wednesday. Growing up in Illinois, fall was always my favorite season. The season was the Rockwellian dream of leaves crunching beneath my feet, cozy sweatshirts, festivals, and a dazzling display of color in the tree's leaves. I do miss that part of Midwest living. 

Fall was always my mom's favorite season too. When I lived in California she would send me pictures of the gorgeous trees which lined the street of my childhood home. Remember when pictures used to have to be printed to be seen? There was something magical about opening a hand written letter with photos tucked inside. Today finding such a thing in your mailbox would feel extravagant, yet it remains my favorite type of correspondence.

My dear niece Sarah sent this to me last October. A glimpse of fall at her college Southern Illinois University. It is magical to be sure. 
 It's been a long time since I've lived somewhere with a proper fall. In Minnesota fall is a unicorn, a fable, something everyone wants to believe in but no one has seen. Summer melts into winter with jackrabbit speed. The leaves do change to create a beautiful kaleidoscope, but they are off of the trees so quickly with the onset of heavy winds and rain. Yet Minnesota falls were still a sweet time for me since they still felt like a change of season--something we didn't feel much of in southern California.

In Texas, the weather doesn't feel too compatible with pumpkin spice and sweatshirts.  But the season has changed all the same. Sometimes we move into another season and barely notice. It still feels like the kids are in footed jammies yet they're reading chapter books and making dinner for the entire family. We have blinked and look what happened. It still feels like summer but the calendar says autumn is here. 

As one who savors the moments and tries to blink to only minimally, I welcome the change of seasons, even the ones which take me by surprise.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

First Grade is Hard

My Ainsley comes home from school so tired and spent. Even after ten hours of sleep every night, First Grade is exhausting, turns out.

Sometimes the smallest things unplug the drain of feelings and her tears begin to flow. I know that whatever served to tug at the drain is not really what's upsetting to her. The girl is tired. I get it. On Monday she walked into the house, unlaced her little shoes and unzipped her backpack. She pulled out a folder full of papers and before even opening it, started to weep.

"Every paper is handed back to me with marks off. Every single one!"

"I'm tested on everything. Quizzed all of the time."

She handed me the paper and I expected to see a score south of 70. What I found instead was this:

Oh, boy. I can't imagine where she got that perfectionist tendency. Dang it, apple. But we're working on this and I'm quick to point out my missteps to the girls so that they can see that not only do I make mistakes but I am quick to forgive myself and move on. I'm ever mindful to tell the girls that I couldn't possibly love them more. That 100% scores aren't what elevate their status in my heart. They're in, all in. They're my heartbeat if their grades are high or in the tank. Of course I want them to give their best in all they do, and they do --that's why the score is irrelevant to me. But I get how good it feels to get a good grade.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

That time I went to Jen Hatmaker's House

So I went to a party at Jen Hatmaker's house over Labor Day weekend.

Photo cred: Audra Ohm

It was so much fun.

Truly better than a vivid dream.

Jen was as dear, fun, and welcoming as I hoped she would be.

Yet the party was only a small slice of my incredible weekend.

The sweetest part was meeting people whose names I didn't know before six months ago. People whose names are now etched into my heart forever.

And a few of them live within minutes of me.

San Antonio Sisters: Me, Alyssa and Rebecca

The internet may be full of dumb stuff, but our tribe was born there so we're kind of protective of it. The irony that some of the most authentic, life-giving group of friends I have ever encountered emerged from social media is not lost on me. I have had an ongoing love-don't like at all relationship with Facebook and the posted  Christmas Card versions of people's lives. But finding authentic connection there was the sweetest surprise.

Brought together as members of Jen Hatmaker's Launch team for her book For the Love, we refer to ourselves as The 500 since that's how many of us there are: we're creative that way. :) We are as varied in background and life stage as you might expect with a number that size, and yet we have so much in common. We have a shared love for God, good humor, great writing, and a fondness for not taking ourselves too seriously. It proved to be a most excellent recipe for truth telling and soft landings. We have pulled back the curtain and shown each other our hurt places and lifted each other up over life's hard knocks and hilarious foibles. We are family. We are church.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Winner Winner

Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway for a free copy of For the Love. A winner was randomly selected and....Winner, winner chicken dinner....

it's Debe W!!

Debe is a dear friend of mine who is officially no longer allowed to say "I never win anything." We once went to a home-show and on a lark all put our names in the hat for a free iPad mini. We kind of hesitated to even enter because who ever wins these things and then your name is forever on a mailing list as a "Potential Buyer," when that's not what we are. We are people who go to home-shows to get decorating ideas to copy ourselves at home with supplies we find in our recycling bin. But who gets the call that they've won the iPad? Miss Debe. Then a week later she enters a contest at a local fun eatery to win free food for a year. And who wins? Miss Debe. Food.for.a.year. So, though this contest was entirely random, I am not wildly surprised that Lady Luck was chosen to receive this great book. Sure, it's not an iPad mini, or food for a year at a fun restaurant, but it is something I know she'll really enjoy. Note to self: never bet against Debe.

I really would love for everyone to have a copy of this book. Today I was out getting some things at Costco and look what I found! $14 smackers for a hardcopy. Go and get it!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

How Long is Forever?

So we're about to look at another summer through the rear view mirror. I mean, I guess it's officially done when we have hit the last weekend before school starts. The season rolled in with thunderous fun filled travel and camps and a good bit of time floating around the pool. But in the past week we I sort of found myself looking longingly at the pretty little bags of fresh and fancy school supplies. It just seemed like time to break them open or at least deliver them to their waiting classrooms.

At long last the Meet the Teacher day arrived for us to head down the school, bustling bags in hand, ready to make our introduction. We were all pleased with the evening. The teachers seem great and their classrooms cheery and ready.

So there I was, having arrived at the pinnacle of summer's end, the supplies safely delivered, the girls happily reuniting in the halls with their dearest friends, and yet my heart felt surprisingly heavy. It's all going so very fast. I mean, I know it's terribly trite but once the years are measured by the school calendar, time starts to pass at warp speed. How in the free world am I sending these little infants off to the first and the fourth grade in just a few short days? It seems altogether impossible to believe. Does this mean I am not ready to return the little lovies into the capable care of the prepared and precious teachers in two short days? H to the no. They can still go back, but I will miss them more than I realized.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

For the Love of a Freebie

Last March a dear friend of mine sent me a text with a link to apply to be a part of the launch team for Jen Hatmaker's Book For the Love. Her message simply read:
This is perfect for you. Get on FB now and sign up! 
Once I saw the text and got to the link, it had been up for hours. I read that spots went in two hours the last time they cast such a net, so I felt pretty sure I'd missed the boat. But just for kicks, I typed out my application. There was no time to self-edit or second guess -- I quickly hit submit and moved on about my day. I didn't expect any reply since I had thought so little about my response to why they should pick me. So it took me a minute to realize what I was reading when I found this in my inbox just a few days later:

Knock, knock. Who's there? YOU, because YOU are on my Launch Team for 'For the Love'!! Yeah baby!! We only had room for 10% of all applicants (what the??), and we think you got the stuff. THANK YOU for your amazing enthusiasm; I couldn't possibly love you more if I tried with all my might. You are leading well and using your influence like a boss. We all think you are amazing. We are going to get this thing off the ground together! Let me tell you, launching a book is really fun. And some of you are going to end up on the inside cover, so THAT. I said on January 1st this year that one goal was to spend less time pleasing "Not My People" ... well let's be clear: YOU ARE MY PEOPLE. I love you so. I really do. I am loyally yours forever. Let's do this thing. My marketing team will now tell you all the fun details.
- Jen 
5,000 applicants.
500 were accepted.
One of them was me.
Boom goes the dynamite.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

“Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.” Emerson (Ralph Waldo, that is)

I've missed talking with you all. It's incredible to believe that summer is whipping right along and a full month has passed since I put pen to paper or rather clicks to the keyboard.

I've learned that I and my people like some structure and all the more so when school's out. I'm not an over-scheduler and certainly don't step into this role in summer (of all seasons), but with some simple math I concluded that in summer we have an average of thirteen and a half hours of wide awake time to fill. Though they are darling and hilarious and great fun, even a long-fused momma like me can lose her shizzle after the 37th inquiry of "What else can we do?" comes from the mouths of the darling babes before noon time. Bless. Camp Activities Director I am not.

So, for the past two summers I have reaped the goodness of the plentiful variety of Vacation Bible School programs for my children. There are more than a few things to love about living in the south, but one of my personal favorites is the amazing offering of fantastic and free VBS camps available to local kids all summer long. The churches absolutely count on members of the community (not just the congregation) coming to enjoy the programs. The schedules are set early in the spring and the resourceful parent can have their little nippers registered in a different camp every week from June to August if they so chose. I do not so choose, but I certainly do (unashamedly) send them to more than one (or two) camps each summer.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Love my People

There's something that feels like pure and plentiful bounty when someone outside of my family makes a decision to love my people. The same is true within family of course, but the relationship feels more expected somehow when bloodlines are shared. But when someone who (doesn't have to) has a pure love and delight for me and mine, well my heart can hardly contain the goodness of it.

Mary and I have been friends for 22 years. We now have a lifetime of shared history. Her presence and care for me is threaded through every bit of the tapestry of my adult life. But there's something I prize above all of our common memories, and that is the way she loves my girls and Dirk. She is as much a part of our family as she would be if we shared a mother. We used to be housemates but now nearly 2,000 miles separate us. Still, we make sure we know what's going on in one another's days through scheduled phone dates, spontaneous texts, and visits to one another's homes. We were fortunate enough to have her with us last week with us and miss her presence already.

She's that dream house guest who doesn't feel like a guest. The one who helps themselves to what they need and helps out all the while. She requires nothing and brings everything. After she was here a week, Dirk said to her "You bring such joy to us, and that's such a welcome thing." Isn't that what we all hope for? To bring joy wherever we unpack our suitcase in someone else's world? May it ever be.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Baby, you look brave

Hey :)

Many of you know that I'm a member of Jen Hatmaker's Launch Team for her book For the Love, set to release in early August. I cannot say enough good things about this practical, hilarious and wonderful book. Getting to be an early reader has been a fantastic treat, but the community that has emerged from the group has been the most fun. There's so much more to say about it, and I will another time. But I will tell you that one of the sweetest benefits has been partnering with other aspiring writers and sharing ideas and encouragement. Bloggers within the group have invited those interested to submit posts on various topics and Guest Post on their blog. My new friend Kelly Johnson asked for submissions on the topic of bravery. I was all in and am thrilled to have the opportunity to share one of my posts on her wonderful blog.

Hop over to Grace Notes to have a look and check out her lovely writing style and winsome heart.