Thanksgiving: The Ladies…

November 27, 2015

This week I’ll be sharing with you a few short stories of things I am thankful for and why…today, The Ladies.

Ladies Shoes.jpg

Remember Jr. High? And girls in Jr. High? And those first awkward years of college roomies you may or may not have known?

I remember some very distinct seasons of my life when it felt like I would never be that girl to have “girlfriends”.  The ones that we read about in The Babysitters Club and the ones we watched on Friends and the ones we saw loudly leaving our dorm floor.

Yet, here I sit. Of all the things I could have shared this week I want to give a big shout out to all the ladies in my life. I wouldn’t be the woman, mom, wife or friend that I am without them. I am so thankful that they accept me for who I am my. My crazy, my flaws, my (sometimes poorly expressed) passion for things. My life would not be the same without them.

Friendships are hard. Finding good girlfriends is even harder.

The Moms Group…for a bunch of years now I have sat on Wednesday mornings, consumed more coffee than imaginable and learned with women. These women have kids of all ages, stages, personalities and ability. They have had amazing times and some of the worst. We have seen lots of new life and carried the burden of death among us. These ladies have taught me what it really means to be “the church”.  These ladies do more than talk with me too. They’ve watched my kids, helped me through big transitions, brought meals and so much more. They’ve become more than my Wednesday morning, they’ve become my dear friends. I never knew what it was like to be part of this kind of joy until I was with them.

The Late Night Girls Night…these ladies are my people. Somehow, every now and then, with lots of good cheese, we all manage to find a living room floor to sit on and just be together. We aren’t any one of us the same and not a single one of us is from this town we now call “home”. Maybe it is our shared transience or maybe it is just who we are, these are ladies who have a passion for life like I’ve never seen before. They fight hard fights, say hard things, do big things and are always asking who they were really meant to be. We all need deeply passionate friends, they are mine and really, I can’t imagine life without them.

The Working Women…I work with a lot of women. Whatever I happen to be doing for work I find myself across the table or desk from another woman. Ones who own businesses, run businesses, champion businesses and constantly recreate businesses. These women have grit. They get things done. Beyond getting things done they want to make a mark in the world, make it a better place. They create places of service and resources and joy. I admire these women and they encourage me to keep going, to do that thing I was called to do and do it well.

The PenPals and Texters…There are a handful of people that I don’t get to have coffee with or chat on the phone with or run to the park with. They are usually women who I’ve known for a long time. We have a history. We exchange texts about our kids or our prayer needs. We send gifts to celebrate birthdays and babies and houses. We share bits and pieces of the life we live apart. Yet, these women know me well. They hold a piece of my history that is definitive to who I am and who I am becoming. We may not be near enough to have coffee or available enough to make that happen but when there is a need, a joy or pain, these ladies always know.

The Coffee Talk…These ladies get me. They each individually manage to find time to meet me out and about, swing by when it works for them or make the coffee and let me come over with whomever I have in tow that day. Not everyone is spontaneous and go with the flow but these ladies, they feed that part of my soul. They don’t mind that I’m folding laundry or that they are sitting on a stained couch or that my 3 year old keeps trying to drink their coffee when they set it down. Somewhere in the midst of coffee some of the most transformative conversations of the last 4 years have happened. These individual women have helped me understand my son, have let me cry my eyes out when things were hard and have made me laugh uncontrollably. Coffee holds a special place in my heart, not because of how delicious it is, but because how all the times I’ve held it in the presence of these individuals and been changed.

And More…These few short stories can not possibly encompass all the lovely women I know or have known. My sisters and mom. My very best friend and a few new friends. The wise ladies at my church and the young church ladies just like me. These stories of community are wide and deep, simple and complicated. All bring joy and I am so grateful.

So, maybe I didn’t have a Childhood forever friend or a Jr. High best friend or a favorite College Roomie but today, today I am thankful for the women I have right now. I don’t know how I would do life without them.

Today, I am thankful for The Ladies!


Thanksgiving: The Guy

November 26, 2015

This week I’ll be sharing with you a few short stories of things I am thankful for and why…today, The Guy aka My Husband aka Steve.

Yep, that’s him. That’s that guy that gave me the silent treatment when he asked me about kids and I said no thanks. The one who married me anyway. The one who simultaneously went to school full time and also managed to be a great stay at home dad. The one who cooks, helps with laundry and has even managed to talk my 6 year old girly girl into liking football.

There’s something about him. I mean there must be to be 10 years, 4.5 kids and 2 cities into this thing.


Thanksgiving brings it all out. As of this writing we are hosting his family for Thanksgiving…and moving 3 days later.

Why? Well, it’s Thanksgiving!

I didn’t marry a guy who is super handy or a CEO or extremely wealthy.

I married a guy who lives best when he serves well. Who uses his gift and passion for food to love people. Who is not slowed down by whatever else is happening but insists that if there is an event where people want to gather around a table he will let them gather around his table.

In our home family dinner is an event, the kids look forward to it every day he is home.

In our marriage every major milestone, celebration and hard conversation can be marked by a table we sat around, just the two of us.

In our community our best friends are the ones who have sat through simple sandwiches and four course meals around our less than brand new kitchen table because he invited them there.

The thing is, that in the end (while amazingly delicious!) it isn’t about the food. It is about the heart of the guy behind the food.

The guy that sees the simple need for food as more than a meal but a calling. A place to remind people that they are loved. A place to encourage people to relax and laugh a little. A place to engage the little people in our lives over soulful conversation.

This guy will work on our Thanksgiving meal for 2 days, will serve it with excitement and will share it with love.

Today, I am thankful for him.


Thanksgiving: Hugs and Kisses

November 25, 2015

This week I’ll be sharing with you a few short stories of things I am thankful for and why…today, Hugs and Kisses


I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to put a 20 month old in footie pajamas but let me just tell you, walking on Legos is easier!

I had my little guys legs in the pj’s and then he stood up so we could wrangle his arms in. As I reached for his right arm he leaned in real close and kissed me right on the lips. I kissed him back and reached for his other arm and he did it again, I kissed him back. I zipped him up and he did it again, this time putting his free arms around my neck and laying his sweet tiny head on my shoulder. Hugs and Kisses.

We were sitting at the dinner table going around telling about the best part of our day. Then we went around saying what the hardest part of the day was. When we arrived at my tender hearted little Kindergartner her eyes welled up and she said “The hardest part of my day was that I was crying at school because I missed you.” Right there at the dinner table I invited her to snuggle and kissed her on the top of her head. Hugs and Kisses.

It was a lot. Sitting in a therapists office hearing about what would “be best” for our son and knowing that financially it just wasn’t an option right now. Wondering if there was any way we could make it work and if we couldn’t make it work if we were letting our son down in the biggest way. I held it together on the car ride home, through dinner and bedtime. By the time we curled into bed I couldn’t hold on to it anymore. All the tears, they just came. My broken heart bearing itself to my also tired and overwhelmed husband. He just pulled me close. Said the right things. Reminded me that we are the caretaker of our son but God has big plans for him no matter what. Hugs and Kisses.

I’m not a particularly touchy feely person and I do think it odd when someone I don’t know tries to hug me. Yet, in the midst of life there is something really powerful about Hugs and Kisses. They show affection, soothe, bring comfort all in the worst and best moments.

Maybe it is a small, silly thing to be thankful for this week but in the last months of my life Hugs and Kisses have changed more than one day into something more.

Hug a child. Kiss a spouse. Snuggle a baby. Squeeze your best friend. Be thankful for Hugs and Kisses.


Thanksgiving: Motherhood

November 24, 2015

This week I’ll be sharing with you a few short stories of things I am thankful for and why…today, Motherhood.


You know those girls you grew up with. The ones that were just naturally maternal. When you planned your imaginary grown up life they had get married, have kids, be a mom on the top of their list.

Yeah, I was not that girl, ever.

It’s okay, you can laugh. For those of you that don’t know me I have 4 kids and am expecting…it is a *little* funny…

It was shocking that my sweet husband and I ever got married. We were in the car once when we were dating and he asked me about kids and I said bluntly “I don’t know if I ever want kids.” He didn’t say a word, turned up the music and gave me the silent treatment.

He married me anyway.

10 months after our wedding I stood, hot tears streaming down my face, positive pregnancy test in hand. He grinned from ear to ear, and really, he’s never stopped.

I didn’t choose motherhood, motherhood chose me. And, I haven’t always liked it.

In the beginning I wasn’t “good” at being a mom. It was so much emotional energy. I wanted to work and eat out and have a flexible schedule, it wasn’t exactly easy working and nursing and being home at a reasonable hour so everyone could rest.

As if this hard wasn’t enough BOOM, baby #2 was coming and at 7 months pregnant I lost my full time job. With my husband having just accepted a new full time job we decided I would “take some time off” and “stay home with the kids” and “enjoy the baby” for awhile.

I’ve never really gone back to my full time, live to work life, ever. And, I am so thankful I haven’t.

Somewhere after Baby #2 my heart began to change. I was the same me. I still wasn’t “good” at the emotional side of motherhood, I still dreamed about working full time, fine dining and just one weekend without a schedule but something was different.

I was still me but maybe version 2.0.

Version 2.0 of me looked the same, sounded the same, was just as driven and still full of energy. She was just a little more compassionate. A bit more emotionally brave. A lot more tired. And, a lot more of who she was meant to be.

I’m not a great cook (although my husband says I make great reservations!), I’m an okay homemaker (okay, not really, but I have friends that help me pretend to be) and I am still learning about the emotional side of motherhood (I can help my kids with robotics but can I teach them the meaning of unconditional love).

BUT, I have learned about love. And grace. And joy. And calling.

Love is so much more than a feeling and is intricately woven into our words and thoughts and actions and gifts.

Grace is so much more than forgiveness and embraces the impossible and unconditional sides of love.

Joy is more than fun but instead a gut punching side glance from a mischievous 3 year old that reminds you that she knows she’s loved.

Calling is irrevocable. The independent, strong-willed, leader, pursuer, teacher and dreamer in me were always meant to be. Motherhood has shown me that I am who I am and it is GOOD, regardless of what people see me as.

We all arrive at Motherhood differently, this is how I arrived here. The path has not been easy or gentle on my soul but now, my soul is easy and oh so gentle on others as they tread their own motherhood paths.

Today I am thankful for Motherhood.


Thanksgiving: Ransom

November 23, 2015


It’s Thanksgiving Week.

I admire the many people who can keep up with posting 1 thankful thing a day for the entire month of November. I always want to do this but never seem to manage. This year especially with a trip to Minnesota, packing to move and just life, it hasn’t happened. But I have been thinking about it.

This week I’ll be sharing with you a few short stories of things I am thankful for and why…today, Ransom.

It was Youth Sunday at church. My kids always sit with us in church through singing, prayer, communion and offering. But on Youth Sunday, they are with me the entire service. Some days this is pretty manageable, others, a bit rough.

As my son sat most of the service with his arms crossed, minus one funny interaction with our preaching youth pastor, I was feeling discouraged. Will his heart ever be soft enough to see, hear and taste real grace?

As we stood singing our invitation song he leaned over, arms still crossed, face still stoic, and said “Mom, what does ransom mean?”

I got down on his level and looked him right in the eye and whispered “It is a payment for something that was taken. In our case we have been taken by sin and Jesus dying was a ransom for our life forever, freedom forever. Make sense?”

He looked at me, looked at the words, looked back at me. With the tenderest of eyes he nodded his head and took my hand.

That was all.

My chains are gone
I’ve been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy rains
Unending love, Amazing grace

Today I am thankful for moments where words matter.

My sweet son is a reader and we talk about words a lot. We look things up in the dictionary, we compare and contrast, we think up funny words and laugh at the non-sensical ones.

Today, oh today, this one moment, this one word, mattered more than any word we’ve talked about all year.

I don’t know if or when his heart will ever be tender to grace but I sure am thankful for the glimpse of hope and the one moment we had to talk about Ransom…


Excitement, Energy and Love…A Birthday Reflection

November 9, 2015


November really is the best month to have a birthday in. I just had mine and it was lovely. A perfect mix of family, friends and of course food.

There’s something really life giving about being reminded that your humanity matters. This year I was also reminded about how thankful I am for the life I have been given.

That’s why November is such a great birthday month. As I enter the month I am reminded that my days and hours matter and the life I have been given is a gift. Then, it’s Thanksgiving…

I love the social media trend of people listing off day by day the many things they are thankful for. Family and friends, jobs and homes, travel and extra special moments.

This past week I was reminded of a book on my shelf from this last year. A group of us spent a semester reading through and talking through Ann Voskamp’s 1000 Gifts.

If you’ve never read it I would highly recommend it but I do so with caution. Voskamp talks about ALL the aspects of Thanksgiving. Not just the pretty, feel good moments, but how to find Thanksgiving in the dark, ugly, hard moments.

I don’t have the energy at the moment to list out day to day the many things I am thankful for. But I am thinking about it.

In the last weeks there have been some very high highs and some relatively low lows in my own life. Everything from the joy of a new baby being added to our family next year to our oldest child being almost unmanageable due to weather and time change. Moments where it is so easy to be thankful and others where it is a struggle.

So here’s the encouragement for today. Celebrate something. Light a candle that smells like fall, collect a few pretty leaves, eat a crazy dessert with your kids, take a nap…whatever brings excitement, energy and love into your life today, do that!

For THIS is the day that the Lord has made we will REJOICE and be GLAD in it!  Let’s at least try!


(#31Days) Ending Well

November 2, 2015

I studied English Literature in college (don’t laugh, I’m quite employable!). I specifically studied British Literature. There are some iconic moments in that literature, this being one of them:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only. ~A Tale of Two Cities, Dickens

Reading back over the last month it feels like the very perfect summary of why I engaged once again in this writing project to sit, focus and reflect on one subject for a whole month.

Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

It really is the best of times. Our family is moving into our first home, we are welcoming a baby girl into our midst soon and I am getting to work with some exciting organizations where I live. There is so much to be grateful for.

Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

It also feels like the worst of times at the very same moment. Seeing my family struggle with health and hope, seeing children and families near and dear to us still wading through the foster care system endlessly, to see the approach of winter and everything around us dying, it all seems so dark, so hollow.

Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

This is the beauty of Hope. Of Good News. This life comes with both the good and the bad. No one person lives in all good or all bad all the time.

I won’t deny that maybe it looks that way on the outside or it feels that way on the inside but it is the one point of humanity we can’t deny.

When we stop to tell our stories, to share, to celebrate, to commiserate, to encourage, to give, to receive, we realize, we are all broken. Yet, there is hope.

Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Every week our pastor says that we are in a world that is “Fallen, frail and fractured” but that we live in HOPE of being restored, redeemed.

Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Wherever you have found yourself this month can I encourage you to keep going? Keep sitting with the joy and working through the pain. Tenderly keep the one body, soul and mind that you have been given.

Sit down at the end of the day and find one thing you can be grateful for. Just one. When finding one thing becomes too easy look for two and then three.

Let the knowledge of HOPE make all well with your soul. I journey with you.


It Is Well With My Soul
Horatiao Spafford

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

It is well with my soul,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!—
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!

And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.


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