Posted in Christian, Depression, kids, longreads, miscarriage, pregnancy loss

The Highest and Lowest Day

This post is part one of an October pregnancy loss series.

“We can’t find the heartbeats, but that’s not uncommon. We’ll do an ultrasound and get them that way. Plus the first look at your babies.”

I was just excited as the doctor when she offered me a first look at the two sweet babies growing in my womb. They’d seen two sacs early on and my blood work numbers were off the chart; they told me there were two babies weeks before. I was equal parts scared and excited. 

Turning the corner into the second trimester had felt like a giant weight was lifted off me. I’d seen friends lose babies before and knew getting to the second trimester was a major milestone. One not to be taken for granted and one I thanked God for every night. I did it. I was in the clear. My first major responsibility as a mom and I had nailed it. 

I went to my check up that day alone, an ultrasound before 18-20 weeks hadn’t crossed my mind! The books I was absorbing every night didn’t say anything about ultrasounds earlier and I was over the moon to think I could see my little babies sooner than I ever imagined. I knew they’d look like little dough ball people, but they’d be my little dough balls and that was all I cared about. 

The next 30 minutes are still a blur in my mind, more than 15 years later. The dim room, the crinkly table, my paper gown, and the cool gooey gel started me on my happy adventure. The stark silence, the slight squint of the eyes, moving the screen from my view, then the tech leaving to get my doctor ushered me into a journey of loss unlike any I had been on before. 

I heard words like empty, nothing, lost, and gone mixed in with medical words. They asked if I could call someone for a ride. If I needed to go to work. If there was anything they could to help me then. I think I shook my head. I know I cried and slowly pulled on the maternity pants I had already needed once I was alone in the cozy ultrasound room. I walked into the room pregnant and loving my babies, I would be walking out broken and alone. Finding the courage to open that door and leave my hopes for them behind was hard. 

I went to my car, I called my husband to tell him what happened then I called work. I did not have an ounce of tact or decorum left when I spoke to my boss. 

“My babies are dead. I am not coming back to work today, I am not coming in tomorrow. I do not want to talk about it ever. Please tell everyone so I do not have to talk about it. I will be back Monday. I do not want to talk about it.”

I hung up, I drove home, I crawled into bed, and I cried until every inch of my body ached just as badly as my empty womb and heart did. 

When the doctor “catches” a miscarriage before your body does, you’re left with a terrible choice. You can walk around and wait for your body to start the painful process of expelling your sweet baby or you can go to the doctor for a D&C procedure to remove everything and start healing your body. Make no mistake, it is the same painful awful procedure as an abortion but they call is something kinder when you’re at lowest. I’m not sure why they change the name. 

I chose the D&C. Early the next morning, without eating anything, I crawled out of bed and called the doctor’s office right at 8am like I’d been told to do. They gave me a long list of things to do and don’t do before my assigned time to report to the hospital for the procedure. I walked through the house in a zombie-like state gathering comfy clothes, maxi pads, and doing a few chores I likely wouldn’t have energy for later in the day. Then we headed to the hospital. 

I recall nothing of arriving or going into the room. I do recall waking up next to my doctor in the recovery room. Visitors were not allowed back there, but doctors were. She sat by side so I wouldn’t wake up alone and empty in a strange place. Her kind blue eyes and the warm laugh lines on her face were the first thing I saw.

Immediately, I broke into the biggest, ugliest, most incoherent tears of my life. She leaned in and held me and let me cry. Everything hurt. My body was sore and I could feel it bleeding. I was woozy and dizzy coming out of the anesthesia and feeling ready to puke from the meds in my system. Nothing felt good or pleasant in that moment. From the very bottom of my soul to every corner of my body I hurt. 

My doctor remembering I was a grieving mother in a lot of pain meant the world to me. Her kindness and love got me through the few hours of recovery before I headed home for a miserable weekend of recovery.

I thought I left the hard part of the trauma at the hospital but I was wrong. 

Posted in Christian, God, longreads, love

I’m Not a Real Christian

I’m not a real Christian according to some.

Some people tell me because I believe in Science along with God, I’m not a real Christian. I believe in the Science that masks, washing hands, washing surfaces, and limiting close contact with people will keep us healthy. I believe that even a 2% death rate is too much. I believe the world can reopen if everyone would follow that plan but since so many people are too selfish to follow the rules, we have no choice but to be closed. I believe if masks were not healthy, surgeons, fencers, and dentists would have been dying in droves long before this started. 

I believe the people in our world are too selfish to look beyond themselves to do anything slightly inconvenient. That’s the real plague hitting our world. I also believe until people start doing things to help people, this will be here until we start coming back loving each other how God wanted in the same way the Plagues in Exodus just kept coming until the Pharaoh finally did the right thing.

Some say I’m not a real Christian because I am pro-choice. Even though John 6-8 from The Message reminds us: “The sinless one among you, go first: Throw the stone”. For my body, I am pro-life. I wish everyone would be pro-life, but I also understand some people are in terrible situations where that just may not be possible. For those people, I love them and support them making the most difficult choice ever.

I am not without sin, I will not judge them for theirs. Instead, I will love them and fight to protect them from the unfair stones coming their way. I also do not understand how the people from the previous paragraph can be ok with 2% of sick people of dying but still yell all lives matter and pro-life is in the only way. Sounds more “Pro-birth” than Pro-life to me. Especially when we treat the poor, oppressed, foreign-born people so horribly.

Some say I am wrong for believing immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers deserve to be welcomed. With a hot meal, a warm bed, and a chance to live a life away from the dangerous parts they came from just as the book of Matthew instructs. These are families who have taken their babies through war zones to protect them and give them a good life. They are not a threat to our lives. They are brothers and sisters seeking a better life. 

Many of them are the same people so many vacation mission trips swear they love and want to help so badly. If you can love them when you get to work in the Dominican, Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Mexico when you get to visit and work in paradise – why can’t you love them the same when they come here? Is it really about the mission then? Or boosting your ego on social media while getting a tan and visiting paradise? I believe we should love people and help them everywhere. Especially when they are on our own doorsteps. It’s literally what Revelation 3:14-20 was written for.

Some say I’m not a real Christian believe I believe love is love. Love is for everyone. Honestly, I think we got Leviticus 18:22 all wrong. The flawed human who interpreted those words then wrote it down clearly misunderstood something. I do not believe our God, so full of love, would ever say true love is wrong. He would not promote hate. He would certainly not teach us to judge, shun, and treat people unjustly over their love. I believe God Himself felt so seriously about it, He sent his son down to clear it all up for us with actual words from His own mouth in John 13:34-35: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” This isn’t rocket science. Its a new commandment, one that covers the whole Bible and the whole world forever. Love everyone as Jesus loves you. 

You sin, I sin, we all sin yet God and Jesus love us. That’s how He tells us to conduct ourselves and the only way people will know we are His disciples. By loving people how we are loved. Full of grace and forgiveness. During hard times, happy times, scary times, sad times – all of the times! I searched those verses in multiple Bibles looking for the * pointing out it applied to everyone except gay people, and guess what? It wasn’t there. Not in NIV, KJV, The Message, NLT, ESV, NKJV, or anywhere. They all say it clear as day. 

Love everyone as Jesus loves you. THAT is how the world knows you’re a Chrisitian. That is what I’m trying to do. 

I don’t worry about anyone who thinks giving love and demanding justice for all the people of the world makes me less of a Christian. Their judgement doesn’t matter to me nor should it matter to you. It’s hard some days when you feel like you’re in the minority and surrounded by hate, but you’re doing exactly what we were all asked to before Jesus left. 

Jesus says that makes us all real Christians. Some people may say I’m not a real Christian but I’m not living my life to appeal to their judgemental hearts. I am living my life to love and help those around me. Just like my Bible tells me to.

And that’s all that matters.

Posted in Christian, Depression, God, longreads, Uncategorized

Playdoh & Patience

“And yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, and you are the potter. We all are formed by your hand.” 

Isaiah 64:8

I love this verse. It is something both hopeful and reminiscent to me. Something I can relate to easily. I remember the playdoh of my childhood. The smell, the squishy feelings, and the fun tools seemed to give life to unlimited possibilities of what I could create. I would recreate my favorite foods (I make a mean playdoh pepperoni pizza) or the required craft of little girls of the 1980’s: a rainbow. I always tried so hard get the color rows the same width for equal uniform bands in my sculptures. 

Sometimes it worked out, sometimes not. And that is the beauty of playdoh: you can make something beautiful over and over again, fixing the mistakes, and it never stops allowing you to change its shape. 

When I finished something, I’d leave it be for awhile. Enjoying its brightness, proud of my creation, and sometimes use it in some fantastic story play. Eventually, it would be time dismantle my creations – whether it be that I was tired of them, needed to “fix” something, or it was time to clean up for the day. I’d take the pieces apart, trying to keep the colors separated, and squish them into their containers for another day. The creations were no longer there but the PlayDoh was ready for next time. For the possibilities and great ideas I’d bring to it next. 

I didn’t hate the PlayDoh. I didn’t hate my creations. I didn’t pack it up because I thought what I made was terrible and I couldn’t stand to look at it. Quite the contrary. I squished it all down because I saw how I could make it better. Or because the day’s plan called for it to lose its shape into the containers for awhile before I could bring new life to it with my next fantastic plan. 

As I’ve grown, those feelings have come back when I read Isaiah 64. We are more than clay to God. We are His precious creations that He is so fond of. He formed you tenderly with His own hands and loves to look at proudly. You are valued, treasured, loved, wanted, and important. And, like any child or potter with their clay, sometimes even God needs to make changes to His creations for whatever part of life we’re entering into next. 

He needs to break us down sometimes to build us back up into something better. Any potter will tell you, sometimes you have to bring your creations back down to nothing and start over. To help it be better. To improve your design. To make sure it’s ready for the purpose you have in mind for it. What looks like and feels like destruction is actually the start of something great. 

It’s hard to see it in the moment. When you look around and see your life slowly being torn down. The clay of your being slowly caving in on itself until all that is left is a mound of shapeless you. Without a solid base, strong form, clear design, or obvious purpose. These moments often come with little to no warning, leaving you scrambling to understand why. Wondering what area of you needed the improvement and what you can do to help things along.

I know these feelings all too well. I am there with you. Lying on the potter’s wheel and feeling it slowly spin. Just enough that my form is staying a cohesive lump and not merely falling flat, but not fast enough that I feel any changes or growth.

It’s hard to be in this place. I liked how I was before this. After many years of struggles and insecurities, I was finally reaching a point in life where things were mostly happy, stable, and satisfying. Of course I wished I could drop 20 pounds or win the lotto and work a little less, but if someone had asked me how my life was going the answer would have been: wonderfully. 

Clearly, I was wrong. There were areas in my life and in my soul that needed attention. They needed more work and some reforming, so like a skilled potter, God has taken me back down to the wheel. All of me is still here, in this shapeless lump. He’s starting to rebuild me with some improvements that are hard right now but will be so wonderful when they’re done.

I thought I was comfortable in my skin. Perhaps I was to an extent or more than I used to be, but the last six months have made it clear to me that there was room for improvement. The moment I came face to face with someone that was thinner than me, prettier than me, and living a life I wanted – I fell apart. I stopped eating. I stopped functioning at all. Everything I thought I had gotten past from years of previous hurts from multiple people was still there. I hadn’t moved on from anything, just ignored it and kept going with life. 

That’s the thing about potters and God: no matter how much their creation seems finished they can see the areas that need some work, even if the rest of us can’t. They know how to fix it, how to slowly build it back up, form it, and give it new life. I couldn’t see the flaw buried deep inside myself, but God knew. He knew it was holding me back from being a strong and complete as He wants me to be. 

The hard part is being patient while He does His work. Letting go of control or preconceived ideas of how God should fix us or our situation. I am beyond guilty of feeling that He is taking too long or not doing things right. And by right, of course, I mean how I want them done. I am not sure when I started to think that I knew all the answers and I know how my life should go, but I know I’m not the only one who thinks these things.

You probably do too. This impatience is just one more flaw He’s working on at the pottery wheel with me. Shaping me and holding me in place until I can start to fully let go and trust in his process. He can’t finish making all the improvements to me until I can calm down and let Him make a solid foundation. One only He knows how to make. 

That’s really hard for me. I’m a doer and a fixer and a very impatient person. This is trying all of my patience and then some. I see those who have hurt me living comfortably and seemingly without pain while I struggle to get through the day. 

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret – it leads only to evil.” – Psalm 37:7-8

But of course, God knows what He is doing. He knows the plans for me and how He will make them happen. My job isn’t to tell him how to do this. My job is to give and take with each loving knead He makes in me. To grow, shift, and change as things around me do; all under His watchful eye. 

Posted in Anxiety, books, Christian, Depression, healthy, longreads, Mantras, Meditation, moms, motherhood

Mirror Mantras

Update Feb 10, 2020: a lot of people are asking me about positive thoughts and mirror work. Here’s a piece dear to my heart!

I live with anxiety and depression.

I used to hate thinking or saying that out loud. Its not like its something that I’m proud of, but its part of me. I also live with red hair, lots of freckles, and about 20 extra pounds I wish I could lose. Its all just a part of what makes me, me.

It took me a long time to get to a somewhat comfortable place with that. I think its hard for a lot of people to talk about because its been kept in the dark so long. We’re all just supposed to be “ok” (whatever that means) when lots of us just aren’t. But just because you’re not meeting someone else’s definition of “ok”, it doesn’t mean you’re failing at life. Which is exactly how I have felt in the past.

I would tell myself that people who make more money, take more trips, do more work, or have more things are more valuable to society and successful in the world than me. The same went for anyone taller, thinner, tanner, sportier, or with less wrinkles than me. They had clearly figured out some easy way to have everything while I felt I was barely treading water.

I was literally telling myself every day that I was the problem. I wasn’t good enough. I was my own worst critic and enemy. Some days I still am. The nagging, negative words in my head became how I saw myself, no matter how many people tried to tell me otherwise.

This was a major argument I had with my therapist. She would tell me, “just change how you talk to yourself. say nice things.” Uh, yeah, if it was that easy I wouldn’t have been paying her out the nose to try and help me get there. We debated this for weeks, with me leaving her office in tears and frustrated at times. I could not “just do it”. So I decided to really start looking for HOW I could try to do it.

Then, something I had rolled my eyes at (and that you may be rolling your eyes at right now) fell into my lap in all my searching: mantras.

When I first thought of mantras, all I thought of were hippies and bald monks reciting uplifting words while meditating in the woods somewhere (no disrespect to hippies, bald monks, or woods intended). Or, someone staring at themselves in the mirror saying it over and over to get pumped up for the day. It felt too weird and forced for me. Fake even. I mean, I’m pretty good at telling when someone is lying to my face – especially when its me. Faking it to “trick myself” into believing the words wouldn’t cut it.

So instead of saying them in the mirror, I took a dry erase marker and wrote my mantra across the bathroom mirror. I didn’t have to say it or recite. I just had to see while I was brushing my teeth, doing my hair, applying make up, taking a shower, or just using the bathroom. And instead of telling myself how great I already was, I decided to talk to myself like I would to a friend. Build me up slowly and support me. On the mirror.

Are your eyes rolling yet?

I started with a very simple one to start: “You’re doing your best and that’s enough.” I knew I couldn’t fix all of this overnight, but trying was at least a good start. And at that moment, about all I could do. That was up on the mirror for a few weeks. Until I got comfortable with seeing words up there. Then, they started to sink in. I felt calmer and a little kinder to myself – even though I still had a long way to go.

Over the last 12 months I’ve rotated through quite a few “pep talk mantras”. I change them when I feel I need to, to suit where I am in life, and they range from quotes to thoughts to Bible verses or notes from other books I’ve read. There are no rules.Here are a few examples I’ve used or love that you can try:

  • You are enough.

  • Its ok to not be ok.

  • Keep going.

  • Live in the Upside Down (a reference to the piece by Lysa TerKeurst in her book Its Not Supposed to be This Way)

  • You are loved

  • You are clothed in strength and dignity (a twist on Proverbs 31:25)

  • All good things take time

  • “Its been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will” (Anne Shirley, Anne of Green Gables)

Have you ever tried a mantra? Got one to share? I’m working on a running list and would love YOUR input. Need a mantra? For a specific place? Share that too. Together, we can all build back up.

Posted in Uncategorized

Gofundme.com – Christmas giving

“Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay.” Matthew 10:8

We’re gathering next week for Christmas. Time spent with our family and friends.  We come together because Jesus was born. We celebrate his birth for all He brought to us: love, healing, and forgiveness. We talk a good game this time of year, but how often do we dig deep to freely give love and healing to others?


Eleven months out of the year, most of us rush through life relatively laser focused on our needs. Its human nature, we’re all guilty from time to time. Then in December we throw a small gift in a can or change in a kettle to warm our hearts.
But what about the people who were struggling before December? What about the families who were torn apart for reasons outside of their control? What about the peopke doing the wirk and doing their best who will need help far beyond the Christmas season?


We want to celebrate Jesus’ birth with presents and decorations, but what about celebrating his life through loving, helping, and giving?
Society complains when single parents (especially dads) don’t step up to support their kids. We complain when they don’t work as hard as we think they should to support their kids. We rant and rave far too often about all the people who do things we do not agree with that we lose sight of the people who quietly step up and do the right thing day in and day out. 


Kenan Harris is one of those people. I am honored to know and work with him. Kenan is a single father to an 11 year old boy (his son’s mother passed away when he was baby). Kenan is a family man who loves God and country. A veteran of the US Army, he works 70 hour weeks to support his son and raise him to be a man of strong character.

He doesn’t do it flashy, he doesn’t look for praise. He shows up to quietly do what’s right and spread his positive outlook. He does it all because its the right thing to do.


Its our turn to step up for him and anyone else in a similar position. To say thank you. To show his son that people care and doing the right thing, like his father does, will always come back to you. 


An 11 year old kid shouldn’t be without his parent on Christmas. We shouldn’t allow it to happen without giving what we can to fund his trip or spread the news that they need help.

You were given love, no questions asked. Its time to pass it on.

Click HERE to donate or share his story!

Posted in happiness, moms, motherhood, parenting, Uncategorized

Easy Giving Tuesday & #GiftItForward ideas

Easy Giving Tuesday & #GiftItForward ideas

Giving Tuesday & #GiftItForward ideas always flood me this time of year. I’m sitting in a black cape in the rear of the salon while I write this. I’d like to say no gray hairs have ever graced this head, but that would be a lie. In fact, with every passing year the battle to keep them at bay gets harder and harder.

Some day, I told myself, I’ll just color it all gray and be done with this act of vanity. But that day is not today. 

Today I’m watching the clock tick on, enjoying the view of an older gentleman in a bonnet under the dryer across from me, hoping I’ll get a glimpse of his new ‘do before I go.

I also think back to when the gray first showed up. When I was a single mom, working hard to barely keep us afloat, cursing the gray hairs while skillfully balancing my income with our bills. Grateful when I a few dollars left to occasionally mostly match my hair color to a box at Walgreens and wash away the gray for awhile. 

That Christmas, a friend had a gift card for a free coloring to a salon she didn’t go to. I’m not sure if it was the bags under my eyes, the obvious roots from a failed color match attempt, or the harsh gray hairs peeking through that tipped her off but she gifted that gift card to me.

She saw me. My struggle and my wants were acknowledged for the first time in a long time that day. I cried. I know there were other things we actually needed at home, but this was needed just as badly. This was needed for my soul. 

She was giving me far more than just a little pampering. 


I soaked in every moment at the salon that winter. That year I was becoming the solo mom, rock, warrior, and survivor. No regrets came from any of the hard things I was going through, but did miss the little treats I had taken for granted before.

I promised myself two things that day. First, someday all my colors would come from the salon and not the drug store. Secondly, when I got where I was going, I’d turn around to pass along kindness to someone else. 

Here I am, 13 years later, in my cape just like you can find me every 8 weeks. This time of year more that any it takes me back to the gift card and promises made.

“…freely you have received, freely give.” Matthew 10:8


I call it “Giving It Forward”. A way to take what I am have and bless others. To share my good fortune with them and bless them with a little kindness. 

My favorite way to do it this time of year is through gift cards. I receive quite a few each year. Some I’ll use, some I won’t. Many I will only use part of. They used to gather dust in a drawer in my kitchen until “giving it forward” hit me.

Giving Tuesday – #GiftItForward

I gave a gas card for station I am never nearby to a family preparing for a long drive to an important, possibly scary, appointment. I told I found it, I’m not in it for the glory. 

If you were behind me at Starbucks, you have likely received a discount on your drink from the gift card balance I left behind for you. 

To the lady at the Subway drive thru, I saw those kids bouncing in your backseat. I saw the look on your face. A day’s worth of tasks, appointments, worries, and responsibilities veiling your tired face. I hope the card I left behind put a dent in your bill and a smile on your face.

It’s that easy. Freely we receive gifts and freely we pass them on to those around us. It’s not Earth shattering work, there is no handing out of awards, but smiles will be given out. I think that makes it important work. This December, I’m inviting everyone to join me! Follow me on Instagram and tag @She.Proclaims with the #GiftItForward hashtag to see love spread! You can also donate your balances online to charity at Donate Your Card.

(P.S. I am not sure what the man did. He left before I could see him but my stylist and I agree it doesn’t really matter, that’s a man living his best life for himself. Rock on, sir.)

Posted in kids, longreads, moms, motherhood, parenting

Dear Teenage Son – I don’t know it all but I do know some.

Dear teenage son,

I am ridiculously excited to have a front row seat for the big, bold life you are creating and to be your guide for this part of your life. So excited, it’s freaking me out a little bit about how quickly you’re getting the hang of things on your own. You need me less these days. Which makes me proud and sad all at once. I still want to protect you and I can’t believe how big you’ve already grown; but don’t think for a minute you know everything. You’re not grown yet (even when you are, you still won’t know everything – trust me on that too).

You’re not the only one feeling a flurry of conflicting confusing feelings in your teenage years. They suck for you, I get that, middle school is literally the worst – anyone who claims otherwise as an adult has clearly blocked it all out. It’s really hard for the parents too, though. So hear me out and cut me some slack. I know I’m old and I don’t understand (just like grandma was old and didn’t understand me) but I really do know a thing a thing or two about where you are.

Let’s be honest: I really liked being your number one person when you were little. I was like a fabulous superhero mom. I still want to tell you the direction you should go, then swoop in to save you from any trouble I see. I want to warn you about friends or situations which could lead to heartbreak. I want to save you from the hard things but I know I can’t. As good as it might make me (or you) feel in the moment – it wouldn’t do either of us any good.

I know these things because I learned by living. I need to give you that chance too. Even if it sucks for us both. That doesn’t mean you’re on your own. Not all all. I saw the perfect saying the other day about it: There are three places you will always find me: in front of you guiding the way, behind you cheering you on, or by your side. I can’t think of a better way to put it.

I’m trying to lead the way for you. I want to show you right from wrong, that’s totally a requirement of this mom gig. I also want to show you its ok to stumble or make a mistake – just say you’re sorry and learn from it.

I want to show you that pure love exists. No matter where you go or what you do (even if I don’t agree), I will love you. The people willing to tell you the truth, even when it hurts, but still love you fully are the kind of people you need to cling to. Those are your people. I will always be that kind of person. 

I will always be behind you. I may not agree with all you do in life, but I am cheering for you. I hope it always turns out for the best. When everyone else walks away, even if I think we’re both crazy, I’ll back you up. I’ll cheer you on. I’ll be in your corner. I have seen you do amazing things, I know what you are capable of. If you’re all in, so am I. Tell me what you need me to do.  

And on those days when you are lost and don’t know what to do – I will be beside you. I may be just as scared and lost as you, but I will never leave you on your own. I make no promises I will know what to say to make you feel better (yeah, that’s right, I might be speechless). I may have no idea or suggestion to help with the situation, but I will not budge. Even if all I can do is listen, hug, and hold your hand – I will be there. Forever.

I will also hold you accountable for your actions or words. I will stand by consequences from other adults when you’ve goofed up with them. You will not always like what I have to say. There will be lectures, groundings, apologies, and arguments along the way. You’ll roll your eyes and hate me for an evening, but I am as ready as I’ll ever be for that. I love you more than life itself but that doesn’t mean this is the cakewalk portion of life (spoiler alert: I’m almost 40 and I’ve yet to find the cakewalk part; I’ll let you know if I do). I don’t plan on raising assholes and we’re bound to have the occasional growing pains getting there. I still love you though.

This is new territory for us both. I’m trying not to screw it all up but we already butt heads from time to time. I’m sure that will go on for years to come. I have never done this before as a parent, only as a kid. It’s a little confusing on this end of the spectrum too. I am doing my best, so cut me some slack if I get a little crazy trying to help, guide, or protect you.

It’s hard being your age and that’s coming from me (I have seen some shit, man). Navigating friends, teachers, parents, and all the other things in your life is crazy hard. I remember. I am doing my best to help you navigate and be by your side. Sometimes, it’s scary.  Then I remember this line from a book you and I shared long ago “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” 

Its like Dr. Seuss knew you were coming and wrote a cheer just for you. Or he knew how much I’d love you and wrote a reminder for me. Either way, he was right. You’re doing an amazing job and going in an exciting direction. You’re a good kid, becoming a good man. I am eternally grateful to be along for the ride – even on the days I have to control to get you back on track. 

I love you always, Mom

Posted in Depression, longreads, selfcare, Uncategorized

This is important: learn to step out of your comfort zone.

It can be scary to step out of your comfort zone. I like volunteering at my kids’ schools. I wish I loved it, but the idea of having a weekly commitment makes me itchy and takes the joy out of it for me. I’ve done the weekly commitments but sporadic volunteering is by far my strength. That is what I like. Specifically, the book fair. I like the book fair because I love books. And shopping. This combines the two for a good cause! Plus, I can score some great deals on Christmas gifts. It’s literally the perfect gig for me.

A few weeks back, was the fall book fair. I’m sure you’ve seen a similar set up before. Large metal bookshelf carts form a large horseshoe in the center of the school library. Brightly colored tables display books for every age. It’s a visual reminder to me of my children sitting on my lap with plump board books, now curled onto the sofa with chapter books I’m not a part of. Some books have memories and some I wish I had a child small enough to buy it for.

That night, I stood near a table of posters and books, watching families weave through the maze of shelves. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed an older man with a young boy walk into the library. Grandparents and grand kids aren’t an unusual sight at these events, but something about these two caught my attention. 

Most kids jog into the book fair. Or at the very least power walk. This boy walked in slowly, almost unsure if he should even be there. He paused next to the first metal cart, briefly inspecting the chocolate calculators no child can resist touching, before his eyes fell on a table full of his favorite books. 

Silently, he approached the table and began flipping through the pages of each book. I wasn’t the only one who took notice and soon his grandpa was by his side asking him questions about the books. I couldn’t help but overhear their conversation:

“Do you like these books? Have you read them”

“My teacher has them. She lets me read hers. I read this one, but she doesn’t have all the other ones.”

“You can read them though? The words make sense and you like the stories?”

“Yeah, I like them a lot.”

“We should get you one. Everyone should have a book to read. Which one do you need next?”

“Are you sure? How much are these?” the boy held up the book and the man looked around the table for a price sign.

“I don’t know. I don’t see a sign and I don’t really know how books work,” he took the book from the boy, flipping through the pages and spinning it in his hands trying to spot a price to no avail. 

“Its ok grandpa, I can get it at the library,” he reached for the book to place it back on the table, but his grandpa pulled in back.

“No. This is important. I might not know how this works but I know its important, we’re finding someone to help.”

It took all my self-restraint not to buy every book on the table for the boy. When grandpa and I made eye contact, I stepped in to tell them the price of the book they were holding. He asked if I could show him and his grandson “how books work”. I gave them a quick crash course on where to find book prices, what the book is about, and what number it is if it’s part of a series. Things I take for granted that my children and I know, were totally new info for the two standing before me. They paid for the book and left. I returned to where I was watching the book browsers but I couldn’t quite shake the older man’s words. 

“This is important. I might not know how this works but I know its important. We’ll find someone to help.”

They could have said nothing and walked away. The grandpa could have been so ashamed about his lack of book knowledge he directed his grandson back out into the hallway. He could have just thrown the book on the counter and prayed the cost wasn’t going to be something out of his budget when it was rung up. Instead, he admitted he was not an expert, did not shy away from asking for help, and made sure they got what they needed before heading out that evening. Not only did he step out of his comfort zone – he bravely long jumped himself into the unknown.

That’s kind of how I feel about my journey in life and wherever this is going. I do not know it all. I am actively still in the middle of figuring things out. The only thing I am really sure of is how important it is to share, even if I need help along the way. I am not an expert on many things. I hold no fancy degrees in psychology, social work, Christian studies, writing, the Bible, marketing, or depression. I can still know those things are important. Instead of hiding away, I can find the help I need to get the outcome I want and share what I learn with anyone else in need. 

I think that’s something a lot of people allow to hold them back. I am totally guilty of it. I see people doing or achieving things I want to, then I quickly assess my progress toward those goals. If I am not on par with them or at least catching up, I immediately believe I am not as good as them. The idea of working through those feelings or getting help doesn’t cross my mind. You’ve either got “it” or you don’t, right? I know I’m not the only one carrying these ridiculously high standards with me.  

I wonder how many amazing things I have missed out on because I didn’t feel I was an expert at it soon enough. How many things have we all missed out on which could have helped improve our lives or the lives of others? Why do we let doubt and fear take the wheel so often? Why do we act like we can only do the things we already know? When you step out of your comfort zone, you take back control. 

If a man in his 70s can wander into an elementary school library and admit to his grandson, then a woman he never met before, he doesn’t know how books work – we can chase after our dreams. If he can stand there, surrounded by Captain Underpants, Dogman, and Baby Shark books while he learns where to find information on a book sleeve without an ounce of embarrassment – we can ask questions and allow others to guide us too. You just need to step out of your comfort zone.

If you don’t know how, but know its important – do it. Do it scared, unsure, shaky, and uncertain – but do it.

Posted in Uncategorized

I love Jesus and I’m not sorry.

I’m not sorry if my love for Jesus and my church offends you. I don’t read my Bible, say my prayers, or try to spread love because I want to annoy you. Nor do I do it because I am stupid or somehow inferior to your intellect. I love Him for personal reasons. From the dark places I never thought I’d live through to the high places I cannot believe I was graced to experience – Jesus makes me a happier, better person. Maybe not everyone (like my man JC told me, I’m not here to judge! Just love!) but for me, Jesus is love. He feels right. He helps me through my hard times. 

I’m ok if He’s not that for you. I don’t look down on you. I don’t think less of you. I will not try to convert you, tell you what you’re missing out on, or try to get to you to come to my church. You know where I stand and you know where to find me. If you look us up, great. If not, that’s fine too. It is completely up to you and I respect you for that. 

However, what I don’t understand is a recent trend I have noticed and been subjected to. The mocking of churches, Jesus, religion, and faith directly to believers. What gives? I’ve never once told the non-believers in my life I think they’re stupid for not believing, so why do the digs about believers keep being hurled around me? Is it cool to mock Christians? Or religious people? If so, why? 

I bite my tongue when it happens, again respecting everyone has different views, but why do mine get attacked? Yes, I know there are some real zealots who may try to push their religion or beliefs on others – I don’t agree with that and see where it can be offensive – but why is it ok to then push non-beliefs at people and tease them for believing?

I know what the numbers say – I’m in a shrinking minority. In 2007, only 39% of adults attended church, which fell to 36% in 2014 in a recent Pew study. In 2019, I have no idea what the number is but by looking around my church I would guess it fair to say the number is probably down again. In the 1950s, the numbered hovered between 46%-49% according to a Gallup poll. 

Why the drop off over the years? I’m not turning a blind eye to anything – inclusion, diversity, transparency, decency, and a host of other issues have soured the church for many. It’s not ok. I’m not going to tell anyone to “get over it” or to just give church another chance. We all have different personal experiences within the same group experience. I will never say you are wrong. I will never say you don’t have a right to your feelings. I will never take away your right to your opinions or your right to disagree with me. I’d even welcome informed conversation (not to change either of our minds, but just to gain a little insight). 

However, for the love of all things – could you stop making a mockery of my religion? Especially to my face? Because I’m going to be honest here, it’s happening more and more with each passing year and it’s getting downright annoying. Grow up. You love Jesus? Great. You don’t, that’s fine too. You do you, but quit attacking me.

I’m not sure when talking smack about Jesus and bashing people who love God became cool. Maybe it was the 90s? When we were all angsty and alternative rock made ambivalence look cool. Perhaps it was before that, in the 60s or 70s as people started rebelling against “the institution” and “the man” – which definitely includes the church. It’s possible the 80s with outbreak of AIDS, spreading drug epidemic, and fraudulent television preachers embezzling money was the tipping point for many. Those are all completely valid reasons for someone walking away from church and religion. 

I do not blame you for hating church and thinking God is a joke. 

However, no matter how you reached your level of distaste for organized religion, your mockery isn’t cool. Misanthropy and nihilism do not make you cool. Being forever cynical, finding only the bad in people and situations isn’t proof that you’re better than those of us who believe in a higher being. You do not achieve a level of higher intellect by rejecting God. 

Bashing someone else’s beliefs or non-beliefs doesn’t make you smart. It makes you an asshole.

It’s kind of like how I feel about vegetarians. I applaud your commitment, but I really believe meat is good! I don’t understand people who don’t love football. What do you do on fall weekends? I also don’t get the pumpkin spice trend so clearly I’m no expert on the right way to do autumn. I feel bad that people who jog at 5am instead of sipping coffee under a quilt are missing out on pure quiet joy. I don’t understand or believe in ANY of that, but high fives all around to those who do and thanks for letting me in on a little bit.

Thanks for that stuffed mushroom recipe. I really thought a meal without meat wasn’t worth eating, but I was wrong. That was freaking amazing. Thank you to my friends who will plan our fall orchard trips around my beloved MSU football schedule. I’m down for fall fun, but I require a certain amount of pigskin. You’re in a marathon? I will cheer you on like a boss. I will like your pics, wish you luck, track you on whatever app or text program you share with me. I am proud of you doing what you love, even though I will forever maintain a defense mechanism isn’t a fun hobby. I don’t get it, I love you, thanks for not asking me to join you, and I’m all in to support you. 

Why can’t the same be said about people who love Jesus? Why am I a “stupid sheep” for following my shepherd? Does seeing someone study and love a book about love seriously offend you? 

I don’t push my religion on others. You want to read what I write? Great. You want me to talk about how great God has been in my life? Let’s do it. Am I going to ask you if you’ve found Jesus/a church/prayed today? Not a chance in Hell. Do I think we should push religious agendas on people? Not at all. First of all, there are lots of religions out there – I can’t say I’m doing this “right”. I’m just doing it my best and I think that counts for something. I think that alone deserves at least a basic level of human respect.

This summer, a group of Jehovah’s Witnesses came knocking on my door. Door-to-door religion is not my jam. As for me and my house, we aren’t going to ring your doorbell. It’s not how we do Jesus. I don’t really agree with it. But, on a 90 degree day in July when a group arrived on my doorstep dressed in their Sunday best to spread love in their way? I wasn’t going to mock or belittle that.

At our house? We told them we love Jesus. Then, they all got big ice cold bottles of water. We don’t agree or embrace their methods of how they do Jesus, but this is how we do Jesus. No judging , hate, mocking, belittling, or arguing. Just love. Even if your thoughts or practices are different than mine, you will get the same respect from me too. I will forever show my children that at our house we love Jesus by loving others. And its ok if other people love people differently. 

When I hear people mocking or belittling my faith, I will not bite or argue. I believe with my whole heart that “hurt people, hurt people.” Jesus warned us all we would be mocked for following him so I am well-prepared. When you mock my belief of a higher power, however, you are telling me I am stupid. You are implying I am foolish. You somehow have everything figured out and you’re clearly think you’re better for not needing a “crutch” to help you get through your darkest days. 

Oddly enough, if my response was to mock back? I’m labeled as being “righteous”, judgemental, and pushing an agenda. There is really no way to respond other than to refuse to take part in the show. I will not give you the outrage your seek nor will I quietly stand by to play audience for your cruel rhetoric.

What do I get from God and church? 

I get hope. I get a community, sense of purpose for my time on Earth, and a compass to help steer my heart in difficult times.

When I needed help finding a job, my church family helped me with my resume and coached me through the interview process. When I faced a long custody case for my son, my church family represented me and showed up to support us. When my world felt like it was crashing down, they came to my rescue. They pray for me, check in on me, love my family, love my children, and will always be by my side. I can look around the sanctuary any given Sunday and see many people who have made my life better. They have made my family’s lives better – in ways they and the world may never know. 

And it all started by loving Jesus.

Posted in Anxiety, Depression, God, happiness, longreads, Uncategorized

Change Your Mindset – Find Your Happiness!

Change your mindset is the best and worst advice I have ever gotten in my life. It’s a popular topic around the web, television, and magazines too. Everyone everywhere is starting to realize the power our minds really have over our lives and happiness, which is great. I like the idea of being in charge of my own happiness but the topic is so broad its hard to wrap your head around.

I am by no means an expert (at this or anything else really – other than naps). However, I am someone who struggles to find herself and happiness in life. I don’t believe there is a “final destination” of happiness once you change your mindset, its something that will change and evolve over time. Having the tools and skills to help you work through those times is the key to helping you find happiness. 

Change your mindset about calendars

For a very long time, I was a “sure, yeah!” person (a SYP from here on). If someone needed help or a volunteer and asked? My response was always “sure, yeah!” even if I didn’t really want it to be. I’d throw it onto my daily calendar on my phone then stare at all my tasks each morning with dread. Sometimes, I still try to find legitimate reasons to cancel things because I am so tired

There’s nothing wrong with being a SYP. Honestly, SYPs are really important for keeping the world spinning! The key is being a selective SYP. Say yes when it feeds your soul or you can help with something without destroying the rest of your day. Taking on things you don’t really love or without checking your schedule first will tear you down. You will be burn out, feel crabby, and overwhelmed by life. The life you signed up for. 

I got an adorable old school planner to help change my mindset about my time. You can print a calendar off the internet, buy a wall calendar, make your own, or get a planner – whatever floats your boat – but the key is that you will see the whole month at one time.

Change your mindset about being busy

I used to view busy as some sort of warped badge of honor. Like, the fuller my calendar was the better I was doing at life. I’m not sure if I thought going to meetings was cool? Does having a calendar full of “stuff” make me really important to the world? Do the more things I can cram onto a tiny square representing a single day in my planner, make me better? I found value in the quantity of things I was doing, not the quality of self I was giving.

There is no merit badge for being busy. I have checked with every merit badge-awarding group I can think of. They have badges for cooking, building, archery, and even chess….but no one gives out any special award for “being busy all the freaking time”. So what on Earth was the draw?

Grab your calendar for the month. Write in everything you need to do. Dentist appointments, meetings, school events, hair appointments, volunteer duties – whatever. If you have a commitment (whether out of love or obligation) write it down. When you are finished, look back at your month. Is there something on every day? More than one thing on many days? Do you feel tired and overwhelmed looking at it? How will actually doing it each day feel? I get it. That was me for many years. Stretched thin, living a sparse life, with no room for “unscheduled” happiness. It works for a while, in small doses, we all have busy seasons in life. When non-stop busyness become your normal, though? It’s no longer a season, it’s a cry for help.

What are you looking for?

I’m no expert, just a regular mom with a whole lot of baggage that desperately needs to be sorted, claimed, and dealt with. Seriously, I make the “unclaimed baggage” room at LAX look like a P.O. box when compared to what I’m working with. Busy lives are usually a sign people looking for something to fill their voids. The problem is, we can’t usually see what our voids are until we have reached some sort of life altering, world shattering low point. 

We all have our demons and issues – God knows I’m far from an exception to that rule – that we need to identify and deal with to find peace. I can’t speak for everyone, but here’s my deal: I never feel that I am loved enough, valued enough, or wanted enough for people in my life. These voids fill up by cramming my schedule as full as I can. I try to make myself so valuable and needed that it feels like I am loved. 

Never enough

Honestly, I can’t remember a time in my life when I haven’t felt that way to an extent. In elementary school, I craved praise from teachers and classmates. I wanted to be the smartest, the coolest, the most artistic, the most helpful – anything to be needed in that world. 

At home, I wanted to matter. I wanted to be more than “the smart one”. To be fun, engaging, and captivating to those around me. I didn’t want to just be the girl with the answers, sometimes I wanted to be the girl who was the answer. The one with the joke or punchline who strangers stopped to gush over in the store; chosen over other for special attention. But, that was never me. 

I was too big, too old, too smart, or too loud for any of that. I was just never the right person at the right time to meet the needs of whoever was around. Friends, family, teachers, strangers…whatever the case I was seeking approval and only finding it when I worked myself to the bone. The plus side? I was getting what I thought I needed. The down side? I was only getting it when I ran myself ragged and on other people’s schedules. That’s no way to lie your life and find true happiness. 

The missing piece

I grew up going to church, learning my Bible stories and memorizing my verses. Not because I felt God’s amazing work in my heart and soul, but because I wanted to please my Sunday school teachers. Noticing a pattern here? Wish I would have seen it sooner and save myself a lot of heartaches. 

I have been linking my value to what other people think and say about me. Not what I think, feel, or what God has to say about anything. I have been so busy living and dying for the people around me, I never gave much thought to fully living for God above me. I was putting my worth in schedules, awards, and praise instead of looking at my bigger role in life. My role in God’s plan.

How that changed

I would love to say there was one Earth shattering, soul-baring, definitive moment that changed that view for me; but that would be a total fabrication. It took numerous events to finally wake me up and help me see all I was missing in life. To this day, I live with abandonment issues stemming from my parents divorce. I am littered with insecurities from more than one boyfriend cheating on me and replacing me with a “better model”. I have lost jobs, a marriage, all my money, and myself before starting to warm up to the idea I am doing things wrong and living for the wrong people. The universe was essentially screaming at me, “change your mindset!” with every new hurdle I encountered.  

I don’t need to do anything for anyone else. No one on Earth. I need to live for myself and for my God. In the rawest, purest, most authentic way possible. It is the only way to find my true purpose and happiness in life. It sure would be great if this process were easy or came with step by step instructions, but such is not the case. Like so many other things in life, growth of this magnitude relies on two things: lots of mistakes and even more faith.