Posted in happiness, kids, longreads, love, moms, motherhood, parenting, Uncategorized

My Son Calls Someone Else Mom…and I love it!

My son’s father and I divorced when he was 1. 

He got his step mom when he was 2. 

He started calling her mom when he was 3. 

People used to ask me how I could stand for my child calling another woman mom. Actually, some still do. 

When we got a divorce, I knew this meant I would be away from my child. There would be days he would wake up and go to sleep without seeing my face and that fact shattered my heart. That was not the idea of motherhood I signed up for nor was it the kind of childhood I had imagined for him from before I even knew of his existence. 

When he first started calling someone else mom, it stung. It stung deep. I was worried I would be replaced or he would end up confused. I hated the idea that someone else could possibly be equal to me in his eyes; I just wanted to be the greatest human he’d ever met (let’s be real, I still do). 

It wasn’t until he was 4 and we could have an actual conversation about titles, right around when he wanted to call his step-dad “dad”, that it all made sense.

He hadn’t been calling her mom because he had no faith in me, he had been calling her mom because it felt normal. When he was there and the other kids said it, he could too. He could blend in and not feel weird; he just wanted to have a “normal” life. He also found comfort in her. He knew she wasn’t me, I was his favorite, but having a mom when he was away from me made it better for him.

He told me about games she played, parks they went to, and things they did. He smiled and giggled sharing funny stories that had made him happy. He said she was nice and she loved him. He said he loved her too – if that was ok with me. 

In that moment, the clouds parted and I understood how lucky I was to have her in my son’s life. She wasn’t there to replace me, she was there to love him when I couldn’t. Though we had never really met, we were silent teammates in the loving of this boy. Two women, on opposite ends of the spectrum, loving and guiding a small boy. He was the one I gave birth to, the one she signed up for, and he loved us both. 

I realized how lucky I was that he called her mom. He wanted to call her mom. That meant he felt her warmth and love wrapping him up when I could not. He knew she would make sure he had breakfast and make dinners he liked. She would play games, go to the park, and be silly with him during his time away from me. I may not have seen him every day, but he laid his head down every night knowing a woman who would keep him safe and loved him was just down the hallway. Always. No matter which house he was at.

So, no. I had no problem with my son calling another woman mom. Fourteen years after he first met her, she is no longer his step mom on paper, but she is still his mom. She loves him, she has seen his ups and downs, helped him when he was sick, and is still in his corner to this day. I have no doubt she will be there for him forever, either. I’m not hurt at all he calls her mom, in fact, I’m grateful he does. Kids need all the love they can get.

He found a soul that loved him purely and forever, which is what motherhood is really all about. It has nothing to do with a bloodline or what a piece of paper says. Motherhood is about love, dedication, tough love, and hopeless optimism for a child’s life. It comes from moms, but sometimes from other people our children are blessed to come across in life. It’s a gift to know your child is loved like you love them when you are not around. 

I’ll never be replaced, neither will you, but knowing your child is loved brings a peace unlike any other. 

Happy Mother’s Day to everyone. The moms, step moms, bonus mom, grandmas, aunts, cousins, best friends, teachers, neighbors, and anyone else who steps up to lovingly guide a child through the complexities of life. When they’re scared, lonely, and can’t be by their mom – you are a gift from God. 

Thank you to everyone who is part of my kids’ mom tribes – especially Ben’s other mom. 

Posted in Christian, longreads

Covid-19 Questions

Covid-19 questions still rattle around in my mind.

I thought as we approached a year since our lock downs, things might be better, but I think that was too optimistic of me because I got Covid-19, in February of 2021. I was really excited that our house, with two essential workers and two kids attending in-person school, might make it to the vaccine finish line without bringing the vile germ into our house. That’ll teach me to count my eggs before they’ve hatched, right? 

I went through every symptom with textbook precision, right down the list. Congestion, fatigue, trouble breathing, fever, body aches, loss of taste and smell all came on like clockwork. Thankfully, twenty-five days after my runny nose began, the worst of it seems to be fading away finally. The loss of smell and taste are still with me, along with lots of aches, fatigue, and Covid-19 questions. 

This is kicking my butt – and I’m an otherwise healthy person.

By now I am sure you know someone directly who has had it. If not, I will be that person for you. As I have been sitting in my house – first in isolation, now in quarantine with my family – I am struggling more than ever with people choosing to ignore precautions for their own convenience. It’s not a great testament to you defending your rights, it’s a selfish assault on everyone else’s. 

Mask up for everyone.

Also, if you didn’t wear a mask and were around me, you owe me a casserole. If you’re going to make people sick, at least do the decent thing and drop off a meal. That is just Midwest living 101, for crying out loud.

When did we become such a fractured world? When did everyone start putting the preferences of “me” in front of the basic needs of “we”. Illness aside, I think this is the saddest commentary on the state of the world I have seen in a long time. We have finally fallen to a disgusting level where people are willing to pass an illness, allow others to suffer, and some to die because they are annoyed by a mask or canceled vacation plans. Instead of asking Covid-19 questions and listening to the facts, many people still refuse to love their neighbor and put a piece of fabric on. It’s disgusting behavior.

Sheep and Goats

Instead of debating who is acting like a sheep and who is the G.O.A.T in our nation, we need to step back and remember we will be asked about actions one day. When we are separated like sheep and goats as Matthew 25:31-46 tells us. It’s worth refreshing your memory if it’s been awhile. Those who stay with our shepherd and care for the flock, will be rewarded. Those who were too stubborn will have to answer some very difficult questions.

Will you be a sheep or goat?

Laugh at my mask wearing and rule following but my answer will be that I did all I could to protect all of the people. I put “we” ahead of “me”. When the world around me didn’t do the same, I pulled back from being around my own family to further protect the “we” from what was ravaging me. As much as it hurt to not touch or hug my family, to hear them laughing while I laid in bed sick – it was nothing compared to what I would have felt if they got sick. The same goes for everyone around me. 

Who are you living for?

It’s easier to ignore the needs of the world around you than it is to make sacrifices to help others. There is less planning and reworking of life when you live that way. But, are you really living a better life if you’re accomplishing it at the expense of others? If you are, I don’t think that could actually be called a “better life”.

He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ – Matthew 25:45, NIV

Jesus doesn’t only want us living for ourselves or the “important” people in the world. Our thoughts need to go to the least of the people. The ones who are at risk, in need, or have no direct impact on our lives. The ones that a simple mask and spacing out in public can help the most. If you’re not living for everyone, you’re not living for Him. When they ask me the Covid-19 questions, I’ll be able to say I did what I could for everyone. I did my best to protect family, friends, strangers, and everyone in between. I protected the least of us.

Posted in Christian, Depression, God, longreads, love

Love the World, Love yourself

“Service is the rent we pay for being. It is the very purpose of life and not something you do in your spare time” ~ Marion Wright Edelman

Love the World, love yourself. I think that’s what Marion is alluding to above. There is no denying this year its been hard. This winter is dragging on, isn’t it? Last year we were all together and doing great things with our people; but now we’re all kind of on our own. It’s so funny to think how much can change in the span of a year – for good or for bad. 

I don’t need to map out the bad for you right now; you already know exactly what that looks like. We’re all doing our best to get through that part of life right now. If yours is going anything like mine, the house is somehow messier than ever even though you are home more than ever and you regularly lose track of the last time you actually washed your hair (can I get an amen for dry shampoo, podcasts, and zoom calls!?).

Life looks different

We can’t do everything we did before, it’s just not safe and possible right now, but who says we can’t reinvent some parts of it? Who says we still can’t do good in the world? Seriously, I have no idea who says we can’t – but I know we can completely prove them wrong. I’ve been doing it. So can you. 

Love Your World

If you’re crafty and want to spread some love to kids who are living with illnesses – check out what the folks at Cards for Hospitalized Kids and Cards for Seniors are doing. You can spread some cheer without leaving your home. 

Want to bring it more local? Contact local nursing homes, schools, veterans groups, and hospitals for info on how to reach out to people in need of a smile. Local schools, churches, and community agencies all have people who need a lift in their spirits as much as they need help with other needs. 

You can make cards, send donations, order pizzas for schools, or become pen pals with someone so quickly and easily. Your loneliness and theirs can create something beautiful from this mess! 

We can still send love

Dream Big

Really looking to make a difference? Here is one simple action, go online and simply ask your people: Does anyone need help with anything right now?

The responses will amaze you. Someone you know is worried about food right now and someone else isn’t sure who to call for help with their car. Someone you know may need shoes in the size you were planning to drop at the Goodwill store. Maybe that extra bike in the garage is all it would take to make life good for a kid in your circle. You won’t know if you don’t ask. 

We think good deeds need to be huge, grand gestures or donations – but they really do not. The small things, the ones that often mean the most to people’s hearts, are easily overlooked and go unmet. Small deeds matter. You are beyond capable of being the person who makes someone else smile without making a huge donation or contributing a lot of time. 

How do I know? I’ve gratefully and humbly watched it unfold in front of me over the last 11 months in a Facebook group I started with a friend. We were sad for the world and community as we started seeing people suffer. We do not have deep pockets or loads to share ourselves – but we have big hearts and lots of passion. People share needs, we help connect them to help. It’s that simple. 

Love the world, love yourself

Yes, I miss my church family. I miss my friends from yoga class and work also. I miss the moms from the softball team. I miss my women’s retreat friends, my travel friends, and my conference friends I haven’t been able to see. The void in my life almost physically hurts. 

But, by finding new ways to reach out – I’ve formed new friendships and strengthened others. I’m not as alone as I thought and neither are you. You just need to speak up. 

Tell people you miss them. Tell people you want to help. Share your thoughts, expertise, suggestions, and that extra box of macaroni you know you do not need with them! The empty places will be filled differently, but they will be filled. You will see that no amount of social distancing or quarantining can ever stop love. The human spirit is simply too strong for that, even though some days it does feel insurmountable. 

You may not think your impact is large, but you are exactly the right person to make a difference to someone today. 

The Greatest is Love

“Faith, hope and love are some good things he gave us – but the greatest is love.”

– Alan Jackson and 1 Corinthians 13.

We focus on so many things in life: normal day-to-day chores, holidays, work, and adapting to our new normal that it’s easy to forget the greatest and most basic thing we have in life: love. 2020 made that all clearer than ever, but in 2021 we know what we’re up against and we’re ready for the challenge. 

Love the world, love yourself. 

Posted in Christian, Depression, longreads, love, selfcare, Uncategorized

You don’t need a Valentine. Love yourself.

There are many definitions of love but my favorite is the verb form:

love : verb

 \ˈləv \

1: to hold dear : cherish

Living the verb life

I love (hold dear…cherish…) this form because it is limitless. The verb love isn’t tied to other people, places, or things. It can apply to anyone or anything which makes it the perfect form of love as we enter February. This love applies to us all. 

February can be a real downer month for some when they’re facing it alone. We all know alone has many different definitions too, so use which one applies to you. Whether now or in the past, we have all been alone on this day and it can be the worst. Like a flashing neon sign over your head announcing to the world “I am not wanted, worthy, cared for, or cherished by anyone!” every time another bouquet of flowers passes you by on its way to someone who has been chosen by another. 

I’ve been there. Many times. I used to believe I couldn’t celebrate this month, certainly not Valentine’s Day, without someone else in my life. There is some outdated idea that we can only be loved romantically and when others deem us worthy. I get it, Cupid is the love goddess’ kid and St. Valentine is the Saint of Lovers so that’s where it started.

But St. Valentine is also the Saint of epileptics and beekeepers, so if he can diversify, so can we.

We need to start every Valentine’s Day (and every day for that matter) by remembering love isn’t just gifted to us by other people, we have the power to gift it to ourselves too. In fact, we should gift it to ourselves because if we can’t love ourselves, how can we ever expect someone else to? If we don’t cherish our own greatness, it’s hard to find someone truly worthy of our love. 

Quit chasing love.

I know. Easier said than done. I am well aware. I have spent plenty of time over my lifetime chasing after people I hoped would see me as worthy of their attention. Maybe then they’d decide I was worthy of the love my heart cherished so badly. I could name many things about them I loved and was dying to hear them love just one thing about me in return. My happiness literally hung on their answers, which were generally not what I was looking for. 

I based my self love on their approval which completely removed the “self” part from the equation. It took me years to see the insanity I was putting myself through, trying the same things over and over while expecting different results. Each year, I was disappointed but not surprised. I just assumed love wasn’t for me. It took me a few more years to see that was a complete crock of shit. 

We don’t need love from any outside person to be loved. We are loved already and wonderfully made (see Psalm 139:14 for more on that). The sooner we start believing that, the happier our lives will be. Maybe with someone special, maybe without but there will be love. Lots of it. 

Instead of waiting for outside sources to “gift” us some other definition of love – we need to live a love verb life with ourselves. We need to hold dear and cherish ourselves. In this day in age, waiting around for some White Knight to show up and bestow affection on us is not only outdated but completely unrealistic. 

Learn to love yourself

This month: it’s time to love yourself. No, this isn’t selfish (unless you start treating others like crap to love yourself, then we need to talk). We will not hate our flesh but love and care for it like Jesus does (Ephesians 5:29, generously paraphrased). Everyone will be loved in their own way with just a few little tweaks to life. 

  1. Buy yourself some flowers. I’m not kidding. Go to the store and go as big or small as you want but get some flowers in your space. It’s dark and wintery, they will make you smile. Bonus: you will get ones you definitely love.
  2. Treat yourself. Yes, it’s hard right now. Money is tight for some and many places are limited on availability. That can’t stop you from still treating yourself to a little something for being awesome. Grab yourself something off Amazon or order your favorite take out to enjoy with a good book. Cook your favorite meal, even if it’s a little more work than the Hot Pocket you were planning on. Take a nap and ignore your dishes one afternoon. Hike that trail you love. Do something that makes you happy, no excuses.
  3. Pamper yourself. Hugging yourself isn’t the same as hugging someone else, I fully agree. That doesn’t mean your body can’t still be loved too. Take a long bath or shower. Make a playlist of your most relaxing music and soak. Get a new lotion, a facemask, paint your nails, practice yoga, meditate – just do something that leaves your body feeling renewed and refreshed. 

You are love.

Treat yourself the way you want others to. Love yourself fully and show the world what you deserve. Don’t settle for less. You don’t need other people, cheesy stuffed animals, or chocolates to make it known you are loved. Wake up, roll out of bed in love with yourself and the rest will fall in place in due time. 

You do not have a timid spirit; yours is powerful, loved, and full of self-control (2 Timothy 1:7). Remember your power and love yourself fully.

Posted in black lives matter, Christian, love

Protect the poor and oppressed

“How can you be ok with protests for black lives during this virus when you were not ok with protests against the government during the virus?”

A completely fair and valid question I was asked. Something I have asked myself many times over the last few weeks. Am I being hypocritical by shaming one but attending the other? Am I picking and choosing when I want to fear the virus based on what is convenient or most comfortable to me? I don’t know. Maybe. I’m a flawed human, afterall, but it really boils down to Psalm 82:3 for me:

“Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and oppressed.” 

Why do I not agree with protests against COVID-19 safety measures? Because they are there to keep the weak among us safe. Anyone with a compromised system deserves to be taken care of. They matter to their families and that’s all I need to hear for them to matter to me.We have been asked to love each other and take care of those who need it; I have an issue with people who don’t care for each other. Taking care of others is not oppression, it’s an honor I take seriously. Exactly how I would want people taking care of me to do.

I’m going to pause here for a moment to address the word oppressed: the people protesting COVID safety measures are not oppressed. You are not. Being asked to put a layer of cotton over your face and to stay home for a couple of months to save thousands of lives is not oppression. Oppression is not canceling a vacation, missing a haircut, planting flowers later than you would like, not being able to golf, or only getting take out food. Those are all privileges. Complaining about those being temporarily paused to save thousands of lives is disgusting. 

Oppression doesn’t tell you from the start there is an end date. Oppression doesn’t have an end date until generations have suffered and finally speak up. The most commonly used definition of oppression is to “keep (someone) in subservience and hardship, especially by the unjust exercise of authority.” Did the government arrest you for your peaceful protests (I’m not addressing the assault rifles many brought either)? Did the government arrest you for not wearing a mask? Were you stopped and harassed by police for not wearing a mask? Heck. They sent us all money. Oppressed people don’t get checks in the mail from their oppressors.

Parts of this order absolutely frustrated me. I had to reschedule a vacation twice, cancel one trip, and take on homeschooling (which I never wanted to do). I’ve got a solid 4 inches of gray sitting on top of my head, I miss the salon fiercely. I understand wanting this done. However, if me having some crazy hair for a few months can help stop the spread of a virus that kills thousands, I will choose ugly hair every time. 


People said “it only kills old people and people with weakened immune systems, so make them stay home.” That is oppression. You’re picking out someone for reasons beyond their control and limiting their freedoms. They are second class citizens in that narrative to better accommodate you. Not to mention, how does someone look at themselves in the mirror knowing they were ok with everyone’s grandma’s dying as long as they could get a haircut. I have yet to find any way to slightly understand that viewpoint. 

Then, comes “all lives matter”. What? You just said that old people and people with weak immune systems don’t matter. You refused to wear masks to protect babies and small children (who cannot wear masks) because it was annoying. You literally just laid out all sorts of lives that do not matter, then three weeks later when the actually oppressed people start speaking up the narrative changes?

I could respect “all lives matter”, but never agree with it, if the position stayed constant. If the words were clear. Just way what it means: lives like yours matter. Not dark skinned people lives or old people lives or sick people lives (they said it – not me). We already know refugee lives don’t matter and children of immigrants really don’t matter. 

Yes, I went to a protest during the stay at home order. I am not sorry or hypocritical. I happy to see most people wearing masks. Most people stayed apart as best they could too. I went because numbers in my area were down for Covid, some businesses had already opened (I know, not your stupid haircuts), and these were lives at stake that matter also. 

I wore a mask to protect those at risk from the virus and used my voice to try to protect good people from being unfairly treated by people in power. 

I love the police. Their job is hard. Which is why the BAD COPS NEED TO GO. 
I love all people. Life is hard. Which is why the BAD PEOPLE NEED TO GO.
I love peaceful protests. America is beautiful. LOOTERS AND RIOTERS NEED TO GO.
I love protests I don’t support. PROTESTS THAT PUT PEOPLE AT RISK NEED TO GO.
I love people. ACTUAL OPPRESSION AND DISCRIMINATION NEED TO GO.
I love Jesus. Jesus loves people. I love people I don’t agree with. HATE NEEDS TO GO.

I could go on but I don’t see the need. I will do whatever I can to protect people, promote peace, spread justice, and practice love like Jesus did. 

Posted in Christian, longreads

I can breathe. They cannot. – Hate has no place here.

I CAN breathe. 

I can have my breath taken away by a breathtaking view while the warm sun breathes down my neck as I wait for a celebratory bottle of wine to breathe next to me before I breathe a sigh of relief as it all breathes new life into me. 

I can do all the sayings. 

I can do all the breathing things. 

I can breathe freely. 

A basic bodily function necessary for giving life, continues to be a struggle for others. All because they’re trying to breathe while having dark skin. 

They have to hold their breath walking through neighborhoods where others might feel they don’t belong. 

They whisper reminders to themselves under their breath to be calm and be cool during a simple traffic stop over a burned out blinker. 

They do not breathe a word when confronted for no reason, attempting to diffuse the situation and quietly move on with their day. 

They keep breathing their last breath under the heavy knees and bullets of people who hate for no reason.

They may not have breath anymore, but their names and stories should be reminders of why we need to use our breath to demand changes. 

Use your breath to SAY THEIR NAMES:

They can’t breathe. Many more like them can’t breathe. Even more will not be able to breathe some day if we don’t use our breathe and voices to stop the spread of hate. 

Maurice Stallard. Vickie Jones. Timothy Caughman. Clementa C Pinckney. Cynthia Hurd. Susie Jackson. Ethel Lance. Depayne Middleton-Doctor. Tywanza Sanders. Daniel Simmons. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton. Myra Thompson. Philando Castile. Alton Sterling. Walter Scott. Michael Brown. Eric Garner. Laquan McDonald. Marlon Lewis. Kajuan Raye. Ritchie Harbison. Christopher Sowell. Alfred Olango. Terrence Sterling. Terence Crutcher. Levonia Riggins. Alfred Toe. Kendrick Brown. Fred Barlow. Joyce Quaweay. Dalvin Hollins. Clarence Howard. Antwon Shumpert. Ollie Brooks. Jessica Williams. Willie Tillman. Kevin Hicks. Terrill Thomas. Peter Gaines. Marco Loud. Randy Nelson. Freddie Gray. Breonna Taylor. Ahmaud Arbery. Atatiana Jefferson. Yassin Mohamed. Sandra Bland. Sean Reed. Rayshard Scales. George Floyd. 

Share their names. Pass along their stories. Never forget their names.