Friday, November 6, 2015


I am currently participating in NaNoWriMo- National Novel Writing Month.  It is a crazy, worldwide thing in which one commits to writing a 50,000 word novel during the month of November.  I have started this quest the past three Novembers, and have yet to get much beyond day 10.  I am more diligent this year though- I am logging my word count on the NaNoWriMo website and even almost attempted attending a "write in" last night at my local library. 

(I made it to the library and scoped out the very minuscule-y small conference closet in which everyone was gathering.  They were all sitting very close together around an oval table and taking turns telling about their novels.  Every single bit of my introverted personality came rushing to the surface and I almost passed out right on the spot just thinking about walking in that room.  I rushed upstairs to Maise and very forcefully exclaimed there's no way in Hercules' uncle's domain that I'm walking in that room.  She was sad for me until I described it to her...then she shuttered with me.  I walked past again an hour later, taking a coffee break from all the writing I was doing at an upstairs table, and they were still all talking to each other.  I ran.) 

Folks,  the moral...theme... of this part of the post today is:

Introverts writing your novel alone, while a group of outgoing strangers writes their novels together, one floor below you. 

Seriously.  Yes.  Exactly.

Moving on...

NaNoWriMo is hard.  I'm coming to realize that fiction writing is tough for me.  I think I might suffer from a sufficient lack of imagination.  As much as I love story...and I truly deeply do...I'm not sure I can create it out of thin air.  The words either come too easy and are crap, or they come forth painfully...and still sound like crap.  

But I'm sticking this thing out to the end this time.  I need to finally finish what I've started.  This might be the crappiest 50,000 words to ever be typed, but they are gonna be there.  Formed out of nothing.  

And you know what?  I don't even honestly care that I might not be a fiction writer.  I feel relief at that, actually.  It frees me up to be who I am...a writer.  Yes.  But maybe not a literary made up story writer.  Maybe a truth teller of real life writer. 

I didn't write for almost two years.  I let life knock me to the ground and I stayed there. 

Honest- life is still shoving the air out of my lungs.  Just when I think we've hit solid ground...a stable place...upheaval strikes again.  But I'm gonna write this time.  I have a million excuses why I could stop.  A huge one is the fact that exactly none of the words I'm writing right now count towards the 50K.  Ugh.  The point is it doesn't matter what I write, only that I finish.   

For all you novelists out there, please do not take offense at my words.  You create beautiful stories  and I will consume them gratefully, humbly honoring the fact you can do what I'm realizing I can't. 

Some of the best and most remembered art is created at the low points in our lives.  When we have pain, worry, fear, doubt or loss, the truth that comes out of those moments is as real as we can get.  I'm not sure what perpetually happy people write...probably self-help books for the rest of us.  I'm sure self-help books are least the good ones.  I digress...

I am fighting to become who I am.  Aren't we all fighting to become who we are? 

For me, it is a writer.  NaNoWriMo is for me.  Not for the art, but for the struggle to create it.  In the midst of chaos and discomfort, I will be real and write.  What will you do today to become who you are? 

I'm going to end this post with a song.  It might be completely cheesy and heavy handed, but I must.  I heard this song twice tonight as I was driving home from work and doing that thing in which I flip radio stations incessantly.  And while I know I'm seriously late to the fan club on this song, I adore it.  It is way too pop for my usual tastes, but it resonates in my soul. (Besides, I discovered Mumford and Sons before essentially the rest of the world, so that should last me in cool points for...well, forever.)

I read tonight that the artist of this song wrote it while in a very low place in her music career.  This incredibly strong song came from a place of pain and struggle and confusion.  Fighting.  Becoming.  It paid off.




Wednesday, April 29, 2015

On being bravery and light...

This is the most important blog post I will ever write.  You may think that's a lofty sentiment.  I might feel the same if I was sitting in your shoes and seat right now too.  But wait. 

Just wait for it.

My pride and love as a mother are about to burst out of my insides and spill all over in brilliant pools of light.  

My daughters are going on mission trips this summer.  They are leaving this country and time zone and all that is familiar to help people in need around the globe!

Did you catch that last bit about AROUND THE GLOBE??

Yes.  Deep breath.  Maise and Ainsley...15 and 12 respectively...are going to Costa Rica.  And Onnie, 17, is going to Lebanon.  Beirut, to be exact.  

My beautiful and brave girls, full of light and hope, are so excited to share that light and hope with the world. 

(I know you are still holding your breath from reading "Lebanon" I will explain some more.  It's okay, you can breathe.  Please breathe.)

Our church, Denver United...660 S Broadway, Denver CO sending two teams overseas this summer.  Maise and Ainsley will be traveling with their youth pastor and experienced team leaders to Alajuaelita, Costa Rica, a suburb of San Jose and the poorest county in Costa Rica, per capita.  While there, they will do a VBS for the kids of the area, feed families, help with building projects for the community there, pray with people, and much more.  They will be partnering with 6:8 ministries in country, and this is a return trip to the area for Denver United...a team went there last year too. 

In case you think their trip to Costa Rica sounds like a cushy vacation...because, let's be honest here...the name conjures up lush beaches and jungle and gorgeousness...well, it is a service trip, friends.  In the poorest area of the country in which the unemployment rate is 65% and prostitution is legal and a sad, main form of income for many families.  Their trip is vital in bringing hope to this area of the world. 

Onnie will be traveling with a team to Beirut, where she will also do a VBS for Syrian refugee children.  She will be working with Horizon's International, an organization which has been ministering in the area for many years, was founded by her team leader's father and is currently run by his brother.  

You are still waiting for me to talk about safety, I know you are.  Here we get to hear the coolest story ever...

Onnie and Maise and I got the incredible opportunity and privilege of talking to Ted Dekker and Carl Medearis on Sat night at an event called the Simply Jesus Gathering.  Ted Dekker...New York Times best-selling favorite author...he is about the nicest famous person I've ever met.  I'm not sure he even knows he's famous.  He hugged us all...let me rephrase, he asked if he could hug us and we of course, duh, said YES!... and we chatted. Then Onnie told him about her trip.  

You see, he's a teeny bit familiar with Lebanon...he wrote this book with Carl Medearis called "Tea with Hezbollah" a few years back, in which he and Carl actually did that...went to the Middle East and met scary people.  He's been to Lebanon twice, actually.  He thought Onnie's trip was super cool and he told her to read Tea with Hezbollah...because, it's on our bookshelf already and she hasn't yet. 
Then we went to talk to Carl.  He and his family were missionaries in Beirut for 12 years, he is very involved in creating conversation and common ground between Muslims and Christ followers, he takes senators and other Washington people on trips to the Middle East to see another side of the story of humankind, his daughter made a beautiful film called Our Land about the people of the Middle East region and just moved back to Beirut this week...well, I could probably go on and on here...but, needless to say, he knows Lebanon. 

He told Onnie that Beirut is actually safer than the neighborhood we were in that night...downtown Denver.  He wasn't the first person we have heard those words from.  He told her to enjoy her trip, every second of it.  He also asked her age, and when she said 17, he said

"I am proud of you."

So am I, dear readers and friends and family.  More than I can even form into words.  If you're a regular reader of my blog, you know the past several years have been very difficult for our family, especially the past 12 months.  I believe these trips are going to bring healing to my girls, as they step outside all familiar comfort zones and give of themselves.  I am praying and believing for that. 

They have to raise $1600 each for Costa Rica, and $3200 for Lebanon.  Onnie's already halfway to her goal, with the generous help of family, friends and donors from our church.  Maise and Ainsley are honestly sitting on close to zero at the moment, and their first big deadline...plane ticket coming up this Sunday, May 3rd. 

I am just going to ask here...because these are my daughters and I believe in them...

Would you consider partnering with them on these trips by donating?  Even a dollar will help to get them there.  Even if you might not be a Christ follower or understand/believe in mission trips...will you believe in my daughters?  In their wide, innocent hearts full of light and love waiting to be shared? 

I have set up a GoFundMe to make giving easy.  Donations can be made publicly or anonymously.  You can go to it here:

Thanks, everyone.  If you pray, please pray for my girls as they work toward their goals with these trips and as they travel and bring light.  

As they are brave.


*Other important links you might like:
Denver United Church-
Pray For MENA- 
6:8 Ministries- 
Carl Medearis- 
Ted Dekker- 




Short-term mission trips are undertaken by church groups comprised of members of the congregation who travel to a new location to volunteer their efforts in completing a helpful community project while spreading the gospel of Jesus. Youth and Bible study groups organize and raise funds to be able to embark on these missions, which are centered around the concept of Christian service.

Read more :
hort-term mission trips are undertaken by church groups comprised of members of the congregation who travel to a new location to volunteer their efforts in completing a helpful community project while spreading the gospel of Jesus. Youth and Bible study groups organize and raise funds to be able to embark on these missions, which are centered around the concept of Christian service.

Read more :
hort-term mission trips are undertaken by church groups comprised of members of the congregation who travel to a new location to volunteer their efforts in completing a helpful community project while spreading the gospel of Jesus. Youth and Bible study groups organize and raise funds to be able to embark on these missions, which are centered around the concept of Christian service.

Read more :

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Voodoo Incident.

I wrote this last April but never published it.  At the time, it had been an insanely frightening and frustrating event.  For sheltered me, raised in small town VA and forbidden to drive downtown as a teen because Roanoke was obviously such a scary place...well, The Voodoo Incident was gigantic.

But that was early last year.  I feel I've experienced a thousand new and unsettling moments since then. I can look back and laugh now. But the point I make at the end of this little story is still just as important today as it was that warm night in April 2014.  I need to hear it in my own journey right now.

I am leaving the writing as is, unpolished. I wrote it in about an hour...the day it is rough. But it's honest.  Here's to still learning lessons everyday.  Enjoy.

The Voodoo Incident

In an attempt to be a good and hip mom, I agreed to take the girls on a late night doughnut run downtown last night, after youth group. Onnie had a newspaper assignment profiling the famous, Portland-come-to-Denver establishment on East Colfax...Voodoo Doughnut. Since our church is on East Broadway, it seemed a ten pm sugar high was appropriate.

The place was busy- I've heard they are always busy. The doughnut selection is fun, diverse and presented in glass spinning towers. The place is funky, cheap, open 24 hours, and very ultra hip...the workers are tattooed and pierced, nice and slightly intimidating. Cash only, and there's an ATM on site to prove the point. I'd be a little afraid to try to pull a debit card out, honestly. “NO DOUGHNUT FOR YOU!”

We drove around a bit, looking for a parking space. East Colfax at night isn't the easiest place to find parking. There was a lovely empty lot almost exactly behind Voodoo...a dentist's office deserted for the night. We passed it once, there was one car in the lot. We slowed a second time, another car was there, and the girls talked me into parking. I didn't see obvious no parking signs and we were honestly only going to be in Voodoo for ten minutes- Onnie will take pics, we will order deliciousness, pay and leave with our sassy pink box.

You know where this is heading, right?

Our experience in Voodoo was fun and silly and I swear we were high off all the sugar fumes. We laughed back down the street, around the corner.

We all saw the lack of our van at the exact same instant.

Onnie didn't believe and ran forward, thinking perhaps that we were deluding ourselves and had parked elsewhere in the lot.

“Mom, our van is gone!”

Of course it was. So were the other cars. I suddenly noticed all the towing signs posted everywhere.

Ever notice how ignorance can morph into clarity quickly when the stakes are high?

Our bewilderment turned to annoyance, anger, despair...and for sweet Ainsley, fear.

I made calls. Found out our ten minute doughnut jaunt was gonna cost us $288.

Not including the doughnuts.

I was angry and felt very incredibly pathetically stupid. Who gets towed anymore these days anyway??

Apparently all the people illegally parked in the lot in front of us, too. We watched it all as we waited to be rescued and taken to our van which was now located in the creepiest and shadiest section in all of Denver- the factory district at Brighton Blvd and I70.

The fact that all those other people were in the exact same predicament as us was little consolation.

Onnie kept mumbling to herself over and over, “We aren't homeless” every time people passed us. Maise realized shorts and a t-shirt don't cover nighttime weather in Denver in April, regardless of the daytime temps.

And Ains? She was freezing and very concerned that gang members were going to kill us. She was shaking and telling us off every three minutes.

Of course, that didn't happen. Ron came to rescue us and we got the van. I've decided having a towing company and trolling parking lots for stupid people's illegally parked cars is a very lucrative business. I'm checking into it...those people make bank.

Is there a point to this story? Sure.

I learned where NOT to park in Denver.


I also learned that life happens and we make it through. Life is now and we can either show up for all of it- the good and bad and bewildering and the crushing and the exhilarating- and feel it completely, knowing we will indeed make it through...or we can opt out completely. There is no in between. The beautiful moments are only guaranteed as much as the terrible.

Sure, we could have avoided the towing last night. But we also would have missed the fun and laughter, and those amazingly good doughnuts. It was about the best doughnut I've ever had.

Here's to our $300 box of Voodoo doughnuts...but not really.

Here's to life. All of it.


Friday, January 2, 2015

2015...The heavy.


Honestly, I'm not very good with them.  Sure, I'll get all nostalgic, but at the end of the day it just feels like a lot of pressure to me.  Example- the Christmas tree almost always goes up during Thanksgiving weekend.  This year...well, this year has been tough, brutal, awful, miserable...pick a pitiful sounding describer and you get the the tree suffered.  I'm sure the poor thing, only a year old, felt it was going to languish away the holidays in the crawlspace.

We finally hauled it out three days before Christmas.

But the New Year's blog post?  Considering I haven't publicly posted since last New Year's day, I feel I should probably adhere to this little tradition.  It is a day late...but since "late" has morphed into entirely new meaning this year, please just be thankful it isn't the New Year's post which has pictures of the 2015 Valentine's Day breakfast for my girls.  Sound good?  Let's do this...

2014 was a year which required silence.  I could not publicly post about pain or joy or really anything.  Last year was difficult in ways which have been unmatched in the history of my quiet, little life.  Our family broke apart.  We faced what half the population of the world has endured, a family separated, one whole becoming two halves.  A mom and a dad apart, with three children shuffled back and forth between. I can't and won't speak for Ron, his story is his to tell, same as mine.

For me,  I went a little crazy from the breaking apart.  Or, perhaps more accurately, I cut myself to pieces on all the sharp remains after the breaking.  Years of ugly, unresolved issues become death when released into the open without the grace of hope covering them.  I'm pretty honestly sure I was just a wee bit insane for a couple of weeks...months...there.  Maybe that's all in my head, but maybe that's the point of insanity anyway.  My girls were brave and then they shattered.

But we survived, as always.  I'm starting to think that surviving isn't exactly the best barometer of making it through tough times.  We didn't die...give us a high five.  There are many points in between happiness and death...and survival can mean so many things.  One can survive an event and yet be changed so dramatically that death might have been more gracious than attempting to move forward in the alteration.

So here's a better description- the girls and I got real with each other and had to daily offer tremendous grace and forgiveness, as we put one foot in front of the other.  My Mom has a favorite phrase she uses when the girls are fighting with each other:
 "Girls, now don't be ugly with each other."

I honestly never really understood that phrase until this year.  I get now that ugly can describe more than outer appearances.  It can be hate-filled attitudes and cutting words.  Confusion that spills out of our hearts and shoves from our mouths, destroying those we love.  We were ugly in 2014, for sure. Angry, confused, bitter, hopeless, hurting, and full of panic and fear for the future.  All five of us...I will not speak for Ron in anything else, but I will in that, because I know it's truth.  

I had friends come alongside me the past year that quite literally carried me through.  Some were there for a season and some remain.  Here is a public shout out to my closest friends- Melissa, Shannon, Josh, Maria and Margaret- thank you for holding, listening, helping, blessing and being my constant support.  I love you all so very much.  And for my co-workers at Challenge...all of my amazing teachers and staff, who saw my pain and encouraged me this year...Thank you.  We are a family there and I am humbled to be part of it.  

I learned a lot of lot of lessons this past year.  Here are some simple ones that are important when facing a crisis:

1. Get real.  You can't move forward if you can't figure out and say the truth out loud.  The quote at the top is the truest thing I've learned all year.  Stop lying to yourself about the actual circumstances in front of you.  I have serious trouble figuring out truth in situations, especially in the things I tell myself about others and about myself.  I was taught years ago, through heavy emotional manipulation, how to not trust my gut instincts.  I am in slow recovery from this abuse, but it's a process.
2. Acknowledge your part and forgive yourself.  This one is so hard for me...both parts...that I really shouldn't even write it, in integrity.  I tend to take all the blame or none at all. Figure out the truth and then be done with the things that are done. Let go let go let go let go.
3.  Say you are sorry.  Daily, if necessary, and especially if there are children present in this crisis with you. We all say and do things in the stress of a crisis that are hurtful.  Be humble and apologize and watch hearts start to flourish again.
4.  Find people who care about you without agenda and draw them close to you.  Do your best to be there for them as they are there for you.  I have been so blessed in this area.
5.  Flush your pride down the toilet, but keep your self-respect wrapped around you.  They are two very different things.  Respect and build a healthy relationship with yourself. This action will impact all your decisions and relationships positively.
6.  Walk forward in gratitude, every single day.  Do not drown in all the negativity of the crisis. Gratitude keeps us centered and calm.  

I've predicted for the past two years that something big was coming for our family in 2014...and I suppose I was right, in a horrid sort of way.  No speculations this year.  Just hope for healing and peace, and a finding of the joy we searched for all of 2014.  

That's a heavy New Year's post. Thanks for reading.  I wish joy for you this year as well.  Comment below, follow me on here...I promise I will be writing more this year...or shoot me an email.  I'd love to hear from you.