12.5.17 Believing Anyway



“Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.” Hamilton Wright Mabie

It was over a year ago now, that much I remember, when I fell asleep crying because I knew that someday, I’d have to tell my son the truth about Santa Claus. I remember it distinctly, because the moonlight was bright, and my pillow was salty and damp with heavy tears continuing to stream and soak in as I silently continued to weep. It was the idea of someday that pained me – the idea that someday I’d have to make him grow up just a little bit more … and it hurt, but I carried on and calmed myself with the solace that “someday,” was not today.

A few days ago, “someday” came. As a child I never understood the term bittersweet, or when people tried to tell me that pain could be beautiful. But now? As a mother? I understand.

He came to me on a Friday night, after school, after piano lessons, rumpled and boyish and wonderful. “Hey mom?” he hedged, “I know that Santa is real, but I just wanted to ask you, because … well … he is right?” And as much as I wanted to, as many times as I had before, this time was different because this time, his eyes begged to dispel a truth he already half-wished he didn’t know. Every time I’ve ever had to have a difficult conversation with my children, I’ve prayed God would just let me know the right time – and this was his.

In a series of too-short moments, I explained that Santa was a real and wonderful man. I spoke of his history, and his mission, and the way that he helped people believe in the beauty and love of giving. I said I believe in Santa, because I believe in his mission, and the magic and wonder of his mission lives on through us.

And he cried.

And I cried.

And I lifted that beautiful, long-limbed boy into my too-small arms and cradled him for just a moment. In the stretch of tears and sniffles, he turned to me with a weak smile on his now, somehow older face. “I understand mom,” he said, “and I believe in his mission too.” Then his expression shifted to something of worry and he asked, “But last year mom, when I got the new video game system – it was so expensive … I’m so sorry!”

And I cried again. Here this boy. This wonderful, God-given gift, who I would have done anything for just to give him one more day of believing, was selfless enough in his own heartbreak to worry about our bank account. After telling him it was nothing, that we gave from Santa’s spirit of giving, he looked at me with his deeply-watering eyes and hugging me said, “Thank you so much.”

I have experienced many a treasured Christmas, but this understanding, his ability to love beyond disappointment – that was a gift beyond words.

Wherever you are in the realm of the magic of Christmas … of first wishes, fond memories, or once-upon-a-snowflakes, I wish you the delicate, yet miraculously shatterproof love that keeps a broken heart beating … a tear-streaked face smiling … and a spirit believing – anyway.




11.11.16 A Double-Fisted Day



This week I was in line for Starbucks … again.  I’d just been there two days before, but I needed it, and vindicated my drinking choices with my blonde-head held high.  I was that kind of girl … the Starbucks-toting, it-is-what-it-is “Gold Card Member,” drive-through frequenter that women like me are so typically pegged to be.  There’s a favorite verse of mine, Corinthians 15:10 that says, “But by the grace of God, I am what I am, and his grace within me is not without effect.”  I realized I would not be “effective” at all, without a Ventì.

While I might regret my Starbucks affliction at times, this week, (yes I’m talking about Wednesday morning) there was NOTHING that could keep me away from my perkalicious-pick-me-up.  The funniest thing was, as I made the necessary left, and quick right turn into the parking lot, my kids chorused, ” Again mom?”

“Don’t be judgmental,” I chided, “it’s not an attractive quality.

“Yeah,” my son said, “but weren’t you just here like – a day ago?”

Thankfully, right as we pulled into the line, I saw something beautiful … a man drinking a large porcelain cup of coffee, as he waited in the drive through line to order MORE coffee!  I laughed out loud and immediately diverted the conversation by throwing this amazing man right under the proverbial bus. “See,” I literally pointed,”now that guy has problems!  He’s the addict.”  My kids reluctantly agreed, and let me proceed with my order sans discrimination due to the double-fisted wonder ahead of me.  Still, if I hadn’t felt so “on-watch” I’d have loved to get another drink today … maybe two.

And while my pride won’t let me, I’ve decided to exonerate you … to absolve if you need to have a double-fisted day of three shots of espresso, or even something stronger.  So here’s a small list of reasons to allow you to be, “Off the Hook,” so-to-speak.   Relate to one, or ten … and enjoy a drink on me!

Official Double-Fisted Off the Hook List

  • If you’ve lost sleep because you’re looking into moving to Australia instead of staying in America … you’re off the hook.
  • If you’re balancing work, or kids, or school, or all of the above … you’re off the hook.
  • If you’re going on a television fast because you can’t stand to see another Black Friday commercial thus reminding you of the inevitability that you’re about to be broke in a month … you’re off the hook.
  • If your laundry is tracking you and the only way to avoid it is to leave the house … you’re off the hook.
  • If your inbox is filled to the digital brim with things you’re trying hard to ignore … you’re off the hook.
  • If you realized that the Halloween candy bowl is a lot lighter but you aren’t … you’re off the hook.
  • If you just want to go jump in the leaves but have to go to work instead … you’re off the hook.
  • If you needed to wear your winter coat for the first time this week … you’re off the hook.
  • If the only family member who hasn’t made you lose your temper this week is the cat or dog … you’re off the hook.
  • If you’ve already double booked (or triple-booked) for the holidays … you’re off the hook.
  • If you’ve spent any amount of time at all on Pinterest, thus making you feel like an epic failure … you’re off the hook.
  • If you had someone tell you, “You look tired,” this week …  you’re off the hook.
  • If you would do anything to stay in bed but the alarm is reminding you that the world expects you to show up … you’re off the hook.

You’re vindicated, you’re exonerated, you’re double-fist coffee worthy!

Carry on.


4.19.16 Least of These



“If you don’t take hold of the light, the darkness will take ahold of you.” Dave Brickey

People don’t typically gravitate toward teenagers. They’re seen as “the least” of society. Selfish. Egotistical. Moody. Lazy. I can think of a dozen more titles flippantly cast at the age. Mostly, it’s true, or it can be. So for the past few years, I’ve done a research project that asks my students to chose a charity to study, advocate for, and represent to the class. It has been an amazing journey of seeing teenagers learn to care about something bigger than their day, and invest in something that isn’t self-serving. While the initial draw is the $100.00 I promise to donate to the winner’s charity, there are always countless examples during presentations that prove it is so much more than a competition. This year was no different.

In the beginning of the unit, I tell the students that they may chose any charity, but to get my approval, they must first convince me that they are the right person to be an ambassador for this cause. They need to make a connection. I don’t always anticipate just how deep a chord this will strike. A few days ago, near the end of a week of feel-good presentations, it was her turn. Her. The beautiful girl who doesn’t know she’s beautiful … who hides behind the hair that falls in her face … who wears only black, or grey … who smiles, but speaks only in whispers. Her.

I tell the students that they need to dress up to present, and that hoodies and jeans aren’t allowed. She stood simply, removing her ever-present grey hoodie at the last minute to reveal a plain white t-shirt. Quietly, she walked to the front of the room, not choosing the digital format of a website or powerpoint, but an old fashioned poster to display her information. It was hand-written, but neatly … and there were only a few pictures. To Write Love on Her Arms was the name of her charity, and I remember being struck when she chose it, at the beauty in the name, and the beauty in the girl who found the charity dedicated to helping those who suffer from: depression, addiction, and self-harm. She’d told me, when she picked it, that a friend of hers needed support, and she was glad there were places, “like this,” to help her.

She began with the facts, displayed the mission and the purpose, and then paused. She was breathing heavily, placing her arms on her legs like someone who’d just run very far and needed a moment to compose themselves.  Then she raised her arms, those hidden, secret arms concealed daily in a hoodie, and shared her faint, criss-cross scars with the world. She exposed what was left of her dark choices, and went on to bravely implore her fellow classmates to get help, and offer help. She said she was better, but explained why she, and so many like her, hide. With tears shed and shared, I could not have been more proud of her … and for that moment … she was the class hero.

Lately I’ve heard so many, many problems others have been facing. Students I know, kids of friends, acquaintances, grown and child alike … they are hurting, or scared, or confused.  And they are literally waiting for any ear open enough to hear their call. I’ve always been attracted to the passage in the Bible from Matthew 25:40 which says,  “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” If that’s true … we cannot possibly be confused about our calling.

This poem is for them.  All of them who need us … whoever they are. Please share it.

Least of These

You are far from the least of these,

that harbor troubled hearts,

entangled with troubled minds.

You are not simply one in a million voices,

but rather one voice that is quiet …

but heard.

What I have come to realize,

dear one,

is that skating on eggshell thin self-esteem

cannot get you far enough,

fast enough

from where you’ve been traveling.

You’ve become a fragile creature,

too accustomed to the dark to remember how to feel comfortable in the light.

But you are not lost,

because the truly lost have none reaching out to them –

and I’m still reaching.

You need to trust that different 

really can be,

and that there is such a place

as better.

Leave worse to the shadows it came from.

Remember that no one gets it right all the time,

and that even those of us on the upside of down –


We’ve just been in the light long enough to know

that it’s always strong enough to pull us back.

So if you’re not there yet … if you’re not quite strong enough to handle it all …

I want you to know it’s okay.

Insecurities are not weakness,

they’re only fears unresolved.

And everyone has them,

it’s just time to untie their bind on you.

You aren’t alone –

you never were.

And it’s time you be properly introduced

back into the world you belong in …


And even if, for now,

(because it won’t always be so, I promise)

mine is the only world you’re comfortable rejoining,

it will be enough.

You will be safe, with me.

Little by little, you’ll find yourself –

the you we’ve all missed so dearly.

Moment by moment you won’t have to try quite so hard,

and your choices will be seen more clearly.

Day after day,

your eyes will adjust to the light …

until it is your turn,

to reach out,

and bring someone back too.




3.8.16 Just for the Sake of Lovely



“I’m slowing down the tune, I never liked it fast. You want to get there soon, I want to get there last.” – Leonard Cohen

So I live my life mostly chasing time.  I think somewhere between college and marriage and career and kids somehow the remote control of my fate seems to have gotten stuck on fast-forward and I cannot (for all I might want to) get the pause button to work.  Even on days off, I am over-committed with “meetings” and “have-to’s” and “I can’t believe I almost forgot abouts.”  And it’s alright.  But sometimes, like the quote above, “I want to get there last.”  I want to intentionally dawdle … waste time … or just be in the midst of it all. 

You can ask my parents, I’ve never been in a hurry to grow up.  Even going through childhood I would sometimes pause and think to myself, “This is going too fast.” Foolishly I’d try to force myself to be young, but we cannot stop it … inevitably something happens to remind us of our place – of our time.  I can’t  lessen the speed of days, but that doesn’t mean I have to accept it.  Not really. 

Instead, I’ve found ways to cope, by surrounding myself with bits of choices that refuse to run along with the responsibilities of my schedule.  They tug at the corners of my day to make me play just a little.  These choices are my illusion of slow … of stillness, and I add them incrementally (so life can’t catch me).  

So today I wore a skirt of tule, and when I slid into the car, I needed to pause to scoop up the bunches of fabric carefully, reminding me of my wedding day, and I smiled.

I wore pink ballet flats with sparkles, and when someone told me I looked like a fairy, I shared that it is my utmost wish to be one.  

The wind tickled around me, pushing stray strands of blonde about my face, and I relished in nature’s tiny game of chase.  

And when no one was looking, I let myself twirl … just for the sake of lovely. 




2.8.16 To Live



“To live will be an awfully big adventure.” -J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Daddy, you are turning sixty, and my but that seems like an extraordinary number.  Take a minute, one set of sixty-seconds to just imagine the scope of what you’ve done in this life.

You have lived 21,900 days.

Your heart has beat more than 44,150,400 times.

You’ve taken more than 438,000,000 breaths.

By now, you would have dreamed at least 65,700 dreams if you were average … but I know you … and as a dreamer, you’re more likely in the 131,400 range.

Over the years, you’ve traveled past 3,120 sets of seven days in a week.

You have witnessed sixty sets of four seasons parading, one after another for you to enjoy.

You’ve been married 39 years, which means that for 14,235 days and nights, you’ve never been alone.

A workaholic in the most honorable way, you’ve worked nearly 12,000 days, and clocked in likely more than 120,000 hours.

Sources say that most men drive nearly 16,000 miles a year, which, if correct, puts you right near a million miles traveled.

You’ve been a father for 13,870 days, (which accounts for many sleepless nights, I now know, but who wants to count those).

More than 76,650 hours of music have filled your days as you taught me how to appreciate only the really good songs.

On estimation, you have taken over 109,500,000 steps in your life … and I love how you’ve never looked back once.

You’ve lived more in sixty years than some people do in a whole lifetime daddy, and I’m sure it gets tiring sometimes, but I want you to know this isn’t an end – like Avi says, it is just, “The end of the beginning.”

And I wish I could be there to help you celebrate … to ring in this new year the way only  you and I can, with lots of room for childishness and dreaming – but all those miles you’ve traveled have sadly settled about 660 between us, and it’s hard. So instead I’ve decided to give you a piece of what you and I do best … imagination, and pretend.

Daddy I want you to imagine that I’m painting you a picture … just like the ones you taped to the fridge when I was little.  And pretend that somehow, I was able to join together our most precious memories in one watercolored-blend of construction paper. In the center, I’m brand new, wrapped snugly in the soft blue blanket you and mom bought in anticipation of the boy I didn’t turn out to be after all, your gentle lips curl in the silent paper lullaby you’d have sung. The upper left-hand corner, shows me curled asleep in your lap at a concert, completely oblivious in the comfort of my dreams.  Then below it, following the line of a fishing pole you’re casting, you see my delighted, double-pigtailed head, bobbing with the weight of anticipation for my first catch.

Drifting to the right, your strong arms wind around mine as I take my first swing, rounding the edges that blur onto the sidewalk, with you chasing behind me after I made you promise not to let go. In the center, you stand behind mom taking pictures of me, all dressed up with a boy at my side, resigning yourself to the periphery with a sad, but knowing smile. Trailing the veil of paint, I now stand, with you on my arm for the last time, before you give me to a different boy, this time … forever. But in a curl, at the bottom left corner, you bend to kiss my forehead, and then his, your first grandson nestled in my arms. As the picture advances on, there are now two children to call you Papa … the granddaughter looking surreally similar to your own baby girl from years ago.

And on the bottom right?  That piece is unpainted – the story yet to be, as we have many adventures still in wait for us to live.

Can you see it daddy? I painted with the best words I could … just for you.

To Neverland and Back,

Your Elle

2.1.16 See People



 I think the world is blind sometimes.  Truly.  We live and work and shift in and around one another constantly, but how often can we actually say that we, “see” people?  Not often enough is my perception.  Children’s book author Dodie Smith once said, “I like seeing people when they can’t see me.”  And I would argue that most often, that is the case because not many bother to look.  This isn’t a slam or a tirade, just an observation of the sightlessness of society.  I’m certainly a part of this – of overlooking, or simply looking past that which I don’t always take the time to notice.  But then there’s sometimes … and I am a better me when I am looking then.

When I’m really observant, I see him.  A man shuffling his way down the street, bent in half with the weight of years sagging down his once-strong shoulders.  He is a time capsule, living history … but with no one to tell his stories to, he’s simply lost in an age that forgets his value.

When I take the time to notice, I see her.  A woman sitting alone at a cafe table filled with empty places.  Guests filter in and fill the tight space with the friends and lovers they brought along, and one by one they ask her if they can borrow a seat.  She smiles tightly, a new intensity focused on her newspaper, as she perpetually loses chairs from a table she wishes was full.

When I scan the noise I see him.  A boy, inking letters onto his forearm during class, marking himself with words and symbols the world expects to see.  He bears true the reality that people will always live down to your expectations, and since no one ever takes the time to set the bar higher for him – he’s got nowhere to try to climb.

When I watch the chaos I see her.  She is the only thing still.  Beautiful like a chameleon, she camouflages herself into the fade of background noise.  She glances with tired eyes at the overly-enthusiastic masks around her, wishing she was a better actress so that she could pretend to fit in … but she’s too different.  A butterfly among moths doesn’t change the fact that she’s the outlier, no matter how lovely her wings.

And I wish that everyone saw them.  I wish most of all that there were something to say.  Norwegian poet and novelist Tarjei Vesaas said, “Almost nothing need be said when you have eyes.”  But I think I’d amend it to say, “When you have eyes that are open.”

What we see may not change what is … but it just may incite a prayer, a conversation, or the smile that says, “Carry on gentle spirit, until we see one another again.”

Take it in.  Look around you.  And please, see people.


1.24.16 Common Denominator 


 What do a hole in my dress, a rough day at work, a dead mouse in my garage, and a hairball on my carpet have in common?  Nothing! They are a series of unrelated-awfuls whose only common denominator is that they all happened to me on the same day, and might I mention it was the day my husband left for Dubai for ten days?  It was the very same day he called to tell me he saw the best two movies on the airplane, the day he told me he worked out for an hour and a half at the hotel gym, and the day he shared six pictures of the amazing suite they just happened to upgrade him to for no reason! 

Awesome!” I said, in a just north of crazy but south of sane voice.  It was a day … period. Many of my friends know he’s gone, and they text me and ask me how I am, and I say fine, because, well, what else is there to say? I’m not going to lie and say great, because, as my hilarious sister once said, “I’ve got better things to save my lies for.” 

The thing about mothers is, we have to be fine, and we have to carry on, because God only knows what brand of unbalanced we’ll face tomorrow. I just got a text from my world-class traveling husband who is, yet again, working out. I, on the other hand, am having a grand sit in my car while I wait for soccer practice to end! So similar! 

I hate how men age well and women just, well – age. But it makes sense as to why. It’s because of days like these, and those, and all that are yet to come. We’re beautiful messes going insane as we try desperately not to forget anything! 

Quality and efficiency don’t mix. Trust me I would know. I brush my teeth in the shower, do squats while I’m flossing, and blow dry my hair by putting the vent on high in the car on my way to work. Sometimes I test my dishwasher by not rinsing first, realize that it, indeed, doesn’t get everything off, and proceed by just running the cycle twice. I never iron, just repeatedly put my dryer on “Freshen,” as if it’s the same thing. I take short cuts. I survive. 

I’m not winning mother or wife-of-the-year anytime soon, and I know it. That’s okay with me, but I’m well aware there are also things I can do to keep me closest to the best version of myself (or the better version, depending on the day). 

My husband is amazing, truly. He helps out (when he’s in the country).  But whenever he leaves for a significant amount of time, my stubborn streak kicks in, and Little Miss Independant, comes on strong. He returns and wants to come to the rescue and I just get annoyed, claiming I can do it all in a desperate attempt that my saying it will somehow make it true. But it doesn’t. 

So what are some solutions to me becomming a better me in these situations? 

Getting to church late, but still getting there …

 Going out with a friend who doesn’t ask how I am because she lives the same rerun I do … 

Pretending I’m picking up a biology sample instead of agnowledging there was a legit mouse in my garage … 

Taking a bath even if I’ve got kids and cats wandering in and out of my not-so-private, private time …

Making sure I work out every time I hear my hubby got to … 

Thanking God that he gave me the humility to laugh at almost every scenario …

Snuggling up with my children, even at the cost of less sleep, just so I’m waking with a view no wonder of the world could compete with …

These are the answers to my exhaustion, my pride, and my wrinkles. 

At the end of the day, even a day like some I’ve been living, love is the common denominator … love of my husband for his patience in seeing a version of me I never will, love in the two sets of eyes that crinkle with smiles, and love in this chaotic string of days that are both aging me, and making every moment ageless. 

Embrace it all, 


1.4.16 I Un-Resolve


The English novelist Aldous Huxley once said, “There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that is your own self. So you have to begin there, not outside, not on other people. That comes afterwards, when you have worked on your own corner.” 

So … great quote, but to me it just represents a big, fat, fail. Because I did the exact opposite!  I stepped into work, the first day of the new year, and after exchanging pleasantries asked my friend when she was going to quit smoking.  Just like that. I spoke first, and registered my words only after I saw her abashed expression that this personal struggle was just that – PERSONAL! 

Now I may have asked her with good intention, with a heart that desired her health, but hidden in even in the purest of intentions are judgements. Singer/songwriter Eric Hutchinson stole the words of my conscious when he sang, “I think I’ve been wrong enough to know when I’m right.”  And I’m right in this … I was wrong. 

I embarrassed her. I called her out. And that’s not the, “corner of the universe,” I was called to improve. What about me – the girl who worries too much? Me – the procrastinator? Me – the perfectionist? Me – the hypocrite who hates judgmental people and then judges them for it!?! 

This year, I did not make a resolution … but as you can see above, there are certainly a number of un-resolved aspects of my character I’ve yet to work on. The edges and bristles I’ve adopted need to be worn smooth again and my too-quick tongue needs to be slowed. 

So this year: 

I un-resolve trying to fix others. 

I un-resolve thinking perfect is desirable.

I un-resolve judging that what is right for me, is right for everyone. 

I un-resolve giving myself a due date for creative intentions. 

I un-resolve believing that I cannot be fully forgiven, or fully loved. 

If I can keep to this list, I think I’ve got a chance to find myself a little more often. The other day I overheard two ladies talking as I walked passed them. And I could’ve sworn that when the first said, “Nice to see you,” the other said, “Nice to see me too.” I wanted to laugh, but then the mis-said phrase struck me a little, because if truth be told … there are times I’ve felt it would not only be nice to see me, but to be me. The real me.  The one I so often ignore or push aside to persue the demands of the me I so often am. 

So this past weekend I stole time.  I drove thirty minutes on a back-county road. It was just me and a milk truck for miles, and for once I didn’t even have the urge to pass. I went to my favorite coffee shop and ordered a white chocolate gingerbread mocha, without making it the,”skinny” version. I took a bath for thirty minutes of alone time with a great book. 

I prayed. 

I played. 

I breathed. 

And it was good to see me too. 

I’m not there yet, resolving the un-resolved takes time after all. But I’m on my way – to judging less, to loving more, and to hoping that maybe, just maybe, this year … I’ll be that much closer to getting, “me,” right.  

12.14.15 Snow Angels



At the very start of this winter season, we were lavished with snow.  It fell in lacy swirls, but quickly accumulated, the branches of trees no longer vertical, but bowing in majesty to the weight of winter.  Enchanting.

So what did my kids and I do in that foot of snow?  Did we make a snowman?  No … too logical.  Did we shovel?  No … too practical.  Did we stay inside with a fire in our fireplace and delight ourselves with cocoa and a wintery movie?  Of course not!  That would’ve been too amazingly perfect.  Instead, we went to Target in our Mini Cooper!  Of course!  Why wouldn’t I decide that the thing I absolutely had to go get needed to be gotten right then?  Now, two weeks later, I couldn’t tell you what that thing was.  But I guarantee it was important enough to leave the safety and warmth of our home … wasn’t it?

I would equate my drive there to the unknown quote that says, “When everything’s coming your way, you’re in the wrong lane!”  Completely!  First, there was the overconfident truck that passed me.  This not only made me slow down even slower, so as not to bump into the Ford-shaped leviathan, but also nearly set my miniature wipers into flight as they rapidly tried to scrape the slushy-backlash off my windshield!  Breathing deeply, driving at a snails pace, I imagined the scene from Chevy Chase’s Christmas Vacation, envisioning my Cooper riding under the big-wheeled rig ahead.

After about two minutes of peace, there were the snow drifts, (encrusted with ice beneath for a fun little skid every forty feet).  My kids, meanwhile, were: singing Christmas songs loudly, asking me to switch the number of the song, requesting I turn it up, turn it down, or make one or the other stop singing so they could have their turn to sing alone.

I was frazzled, to say the least, until I saw the snowplow ahead … NOT dropping salt … NOT scraping the undercurrent of ice I was riding like a rail, but driving past, no doubt on its way to do God knows what since, in my opinion, it certainly wasn’t doing its job!  I wanted to shout, “Why the heaven are you even on the road?  To tease us?”  But I had my little cherubic singers to think about after all … listening to “Silent Night” in Spanish, while one tried to sing it in English, as the other chose to sing it in German that he learned at last year’s Christmas concert.  Like a bubble of United Nations, it was a multicultural, cacophony that was anything but silent and peaceful, as the ironic song suggested.

Finally, after a fifteen turned forty-five minute drive, we made it!  I saw the red and white Target sign and felt the way a forlorn sailor might when he sees the beacon of a lighthouse in the distance.   Euphoric!

Finding a spot directly in front of the store, I remembered all the great reasons we’d left in the first place.  I could just feel the warm heat of the entrance, breathe-in the sharp scent of espresso from the adjacent Starbucks and picture my Cartwheel app scanning up digital savings.  We were almost there.  Almost.  But if you’ve been following me for awhile, you know how I feel about almost.  Almost never actually happens; therefore, almost doesn’t exist.

Right when I pulled into the fateful spot, I felt a soft “whoosh” of my Mini-Cooper’s tire over a not-so-mini-friendly tuft of snow.  Immediately, a train of words that only travel with exclamation points punctuated my mind as my cheeks turned winter-bitten red.  Back and forth.  Drive and reverse.  Breathe in, fume out.

“Why aren’t we getting out if we’re there?” my daughter asked from the backseat.

“Because we aren’t actually there!”  I said, not as calmly as I should have.

“Yeah we are,” my son chimed in.

“I see it,” she affirmed.

“We’re not moving,” he added.

“I think we’re parked,” she finished.

“We aren’t parked!”  I said, stepping out.

“Then why are you getting out?” he asked helpfully!!!!!

I think I slammed the door without answering, figuring that if I did answer, I might not be able to keep my prickly words from shooting out of my mouth like porcupine quills.  Thinking through the things I’ve seen people do, I kicked snow out from under each of the tires, rocked it back and forth, looked around like an idiot trying to solve my own personal rubics cube puzzle of white.  And you know what I realized?  The things I’ve seen people do don’t work for five foot three people like me.

As I took a moment to look up to the still-snowy sky, I noticed headlights behind me.  Turning like a literal deer in the headlights, I found myself staring at a gorgeous eggnog-colored sparkling Escalade.  It sailed across the snowy patches with ease, stopping just in front of me.  In a moment, three gentlemen came out.  “Need a little help?”  They asked smiling.

“Yes!” I said, almost laughing at how instantly my very independent nature humbled itself.

Within two minutes they had my car cleared and parked.  Not stopping to park themselves, I was surprised when they just kept going.  They weren’t headed to Target, but just (for some divine reason) passing through the parking lot.  Sliding into our ultimate destination, Hebrews 13:2 crossed my mind, “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers; for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”  Three strong men coming out of nowhere in a pearly-white vehicle?  Stranger things have happened than to acknowlege seraphic work was being done.

So after all that, we got our “whatever it was,” and slowly made our way home, much less eventfully than we came.  There were other cars, but they stayed behind me.  There were plows, but they were doing their job scraping and salting.  There was signing, but one song, in one language – together.  And if I’d had any less of a memory, I’d say it was almost as if none of the driving drama had happened at all.

In the end, I believe that sometimes God allows us to make a fool out of ourselves, just to remind us that we need him … that he will provide … and that there just might be such a thing as snow angels to keep you safe on a wild, winter day.

Stay warm,


12.7.15 Scars and Stories



“Never be ashamed of your scars. It simply means you were stronger than whatever tried to hurt you.” -Unknown

So I have this scar, right across my chest. It is about two inches long and one inch wide.  In retrospect, it’s fairly new … only about four-years-old, but it’s there, and after people know me for an “allowable” amount of time for it not to be awkward, they ask me about it.  I tell them that it was just a little irregular birthmark that the dermatologist offered to leave and watch or take off.  I said take it off without question.  I’ll never forget, the doctor said, “But you’ll have a scar.”

“Yeah, but I won’t have cancer,” I replied incredulously.

At first I was self-conscious about it, I tried to cover it.  I used make-up and tried to strategically place scarves across it.  A few years later my cousin, a year older than me, developed thyroid cancer.  I’m thankful to say that she is in total remission, but the surgery left its scar, long and thin on the side of her neck.  The thing is … she wore it like a mark of courage, a branding of what she’d been through, and overcome.  I was so proud of her; she understood something it takes most of us a lot longer to figure out.  Scars are stories.  They’re badges of honor, and paint us with proof of a life being lived.

It is an easy thing to forget, however, that most scars can’t be seen.  This fact reveals itself to me every day with my students.  Rumored to be a “difficult” bunch, the hearsay’s were definitely true, and most days are some form of exhausting.  Recently, I told my son that my class was tough, and when he asked how, I tried to remain positive, but honestly said they had some challenging behavior.  He looked at me with wide, clear perspective and said, “Maybe they’re only bad because someone was bad to them.”

He was right.  In the few months since that conversation I’ve gotten to see glimpses of their scars.  They’re the hidden kind … the kind that don’t show unless they’re willing to share, but every time they feel safe enough to talk, I imagine their scars fading just a little bit.  I feel like I’m learning that coming to the end of your own insecurity allows you to meet someone at the beginning of theirs. And that’s the whole point.  It’s what we’re here for.  To love, to listen, and to share stories that help us all heal just a little bit more.

A few weeks ago I had my physical, and my doctor offered me a few products to help minimize the size and color of the scar across my chest.  But what he couldn’t possibly know, is that outward imperfection truly helps remind me to be aware of the scars we can’t see that others depend on us to find.

So here’s to not covering scars.  Here’s to being proud of the blemished roadmap that brought us to who we are today.  Here’s to embracing that beautiful and broken aren’t mutually exclusive qualities.  And here’s to letting the flawless love of God be the only cover you need.