Thanks for joining me here.
Read some thoughts on issues affecting daily life and life around our world. Read and join in the conversation. What moves you? How do you respond to the issues we face today?

a three+ month sabbatical

As you may have noticed, I took a break from blogging. I often say, "life got in the way," or, "life got busy." Just the usual like becoming pregnant, hosting many visiting friends and family, preparing for my husband's Air Force retirement, interviewing for jobs in new locations, and preparing for my sister's wedding. Maybe a bit unusual for all of this to happen all at once but someone mused yesterday that military life tends to be like this. There must be some unwritten rule that you can't move unless you're pregnant or a new parent. The truth is that military life as we know it is coming to an end. This upcoming move marks our final PCS or permanent change of station. By God's grace, we've arrived at a location we're excited about (TBA with final details and all) and trust we'll find a home that suits us. This is one of the final times I'll sit in my new favorite coffee shop, having a "me morning" to write so I thought I'd make it count (briefly). Now, off to pick up lil' Miss Miriam. :)

Memories of India

When asked to describe India, I recall sensory overload. The colors, the flavors, the sounds, the textures, the smells all intensified. I lived in Delhi, a caldron of sensory splendor -- vibrant marigold garlands and fuchsia sarees, Aunty's to-die-for aloo gobi parathas with ghee, the ceaseless honking, the red crumbling stone of the Deer Park madrasa, the sweet jasmines in the evening -- all of it floods back to memory and I'm transported back to India.

Before I lived in Delhi, however, I worked with an NGO up north in Himachal Pradesh. On my first trip up there, the "luxury" buses were sold out so a kind gentleman managed to book me three seats on a local bus. Picture school bus-style seats for rather thin, five-foot-tall individuals. I had an entire seat to my self and, honestly, that was an unheard of luxury to locals. My mountaineering-sized backpack sat in the "aisle" seat and I took up the remaining two "seats." The kind gentleman explained to a couple ladies on the bus (I was Fresh Off The Boat or Plane, as it were, and spoke no Hindi) that I required assistance finding the toilet and procuring food along the overnight journey. They dutifully led me to the shacks with holes in the floor and even paid my toilet fee! With that business taken care of, they joyfully waved me over to join them for a spicy dal chawal (rice and lentils) dinner with their family. We pantomimed back and forth in conversation then returned to the bus. I wearily arrived at the local bus station at dawn and met my new boss, also known as the Communist who did not celebrate Gandhi's birthday but that's a story for another time.

A Celebration of Life: a short story

This story was written for a Montana Public Radio contest. Enjoy!

A Celebration of Life

As I drive closer to the mountains, my finger instinctively hits the Montana Public Radio-programmed button. Hopefully I’ll catch the weather forecast before I lose service. I checked before I left home; it’s going to be bitterly cold, -10 degrees Fahrenheit, but at least the snow should be safe to traverse. I’m hoping Eric Whitney buoys my hopes by forecasting a balmy 0 degrees. Either way, I’ve got to get outside. The mountains are calling my name so I do what any rational Montanan does and head out.
The weather report forecasts more bitter-coldness and as static overtakes the news, I switch to a folk CD. Pulling into the parking lot, I notice I’m the only vehicle here. Not surprising -- who else would be crazy enough to be out on a night like this? All of my buddies are back home, enjoying a hot beverage, reading a good book, and stoking the fire but let’s not think about those creature comforts. I’ve got miles to go before I sleep. I double check my headlamp, hoist my backpack on, and step into my skis. With my faithful retriever, Buddy, by my side, I head into the wilderness.
Dark descends and I forge through snow, making first tracks. Buddy chases ahead then falls behind, consumed by a squirrel that darted up a tree. It’s a clear evening and the moon lights my way. I reserved a little cabin nestled a few miles into the woods. I couldn’t get off work as early as I would have liked but this day has been emblazoned on my mind for the past year. Today, of all days, I need to be outside. Today would have marked my brother’s 30th birthday celebration, had he lived to see it. Instead, it’s a solitary day. I just want to be outside where he and I always felt at home.
I see the cabin up ahead and slog the final way as Buddy dashes off with boundless energy. Leaving my skis outside, I dump my pack and make a fire in the woodstove. Now we’re talking! Say goodbye to 0 degrees and dropping. I feed Buddy, prep dinner, eat, read, and say goodnight to Buddy like I have so many nights before out here. Lying down with nothing before me but sleep, the significance of the day settles over me. Grief rolls over me like waves and I sob. Buddy plods over and nuzzles his nose into my sleeping bag. Wiping the tears away, I walk to the entrance and open the door. Buddy by my side, I stare out upon the still, snow-swept landscape illumined by the moon hanging low in the sky. The magnificence of creation and my seeming insignificance sober me. Mountains rise up around me, stars fill the sky, and here am I – alive and grateful. I come out here for moments like these to refresh my perspective.
In contrast to the sobering nightscape, the daylight causes hope and joy to rise up. The sun shines like so many millions of diamonds on the snow. The birds sing among the trees. The mountains echo their morning song. We repeat similar tasks as last night, eating and cleaning, then hit the trail we blazed yesterday. Although my thermometer reads 0 degrees, the sun is shining, I’m skiing, and Buddy’s by my side. Those old words ring true that “weeping may endure for the night but joy comes in the morning.”

We reach the truck, pack up, and head back to town. Once again, my finger instinctively hits the MTPR button as we head out of the mountains. Freeforms plays folk tunes, evoking nostalgia. I remember so many backcountry trips with my brother and smile. If he had lived to see his 30th birthday, we would have skied into a little cabin in the woods bathed in moonlight and surrounded by mountains to celebrate life.

Highwood Baldy -- another Montana Misadventure

At the outset, I'll premise this post by stating a few aims dependent upon your geography and adventure-lust. First, if you live in Montana and have a high adventure quotient, this post aims to help you steer clear of the mistakes we made as you attempt to climb Highwood Baldy from the Deer Creek Trailhead. Second, if you live in Montana and are intimately familiar with this route, you might sympathize and/or laugh at the predicament we found ourselves in. Finally, if you live outside Montana, this post aims to provide some comic relief to your day. I've coined the term "Montana Misadventure" because it characterizes so many of our outings in this great state.

Highwood Baldy is the highest landmark near our home. It calls to us as it rises out of the plains in its island range of the Highwood Mountains. We had to summit it! Last year, we tried walking up the service road then returned to our car when high winds left our 1 year old daughter wailing in her baby backpack. This year, we opted for a route up the North Side that, from reading other's posts, seemed physically challenging but straightforward. Hopefully this post will dispel that "straightforward myth."

The first challenge was finding the trailhead. Silly us, we rely on website posts and didn't bother getting a map. Thankfully, a woman out walking her dog at Thain Creek Campground had an extra map and we saw that we needed to backtrack and take Upper Highwood Rd, paralleling Highwood Creek (see photo below). Do yourself a favor and grab a map at a local ranger's station. Deer Creek Trail number 453 is clearly marked on the map and there's a large, unmistakable Deer Creek sign at the trailhead. Better yet, get a proper topo map and compass or even a GPS device. I've never been tempted to hike with GPS before this but now I'm thinking about it.

We'd read about three creek crossings from other posts. We drove a 4WD, high clearance vehicle and were able to ford the creek twice before stopping at the trailhead. We parked, laced up our boots, and then realized we had to walk across Highwood Creek for the third crossing before the trail followed the smaller Deer Creek. Off came the boots and down slipped the tape from our feet. We were off to an inauspicious start.

We laced back up, pausing to right our now 2 year old daughter who managed to tip herself over in her baby backpack while reaching for a leaf. The next challenge was finding the trail. East up a hill? No. West along the fence line? No. We checked the map and decided to walk by Deer Creek because this was, after all, the Deer Creek Trail. When I say the trail was barely perceptible, I mean I was looking beneath head-high grass for evidence of yesteryear's trail. No exaggeration. Perhaps the trail is more obvious before the grass grows. We stayed by the creek and finally made our way to a Deer Creek Trail #453 sign indicating we'd hiked 2-1/2 miles along the creek. I guess we more or less followed the trail. Did I mention our shoes and pants were soaked at this point? Not from the numerous creek crossings, mind you, but from the head-high grass still wet from the rain the day before. Waterproof pants and boots to this point would have been nice.

Now began the fun part as we forged a bush whacked path up the mountainside. There's a 3,200ft elevation gain over 3.5mi. Because the first 2.5 miles are along the creek, you could probably guess the last mile is excruciatingly steep. We headed up the grassy slope to a ridge and then steered left of some trees to remain in the meadow. Funny how finding one's way to the top is easy -- you just keep going up. Past the meadow, we bushwhacked through dense undergrowth, across talus slopes, and finally scrambled to the radio tower at the top. Oddly enough, we head voices emanating from inside the Bresnan (Charter now?) Communications building that was padlocked on the outside. We assumed there must be a continually transmitting radio locked inside.

After a snack break, we headed down and things got "interesting" in the sense that what took three hours to climb would take another three hours to descend. We're fairly conditioned hikers EXCEPT we didn't have a good map, a compass, or a GPS device and we relied on our intuition to take us down. BAD MOVE! One might even say those are the marks of novices. Laugh if you must, just be better prepared than we were. Thankfully, the sun stayed high in the sky since it's July in Montana and we shared water. Water drops or tablets might be another good, light thing to throw in your bag.

Anyway, back to the hike gone awry. The path down seemed clear enough from the top. We skirted left of a rocky knob partway down the peak and must have cut too far right after that. We totally missed the steep meadow through which we ascended and ended up on even steeper talus slopes. From a clearing on the talus nightmare, we tried figuring out which drainage was Deer Creek. Again, take a picture or select some unmistakable landmark from the top so you head back the correct direction. (Yes, this is where the GPS device or map+compass would have come in handy.) We had to backtrack and emerged at the bottom of the tree and talus debacle. After another debate about which was the Deer Creek drainage, we picked our poison and hiked down an extremely steep, grassy slope. In between slips down the mountain, the late-day golden light made for beautiful photos. I kept repeating, "this, too, shall pass," while glorying in our 2 year old who seemed thrilled with the adventure. Thankfully, we chose correctly (albeit not wisely) on the drainage and made it back to the Jeep. I hiked right through Highwood Creek in my boots since they were so water-logged and muddy.

Morals of the story? Hmm, be prepared for route finding. Convince someone who's been there before to join in (not us, though, thank you very much). Never turn down an adventure because it makes an amusing story in retrospect.

a favorite song

When you have a quiet moment to yourself, listen to this song. Miriam loves the group performing which led me to discover this balm for the soul.
The beautiful Elle whom I've written about previously passed into glory recently. In the wake of her death, the lyrics "learn the rhythms of My grace" struck me. God's grace takes unexpected forms. The rhythm seems syncopated, at best, and cacophony in the midst of tragedy. Slowing to stillness helps us see Him at work.
This song also ministered to me this morning as I thought about the future of my little family. We learned last week that John will be taking early retirement in November, leading us into a great unknown ... but God knows. The song asks, "have you been in a hurry," then responds, "I will slow the pace." Once again, slowing to stillness allows me to see God at work within my family. I overlook His grace when I rush about, checking off to-do items, checking in on Facebook, and neglecting stillness. Take a moment this day to rest and consider the rhythms of God's grace.

A Smith River Tale

Our alarm sounded on Thursday in the pre-dawn hours which is saying a lot for Montana this time of year when the days are long. At 5:15am we met up with our friends who pulled the permit for our trip. Every year Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks conducts a lottery, allowing nine groups to embark each day on the Smith River from Camp Baker. May 14th was our designated "put in."
We joined two more members of our group at Camp Baker where they had literally camped out the night before to ensure we got our pick of available campsites. Campsite sign-ups begin at 7:30am the day before the scheduled put in. We packed our three rafts (I mostly wandered around Camp Baker with Miriam, making new friends) and were glad to leave behind the impatient fellow rowers anxious to assume their positions on the ramp once we departed.
photo credit: Krista Koljonen
We designated this trip in honor of Love146's Tread on Trafficking initiative so our raft bore the Love146 logo. On our last day, John heard a couple guys reading the banner as we floated by. Perhaps they will look up Love146 when they return to cell service. We said goodbye to handheld devices for the duration of the trip, glad for the forced disconnect.
Thankfully our first day began under sunny skies. Sometime that afternoon, we saw the sun for the last time on our trip. The sky clouded over by the time we set up camp but we enjoyed delicious carne asada tacos and a belated birthday celebration for Krista then a campfire.
Sometime on Friday, rain began falling. We arrived at camp and I promptly did 10 burpees to warm up. It was that cold (I hate burpees). Miriam and almost-four-year-old Bode enjoyed the mud and we even broke out the hammock as a diversion. Dana served up tasty tri-tip steaks and we sat under our group canopy, trying to avoid raindrops. An "interesting" latrine experience greeted me the next morning. I got to experience sitting on a sloping latrine exposed to the elements as I struggled to keep the toilet paper dry and not slip off the seat.
Although I didn't envy John's steering responsibilities on the raft, I envied his rowing as a way to maintain a moderate body temperature in the cold. My temperature Saturday morning was 95.4F. Rain and headwinds met us on the river. We stopped midway at Heaven on Earth Ranch for a cup of hot chocolate and a dry place to eat lunch. The group that stopped before us opted to spend the night in the ranch cabins. Good call! Once we landed in camp, I gave Miriam to John and went for a brisk hike uphill to warm myself. We erected our tents in the rain and wind, trying to keep things dry even though the constant rain had saturated our water-proof rain flys and filled our tents with puddles of water. We set up our group canopy over the fire pit and attempted
to shield it from the wind but ended up getting smoked out. We hastily ate chicken and rice and washed dishes (it is bear country, after all) before trying to get warm in damp sleeping bags. Sunday, we awoke wet and cold, there was ice on Jed's tent, and it began snowing. We rowed 11.8 miles to our next designated campsite and, with no anticipated break in the weather, decided to row another 12 miles to the take out at Eden Bridge. Thankfully, the camp host allowed us to call Abram's and Jed's parents to shuttle our cars to us so we could head home. We finally saw sunset Sunday evening.
Three themes featured prominently in our trip: 1) crummy weather, 2) good food, and 3) great company. The trip description captures the crummy weather and a bit of the good food. In addition, we ate hot breakfasts every morning with scrambled eggs, pancakes, bacon, sausages, fruit, and coffee. Dana had a full kitchen setup including a two-burner stove, a couple propane tanks, and a prep table. Since we ended our trip a day early with food left over, we met up tonight for a ribeye steak dinner to finish it off and that leads me to the final theme of great company. Krista nicknamed us the Smith River Survivors because we truly underwent a trying, difficult experience yet everyone maintained good spirits. No complaints uttered, not a sharp word spoken amongst our group, many jokes told, and lots of songs sung. Jed pulled the permit and opened the trip up to anyone willing to join. His wife, Krista, displayed her outdoorsy-ness by hauling load after load of gear to and from rafts with her waders in the pouring rain. She also ably managed a high-energy Bode who was thrilled to reel in his first(?) fish on the trip. Krista's sister, Carrie, shared stories of international adventures and her heart for people. Jed's brother, Abram, kept us laughing with his running commentary on our "free range" food and the brilliant weather we were having. Dana organized and prepared all our food and camp and basically ensured we survived (with some fun along the way). John was SuperDad, especially on the last day when he rowed 24 miles with Miriam on his chest in the Ergo the whole way! Precious Miriam was a trooper. We sang a lot of songs while floating to keep our minds on pleasant things and Miriam sang along, stopping to admire the many goslings along the riverbanks. Our amazing crew of Smith River Survivors "made" the trip for me and I thank God each of these people floated in our group.
During the pelting rain, wind, and snow I reflected on the work of Love146. The children they serve have often undergone harrowing experiences. They are survivors in a more profound way than the Smith River Survivors. One of the most beautiful things about Love146 is the dignity with which they imbue each child. You will never see a girl in chains or depicted as helpless. Instead, Love146 comes alongside these children, empowering them to break free from exploitation and receive love and care. Purely instilling in kids their inherent worth encourages them to dream and grow and love. In Love146's Round Home, for example, girls are once again allowed to be girls. In American schools, males learn that they can go against the flow and view females as people rather than objects to be exploited. Though traveling down the Smith River in honor of Love146 doesn't directly benefit Love146's work, our trip thankfully provided the impetus for many to give in support of Love146's work and that directly impacts what Love146, as an organization, can accomplish. If you gave, thank you. It does make a difference.

A Life Less Burdened

Have you ever noticed that the things that bother us most about other people tend to be things that we do, too? For example, this morning a woman spoke at a meeting I attended. Before launching into her story, however, she qualified it; her qualification bothered me. I felt like saying, "Hey, you can just tell your story. We'll believe you."
This little annoyance gnawed at me until I realized that I, too, have a habit of qualifying what I say. Typically, I visualize what I will say or write and anticipate my audience's critiques. Then I circle back to what I plan to communicate and revise so as to fill in the gaps and leave no room for arguments. This little game wears me out. Do you ever do the same thing?
Today as my mind wandered, I wondered how to consciously live a life less burdened. I write "consciously" because we can choose to unburden ourselves from our exhausting mind games. I'll start by ceasing to qualify my statements -- to guard my mouth. I want to communicate in ways that resonate with my audience but stop giving into insecurity. I'll starve the compulsion to justify why I'm qualified to speak or write on a given topic. Let my words stand on their own. Take them or leave them.

some hope for tomorrow

It's easy to become mired in all that's wrong with our world but today two images of hope encouraged me. They both relate to recent posts so regular readers might be encouraged by these updates, as well.

The first image I saw was of a baby rescued 22 hours after the earthquake. Seeing this photo on Facebook led to a search for this photolog of the recovery efforts. There's also a brief English summary at the bottom of the page.
The most touching two images capture a woman who must be the baby's mother. First, she stands at the front of the waiting crowd, distress clouding her face. Then she is overcome with emotion as her baby boy is recovered ALIVE!
I read another story on Kathmandu Today of a teenager safely rescued today, six days after the initial earthquake!

The next image of hope relates to my post on prayer where I shared about Elle battling a brain tumor.
Today, for the first time since Elle went into a coma almost three weeks ago,  Alli was able to hold her precious Elle. Perhaps this wouldn't have struck me so intensely if I didn't have a daughter. Gathering her up in my arms and loving her to pieces is one of the highlights of my day. What a blessing that Alli got to experience that with Elle today. You can read all of today's update here.

So while there's much to grieve, these glimmers of light penetrate the gloom and encourage us to keep hoping.

What in the world?

Many things today lie heavy on my heart. Allow me a moment to share with you.

Rioting in Baltimore ignited by Freddie Gray's death drove me to tears. "What is this country coming to," I wanted to scream. Instead, I laid all those tears and anguish out to God. I pleaded for Love to intervene and break through the hatred, abuse, and misinformation. This kind of radical Love will transform this country -- we can be Love's agents.

In 2003, I lived in Kathmandu and hung out with street kids. Gautam and Rekha Rai served as our local host family along with their boisterous crew of biological and adopted children. Following the earthquake, Gautam sprang into action. What a blessing to be able to send some funds to help Gautam help whomever he meets in his relief efforts! Another one of our friends, Silas, is heading over this week to use his counseling and Nepali skills to provide critical incident debriefing for survivors and first responders. He will also train Nepalis in facilitating debriefings. You can support his trip by donating here and selecting "Nepal Relief" from the drop down menu.

One year ago, Love146 welcomed its youngest child into the Round Home, a place where sexually exploited girls find hope and restoration. That girl was four years old. The Round Home needs financial support to continue so John and I are participating in Love146's annual fundraiser, Tread on Trafficking. We're adding a personal touch by "Paddling on Trafficking" May 14-18 on Montana's Smith River. To learn more and support Love146, click here.

As always, thanks for reading. Now, take action, remembering the best actions begin with quiet reflection on the best actions you can take.


A friend called this morning with exciting news. She had just received a job offer. As she shared the news, I got misty-eyed and here's why -- we had agreed to pray about her job situation. This same friend had called me earlier this week, sharing her struggles with her current work situation that leaves her in tears at the end of every long day. On the phone, we talked about God calling us to specific places for specific times, though His ways be unknown to us. The only purpose my friend could derive from her current situation is one professional client who seems to appreciate her. We don't know the details of that client's life. Perhaps she needs a bit of encouragement from my friend, someone to believe in her and point her in the right direction. Perhaps we'll never know how God has used my friend in her current situation. Regardless, before we ended our phone call, we agreed to pray about her job situation.
When my friend called today, I teared up because God confirmed, once again, that He hears us when we pray. He hears me when I pray. I'd been discouraged in this area lately (more on that later) and I know I ought not need answered prayers to confirm that God hears us. Scripture confirms the same. Still, we humans appreciate hands-on, experiential learning and that's what our merciful Father provided.
Getting back to my recent discouragement ... the daughter of one of my husband's youth group friends has a brain tumor and her family has requested prayer. Elle's situation brings up many emotions and parallels to my brother's situation. For those new to my website, a quick background from me will prove helpful. My brother, Tim, was in an ultimately fatal car accident two years ago. Between his accident and his passing, his traumatized brain swelled beyond the capacity of his skull. On the morning of his passing, surgeons removed half his skull to make room for his swelling brain. His heart could not endure the additional strain and he died from cardiac arrest.
Reading of the increasing pressure on Elle's brain returns me immediately to those intermittent days when we awaited Tim's outcome. In prayer today, I face the same struggles I faced when praying for Tim. What is God's will? How do I pray in accordance with God's will? Should I pray for complete healing and believe for the same, even if it means another great disappointment? What if what we feel we "need" turns out to only be a deep, deep want? (To any family and friends of Elle, I ask only for grace as you read this. We are all beautiful messes trying to figure out life and God though His ways be unfathomable.) Jesus commands us to seek and knock. He commends the widow's persistence. Might He not also commend our obedience if we pray in the face of daunting prospects?
On a simple scale, His response to my friend's situation confirmed that He does hear our prayers and He does answer. Of course, we know His answers sometimes differ from our wants and expectations. Nonetheless, He answers. In this, He is faithful. He is also faithful to complete that which brings Him most glory but delving into that subject shall wait for another time.

my birthday

My birthday used to be my favorite day of the year. Then, two years ago, my birthday marked the last day on earth that I saw my brother, Tim. Now, my birthday reminds me of him.
Each year, this bittersweet day forces me to choose between life or death, between mourning what I thought would be or embracing what will be. When I read friends' Facebook posts and text messages, receive their calls, open their cards and gifts, or spend my birthday in their joyful presence, each sentiment reinforces the value of life. Living on this earth doesn't always feel like a blessing but I'm learning to see life as God's grace. He gives us life -- a grace in itself -- and He designs us to live in community with one another to grace our neighbors (from Austin to India) with ourselves. You are His beautiful creation and your presence in my life graces me with more of Him.
Thank you for being instruments of God's grace in my life on my birthday and everyday.

food for thought

I've watched and read a few things over the past week worth passing on. Here's the short list.
1. Sinclair Ferguson: Christ's Message to the Church
What a compelling, convicting message for today's church. Skip lamenting the shift of western culture -- what the church needs today is a dose of this stuff!
2. Land of No Use movie
My interest in this film stems from its concentration on the land use debate in Montana, particularly lands designated as wilderness. It also features some beautiful backcountry ski scenes.
3. "We have trouble digesting randomness; our brains crave pattern and meaning." ~The Age of Disbelief, National Geographic March 2015, p. 40
This quote comes from an article about the proliferation of opinions lacking scientific support (think vaccinations, fluoridation, etc.). While I disagree with some of the article, this quote stood out to me as true in most every sense of human nature.


"Glitter falling from the sky," he described yesterday's scene and, indeed, today glitter falls from the sky. As sunlight catches snowflakes drifting off the roof, the snowflakes become glitter from the celestial Shaker, creating a magical scene. This extraordinary and beautiful sight seemed to gently enter our world from another.
This reminded me of a scene in Boyhood where the protagonist asks his dad about magic. “Dad, there’s no real magic in the world, right? Like, this second, there’s no elves in the world, right?” The dad responds by describing magical whales and admitting elves do not exist. The other-worldly behavior of whales is magical but I still prefer John's response: "we're not aware of elves in the world but that doesn't mean they don't exist."
I wonder how we foster a sense of magical thinking in children and in ourselves. Perhaps more accurate adjectives would be "extraordinary" and "fantastic." Do we quickly dismiss suggestions of things that simply cannot be such as elves and glitter falling from the sky? Cannot another world enter and impact our world? Is the sacrifice of Christ not extraordinary? Truly, many consider the gospel fantastic to the point of being fanciful and outlandish.
Our faith is at odds with our daily living when we no longer see God's handiwork around us. I believe God entered this world and, in His perfect life and death, paid the penalty for my sin. If I can believe something as outlandish as that, I can bend my mind to recognize God's fanciful glitter on a sunny winter's morn. In anticipating the extraordinary, we more quickly testify to God at work around us.

Introducing a new look

For faithful (or even occasional) readers of this site, you'll notice a couple changes. These have been made in anticipation of more to come. Perhaps you've heard me talk about the book I'm writing. I'm taking a look at sibling loss and the hope that God provides to surviving siblings. I've been collecting stories from other surviving siblings to share in this book, endeavoring to encourage other siblings who are journeying through loss. I may showcase some of that writing on this site.
The next step in my writing process involves reaching out to potential agents with a goal of publishing this book with a traditional publisher. With that in mind, I've given this site a facelift and invite your feedback. As the top of this website indicates, I'd like to involve you in dialogue about the issues about which I write. Or, what issues are on your heart? I'd love to delve into those and perhaps even offer guest blog posts!
As always, thanks for reading and for being YOU!

a quote

Don't stumble on something that's behind you.
~on the wall of the Great Falls Rescue Mission

& today I'm walking kinda funny

After I lost it yesterday, I went to the gym to work off steam. I squatted five sets of 10 reps each. Today I'm unable to walk upright. I'm pretty sure I overextended my back in an attempt to maintain my lumbar curve. That may sound like gobbledy-gook to you. The long and short of it is that my back REALLY hurts today. In researching my overextension issue (& leaning forward issue, too), I came across this gem:

"Chances are you’ll Squat less weight after trying to fix your lean forward with the above tips. This can be hard on your ego and it’s tempting to go back to Squatting by leaning forward so you get your regular weight and reps. But you’ll never stop leaning forward if you keep doing it."
Read more:

How applicable is this to the rest of life? We want to keep pushing because we've successfully accomplished something in the past. When we realize we need to back up and course-correct, we want to keep pushing at the same intensity in the same manner. Problem is that this approach will probably land us right where we started. My ego will take a hit re-learning proper technique but I'll be stronger and so much better off if I slow it down and do things properly now.

today, i lost it

today, i lost it. i positively, absolutely had a melt-down. you'd probably expect that of my 20 month old daughter but not today. we went to Barnes & Noble with a friend and her three year old daughter. miriam was pulling things off shelves faster than i could put them back. we should have left then. instead, i tried to stick it out and make this rare get-together work. we sat on the floor, reading a book together until miriam ripped the page out of the book. at that point, i picked up my purse, swooped miriam under one arm, and grabbed the torn book with my free hand, marching all of us up to the front counter. i paid for the book and my sweet friend tried to redeem the visit with a quick catch-up as we stood by the exit. i could feel tears invading my eyes and begged her forgiveness for not being up to a visit at that point.
as we sat in the car, hot tears streamed down my face. why was this so damn hard? why did i bother even going to Barnes & Noble where i knew miriam would be a train wreck? when would i get a chance for proper adult interaction? why couldn't my kid just get it together and listen when i told her, "no?"
as we drove home, things only got worse. we went inside and i let miriam do whatever she wanted while i curled up in the fetal position on my bed and cried. so dramatic, i know. i also know i'm not the only mom who feels this way, despising her precious off-spring who seems to hi-jack my every social plan. i wish there was some revelation i could share. i'd like to begin course-correcting now because i saw an ugly side to myself this morning that i don't want to encounter again. miriam responds to my anger and it isn't pretty. i don't want her to learn that from me. there are so many better things i can pass on to her.
so often, we want to wrap up our lives in a pretty package for all to see and admire. we want to present our many accomplishments for the world to appreciate. and so often, life just doesn't work out that way. life is messy, it's not always pretty. and who benefits from pretty packages, anyway? not me because i'm creating an illusion. not the world because they're seeing something that doesn't really exist. i suppose it's better to be authentic, let others see my messiness, confess, receive forgiveness, change course, and know that through it all, i'm loved.