What I Want to Talk About Over Coffee


August 30, 2019

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Tired of Not Talking about It



I crept into my bathroom, late one summer evening. My bathroom’s pale-yellow glow reminded me of a run-down hotel room. One with hidden cockroaches, bed bugs, and various stains on over-used mattresses. Just enough light for me, as I didn’t want to be seen. Or noticed. Or heard.

I was 25 years-old, had a job, a cool roommate, and a large group of fantastic friends. Everything was fine.

I opened the bottom drawer of the vanity and pulled out the black MK bag. Surely something sharp would be in there. I would “just” need a tiny slit, a small opening. Enough to release the pain that darkened my mind and crushed my chest. I held a sharp nail file in my hand, then shoved it back in the bag, and bolted from the dimly lit room. I catapulted into my twin bed, as I kicked my bedroom door closed. Tears ran down my cheeks. I pulled my quilt over my head, desperate to make myself small.

A few months later, I sat on a worn sofa in a therapist’s office. I wore a dark hoodie and dark jeans. I pressed my body into the cushions, trying very hard to fade into it. She asked me why I was there.

“I don’t really know actually. Counseling is for married people who are thinking about divorcing.”

When I was a young girl, I sat in a church service where the pastor recommended, if you felt sad, that you bake a cake for another person as an instant boost. He also said that reading the Bible more would cure any blues or depression. While I will never negate the power of Scripture, nor the uplifting effects of doing good deeds for others, this is a misguided view of how to treat mental health issues.

That is where I had relegated the notion of getting help: only if I was married and having problems loving my husband would it be okay for me to go to counseling.

No wonder I couldn’t admit I was suffocating.

I felt like an impostor, sinking into this therapist’s couch, questioning my choice to come, feeling a weight so heavy in my chest that it hurt to breathe. The shame surrounding depressed people, anxious people, and sad people keeps them walled away from help. It takes courage to ask for help. It takes bravery to step out from the crowd, to be different, and say, “I’m suffering.”

I was trying to be brave, but it felt like I was rolling a giant boulder up a hill. This is no heroine’s journey. I was simply lost, and sad, and worthless.

I was experiencing this while being known at work, at church, and among friends and family as the “smiling one” and “so sweet.”

Depression is non-discriminate.

Six months into my therapy sessions, I wrote this in my journal:

In my head it’s figured out and logical. It isn’t selfish. It’s thinking of them. If I left, faded away, was forgotten, my parents would have their sons. My brothers wouldn’t have a sister they don’t understand. My grandparents wouldn’t have to worry about the “worldly granddaughter”. Courtney could find another roommate. Amber would have one less needy friend. Thomas would find another girlfriend—a prettier, skinnier, funnier, smarter one. Target certainly would go on. The world of retail would not blink an eye at the absence of one more Guest Service Team Leader. The church might say, “Oh she was nice.” Everyone would go on with their lives. I wonder if they would notice I was gone. I wonder if they would speculate why I’d left. I wonder if anyone would cry.

I only shared pieces of this with my therapist because I didn’t want her to have to feel I was in danger. She would have been obligated to do something, of course. I portrayed myself to be as functional as I possibly could. I glossed over the deepest, darkest parts of what was inside me. I was afraid she would have me hospitalized, otherwise. Maybe she should have.

Oddly enough, for me, this practice of “faking it until I made it” significantly helped my brain improve. My frontal lobe grew to accept certain truths. My symptoms of depression receded as I worked with my counselor. My doctor prescribed me medication.

I no longer thought about hurting myself. I no longer struggled to leave my house. I could face the world again with strength and dignity. I could run and write and think clearly again.

I am lucky.

So many others are not.

However, do not mistake improvement for a cure.

Depression still lurks inside me.

Inside this smiling face right here. The smile for which I am still known.


Depression showed up after my baby was born. It reared its head when I lost my job in 2014. It tormented me when I gained weight, then lost weight, then gained weight. It came knocking when I switched careers, when the bank account ran low, and when my friend died.

There is no rhyme or reason to it. I wish I had a road map with a giant sign that reads, “Warning! Dark days ahead!” But it doesn’t work that way. The brain is far more complicated than this.

And I am so dog-gone tired of not talking about it.

In the Independent Baptist culture in my childhood, we would often sit at dinner tables, dressed in dark suits and fancy dresses, talking grandly of our plans to save the world. Whether the meal was served on real china or paper plates, it came with a side of superiority. We knew we were saved. We knew we were Heaven-bound. We knew we had the answers.

Such a pity for everyone else.

They did not. They were out. They were other.

The problem was, we forgot who we were on the inside. James, in his short book in the New Testament, says, “We all struggle in many ways.”

From my perspective, there is the perpetual belief among Christians that just because we follow Christ that we are better. That healing is automatic. That we are safe from tortures of the mind more than any other human.

There is a danger in thinking that because grace has saved us, that we are rescued from all other struggles, pain, and suffering. This encompasses our mental wellness. Physical pain is still socially acceptable malady among believers. Even if only my head hurts, I still garner sympathy. “Oh, I hope you feel better! Oh, I hope you are on the mend!”

I am done pretending I am okay all the time because I have so many good things and people in my life. I’m being honest about my inner life, so that others will follow my lead.
Because honest conversations bring healing.

We need to stop assuming just because someone looks healthy and happy on their Instagram that they are fine. We should start having real conversations with people. Face-to-face. No phones. No texts. Words to words. Our calling – my calling – as Christ followers is to go into uncharted territory with a “yes and! You are not alone! You are loved and you are going to be okay!”

I am writing this today because I have had people in my life who said, “Yes and” to me. They did not treat me as diseased. They did not judge me. Instead, they looked at me, full on, and said, “We love you.”

My husband who comforted me again and again in the wee hours of the night, saying, “You are more.”

The roommate who pulled me from the couch (in the most loving way) to take me to dinner or to a movie or to a family game night.

The friend who helped me fill out paperwork for a counseling center and attended the first session with me when I was so nervous that it seemed I had forgotten how to hold a pen.

The therapist who worked with me.

The medication that helped stabilize me.

I’m still here because of caring people, the actions of good friends, and helpful medication. This support system worked for me. Perhaps I haven’t opened up about it enough. Perhaps I didn’t want to draw too much attention to myself.

Now, though, it’s time to express my gratitude.

I was never alone.

Neither are you.

It’s time to stop the ostracizing of those of mental health issues. It’s time to stop thinking that people who seem “normal” and “functional” are just fine. We need more grace extended towards those who suffer from depression, anxiety, or other mental distress. We need to normalize asking for help. We need to extend out branches of hope to our family, our friends, and our neighborhoods, because we don’t know which child, teenager, or adult may be crying alone, under some covers, thinking their life doesn’t matter.

It’s time to recognize that everyone, at some point in their life, needs a little help. It’s time to wash away any shame associated with asking. It’s time to get out of our comfort zones and be there for those around us, in whatever way we can.

I recently had this experience with two close friends around my kitchen table. We held mugs of tea and opened our hearts to each other. Shared our stories. Communed. Nothing was held back in this conversation, which was bathed in love and respect. We rolled all the dark stuff out into the light. There were tears. Then laughter. Then hugs.

Only acceptance and grace reigned in my kitchen that day.

My goal is to repeat this experience as often as possible.



Until from the pulpits in churches, pastors say that they suffer from anxiety and depression too, and that medicine and therapy are God’s gifts….

Until inside our health care system, we offer valid coverage for mental health and wellness….

Until we start sharing that therapy is good, that medication helps, that exercise and nutrition are vital to the brain….

Until we stop assuming most of us are okay because of glistening social media pictures…

Until we start checking on our friends, our family, and our neighbors with watchful, caring, compassionate eyes…..

Until we stop pretending we have all the answers and shut up and listen….

Until we remove the stigma associated with asking for help with our mental health….

Until we put these actions into practice every day and commit to taking small steps toward tighter communities and stronger support systems,

We won’t see any change.

And change is desperately needed.

I’m not saying we will all be cured….or that everything will magically be better…or that depression, anxiety, and the myriad of other mental health illnesses won’t rear their ugly heads….

But at least, for the love of God and all His children…. we will be talking about it.


For resource to help with mental health issues, please visit:

Support Groups



July 29, 2019

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City of Nuremberg, painted by Laura Shreck

When I was 16, my family and I lived in a small village in southern Germany. In the large house next to ours, surrounded by a huge garden of various flowers and vegetables, lived an older gentleman named Johann. As we chatted one day, across the fence that separated our yards, he told me that as a young man, he had worked as a city planner in Nuremberg, Germany.

A city planner for the Third Reich.

His job was to review the blueprints for the massive buildings that Hitler planned to build. He then was a part of the crew who laid the foundations. He silently worked while horrors raged in the war. Chaos reigned around him, yet he simply continued to lay each brick over the other with a thick layer of cement mortar in between them.
He sought continuity. He wanted stability. He craved normalcy. So, he practiced putting his head down, ignoring the horror, and pretending everything was okay.
I’m not sure it worked.
He had seen things. His voice stayed quiet and reflective, as he told me his story. Nazi parades, high-powered speeches by the Fuehrer, frenzied crowds pressed in the area to listen to the propaganda. Soldiers lined the streets, rigidly practicing war drills. Neighbors fought against neighbors – no one trusted anyone else. Fear invaded every movement.
He later married, had two kids, retired from city work, and planted his large garden. A life of routine and predictability.
After our one conversation, he never spoke of his work for the Third Reich ever again.
Nor did I ask.
If he could go back to his younger self, would he make different choices? Would he stand up to the injustice of his time? Would he secretly find the Resistance and partner with them? Would he find a way to shed some light on a dark time?

What would have happened to him if he had? Would he have ended up gunned down as a traitor? Would he have suffered in a concentration camp too, as had so many others had who had resisted? Would he have survived the brutalities of a War that tore apart countries, families, and soldiers?

I don’t know the answers to these questions, nor am I sure that Johann did either.
It makes me think of Moses.
Most people know the story of the man who led his people to freedom. The one who called down multiple plagues upon the land of Egypt—everything from blood to frogs to insects. A terrifying, hair-raising tale of destruction and hope, faith, and defiance. Moses was center stage for the whole episode.
But he didn’t want it. Before the plagues and the power and the purpose, was a man who had run away from it all. He hung out in the desert, shepherding sheep that belong to his father-in-law. He was married, had two kids, and a mini-donkey. He was set. When the Divine approached him, he presented more arguments as to why he wasn’t interested in doing the job than thinking about becoming the hero of the story. Reluctance and resistance crowded around him.
There is a thread in these stories that is common. Johann, Moses – they wanted to be ordinary. I want to be angry at them for their passive resistance to greatness. I want to rail at them for not caring about humanity’s biggest issues, for not wanting to make a difference, for ignoring all the signs of evil.

I get it.

I, too, crave the ordinary. I desire the familiar comforts of a beautiful home, a healthy family, steady income, and fulfilling work. It’s so easy to shut out noise around me – the evils that haunt me – the challenges that face my world, my country, my neighborhood. I can get up every day, go to my straight-forward, no-nonsense office job to complete long lists of tasks, climb into my 4-wheel drive Jeep, pick up my kid from preschool, pop a pizza in for dinner, and end the night on a cozy couch while the TV entertains me.
I understand why Johann wanted it. I get why Moses resisted leaving it.
And yet…
Scattered throughout the routine of my days are small opportunities. I could put my head down, focused on my next layer of bricks to build my life. Or, I could notice the burning bush in my backyard and approach it.
The moms fighting for safer gun laws need my signature.
My elderly neighbor needs me to shovel his sidewalk after a heavy snow.
My local library needs me to deliver books to home-bound patrons.
The homeless shelter needs the extra winter coats that are hanging in my closet.
The Syrian refugee women who have started their own businesses in a refugee camp, making soap and selling it online request me to make a purchase.
My local farmer is asking me to buy his fruits and vegetables to support his business.
These are not overtly extraordinary actions. They may not lead to an entire people being freed, as in the case of Moses. Yet, they poke me out of my comfort zone. A movement to see what the blazing bush represents, knowing that my small action may be a catalyst in the life of someone else. Mother Theresa said, “When we ultimately go home to God, we are going to be judged on what we were to each other. It’s not how much we give but how much we put in the doing, that’s compassion in action.”

What we see as insignificant might mean the world to someone else.

That is our calling. That is our purpose.

After our conversation, Johann gave me fresh tomatoes and zucchini. “For your dinner table, he said.
My family enjoyed delicious, freshly harvested food that evening. I think we were kinder, more respectful to each other, because of this simple gesture. As I watched Johann meander around his giant garden, my gratitude extended to him because his life inspired mine.

That inspiration, to me, was extraordinary. 

July 1, 2019

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The Knight on the White Horse


The first time I heard Taylor Swift’s, “Love Story”, I wept softly while sitting in my car.

Had she been spying on my dreams?
How did she know?

“It’s a love story, baby, just say, yessssssss…..”

Taylor Swift is neither psychic nor omnipresent. She just had the power to put words and music to the experience that I so desperately craved.

I wanted a man to ride in, sweep my off my feet, and carry me away to his castle. When I worked at Target, I would sometimes watch the front doors, thinking about what it would be like if he would just walk in, whisper sweet nothings in my ear, and tell me I didn’t have to clean up poop off the bathroom floor or barfed-up peaches and cottage cheese off the floor of Aisle 7.

I wanted someone perfect. Someone gallant. Someone…imaginary. If I could just have that perfect guy, the one who would answer all my needs and be my other half, I would feel complete. I would become the princess. That would be my ‘happily ever after’.

Credits roll. End scene.

From the moment I learned how to walk, I was playing with girly things. I had a doll collection. I dressed up in frilly dresses. My dad and brother built me a miniature wooden stove, and I played at making dinner in my “kitchen.”

As I grew older, I wrote in my journal about what I was looking for in a man. I created a long list of expectations for him, already picturing his tall, dark, handsome self in my mind.


I closed my journal and remained a perpetual lady-in-waiting – an almost nun– thinking that God would certainly provide me a man in my life by His great power and miraculous intervention. To aid my God in this (because He clearly needed my assistance), I tried a few ways to get some men to notice me.

I tried to make myself known to my brothers’ friends.
I joined E-harmony for a hot second and a half, then deleted my account because I lost the nerve.
I flirted with the guys in my church’s small group.
I learned how to keep a house, perfectly, honing my skills in cleaning, cooking, sewing, and hanging around babies. I ran the children’s department for my dad’s church and all the kids loved me. I was confident of my abilities to be a mother.

All my efforts failed, though. My miracle man wasn’t appearing on the horizon, bronzed from the sun, sweaty from a gym workout, smiling just for me. (All my visions came from my absorption Lori Wick novels.)

At some point, in my mid-twenties, I read a line in a book by Michelle McKinney Hammond, “You should learn how to talk about more than just Jesus.”
That line rocked my world.

I was the preacher’s kid. The pastor’s daughter. A leader among my group. Jesus was central to who I was and what I did.

But maybe learning about other stuff was important, too? Maybe there were other options to sitting around on my tush, thinking that some magical man was going to materialize from the sky? Maybe just experiencing life that was passing me by might be worth my time?

I started doing other things that were outside the realm of my church or my homemaking skill-honing. (I mean, I could already make a mean chocolate cake, by this point)
I sold cosmetics, worked as a freelance writer, ran races. I went to therapy, joined a gym, and traveled. I joined up with a group of other 20-something’s who were trying to figure out the world. We skied, hiked, camped, and stayed up late at coffee shops. The world expanded beyond the walls of my room, my solitude, and my church.

That’s when the true change started to happen for me. I was so busy having fun and working on myself that I lost weight, laughed more, and said “yes” to more invitations.

And then, a guy noticed me….
In 2009, I received a dinner invitation with a friend of mine whose name was Thomas. We were both concerned about ruining the friendship we had built in the 2 years since we had met. But we thought it was worth the risk, so we took the plunge into the world of dating. As we learned about each other, grew in our faith together, and fostered a deep love (I married him, by the way), we discovered that we both had to speak our minds honestly, carry our weight in the relationship, and never give up on the other person.

Almost 10 years later, I realize more and more every day that the load is not solely on him to make life better for me. Nor is the burden on me to make him my center and axis.

It is a push and pull, a tug and shove, a gentle back and forth seesaw.

The search for the White Knight hasn’t disappeared from our ideals since my single days. Romantic comedies, novels, and TV shows still garner millions of dollars. The Bachelor and The Bachelorette are still on network Television. Our desire is for the women in our lives to have the happy ending, yet we preach to them that it’s about a man coming in, sweeping them off their feet, and eliminating all their worries and woes.

This is a great disservice. To our girls and our boys. We are placing tremendous amount of pressure on men to provide and strive and fulfill roles that are impossible to fulfill, while simultaneously robbing girls of their God-given abilities and opportunities to fully become who they were meant to be. Not to mention, we are filling them with these stories that the girl will always by rescued by the guy, and that the guy will always get the girl.

And sometimes, life doesn’t go how the fairy tales depict it.

It isn’t supposed to.

That is part of what makes life so beautiful.

I believe women should be equal to men. I also believe men should be equal to women. The idea of men and women having specific, gender-related roles in a relationship is ridiculous. To me, this means that I am supposed to act or think or respond a certain way. Or that Thomas is supposed to be or do or say certain things. This rigidity pigeon-holes both me and my husband into set expectations in our marriage. It doesn’t allow for creativity, individual strengths, or mutual support.
It’s time for the women to step up and take hold of our voices and our contributions. It’s time for us to stop making the guys work so damn hard to read our minds, know our thoughts, and earn our approval. We need to respect them enough to have tough conversations, to shoulder our portion of the load, and to keep on learning new things. It’s time for us to let the guys off the hook a bit. And in turn, it’s time for the guys to open up a little more to us about their weaknesses. Each side needs to step out in vulnerability and shed the armor of old conventions.
As Brene Brown says, “True belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.” (from her book, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead)

It doesn’t matter to me if the image is of the girl riding on the horse with the guy, arms wrapped around him in sheer a’more. Or if the image is of the high and mighty dude, riding in princely style, with the demure princess behind him on her own, smaller steed.

Both images need to be destroyed and the lame stories that accompany them.
We should be riding side by side.

When my husband is tired, I do the dishes. When I am exhausted, he handles bedtime routine with our son. When I forget that tomorrow is trash day, he takes it out. When he doesn’t think about the bills to be paid, I pay them. When a room in the house needs fresh coat of paint, I break out my coveralls. When the light bulbs burn out, he screws in new ones. When I don’t know the answer to a question, he helps me research it.

We pull and tug. We give and take. It is a dance of many varied moves and styles.

We never stop learning and growing.

There is no marker of achievement.

There is no end game. We just constantly level up.

In the movie, Pretty Woman, when Richard Gere asks Julia Roberts character, “What happens when the Prince rescues his Cinderella?”, her response is, “She rescues him right back.”
That is my true experience.
In my world, we save each other.

We are partners, full and equal, unique and individual. It is in that strength that we thrive in our relationship. We are constantly learning, growing, evolving. Our life hasn’t stagnated. We do things together, and we do things separately, because we know that we are fostered our own individuality as we continue this awesome life journey together.
So, no matter where you might find yourself….
Go on dates and have some freaking fun, for Heaven’s sake. Or don’t go on dates, if you don’t want to. But put yourself out there into the world. Rush headlong into the wild and crazy and expanding-universe world that you live in.
Learn a new skill. (I’m currently trying to learn Spanish. Confession: It isn’t going well….)
Talk about Jesus. He is worth having a conversation about. Then talk about all the other wonders of this Christ-soaked Universe, like family and travel and art and movies and music…..and on and on….
Be honest in your relationships. Don’t fake it with another person, in love or in friendship. It just ain’t worth it.
Be fascinated by who you are becoming. The joy is in the process. I’ve not even begun to realize who I am completely, nor who my partner is fully. There is still so much to explore and marvel at. There are so many experiences to have, places to see, and people to connect with. No longer am I sitting around, waiting for the miracle to come my direction. I am actively participating in the miracle I want to occur.

And throughout all your wild discoveries, know that you are loved…whether you are sequestered away in a high tower, or roaming the barren wilderness with your bow and arrow on your back, or you are commuting to a desk job, or driving a mini van full of squirming kids, you are insanely loved and valued and accepted for who you are and who you are becoming. You don’t need another person to tell you this truth. House it in your heart all on your own.

This is what I want the girl in my old journals to understand.

This is what I want my son…and all my future sons and daughters to grasp.

This is what keeps me inspired every day in my marriage to my husband.

This is the secret that Lori Wick never divulged.

It’s never too late, for the white horse.

Because, sometimes, the knight in the story…the rescuer….

Is me.


April 29, 2019

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There is a small place, tucked near the Department of Motor Vehicles in Arvada that has become a type of sanctuary for my little family each week. It’s a bakery.

The smell upon opening the door is a mixture of dough and cinnamon and yeast and coffee. The owner always greets us with a smile and keeps an open tab for us while we are there. Off to the side of the main display cases is a little nook with three chairs, perfect for our family of Three Musketeers to while away a Sunday morning, undisturbed from any outside influence.

A special place, once a week. We have invested in this time for a reason. It is good and healthy to come away and take a break. Certain places, actual physical locations, help us with this concept. A church, or a park, or a cozy chair in your home, can all aide in rejuvenation, reflection, and rest.

It is good to stop. To cease from the mindless labors that hurt our health and well-being. To halt from work. To cut out distractions. I’ve written about this in this very blog. (see my Archives, https://wordpress.com/post/coloradowriter84.wordpress.com/562)

But, I wonder, sometimes, if it’s not about the stopping, or about having chunks of endless time, or completely free calendars. Maybe it’s about allowing time in the middle of the chaos and the noise and the plans. We can carve out time for mindfulness during times of movement. We can create spaces for flourishing in our distracted, break-neck speed world.

Ever since the Angel blocked the way back to Eden, we have been searching for the sacred again. At times, I contemplate what it must have been like to have the whole Earth filled with God’s presence. To only experience peace and joy and communion every hour. (Jealous much of Adam and Eve!) True, uninterrupted exposure to holiness permeated the lives of the residents of Eden.

Sometimes, you only appreciate something after it’s gone. Mankind has striven to recreate perfection and beauty and peace on the scale of Eden ever since our banishment. This is why certain spaces, holy sites, hold such value over us. We know we are lost and disconnected. Sacred sites shift us to God in a way that, perhaps, we have trouble doing in our own strength.

What if our experience with the sacred didn’t depend on a physical location?

What if began to experience the whole of life as sacred and precious,

no matter where we were or who we were around?

What if our life was not ordinary, but extraordinary, simply because we get to be here now?

I am reminded of Mary, Jesus’ mother, as I think about the sacred among the ordinary. After she birthed the Messiah, angels and shepherds and wisemen surrounded her. Eight days after his birth, she dedicated her son to God, and two strangers offered her blessings. Then she and her husband up heaved themselves in the middle of the night because an angel informed them that a madman wanted to kill her son.

And all the Scriptures says is this, “Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

She didn’t run away from it. She didn’t complain about it. She didn’t even try to understand everything that was happening around her. She simply reflected on it, and created a sacred space inside her heart to house everything God was showing her. No matter where she was, in a barn, in a Temple, or on the back of a donkey, she maintained a reverent awe and wonder.

One of the alternative definitions for “sacred” is “entitled to reverence or respect” and “highly valued or important.” Moments in time, conversations we have, emotions we experience, movements of our body–all work together to align our lives back to the Divine. It doesn’t matter where we are. Or who we are with. Or what is surrounding us.

Joseph Campbell once wrote, “Your sacred space is where you can find yourself again and again.” Isaiah wrote, “In returning and quietness shall be your confidence.” It is so easy to forget that God is present in us. Every second of our life counts.

I am not trying to disregard the pain and suffering in the world. I do not pretend to understand why evil happens, nor am I saying that God is okay with it all. The unspeakable grief and pain that humans inflict upon one another, for no apparent reason, breaks my heart. Whether it is gun violence, extreme poverty, mental health suffering, or grief brought by death, I am not taking lightly the sorrows of the world. Jesus Himself wept at the tomb of his good friend, Lazarus. He cried again over the entire city of Jerusalem.

He knew what it meant to suffer.

What I am saying, is that in the middle of the worst times and the best times, the chance to experience the divine is ours.

When I run through my mind of sacred moments, I think of these….

Going to an Oasis concert with my brother, Michael, both of us half-singing, half-yelling, beers in hand, laughing and crying. Sacred.

My friend Jennifer, grabbing my hand and praying to God for us to find a specific fabric for a dress we were making. Reminding me that God cares about the little things.  Sacred.

Spending time with friends in our backyard, with wine in hand, marshmallows roasting over the fire pit, savoring the glow of the backyard lights.  Sacred.

Holding my naked, still-bloody baby, 2 seconds after he joined the world. Sacred.

Seeing my dad in the hospital, yet laughing at one of his silly jokes with ER nurses. Sacred.

Listening to my grandma before her surgery to remove her breast cancer tell my grandpa to “eat something”, because she cared more for him than herself.  Sacred.

Playing multiple rounds of card games with two old neighbor ladies who cheated and told rousing stories of their youth and vitality and drank multiple cups of strong coffee. Sacred.

Showing up to a friend’s funeral and holding their family tightly during their loss. Sacred.

I’m not taking the bakery trips off our routine. I enjoy the place. I also thrive on worship services, long walks in nature, and quiet mornings with my cup of coffee.  But, aside from those specific times, I am practicing a daily awareness of life around me. My heart and mind is open to receive whatever comes my way, whether it is perceived as good or bad. This expansiveness allows for more grace and more love to fill me up. I’m resting in the wonder of “all things are sacred.” (Thank you, A.W. Tozer.)

So, find your spot, find your space, enjoy any of good stuff that is poured out in your direction. Take in the bad, the hard, the ugly, too. Don’t shy away from any of it, brave friends. It’s all a part of this life we are doing together.

We are not alone. You are not alone.

The sacred is here and now.

Savor it like a fat, buttery croissant.

I know I am.




March 27, 2019

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High-Five Guy

The gym class was crowded. A breeze billowed from the fans above the workout stations. I could hear the labored breathing of the two people surrounding me on their rowing machines. 400 meters, then run on the treadmill. 300 meters, then run on the treadmill.

Rinse and repeat. A purgatorial cycle. Death was moments away. I felt it.

During one transition from treadmill back to the rower of death, the guy next to me turned and raised his hand to high-five mine. It was a sweaty, low impact, feather-touch high-five, yet still a high-five. Two seconds to notice me, then he was back to his workout. Game face unchanged.My energy jolted. Even though my limbs ached and burned, my feet gained speed on the treadmill and my arms pumped harder on the rower. I aimed to kill the workout. “High-Five Guy”s recognition would not be in vain.”High-Five Guy” could have put his head down and ignored me. He could have maintained tunnel vision on his own workout. He could have zoned out to those around him. But he didn’t. He chose to notice me and take action to buoy my spirits. I, in turn, finished that workout with zest and strength. I remained pepped up, all because someone extended their hand to me in solidarity.

Here is the power of encouragement.

Too often, I think people will require too much from me. I’ll have to go out of my way, be inconvenienced, or find time on my already-packed calendar for a 2-hour block of prayer, vigilance, and oil-anointing needed to make a significant impact on someone. The cycle of potential expectations whirls around in my head, making me feel exhausted before I even have the chance to notice.The reality is that encouragement doesn’t ask much of me. It only looks for my availability to its movement in my life. It asks me to pay attention. To be vulnerable. To see right in front of me, around me, or next to me.To notice the tired cashier at the check-out lane and ask how she is.To ask the restaurant server his name and leave a good tip, even if he doesn’t give the greatest of service. To exhibit patience when road service workers shut down the road on my commute to work. Instead of yelling at them, smiling and waving as I pass, knowing they have a tough job. To spend time at dinner with my family, asking about their day, listening to their responses. To smile, from deep within my soul, to anyone who approaches me, as I know that they might need hope, or love, or joy, radiated to them. In Scripture, we are familiar with the specific stories of Jesus’ miracles. The blind man on the roadside, or woman with the issue of blood, or the raising of Lazarus from the dead. What I’ve been thinking about lately, though, are the stories that weren’t accounted for. John writes, in the last part of his Gospel, “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book…” In the book of Acts, Peter described Jesus as the one who “went about doing good.”Doing good deeds for others was a way of life for Jesus. The Gospel writers couldn’t capture all the stories because they didn’t have enough parchment paper. Maybe they just focused on the big stories to keep our attention on the power of Jesus, but that doesn’t mean there were not hundreds upon hundreds of tiny acts done by Jesus that changed people’s lives. I like to think, that when Jesus was around town, He did a lot of smiling and high-fiving and playing with small children. I think he ate well, danced often, and always had time to listen to whoever was nearby.

Perhaps I am reading between the lines of the Gospels to formulate these ideas,

but I’m convinced Jesus knew that sometimes people need a sermon,

and other times, people need a hug.

Negativity bombards us every day. Hurt and pain surround those that we love and those that are strangers to us. The world is tumultuous, uncertain, and downright scary at times. I’m not propounding the belief that life can be all sunshine and flowers and a good time, nor am I suggesting that we all walk around with fake grins plastered on.Rather, I believe it is in the mess that the calling of Jesus becomes real for His followers. His light, His love, His hope – those are the life-giving, heart-changing attributes that can flood through us to the bruised, the battered, and the worn-out souls. If we can’t be the ones to bring the hope, then the Good News must not be that good.Last week, at my job, a lady came to us to sign some legal documents. Since I am the notary public, I was there, with my attorneys, to notarize her signature and log it officially for the state of Colorado.She commented to me, “This must be a fun job for you, huh?”“Yes, I do enjoy it very much.”“I knew it – because you’ve been smiling this whole meeting. Does she always smile?” She asked my attorney.He nodded. “Yep. She’s always smiling.”A smile. A handshake. A hug. A helping hand. A listening ear. These small things can change someone’s day. These minute responses impact the world around us. God is aching to embrace the person closest to us, and He wants to use our open arms to do it. We have the opportunity to be the conduit of grace, if only we engage.

Who knows what load we will lift? Who knows which person we might impact?

Who knows the change we might effect in our home, our workplace, or our community?

I can’t wait to found out.

So, with our hearts overflowing with His love

and our arms stretched wide by His grace,

may our presence, in our homes and in our work, make the difference.

May His peace radiate from us.

May His joy be our strength.

May we know, deep within us, that we are loved, valued, and cared for.

We’ve got Good News.

While we walk this earth, let’s encourage, build up, and do good.

Thank you, High-Five Guy, for all you taught me…in 2 seconds.


P.S. Let’s lift each other up…just like this…

March 7, 2019

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Blue Ornaments


I work in a small office in the small town of Louisville, Colorado. Every day, at my lunch hour, I stroll through its orderly streets or wander its scenic pathways through the open spaces.

Last week, during my amble, I noticed a single blue ornament, hanging from the bare limbs of tree in the front of a small house.

Undeterred that it was more than 2 months past Christmas time, whenever ornaments on outdoor trees are both prevalent and acceptable, it glowed in the sunlight, bold and bright.

Maybe someone had forgotten to pack up this lonely blue ornament in the frenzy of cleaning up bigger, more extravagant Christmas paraphernalia.

Or, perhaps, they left it on purpose. To reflect the light on a sunny day. To stand out among the leaf-less branches surrounding it. To remind passersby of the hope that Christmas brings.

The ornament was remarkable in an unobtrusive way.

It made me pause to think.

In Scripture, again and again, average people surface in above-average ways. John the Baptist was the “burning and shining light”, declaring the way to the coming Messiah. A young boy emerged from a crowd, lunch in tow, to give it to Jesus Who fed 5,000 people with this gift. Lydia, a business woman, converts to Christianity and starts a house church in her pagan city.

These people deemed to be different. They bucked traditions and systems. They did and said things that society condemned, but God praised.  They charged forward, fueled by hope and passion, committed to the belief that God was doing a work bigger and more profound than they ever imagined.

They stuck out….and were okay with it.

As I enter another season of Lent, where I’m giving up sweets and Starbuck’s drinks, (yes, yes, I know, tough times), I’m ready for a time of contemplation. I am struck with the thought of how to be a blue ornament. How do I stand out in a world that wants me to blend in? How do I stick up for my faith whenever having faith isn’t exactly popular? And how do I stick up and stand out without being brash and judgmental and aggressive?

I don’t know the full answers to these questions. Nor do I expect to capture them during the next 40 days. Still, I’m pondering each one on my daily walks, and I’m coming up with a list of “maybe’s”:

  • Maybe I can sit in acceptance of traffic instead of being angry at other drivers.
  • Maybe I can respond in kindness to my family in the evening when we are all tired and hungry and crabby, and someone says something that hurts my feelings.
  • Maybe I can smile in the face of adversity, be patient while waiting, and hopeful despite chaos.
  • Maybe I can listen more, talk less.
  • Maybe I can see others for who they are, instead of who I want them to be.
  • Maybe I can take a deep breath and realize that God is doing a great job running the Universe and I need to trust Him.

Maybe, maybe, maybe.

The possibilities have only just begun to come to me.

The blue ornament still hangs on its branch, speaking to me. 

I’m listening.

January 15, 2019

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The Stories We Tell


My great-aunt Edna knew how to tell an entertaining story. She would sit at my Grandpa Raymond’s dinner table, long after we would stuff ourselves with her Southern Indiana style pork and baked beans, and she would regale us with her tales.

One story she would retell was of her trip to New Orleans, where she ate at a fancy fish restaurant. They served her the entire fish’s body on a beautiful platter.

“And wouldn’t you know,” she said, “I couldn’t eat it! It’s great big ‘ole eyeball just stared back at me, and I couldn’t eat a bite!”

Then she would collapse in peals of laughter. As we all would. Out from her pocket would come a dark mauve colored lipstick. She would paint it on her lips, before starting up a fresh anecdote.

These were warm times in my childhood. Listening to Aunt Edna. Her stories about growing up as a farm girl. A sister. Hard times. Marriage. Children. Travel. Food.

These were the stories she shared with me. With all of us. At holidays and parties and barbecues. I loved them. I loved sitting close to her, catching whiffs of her Estee Lauder perfume, drinking in the wonder of the adventures she’d had.


From left to right: My grandma Bettye, my great-aunt Edna, my great-uncle Bob, and my grandpa Raymond

Stories have been how humans have engaged with each other for centuries. The telling and retelling of adventures and legends cements together our common humanity and shared values. Even Jesus used the method of storytelling to relay His deepest points about the love and grace of God the Father. Crowds continually pressed to Him to hear His words. A few writers, after He died and rose again, picked up pen and paper to log the stories for the whole world to read.

Jesus’ purpose in His stories was to convey a truth about the Kingdom of God. It was always for good, for edification, for instruction. His words, and my Aunt Edna’s, are different timbres from what is plastered in our faces through reality TV, celebrity gossip magazines, social media feeds, and the dark corners of our office workplaces.

We can’t help but share the stories we hear. We love knowledge. Thrive on information. Delight in sharing news. It’s how we are sharing that makes all the difference.

There is a reoccurring problem faced every time we repeat a story. We only know one part of it We only see it from our side. It’s our lens, our narrative, our scope.

In the business world, and in the leadership realm, I’m constantly being asked, “What is the story here?” or “What is really happening—can we go deeper?”

In my time as a paralegal, breaking down both sides of a case, hearing what each party is saying, what story they are telling, is vital to understanding what needs to be done next in support of the legal process.

This is where I picture Aunt Edna again. At my Grandpa’s round dining table, leaning in close.  Her eyes are on mine, and she says, “Mmmhmm, well yes….and that’s right….”

She listened. She affirmed. She validated.

We must understand:

There is always another piece under the surface…another layer that needs uncovered…missing link to connect the dots.

We say a co-worker is grouchy.

Then we find out that she works two jobs because she’s single mom and she’s trying to save up to buy a house.

We think the guy who works as a customer service clerk is rude.

Then we find out his side gig is as an artist who creates beautiful paintings.

We complain because the restaurant served us the wrong food.

Then we find out the sous chef is fresh out of school, trying to make it in a new field, and is hoping this new career will pay off the student loans.

We see the homeless guy and think he should get a job.

Then we find out that he had a job and a family once, but then hard times came, and he lost it all.

We see only the tip of the iceberg of life that lurks underneath our everyday movements, as we sail past each other. We are so eager with our responses to others that we miss the details. We hasten to fill the pauses in conversation when waiting in silence would give the other person space to share.

I want to be a good storyteller.

I think that means I need to listen more.

Some stories are not mine to share, but maybe it is my responsibility to point out to others who are telling their stories. I am white, American, middle-class, have both a mom and a dad, am a Christian, work an office job, and do freelance work on the side. I’m a mom, a wife, a volunteer. I’ve been overweight, struggled with depression, had crappy cars that broke down on me multiple times. Those are pieces of my story.

I can’t speak to the stories of the struggles of the varied ethnic communities across my nation and the world. Nor, to the marginalized of society. Nor, to the under-privileged. I haven’t experienced horrors of war or fled as a refugee; I haven’t been orphaned nor have I adopted children. I haven’t had to pan-handle for cash, worry about learning how to read, or wondered if I didn’t get a job because of my skin color.

Our viewpoint on other people’s stories is limited by our own experiences. Our compartmentalization of people and events inhibits our ability to take in fresh perspectives and learn from different viewpoints. We must look beyond ourselves. We speak. We make room for speakers. To learn, not to tell. To empathize, not judge. I don’t want my words to overshadow what they need to say.

I refuse to convey a message that hasn’t been entrusted to me.

Repeatedly Scripture, we see Jesus engaging with person after person, opening up the floor to the unheard souls of society. A lonely woman at a well. A crippled man by a crowded pool. A child who had loaves and fishes.

People had things to say.

Jesus was all ears.

Everyone had a place at His dinner table.

After all, the stories we know intimately are our own stories. The story of my life, who I am, where I’m going, what God has done in my life—that’s the one I can repeat without fear.  I have often been the dork of the tale, not the princess. I have screwed up, failed, and fallen to my face, skinning my chin, mouth, and forehead, in round after round of blazing glory. I have laughed and cried, been red-faced and sad-faced, given love, and received joy.

It’s the stuff of epics.

I hope that every piece that is added onto my story in the coming year serves a purpose. I hope that any laugh I bring, any tear I evoke, any smile I win, will remind everyone of something deeper. That we are all interconnected. That we are human. That we need each other. Because, in our brokenness, we can use some goodness. In our weakness, we need support. In the mundane, we need the amazing.

I can see Aunt Edna, leaning down from Heaven’s gate,

nodding her head and smiling. Her lipstick is perfect.

“Mh-hmmm, girl, that’s right,” she says. “Ain’t that somethin’?”

You tell me your story. I’ll tell you mine.

The dining room table is open.

Come on over, friends.


P.S. Check out the hair….it’s just all a part of the story.



December 24, 2018

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The Lights in the Plaza



31185 (1)In the middle of the hub of 17th Street, California Street, 18th Street, and Stout Street, there is a plaza.

Throughout the year, it’s a fairly standard plaza with trees and flowers and benches. In the summer time, tables appear, ready for use for outdoor lunches.

But, at Christmas time, the plaza changes. Workers arrive early in the morning, the week after Thanksgiving, to hang lights on the trees. White lights, strung through gnarly, empty branches, shine from early evening to late morning throughout the Christmas season.

The plaza shifts from ordinary to extraordinary. All of a sudden, a place that seemed run-of-the-mill comes alive. People who normally rush through it stop.

Pause. Savor. Enjoy.

The lights make all the difference.


It’s a shame really, that the lights only stay for a short period of time. Their glow brightens the darkness of the winter twilight. Encourages me to take in their quiet beauty. Signals me that a time for reflection and gratitude is upon us. Makes me think of other lights in my life.

The light of my husband and child.

The light of my family around me.

The light of my church.

The light of friends – both new and old.

The light of a home, safety, freedom, and peace.

All these lights in my life point me to my obligation, my calling, my hope. Light, by its very nature, affects everything it touches. It sweeps in, changing the atmosphere around it, marking itself in plain contrast to any other force.

As I scroll through Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, and as I watch the evening news, I am swept into the darkness of events.

Shootings. Robberies. Violence against women and children. Racism. Shaming. Political fighting. Threats of war. Families separated. Kids in need of a home. Sickness. Pain. Hurt.

A part of me wants to run away from it all. I want to pretend that it doesn’t affect me. I want to close my eyes and ears and ignore the suffering.

But, I can’t.

Centuries ago, a tiny baby was born to a teenage mom. He arrived into a violent, bloody, conflicted world.

A star shone brightly in the sky, announcing his birth. Letting us know that the Light had come.

Jesus said later of Himself, “I am the Light of the world.”

It is because of His light in me and around me that I am compelled forward. His light on my heart and mind and soul has changed everything. His redemptive love pours out to me, and I want to pour it onto others. I’m leaning into hurt and pain. I’m extending a hand to orphaned kids, single mom’s, and the homeless in Denver, through partnering with other organization.

I’m paying attention to the people around me, opening my heart, praying over them with words.

I refuse to believe that the darkness is greater.

I’m determined to be a light projector.

His light is there for everyone, not just a select few. Like the sun’s rays that invade all the earth, so His love rushes into our lives, healing, comforting, renewing.

This Christmas season, while the lights are in the plaza, I’m enjoying their presence.

Come January, the lights will be gone. The trees will be bare once more.

Yet, the sacred space they carved in my heart will remain.

Because true light is never extinguished.


Me hanging up more Christmas lights!















Organizations that spread light in the world:

Hope House of Denver, visit them at: www.hopehouseofcolorado.org

New Hope Children’s Home, Peru, visit them at: www.hopechildrenshome.org

Denver Rescue Mission, visit them at www.denverrescuemission.org

Compassion International, Inc., visit them at www.compassion.com

Red Rocks Church, visit them at www.redrockschurch.org

Adopt Colorado’s Kids, visit them at https://www.adoptuskids.org/adoption-and-foster-care/how-to-adopt-and-foster/state-information/colorado

DreamMakers, visit them at https://dreammakersproject.org/


December 16, 2018

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Snotty Noses


I have cleaned a nose at least fifteen times today. My young son has a cold, which has produced a fountain of mucus pouring from his nostrils to rival Niagara Falls.

Our ritual is established. He brings a tissue. I wipe his nose…twice. He takes the crumpled Kleenex from my hand and disposes of it in the trash.

I don’t mind really (aside from the constant hand-washing this causes me to need).

What is funny to me is that Rafael does not need me to wipe his nose. He is perfectly capable to do it himself. He is also capable of putting on his own shoes and coat, brushing his teeth, and carrying around his own Paw Patrol toys. Yet, he persistently asks me to do all of these actions for him.

He is asking for my attention. My help. My notice of his need.

But I don’t want to wipe a snotty nose.

It’s messy. And gross. And requires something more of me than I want to willingly give.

The stories of Jesus in Scripture touching lepers especially move me. He would reach out to touch them – the untouchable, the outcast, the revolting.

Every time I put on my dress clothes and go to work in a well-lit, open office space with a padded chair…every time I show up at church on a Sunday to worship with air-conditioning or heat, while lights and music grab my attention…every time I sip my over-priced coffee drink from the polished coffee shop on the street corner of my middle-class, well-off, safe neighborhood….

I wonder if I’m far from the Gospel.

I wonder if I’m the rich man from Jesus’ parables. The fool from Proverbs. The Pharisee out front of the synagogue.

But then….

The snotty noses poke at me.

The people around my abundant life who keep showing up around me, so God can remind me what grace looks like. So I have the chance to get my hands dirty. So I don’t become complacent in all the blessings.

Like the home-bound ladies who need me to deliver them books every month and sometimes complain to me about things I can’t control.

Like the families who ask for prayer on the GroupMe app that my life group uses, sharing stories of need and sickness and heartbreak, wanting me to petition Heaven on their behalf.

Like the homeless population in Old Town, Arvada, close to where I live, who need my winter coats way more than I do, who need someone to give out of their abundance again and again.

Like the friends around me who need to be listened to, prayed for, hugged on, believed in.

Life is beautiful and hard. Short and fun.

It’s also messy.

God never intended us to live in a vacuum of existence. He gave Eve to Adam, Aaron to Moses, Bartholomew to Paul. As the great characters of history needed partners, and community, so do we. We might think it makes life more complicated or annoying, but if that is all we see, then we are missing the point.

As 2018 wraps up, I look back at my own snotty nose and how many times I poked it into the lives of people around me, exposing my need, expressing vulnerability.

The grace that I received has been beyond measure.

That’s the beauty of not being alone. We lean into one another. We stretch our arms around each other in love and acceptance. We put action to our otherwise meaningless words about the Gospel.

It’s all the beauty and the mess that, as Rainer Rilke puts in, “reconciles the ill-matched threads” of each life and turns it into a priceless masterpiece.

I’m about 114 Kleenex down.

114 hugs accompanied every wipe.

It’s amazing…the truth revealed to me….by the snot running down a nose.