One of My Favorites…A Promise to My Daughter

Day 56

It is Mother’s Day. I am sitting in my room waiting for my daughter to wake up, because I’m not supposed to leave my room until she comes in to tell me I can. Don’t tell her, but I got up and got coffee 2 hours ago, because I’m old and I wake up at 6 a.m. most days. But I came back and am sitting obediently in my bed waiting.

Instead of trying to come up with something new for this day’s post – I am re-posting an essay I wrote a few years ago. Time has moved along, but these words are still 100% true.

Happy Mother’s Day!

A Promise to My Daughter

You were a miracle from the moment I knew you were coming.  You were not planned for or even considered a possibility and then there was the reality of you.  From that moment, my life has been changed in so many ways.  Gone are the times of thinking of only how my decisions impact me.  Gone are the moments of guilt free laziness that used to fill my Friday nights.  Gone is the lack of empathy for parents whose children struggle to make friends or worry about how their children will succeed in school.  Gone is any moment that doesn’t have you in some part of it.  And I would not change that for anything.

You are the first thing I think of when I wake up in the morning and the last thing on my mind before sleep claims the end of my day.  You are more precious to me than any job, adventure, gift or achievement.  Because of you, I have a new name and a new purpose.  I am your mom, and that title has redefined every goal and direction of my life.

Yesterday, as we lay talking in the backyard, telling fairy tale stories of puppies and rainbow cities, I had a moment of deep awareness that every one of these moments will shape us both.  I want to be more intentional in how I approach these precious times with you, my angel.  I want you to be secure in the knowledge that I do not take these times for granted.  So often, we wait until life throws us tragedy to say the important and eternal things to the ones we love; I don’t want to wait.

So today, on a very ordinary Monday – as you are in school and I am waiting for the moment that I will pick you up and hear all about today’s adventures – I want to take a few moments to make some promises to you.

I promise to love you, unconditionally – no matter what choices you make – good or bad.  I promise to tell you in a loving and constructive way the truth about life and how all of our choices have consequence – both good and bad.  I promise to let you cry and console you when you make bad choices, because you will; and to help you find your way back to what is right.

I promise to help you feel good about yourself.  There are times when you just won’t feel good about yourself – puberty is not a friend to anyone – but in those times, I promise to help you find ways to look at things in a different way so that you are able to hold your head up high and be proud that you are a miracle – a treasure – a woman made in the very image of God. 

I promise to embrace your uniqueness – including wearing multiple bows in your hair and socks that do not match.  I promise to praise your creativity and style.  I promise to build you up – enough of this world will be looking to tear you down, but, my love, in this house and with this mother, you will find your biggest fan.

I promise to defend you and stand for you.  I promise to correct you when you are wrong.  I promise to praise you when you are right.  And in all things, I promise to be your biggest fan.

I promise to play dolls, jump on the trampoline, swim, dance, color, and bake with you.  I promise to find moments to belly laugh and giggle.  I promise to be aware that you will not always want me to be your playmate and I promise to try to be present and engaged now that you do.

I promise to hate the first boy who breaks your heart.  I promise to love the man you marry.  I promise to treasure your future and celebrate your accomplishments.  I promise to be the most annoying mom at every sporting event, school musical or play, graduation ceremony, or anything in which you are participating.

And when you are older and the time for my original role of Mom has changed,  I promise to support you emotionally.  I promise to listen to your advice.  I promise to give advice when you ask, and I promise to try not to be offended when you don’t.  I promise to be a place of refuge and security and ease.  I promise to make your favorite dinner when you come home to visit and I promise to share coffee and laughs whenever you are able.

But most of all, my precious, wanted, treasured, desired, celebrated child – I promise to love you and pray for you every day of your life.  I promise to stand in awe before God over the amazing blessing that is you – I promise to lift you up before our heavenly father each day and pray that He guide, protect, and bless you.

I love you, Arden Whitney.

Love, Mom

News of the Day:

More than 4 million people worldwide have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, and over 279,000 have died.

In the U.S., there have been over 1.3 million confirmed cases and more than 78,000 deaths.

Spain reported its lowest daily death toll in two months. In Germany, however, infections are increasing again.

Plan of the Day:

Celebrate being a Mom.

See you soon!

Just Some Random Thoughts

Day 39

I seem to be on an every other day posting kick right now. I’m not sure why. Yesterday I sat down to write something several times throughout the day, and got distracted each time. I would apologize for that, but really this is a journal for myself to remember this time of quarantine, and sometimes I just can’t put words to paper. I’m not sorry for that – so I won’t apologize. Look at the emotional growth I just went through there!  Ha!

I’ve also been keeping a prayer journal during this time. Not every day, but several days, I write down what I’m feeling or praying for or a scripture that has clicked with me. I’ve also been reading through the Psalms for the last few weeks. Yesterday I was reading Psalm 22. It is a sad, sad chapter. David seemed to have a lot of sad, sad chapters in his life – many self inflicted.  He also talked about enemies a lot. Yesterday it occurred to me that I had probably been reading the word “enemy” too literally.  I don’t have enemies. No one is coming to attack me or steal my land or kill me with a sword. But there are many emotions and feelings and thoughts that are real enemies to my well being. So, as I’ve been reading through the Psalms, every time I see the word “enemy” or “foe” or “wicked people”, I’ve been substituting one of those thoughts or feelings or emotions into its place.

For example, Psalm 18:40

“You made my enemies turn their backs in flight, and I destroyed my foes.”

I read it like this:

“You made the hopelessness I am feeling turn its back in flight and I destroyed the feeling of inadequacy.”

I don’t know if that is blasphemy or adding to the scriptures, but it definitely was a way to pray that has helped in some low times.

Back to Psalm 22 – I resonated with David’s despair quite a bit. 

Psalm 22:11 

“Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.”

Psalm 22:14

“I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me.”

Psalm 22:19

“But you, O Lord, be not far off. O my Strength, come quickly to help me.”

I think there is value in saying out loud how desperate we may feel. I also think David had a flare for the dramatic turn of phrase – “my heart has turned to wax” – wonder how long he spent on that little gem!? I’m not that creative in my prayers. Heck, I’m not that creative period. I’m thankful for the ability to pray God’s word. It has given me words I didn’t even know were missing and expressions that really fit my circumstances right now.

Anyway, that’s what has been on my mind this morning, so I thought I’d share.

Arden’s call with her class went very well yesterday. Eight of her classmates were able to get on the call, and she really enjoyed seeing their faces and hearing them yell at their siblings.  It was funny to hear that those students with brothers and sisters are DONE being with them, while Arden would love to have a sibling to be annoyed with.  The grass really is greener on the other side.

Today we are moving slowly. I have all the windows open and there is a lovely breeze blowing through the house. The dog is snoring on the bed next to me (I am dressed and the bed is made, but sometimes this is the most peaceful place in the house to write). Arden is taking her time waking up. We have a couple of assignments today but nothing that will take a large amount of time, so I’m just being content to do the day as it comes.

There is rain in the forecast for the next 3 days so we will be inside more than normal. The dog doesn’t enjoy walking in the rain anymore than I do, so our “potty” walks will be shortened.  Oh well.  Maybe I’ll substitute “rain” for “enemy” when next I read the Psalms.

News of the Day:

 Over 2.65 million people worldwide have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. More than 185,000 people have died.

The United States has more than 843,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and over 46,000 deaths attributed to the virus.

Another 4.427 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, according to data from the U.S. Labor Department. More than 26 million Americans have filed unemployment in the past 5 weeks.

The first U.S. coronavirus death occurred weeks earlier than originally thought, with medical officials in California now attributing two deaths on Feb. 6 and Feb. 17 to COVID-19.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s brother, an 86-year-old U.S. Air Force veteran, died from complications related to COVID-19.

Plan for the Day:

Somehow motivate the child to do a couple of school assignments. Maybe read a little (I’m trying, I really am). On season 4 of the Good Wife – these episodes don’t watch themselves!

See you tomorrow  – or the next day – or the day after that – who knows!


Celebrate Jesus, Celebrate

Day 28

Happy Easter! He is Risen Just as He Said!

This year, we all did Easter very differently than we ever have before. We gathered separately, in our homes, around computer screens or TVs.  My family wore pjs and wandered in and out through the service (we are all having a hard time settling in one spot for long). It feels weird to sing out loud when there aren’t other people around – at least as loudly as we usually would in a more corporate setting. It was just a strange experience. 


This Easter got me thinking about my Easters growing up. When I was a child, we lived in San Diego, California and attended a church which held Easter Sunrise Service at a local lake. When one thinks of California, one thinks of warm, sandy beaches. I can assure you, Easter Sunrise Service was not warm and the shores of the lake were not sandy.  It was always cold, always rocky and always damp. My mother, in proper Christian lady form, made sure that each year we wore brand new patent leather shoes (which were typically ruined by the end of the service because my sister and I would try to stay warm and awake by chasing the ducks around the lakefront), a new Easter dress (normally sleeveless)  and a hat. This tradition may be why I’m always late to get Arden a new dress for Easter – there may be some PTSD associated with these experiences. 

Lest you think it was all misery, one of my favorite memories from childhood is the time in every year’s service when our pastor would sing He’s Alive. I can still remember the goosebumps rising on my arms when he would get to the part that went…

“But suddenly the air was filled
With a strange and sweet perfume
Light that came from everywhere
Drove shadows from the room
And Jesus stood before me
With His arms held open wide
And I fell down on my knees
And I just clung to Him and cried”

I could smell the air. I could see the light. I could see Jesus in my mind. Today, I could nearly type all those lyrics from memory even though I haven’t heard that song in decades. I’m not sure that I could bear to hear it today – it might just do me in!

I know there have been many famous artists who have released this song, but none will ever have more impact on my heart and mind as the memory of that song, on that lakeshore, every Easter at sunrise.  

We will get back to our “normal” lives at some point – whatever “normal” means in this world after these trying times. But I am reminded, that just as life was never the same after that first Easter; life will not be the same after this one. But one thing, the most important thing, remains.  He’s Alive!  And because He lives – I can face tomorrow. (another song we sang nearly every Easter!)

Today, when the sun rose and I walked outside with the dog, the first thing on my mind was those Easter mornings so long ago and I hummed the song as we walked…

He’s alive. He’s alive.  He’s alive and I’m forgiven – Heaven’s Gates are open wide!

Happy Easter All!

News of the Day:

The worldwide death toll from the coronavirus passed 110,000 on Sunday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Over 1.8 million people have tested positive for the virus.

The U.S. passed more than 21,000 deaths and 530,000 cases, leading the world in both reported numbers.

Pope Francis live-streamed Easter Sunday Mass for Catholics celebrating the holiday under lockdown.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was discharged from the hospital where he was treated in intensive care.

Plan for the Day:

Easter lunch, finish watching Ben-Hur, nap.

See you tomorrow!


About Death

Day 26

Good Friday. I did not write yesterday. It was the first day of “spring break” and so I took a break as well. 

Today is a solemn day in the church calendar. It is the day when we, as Christians, come face to face with the consequences of our sin. It is a painful day to look at – full in the face – and acknowledge that because of our rebellion, Jesus had to die. It is a horrific day. It is a gruesome day. 

I’ve been listening to Holy Week scripture readings every day this week. One of the podcasts I listen to has been using each day’s broadcast to read the happenings from each gospel for each day of this week. I’ve been fascinated to hear the story from the four gospels and how each of the authors remembered the events. From a purely historic perspective it is a reminder that we all see, remember and value different elements from a common event. I think that is true of all shared experiences – we each take something different from the moments we witness. It was definitely true in the retelling of the life of Christ. What Matthew found worthy or important to include was very different from what John chose to include.  These differences carry through into the death of Jesus. 

I’ve been awake for a couple hours and have been putting off listening to the Good Friday readings. I know what they say. I know what is coming. I know it will hurt to listen. I also know that it isn’t the end of the story.  However, I have to walk through today to get to the resurrection.

Good Friday has a personal relevance to me as well, aside from the salvation offered in the sacrifice. Good Friday is the day I faced one of the biggest and most heart-wrenching decisions of my life. Good Friday is the day when I came face to face with my personal and professional failings and had to let a big piece of my ambition die.  I don’t think I’ve shared this story publicly before – in fact I’m sure I haven’t. Writing it down is hard. Acknowledging the utter failure is humiliating, but walking through it really did bring about a resurrection in my soul.

Five years ago I was working in a very demanding job. I was running at 100 miles an hour every day/all day and not really making any headway.  I was failing on an epic level. I would take 3 steps forward and fall behind 5. I was neglecting my family to try to keep up. I was drinking too much to dull the feelings of inadequacy.  To say it bluntly – I was a hot mess.

Things came to a head on Good Friday.  I was called in and told that I wasn’t meeting expectations and something had to change.  I felt exposed and embarrassed and useless and devastated. I went home completely defeated and just cried in my bedroom for hours.  The ironic thing is that I didn’t even like the job. I had worked really hard to get it because I thought that was the next right thing, but it was killing me on the inside. That is a really hard reality to come up against. 

When the tears subsided, Terry and I sat in our room and he asked me a question that changed my life. He asked me what I wanted. Not in the sense of what I wanted for dinner or what I wanted to do for Easter, but what I wanted from and for my life. That question stopped me in my tracks.  I don’t think I had asked myself that question in a real sense ever, and I know no one else had ever asked me that. And so I paused and thought about it. What did I WANT? And the answer was as clear as day – I wanted to be a stay at home mom. I wanted to write. I wanted to pour my energy and skills into my marriage and my home and my daughter.  I didn’t want to miss out on Arden’s life because I was always at work. I wanted to quit this job that was killing me and focus on my home.

As soon as I said those words out loud, all the reasons why this was a completely irrational idea came.  We couldn’t afford what I wanted. I had worked since I was 15. I have never not worked. I find value in myself through work. Did I mention we couldn’t afford it? Terry and I talked through all these obstacles and prayed.  I stayed up all night praying. When morning came, so did peace. We made the decision I would quit my job and become a stay at home mom. 

It was scary and daunting and really hard.  The years since haven’t been easy. We’ve sacrificed a lot of things to make it work. I’ve had days when I missed putting on work clothes and picking up my briefcase and going to work. There have been days when I have wondered if I’m wasting my life. I’ve had days when I’ve regretted the decision. But I’ve also had days when I know down to my bones that I saved my sanity by making the choice.  I’ve had days when I was able to be an advocate for my child because I was present and involved at a level I could have never been had I stayed in that job. I have days when I am able to write for hours and find deep satisfaction and worth in the words that fill the page. And most of all, I have these days. These days of mandated stay at home. Because of what happened 5 years ago, I have been uniquely equipped for these days.  Thankfully, the choices and adjustments we had to make when we lost my income have made this time easier. I have an at-home rhythm established. I’m able to more easily navigate food and menu planning on a budget because I’ve been doing it for a long time. We don’t fear the loss of my job, because there is no job to lose. There are a lot of things that were planted 5 years ago that are coming to fruition today.

I tell this story to say this – something died on Good Friday 5 years ago. But something rose as well.  It has taken a long time for me to look at that time and see the beauty that came from those ashes. I have worked hard to forgive myself for the failure.  I haven’t always been great at it. I haven’t been a perfect stay-at-home mom. I have been a far from perfect wife. But I will always be so grateful for the journey, because it allowed me to see in a small, personal way that life can come from death. 

And so, I will listen to the story of the Crucifixion today.  I will sit in the sadness and hopelessness of this day. I will feel the guilt and shame that this day brings.  And I will rejoice – because this is not the end. 

Sunday is coming.

News of the Day:

Over 1.6 million people worldwide have tested positive for the coronavirus and more than 97,000 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The U.S. remains the epicenter of the pandemic, with over 466,000 cases and more than 16,000 deaths.

Multiple cities are reporting that the virus is disproportionally killing black Americans.

New York State now has more reported coronavirus cases than any country except the U.S. as a whole.

There were 6.6 million U.S. jobless claims or the week ending April 4 — almost 1 million more than economists were expecting.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is out of intensive care as he continues to recover from COVID-19.

Plan for the Day

Good Friday readings. “Attend” a Good Friday service. Start preparing for Easter. Enjoy the sunshine

See you tomorrow!



Day 21

Palm Sunday. I didn’t sleep well last night and finally gave up at 5 a.m. I got up and took the dog out, made coffee and sat on the couch. I was full of feelings and nothing I was doing – scrolling through Facebook, flipping t.v. channels, trying to read – was able to distract me from an overwhelming sadness. I got onto Google and searched for churches that have online sermons saved. I found a series and started to watch. It turned out to be a series on the gospel of Mark. I guess in all my years of Biblical instruction I had forgotten the situation surrounding Peter’s dictated gospel. It was nice to be reminded. I am looking forward to the other messages in the series.  I cried through most of the broadcast. Not because it was overly sad. I think it was just a nice reminder that God used someone as imperfect as Peter to lead his ministry on earth after Jesus returned to the Father. I feel immensely imperfect right now. I feel vulnerable and afraid and inadequate. I was also reminded that Hosanna means “save us”. Seems most appropriate.

After the message, I took the dog out again and had a good long cry as I told God all of my fears. I yelled them (there is no one out here for miles, so other than the dog and the birds, no one but God could hear me). I pleaded for help and peace and direction.  I prayed for healing and deliverance. I prayed for protection – not just for our health and our friends and family – but for our hearts and minds. My heart and mind are in pretty rough shape right now. The troubles of life didn’t go away just because the Virus entered the picture. If nothing else, those pressure points are in much sharper relief in this time of heightened trauma.  It comes in waves. There are whole hours of each day when I can push those things aside, but they are always lingering on the edges. I told God all about it. I asked for belief in my unbelief. 

After my marathon yelling fit, I came in and got ready for the day.  I drove into Burlington to pick up our groceries for the week. I called my sister and wished her a Happy Birthday. I sang in the car at the top of my lungs. When I got home and had put everything away, I watched a live Palm Sunday service and cried through that as well – do you see a pattern here?  Today was a day of tears. It is Holy Week and it is a somber time, but Palm Sunday (though it is prologue for the Passion) has always been celebratory in our traditions. Today didn’t feel celebratory. It felt heavy. It felt lonely. It felt somber. 

I took many walks today. The sun was beautiful and the temperatures mild. Days like today have been a balm in this time of separation.  I tried to find that solace today – it was not easy to locate. 

The day is drawing to a close. We have had dinner and it has been put away. I’m exhausted and feel like I could go to sleep, but I dread laying there unable to. I’ve been very careful not to have the news on when Arden is around. Today I laid down for a nap and had PBS cooking shows on. When I woke up and took the dog for yet another walk, Arden went into my bedroom to play with the cats.  I guess PBS changed their programming in the time I was gone from cooking to news and one of the newscasters said something about the Virus not being under control this summer and perhaps extending into the next school year. I walked back into the room to a sobbing child who could not fathom being separated from her friends and school and the excitement of 5th grade. What do you say to that?  I have no answers – well other than to turn off the TV every time I leave a room! I tried to explain that we don’t know what will happen, but we can do what we know to do and pray for the end to all this. I tried to hide my anxiety – it is at about a 7 right now – and distract her.  

Anyway – I’m sorry this isn’t a more hopeful entry. I am praying for a restful night and a more positive outlook tomorrow as we begin our 4 week of home study. 

News of the Day:

There are over 1.2 million cases of the coronavirus worldwide, according to tracking from Johns Hopkins University. The number of global fatalities has passed 66,000.

The U.S. leads the world with more than 310,000 reported cases. President Trump warned Saturday that “it’s going to be really some very bad numbers” in the U.S., where the death toll reached 8,500 over the weekend.

Pope Francis called for courage as he delivered Palm Sunday mass by livestream.

Plan for the Day: ………………

See you tomorrow!


Shake, Rattle and Roll

Day 19

Well, it’s Friday. Everyone have big weekend plans?  Yeah, me either. We are running low on meat and milk and bread, so I guess I’ll need to make a plan to go get some supplies this weekend. Other than that, nothing on the agenda. I was telling someone the other day that weekends seem the hardest in this mess (hardest is really a relative term, because it is all hard) because there doesn’t seem to be a break in the monotony. There is nothing on the calendar. Nothing planned. Nothing different from the other days. I’m thinking that on the weekends I may have to start planning projects that are only for the weekends – like cleaning out cabinets or drawers or closets – something to look forward to. But then I get swamped by a wave of apathy and I don’t care about the closets or cabinets or drawers. So, we’ll see.

Yesterday was a series of highs and lows. I spent a considerable amount of time washing and shaving the dog’s behind because…well I don’t want to get into the details, but suffice it to say that cleaning poop out of your dog’s butt because you haven’t been able to get him to the groomers to get that area cleaned up, pretty much sums up this whole stay at home situation.

After that exciting adventure, we had breakfast for dinner and then I introduced Arden to one of my favorite movies from my childhood – Clue. Erica and I used to rent that movie once a week when we were Arden’s age. I hadn’t watched it for years, but it holds up. Thankfully the double entendres went over Arden’s head, but the slapstick comedy  of Tim Curry and crew was a real hit. She loved the 3 alternative endings. A lot of the time, she doesn’t stick it out through an entire movie, but we cuddled up on my bed through the whole thing. I was happy that we got to enjoy that experience together.

This morning I got up to let the dog out and then sat down with coffee to watch the Today show.  They had a segment with a Bishop and a Rabbi talking about faith in the time of coronavirus. The two men of faith said about what you would imagine they would, but Bishop Curry said something that really hit home.  He said there is virtue in being honest with God. Telling Him what is on your heart. That the Psalms are filled with prayers of anger and fear and sadness and grief. God can handle that.   Resized952020040395084026

I, of course, know that – but it was good to hear it. We are all walking through a period of mourning.  Mourning what our lives used to be before all this. Mourning what we would have been doing if this had not happened. Mourning the normalcy of our world. So, it was nice to have that mourning acknowledged today.  It was also really fun to see the Buffalo Bills helmet in the background – Bishop Curry is not only a soothing voice – but he apparently loves him some football!

I’ve attached a link if you want to watch the whole interview.

Today Show – Finding Faith Today

As soon as I post this I am going in to wake Arden up to get started on our first day of official online learning. We have 3 subjects to get through, and then we’ll see where the day takes us. I’m not anticipating this being a fun morning because we are all just about over it, but we will make the effort and be grateful for the energy to do so.  Then I may go outside for a bit before it rains (AGAIN) and yell at God for awhile. I heard today, He can take it!

News of the Day:

According to tracking from Johns Hopkins University, there are more than 1 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 54,000 deaths worldwide.

The United States leads the world with more than 245,000 COVID-19 cases. More than 6,000 Americans have died from the virus.

The U.S. unemployment rate jumped from 3.5% to 4.4% as more than 700,000 Americans lost jobs in the first two weeks of March.

In the U.K., there were a record 684 coronavirus-related deaths in 24 hours. Buckingham Palace says Queen Elizabeth will make a rare televised address to the nation Sunday.

Plan for the Day:

Tackle online learning. Make a grocery list. Make a plan for the week. 

See you tomorrow!


The Inartful Art of Unfriending

Let’s be honest here for a second. Have you ever been unfriended on social media?  Have you unfriended?  The answer for me on both these questions is yes.  If I’m asking you to be honest, I guess I need to be as well.

The act of unfriending someone can be super satisfying. (Remember how I said we were being honest??!!)  Clicking that button in response to a wrong committed (or perceived to be committed) is the ultimate exercise of passive aggressive aggression.

“I don’t like what you said or did, or where you went, or what you commented on – so THERE! I deem you unfriended!” (Insert evil laugh).

evil laugh.jpg

It is like with that one button click, we have erased the offender’s presence not only in our timeline, but also in our lives.  It is like they have ceased to exist.  They (and whatever their annoying or hurtful action) are no more in the world!  Vamos!  Goodbye!

And for a moment, as we congratulate ourselves on our healthy removal of toxicity in our life, we can feel righteous in our actions. We (and of course, I am using the Royal “We” here – I really mean ME, MYSELF, I) have an internal dialogue about how justified we are in our “unfriending activity” because the “offender” was certainly no REAL friend of ours!  If they were, they would have NEVER done whatever it is we perceive or know they have done!  How dare they!? Who do they think they are?!?  Well clearly they are NO ONE now – because POOF they have been unfriended!

For myself, my unfriend finger gets most itchy when I am feeling slighted. Social Media has introduced to the zeitgeist a new phrase – FOMO – Fear of Missing Out.  My FOMO meter gets triggered when I see “friends” getting to do things or go places to which I was not invited or included.  Nothing gets my feelings of insecurity and injustice stirred up faster!  And instead of rejoicing over someone’s successes or blessings – CLICK – you are UNFRIENDED!  I’ll show you!

Worse yet, the unfriending can happen when a small infraction gets chewed around in my never-quiet mind to a place where that mole hill looks like Mt. St. Helen (in complete eruption mode – lava and smoke and all) – CLICK – you are GONE!  So THERE!

I’m 42 years old, readers!  FORTY TWO!!!  I’m not 12. I profess to be a Bible-believing, praying, active follower of Christ.  There are very clear, not difficult to understand processes laid out on how to address feelings of hurt and arguments with people –

“Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.”. (Matt. 18:15-17)

I mean come on now – I’ve known this for nearly my whole life. I think at one point I had to memorize it for JBQ (Junior Bible Quiz for the unfamiliar), and let me tell you I didn’t often lose at JBQ!  I know for a FACT I wrote a paper on it in college in a course I took on Biblical Conflict Resolution (and I seem to remember doing fairly well on that assignment – I do like to write a paper, you know!).

But why do something as hard as actually having a conversation with someone who has ticked me off, when Facebook has given me such an accommodating and sin-encouraging button – right there, where no one will know that they have been unfriended unless they go looking for it?  I mean, it seems heaven sent – until it doesn’t.

As I mentioned before, I’ve been both the unfriend-ER and the unfriend-EE – and being on the other side sucks – for lack of a better term. I’m sure there are those who have unfriended me for things I really deserved to be taken to task for, and probably those who have done it for the same petty spitefulness for which I am often guilty.  Most times I’m blissfully unaware of it, but for the times I have realized the action – it hurts.

Now, I want to make a note to say that there are situations when things just aren’t healthy – stalking, abuse, threatening, etc. – these things should be avoided at all costs and should not be tolerated in a social media or real life setting!  Unfriend away with complete impunity those who wish to bring actual danger to your world.  I think that is healthy.

My point here today is that I would do well to remember how it feels to be on the “unfriended” side of the coin when my finger is itching to “unfriend”.  I needed a self-reminder today.  And because there are good things even in bad times, Facebook has a really cool feature called “On This Day” (reminders of posts from previous years) and I have a feeling that this may be something I want to be reminded of –

Taking the time to have a painful conversation protects my brain and heart and spirit – because the ultimate suffering of the unfriending is the one doing it.

At least it is in my case, because (as I was reminded by my sister last week) I tend to rehash, reexamine, rethink every single breath, word, sigh, side-way glance, hair flip, etc. of everyone – you, me, the dog – whoever!  So for me, the act of unfriending is more damaging to myself than anyone. Like that old saying – “Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”  And really, at the end of the day that is what petty unfriending is – a passive aggressive form of unforgiveness – and one I am sad to say, I have engaged in way too frequently. I resolve to do better!  (It seems to be the year of resolutions for me – I’m doing pretty well on the reading, schedule and menu/grocery things – so let’s see if forgiveness gets on-board the success train!)

Ok – enough of this “sermon to myself”.

As Millie Vanilli said “Blame it on the rain!” It is storming like crazy here and has me in a contemplative mood.

Next post will be about puppies and babies or something more happy.  I promise.


Unless it is raining.

See ya soon.



So this is Christmas…

I have debated writing a blog this December because I am in full on compartmentalization mode. I have a special skill of which you may not be aware – I am a TERRIFIC avoider.  I mean if they gave out gold medals in the Olympics (either summer or winter) for the sport of avoidance – I would win!  Hands down!  Play that National Anthem, baby! I am a total champ at all kinds of avoidance activities.  I can avoid topics of conversation, people, eye contact, and even trains of thought – like a BOSS! So it is no surprise that I tend to employ this remarkable skill every December.  Without this particular skill, I wouldn’t make it through the holidays and I LOVE the holidays and am not willing to give them up – so trigger the very intentional act of putting thoughts and feelings in a drawer for the month of December.

You see, 10 years ago on December 20, 2007 (just 5 days before Christmas) the most important man in my life (at the time) died.  It was a Thursday.  It was the first day of my Christmas break from teaching.  It was a cold and wet day. According to the On This Day website, Elizabeth II became the longest living monarch of Great Britain and a famous Picasso painting was stolen in Sao Paulo.  Other than that, not much of note happened that day.  Well except for the fact that my dad got on a small airplane to Ohio that morning and never made it home. Except for the fact that Christmas took an about face from a time of joy and thanksgiving to a time of sadness and goodbyes.  Except for the fact that for a year or two after, I wondered if I could ever really be happy at Christmas again.

But you know what, God is pretty cool.  And to prove this coolness to me, he sent three very important things into my life (two before 12/20/07 and one after).  This blog is the story of:

The Two Wise Men and the Little Princess

Wise Man #1

While I was a teacher, my Dad and I worked in the same building and would often have lunch together. On one such occasion, we were talking about a situation I was dealing with in one of my classes.  I had a parent-student-teacher conflict that I wasn’t sure how to navigate and it was consuming all my thoughts, energy and time to the point that I was finding it nearly impossible to move forward in other areas of my life.  I thought about this problem morning, noon and night.  I chewed it over in my mind.  It weighed on my heart.  It was literally sucking the life out of me.  I just couldn’t move past it.

On this particular day, I think my Dad had finally just had ENOUGH of my whining and told me that if I wasn’t able to just get over it, I needed to at least “put it in a drawer” and walk away from it for a while.   If for no other reason than to SHUT UP about it to him!  (He didn’t actually tell me to Shut Up, but I have to think he was thinking it – because I was pretty annoying.)

cabinetI don’t think I had ever heard the phrase “put it in a drawer” before, but ever since that conversation, I have in my mind a file cabinet (it is one of those black metal ones that used to line the walls of my college professor’s office, if you were wondering).  It has 5 drawers – I don’t know why it has 5 drawers, it’s my mental picture, I don’t have to explain it.  And when I have an issue or an emotion or a problem that I just can’t seem to get over and move on – I picture myself putting it in one of those drawers.

Now, lest you think that I am in a full on state of denial – I do come back and take the “thing” out of the drawer at some point.  But I have found, for me that the act of putting something away for a bit and not letting it control my thoughts and attitudes is a healthy practice – so the file cabinet remains. This practice has also allowed me to prepare for the Avoidance Olympics – so it is a win all around!

I think it is funny that certain conversations, which in the moment seem mundane and inconsequential, come back to your mind when you need them the most.  Hang onto that thought for a moment, we shall return.

Wise Man #2

I met a boy.  November 2007 (a little over a month before Christmas) I met Terry Jones.  If you’ve not met Terry, let me share with you one inescapable fact – the man loves Christmas!  When I say he loves Christmas, I mean he LOVES CHRISTMAS! He loves it with a child-like joy that is infectious.  He owns multiple Santa hats and wears them to every party or gathering in the month of December; he knows “most” of the words to every Andy Williams’ Christmas song. He loves Christmas lights and Christmas trees and Christmas movies and Christmas cookies and really everything Christmas.1450336_10208448042905270_7282834851011230268_n

On December 24, 2007, he showed up at my tiny basement apartment wearing a Santa hat and bearing gifts.  We watched C-Span “On Books” and cuddled in the soft light of the Christmas tree that still had presents to my Dad under it. He refused to let me “cancel” Christmas that year or any of the years that have followed.  He quietly but forcefully moves us into the Christmas spirit – through sheer force of joyful holiday will.  Because for him, it truly is the MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR!  And everyone in his sphere of influence better think so too! Or else you will find yourself with your very own Santa hat and wrapped up in colored lights – I am kidding – kind of.

And so, since that first Christmas “after” until today, we make Christmas a big deal in the Jones house, because if we didn’t – well the Santa hat/lights thing.

The Little Princess

We had a baby girl. If I had ever had the momentary intention of canceling Christmas, watching my beautiful daughter experience the wonder of the season banished it.  Arden has definitely


inherited her Daddy’s love of Christmas.  Well except for Santa – she is still totally freaked out by Santa.  I mean, she loves that he brings her toys and eats the cookies and milks she sets out for him each year – but she has NO intention of sitting on his lap in the mall (and really I’m ok with that, because that is a weird tradition anyway – forcing your kid to sit on a stranger’s lap – weird, I say, weird). She loves talking about the Nativity Set we have in our home and singing Silent Night.  She loves Christmas jammies and having a decorated tree in her room.  She loves all of it.  And the Princess gets what she loves – because she’s spoiled and I love her and I love her joy and I love her abandon.  And so there is and will always be Christmas in our house.

a746fc4e8fd8e8032d67bd5bf99c9b75And so, this is Christmas – a time when I choose to tuck away some of the pain and focus on the joy.  I fill up the drawers in the cabinet in my brain with the hurt and pull out the happy.  I relish each part of the decorating, baking, singing, gift buying, card sending, and merry making.  I exercise my avoidance muscles because, for just these few weeks, I get to be immersed in something that makes the pain actually more bearable when it comes out of the drawer.  The promise of a Savior who will dry every tear.

And so this makes me think – maybe the filing cabinet in my mind is less a mechanism of avoidance and more one of surrender. Maybe the filing cabinet in my mind is my metaphor or mental picture of this verse:

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. I Peter 5:7 (NLT)

If I expand my mental cabinet filling movie, maxresdefaultI can picture God at the back of the cabinet – taking out what I’ve put in and absorbing some of the pain; wiping some of the tears; repairing some of the hurt. Because I have found, since that long ago conversation with my Dad, when I come back to pull out that problem, issue or pain from the drawer and take another look – it isn’t nearly as big, bad or painful as when I put it in there.  And just maybe in that – there is healing.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

The Lord bless you
and keep you;
 the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
 the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.

Numbers 6:24-26

The things we think we hear, and I need a favor from you…

This morning Terry and I were sitting at the dining room table chatting. As I’ve mentioned before, Arden is a big fan of riding the bus, and riding the bus means we have to get up at 6:15 a.m. and be down at the bus pick up spot by 7:10 a.m.  I’m slowly adapting to this early morning ritual, but it is not easy and requires copious amounts of coffee to get me going in the morning.

One of the nice side benefits of dropping A off an hour before I have to leave for work, is that T and I get to spend a few minutes talking over coffee each morning.  It takes at least half a cup before I’m able to string multiple words together, so while we talk about all sorts of things, none of them are profound I assure you.  For example, every day I ask the same question…”What does your day look like today?” (You know I’m a sucker for a schedule.) T has a pretty interesting job running the volunteers and programing of a state historic site, so he typically has pretty interesting days ahead of him.  (Mine are less than exciting most of the time – hang out with pictures of the dead, make dinner, write a blog…).  Today was no different.  I asked his plans for the day, and this is what he said…

“Pastor rehabilitation and children training.”

preaching-cartoon                               kids

Wait, what?

That is NOT what he actually said, but it totally could have sounded that way!  He actually said…

“Pasture rehabilitation and chiller training.”

Scanned by:
Retouched by: DT-DK
QC'd by: DT-SO
GRADE : - B     BE_L2_Chillers

Not nearly as interesting nor good fodder for a blog.  I mean…who doesn’t have a list of some pastors they’d like to see rehabilitated and as for children training – I have one who could benefit from that particular offering.

This is the way my mind works – and so off on a tangent I flew talking about words that sound like other words and how wouldn’t it be funny if the words that sounded like other words were used instead?  Like Prostrate and Prostate.  I know – I’m a 12 year old boy in my brain.  I can’t help it.  Don’t get me started on the other name for a hot dog because I will dissolved into giggles for quite some time.

And this is why I love my husband and what 10 years of marriage (almost) will lead you to – he thinks I’m the funniest person alive!  He said so himself this very morning!  And NO, I didn’t imagine he said it – he said it!  Of course, he followed it up with “because that is exactly what I was thinking and I think I’m pretty funny!”  So there is that – so are we funny because we share the same brain?  Are we the only ones who think we are funny?  Maybe we shouldn’t take our show on the road just yet?  (See – mind tangent strikes again!)

Just a day in the life, folks!  You’re jealous, huh?


Ok – so on to the favor I need, if you would be so inclined to lend me a hand.  I’ve had an idea for a while to do a series of writings (maybe they will lead to a concrete collection – i.e. book – but I didn’t say that out loud, so don’t hold me to it) about the funny and thoroughly inappropriate things that good intentioned people say to others who are going through a time of loss, struggle, hurt, challenge, etc.

When we lost my dad almost 10 years ago, we heard some real doozies – and I have to be honest, I’ve said a few winners to others when I was at a loss for the “right words”.

I’m thinking there could be some funny and healing conversations around what NOT to say to people in crisis and what WOULD be helpful in those times?  So, if you have a fun one-liner or story that you either had said TO you or had the misfortune to utter yourself, would you share them with me?  You can email me if you want them to be anonymous ( or just drop them in the comments here.

Like I said, this idea is still in the formative stage, and I’m not sure what will emerge, but if nothing else we can all feel reassured in our experiences.

Thanks in advance!

See ya soon!

Broken Promises

I’m not sure there is anything more frustrating than a promise broken. This week I was on the receiving end of one and it has been revolving around in my mind over and over again.  Like a record (does anyone remember records?) that has a scratch on it and the needle keeps skipping over the same place; there is no getting passed it until you pick up the needle and move it further along on the record.  My problem is that I can’t seem to find the “needle” in my brain to move past this scratch.

This particular promise is not a life-changing issue.  I’m sure the issuer of said promise made it with the best of intentions.  I’m equally sure life got in the way of the promise being carried out.  But let me just tell you – it has REALLY bothered me. Like an inordinate amount of angst over something that, in the scheme of things, really doesn’t matter. Nothing truly bad has happened to me because this promise was not fulfilled.  I haven’t lost money or health or a life experience because this person failed to “live up to their end of the bargain”. So I’ve kept telling myself to just build a bridge and get over it!

I don’t seem to be able to, however, and so I’ve now begun to think why on earth this issue is bothering me so much. I mean, I am human and as a human I am sure I have made my share of promises that I have not kept. I definitely hope I am on the receiving end of more grace than I have been giving (in my own mind of course, I would never put words to these feelings – well unless I do it on a publicly posted blog post) to this person. So, why can’t I just let it go?

In a word – deflection.

I am currently the breaker of a promise and it is easier for me to condemn a broken promise to me than to keep the promise I am currently breaking.  Anyone follow that particular rabbit hole of logic?  If so, you are definitely my people!

So, here it is – my confession time – I am a promise breaker – to my CHILD no less.  I am so ashamed.  Mortified really, because I  was taught better.  I can remember a lot of lectures from my parents about making promises.  If you grew up in a Bible-believing home, I’m sure you had Ecclesiastes 5:5 quoted to you many times when you promised to always clean your room or be nice to your sibling or to never, ever go somewhere you were told not to.

It is better not to make a vow than to make one and not fulfill it

Ecclesiastes 5:5 (NIV)

Unlike many of the lessons I grew up learning, that one definitely was deeply planted.  And so I’ve tried to keep promises I make or just not make them at all.  I’ve not always been successful, but when I do break a promise, I hear this verse in my head all the while.

Until recently I can say with complete assurance that I have never, in all her 7 years, made a promise to my kid that I haven’t kept (probably because I refrain from promising her much, but still I feel the need to take credit for the 100% success rate in parenting where ever it may originate).

But my winning streak has come to an end.

What is this promise I made and have shamefully broken?  Another dog. dogThere it is.  In black and white. I promised this child another animal when we moved out to the woods, and I have not kept the promise.  Let the public shamming begin!

Truth be told, I don’t have any desire to keep this promise.  I really have no idea why I made the promise in the first place.  I think maybe I was having a moment of guilt over uprooting her to a new home with no neighbors and a new school.  I probably thought that the promise of a new animal to love would ease the transition.  Foolish, I know, but I was desperate to calm her worried little heart, and so I promised a dog.

Now, we already have a dog. He’s a good dog. He’s a nice dog. He’s a middle aged old man dog.  But he is MY dog.  He doesn’t really like Arden; truthfully he barely tolerates her. So, her reasons for wanting a new animal make sense – she wants an animal that likes her.  I get it.

Can we all be honest here? The next dog isn’t going to like her either. Not because she isn’t likeable. Oh no, I have a thoroughly likeable child. She’s sweet and funny and loving. She’s great. But she is still at an age where she thinks that real live animals should act like stuffed animals. They should stay where you put them. They should play when you want them to play. They should enjoy having doll clothes shoved over their heads and legs. And you know what?  THEY DON’T!

So, if I fulfill this promise, I know what will happen.  The next dog will also become MY dog.  I’m the one who will feed it; take it out in the middle of the night; make all of its vet and grooming appointments.  I’m the one who will talk to it like it is my baby. I’m the one that will have to scoot even further to the edge of the bed to make room for not one, but two dogs in our bed – not because Terry isn’t there too but because this next dog will want to Velcro itself to me just like the current one.

If we get another dog and my predictions hold true, will I then have to promise another animal?  What is next in our animal owning world???  A guinea pig?  A rabbit?  A cat?  Heaven help me!

A fish.  I might be able to get on board with a fish, but there is no way she is going to go for a fish.  You can’t play with a fish and after awhile, starring at one just makes you sleepy.


I mean, we live in the woods for heaven’s sake – can’t the child just go outside and make friends with the birds or something?

So there it is, I’ve become the thing I most dreaded – a promise breaker.   At the beginning of this post, I was hoping that by calling out my vow breaking, I would be inspired to turn from my wicked ways, repent and go out to the shelter to get this child another dog this afternoon.  Yeah, that didn’t happen.

Maybe tomorrow.

Or next week.

Or next year.

Pray for me, please!  I DON’T WANT ANOTHER DOG!!!


See you soon!


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