Becoming Sixteen

She became sixteen today. One moment she was an impish six year old creating works of art and painting fingernails, and the next she's still doing both of those things, only she's old enough to drive.

Sixteen becomes her - this young lady of deep faith and kindness who tends toward shy around people, but is bold on stage and while whipping up mouth-watering creations in the kitchen.

In the past ever-too-quick year, Haley has grown in her acting, photography, and other creative talents. She has gone on her first of many dates with her girlfriend. She is really coming into her own, taking on more responsibilities and leadership roles.

I am blessed to be mama to this wonderful, creative, thoughtful child who is finding her wings...

To Go and Do Likewise

God's greatest commandment is LOVE.

To love our neighbors. 

Sure - the family who lives next to me is really nice. I can love them. No problem. 
Except that's not what God means. 
OK, I can also love people who look like me, think the same way as me. They're my neighbors, too!
But God wants love to extend to more people than that. In the story of the Good Samaritan, the neighbor, the one who had mercy on and helped the man who was hurt, is the Samaritan ... the other ... the person looked down upon by society... the foreigner ... the unclean ... the unwanted.

The other. The refugee. The illegal immigrant. The LGBTQ+ person. The mentally ill. The disabled. The Jew. The Muslim. The liberal. The conservative. The inmate. The poor. The rich. The vulnerable. The person who has a different color skin than you, whose political views differ from your own, whose religious beliefs clash with yours. The child. 

God calls us to love them all, not love them except.

And besides, who can argue w…

To Have Days Like These

I did what I always do - I powered through intense pain in order to meet obligations. And then I went home and crashed. Throughout the afternoon, evening, night, and through the next day...and the next, the pressure in my head combined with the feeling my brain was being sucked out through the base of my skull, combined with intense neck pain, was made worse by so much coughing due to intense chest congestion. 

On days like these, when my illnesses are near their most intense, I cancel plans and do what I can to make it through. I parent my children, I take care of what needs to be taken care of, but mostly I lay in bed, concentrating on not letting the pain take over. These are the days I seldom speak of ... the days - or weeks - of my life that are taken over by illness. The hours of seemingly endless agony that require me to actively avoid panic and seek hope. 

These are the days you don't see. 

You see me when I'm at my best - or am pretending to be. You see me when I'm w…

To Receive Thanks

Sometimes things are put into your hands just when you need them the most.

On a day of too much illness and too little energy; of financial strain made worse by costly vehicle repairs; of being at the end of my emotional rope, I was holding on by a thread at best.

And then my nineteen year old walked into the living room and handed me an envelope given to him by a friend. It contained a beautiful painting and a heartwarming note for me. The artist and note's author explained that she wasn't sure what the right words were to say, but, to me, every word was perfect. Every word reflected this beautiful young woman who is coming into her own. The slightly-awkward-saying-meaningful-things-to-people in her resonated deeply with the still-awkward-saying-meaningful-things-to-people in me.

That one piece of paper with those heartfelt words affirmed that the work, the pain, the struggle, and the tears are worth the joy I feel when I'm able to do things or write things that make even th…

To Keep Them Safe

As I watch students filing out of a school after yet another school shooting, I give thanks that my children are safe at home ... and are homeschooled.

When we started homeschooling, school shootings were not even on our radar. Now, it seems you can't get through a week without hearing of one or more on the news. My social media feeds are filled with images of victims of school shootings, rants about what should and shouldn't be done, and too many posts about children traumatized by lockdown drills. 

Parents are increasingly pulling their children out of school to homeschool them because they feel like it's the only way to keep them safe. Some people say that tragedies can happen at home as well, but I'm sure school shootings aren't all these parents are concerned about.

Friends have told me they want to keep their children safe from the daily expectation that a shooter will one day enter their school - that one day, the drill won't be a drill. They want to keep t…

To Hold a Secret

Not long ago, someone gave me a secret for safekeeping. 

When this secret was entrusted to me, a gentle breeze could have knocked me over. My heart filled to overflowing with love and celebration and relief, and at the same time great sadness and worry and wishes that the secret saw the light of day so much sooner. Secrets have a way of doing that - of producing at tumult of conflicting emotions making one both want to shout the secret from the rooftops and protect the secret at all costs, until it's ready to be told. 

It's not easy being a keeper of secrets. 

My entire life has been spent holding secrets - my own and those of others. In middle school, knew a friend's parents were getting divorced before he did. I was told of dark thoughts, of questioning sexuality, of in-love turned to love-for, of illness not to be revealed. I've held tight to people's deepest grief, greatest fears, and abounding joy until they were prepared to share it with others. Somehow people f…

To Be the Light [You Never Know]

The other day someone said to me, "I've never known someone who even considered suicide, nevermind someone who attempted suicide." She was shocked when I replied, "Yes, you have. You know me."

I know all too well the desolate mire of abject hopelessness that sucks your soul into utter, viscous darkness from which, it whispers, there is no escape. For me, the first time...and the second ... suicide wasn't an escape. When I was in that place, I was sure I would remain there for eternity, including in death. I was, after all, already in hell. Suicide was a way to save everyone else from me - the one thing I could do so that I could stop hurting everyone I loved. Reason couldn't reach me there. Consumed by darkness, I forgot the existence of light.

I was blessed to have light-bringers in my life who shined their love - and God's love - into my darkness, urging my reluctant mind and spirit toward healing. Friends and family and even strangers  showed patie…