Category Archives: Personal Thoughts

Remembering Lisa

Last week, my cousin, Lisa, passed away at 41 from cancer.  She was diagnosed just last year with stage 3 inflammatory breast cancer, and the treatment they did was pretty aggressive – chemo, a mastectomy, followed by radiation.  But after the mastectomy, they did tests and found that the cancer had spread.  She returned to chemo treatments, but the cancer still spread.  She was hospitalized a few weeks ago, but her body just couldn’t recover. 

Even though she is my cousin, we have always had more of a sisterly bond.  I wanted to be just like her when I was a kid.  I remember one night we were going somewhere with friends and they remarked how much I acted like her.  I responded with “Yeah, buddy” which was something she said all the time, and the whole car just burst into laughter.

She taught me about make-up, boys, sex, and peer pressure.  When I was 14, she had just graduated high school, and we were both staying at our grandparents’ house for the summer.  We went camping with some friends and they brought out some alcohol.  When they offered it to me, I said no.  They started to make fun of me, pressure me, but Lisa stopped them in their tracks.  “She said no, and you will respect that.”  Years later, I told her how much that had helped me, and she said that she didn’t really have someone like that in her life, and she wanted to make sure I did.

Her heart was overflowing in generosity.  She loved fiercely, passionately.  When I was pregnant with my son, wrought with anxiety because all I had known up to that point was pregnancy loss, she sent me a journaling Bible with a set of colored pencils.  It has brought me so much comfort, especially in these last few weeks.

The greatest comfort to me was her relationship with God.  She and I had so many conversations in the last few years about faith in God, and hers was incredibility strong.  She was so loved, and she loved so much.  I still look up to her and want to be just like her.  I will miss our conversations.  I will miss her hugs and laugh and even the eye-rolls.  I will miss her passion.  I will miss her.  I love you so much Lisa.

This Tender Land: A Review

This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this book as part of the Modern Mrs. Darcy book club.  I really appreciate this book club because they introduce books that I would have never sought out on my own.  This book was no different.  They say if you enjoyed Where The Crawdads Sing then you would enjoy this book, but I haven’t read that book either.  Regardless, I give this book 4 stars.

Odie and Albert’s parents were dead, and since the orphanage was too full, they found themselves at a school in Minnesota whose primary purpose was to provide education to Native American children.  It takes place in the 1930s during the Great Depression.  Odie has struggled at this school and had been on the receiving end of a lot of abuse.

One night, there is a murder at the school, which forces Odie, Albert, their friend Mose, and a little girl named Emmy to escape from the school in a kayak down the river, headed towards the Mississippi River and St. Louis to hopefully find an aunt that might take them in.  Along the way, they meet several different characters that represented the reality for people in that era.  It is almost set up like the Odyssey with a little bit of Huck Finn thrown in. 

It took me a bit to really get into it.  But once I was invested in the characters, I was hooked.  It explored the questions of faith and trust, both in yourself and in others.  Also, there is a bit of magic in the series that could be explained or not, but considering the narrator is actually a storyteller, known for his ability to tell a good story, there are things that may be exaggerated.  However, if you read this book like a float down the river, it is worth it just for the ride.

There is profanity.  The sexual content was implied (there is a brothel in the story, but since this is told from a young boy’s perspective and he is not allowed to be a part of that world, there is little described).  There is also violent content, all still told from Odie’s perspective, so some of it isn’t quite as reliable.  He tends to blame himself for things that he was responsible for, so it can be a little unsure.

The book is excellent, especially if you enjoy a good epic adventure.  There were plot twists I didn’t expect because the misdirection is really well done.  I wasn’t even thinking about the possibilities of those twists and turns until they were already there.  Really good read!

Your Voice Matters

I struggle at times with my voice.  Does my writing or posting or creating really matter?

Most of the time, I write because I’m passionate about what I am writing.  Whether it’s faith studies, books, pregnancy loss, mental health, or anything that challenges me or brings a smile to my face.  I love sharing hope and challenge with other people because I love reading about those same things. 

Then, the wave starts to crash.  I forget my purpose and my passion and get engulfed by the numbers and statistics.  I convince myself that others have a better way of saying the same things I say, and I’m just shouting into the ether.

But here is the truth.  Whatever you are creating, however you are creating it, your voice matters.  People need your perspective.  They need the nuance of your words.  They need to know that they aren’t alone.

It’s easy to feel alone.  It’s what the powers of evil want you to feel.  That you are the only one.  That no one hears you.  That there is not enough space to move and speak into the ways God has created you to move and speak.

But here is the truth.  You are made in the image of God.  God is a creator, so it makes sense that you have a desire to create things as well. 

There is a lie out there that says we live in scarcity.  That we have to claw and fight for every moment to prove our worth.  It is such a slippery slope of hurt and depression that could even lead to tactics that don’t reflect who you really are.

But here is the truth.  We live in an abundance of Godly provision.  And we need to trust that His provision is enough.  We are enough.  We can share the love of God, the passion of our life freely and wholly.  We can encourage the voices around us without fear that our own voices will be lost.  There is room for all at the table.

I don’t know about you, but I needed to hear these words.  I refuse to believe I’m shouting into an abyss.  I trust in the Spirit of God who created me to create.  I trust in abundance and not scarcity.  I choose to amplify and encourage the voices around me as well as share my own voice.  I am not alone, and you aren’t either.  Together we can share the passionate voices we were given by our Creator.

Annual Contemplation

This month is when my year starts again, even though it has felt like I have lived many years since January.  But here in the month of June, my birth is celebrated by those closest to me.  And it puts me in a deeply contemplative mood.

Looking Back

This last year was almost evenly divided between growth and stepping back.  Last summer, we did a lot of travel as a family.  We went to a wedding, visited family, and toured New York City.  All things that are more difficult to do this summer.  Last fall, I joined a mom group, a second book club, and found socialization opportunities for my son.  By the end of the year, I had a small village of people who loved on my family and encouraged me as a mom. 

Then, everything seemed to fall apart.  While the very beginning of this year promised a continued growth of that village, COVID-19 spread all over the world and this country bringing uncertainty and stopping pretty much everything.  So, after a few weeks of adjustment, I had new goals to focus on, primarily keeping my son engaged without leaving our house.

And in just the last few weeks, protests of police brutality and all of the conversations around racism and privilege have been brought to the forefront.  Every discussion over breakfast or dinner between Michael and me have been about the things our city and our country are going through, and the action steps we plan to take.

One of my personal goals is to teach my son and make him aware of what is going on at his level.  He’s only two so our conversations are more focused on the beauty in every person and the value that everyone inherently has.  But I know as he grows, we will have more in depth conversations about privileges we have and the honest history of our country.

Looking Forward

It is kind of odd this year.  Usually, I make my birthday a sort of New Year’s Day with its own goals and plans.  And while I have been making some plans this month (particularly in the blogging and writing categories), I don’t’ actually know much about what will happen in the next year.  COVID-19 is still spreading through our community.  Dallas has experienced higher rates of hospitalization and ER visits connected with this virus. 

Plus, this is an election year.  I do plan to research at an even deeper level what is on my ballot, not just the president choices, but everyone up for a place in local, state, and national positions.  But I don’t know what that outcome will be.

So, that makes it difficult to make specific plans.  I do know that I want to continue focusing on the things I’m passionate about while balancing self-care and the needs of my family.  I want to embrace slowing down and taking moments to reflect as well as to look ahead, making thoughtful decisions without worrying about pleasing other people.  Ultimately, I want to do things that honor God and encourage others around me to follow in the footsteps of Jesus.

I am thankful for the last year and its many, many lessons.  I sort of hope that next year will be a little lighter on the challenges. But whatever may come, this last year has taught me even more that I can lean on God and my family. Life is hard, but we can definitely do hard things. And I look forward to the adventures that are ahead.

A Personal Note For The Weekend

Oh my goodness, you guys. This week has been a crazy year, hasn’t it? I remember joking that January seemed to go on forever, but then came COVID-19 and quarantine, and now peaceful protests and violent encounters happening every day across our country.

In the midst of everything, my uncle passed away this week.

I don’t talk much about my extended family, or really a whole lot about my family in general since the birth of my son. I wasn’t exactly close to my uncle. Growing up, I saw him for only a couple of days a year around Christmas. He used to make the best manicotti on Christmas Eve.

Even though I wasn’t very close to him, I know my family is hurting. This is my dad’s younger brother. My grandmother and my uncle’s two adult children are having to make difficult decisions this week, and I can’t be there in person to support them. Though I am supporting all of them from afar through phone calls, texts, and Zoom. It’s all just still very difficult.

Grief is weird. We grieve pretty much any time there is change or transition in our life. And there are a lot of people grieving right now for so many reasons. There is so much pain and sadness, that I feel tempted to put my own grief on the back burner to focus on others.

But the funny thing about grief is that it really doesn’t let you do that. When it needs attention, it demands it. I’ve felt that weight this week, physically, mentally, and emotionally. It’s affected my ability to carry out every aspect of my life.

So, I’m going back to the basics this weekend of making sure I have space to grieve loss, grieve with others, and still manage to do the day to day (I mean, I’ve still got a toddler running around here, I can’t let it go to total chaos). I’m still committed to learning and listening. That’s not going to stop. So I’m taking the opportunity to slow down, to pay attention to what needs to be done right now and to listen to where God is leading me next.

Say Something

If any of you use the Enneagram, I’m a 9w1, with a pretty strong wing 1 at that.  I abhor conflict and confrontation.  I don’t feel like I have anything to say that really isn’t already being said.  And, on top of that, I labor over the words I do say because I feel like they have to be perfect. And that keeps me silent for quite a while.

But you get to a point where you realize you need to speak up.

This week, I have read and listened to the pain that the Black community has experienced and is experiencing every day.  I listened to Otis Moss’s lament for Ahmaud Arbery.

I listened to the IGTV video of a conversation between Charlie Dates, a Black pastor in Chicago, and Beth Moore.

View this post on Instagram

#GeorgeFloyd #ChristianityAndRace

A post shared by CharlieDates (@charliedates) on

I watched another conversation with Charlie Dates and Watson Jones, another Black Chicago pastor, as they reacted to George Floyd’s death and all the frustrations and anger that they felt.

View this post on Instagram

2 Pastors talk the tragedy of May 25, 2020

A post shared by CharlieDates (@charliedates) on

And I watched the beautiful video from Nicole Walters, a Christian entrepreneur in Atlanta, who speaks of her life experience as a Black woman in America.

What has happened and is happening to Black people is wrong.  What happened to George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Botham Jean, and the hundreds and thousands of other Black men and women who have been persecuted and died in the streets, in the stores, and even in their own homes is wrong.  It is evil.

I acknowledge that I have advantages and privileges given to me simply because of the way I look.  And I want our country to do better.  I want to do better.

I promise to continue listening and to promote the voices I’m listening to for others to hear.

I promise to lean into the discomfort.  I know I will get things wrong.  Even though I have felt pain, been isolated and ostracized, and know loss, I will not ever completely understand the Black experience.  I will only use my experiences to drive my empathy not to explain the experience of others.

Hebrews 10:34 says, ”Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated.”  Christ stood with the persecuted, the blamed, the outsiders, the oppressed.  And I want to stand with Christ.  So, I stand with them.

A Day In The Life

I have been obsessively watching Vanity Fair Does In A Day videos on YouTube. It fascinates me how celebrities and even average people choose to spend their day. Especially in this time of quarantine. So, I thought I would share a typical day.

I wake up between 5 and 6 in the morning. I get in a Bible study, wash my face, maybe shower if I didn’t do it the night before, and basically get ready for the day. If I have any time left over, I usually scroll through Instagram and check email. And if I have time after that (which I usually don’t but there have been unicorn moments) I will read one of the current books I’m reading.

Then it’s breakfast and outside activities (which include tending my garden) for most of the morning unless it’s raining. If it’s raining, then it’s usually reading books to the boy or doing puzzles or board games (there is an entire brand of board games that are mostly geared towards two years old and up. Check it out at Amazon here).

Lunch usually happens in the 11 o’clock hour, and then nap time directly afterwards. This is the time I get to really read, watch one episode of a show or part of a movie, do some laundry, maybe tidy or organize an area, or nap. Naps usually take precedence.

Then when nap time is over, it’s more time outside or maybe even some tidying up and light cleaning (especially if it is raining). There is some independent play thrown in there that allows me to focus on something else (like writing a blog post or doing some light planning like summer bucket lists or TV show/Movie bucket lists). But for the most part, it’s just play time.

Dinner prep starts in the 5 o’clock hour, depending on what I’m making. Most of my meals are pretty much either dump and go or they take about 15-20 mins to make. Sometimes I even get some toddler help (like when I make homemade pizza).

Dinner is around 6. This is when the husband is home and has some father/son bonding time. So, after dinner I either go on a run or a walk (doing the couch to 5K presently) or I clean up the kitchen. Then, if I exercised, I will clean the kitchen and do whatever else I need to do to prep for tomorrow. If it was an off day for exercise, I catch up on a video that I missed from Modern Mrs Darcy book club, or catch up on Marco Polos, or do some yoga or read or scroll Instagram or YouTube. Usually it’s some combination of a few of those. Then, I do the bed time routine with my husband and son.

Once bed time routine for the boy is done, it’s about 8 or 9. The later it is, the less I do. Lately, I’ve been taking my showers at night. I usually put on an overnight face mask after the shower and get ready for bed. Then, I will read and try to stay off my phone. And then it’s lights out.

This is probably the most typical day. There are a lot of interruptions. Sometimes my attention is desired more. Sometimes I don’t have a lot of focus. But I do give myself a lot of grace, and I wash my hands. A lot. (I use this brand of lotion to help my hands from cracking, after I dry my hands off). And of course, I didn’t include every detail of my morning routine or bed time routine or even every detail of my day.

Hope you are all finding ways to find rhythm and sanity in your schedules. Until next time…wash your hands.

How I’m Surviving Quarantine

One of my recent blog posts really got me thinking about how similar my experience with pregnancy loss and pandemic has been.  So, I started brainstorming about what really helped me during loss that might also help me now.  As always, I disclaimer this with “give myself grace” which brings me to my first point.

  1. I’m not going to do everything right.  I’m going to mess up.  A lot.  I’m going to think things will go one way when they will go in a completely different direction.  I’m going to have all the ideas and plans and goals, schedules lined out nicely on paper, only to wake up with anxiety or a headache or my period or a screaming toddler who is having a bad day or a husband who didn’t sleep well because of said toddler, or all of the above.  And that schedule is going right out of the window.  Or maybe I just lose all motivation to get anything done for no reason at all.  It happens.
  2. But I still need hopes, dreams, goals, and plans.  I need something to look forward to each day.  Maybe that’s a special face cream or mask after my shower.  Maybe it’s a bag of chocolate I break into every day at 2pm.  Maybe it’s watching Mrs. America on Hulu every Wednesday (loving that show, btw).  For my son, it’s seeing the garbage man pick up our garbage each week.  Maybe it’s looking forward to something coming to Netflix next month.  Or a long walk on a day after it’s been raining for a week.  Maybe it’s a hobby like baking that actually leads to a special treat each day for a week.  Whatever it is, whatever it may be, it helps.
  3. Reaching out has never been more important.  When I grieve, I tend to close up in person.  Being introverted, I don’t have a lot of energy to interact with a lot of friends without feeling overwhelmed.  I tend to spend a lot of time alone.  But I still make it a point to write a blog post.  To text a friend, or respond to a text, even if it is a few days later.  I talk to a professional.  I talk to my husband. Even when feelings are hard to unravel, I try to stay present and focus on the feeling I’m experiencing in the moment, even when I can’t find the cause right away.  Even though I’m not working my social muscles extremely hard, I’m still finding ways to stretch them.
  4. I stay as present as I can but give myself grace always.  I didn’t really realize when I lost my second daughter that I also quit my job just a day later, and looking back, I can see how a multitude of factors played on my grief, not just the big one of pregnancy loss.  Right now, so many people are experiencing various types of loss at the same time.  This is hard stuff.  It’s a lot to process, even if we don’t realize exactly how much we are processing.  And I didn’t learn how to slow down and stay present until I was well into adulthood.  I still feel like I’m taking remedial courses in it!  But that word, grace.  It is something I hold on to fiercely. 

Because I need grace.  I learned what grace is because of who God is.  God taught me grace in the story of his Son.  How Jesus interacted with people, saw their sin but extended forgiveness, told stories of hope, and stayed connected and present.

One of the great things about grace is that it allows the do-over.  It allows that letting go of the things I held so tightly that are no longer who I am or what my life is anymore.  Which allows me to explore the new space of my life as it has become with the hope of a brighter and better tomorrow.  I may not be motivated today, but today isn’t forever, tomorrow is a new beginning.  With a piece of chocolate and a face mask to help me get through the day, of course.

What is helping you survive?

Weekly Updates

Every day is pretty much the same in my world right now. I mean, I make different things for dinner and there are a few things that happen each week that change things up a bit. But I literally woke up today and for about 5 minutes had to really think about what day it actually is.

I’ve learned a few things from this time in social distancing and staying at home. Slowing down and being present has become so important in the survival of my relationships and my parenting. It has gotten immensely easier to be self-aware. Of course, I’m still learning how to give myself grace when I can’t distance myself from making mistakes.

I do tend to stay away from the news a lot more than I did at the beginning of all of this. I realized that my mental health needed to take priority, especially when my entire day is centered around caring for a toddler. It’s funny how the term 20/20 means to see clearly, but this year has been anything but clear.

Out of all of my hobbies, reading has managed to survive. It helps that I carry my books with me throughout the house and will read a sentence here and there as I find a moment or two. Everything else has been put on hold.

I hope you all are finding moments of joy in your day, embracing the present, and giving yourself grace. I am so thankful for this community of encouragers. To be transparent, I struggle with what to write and when to write my weekly blog, but I know that reaching out each week truly helps me stay connected. I hope this also encourages you to know you are not alone, even if you are isolated right now.

And as always, wash your hands.

Show Me The “Meme”ing Of Being Lonely

Maybe it’s the fact that it has been almost a complete two months since the COVID-19 conversation entered into our home. Well over a month since we have been social distancing. And week in, week out of stress and anxiety in a way we have never experienced before.

But I thought I would do something a little fun and share some favorite memes.

As an introvert, I haven’t had a really hard time adjusting to staying home. I’ve been a homebody for as long as I can remember. It has been a little challenging with my son. He was getting into a fun routine of playdates, trips to gyms and parks, as well as other activities. And all of those had a hard stop. Now I’m his play-date. Every. Single. Day.

Don’t get me wrong, I love spending this time with my son. Seeing him discover, learn, and grow has been absolutely amazing. It’s just that there is a limitation on where we can go and what we can do. And it’s also important for mama and son (and dada as well) to have the ability to recharge, especially if we are struggling that day, which requires some creativity, communication, and compromise. One way to combat the more challenging days is to keep from falling into a constant rut.

I am a creature of habit. I love structure, and I don’t mind doing the same things over and over again. But if I wash those dishes one more night….. Just kidding, sort of. Usually when I get to that point, I try to change up one small thing, one little interruption in the flow. The other night, when I just couldn’t see myself washing the dishes after dinner, I went upstairs and Marco Polo’d with a friend for 20 minutes. Then, feeling a little better, I started with just emptying the clean dishes from the dishwasher. And before I knew it, I was done with the kitchen. It helps to take care of myself in those moments before trying to tackle the task.

Exercise, sleep, and general self-care have mostly been met. It’s really hard on some days, knowing that I won’t be seen at all by anyone outside of these walls. I haven’t so much as put on eyeliner a single day in well over a month. I miss my workout classes, and I’m using YouTube as a substitution. It’s okay, but it’s not the same. And sleep is probably the one thing I can usually get enough of, unless my anxiety is peaking, like the night before I go to the grocery store.

Despite my own challenges, I also know I have privileges and advantages that other people don’t have. I am truly grateful to my amazing, supportive husband, my son who injects joy into my life on a daily basis, the things in my life (like my garden) that bring me peace, and the friends who are willing to check in with me, even as I slowly descend into perpetual slap-happy silliness. Also, I am adjusting to the new rhythms and finally finding some time to do a little reading which I thought was never going to happen. Really grateful for that.

I also know that everyone is having different experiences and different challenges during this unprecedented time in our country’s history. But we are all in this together. And we will get through it together. Even if it is one meme at a time.