There we lovers were, just dancing in the Dollar Tree
Swaying to lively holiday shopping music, you and me
Giggling like little kids when someone happened by
Couldn’t have been quiet, so we didn’t even try
I commented that we looked a lot like newly-weds
You just went all sheepish and we gently touched foreheads
You dipped me low, then lifted me, then softly kissed my cheek
Then let your hand slip from my waist to the pinch you tried to sneak
I yelped aloud in mock protest, then tugged on your goatee
And thought how blessed I am that you still dollar-dance with me


Time for Writing

During a tutoring session with a high-schooler this afternoon, I watched her write descriptively about a long-remembered place near and dear to her heart. As she described each room, she’d wander off momentarily revisiting memories of Christmas tree decorating with her grandmother, fishing with her grandfather, and game nights with cousins. I found myself getting lost in the reverie along with her, watching her choose the perfect words to describe the place in her childhood where she recalled being most deeply and truly happy.

In those moments, I envied her a little bit. Not just because I miss my own childhood memories and family reunions, but because she had both the opportunity and the directive to creatively write.

I miss writing.

I’m a language arts and English teacher, so I have plenty of time to talk about writing, to read about writing, to teach kids how to write well. I guess didn’t realize how much my heart longs for moments spent simply weaving words together in a creative form.

It’s been nine years since I wrote my first book, eight years since the second. Since that time, life has been profoundly busy with college and a transition into teaching. I love that after all those years, I went to college and earned an education degree. I love that I am firmly established in a teaching career I love with all my heart.

But I really miss writing. And I need to figure out a way to make time for it. Somehow.

Long before I wrote my first actual book, I wrote a children’s book manuscript I tucked away and guarded from the public eye. A children’s book needs an illustrator, and I didn’t have one. So I let it sit. And it’s been sitting for twenty-five years.

It might be time to dust it off.

There is a part of me I know will never be complete without a regular practice of creative writing. I tell my students that one of my main goals as a teacher is to instill such a love for writing in their hearts that they can’t not write. If I want my example to be a solid one, which of course I do, I reckon I’d better start practicing what I teach.

Little Yellow House on Memory Lane

Sometimes life throws a bit of a curveball. Such times call for reflection, prayer, and introspection. And for those who are human like me, also tears, confusion, numbness, and a whole bunch of questions that rarely have ready answers.

We saw ourselves living in this house long-term. Maybe even for the rest of our lives. But we know what often happens to the best-laid plans of mice and men and sentimental saps of my sort who tend to live life full throttle by heart.

A couple of weeks ago, our plans were interrupted by an unexpected notice from our property manager that they are not renewing our lease. The booming housing market had enticed the selling of the little house we’ve called home for the past ten years, and there wasn’t much we could say about the matter.

I was home alone when I got the notice, felt the blood rush to my head while my mouth went dry. With my heart pounding out loud and echoing from wall to wall in my little home office, I instinctively prayed that God would hold me together. He did.

The notice said we had to be out by the end of the month, a mere three weeks away. I was in shock, but as soon as I had regained my wits, I started thinking about what we would need to do. The only thing that made sense in the moment was to pack up, put our belongings in storage, and stay with Steve’s mom till we could get our bearings and figure out the next step.

There was a hurricane heading our way that day, both literally and figuratively, and I was feeling the pressure.

Steve happened to be at his mom’s house at the time, making sure her house and yard were ready for the storm, so I called him and told him about the notice. I explained that under normal circumstances I wouldn’t be sharing such news over the phone, but he might as well talk to his mom about the whole thing and ask if we could stay with her for a little while. She was happy to help us, which was unsurprising, and we were profoundly grateful.

I hung up the phone and cried for about an hour. We let our family know and contacted our school family so they could be praying for us. I sat heartbroken in my desk chair, grieving the loss of something that wasn’t exactly ours but felt like a part of us being amputated.

But even there in the middle of the numbness and pain, God kept whispering His peace.

We had work to do. School friends met us the next evening with a truckload of boxes they had recently used in their move. They treated us to dinner and encouraged us to hang onto our shared faith. We thanked them for their kindness and thanked God for the gift of having such lovely people in our corner. We brought the boxes home and unloaded them, the tidy harmony of our little home punctuated by stacks of folded cardboard.

The following day, two days after receiving the notice, we got a call from the lady we normally talk to at the property manager’s office. She apologized for not having called sooner to let us know that they were going to give us a little extra time to move out, so at least we weren’t staring at moving in three weeks. We also got a call from a friend with a rental offer we gratefully accepted.

And so, we are preparing to move from our beloved little yellow house the middle of next month. Yesterday I packed my office, all but the school-related bookshelf that I need to access while I finish lesson planning for the coming school year. This morning, with our stuff in boxes stacked all around me, I reminisce over the past ten years of life in this house.

Our youngest three children (and even our oldest, for a short span) lived here, then moved out and got married. Brand new grandbabies, birthday parties, family gatherings, bonfires, Christmases and Thanksgivings, sporting event watch parties, binge-watching favorite shows, playing catch under the massive oaks, riding our bikes around the neighborhood, being startled awake by sandhill cranes knocking on our bedroom window, playing corn hole in the front yard, chasing our grands around the kitchen island after pancake breakfasts or chicken nugget lunches, peering through my office window at the ducks floating lazily on the lake.

I will miss this place so much.

But God is not taken by surprise, and I figure if He’s allowing this to happen, He has a purpose for it. As much as this hurts, I will continue to look for what He is teaching us and what He is providing for us in the midst of the upheaval.

Steve and I celebrated our forty-first anniversary last week. We’ve made many lovely memories and had great adventures over the years, the last ten of which were spent right here.

And now, with misty eyes looking up and hands clasped firmly to one another’s, we prepare our hearts to bid a fond farewell to the little house on Memory Lane and move ahead into our next adventure.

Let it be what it is.

My mother was a doer. She could turn a phrase with the best of ‘em, but she was a woman of action and just flat got things done. A look back into the roughness of her childhood reveals the why behind her get-to-it-ness, though it isn’t a pretty picture. Mama learned early on that she could seldom depend on others, so if it was going to get done, she might as well get at it.

Not surprisingly, I grew up to be an independent girl, and had I remained unmarried past the age of 16, that tendency might have grown even stronger. While my life has been marked by key differences in comparison to my mother’s, her legacy of get-‘er-done most definitely rubbed off on her only daughter.

The tendency to tackle tasks head-on has served me well over the years, but I have to say it has often created undue stress and hardship. God knows this, of course, and I presume that is the reason behind something He whispered into my heart last summer.

I had been worried over one of the multitude of concerns that came along with 2020 and was writing in my journal when God clearly spoke into my spirit, “Let it be what it is.”

I stopped writing, tilted my head, and whispered back, “Wait, what?”

I pictured God smiling with a twinkle in His eye as He clearly repeated, “Let it be what it is.”

I sat there for a long time contemplating those words, trying them on for size in a number of situations over which I was currently fretting. One by one I asked God about each concern, and I felt His gentle persistence after each one with that same little six-word decree.

I didn’t sense God telling me not to pay attention to what was happening in the world, in my family, or in my own hurting heart. I sensed Him telling me to let it be what it is, what it isn’t, what it will eventually be.

It occurred to me that I’d been acting as though I thought God was asleep on the job.

I admit that I wasn’t at all certain how to let certain things be what they were, given that most of those things were more than a little troublesome and bewildering. How does a thinking woman lay down her concerns over what is happening in her nation and the world? How does a mother lay down her worries over the children she birthed and raised and adores?

I thought back to a conversation a few years ago with my friend Jo Ann, who described her approach to friendship as open-handed, in that she allowed it to breathe, to flex, to be. The opposite, I presumed, was tight-fisted and restrictive and I pictured such a friendship smothering to death under such pressure.

Then I thought about mothering and how I really have tried hard over the years to mother with an open heart and hands and give my children the freedom to fly and live fully into the purpose for which God set them apart. That’s about the time I recognized that while I’ve done that in a physical sense—being careful not to over-speak or interfere in their lives—it was not necessarily accomplished in a heart sense because quite frankly my heart was feeling pretty rough.

I pondered open-handed mothering, then pressed those thoughts further into open-hearted mothering and God’s words started to make more sense from a mental-emotional standpoint. Let it be what it is. The situation at work. The state of the world. Health and wellbeing. What other people think. What my adult children do and don’t do. All of it.

I remember a year or so ago talking with my friend Suz and mentioning the concept of open-handed mothering. She laughed (probably out loud) and said that for her, it was more like shut-mouthed mothering. Then I laughed, too, recalling numerous times I’ve physically placed my hand over my mouth (or walked away from my phone or computer) to make sure I held fast to wisdom rather than jerking a knot in someone’s tail (as my mother always said).

I’m still learning what it looks like to “Let it be what it is.” Something tells me I won’t ever stop learning how to live life open-handed and open-hearted, letting God be Who He is in every circumstance. I guess my job is to continue to trust Him and know that He is for me and He is for my children and He will continue to grow us all up to know and love and serve Him better.

Being the daughter of a do-something Mama, this girl isn’t naturally inclined to sit back and observe, but right now in many respects, I sense that being exactly what God has in mind. And I don’t necessarily think He wants me silent all the time, or why would He have given me a voice and ideas and spunk? I guess I just have to learn the season markers for speaking and staying silent. Easy, right?

It’s been a hard year. As I do my best to walk out “Let it be what it is,” I pray for wisdom to let God do what He does. I pray the same for everyone who vacillates between hush-up and do-something. Sometimes we need to jerk knots in tails, and sometimes we just need to let go and trust—in God, and in what He is doing in the lives of those we love and beyond. I can’t see everything, but He does.

So here I am with open hands and an open heart, faithfully and prayerfully letting it be what it is.

This Mysterious Mothering of Adults

“Mom, check this out.” My daughter placed an official-looking binder in my lap, and at my questioning expression, she rushed on. “It’s an orientation binder. Joe got the job!”

I sprang up from the couch and embraced my son-in-love, who was beaming ear to ear. I told him how proud I was, and how I knew his perseverance would be rewarded. We chatted for a bit about how much of a blessing this new job would be, and how grateful we all were for the answered prayer.

“The thing is,” she continued, “he will be working from home till the end of the year, but we will have to relocate.”

All the air got sucked out of the room and I think my face probably froze along with the rest of me as my mind went into the blank mode typical of a shock response. I don’t remember much of what was said in the few minutes immediately following that initial revelation, but once my mind started comprehending again—and then reeling—I began the challenge of fighting the tears that had sprung up and were threatening to spill over.

A million thoughts raced through my head, none of which I could put into a coherent sentence. It’s not about me. It’s about her and him and their life being led the way God is leading it. I have to let it be all about them and trust God to fill in the empty spaces.

But also…this hurts so much. Dear God, please help me not to fall apart. They are deliriously happy, and I can’t rain on this—don’t want to diminish any of the blessing you are pouring over my beautiful girl and the love of her life. Please just help me hold it together.

Over the next several minutes, I listened to the conversation in the room while fighting an internal battle that would eventually calm as God’s peace washed over me and provided the only comfort my heart, in those moments, was fully prepared to accept.

I swallowed hard and breathed deeply and excavated a smile for my sweet girl. She came over and sat down next to me, wrapped her arms around me, and tears came for us both. We sat there like that for a few minutes while her whole childhood played back through my mind, reminding me that my role in her life is quite different now, but equally important.

Now, I am here to comfort and support her. I am to be strong but in a different way.

In these moments of mothering adults, it isn’t the outside world I’m regulating to make sure she is safe and happy. It’s my own tumultuous mama-heart I’m vigilantly trying to moderate.

This is a role I was fully unprepared to play. But I’m relentlessly rehearsing my lines and praying I’ll get it right.

Because she is worth it.

Grins, Gifts, and a Grateful Heart

“I think somebody forgot to rinse out his lunch bowl. This is going to need a good soak.” I filled the bowl with warm sudsy water, staring out the kitchen window at the reeds bending low over the lake.

“My bad,” came his voice from the next room.

“That’s it. I’m just done. I can’t do this anymore.” I retorted.

He came up behind me and wrapped his arms around me, my fake anger escaping into a fit of laughter as he joined in. “I guess I’ll just have to give you a reason to stay,” he teased.

“Just rinse your lunch bowl,” I teased back.

“Not exactly what I had in mind, but I’ll try.” He grinned and kissed the back of my head and went back to whatever he’d been doing before all the silliness.

I stood there for a few minutes while the bowl soaked, my thoughts steeping in the moment. It occurred to me as I stood there just how grateful I am to have been married to my best friend in the whole world for all these years, how privileged we are to share this connection that has only grown stronger and more intricate as the years have gone by.

It occurred to me that far too many people in this world never experience this kind of love, this certainty of foreverness that I have been blessed to know for most of my life.

I am sharply reminded that I can never take any of this for granted.

In the busyness of these days, it’s easy to forget to tell him how much I love him, how much I appreciate every tiny thing he does for me. Like the flowers he brings home the moment he sees the ones on the table even thinking about wilting. Last week, he brought some into my office and set them on my side-desk, explaining that since I spent so much time in here, he thought I might like some in here, too.

His is a beautiful heart. Best of all, his heart is for me.

If I am reminded of the special gift of this man in my life, maybe there’s someone in yours, someone you have forgotten to thank lately—like, specifically call out those little details that warm a heart and enrich a life.

Maybe it’s time to stop for just a tiny moment and let someone know your love, your gratitude, your joy at having someone so treasured in your life?

Steve will be home in a few minutes, and I will be looking for the perfect words to tell him how much he means to me.

He’ll probably be looking for a vase.

Mothering Grownups

It occurred to me this morning that I’ve had to become my own family counselor as a mama to grownups.

Mothering adults isn’t for wimps. If you are a champion mom of adults who glides through this season with ease, I’d like to know your secrets. It would be great to see a resource helpful for navigating this terrain without the negative responses of guilt, confusion, bewilderment, and even occasional anger. I think I can safely say there’s a market for your mothering prowess.

I have looked around for guidance materials on mothering adults, but thus far I haven’t found much. It seems there’s plenty out there on mothering babies, toddlers, and even teens. But adults? Not so much. Maybe it’s because everyone else is as clueless as I am.

When I have actually found relevant materials, they typically refer to damaged or toxic relationships with one’s offspring, and that doesn’t apply to our family.

I am learning that relationships don’t have to be destructive to be painful.

I’ve never fully understood the whole “leave and cleave” thing. Once in a class on marriage relationships, speaker Jimmy Evans explained that biblical “cleaving” actually does, as we might assume, mean cutting. I pondered that a bit and it made sense.

In recent years as our adult children have grown older, I have begun to more deeply comprehend the pain of that severance. I remind myself that this is the way it’s supposed to be. But it hurts.

To be clear, we have wonderful, even enviable relationships with our adult children. But as a mother to five adults, I am continually learning the ropes in this new season. And y’all, I’m a strong woman, but I’m about to buy some stock in Puffs Plus with Lotion.

I will quickly add that pain does bring growth, and for that, I am genuinely grateful. And to be fair, this season is certainly not all painful, and not even predominantly so. I think the hurt just sticks out because–if I’m completely honest–it was unexpected. I didn’t see it coming, and I guess that was rather presumptuous of me.

I have wonderful, amazing adult children whom I love with all my heart. And I am willing to admit that in my feeble efforts to mother them well, I’ve likely flubbed some of it up. One thing they can count on is that their silly, sappy mama is always working on learning and growing–even if I yelp every now and then.

I love them and I am for them, and that’s something they will never outgrow.


We all must learn to tap into our frustration, anger, and even sadness, and let it out, not as an act of vengeance or grief but as a salve to a world that is bleeding from ignoring its own wounds.

–Jeff Goins

Writing has always been a release for me. While it does tend to exert a pressure of its own in that words compel me to express them, when I push past the resistance and get it all down, I am lighter.

These days have been heavy ones, and a lighter way of being feels welcome.

But when I think of trying to put the past six months into words, I experience the oddest combination of emotions all at once rising up like a panic cocktail bubbling forth and refusing to be ignored. This is not something I want to word.

Am I ignoring my own wounds? Is my reticence to share what’s going on in my head and heart feeding some larger societal problem of failure to express? There’s certainly no shortage of expression on social media, to be sure. I fight the urge to scream my head off most days, but a social media platform just doesn’t feel like the best place to try to make sense of something that seems like an insidious, unnamed disease.

Since March I have felt like everything about the coronavirus was “off”. At first, I couldn’t put my finger on it, and when I told someone it didn’t feel right in my spirit, he wanted me to elaborate and I couldn’t. I just knew something wasn’t right with what I was hearing, and I felt it soul-deep.

Over the past weeks, I have begun to learn things that explain why I’ve felt such stirrings of “This is wrong. This is just plain wrong.”

Any time I have questioned the narrative surrounding this virus, I’ve often been ignored or shouted down as a conspiracy theorist, because everybody knows if you question the accepted narrative, you think the virus is fake. I’ve been told that clearly, I have not lost anyone to Covid or I would be more sensitive. I lost two people near and dear to my heart. To Covid. Thanks for asking.

It is increasingly clear that this virus has become a political manipulation tool—if it wasn’t one from the start—and I daresay that by and large we as a people have shown an alarming willingness to shut up and do as we are told. The irony of We the People of the USA responding with such placidity is not lost on me.

Not far into the pandemic, it was discovered that a specific drug safely in use for the past 65 years was being used to successfully treat Covid and was saving lives. Suddenly, it was attacked as dangerous and pharmacists were forbidden from prescribing it for the virus. A few weeks later, we sent thousands of doses to Brazil to help them fight Covid.

A group of esteemed doctors stepped out from among their colleagues and spoke the truth about their experience with treating patients successfully with that drug, and those doctors were immediately attacked and censored. They lost their website. Some lost their jobs.

Something is seriously wrong here.

I have questioned the masking mandates and was told I am selfish and irresponsible and want old people and the immunocompromised to die. I love both groups and want them all to live long and healthy lives. I also like to breathe. At the beginning of the virus scare, we were told masks do nothing to prevent the spread of viruses, and scientific studies were presented as evidence. Shortly thereafter, the “science” changed and suddenly, everyone had to mask up for the good of everyone else’s health. I have quoted peer-reviewed studies stating the ineffectiveness of masks along with their negative effects on health. More name-calling and laughter—or, at best, a pat on the head and a run-along, crazy lady.

I am not stupid. I am not ignorant. I am not out to cause a ruckus.

I am a rule-follower. I also hate confrontation. So make no mistake: to take a firm stand against a mandate and a widely-accepted narrative has taken a courage I had to fight for, dig down deep for, literally beg God for, because typically, I’m a go-with-the-flow kind of girl if it will keep the peace.

And peace? Well, it is a gift I greatly prize, particularly within my family—a gift I have lately had to pray my hardest to even momentarily feel.

This has been anything but a peaceful time in our nation. In typical election year fashion, people groups are being pitted against one another and strife is stirred to keep the masses in chaos while one political figure after another releases a barrage of verbal attacks and threats. This election year is one for the books.

This year will be remembered as one of the most tumultuous in history.

One gratitude that I will not allow to go unexpressed is the small group of people who have stepped in as my tribe through all of this. You know who you are, and I pray that God blesses you immensely.

So here I am, offering out this expression as my word-balm for the bleeding world to encourage you, cherished reader, to make the effort to acknowledge your wounds, word them, and then let them heal.

My hope is that if we muster that courage, we will feel less alone.

I didn’t want to write.

I could say that I’ve started this post many times and couldn’t stay with it. But I haven’t, exactly. I guess I have done so in my mind, but that’s as far as it went. To be honest, I haven’t wanted to write about this at all because words make it more permanent than I ever want it to become.

But wording also allows me to get it out there and then walk away from it—at least on some level. I’ll take any level of escape at this moment, however short-lived.

There aren’t words to describe what the past four months have been like. There are plenty of words that apply—loss, disappointment, confusion, frustration, challenge, fear, bewilderment, pain. But they don’t fully paint the picture this season has presented.

There’s another word a lovely friend reminded me of today: growth. It’s a good thing I already knew that growing is typically painful, because otherwise that word might have come as more of a shock. But she’s right, and I can see it in those moments when the fog briefly clears and I catch a quick glimpse of a more seasoned me. I’ve heard wisdom is hard-won, and I’m telling y’all right now I sincerely hope I’ve gained some.

We lost my father-in-law in March, and I feel like our family hasn’t even really had the space and wits to grieve here in the surreal we’re groping our way through. It’s hard blinking foggy in the middle of whatever-day-it-is and remembering Papa is gone. A big part of me is glad he doesn’t have to slog through this mess, because he would be dumbfounded. But I miss him.

There are plenty of reasons to be grateful, and in brief moments of clarity I find hope in recalling good gifts from the Father’s hand, blessings I owe to the never-failing love of the Giver of all good things. I am grateful to the friend who stood in the gap for me this morning, who spoke life into my aching heart and reminded me of what I am (a glow-stick) and what I’m here to do (shine the light of the Former and make people smile).

Sometimes we need someone to help us remember how to live when all around us seems dead.

I’m tired. I’m over being preached at, shamed, ignored, misunderstood, and maligned because of my viewpoint on this ever-pervasive virus and my firm belief that we as a people are being played—not only regarding the mandates and restrictions surrounding the virus, but by the racial unrest being stirred for the purpose of keeping us so focused on our differences that we don’t notice what is happening under our noses by powerful people in meetings beyond my reach and above my pay grade.

And crazy as it might sound, I fully believe that this will all come with a price tag many are not expecting. And while I recognize that such poor treatment certainly puts me in good company, I’m just plain wearing out. It does no good to whine, of course, so lately I’ve been praying more and talking less. Eventually I will likely just shut up altogether because who am I? Only the “experts” get to opine, however indecisive or wrong or narrative-driven they may be.

It falls to me to keep my mouth shut, wear the mask, accept the information provided, and accept my fate without complaint. And so I stay home.

Thankfully, home is my favorite place to be, but it sure has a different feel when I’m here because going places is off-limits without masking. My hope is that I can continue to grow and somehow emerge from all this wiser and more grateful than before, that I remember the good and leave behind the disillusionment of being shamed by people I loved. Ultimately, I trust in God’s power to preserve the lessons in positive ways, to galvanize the good and let the hurt fall away. I have to believe that’s possible.

A profound glimmer of light has emerged from the handful of people who have come alongside and held my arms up through this dismal season. I can’t imagine making it through without my tirelessly uplifting husband, my beautiful mother-in-love, my beloved children and grandchildren, and our amazing school staff. There are others—they know who they are—and God is reminded of them all daily in my prayers. I will likely never be able to fully express how much our connection has meant to me, but I am praying God blesses them as only He can. Their kindness and encouragement have been a beacon lighting my way back out of the dark, and I will ever be grateful.

This has been a dark season, but I haven’t lost hope that there’s light yet to be found and shared.

I am a glow-stick, after all.



She would be 30 today. We’d be celebrating, all of us together as a family.

Today, we mourn.

It’s been 30 years since we kissed her little forehead goodbye, and we still grieve.

Every day, but particularly every year on her birthday, I wonder what she would look like, what she would like and dislike, what would make her smile or feel sad. How she would interact with her sister and brothers and all the lovely people who’ve been added to our family over the years.

I wonder what it would be like to have her here.

Every year, this day has been hard. But today hit me harder than I expected and knocked the wind out in ways I wasn’t quite prepared to navigate. I cried pretty hard, bowled over by mama-grief and stay-at-home orders that have dragged on for weeks and a thousand thoughts I can’t begin to understand, much less put into words.

I need something to be normal, and so few things are.

Then I think of my sweet husband and the normal he is—the kind of normal that holds my world steady when it feels like it’s spinning off its axis, the kind that loves fiercely and forever no matter what is happening, what is hurting, what is off-kilter. He is a kind of normal I need in ways I too often take for granted. A kind most people won’t experience this side of Heaven.

Today, in the midst of the tears and pain and longing and if-onlies, I am grateful.

Happy birthday, Heather Rose.