September 26, 2013

Who Knew Santa was Mean?

I was 14, working as a waitress in the summer at a Bible conference.

Naive, unaware of my own beauty, oblivious I had talent, and enjoying freedom, I grew up fast.

I made lifelong friends that summer and we hold hundreds of stories to tell. Yet, a thousand more to never share.

It was a particularly busy week and I was serving three tables of 10 people each.

At the head of one table sat an elderly man and his wife.

He had snow white hair that he made no attempt to tame. His round glasses sat at the tip of his nose. His brown suspenders tightly hugged his robust round belly. And even though he was clean shaven his sunkissed cheeks hinted that he could be Santa.

But, he was not a jolly fellow at all!

He demanded this or that the whole meal with the continuous absence of a please or thank you.

His wife sat quiet the whole time.

I smiled and ran around like the energizer bunny that I was.

Lunch time was winding down and 28 people had left. Of course he remained with his wife.

He raised his hand again for me to come to his table.

I plastered the smile on and walked over to him.

Startling me he touched my arm, "You really are phenomenal. You kept up with every order and never complained. You made no mistakes. Smiled through it all. Plus you are beautiful."

Always sucking at compliments I started to walk away and said to him, "You are lying through your teeth!"

I went back to cleaning up to and only to see him raise his hand again.

Sighing, I walked back over.

He touched my arm again and said, "You really are phenomenal. You kept up with every order and never complained. You made no mistakes. Smiled through it all. Plus you are beautiful."

I started to walk away angry, yet he was still holding onto my arm.


And then I saw him slowly raise up his other hand which held his false teeth.

I laughed and cried.

While his lips parted, revealing his bare pink gums, and the most melodious laughter erupted from his soul. And I saw Santa's belly shake like a bowl full of jelly.

September 19, 2013

Bleeding Hearts

I stood outside the county courthouse in the parking lot surround by trees of yellow, red, and orange. The fall wind blew a chilly breeze that lingered in the air. It was Friday just after 5 pm and everyone was leaving work to rush home for the weekend.

"It will be okay," I said to one of my foster children. Really saying that for myself because I needed to believe that. The four foster children I had were moving to a new home.

I hugged myself, brushing my hands up and down my arms seeking more solace than warmth.

B stood there stone faced and lost in her other world where she was safe. R sobbed and sobbed wiping snot from his nose across his sleeve. M tried to mother the two younger ones and assure them that this next house would be better than mine. N looked me straight in the eyes, casting her hurt to the depth of my heart while single tears rolled out of the corners of her eyes.

It was a moment I wanted to never end and a moment I wanted to end so quickly.

I hugged them all goodbye and told them I loved them always. I watched them get into other vehicles and drive away. N the only one to look back with pure agony in her face.

I fell into the driver's seat of my car and wept.

Until I was able to bottle up all the emotions and bury them deep in my heart.

I returned home and was embraced by my three girls who had tons of questions where I had no answers. Of course I responded perfectly to them and they were pleased.

My heart still aches.

Not a single day goes by that I do not think of these four children. There are songs, moments, or sayings that keep them alive. Their picture hangs on our fridge.

I can remember every detail about the night I picked up these kids and met them for the first time. And I remember the moment I realized I loved each of them for who they were.

It is easy to love others in general terms and there is a place for that kind of love, but I think what we all desire is to be loved specifically. I do not just want to be another acknowledgement in someones life. I want to be something more, different, special because of me.

The pain I felt when the foster children moved created a barrier around my heart. If I didn't let anyone else get close, I would not feel the pain. It was an easy maneuver.

But, I cannot desire to be loved specifically without giving that back in return.

So this carefree, loving girl created a heart barrier that resides inside a woman.

There are several people who have managed to poke holes in that barrier and I have learned to love them specifically, but I still try to protect myself.

Truthfully, I have no problem being expressively passionate about things that frustrate me or I see as injustices, but I struggle being expressively passionate about the joys.

It is so much easier to live life in our safe places. Isn't it?

Where we think we control the outcome. Where things are consistent, predictable.Where we can love others because there are so few we love. Where we can get up, go to work, come home, eat dinner, watch TV and go to bed. Where tomorrow is a repeat of today. Where we are neat and tidy and everything really does fit into a place we have created.

I have lived it too. Honestly, there are days I am tempted to retreat back there.

Yet, deep down I believe life is meant to be lived, tasted, savored, devoured, explored, and messily wonderful.

I contradict myself.

I don't want to hurt. But I think that really living life is intertwined with loving specifically.

So, I confess that albeit scary, I push myself daily to try to love this way and to break my heart barrier away piece-by-piece.

September 11, 2013

Why it is Easy to Love your Neighbor

Sleep deprived, sore and elated, I stood over a three day old Madison Joy buttoning the last button on her pink, orange and white sleeper. Her long newborn fingers grasped my thumb as I picked her up.

I snapped her in her car seat and she started to scream. She was one of those babies who did not like their car seat.

"Ready," I said to my Mom and Dad. We were heading out for Maddie's first debut at her Dad's school.
And then the phone rang.

"Turn on the TV," and so we did.

My parents and I stood stunned learning that a plane had flown into one of the Twin Towers and we watched with thousands of others as another plane flew into the Second Tower.

I felt violated.

Maddie's screams brought me back to the present moment and I unsnapped her from her car seat and held her too tight for a long time.

A year later I would stand at Ground Zero in silence. My heart stopped looking at the surrounding buildings still damaged and covered in tarps. The magnitude of horrid unspeakable terror still permeated through the unsettled dust and rubble.

This morning I drove Laurel Grace and Cassidy Love to school listening to broadcasts from that day. They asked countless questions of which many I could answer, but still the one I can't...why?

We can all ask what we does one hate so much, why the allegiance to a ruler so nasty,  what religion could teach such acts.

But maybe what we really should be asking is how do I teach, show, and give love better. What can I do in my sliver of the world to make it better for others?

Trust me I understand we are all stressed, too busy, overworked, underpaid and the bills are never ending. We are tired. And when our children or spouse ask us for one more thing at night we often snap.

Oh, I have been there all too much. Guilt sets in and we beat ourselves up for saying the wrong thing.

I am married to a wonder of a man who loves abundantly. Not just me, and the kids, or his Mom, but everyone he meets. I am slowly and hesitantly opening up my heart to loving more like this.

To do this though, we first must examine our own lives and find what is it that prevents us from living our peace.

I must say it is easy to live out the second greatest commandment from Matthew 22:36-40...."love your neighbor as yourself," when you don't really love yourself.

But, we deserve to happily celebrate every day of our lives. We all desire to be loved for who we are. I believe we are naturally wired to love others, but often we hold back love unconsciously because our own self doubt trumps our rational side.

And we sit idle because we doubt we could make a difference, or we feel unimportant, or we are scared.

One day I finally said to myself enough!

I invested in myself and discovered that I was the one preventing myself from living and loving my life. And what I found was joy, and grace, and love, and peace.

You deserve this too!

We invite you to take part in our next 100% online class Embracing peace in your life at