Dear Reader – (day 23) Someone Slap Me

Dear Reader

Friends, if I ever say to any of you again that I’m going to do ANYTHING every day for thirty days, SLAP ME.


I should know this by now.

Obviously, this writing every single day challenge is not exactly going well.

(Hello yesterday, and a few days before that, and several other days along the way. . . . )

I’m failing at it partly because I’m just too busy and partly because some days, I couldn’t come up with a cohesive paragraph if you told me you’d pay me with a lifetime supply of jellybeans. (Some of you think that sounds like one giant gag and a stomach ache. I don’t. It sounds weirdly heavenly to me. It might make me TRY to write, at least, with all the gusto of a girl who’s never met a jellybean she doesn’t like – which actually I have, but that wouldn’t stop me from writing like I never had.)

I have some ideas, it’s just a matter of finding the time to sit and pound them out.

Plus, I’m so SO far behind on real life things right now. Things like cleaning my house and making doctor’s appointments, making curtains for the bookshelf (yes, the bookshelf. . . ), science projects, a 32 page fiction book writing assignment for my KINDERGARTENER (Lord, help me! – I really mean writing, like she has to write and illustrate ONE. WHOLE. BOOK.), and (hopefully!) wrapping up Christmas shopping for anyone who doesn’t live under this little roof.

I’ll tell you something else I’ve learned (again) through this challenge. There’s really only time (and not even really enough time, at that) in my life for one extra thing. I haven’t been able to do any art as I’ve been writing this last month, and that, my friends, leaves a sad and empty hole in my heart.

So, I’m going to sign off now – because although the little people have been good-naturedly playing Battleship up till now, I hear the winds shifting.

Now is not my time to be clicking away at the computer keyboard. Most likely it’s my time to school Short Stuff in my supreme maritime board game ways (one hundred percent joking).

Dear Reader – (day 20) On Pumpkin Spice and Body Image

Dear Readerpumpkin spice toast

This is my pumpkin spice cheater indulgence.

What I really want is one of those big fat pumpkin struessel muffins from Costco. The ones that hover around 340 calories in one fell swoop.

But instead, I’m opting for sprouted grain toast with pumpkin spice cream cheese spread – 110 calories, if I spread 3 teaspoons of cream cheese just so.

I know cream cheese isn’t the cleanest thing I can be eating, but it’s better than that whole dang muffin, and the toast gives me a little fiber and protein. Healthy stuff.

This whole calorie counting/ food swap inner discussion with myself took me to a whole new train of thought.

Body image.

Sometimes I need to convince myself that watching my calorie intake is actually worth the sacrifice.

I like food, and unfortunately, I have a very specific weakness for junk food.

I wish I didn’t, but I do.

The thing is, I’m a small person. And I think when I say I’m watching what I eat, or I count calories, or I’m working out to lose a few pounds, this might seem ridiculous to some people.

And this is where body image comes in.

When I look in the mirror, or try on clothes, I don’t usually see all the good parts. My eyes skim over everything and then zero in on the one part of my body that I particularly loathe.

My stomach.

I try to be ok with it. I try to tell myself its beautiful, and it’s ok that it bumps out over my pants, because if I didn’t have that tummy – that “blubby belly” or “doughnut dough” as my kids call it (because, unfortunately I said it first) – it would mean I never carried my four kids through 9 months of pregnancy. The wrinkles and blubber are battle scars of sorts, badges of honor. Something I should choose to be content with.

I tell myself this, I really do try to internalize it and make it truth for my heart, but I can’t convince myself of it.

I think most of us suffer insecurities about our bodies, and when we tell others exactly what they are, we look at each other like the other is crazy. We don’t necessarily see flaws in other people, just ourselves.

Last spring, my mom came to visit.

While she was here, my husband and I had a dressy event to attend, and I chose to wear a bright orange eyelet lace summer dress I had bought at Goodwill for $6. I paired it with gold snake-skin Guess heels (from Ross) that glimmered with a hint of aqua, and coordinated with aqua and gold jewelry.

I was nervous about this get-up. It was from Goodwill. Could people tell it was from Goodwill? Was the orange too much? Was I kidding myself that the whole ensemble was cute?

My mom complimented me on the way out the door – said I looked beautiful or something to that extent – I honestly don’t remember her exact words. I thanked her, but I remember wondering if I really did.

When we arrived at the dinner, two people complimented the dress – said they loved the color – and instead of taking these compliments at face value, I blushed a little and wondered if they really thought that or if inside they were really thinking it was godawful and someone ought to insist on acting as my fashion consultant, like maybe they were snickering on the inside that I was so unfashionably out of the loop.

Months later, Mom had a conversation with my sister. She recalled that night and that dress, and told my sister that I looked “stunning”. A couple of times she said it, and framed it in other compliments.

When my sister told me this story and I told her how I had been feeling that night – that I questioned every compliment and shrunk a little wondering if everyone was being genuine – and I confided in her that the majority of the time I feel like a fashion failure, we both ended up chuckling at how differently we all view ourselves from what other people see.

And this brings me back to my own body image and the struggle to get my brain in the right place.

I remember reading Shauna Niequist’s words in Bread and Wine,

“I want to be the kind of person who makes peace with her body. Also, I want to fit into my pants. Not size two pants. Not Barbie pants. Just, you know, very average-sized jeans from the GAP. I want to live with peace and confidence, without deprivation and shame, and while I’m being honest, I want to retire the maternity yoga pants that, unfortunately, I’m still wearing because they’re the only ones that fit.  I don’t want to live by rules and regulations, but I also don’t want to be ruled by my appetites.”

I remember reading that and thinking, “Yes! Me too!” I want my clothes to fit, and I don’t want to be ruled by regulations OR my appetites.

It’s a constant struggle – trying to find honest love and acceptance for this imperfect body that’s mine yet still enjoy food (because I do so love food from one end of the spectrum to the other) within reasonable limits.

I don’t have any answers, really, but I guess maybe sprouted grain toast with pumpkin spice cream cheese spread is part of it.

Maybe that is a move in the right direction – trying to keep myself in the realm of health + decadence and not overdoing it.

Then, there’s got to be a way to teach myself that this body is good and right regardless of the flaws I see. That, my friends, is (I think) the harder lesson of the two.


Dear Reader – (day 17) Solidarity

Dear Reader

It occurred to me that when, a few days ago, I referred to my “small group” this was probably a foreign term to some readers.

A “small group” in the context I was using it, refers to a small group of people (in our case women) from our church who meet on a weekly basis to study and grow.

I griped a little about the study we are doing now – Rick Warren’s 40 Days of Community, but I do believe I tossed the possibility into cyberspace that I was hopeful it might improve, that I wasn’t sure if I was going to dislike the study all the way through.

Today I can admit, I like it much better.

One issue that was eating away at me in the beginning – a focus primarily on serving within your own little faith circle – was rubbing me entirely against the grain. I didn’t want to devote the next 40 days of study concentrating my efforts on serving others specifically according to which church they attend or according to whether they attend church at all.

Thankfully, that’s not the gist of the study.

You see, my panties were all in a bunch, because I don’t believe in spreading love categorically.

I don’t believe in sharing love conditionally.

I don’t believe in choosing “worthy enough” or marking off check-boxes.

I do believe we are asked to love, period.

No conditions, no strings attached.

I don’t get to judge whether someone is deserving of love, because, quite simply – no matter how many times I might be tempted to ask that question – “Is he deserving? Is she deserving?” – Every single time, the answer is going to be yes.

About a month ago, I started reading Tattoos on The Heart, by Gregory Boyle – a Catholic Jesuit priest who’s devoted his life to working with gang members in the ghettos of Los Angeles.

At first, I didn’t think I’d like this book. Something about Boyle’s writing style didn’t jive with my personal taste. A few meager pages in however, my mind was completely changed.

The stories he shares are heart-wrenching, thought-provoking, insightful, and full of respect for the individuals about whom he writes. His storytelling – his humor, his acuity, his desperate and unflinching love for these people to whom he’s entirely devoted his life, is nothing short of a stunning inspiration.

The particular copy of the book I am reading is from the library. If it was mine – if I owned it – I would have highlighted more than half the book.

There is a section I cannot seem to move beyond this week. It’s long, but I’m going to share it anyway:

Sr. Elaine Roulette, the founder of My Mother’s House in New York, was asked, “How do you work with the poor?” She answered, “You don’t. You share your life with the poor.” It’s as basic as crying together. It is about “casting your lot” before it ever becomes about “changing their lot.”

Success and failure, ultimately, have little to do with living the gospel. Jesus just stood with the outcasts until they were welcomed or until he was crucified – whichever came first.

The American poet Jack Gilbert writes, “The pregnant heart is driven to hopes that are the wrong size for this world.” The strategy and stance of Jesus was consistent in that it was always out of step with the world. Jesus defied all the categories upon which the world insisted: good-evil, success-failure, pure-impure.  Surely, He was an equal-opportunity “pisser-offer” in this regard. The right wing would stare at Him and question where He chose to stand. They hated that He aligned Himself with the unclean, those outside — those folks you ought neither to touch nor be near. He hobnobbed with the leper, shared table fellowship with the sinner, and rendered Himself ritually impure in the process.  They found it offensive that, to boot, Jesus had no regard for their wedge issues, their constitutional amendments or their culture wars.

The Left was equally annoyed. They wanted to see the ten-point plan, the revolution in high gear, the toppling of sinful social structures.  They were impatient with His brand of solidarity. They wanted to see Him taking the right stand on issues, not just standing in the right place.

But Jesus just stood with the outcast. The Left screamed: “Don’t just stand there, do something.” And the Right maintained: “Don’t stand with those folks at all.” Both sides, seeing Jesus as the wrong size for this world, came to their own reasons for wanting Him dead. Both sides were equally impressed as He unrolled the scroll and spoke of “good news to the poor”. . . “sight to the blind”. . . “liberty to captives.” Yet only a handful of verses later, they want to throw Jesus over a cliff.

How do we get the world to change anyway? Dorothy Day asked critically: “Where were the saints to try and change the social order? Not just minister to the slaves, but to do away with slavery.” Dorothy Day is a hero of mine, but I disagree with her here. You actually abolish slavery by accompanying the slave.  We don’t strategize our way out of slavery, we solidarize, if you will, our way toward its demise. We stand in solidarity with the slave, and by so doing, we diminish slavery’s ability to stand. By casting our lot with the gang member, we hasten the demise of demonizing.  All Jesus asks is, “Where are you standing?” And after chilling defeat and soul-numbing failure, He asks again, “Are you still standing there?” – Gregory Boyle, Tattoos On The Heart

This passage has given me countless moments of pause since I first read it.

I think we can insert any of us into “the poor”. Certainly, yes – the literal poor. I don’t want his message lost here. The marginalized, those on the streets and in the ghettos, those who fight every day just for survival. Yes, the literal poor. But, I think, we can take these words and apply them no matter where we live or who we encounter on a daily basis.

You love someone by standing with them, unflinchingly. Over and over and over again, whether or not they disappoint you. Whether or not they are showing “improvement” by our book. Whether or not they are making healthy choices, whether or not they are doing what “they are supposed to do” by our standards.*

We are not called to judge, we are called to love.

I want to be aware of where I’m standing. I don’t want to be standing on the Right and shouting that whoever is not like me or doesn’t live up to some specific standard ought not be associated with, and I don’t want to be standing off to the Left spouting hot air that someone ought to change this or that or the other thing.

I don’t want to be shallow wind and stinging judgement.

I want to stand there in solidarity with Jesus and the person who’s right in front of me. Because I need Love and solidarity just as much as they do.

When I look around me, I want so stop seeing differences and entertaining criticisms in my head. I want to look into the face of the stranger across from me and know that they are just like me, regardless of where they are from or where they are headed.

I want to stand rock solid, in the same place, dependable and unflinching, over and over and over again without fail and regardless of outcome.

Not much was requested of us. Just love.

It’s one simple word.


*Dear Reader, I want to be sure to say here, that I am not in any way saying that if you are in a dangerous or abusive relationship that you should stick it out for the sake of love. If you are in an abusive or violent relationship, please seek professional counseling and intervention.

Dear Reader (day 15): A continuation of the letter to the mother I used to be (part 2)

Dear Reader

In continuation from the other day:

Dear fresh, young me,

I’m telling you now – 15 years later – appreciate it fully. Notice the peace of life as a newlywed couple with only one Little Nugget running around. Breathe in deeply the simplicity of one schedule, ONE SCHEDULE, by which you abide. Savor those long naps with your babe and the 7pm bedtimes that leave your nights free to be a grown up couple, because you’ll have more kids and you’ll have roughly 26 more years to go of raising people, and there will be times you’ll have to work to remember this same brand of joy.

You’ll get buried under laundry, you’ll do endless loads of dishes, you’ll do grades kindergarten through fourth four more times besides your own, until you release these kids to do the whole school thing alone. You’ll hope you can stop repeating elementary around 4th grade, but be careful how much you let go, because letting go too much is not good either. Of course, there is a book about exactly how to do this in exactly the right way and you will never make a mistake ever.

That’s a lie. You won’t know exactly how to do any of it. There is no book with step-by-step instructions, and the best you can do is your best. Try your darndest and don’t ever quit. Throwing in the towel is the only 100% wrong thing you can do here.

There will be times when it all feels so pointless. You’ll feel like your entire existence is picking up other people’s’ socks and dishes and broken things. You’ll feel sometimes like your life doesn’t even belong to you. And you’ll get upset about it.

You’ll have to do some work when this funk starts to pull you under. You’ll have to look at what is sucking you down and do your best to alleviate it. You might have to ask for help, or you might need to take an overnight trip with your husband, or you might need to study or create or build something new that goes hand in hand with your big picture, because you need to know you’re growing too. You need to feel yourself BECOMING as a mother and as an individual.

You’ll need friends. Good, solid friends who stick with you through thick and thin. Don’t ever shirk this piece of advice. You need them, and they’ll need you, and together you hold each other up. There is nothing like the soul deep friendship of a best friend to pull you out from under the garbage heap and pep-talk you back into loving the life you lead.

Eventually, you’ll realize your life does belong to you and it matters immensely. Even though you don’t always see it, your work is the most important (listen to your husband here. He tells you this but you don’t always take it to heart. He is right, Dear. Let it sink in.)

It is. IT IS.

I can’t say this to you enough. Your work matters. And one day, you’ll see this and you’ll actually feel it deep down in the very purest part of you. You’ll know it’s true.

Every time you look into those little people eyes, every time you hug, every time you sit and harass about homework, every meal you prepare, every time you put down your thing to pick up theirs, you are showing them they are loved. They are valuable, they matter. You are forming people who understand love and respect. You are growing, cultivating, training good and loving people to send out into the world.


To be continued (again). . . .

Dear Reader – (Days 13 and 14) – On Going Analog

Dear Reader

Dear Readers,

I’m taking the weekend off.

I don’t know if this makes me a slacker or a woman who’s just grown into knowing what she needs, and in turn, decides to respect herself.

I hope it’s the latter.

I’m spending today and tomorrow analog. No more screen time for me. I’ve been feeling buzzy and angsty at the ends of my days, and I suspect it might be because of how connected I’ve been to the Internets.

Some people can stay firmly attached to the www without repercussion, but I can’t. It’s not in my nature.

So while I’m away, I’ll direct you to a few articles or people who might strike your fancy:

Check out Austin Kleone if you’re looking for art or writing inspiration. He’s a creative based in Austin, Texas, and he just published a journal to go along with his book, Steal Like an Artist. I wanted to choose just one link from his page, but I just couldn’t do it – there’s too much good stuff over there. Here’s a video to whet your whistle.

And, perhaps, head over to Design Sponge. I couldn’t get over the simplicity and on-pointness (notaword) of this article: (How to) Get Over Comparing Yourself to Other Creatives

And speaking of comparing – through the Write31Days Challenge, I came across Alison Wren. Her entire thirty-one days are based on just that – overcoming the comparison trap. Make a cup of tea, and take a few minutes to see what she’s put together.

And, if you’re feeling “bake-y”, might I suggest this single crust apple tart that’s easy enough for a weeknight? I’m salivating all over again, and I’m ready to try it.

Enjoy your weekend, friends!

Dear Reader – (day 12) – A Letter to the Mom I Used to Be (in parts.)

Dear Reader,

I guess I’m into letters right now.


Dear Sweet Young Me,

You’re freshly into your twenties, freshly into marriage, and freshly into motherhood.

I see so much in you that reminds me of me.

Oh, wait.

Anyway, I was like you once. Gah!

Ok, this is the thing. I can see right through you, because I was you, and I know you.

I so envy and admire your intense love for being a mom. You’re so good at it, for real. You live and breathe for this gig, and that’s awesome. I see that in you, and you make me want to be a better mom these days.

Being with that little guy, cooking with him, reading to him, playing match box cars ad nauseam, undertaking that ridiculous plan to teach him to read at the ripe old age of three. . . those things feed you, and it’s beautiful.

But I have to let you in on something.

Stop trying so hard.

You are a great mommy. You love that little guy to pieces. You’ll love the next two little guys and one more girl to pieces too.

Just be you.

You don’t even have Pinterest yet, but if you did, you’d be all over it, and you’d surely stress yourself out staying up till 3am crafting a solar system made from meatballs and 18 types of spaghetti (or some other equally senseless project).

Right now you have Family Fun Magazine, and Parenting, and Martha Stewart Living, and it thrills you to be able to craft from those articles, to see what you can accomplish with your own two hands and your simple will to create.

But there’s something else in there too.

There’s neediness. There’s insecurity. There’s striving.

You don’t need to do those things. You don’t need to try so hard.

You make me cringe a little, when I look back and see you carrying in your tray on pre-k snack day. I see your gussied up grapes and homemade Chex mix in individual little cups, and I want to pat your little brown head and tell you, “Just stop trying so damn hard. You are a great mom. You don’t need to prove anything to anyone.” And I know what you’d do. You’d smile politely, blush a little bit, and keep right on striving. Because you don’t believe it yet, that just being you is enough. It’s coming though. Really. The day you stop trying so hard and you see that the world doesn’t stop turning. Buildings don’t fall in on themselves. The earth doesn’t even shake, for cripes sake. Everything just keeps humming along, and all your favorite people still love you. In fact, some of your favorite people might even love you a little bit more for just being regular old, not-trying-so-hard, you.


To be continued. . .

Dear Reader – (day 11): A goodbye letter to my jeans

Dear Reader

Dear Reader,

Today, I invite you to join with me in saying a sentimental goodbye to my beloved pair of jeans who finally became way too hole-y to wear in public or around my children.

Dear Jeans,

You were the best.

I remember the first day you came into my life. You were too long. You were hand-me-downs. You were a little too tight for my muffin top. But you know? There was just something about your stubborn characteristics that I loved from the get-go. I knew we’d do well together.

There was something about the way you came into my life – suddenly, and cheaply – (For free, even!) that gave me permission to cut you to size. I lopped you off at exactly 29″ with nary a care in the world. Your frayed hem gave us character, and we were proud. We were boho.

Your willingness to let me just be who I was, to not care, to mold you into who I needed you to be? Well, that just made us a rock-solid duo. Your stubbornness waned, and you became so selfless – giving me just the fit I needed without a single thread of resistance.

We did everything together. Probably too much, in fact. I’m not sure you were the best choice for the Honor Roll Awards ceremony at the kids’ school. I’m pretty sure I shouldn’t have worn you out to lunch at that 4-star restaurant, but I just loved you so much I didn’t care what people thought. Certainly not enough to leave you behind.

I wore you in the summer and the winter. In fact, I wore you in negative 5 degrees F. I just layered underneath and let my thermal leggings show through. That was super cool and ultra stylish.

I’ve never been a fashionista, but with all these hole-y jeans trending? You and me baby – we were top-notch.

But my dear, sweet Jeans, I think I was a little too hard on you. Your knees split open to gaping proportions. Both of them. And our thighs started to wear through. The thighs! (Dear Reader – have you ever worn through the THIGHS of your jeans??) I thought this might still be passible as apropos because, we do in fact, live in Miami. But. . . .

Then the fanny started to wear through. And though all this thin material felt heavenly in our high and humid temperatures, and I so appreciated your willingness to accommodate, I questioned whether I should still be wearing you out and about. Thus, I relegated you to “painting attire” only.

Well, just because I paint doesn’t mean I never needed to go out. I still needed to make a quick run to get milk, or go pick up the kids, and it was only going to be quick, so why should I have changed? So I didn’t. Of course I took you with me.

Then, the other day, my butt ripped clean through. Fanny hanging out. Sweet Mother of Pearl, I’m glad we were in the privacy of our own home.

I just want you to know this, Dear Jeans: we did so much together. We loved, hugged, scolded, shopped, dropped, cooked, and cleaned. We held babies together, we taught kiddos how to ride bikes, we re-learned our times tables for the fourth time together. We’ve been through the most of tragic traumas and the greatest of joys together. We’ve even been through a 10 lb weight swing over the years.

You’ve been dear and good jeans to me. You’ve been a steady and strong force in my life.

I wish that you could have stayed around longer.

I wish you could have met my grandchildren right along with me. Oh! The stories we could have told. . . .

But alas, it’s time for us to say goodbye. There is something so disconcerting about discarding you in the trash bin. I’ve wondered if I could transform you into a purse, or perhaps a snuggie. But no. Your threads are too thin. This is the end of the road for us.

It’s OK. I forgive you for moving on. You were so, so good to me, and I know I’ll never, ever, find another pair of jeans like you. Ever.

And I just want you to know: I loved you like no other article of clothing I’ve ever worn or will ever lay hands on again, and I’ll always have a precious little spot carved out in my heart for you.

So long, sweet friend.


Dear Reader – (day 9) Guerrilla Love

Dear Reader

I wasn’t sure if I would write about this here, but I went to our small group this morning and it’s the only thing on my mind right now. If I don’t write about this, I’m going to end up writing about my messy house or how I don’t feel like working out or how I ate too much junkfood this weekend – and we’ve already done all those things too many times.

So here it is. You’re going to get what’s on my mind.

As a group, we are supposed to decide on a project we can do to reach out to the community. We’re supposed to dream big and expect large and seemingly impossible results. We are supposed to decide and move forward and watch God go to work as we move to intentionally love the world around us.

This is the thing though.

I don’t know if I can dream big and impossible right now. I don’t know if that is really what God is asking of me at the moment.

I don’t know if I’m really supposed to focus my efforts on something that feels so big I can barely wrap my brain around it, and it makes me feel like I’m being sucked down a vortex as I puff a brown paper bag.

I understand what the author is trying to do. I get it, and I don’t totally disagree.

I just partly disagree, for me, right now.

Because I just came to understand that it’s OK to look at my life in the context of seasons. My season is not the same as your season, or my pastor’s season, or my group leader’s season, or my bff’s season. It’s ok if I can’t do it all. God loves me anyway. I don’t have to perform. My season is one with four school aged kids, nighttime activities, trying to provide home cooked meals, and civil homework time. I’m trying to keep Loving Mama in the house instead of Mama Grizzly.

It’s a season where I consciously chose not to go back to the shelter this school year because I felt I needed to be available to help out in the kids’ elementary and because I felt a stirring in my heart to make art with an abandon I’ve never afforded myself. These are all things I chose carefully and prayerfully.

Less. More focused. Reign in my orbit and do smaller but more genuine things.

So why now, am I in this group whose purpose is to focus out and big?

I don’t know if I can go big or go home. If they make me chose, I might have to go home.

And this is where guerrilla love occurred to me.

Why not stay right here in my community. duh.

And know these people well. duh.

And find out how I can best love them? duh.

Why don’t I: JUST. DO. THAT?

I don’t know if this defeats the purpose of the study. We are all supposed to do a project together.

But what if we all chose to Guerrilla Love?

What would that look like?

15 people loving ferociously and on the sly.

It might look like showing up unexpectedly to stock the freezer of a recently widowed friend with 3 homemade soups, 12 burritos, 2 roast chickens, 3 lasagnas and 3 batches of Picadillo.

It might look like muffins for the security guards at school, who keep our children safe.

It might look like hand-written notes to the people in our lives who changed us at our core.

It might look like a phone call to a friend who’s battling depression.

It might look like taking a few extra minutes after class to hug the friend who just lost her sister in a car crash.

It might look like donating funds for a sick mama.

It might look like making a CD crammed full of inspiring music for a friend whose spirits need lifting.

It might look like babysitting for a mom who’s been pent-up with her sick kids for 2 weeks.

It might look like showing up with a take-home dinner for your little one’s teacher who you just learned leaves her house at 6:30 AM with her two littles and doesn’t return home again till 8:30PM, then turns around and does it all again the next day.

It might mean sending an encouraging note to someone who’s doing a hard thing right now.

It might mean having meaningful conversation with the grocery store clerk and learning that she’s having surgery in a week, and maybe she could use a help picking her kids up from school.

It might mean taking several minutes to put away your phone and focus here and now on these people under your roof. To look them in the eyes, touch their cheeks and really hear how their day went.

And if that’s all from one person in one week – all those lives touched, about 20 – if each of our 15 people chose to consciously Guerilla Love –  that’s 300 people whose hearts have been touched.

Those are some staggering numbers. And this is how God speaks. Through us.

At first glance, it might seem small fry. . . But I don’t think it is. These are things that matter. They’re things that people will feel, genuinely. These things require us to connect, to invest, to care.  And whatever we choose to do now, for this project – it’s supposed to be something sustainable.

Isn’t this how we want to live, truly? With our eyes open, appreciating, loving, aware?

While I’m in this season, I think I can actually do this. This doesn’t feel like a vortex suck, this feels like an exhale.

I can manage this. I want to do this. I already believe in this, but now is the time to DO it instead of just think it.

Sign me up for Guerrilla Love.

Dear Reader (day 8) – Uh oh. . . .

Dear Reader

The other day I received a foreboding email from one of my children’s teachers.

She asked me to come in that same day so she could talk to me, but not to worry, my kiddo was doing great.

Regardless of the assurance tacked on to the end, my stomach turned in knots and that good ol’ fight-or-flight sensation swept through my body.

I spent the next four hours obsessing over what it could be.

Two days before, we had launched into a new study in our small group at church. “”40 Days of Community”. I have many thoughts about this particular study, and maybe I’ll write about it sometime, but I clearly remember a moment from our first day when we were watching the accompanying video.

The author, Rick Warren, said something to the effect of, “Your ability to love will be tested over the next 40 days, so be forwarned.” or prepared, or ready, or I promise you. . . . Anyway, you get the idea.

Maybe he didn’t intend it to sound ominous, but to me it did, and my responding thought was, “Uh oh. . . . ”

Because I’ve been around the barn enough times to understand that loving people isn’t always rose petals and salt water taffy. It’s not always easy, and sometimes the people we’re meant to love are not the easiest people to love and the situations are downright difficult.

His comment placed a lingering cloak of back-burner worry over my shoulders. What was it going to be?

So as I was walking into school for this meeting, my stomach churning and fighting with itself as I made my way to the classroom, the words “This is your chance to love” came clearly to my attention. “Uh oh. . . . ” I thought again.

I felt the anxiety of anticipated conflict well up inside me as my body prepared to hear what “problem” we were addressing today. I tried to prepare to be a grown-up, to hear what had to be said without overreacting, to stay calm and think things through in a rational way and respond to everyone involved respectfully; to stand up for my child if need be, but also to be able to hear, with humility and honesty, if there was correction necessary.

I hate moments like these. I don’t do conflict well.

Why I went down this rabbit hole, I don’t know. I kept reassuring myself that the teacher had clearly told me, “Don’t worry. _____ is doing great!”, so this shouldn’t be bad.

But you know, I guess we go there anyway.

When I walked in, the scene was two teachers and another mom.

Uh oh.

They all greeted me cheerfully, warmly. . . as though nothing were wrong.

After the small talk died down, and I had discovered the mom sitting next to me was suffering all the same emotions, the teachers told us why we were there.

They need a little extra help in the classroom.


We burst into laughter.

Other Mom and I laughed until we almost cried.

We had both been so preoccupied with what might have been wrong that we hadn’t even stopped to think that it might have been something like this.

And if that doesn’t look like icing on the cake after thinking your kid is trouble, I don’t know what does.

So, of course – because I never overcommit and always say yes to only those things I can handle – I said yes. (thickly layered sarcasm fully intended here).

But this has my wheels turning too. If this is my chance to love, then who am I going to be loving, and is it going to be easy or hard?

I hear the words echoing, “Your ability to love is going to be tested . . . . ”

Uh oh.

Day 7 – There is a prayer under there

Dear Reader

There is a prayer under there ↓  Truly.

beloved 3 framed It’s in one of the bottom layers of paint.

My husband gives me a hard time because he says it’s not really there if you can’t see it.

I beg to differ.

It’s there, mixed into everything. Just like prayers in people. On those two square feet of canvas, it’s tinting everything over the top of it, it’s mixed into the darks and the brights, and in the end it leads to the same thing – beloved. Clear, bright, and beautiful.

This is the prayer:

I pray peace and happiness for you.

That you will overcome with freedom and joy;

and once these are yours that you will be able to turn towards your people (your people!!) and give to them freely – the gifts of your touch, your smile, your grace and love.

I pray your pain be lifted, that our heart be light. That you’ll know you are passionately loved. That you are beloved.

Someone out there needs to hear this, so here you are.

Be loved. Because you are, Beloved.