Your Purpose, Your Burden



“What’s your purpose? The answer comes from what you’re willing to be burdened by.” Reverend Bruce Cote

Early Sunday morning, this quote from the sermon sounded heavy. That was, until I jotted down, “It is an honor to be given a purpose.”

I used to want my family to be happy, but now I want more for all of us. I want us burdened with a purpose, which will likely make us happy while living it. If not, I still choose the burden.

In his book The War of Art, Steven Pressfield says nothing will make us more miserable than not doing what we were put here to do. He writes about resistance and how it will make you want to die.

I say, nothing will make you more miserable than living your purpose, at least in the beginning, but it won’t make you want to die. Not for long, anyway.

It’s frightening to give up the known (writing articles about daytrips, scrolling Facebook for hours, shopping and cleaning and redecorating a third time) for the unknown (sharing how I feel on my blog and in a manuscript) even when we suspect the latter holds a gift. Change is full of frustration, like having one foot in manure and the other on a thin sheet of ice. We want to move on, but the warmth is familiar even if it’s nasty. We’re comfortable.


It’s disorienting to move beyond what a friend explained about her life, “I’m in a prison cell with the door wide open, but I’m still sitting here.”

Our cell is where the world will keep us stuck if we let it. We have kneejerk reactions to others, but not to God. We ask, “What in the world will the world think of me if I (fill in the blank)?”

So, we don’t.

The blank is our heart’s desire, and not because we thought it up. God put the desire there by design. It’s the thing He placed us on this earth to do.

For me, it’s to live out loud. I cried the first and second and third times I read Emile Zola’s quote, “If you ask me what I came into this life to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud.”

I still cry.

I wanted to tell my story, to let an audience in on my pain that reaped plenty of lessons, and to have courage to say whatever I wanted like telling who I voted for in the most controversial election of all times, but I didn’t want criticism or push back or eye rolls. I especially didn’t want to feel scared.


It’s similar to the time my husband booked us into Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. He knew I was afraid of heights, so he said, “You know, you don’t have to do this. You can relax and wait for us at the hotel.”

“Yeah, right. You know I have to hike it,” I snapped.

He looked confused. He actually didn’t know I had to hike it, but I knew it and I was terrified.

That’s often how it is when I speak up and when I write. It’s easy for some people, but it’s my burden because …

  • I’m a people pleaser who likes to say what I think others want to hear.
  • I’m an introvert who would like nothing more than to have the super power of being invisible.
  • I want to be known as funny even though I value integrity far more than humor.

Sharing anything on FB other than humorous memes reminds me of The Church Lady on Saturday Night Live, “I’m uncomfortable with that.”

I’m afraid friends will think I’m drumming up drama instead of living my purpose.

I’m afraid I’ll be judged because everyone who is visible is judged by someone.

I’m afraid posting will come across as wanting attention for myself instead of concern for them, and sometimes I do want attention.

Like hiking the canyon, though, I don’t have a choice. I mean, I do, but I don’t. It’s odd to stare at an empty laptop screen and struggle between a story that’s emotionally safe to write and one with passion. I’ve tried to force myself to write less controversial pieces or less emotional ones or less sad stories. I’ve tried writing funny stories during enraged times. I’ve wished I could stir others without feeling stirred myself.

I can’t do it. When I take the easy way out and tell an easy story, the writing is so bad, I can’t publish it. It’s like a story I handed into one of my favorite editors. “Favorite” because she wouldn’t publish an article only to fill space. It had to have substance. I liked that about her until she wouldn’t publish one of mine. She said, “This story’s got no heart.”

That used to be my blog and my life. I saved old posts on here to remind me. I began with stories about Mr. Potato Head and walking, how Zumba motivated me to get out of bed early, and big toe hairs. Don’t believe me? Scroll way back to 2010 and you can read for yourself my unburdened writing about exercise and alarm clocks.


My writing changed significantly around the time I began praying the line from the song “Hosanna,” the line about God breaking my heart for what breaks His. I’m burdened to tell stories about my damaged marriage, estranged parents, and depression and suicide, stories I would rather not tell because what will people think? It wasn’t until I asked a more important question that I started living out loud, “If I don’t tell my stories, what will God think?

What are you burdened to do? Is it worth the risk of stepping onto thin ice? Maybe a better way to ask the same question is, do you want to stay in that other stuff?

In This Together,


When God Isn’t Good



“Live (and die) so that anyone who knows you knows God is good.”

The night before we left to meet family for Christmas, my husband John and I drove 45 minutes to Pawleys Island (Pawleys for short), a community where we bought a creek lot this past summer. We wanted to decorate the property by hanging an ornament and putting spotlights on the live oak that shades it. One of appeals of buying in Pawleys was its close proximity to The Abbey, a church we joined just months before we made our purchase.

On the way there, John said, “They’ve called in hospice for Chuck.”

“I hated to blurt it out tonight,” he said, “but there wasn’t going to be a good time to tell you.”

Bishop Chuck Murphy was our rector at The Abbey until he resigned three weeks ago. He died a few days later.

Chuck was diagnosed last January with stage 4 brain cancer. Most of us anticipated him living many more years because he had powerful believers praying for and expecting his healing.


At Chuck’s funeral, Philip Jones, his successor as chairman of the Anglican Mission in America, told the story about Chuck saying to Margaret when they were 18-years-old and dating, “I don’t want to be 65 and not have made a difference in the world.”

Chuck ministered to thousands of people, probably tens of thousands. He oversaw the planting of more than 200 churches in America including The Abbey, where we started attending about two years ago. We also worshipped under Chuck’s leadership for six years at All Saints, another church in Pawleys. His bold regard for scripture changed the landscape of Anglicanism and impacted the world, and John and me too.

Bagpipers accompanied Chuck’s family to the entryway of the church. During his service, a trumpeter played Revelle. We sang, “What a Beautiful Name.” Twenty plus robed clergy traveled to pay homage.

Things were said like “Chuck left a legacy of family, leadership, and character.”

“He flew 40,000 feet higher and saw beyond what most of us see. He had a singular focus on the Kingdom of God.”

“He had little use for the praise of men, but wanted it from heaven.”

“His ways were generous and he was always asking, ‘How can I come alongside you and help make this happen?’”

The day after hearing the hospice news, John and I drove separately to the mountains to haul all the food and Christmas presents. On the way, I bargained with God that if he’d heal Chuck, I’d complete my manuscript. I couldn’t think of anything more important to wager. I pleaded with him when I remembered Abraham’s appeals for a town in the Bible called Sodom. I begged and bargained and bawled.

An hour and a half into my trip, I looked up and saw a billboard, a sign, advertising a can of Glory Foods field peas. I laughed at God choosing one with humor that said, “Peas Be With You.”

I hoped it was a “sign” that Chuck was being healed the way I wanted the miracle to happen. Having him survive and seeing prayer work so powerfully made sense for our church and for us. Attending The Abbey’s been a big part of John’s and my restoration in our marriage and individually. For us, Chuck’s healing wasn’t about only Chuck getting better. It was about us too.

We thought we needed more lessons from his nearly 50-year marriage to Margaret. We watched his three daughters and their families attend The Abbey and sit together Sunday after Sunday.  We learned from watching Chuck act as spiritual head of his household, as well as our church home.

He played his guitar and performed on the church piano, not for the congregation, but his family. I’ve never seen him play except in videos posted by one of his daughters. He believed every word of the Bible and taught it in a way that made me believe it too. He talked about dancing in the streets of heaven with Jesus. He laughed when he preached. I bet he was laughing when he died.



Margaret forwarded this message on January 9th, “Chuck, as he would say, peacefully went down the water flume before us this morning at 1:30, right into the glorious Kingdom of God. Our family is doing ok, but we know Chuck is doing great as he joins his Saviour and Lord.”

My stomach knots up when I think about Chuck not being here for our move to Pawleys and for us to move forward.

It’s at The Abbey where I’ve seen John raise his hands and get on his knees, tear up often, and soften.

It’s where I’ve felt safe and not because we have a security guard walking the grounds. It’s the place I learned to trust and lean into God being good. Genuinely good, not cliché good. It helped to watch Chuck and his family believe in God’s goodness in sickness and in health.

I’ve tried spiritualizing my pain instead of feeling it. Maybe you do this too. I like to think I’ll stop hurting if I pray, talk to friends, read inspirational books, read the Bible, practice gratitude, trust God, journal about it, ask others to pray, worship, listen to uplifting songs, seek wise counsel, do the next good deed. These things all help for a little while.

I thought about a passage in one of my inspirational daily readers. It says, “God is not a terrorist.” I imagine plenty of us question if God is out to get us sometimes. If Chuck was going to die so soon and the pain and loss feel so big, why’d I even stumble onto a post about The Abbey one late night on Facebook? This past week, I almost wished I hadn’t.


But it’s like the quote in Shadowlands, the movie about C. S. Lewis’ life, when he struggled to handle his wife Joy’s death. He repeated to his good friend something similar to what Joy had told him earlier, “The pain now is part of the happiness then. That’s the deal.”

Just as poignant even though from a cartoon character, Winnie the Pooh said, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

Trying to make sense of Chuck’s death reminds me about a mom trying to do the same after letting go of her 41-year-old daughter to breast cancer. When questioned about God’s goodness, she said something like this, “I would never have said ‘yes’ to something like this no matter what good changes I was promised, but I also would never return to the person I was before my daughter died. Watching her die, I learned about benevolence and bravery and being ready to meet Jesus.”

Like the mom, neither would I go back to who I was before The Abbey and before witnessing Chuck and his family deal with dying and death.

Have you ever questioned God’s goodness? This time around, I’m trying not to question since I’ve noticed if we’ll give Him time (even if it’s a decade or so), he’ll prove himself good again and again.

In This Together,

Screen Shot 2018-01-18 at 5.01.11 PM copy

Fall On Your Knees



“Until your knees finally hit the floor you’re just playing at life, and on some level you’re scared because you know you’re just playing. The moment of surrender is not when life is over. It’s when it begins.” Marianne Williamson in her book, A Return To Love

For a long time, I joked about being a control freak when it came to relationships, especially with my husband and children. Humor was a coverup. I was terrified to let them go, afraid of what may happen even when I couldn’t pinpoint a problem.

I lectured my kids about grades and college and jobs. Called them when I saw a speed trap. Left articles for them to read. Asked too many questions about friends, nosied in their rooms, and eavesdropped on phone calls. Even for a control freak, the latter was over the top.

If my husband had an early morning meeting, I made sure he was up. I reminded him about appointments. I kept up with his spending and his eating and his hygiene.

The illusion of control made me feel safer. It convinced me I could make things happen, fix things, and bring about positive outcomes, which is true sometimes … just not the way I wanted it to be true.

I wanted to make things happen for them, fix things for them, and bring about positive outcomes in their lives. I didn’t think much about getting my own life.

My friend Betty reminded me, “Love means being who you are and letting them be who they are.” I agreed and said, “You’re right. I can’t control them and love them at the same time.” Still, I hung on like my life depended on how their lives turned out.

A friend suggested maybe I wasn’t able to let go because of my fear, which seemed like just another impossible thing to surrender. Ironically, most of my fear was the result of not surrendering my relationships.

After exhausting myself, as well as exhausting every possibility except surrender, I asked God to help me let go… my way.


I prayed dozens of prayers that he’d minimize my relationships – make them less important.

I prayed he would replace people with a distraction like work or a calling unrelated to them. After all, I had friends living out their purposes by painting, planting community gardens, and rescuing animals – very little to do with people. I wanted the same.

The first time I watched Elsa in the Disney movie “Frozen,” I thought about how often I wanted to run away from people like she had run because, in comparison to surrender, running looked easy.

I prayed it’d be okay to leave my family if holding onto them became too painful and if letting go seemed too hard.

So, what’d I hear from God after all this negotiating? Write about relationships.

I was back to surrender.

I didn’t know what else to do, so I wrote. I blogged about disappointments and arguments, not wanting to have a granddaughter, my messy marriage, and more. I’m not sure how or when it happened, but I traded control for surrender in my writing and then in my relationships.

I teared up while singing the line in “O Holy Night” that tells us to fall on our knees and hear the angels.

I cried at Disney on Ice Frozen while watching my four-year-old granddaughter sing along with Elsa to the song “Let It Go,” in part because being there with her was so special; in part because I’m letting go of her like I’m letting go of everyone.

I bawled telling my husband I never wanted to run his life in the first place, but how scary it was to stop.


So much is different this Christmas, and better. I’ve said for years, “He’s better,” “She’s better,” “The family’s better.” This season, I’m better. Surrender gave me permission to give my people to God and get my own life.

Gordan B. Hinckley says it well, “Get on your knees and ask for the blessings of the Lord; then stand on your feet and do what you are asked to do.”

What relationships in your life need surrendering? Fall on your knees, then get back up.

In This Together,

Thank you for the inspiration, Dr. Jeannie Killian, and for the images, Pixabay.



Show, Don’t Tell in Writing and Relationships



“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” Anton Chekhov

Show, don’t tell. It’s how every writer wants to write and what every editor wants to read. Showing is the magic in Chekhov’s description of the moon.

I’m figuring out that “show, don’t tell” also works magic in relationships. I wish I’d practiced living by example years ago instead of reacting and saying way too often, “Let me tell you one thing … ”

I should have told my family very little and lived my lectures. I can tell you from decades of experience, it’s harder to do than it sounds. It’s why I’ve blogged for a year about getting your own life while loving the people in it. It’s why plenty of famous writers are known for quotes about living by example.

“A good example is the best sermon.” Benjamin Franklin

“Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.” Albert Schweitzer

“What you do has far greater impact than what you say. “ Stephen Covey



My friend’s story drove the message deeper. She said her husband drank to get drunk every evening, so she went to a counselor for help. She let him know she’d given her husband plenty of talks, usually ending in threats to leave him.

Here’s what he told her, “If you were my wife, you’d give me a reason to drink every single night.”

The counselor’s point was not to shame her or place blame, but to give her insight. He wanted my friend to understand how telling (and reacting, which typically go hand-in-hand) contributed to the drinking. Her enabling, in the form of threats instead of action, was what I related to, except I gave my family and friends a reason to be irresponsible and disrespectful every single day.

Instead of saying “no” to my children about borrowing personal items they didn’t take care of, I threw fits and said, “This is the last time you borrow anything unless you take care of it.”

This time I lecture, but you’ll be sorry next time because I’ll show instead of tell.

Always next time.

Like my friend who kept talking about politics, I wasn’t going out with her … next time.

Like another friend who refused to get help except to call me in the wee hours of the morning to say she was afraid of her husband, I wasn’t answering my phone … next time.

Like my family’s unpleasant tones of voice, I planned to take a walk or hang up the phone instead of argue … next time.

Some people honor boundaries, but there are just as many who ignore what we ask of them no matter how reasonable or right or easy it is to do. That is, until we follow through, which is when they honor it or they go away or we go away.

Whichever of the three happens, showing works.

I don’t know if everyone else was relieved, but I calmed down when I finally shut up and did what I said I was going to do. I had exhausted myself with threats, so following through was a pleasant (even though uncomfortable) change.

“Show, don’t tell” is still awkward sometimes because I prefer dialogue – lots and lots of dialogue. Telling is a 40-year habit for me. Acting on my behalf isn’t and sometimes it’s easier to be lazy. I’d rather explain what I want and give you a chance to do it even when I don’t think you will.

There’s a price to pay for taking the easy way out, though. Telling, instead of showing, has cost me time and energy. Like I said, I’ve exhausted myself making threats. My sanity’s been on the line when I’ve said the same things over and over and expected something different to happen. Telling has caused health problems like the morning I couldn’t get out of bed to keep an appointment with a negative colleague who’d asked me out several times. I finally said “yes” and made myself sick about going. I was afraid saying “no” again may show her how unlikable she was, which may have been a lesson she needed.



Show, don’t tell.

Like Albert Schweitzer said in the quote above, showing is the only thing that works.

Showing happens when I set

Showing happens when I honor what is good for me and stay away from who and what is not.

Showing happens when self-care is as important as other-care.

Showing happens when I act on my own behalf instead of waiting for others to do it.

Showing happens when I get my own life while loving the people in it.

Showing happened when I stopped socializing with friends who insisted on talking politics, when I stopped answering my phone before 8 in the mornings, and when I started walking out and hanging up on disrespect.

“The life you live is the lesson you teach.”

I started teaching people how to treat me by showing them how I wanted to be treated. It feels magic, but it’s really a matter of showing instead of telling.

What do you need to stop telling and start showing by your actions?

In This Together,

This Simple Principle Will Solve Your Show, Don’t Tell Problems” is an article by Tom Farr who gave helpful writing tips, and I got some relationship tips too. Tom is a storyteller, blogger, freelance writer, and high school English teacher.


Thanks for the perfect images, Your free pictures make blogging easier and more professional looking.

My Word for 2018 – Simplicity



“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” Hans Hofmann

Simplicity is my word for 2018. The term showed up in a private Facebook message from a friend asking about my blog. Agnes and I talked about growing our readership, then she added, “… while keeping it simple.”

The word “simple” stood out, which is typically how finding my word for the year happens. It simply shows up and I know it. I wasn’t totally convinced it was the word, though, until I was sick a couple of days later.

When I didn’t feel well, I kept things simple. I slept when I was tired. I ate when I was hungry. I gave myself permission to only do what was necessary, like the quote at the beginning says. I set out to accomplish one or two things on my to-do list instead of 10.

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” Confucius

My day felt manageable even though I felt bad. I didn’t have enough energy to complicate it. Looking back, I completed more tasks on my sick day than on the days leading up to it. Looking back makes me wonder what I could accomplish if I practiced simplicity on the days I felt good.

Since 2012, I’ve chosen a word for the year in place of making resolutions. It dawned on me how simple a practice this has been, taking one word to work on for 365 days. Here’s my list since I began in 2012.

2012 Incremental
2013 Ponder
2014 Content
2015 Revise, Momentum
2016 Love
2017 Self-care


When I looked up simplicity, it had more to offer than I anticipated and probably more than I can imagine for 2018.

Simplicity @ Merriam-Webster

  • The state of being simple, uncomplicated, or uncompounded
  • Innocence and sincerity
  • Freedom from pretense; candor
  • Directness of expression; clarity
  • Restraint in ornamentation; austerity

Synonyms @ ease, straightforwardness, naturalness, openness, effortlessness, easiness, minimalism, cleanness, and clean lines.

Antonyms @ complexity, complication, and difficulty.

Keeping life simple means in the place of telling my husband I don’t want to hear a family member tell the same story, one I don’t agree with, a dozen times, I directly say to them, “I don’t want to listen to this anymore.”


Rather than discussing with family and friends the quandary of getting our own lives, I’m candid about a self-imposed deadline I didn’t meet. I reset it and finish my book proposal this month.




Instead of agonizing about buying fewer presents for our family at Christmas and rallying for a consensus, I restrain myself (except with our grandbabies, of course) and simply buy fewer presents.


I minimize confusion in my head by focusing on one thing to accomplish today. I worry less if others disagree with what I say and write. I set boundaries about how long I’m online and honor them. When I don’t want to participate, I say “no thanks.” When I do, I show up.

These things sound as simple as sleeping when I’m tired, like on my sick day, if only I lived so simply.


I keep work simple. I do what my husband suggests when he’s editing my blog posts. He asks about a sentence or paragraph that’s unclear, “What were you trying to say here?” I explain it simpler and he says, “Then why don’t you just write that?”

And painting too – I paint in grays because gray is my favorite color.




“Simplicity is the final achievement. After one has played a vast quantity of notes and more notes, it is simplicity that emerges as the crowning reward of art.” Frederic Chopin

I believe God meant our lives to be simple (humble is its synonym). My dear friend Betty used to say, “Your first thought is from God and then you mess it up.” She sounded negative until I noticed how right she was.

I write down my next day’s plan before I go to bed, but then I mess it up. I intend to start my morning with an inspirational reading instead of Facebook. I mean to shower before answering emails. I promise myself I’ll walk before sitting down to work …

But then I mess it up.

That is, unless I keep my day simple and listen to what Betty suggested – do the first thing I think about before I mess it up.

It’s simple when we don’t get in our own way.

I’m practicing “simplicity” starting now and into 2018, so I’ll keep you blog posted. Feel free to choose simplicity as your word too and we’ll share our progress. Or let me know your word so we can work towards making next year simply the best it can be.

Do you need to simplify life by choosing one word for the upcoming year? What word makes the most sense to work towards during 2018?

In This Together,

The Benefit of an Emotional Meltdown



“Sometimes it takes a meltdown to cool down.” Evinda Lepins

A recent meltdown I had wasn’t a public scene or even a really big deal around our house. It was significant enough, though, that I realized how important something was to me that I’ve been ignoring. I try to be preventative about these sorts of things, but sometimes prevention doesn’t work because of others’ reactions. My solution sounds something like this until I calm down, “I can’t believe I’ve let this go on,” “Never again,” and “I’m done.”

By my final fit, I’m left with what I used to think was an unusual outcome, but now I’ve come to expect it – an emotional hangover and a spiritual awakening. Like what Terrell Owens said, “Instead of me having a breakdown, I’m focusing on me having a breakthrough.”

Since I grew up in a silent family who shut up about their emotions and shut down everyone else’s, meltdowns ended up being the only way to figure out how I felt. It shouldn’t come as a surprise I married into a family that did the same thing because we’re attracted to what we know. They’re screamers, so I hoped they’d scream about their emotions so I could finally talk about mine. As it turned out, their screaming was also about shutting up and shutting down.

Shy on role models, I eventually learned to appreciate emotional meltdowns for what they were – a gateway to my emotions. Even though I’m still shaken by their messiness and hung-over feelings, and I fear I’ve made things messier instead of mending them, meltdowns haven’t let me down as long as I handle them constructively. I stop looking at what everyone else needs to do and, instead, I look at my part in the meltdown. I get in touch with how I feel and I decide what changes I want to make.

So, what’s actually melting away?

I used to hate to cry in front of people. I still do, but it helped when a friend said, “I love when you cry. You’re melting.”

I knew what she meant. I relaxed a little each time I cried around her. She could see me softening and I could feel it. For years I tried keeping up a happy pretense and a façade of being distant from my emotions by laughing off how I felt and saying, “I’m fine. Really, I am.”

I’m like Elf, “Smiling’s my favorite.” However, weightiness surfaced when I recognized emotions have a life of their own if we ignore them. Instead of being happy like Elf, we numb out with food, zone out on Facebook, and distract ourselves with problems we can’t fix, disturbing news reports, and our own bad habits. Sometimes we want to die when we already feel emotionally dead or our emotions (the ones we think we’re not supposed to feel) feel too out of control. I dislike being called “too sensitive” and hearing I overreact, but I dislike even more not being true to who I am and what’s going on inside of me.


So, I melt.

I ask myself things like: What am I thinking? What am I feeling? What do I need? What do I want to change?

When I ignored the answers to these questions or didn’t bother to ask them at all, I ended up in a depression I almost didn’t survive. It’s like the anonymous quote, “I froze because frozen hearts don’t feel pain.”

I tried to give up feeling pain so I wouldn’t inconvenience others with my emotions. The result of freezing my pain was freezing almost all of my feelings. I was robotic. I went through the motions of life without emotion, or tried to. I felt like one of the walking dead and wondered what the point was of getting up each day.

This is when I had the meltdown of all meltdowns.

“On the other hand, I believe there’s hope, because the breakdown and the repair are happening simultaneously.” Kathryn Bigelow


I cried for two years, or so it seemed. I broke my silence and told a couple of trusted friends about my depression and not feeling anything except hopelessness. I let my family know I felt desperate even though they didn’t want to hear it, not because they didn’t care, but because it was scary to listen to. I contained my meltdowns to our living room and limited the best I could my accusations, name calling, and cuss words. The more I talked, the more I was able to share my emotions constructively by talking about myself and how I felt and my plan for feeling better.

I stopped trying to get a thicker skin and focused on being kind to myself and talking about my pain. I got in touch with what my heart longed for instead of the chaos in my head. I had less severe emotional hangovers and more startling spiritual awakenings. I started healing from my meltdowns because I saw their value and handled them right.

When you melt down, do you know why it’s happening? Do you see its value? Do you ask the right questions? Our emotions and handling them right are key to melting well.

In This Together,

On the Side: My manuscript is about emotions and the value of getting in touch with how we feel. I’d love feedback from you about what to include and about what you’d like to read more about.

Thanks for the images,

You’ve Heard the Saying “Break a Leg”? Well, …




“Every thought we think is creating our future.” Louise Hay

On March 26, 2004, I slipped in spilled water on a newly varnished floor and broke my knee. In an odd sort of way, it was good luck just like “break a leg” is to actors and musicians before they go on stage – good luck because it got me unstuck.

hay book

I mentioned my accident in a tribute video I posted on Facebook to Louise Hay, author of You Can Heal Your Life. Her message is, “If we are willing to do the mental work, almost anything can be healed,” which she accomplished personally with God’s help. She cured herself of cancer.

Like the quote at the beginning, Hay believes what we think about creates our future. If we give voice to our thoughts and get emotionally involved with them, we’re almost guaranteed results. This explains why I ended up in a full leg cast for eight weeks, unable to drive and incapable of taking my usual morning and afternoon walks.

A year or so before I broke my knee, the mantra I unintentionally repeated daily was “I’m stuck.”

I said it at least a thousand times. It wasn’t until I actually was stuck at home alone while my husband traveled for work that I experienced the full implications of what I’d brought on myself. On Easter weekend, I felt panicked enough about being stuck in my cast that I considered my husband’s offer when he said, “Do you want me to cut it off?”

Most days I paced the house until I was exhausted. I’d end up at our kitchen table and crying because I felt trapped, scared, and alone. I pledged to help every single person in my situation as soon as I wasn’t there myself. I’ve followed through with compassion when I hear others’ stories of also being stuck whether it’s stuck in physical affliction, mental problems like depression, a lifestyle they desperately want out of – stuck in whatever it is and not moving forward.

When I looked up knee problems in Hay’s book, there were several probable causes as to why I broke my knee other than falling on it, the most likely being that I don’t move forward easily. I don’t bend and flow with ease. I could have told you that if I ever slowed down enough to assess my life with ease, but I didn’t. That is, not until I broke my knee.

According to Hay, knee represents ego – an acronym for edging God out. I wanted to write professionally, but I didn’t have any original ideas. I didn’t realize that none of us do. We write the same ideas differently. Like so many unenlightened writers, I planned to pen a bestseller by the year’s end because God told me to write. However, he failed to tell me what to write or who to send it to or how much to expect from my first royalty check. Instead of waiting on Him and writing small until I had bigger ideas, I didn’t write at all except about being stuck.

I obsessed about being stuck, whined about being stuck, and journaled about being stuck for nearly a year until I brought it to pass.


Breaking my knee got my attention, as well as getting me unstuck … eventually. I still had a good bit of physical healing to do when the cast was removed, but getting it off was the freest I’ve ever felt. It jolted me into paying attention to how my thinking, my emotions, and what comes out of my mouth affects me physically.

Going through the ordeal of breaking my knee and really being stuck continues to shape and heal my life. Is there something going on in your life that needs your attention before it gets to the place where I landed? Or, are you already there and you need to reverse it and begin the healing? I hope this post jolts you to pay attention to how you think, feel, and speak.

In This Together,

On the side: An interesting article that addresses what our emotions have to do with our health. Click here to read Mind/Body Connection: How Your Emotions Affect Your Health

Thanks for the image,

Waiting Well (what do we do while we wait for Irma?)



“My mother taught me, when I was a little girl, that when anything very dreadful happens, I must think of what I would be doing if it had not happened, and then do that.

This excerpt comes from a World War II story about an Englishwoman who greeted her minister at the door when he showed up to let her know about her husband’s death. The woman interrupted his news and invited him in for tea. He was astounded by her hospitality in the midst of sorrow.

My wish isn’t so much about receiving bad news with grace, although I want that too, as it is about waiting with that same grace. It’s about waiting well.

Since last October, I’ve waited on Hurricane Matthew to come and go close by our beach house; the fires to extinguish at Table Rock near our mountain house; news about my car’s engine that quit running; my son’s cancer diagnosis and surgery and follow up; a scare related to he and his wife’s unborn baby (he’s just fine, by the way); my father-in-law’s brain injury and imminent death; and negotiations and paperwork on property we ended up buying. Before we build on it, we have to sell the home we’re living in now.


We wait.

A couple of weeks ago, my daughter-in-law labored over their first baby for 30 plus hours. If not for my anxiety, it would have been comical how our phone calls and texts fit the theme of my year …

Wait and wait some more.

Along with tens of thousands of other Southerners, I’m watching and wondering about Irma, a category 5 hurricane that threatens our beach house with storm surge and both our beach and mountain houses with high winds and flooding.

More waiting.

I’ve cared about friends who’ve gone through similar ordeals this year. Several waited for results from medical tests. A couple of them received unwanted and downright scary news. Two friends waited on knee surgeries. They’re now working through and waiting on recovery. One friend waited for months on funds she’s been promised again and again. Another waited to find out if her husband would ever coach again. He won’t, at least not at the high school where he dedicated his time, talent, and care for 34 years. Then there are my two mom friends who haven’t heard from their sons in a while, one who’s fighting fires and one who is fighting addiction, so they wait.

Sometimes we get our way after all the waiting like when we were approved for a loan to purchase the lot we stumbled on and fell in love with. Sometimes we don’t, like my husband’s dad dying even though we hoped he’d bounce back like after his heart attack and cancer. This is when we wait to find the good in what didn’t go our way.

Because waiting is inevitable and results are unpredictable, the best we can hope for is to wait well.

I’m aggravated by how much time Hurricane Irma has already taken up and without one iota of anything productive to show for it. I’ve checked her path too often, but not as much as I would have if it hadn’t been for y’all. I’m more accountable when I’m writing about how I act. However, I’ve still squandered time on The Weather Channel and Facebook to get updates that are speculation.

So, what does it look like to wait well?


Martin Luther said, “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.”

Isn’t his quote beautiful, full of grace and faith, and an exemplary example of waiting well?

And hard … isn’t it hard?

It is for me. It’s easier to wait until life gets easier. It’s hard enough to do my own life under ideal circumstances, much less high winds of stress. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking, I’ll wait until things settle down and then I’ll take care of _____ (fill in the blank with whatever is my next project).

I’m almost 60 and guess what? Things aren’t settling down, so I need to. I want to. 

I’ve gotten into the habit (again) of holding my breath and waiting for “this too shall pass.” I noticed I’m mostly waiting instead of living. When I quit teaching, I promised myself I’d never live like this again, waiting all week and every week for Friday afternoons so I could breathe, only to dread Sunday evenings because it meant going back to work on Monday.

But I didn’t make a plan. I didn’t ask, “How can I wait well?” So, I’m asking now.


For today, instead of checking The Weather Channel 13 dozen times, I can finish writing this blog post, find images to post with it, and maybe help one other person change their focus too. It’s already helping to change mine.

For today, instead of fretting over “what ifs,” I can hang artwork I recently bought as a focus for decorating the home we plan to build. I’d hate for the painting to be ruined during a storm, though, but it won’t fit in my car anyway, so hang it.

For today, instead of calling my husband with my concerns, I can settle my soul by reading and saying a prayer like “God, help us.” Besides, John’s busy helping customers secure their properties. He’s already found a way to wait well.

I could go on and on comparing less productive scenarios to more productive ones, but I’ve made the point. We can live today or waste it. We hear “today is all we have,” but we don’t live like we believe it. Even though I’d appreciate living under less stress than that of the past year, I believe the answer isn’t in wishing my circumstances were different, but in being different myself. As I practice waiting well, life will be well.

I’d love to hear from you about ways you wait well. It’s another way we can help each other with “getting your own life while loving the people in it.”

Praying for Houston and all who are in Irma’s way. Be safe and know I love y’all dearly.

In This Together,

Stand For Something Instead of Against Everything



“I was once asked why I don’t participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I’ll be there.” Mother Teresa

Watching friends stand against a candidate drove me a little crazy by the end of the 2017 presidential election. Too many friends were campaigning and voting against a person instead of for one. I understood the dilemma, but tearing down the other candidate, as well as the people voting for him or her, didn’t stand a chance of helping their person win.

“Anti” is divisive. Take a look at its synonyms from contradictory, contrary, irreconcilable, negating, antagonistic. On the flipside, its antonyms include harmonious, equal, confirming, consistent, and reconciled.

Posts, memes, and comments standing against something bother me even when I agree. I’m anti-racist. However, when friends put this announcement across their profile pictures or lecture about it on social media, it seems they’re stirring a pot instead of practicing and setting an example of tolerance. Their anti-isms smack with arrogance instead of acceptance.

This reminds me of the white woman who came to our faculty meeting for an afternoon of race relations training. She seemed professional and qualified enough until teachers questioned her ideal solutions that work in textbooks, but not in a classroom. She sneered, argued, and put down those who didn’t agree with her. She turned out to be prejudiced against anyone she decided wasn’t open-minded like her. It was strange to watch her act out what she preached against – intolerance, conflict, and supremacy.

Around conflicted people like her, I end up feeling defensive and confused. I’m pretty certain others do too since teachers in that meeting became aggressive and upset just like I see friends do on Facebook and Twitter when people preach love, but don’t stand for it.

I think this happens because it’s easier to preach anti-racism than to practice loving everyone. It’s easier for a friend to talk anti-abortion rhetoric than to listen to a mutual friend who regrets having one. It’s simpler to quote a Bible verse we’re convinced means God stands against homosexuality than to address whether or not we stand against it.


We blame a lot on political correctness, but I’m not so sure the problem isn’t that we’re turning into people who too often “stand against” to avoid the work it takes to stand together. We’re “anti” instead of finding something to stand for and making it happen. It’s easier to be bitter than better. We’re too lazy to do much except protest verbally or carry a sign.

One of the most disturbing posts I’ve read on Facebook wasn’t about politics, but the school pickup line. A mom attacked (in writing) three early-arriving parents that she noticed sitting at the head of the line when she rode by the school while running errands. She wrote that their early arrival created children who will likely end up feeling entitled and, as a result, bully other students. What? Where’d that come from?

She admitted to not knowing these early-arriving parents or their kids, but still she stood against them.

Her post and her assumptions sounded bizarre to me, but she drew a crowd of Facebook friends who agreed that parents who consistently pick up their children early were overly attentive, coddling parents that raised spoiled brats who were likely to pick on others – her friends actually wrote this stuff. A father who knew the accusatory mom called timeout, but that didn’t stop her or what snowballed on her page – a whole lot of people standing against something ridiculous. I mean, we’ll fall for anything, won’t we?

The power of standing for something dawned on me when a friend ran for a public office and asked if she could run her ideas by me. She planned to stand against the two controversial motorcycle rallies held in Myrtle Beach every May – controversial because the beach is overrun with bikes for most of the month and safety and enjoyment for residents and other visitors become an issue. I said, “I’d choose to stand for something instead of against motorcycles.”


I’d recently read an article on the topic of “standing for,” which was the reason I thought the advice might be helpful. As it turned out, she nearly won the election as an unknown and an unlikely candidate. I believe it’s because she ran on a positive platform, “Bring back the month of May.”

It’s the same as Mother Teresa said, invite me when you’re planning to do something for the good of people, not when you’re fighting against them.

I’m drawn to people and posts that rally around making a contribution rather than ones that breed contempt. However, I’m more stirred by the latter and more tempted to react, a trait I don’t like about myself. I want the opposite, which means following our minister Chuck Murphy’s lead. He says, “Don’t curse the darkness. Light a candle.”

My problem is, the lazy drama queen on the opposite shoulder from my Jiminy Cricket (my conscience) says, “Let’s stand against the people spreading darkness. We’ll complain about and judge them. That way, we’ll feel better about ourselves because, after all, we’re not like them.”

And then one day, we all look the same … standing against causes and statues and each other.

What I loved about Martin Luther King Jr. is he didn’t work from a grudge, but from grace. I’ve read dozens of his quotes, as well as Mother Teresa’s, and I haven’t found one that stands against anything. These two offer guidance, not guilt. Gratitude instead of griping. Graciousness instead grief. They said things like, “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear” and “Intense love does not measure, it just gives.”

I was first attracted to Glennon Doyal Melton, the popular Momastery blogger and author who wrote Love Warrior, because she loved fiercely. That was, until she took a political stand last year. Now it seems she stands against pretty much everything. She calls people together to stand against something – at least, that how it appears from here.

I wondered if I was standing against her because her life doesn’t look like mine anymore. She announced a year or so ago that she’s gay and in May, she married her wife. I didn’t figure out what bothered me about her until I heard from Ellen DeGeneres who has a similar lifestyle as Glennon’s. Ellen finally stood against something when she said on her show, “You know what really irks me?”

My heart sank, but I listened anyway. I’d admired her for not participating in negativity and for not getting caught up in and using her influence in a fight she could easily join. I was relieved her “irk” wasn’t some politically charged rant, but people who don’t return their shopping carts to the right place.

Ellen stands for instead of against until it comes to courtesy in the grocery store parking lot. I can deal with that. She’s proof that “standing for” is not about a lifestyle, but an attitude. She’s not a warrior, but a winner. She’s not about fighting against things, but finding the good she can do and doing it.

I’m all for fighting when it’ll do some good, but mostly I find I’m more effective (and so is everyone I’ve observed) when I find something to stand for and walk in that direction.

Are you fighting against things and maybe getting frustrated because of it? Or are you standing up for something that’ll make life worth walking through?

#gettingyourownlife #whilelovingthepeopleinit

In This Together,

The Legacy I Live and Leave Matters



“Today I shall behave as if this is the day I will be remembered.” Dr. Seuss

In the wake of his dad’s death in April, my husband John reminded me a legacy can just as easily be negative as positive. He said, “I’m my dad. I’m overweight, I have a bad attitude, and I blame others and feel sorry for myself when things don’t go my way.”

He was being especially hard on himself and his dad that evening. However, what he was experiencing and expressing is exactly what happens when we face death. After our goodbyes and burying the people we love, we’re left with whatever they left us – an inheritance or debt; the work of cleaning out their stuff; what they willed us or didn’t will us; what they gave to others that we didn’t get; what we got that someone else thinks they should have; the pain of family turning against one another; the fear we’ll turn too.

Mostly, we’re left with their legacy – the one we inherit even if they didn’t leave us money or goods.


I thought about Dad’s legacy this past Sunday, August 13th on the twelfth anniversary of his death. Dad and I were estranged the final three years of his life. If I’d had a Fitbit back then, I would have exceeded every step goal walking back and forth to my upstairs bathroom window that overlooked our driveway, looking for his truck to pull in one more time.

I recognize now that Dad loved hard, took things hard when he was hurt by people, and acted hard towards them afterwards. I understand more about his response when I wished him a happy 70th birthday and he said, “I hope the next 70 are better.” I figured out some about why driving eight blocks to my house was too difficult for him and why him saying “I’m sorry” seemed impossible.

In light of his legacy and the one left by John’s dad too, I’ve pondered a question I heard at a women’s conference. The speaker talked about working with survivors of sexual abuse. I wrote about it here, “Whose Legacy Are You Living?” She said it helped to ask the women something like, “Whose legacy are you living, your abuser’s or yours?”

I was pretty sure I could answer for John and me. We’re living the legacies of our fathers.

Dad struggled with family relationships and with having friends. He struggled with self-esteem and self-doubt. He struggled to get over being hurt and sad.

Dad also painted, made pottery, and wrote love letters to us. One he wrote to me a couple of months after I was born is taped in my baby book. He played board games with me when I begged. He collected oriental figurines, he added to my doll collection, and he accumulated unusual postage stamps. Dad oversaw building a house for his mom, remodeled the house we lived in, and talked about buying and fixing up a beach house.

He bought a motel and opened an ice cream parlor after he returned from Vietnam that marked his retirement from the Air Force. He walked, rode his bike, and jumped rope in our backyard. A couple of times a week, he’d put on boots with metal hooks on the toes and, to improve his blood flow, he’d hang upside down from a bar he mounted between two trees. I’d watch him from the kitchen window. Dad read the Bible cover-to-cover at least twice. He crafted lanterns and planters to give away and built a toy box for each of his four grandchildren.



I didn’t have to go on and on here, listing every memory of Dad that’s good and fun and quirky, but I wanted to. It reminds me how much our daily choices matter, just like my friend told her dad when he was dying alone and lonely. On his deathbed, he asked her, “How’d I get here?”

“Thousands of bad choices, Dad,” she said. It was all she could think to tell him. Their conversation haunts me, but hopefully it saved him like the thief who hung by Jesus on the cross. In the last minutes, his legacy changed.

So, here’s the thing about a legacy – we leave one, good or bad, whether we intend to or not. There are qualities from both of our dads we hope to keep alive, and ones we don’t.

Here’s another thing about legacy – it matters. John and I gave voice to this when we recognized how much our dads’ legacies shaped us, even our body shape, our weight.

The final thing about legacy – we decide.

Each one of us has been influenced by someone, but we’re not destined to live how they lived. We decide whose legacy we’re living – a parent, an abuser, a mentor. We decide whether we’ll live out their difficult ways or their productive and creative ones. We decide if we want to ditch everything they modeled and live differently. We decide whether to be sloppy about our own legacies or intentional.

I knew I’d inherited my dad’s creative spirit even though I hadn’t given him credit for my painting and writing until just now. He definitely passed on his appreciation for homes and remodeling them. I’ve enjoyed collecting things most of my life like artwork and shoes (a justifiable collection, I think). I started walking daily when I was pregnant with our son and kept it up for nearly three decades. It never crossed my mind until writing this, though, that I’d taken on Dad’s melancholy mood.

Legacy. We leave one. It matters. We decide on our own.

Whose legacy are you living? Is it one you want to keep going?

#gettingyourownlife #whilelovingthepeopleinit

In This Together,