How Can I Help

Encouragement. Pep talks and all the joy. What do you need today?

3 Ways to Celebrate Your Birthday

Did I mention it is almost my birthday and I also have issues?
This year, I am facing it head on. My Birthday monsters will not chase me into a dark corner to hide until this sucker is over. I will stay out in the open; sword-of-generosity in my hand and shield-of-oversharing around me.
Birthdays are hard but I sure love them. For our kids, we decorate the entire house the night before their birthday with some of their favorite toys and printed pictures of their favorite things. The year they loved Minions, there was a handmade Twinkies-in-the-shape-of-Minions cake.  In order to get their presents, our kids solve puzzles and clues to complete an epic scavenger hunt that often takes them underwater and to the houses of their best friends. This year we incubated duck eggs and fostered ducklings for a month because my daughter loves ducks. All of this, to show them how loved they are and how seen and how known – that they are WORTH IT… basically to communicate all the things we hope for our children … the rich soil I deep-down believe they need in order to grow up big and strong, so they can go out as courageous adults and save the world while still feeling totally rested and loved because their childhood birthdays were so so so good.
And now it’s my birthday. And I am about to become a moving target for anyone trying to really love, know, or see me.  On other days, it’s so simple.  On my birthday, it’s so complicated. My expectations are erratic because I either change my mind about the actual thing or (really) change my mind about whether it’s ok to want the actual […]

How to Make Your Own Birthday Better

There’s one surefire, tested and proven way to make your own birthday better.
Is your birthday ever hard for you? Do you find yourself moody, disappointed, excited, happy, tired, sad, or a nap magnet as your birthday gets closer?
Doesn’t it feel like birthdays not only make you brutally aware of your actual age, but ALSO bring up issues from previous ages? Did you feel lonely on your 8th birthday? Surprise! The 8-year-old-you is coming to visit on your 28th Birthday as you sit on the bathroom floor quietly singing, “It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to.”
You know how in sci-fi movies about time-travel, one character will take a piece of paper and carefully fold it in pleats in order to explain to the newbie character, “See? THAT’S how it works. This point touches this point and you can just directly GO TO THERE.”  Well, birthdays are like that: the point in those pleats that lets you travel back in emotional time.
*****
It is almost my birthday.
Every birthday I find my blood pumping and giving me energy as I simultaneously long to climb in bed and hide til it’s over… I want to work like crazy to accomplish #allthethings and I also want to climb under my cozy nap blanket and wake up in a month… NOT just because I am getting older. No. No good comes from regretting my years. I have lived all of them to the best of my ability and I cannot deny living any of them. Each year adds to the patina of Me.  I am the age that I am.
No, I find my birthday difficult because my childhood ME comes to visit.
*****
I struggle with the level of influence and worth […]

Forget the size of your body

 

 
I am more and more convinced that we decide too early what we are worth and what we are capable of doing.  You are so much more able than you think. Our abilities are buried under layers of fear.  They are also buried under many hours of practice and routine; as each practice uncovers a bit more of the treasure already in you. 
Each hour of training is like being an archeologist as you uncover the clues and beautiful treasures that have been in you all along.
Start doing whatever it is you wish you could do. Write. Kiss. Sing. Build. Run.  You will uncover the ability to do it as you try.
Forget the size of your body. Remember the size of your guts.

Celebrate the Great

I just discovered the blog Happy Wives Club. I love Fawn’s positivity and pride in her marriage.  So, this post is part of the Happy Wives Club Blog Tour which I am delighted to be a part of along with hundreds of inspiring bloggers. To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! 
****
****
 
Never be ashamed or shy about what you love.

We all know it’s cool to be cynical, to hate things, to be down on things.
We all know there are people suffering all across the world.
We all have people we care about who are struggling and longing.
 
And sometimes we have the things they need.
 
You have a husband who loves you, a lot.
You have kids who light up your life like disco balls.
You have a job that inspires you most days.
You have pretty good health.
 
You have Something Great.
 
And you’re embarrassed.
 
Why are we shy about the good things in life?
Maybe, it’s time we celebrate the great.
Writing this ^^^^ is just painful, honestly. Admitting you are happy is like admitting you are probably a narcissistic, selfish, ignorant child. How could you possibly be happy? And if you are happy, how dare you flaunt it?
  
What does a {happy} person do, because the “pursuit of happiness” is an unalienable right, but the acquisition of happiness is a punishable crime?
 
Listen: You may feel absurd and childlike admitting you have a great marriage, family, job, etc… SO be it. Never be ashamed of the good in your life; this does not make life better for those who are hurting. This is an insult. Appreciate what you have because, the most valuable things, you cannot give away to anyone else. They are yours. Love it all for as long as you […]

Fight – Five Minute Friday

FIGHT
There comes a moment when you realize YOU’RE the one who has been blind. You’re the one living out of old stories about how men and women should act. {OMG I’m the patriarchy.}
Women, we have sat on the sidelines and watched men fight, struggle, sweat, and bleed.  We cheer. We supply water and first aid. We nurture and we caress tired backs with our soft hands.

But it’s time to get in the game ourselves. It’s time to step into the arena and fight.
We will help each other side-by-side.
I don’t know your sport or your call but I know what it looks like when we avoid the invitation to play: We offer to hold the jackets. We sit alone on the sideline and watch others try and fail and fall and laugh and get back up. We walk back home together and our pants have no grass stains.
The men and the children play and the women watch. 
Not all the women do this, but I was doing this.  I knew I was choosing rest over adventure.  I was playing it safe. I was the safe zone for others.  “Mom’s not playing! Mom’s safe!” I cherish being the safe zone, at times.  I’ve loved wearing my cozy sweater and drinking coffee.  But my life is floating by me. I have opted out too many times.  I can feel my muscles growing weak and my desire to be saved growing strong.  I don’t know about you, but I want to feel strong. I want to speak up. I want to run as fast as I can. I want to volunteer for the adventure.
Like all the best things, this epiphany started as a seed in me […]

Advent Stories: Hookers, Heathens, and Me

One week til Christmas. One week til we celebrate God being with us.  
For some people, their lives are so full of family and friends, hot chocolate and Christmas Lights, that the darkness is just a shadow in the corner or a fading streetlight down the road.  For others, this is a time where the darkness threatens to swallow them whole.
Light flaunts its warm power in the life of one and barely flicks the skin of another covered instead in cold, dark loneliness. 
Advent is the waiting. The waiting 100s of years for God to come and make things right. Waiting generations for triumph and light and love to flood the world.  Waiting for God to be with us – really with us. We need God with us.  God, who says He is Light and Love, and yet seems to leave us lonely and scared in dark places. 
God, are you avoiding me?
    Where are you when I need you? Psalm 10:1-2
 
Advent is the waiting. We have no choice. Reminded of our powerlessness against the speed of time, we wait.  We cannot save ourselves or our friends from the pain of waiting on God to BE WITH US. 
With Christmas comes the promise of a future where we are whole and full. Christmas is the promise that while the pain is still here, God is doing a new thing. He came down to sit in the dark with us.  
And this is what He also asked us to do for each other too. While we wait, we wait together.  I will wait with you. 
The light breaks through dark’s hard shell at the exact points we meet each other.  At the loving touch of a friend, a spark […]

Hello Monsters, Poem

When I was small
even smaller than this
all smiles, fine hair, and freckles.
I lived in a room with my little sis.
 
In that room was a window
looking out on an old maple tree bigger than God
whose leaves made me feel free enough to sing
at the top of my lungs.
 
But on the opposite side of my room hung a door
a wooden shutter, slatted and white
and that door haunted us every single night.
 
You remember those cracked closet doors,
that fear of childhood, right?
Well, mine was more evil than most
a shutter-door with one missing shingle
a pitch black rectangle of terror
waiting to host the glowing eyes of some child-eating monster
with a taste for freckles.
 
And with these thoughts, came FEAR.
Fear that freezes your bones
that makes your body turn to stone
on the inside but never enough on the outside.
Fear that takes today as ransom
for a kidnapped tomorrow that will never come home.
 
So after months of sleepless nights
I could not hide any longer.
I did the most courageous thing of my little life
I moved in with my monsters.
 
In a flurry of determination
I grabbed my pillows and blankets and books
a flashlight and my sister
and we moved into that dark closet.
 
Slept there every single night
and not ONE monster was ever brave enough to show His face.
 
This is when I learned:
Fear is a lion
that only backs down
when we stop acting like prey
and stand our ground.
 
But we do grow up
and the monsters
get darker and smarter
and the next thing we know
we are running much harder.
No longer daring to face down our fears but away
from the beasts who will swallow us whole
who make closets that scare our very souls.

Monsters: like betrayal, hair loss, loneliness, and grief
failure, sprained ankles, botched interviews, and spinach in our teeth
at just the worst times.
 
I am afraid […]

By |September 11th, 2013|How Can I Help, Poetry|1 Comment|

Courage and a Poem

What have you done in your life that took courage?
This is what my boss asked us all in our staff meeting: What have you done that took courage?
Sitting there quietly, hands knitted together, making eye-contact so as not to seem distracted or weak; I let him finish and I listened as my friends and coworkers stood up to speak about skydiving, surviving strokes, having kids, traveling on missions trips, going to college… so many amazing things.
And while I can remember doing individually impressive things that took courage, the truth is… for me…
 
EVERYTHING TAKES COURAGE
Getting out of bed
Answering the phone
Calling AT&T
Singing when you can hear me
Talking to my neighbors
Admitting to really liking something
Going after my dreams
Parenting my girls
Creating from my heart
Everything

Calling AT&T takes as much courage as skydiving, for me.
But now, I have come to a place in life where I realize, I cannot take fear into consideration anymore – at least not anxiety, worry, insecurity. FEAR in it’s purest, most primal force, can save our lives. I am not talking about that kind of fear… I am talking about the insidious kind that takes us captive, binds us, so that we never grow in the direction of the sun.  We bend and warp to it’s controls. We never grow straight and strong. I don’t want that for me and I surely don’t want that for You or my daughters.
So remember today; the day this very scared person told you to be brave. DO IT AFRAID.
So remember today; the day this very courageous person told you to be brave. DO IT AFRAID.
This is why I wrote this poem, “Hello, Monsters”

 
“Tell fearful souls,
    “Courage! Take heart!
God is here, right here.”
Isaiah 35:3

Jealousy Remedy

 

The Interwebs of Jealousy.

The more active you become online the more overwhelming it can become. I look at Pinterest and the world of blogs and it sure seems like there’s a huge movement of women and men taking it upon themselves to be amazing.

Let’s take just one topic, for instance: FOOD

“Talented Girl’s” evening…
Organic, home-grown, or farmers-market-bought produce… fresh salads, home-made salad dressing… and for dessert she grinds up those almonds herself to make that almond butter and drizzle in dark chocolate made from local, small-farm ingredients. Oh, and, side-note, when she purchased the block of chocolate, she also somehow helped save starving children in Guatemala. She took crisp-focus pictures from multiple angles at every step of the process and put it all on Pinterest, Tweeted it, posted it on her Blog, and on Instagram too – ending with a beautiful picture of beautiful kids in a beautiful backyard under homemade bunting.
Oh, the foodporn! Oh, the earth-helping, child-saving glory!!
Delicious. Real food. Made from scratch with no processed ingredients. I am beyond jealous. Not only do I WANT the food in my mouth but I also want to have made it, grown it, taken such pretty pictures of my creation that others pin it repeatedly, and written eloquently about it all so someone else (NOT ME) could be jealous.

 

well…

I guess I could take pictures of the Trader Joe’s Orange Chicken we ate last night. I could take a picture as I pull it out of the TJs freezer it grew in. I could talk about how the cold bag kept my ice cream from melting in the car. I could take extreme close-ups with my phone as I rip open the bag with my bare […]

A Cold Cup of Water (maybe with some fruit?)

 
Have you ever wandered into a desert-time in your life?
If you are like me, it happened slowly; so slowly you didn’t notice the landscape growing more and more arid. One day you looked up, confused, wondering where you were and suddenly feeling very alone, very vulnerable, and very thirsty.
A glass of cool water on a hot day is like pure life soaking back into your cells. Dehydration can kill a girl. Steal her voice. Make her weak.
This entire year, I have been dying of thirst in my own desert-time. My throat parched and scratchy, I wandered, a little lost and a little plain-old sad, not knowing what to do next but knowing I couldn’t survive on my own any longer.

I’m a speaker and a writer and my throat got so dry that I simply lost my voice. I don’t mean literally, I could still speak if I had to, barely, but the words that mattered could no longer get out of me. Fear and confusion gripped my heart.

Then I heard it, a voice calling out offering fresh water! Water in the form of possible guidance and community for a career I longed to pursue with renewed passion.

I followed that voice with every ounce of strength and bravery I had left.

And I made it. I made it.

When I arrived, I didn’t just find a glass of water from a new friend, I fell into a river.

I fell into a river of hope, support, love, prayer, acceptance and power – an entire tribe of thirsty women wetting their whistles, finding their voices, and learning to sing again.

That strong, clear voice calling me to the river belonged to a woman named, Elora Nicole. A writer and a […]