Wisdom Comes Suddenly

Wild Geese In Winter

March 6th, 2015 · 2 Comments



I waited 33 years to meet Lois Lowry. 33 years might seem like a long time, but as I never actually believed it would happen, the wait didn’t feel so long. I’ve moved 16x since I read Anastasia Krupnik, but I arrived at the book signing line last Wednesday night, original text in hand; while I’ve lost many things since my childhood, I’d never lose my Anastasia. She was my best childhood friend. Ms. Lowry spoke for 90 minutes, but I could have sat there all night. She is bright, articulate, interesting, with a witty and unexpected turn of phrase. It was clear she did not suffer fools, but has a compassion for children which I find hard to describe. The wisdom that comes from surviving a full life while writing TWO Newbery winners runs deep.

I sat there on that icy night, soaking in every syllable from an author who changed my life, and I was overcome by how powerful the moment felt. I wish I could have recorded it and replayed it over and over, like a much-loved movie. As I can’t share her words because recording devices were not allowed (and bringing in wine was also forbidden, but my friend who joined me and I seriously considered it…to take in such an event without so much as a toast of champagne felt wrong), I can share a favorite poem of Lois Lowry’s, which she quoted in her speech. It speaks to a quiet part of my soul which does not use words to communicate, and it resonates across my pool of friends, many of whom are facing big changes. Lois Lowry did not write this poem, but I’m not surprised she shared something I shall keep forever. Thank you Ms. Lowry, for flying to Indy in the winter, for sharing your story, and for creating Anastasia Krupnik. I will forever cherish meeting you, speaking with you, and sharing my love of this character with you.

Wild Geese, by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscapes,

over the prairies and deep trees,

the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,

are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting-

over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.





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The Before & After Game: A Giveaway

March 3rd, 2015 · 9 Comments


Who doesn’t love a good game of before & after? The above is our “before”. I bought this armoire in college while moving into an apartment with a microscopic closet. It followed me through 2 more apartments, serving as the world’s cutest TV cabinet. My first home? TV cabinet, because after not owning a TV in college, the one I purchased (and kept for over a decade), was exceptionally small. Onto Florida, where it lived in a guest room, holding quilts and linens. Back to Indiana, where it served a myriad of purposes over a 9 year span, finally landing in my sewing room.

Now…here we are, staring at this red alder wood with square handles armoire for the 20th year. If it’s to continue onward, it must coordinate with a white room with rainbow accents and a hodge podge of white and black furniture. It’s huge. It’s heavy. And it may need to be shorter to work in this space. I’ve moved the attic space and vases around…again. The girls’ latest “dig through Mommy’s scraps” project needs to be folded and put away, but I’m more in the mood of “I might just yank everything out of it, put off everything I’m supposed to get done this week, and make this furniture different.” Plus, sewing corners are always a mess. It’s crafting law.

I’m giving you the chance to weigh in. The girls and I have gone around and around and can’t make up our minds. Sara wants it all gray. Kelly wants it all rainbow. I wish I could make it look more urban to match the room, but I don’t want it to be a dark behemoth of a thing. Enter as many comments as you wish, either here or on Facebook. I’ll throw them all in a random number generator and the winner will win some custom made cards. Examples of some of my original creations can be seen here and here and here. I promise something bright and happy, and as many as I can stand to create before burning my fingers off with my glue gun.

Enter your design ideas by noon on Saturday, March 14th! Please enter different ideas as separate comments. Let’s get creative, my friends!


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Just In Case

March 2nd, 2015 · Comments Off


Just in case your Monday started not-quite-as-planned, and everyone woke up on the wrong side of bed…

In case your oldest refused to get up until 7 minutes before leaving, and walked out the door on presentation day with the wildest case of bed head you’ve ever seen while wearing a shirt you’re fairly certain she slept in and a pair of pants with a hole in them…

In case your youngest took advantage of the mayhem and got out the door without eating more than 2 bites of breakfast and didn’t brush her teeth…

In case you did not see the School Psychologist park next to you and he got a full audio of everyone’s moods spilling out of the minivan…

In case you got to your morning meeting, opened your calender, and saw nothing but to-do lists and commitments literally covering the week…

In case you trudged through the 8 inches of snow to the dry cleaners only to discover your most favorite of all-time dry cleaning lady is GONE, replaced by someone who is clearly NOT your favorite dry cleaning lady…who is going to turn your Monday moods around with giggly chit-chat now? (Please come back Ms. Toler!)

In case you got home and broke your favorite frame, holding your favorite picture…

In case you cleaned up the mess and your husband called to remind you to balance the budget and come to terms with your Home Goods bill…(ahem…)…

In case this was the start to your week, Rufus would like to SAY HELLO! AND HE LOVES YOU! In fact, he loves EVERYBODY, especially if you’re made of bright glass (insert sound of vases flying off the bookshelf…)…



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It’s Time For Some Home Goods

February 25th, 2015 · 2 Comments


I’ve never been one to buy accessories, but after watching my last house being staged, I grew attached to a house full of mixy-matchy pillows and fake plants. So, so many vignettes, where my eyes would land, and I felt an odd, “ahh…I just LOVE that stack of books topped with fake flowers…why?…I don’t know why…but isn’t it just so pleasant?” The maudlin post about accessorizing a house is here. The laugh until you pee post is here.


I was discussing my newly acquired knowledge of why one would want a bowl full of grapevine balls with my friend Sumi, and she said, “Home Goods. It all comes from Home Goods, of course. You DO go to Home Goods? You MUST go to HOME GOODS! Where else would you buy plum velvet pillows and candles of varying heights? LORI! GO THERE NOW!” Sumi isn’t one to get worked up about things, so I knew I should make a visit.

Well GOOD HEAVENS…thank you ladies! Now I am addicted. What if I don’t stop by and that was the ONE day they had orchids which perfectly match my bathroom for $14.99? What if I miss a bizarrely perfect throw pillow which would have pulled my entire living room together, all for $19.99? Matching bathroom accessories? YES, PLEASE!


I am on a house decorating-funds hiatus, but Santa and the Birthday Fairies were very kind to me this year (aka: my in-laws). I don’t know who told Santa I fell off the Home Goods wagon, but I’m glad they did. Sara and Kelly have been excellent consultants, so their desks received a little love tonight as a thank you. 2 matching bulletin boards were a must, because they had taped an unreal number of dress designs to the walls.


And the clock? Well, that was for me. Because I LOVE it. These desks are located in the bonus room, which went rainbow, almost of its own doing. It’s like it wanted to be a rainbow room. Add in a wickedly large blue clock, and this whole thing just feels like home. I didn’t even know I LIKED clocks of unusual size.

I must clarify two points before I call it a day: (1) Home Goods did not pay me for this post in any way, but they SHOULD. I should be a secret shopper and they should send me coupons. Not because I write, but because I have great taste in fake orchids. (2) I staged these pictures. There is NO WAY on God’s green earth my kids’ desks look anything like this on a day-to-day basis. After an hour of straightening, the above shot was the best I could do. The crap those 2 accumulate is mind-blowing. I promised them they could junk it all back up tomorrow. Sara made me promise to tell you this picture is a COMPLETE LIE. The dress designs are real, but the organization is NOT.

(Which cracks me up, because after school tomorrow I will hear them whisper, “Wow, this is actually better. MOMMY!! Thank you for cleaning up my junk! I can find things I need now!”)

So you know…Home Goods…call me, maybe?

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The Girls’ Rooms, Phase I

February 23rd, 2015 · Comments Off


The girls turned into such stinkers adjusting to this final move that we did a marble jar to earn the thing they wanted most: decorated bedrooms. They earned marbles at the speed of light, similar to the speed at which we tore through the moving budget. Yep. We ran out of money just about the time they filled those jars. Way to go PARENTS. To heck with it; Christmas was right upon us when they were sure to be spoiled within an inch of their lives anyway. We hung lighting and decided the rooms could wait.


No Rufus, you CANNOT paint. NO. Stop looking at me like that! You have no thumbs, Ruf!

And wait they did. Sara’s mural was ordered in November, and is still on back order. Dad offered to paint the girls’ rooms and then proceeded to catch the flu of his life. That poor man slept for weeks. Kelly seemed more determined to NOT pick a color than she seemed to actually PICK a color. With competing house projects all around me, I began to imagine their rooms would be white forever.


My Nursing Flight/Boat Transport Scrubs. The stories these pants could tell (about being turned into painting pants 15 years ago).

But one day when I could wait no longer. With a commitment-free winter break before us, the girls and I drove to the hardware store in the -20 weather and BOUGHT SOME PAINT! You gotta start somewhere! We checked samples, found paintbrushes which fit little grips, and headed home with hope in our bones. I checked in with some friends who confirmed I was flat-out-of-my-mind to teach a 9 year old and a 7 year old how to paint. Turns out, kids are WAY better helpers than the kittens.


Sara’s End of Phase I (Paint Color is “Breath of Fresh Air” by Benjamin Moore)

6 rather painful days later (so much touch up by the Momma), they are both happily settled into what I’m calling “Phase I” of their rooms. Their quilts won’t match “Phase II”, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. And if I have to drive across the country to the wallpaper manufacturer and beg, this mural will get off back order, and grace the long wall by Sara’s bed:


Photo courtesy of Woodson & Rummerfield’s House of Design, Los Angeles, CA

Sara chose a pastel-esque Asian-inspired peacock theme for her room, and accented it with a waterfall lighting fixture. I don’t think any of us are surprised.


Kelly’s Colors: Fruit Shake and Wickham Gray, both by Benjamin Moore

Kelly’s Phase I is just a shell, awaiting her “stuffed animal” theme to come to life. It’s difficult to describe the round, wool-covered floating shelves we’re making to cover her walls, so I’ll just have to beg your patience and ask you to stay tuned. In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy the peaceful austerity of the colors I finally forced Kelly to choose. Believe it or not, the gray walls were her idea, after months of insisting upon a pink ceiling. I like it much better than I thought I would. I played a very heavy hand in deciding “which” pink and “which” gray. She is in love with the results, so…whew. Who wants to spend days correcting trim work, only to have her daughter not want to curl up and read in this peaceful setting? Not me!

When will Phase II commence? WHO IS TO SAY?! Maybe after I finish their shower curtain, and finish Kelly’s latest quilt project, and finish the bookshelf Greg and I started 3 months ago, and strip the lamps I painted which crackled for no apparent reason, wait…there is that mirror I’m going to repair and paint…Godspeed, fellow Project-Pals. Godspeed.


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Curling Up In Leaves, A Reading Quilt

February 18th, 2015 · 1 Comment


I want to post 100 pictures and tell you a long, winding tale about how this quilt came to be, but I cannot. For the first time in my life, I actually edited one of my creative ideas. The writing should match it, out of respect for how hard I worked to make this quilt “simple”-y beautiful.


2 years ago at the School Auction, I donated holiday baking, and it was a load of fun. But as I looked around at the beautiful items up for bid, and imagining my life post-PTA-Presidency, I knew there was one thing I had to do next: I HAD to make a quilt in our school’s colors and theme. Something not for a bed, but big enough to curl up inside, and partner with a good book (this is a 54″ x 80″, aka a long lap quilt; it’s about the size of a twin comforter). Something not for a girl or a boy specifically, or even for an adult or a child. Something so reflective of our school’s culture, that it would appeal to Preschool through Middle School, Teachers, Administration, Alum…I needed a true “all-arounder”.


I spent just shy of 2 years looking through patterns, throwing out ideas which were too traditional, and others that were too modern. When I stumbled upon the pennant flags in our school colors I knew I had a winner of a theme: PREPPY. As a teenager from the 80’s, I promise, when in doubt, preppy is always the way to go. I ended up using my favorite pattern, “The Boxtrot”, which depending on your color choices, can take on an endless series of appearances. Adding in the alphabet and the embroidered school leaves, along with a khaki cotton border (which is a heavenly finished cotton/linen blend from Japan), I just knew this was “The Quilt”. [All fabrics are from varying lines from Moda, available upon request.]


For the sake of time, I went with a very simple meander. My table broke, so I hired this out, and after the embroidery, this quilt was not just bordering on khaki…it was bordering on becoming the world’s most expensive quilt. Quilts not made on factory machines often cost 4x of those sold at Department stores, but can last for generations if cared for properly. And these heirlooms are worth.every.single.penny.

Alas tomorrow, I let it go. I say goodbye to the School Reading Quilt (or “The Auction Quilt” as it is known at our house), and the warm memories of bringing it to life. 2 years is a long time to think about a quilt, but that’s nothing compared to the decades it will wrap around some scholar’s shoulders as he/she reads, studies, watches movies, recovers from colds, chats with friends…maybe someday, this student will have children, read to them under this very quilt, and that child will also become a scholar at our precious school.

Sorry, I was supposed to keep this short! It’s so exciting for me to see something in my brain for months on end, imagining it down to the very last stitch, and then watch it appear before me, just as I wished it to be: simple, classic, meaningful. Godspeed, and I hope this cold winter finds you wrapped up in a much-loved quilt as well!

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The Napping House

February 10th, 2015 · 1 Comment


Pen: I TOLD you this wasn’t a napping spot!

Ruffio: SHH! These sweaters are camouflage. She DOES NOT see us.

Pen: You’re delusional. She TOTALLY SEES us.

Ruffio: BE STILL! We are sleeping on the softest sweaters on the planet, with sunbeams on our backs. You are not ruining this for me Pen!

Pen: Are you high? We are busted. Step 1: Admit you are powerless over your incessant napping!

Ruffio: I will cut you.

Pen: You have a problem. Your struggle is real, Man. She’s got the camera. The gig is UP.

Ruffio: You have GOT to learn how to blend in with your environment, or this jungle will be your demise.

Pen: We’re in a HOUSE, Ruuf. In the SUBURBS. These are kids’ Old Navy sweaters on a dining room table. That’s it. I’m scheduling an intervention with the Chiefs. SYD! CY! We’ve got to talk…

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Tiffany Blue Times Two

February 8th, 2015 · Comments Off


I do think from time to time I’d like to walk into a store where new things are sold, find something exactly as I’d like it to be, discover it’s not a kajillion dollars, and buy it.

But then I think, “No…that sounds pretty boring.”

A year ago I met a girl wearing a Tiffany Blue dress with a Tiffany Blue lapel pin. I was inspired. Monochromatic pinning? Why hadn’t I thought of this? Wait, I know: because this idea is elegant and suggests editing was required. I’ve spent the last year trying to copy the look, but it’s not often you run across Tiffany Blue dresses at Consignment. And you NEVER find pins. That’s an antique mall treasure hunt, usually ending in the discovery it’s way more than you wanted to pay.


Last week, I found the perfect Tiffany Blue wool coat on clearance for $7. It must have been “new with tags” day, because everything I found at Consignment that day had never been worn. I feel for the circumstances under which one buys the world’s cutest Calvin Klein dress and then never wears it, but score for me. After trying just about everywhere I could imagine, I nearly gave up on the pin (except for the $60 beauty I found, meaning I would have spent SIX TIMES more on the pin than the coat. UH? NO!). On my way to my car, I passed a pretty-not-great women’s store going out of business. I’m trying to be polite. It was really-not-great. But I spied an earring rounder with Tiffany Blue earrings, far too large for ears, but just right for a coat.


2 pairs of earrings, a wire cutter, a failed attempt with the soldering iron, and a successful run with a piece of plastic and a hot glue gun later, and I finally had my replica. I keep pin backs in my craft stash, because YOU JUST NEVER KNOW WHEN YOU MIGHT NEED SOME OUTDATED BLING IN A HURRY. I never know when I’ll be struck with a mood to look like an 80 year old woman.


For a grand total of $21, I had my Tiffany Blue Times Two Look. But the best bonus? I ran into the girl who inspired this crafting the very next day, and I was wearing the coat. She is a Fashion Design Major in college, and I was so happy to let her know she had inspired me. Yesterday, she had on something completely different but equally awesome! SO…I’m off to find a swingy black…

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Never Wear Dumpster Waffles On Your Feet

February 6th, 2015 · Comments Off


Wow. I didn’t foresee this week’s response to my post about God. I received messages from clergy, colleagues, friends, readers, parents, writers…it’s been quite a week. I’m so humbled that you enjoyed it. Welcome new readers! My writing is always honest, but primarily comedic, and only occasionally as weighty as that last post. I won’t challenge your faith in the near future, I promise.

Let’s digress back into lighter topics, shall we? I’ve had reason to dress for a few events this winter, and the girls have taken a keen interest in how I go about making wardrobe decisions. No. That’s not true. I drag them to Kohl’s and make them pick out accessories while they beg to be paid in hot pretzels. In any case, I’ve shown them there is an art to it. Sara has a rather formal afternoon Poetry Tea next week, and she seems bent on wearing an evening gown; a bright purple and crystal-covered formal dress. As many of you know, I allow the girls to dress themselves as a general rule. They rarely match their socks, and they often wear tennis shoes with dresses, and you won’t hear a peep from me. But sometimes guidance is needed, and I find because I rarely intervene, they do allow me some latitude when it comes time to actually THINK about their clothes.

If I had some basic rules about event dressing I’d like to pass onto my daughters (my favorite “secret to happiness rules” are here, and far more relevant than fashion), they would be these:

(1) If a dress fits and has pockets, buy it. There is nothing better than dresses with pockets. No one knows why this is true, but every woman whom has ever dug her hands into pockets while wearing a dress, knows there is an Audrey Hepburn aura that is partnered with this moment, and it’s bliss.

(2) Think through your hours in a dress, especially in the garments you layer UNDER it. Let me just cut to the chase: CAN YOU PEE IN THIS DRESS? It had better be the dress of your life if it requires a full peel and reassembly in a public bathroom stall every time you have to pee. What can I say? It’s honesty week here on the blog.

(3) When trying on heels, jog across the store. If you can’t, put them back. NO, I don’t care how pretty they are. You’ll give them horrid nicknames by the end of the night if they break your toes while wearing them. Case in point, sitting in my closet right now are my Donkey Chompers and Dumpster Waffles. Just sitting there, taunting me with their beauty. Cruel, cruel beauty.

(4) If your Spanx makes your colon spasm, or creates rolls as opposed to flattening them out, it doesn’t fit. Now that I think about it, Men, if you’re still reading, you should look away. Sorry, you’ve read too much already, haven’t you?

(5) If your dress is bright, wear neutral lipstick. If it’s too flat, add neutral gloss. Unless you’re going to a clown party, and then ignore #5.

(6) The prettiest girl in the room is NEVER the one wearing the tightest or the tiniest dress.

(7) I asked Kelly what she’d learned about watching me “dress up”, and here are her words of advice: “Wear a bra. If you don’t know much about bras, you can ask my Mommy. Bras, bras, wear your bras.”

(8) Speaking of accessories, less is more. Sparkle is great, but don’t turn yourself into a human firework.

(9) There are day dresses and there are evening dresses. One out of every 10 dresses can be worn to either. There is day makeup, and there is night makeup. There are high heels, and there are whore heels. I know, I kind of slipped that shocker in there unexpectedly, but what if I die and my daughters grow up not knowing about whore heels? I just can’t take that risk.

(10) Lastly, decide before you leave the house exactly how many drinks you will have at an event. BEFORE YOU LEAVE THE HOUSE. The prettiest woman at any event is NEVER the one whom has had the most to drink. If you ask me how I know this fact, I will lie. I will lie to my death bed, and your Aunties will back me up. I learned this truth through careful observation, as did all of your Aunties. You didn’t spend a week styling that outfit to end the night with your dress crumpled on the floor and your earrings lost in the wind. If it happens, don’t hate yourself. Pick yourself up, dust off, and learn from the mistake. But remember, the girl with the fewest regrets wins.

Finally, YOU ARE BOTH GORGEOUS to your very souls. Pretty is something that shines from within, and clothing is just a window-dressing to the amazing human who dwells inside. Have fun with it, but don’t take it too seriously. And if all else fails, we can rely on Sara’s observations: “Mommy, I’ve learned you should never leave the house without asking my advice first. Can we just make that a rule? Mommy doesn’t put outfits together without checking with Sara? YES? Nod your head yes Mommy, who is just a little bit stuck in the 80’s…nod your head…”

You know what? On second thought, throw out everything you just read and have sons. Buy them jeans and a polo and call it good until they go to college. Have a great weekend everyone! And don’t forget bras, earrings, lipstick, to spend time laughing with your hilarious children!



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Dear God, I’m Not Mad Anymore

February 2nd, 2015 · 7 Comments


What’s better than a Mad-Hatter Slumber Party with kittens? NOTHING.

Greg and I always assumed we’d raise our children in the church. He was raised in the church. I was inadvertently raised in the church (by the grace of neighbors who introduced me to Jesus, and by parents who allowed me to make my own decisions about God). We were naive to believe finding a church would be easy, but to be fair, we do live in the Midwest. We have more churches than gas stations…it SHOULD have been easy. Greg was raised Lutheran, and I was raised very, very Baptist (the wild, dancing, singing, clapping-Amen kind….not the fear the road to hell type; but before you think I’m being judge-y, I’ll let you know just by typing these words, my best friend is going to hit me over the head with a King James Bible. But then she’ll give me fried chicken, so it’s all good. However, our other lifelong bud just turned vegan, and this whole scene will cause her to meditate in a yoga-pose, so we’ll have to make her a salad. I’d like to say my Jewish friends have it all figured out, but most of them married non-practicing Catholics, and now my Atheist Dad is the President of the Board at the Unitarian Church. To each his own, and I see love everywhere.). After trying a few Lutheran churches, and not finding any reason to stand unprompted and scream “Amen” in the Pastor’s general direction, I realized I wasn’t Lutheran. It only took one Baptist church for Greg to realize he wasn’t Baptist. The first time I held up my hand and yelled an “Amen”, he looked at me like I was having a seizure.

And then we had Sara. I, unconsciously at first, grew mad at God. I wasn’t mad that God gave Sara to us; I was mad he refused to heal her. Countless nights I have begged for a miracle. Countless nights I’ve cried myself to sleep, asking for her path to at least be made more physically comfortable, even if she never masters math skills. I’ve begged for a window of health just wide enough to get in an Orthodontist appointment, or maybe skin clear long enough she could get her ears pierced. A month free of migraines? A month free of digestive problems? Or maybe just a week? I never prayed to win the lottery so we could cover all of her healthcare and education costs, but it wouldn’t be out-of-scope, considering the fortune we’ve spent on interventions.


3 years old, covered in paint, swearing she’ll grow up to be a “trumpet-playing doctor”.

It’s not that I imagined parenthood would be a breeze, but I thought I’d already carried my cross. My childhood was challenging, and rising above it took years of therapy and effort. When I married Greg, I was sure I was free to lay down my cross and live out my overly-simplified fairy tale plot: successful lady who rose above circumstance, meets handsome, strong man who buys her a castle and chariot…blah, blah, blah, horses and people who bring me fruit artistically arranged on platters, BLAH. Never in my worst dreams, did I imagine my own child would meet exceptionally large challenges at such a young age. ‘Scuse me, God? Yeah…hi. It’s me. Super rare Learning Disorders and Dermatological/Urinary Syndromes weren’t covered by Disney. Going to need an instructional manual when you get the chance…

When God took my Grandma home during Sara’s 5th month on earth, my heart began to harden, in a hardy-hard, hard-coated-hard kind of way. To ask me, I’d say I was still a believer, because OH YES, God was THERE, BUT HE WAS NOT LISTENING TO ME, that was for sure! And now Grandma couldn’t listen (and reply with hilarious responses about breast milk turning blue, and telling me Sara cried so much because she was car sick, even when she was in her crib), so where did that leave me? MAD.


“Carsick Sara”, semi-conscious on my Grandmother, who feared my “blue” breast milk was poisoning my baby. Not a day goes without the missing of her.

A long winter in my life began. I settled in, ready for the stand-off that was about to occur. Poor Greg. For all the begging and pulling, he could not get his formerly Jesus-loving wife to go to church. Every church he tried, I scoffed as WRONG. This one was too pretentious. That one was too casual. The music was too loud. The music was too boring. The sermons were too historical in nature (yep, I once told Greg a church was too rooted in HISTORY, as if Jesus’ birth doesn’t mark time as we know it). I wanted a Sunday School my girls swore they couldn’t live without, and a sermon so relatable to my day-to-day life that it made me want to throw confetti to the heavens by the end of each sermon. PLUS donuts. Any church worth its salt has donuts. Come on Greg! How hard is THIS to find? Greg tried to pull at the source, asking me if I was mad at God. Those questions were met with responses which even surprised me: I’m fairly certain my voice sounded Voldemort-like, as I yelled, “NO! I’m a Christian! I’m not ALLOWED to be mad at God!” Let’s not go there again, agreed?

But I was mad. I learned the importance of a good marriage and a college education the hard way; life lessons learned by watching my parents struggle, and even with the best of intentions, never finding happiness inside their family’s journey. I KNEW how to do it differently, and I DID. I lined up my own stars, thank you very much. Who was God to jumble up my plans with a Special Needs child, and then not hand me a miracle to save her from her story?


What? You didn’t know Ariel wore wings? It was edited out of the final version, but she did. Big ones.

But the best part about stories are that they keep going. Chapters don’t repeat, and characters evolve. If they don’t, it’s not a story, it’s a sitcom. Sitcoms aren’t real (we’ve covered this). Case-in-point: Carrie Bradshaw would NEVER leave Aiden for Mr. Big, and then finally marry Mr. Big, and THEN turn around years later and kiss Aiden in Abu Dhabi. This is not real life, much like Carrie Bradshaw’s shoe budget on a writer’s salary.

I’ve written before on my knowing that this particular winter of my life was ending. I knew it before we signed on the dotted line to buy this house. When we walked into the sunny builder’s office after the snowstorm on my birthday last year, I knew. When I turned the corner from the sitting room into the foyer in the model home, and looked back at my Mother-in-Law, she knew, and I knew. When we finally started building, and I walked into my kitchen when it was nothing but 2×4’s and rafters, I knew. Sara’s story was the same, but Spring was coming anyway.


Watch me Momma! I’m puking with the water frogs!

Greg gently mentioned through the building process that a church was conveniently located in our back yard. He knew many members. He’d heard good things. He started listening to the sermons on podcasts, and he was sure they’d speak to me. I love listening to the church bells throughout the day, and then Greg confirmed they served donuts. It didn’t take long for me to put on my favorite dress and announce to Greg I was ready. He thought I meant I was ready to go to church. I didn’t want to get anyone’s hopes up (especially my own), that I was ready to talk to God again.

The Pastor stood up that first Sunday, very funny and very real. I liked him immediately. The music wasn’t too long, or too loud. But my childhood minister looks and sounds like James Earl Jones, which leaves pretty big shoes to fill. Halfway through the sermon, the Pastor yelled out, “Can I have an AMEN on that?” CAN YOU?! WHY YES YOU CAN!! Turns out, my newest James Earl Jones is a red-headed Irishman named Jerry. Life is funny. You never know what’s coming next. I looked down at the bulletin, and the title read, “Let your roots grow down into him and let your lives be built on him.” -Colossians 2.7. Good one God. Write a verse about roots right after I planted new roots.

God is many things, but never subtle. I say this a lot, even when I’m mad at him.


Last Sunday as we sat in church, the snow was coming down in drifts, and through the large windows at the pulpit I could see the evergreen woods in my backyard filling with white. The Music Director stood up and started the congregation on a very rousing version of “I’ll Fly Away”, a song I sing alone in my car at least once a week. At the end, there was clapping and cheering. The Pastor asked for many an “Amen” that morning, and I knew, even in the midst of a cold, Indiana winter, my own winter had ended.

Dear God, I think I finally understand, even if just a tiny corner of the picture: I’ve given Sara love, a stable home, and the best education and healthcare we can afford. BUT, in order for her to find comfort, she needs something much larger. She needs Jesus. Don’t we all? He suffered so that she will not suffer alone. He will stay with her when I can’t. Do forgive me for the 9 years you waited for me to understand. Wisdom comes suddenly. Thank you for putting a beautiful, act-centered church in my back yard, with a spirited Pastor and a lobby full of donuts. How gorgeously not-subtle of you. Oh…and one more thing…


I’m not mad anymore.


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