Gettin’ Real

September 18, 2015

It’s a high priority to me to be authentic with those I care about. It helps that I’m terrible at hiding my emotions. If something is right or something is wrong, you can tell just by being near me, no words required. But that doesn’t mean I’m not a pro at keeping up appearances.

If you were to pop up at my house unannounced, you would likely find dishes in the sink, unfolded clothes piled in my living room and a dirty, cluttered bathroom. Oh, and I might be in my most-favorite “fashionable” sweatpants (thank you Costco!). But give me 10 minutes notice and the clothes would be hidden away, bathroom reasonably straightened with a once-over of the toilet and dishes quietly cycling in the dishwasher. I’m taking the 5th on whether or not I’d still be in my sweatpants! The point being, I’d look much less like the mess I often feel I am…

Read the rest on the Middle Places blog.


How becoming a better boss made me a better person

September 5, 2015

I’ve had a lot of bosses over the years. Good bosses, great people, bad bosses, not-so-great people. In college I had a boss who was having an affair with a contractor for the same company, later I had another who was never-ever-ever available. I’ve had some who had great hearts but couldn’t lead a team to save their lives, and another who was so full of herself I began to dread going to work. But I’ve also had some who were great examples of wisdom and leadership, who encouraged and inspired me. Some of my favorites are those who saw me not only for who I was, but for all that I could become, pouring into me and helping me grow to new heights, both professionally and personally.

And I’ve been the boss too, both the good boss and the bad boss…

Read the rest on the Middle Places blog.


A Change of Focus

August 28, 2015

I had high expectations for this summer. Those hopes haven’t been met and my summer has been all the better for it.

I’ve been pretty open about my husband and I’s struggle with fertility. We’ve been trying for another baby for many months now and have been diagnosed with “unexplained infertility,” which means just that. We have no idea why we aren’t getting pregnant…

Read the rest on the Middle Places blog.



August 22, 2015

I see you. You are beautiful, magnificent really.

        You were shaped first inside, then out; formed in your mother’s womb.

You shrug it off. You hear but don’t listen. Truth can be slow to penetrate.

        Body and soul, you are marvelously made!

“But I’ve got 10/15/50 pounds to lose,” you reason. “Then maybe.”

        Your weight doesn’t define you.

“And these wrinkles/pimples/cellulite. That’s all people see.”

        There is so much more to you than your skin.

“But I’m too tall/short/light/dark. My hair is too straight/curly/thick/thin. If I could just be different…”

        You were made, bit by bit, sculpted from nothing into something with meaning and purpose.

Read the rest on the Middle Places blog.


Sticky Friends

August 16, 2015

“Tell me about it,” she invites.

“I don’t have anything new to say,” I reply through big crocodile tears.

“Tell me anyway.”

There are seasons in life where the pain of a hurtful situation seems to go on and on. A messy divorce, a cancer diagnosis, maybe a bit of both, infertility, the loss of a loved one – a situation that doesn’t right itself in a matter of hours, days or even weeks. The pain lingers and after a while you aren’t even sure what you need or what could possibly help. Some of us pull back and try to retreat away from everyone, including our friends and loved ones, because there is nothing to be done and nothing new to say about it…

Read the rest on the Middle Places blog.


To Risk Losing It All, Again

July 14, 2015

As the doctor walked into the ultrasound room, I knew something was wrong. Terribly, terribly wrong. “The baby looks great,” she solemnly shared. “But you’re dilated to 4cm.” My heart stopped. She said other words that I couldn’t fully process: bulging membranes, emergency surgery, hospital now. She left the room so I could get dressed…

Read the rest on the Middle Places blog.


A Change of Potty Plans

July 13, 2015

It just seemed like the right time. My scheduled was wide open and the weather was to be great so we could spend the week outside. People always says how much easier it is to potty train little girls.

In fact, based on what I’d read, I thought staying home and dedicating a few days to this endeavor – just my sweet tot and me – sounded strangely relaxing.

Oh the naivety.

The reality of trying to get a two-year-old to sit on the potty every 10/20/30 minutes is a battle all on its own. Let alone keeping an eye on her every movement in the in-between to catch any accidents before they happen (and then calmly and swiftly extracting said small person from play time to immediately sit –once again – on the potty).

Can I be totally honest? It was overwhelming, all-consuming and exhausting.

After three naked days (her not me) at home with relatively few accidents, we ventured out into the world.  Donning new underpants and a patriotic summer dress, we pulled into the Target parking lot.

“Okay, here we go!” I told her. “Do you need to go potty?”

Head shake “no.”

“Let’s just try going potty before we shop,” I encouraged.

We walked to the public restroom and I carefully positioned her on the toilet. Nothing.

“All done,” she exclaimed.

“Okay,” I tried to keep my tone positive. We washed our hands and proceeded to do a little shopping. Every few minutes I’d ask some version of, “Do you need to go to the potty?” All received a resounding “no.”

Twenty minutes later I pushed the cart back towards my car. As I lifted her out to place her in the car seat, I realized that sometime during our shopping trip, her “no” should have been a “yes, Mommy I do need to go potty.” She was soaked.

Two days and multiple clothed-accidents later, found me sitting on a park bench an hour from the start of the 4th of July parade watching my precious child soil yet another patriotic dress in the middle of a playground.

And that was it. Time to change plans.

As much as my pride tells me to just keep at it (and honestly, I feel a little embarrassed that I couldn’t tackle this thing in one go), wisdom tells me she isn’t ready yet and we need to take a break.

So, I’m leaning into the support and encouragement of moms who’ve gone before me. Trusting my own intuition when it comes to my child, and believing the words of friends who tell me when she’s ready, I’ll know (and that someday – probably fairly soon – she will be ready).

I’m learning to let go, of my time table, my plan, my pride. While potty training may only be a tiny bump when you look at the challenges of a whole life, in this season God is shaping me into a better, more flexible, mom. And that’s nothing to poo-poo!

“The times we find ourselves having to wait on others
may be the perfect opportunities to train ourselves to wait on the Lord.”
(Joni Eareckson Tada)

Welcome to my mess

Welcome to My Mess

December 11, 2014

Some things are too personal to share publically. Too deep, too vulnerable, too hurtful. But if no one shares, then others facing the same hurts – in the same mess – can often feel alone and isolated, as if no one else has ever gone through what they are going through.

That’s how I’m feeling today. Welcome to my mess.

My husband and I have been trying for some months to have another baby. We planned to stay home for the holidays this year because we assumed I’d be pregnant (I’m a high-risk pregnancy so I am not allowed to travel after the first trimester) and yet, here I sit in mid-December with yet another reminder that I am not pregnant. And my heart aches.

At first the teasing of “time for another,” and “Reagan needs a little brother or sister” amused me. “Maybe someday,” I’d joke back. But now, through no fault of my sweet friends, the comments hurt, and my confidence wavers. Self-doubt creeps in. Maybe something is wrong with me. Maybe I’m not a very good mom and wouldn’t be able to handle two kiddos. After all we’ve been through, maybe I should just be content with having one happy and healthy child.

And yet the truth is, my heart longs for more. More children, more special moments, more “firsts.” I long to feel a baby move inside me again, to smell the wonderful fragrance of a newly born infant, to watch my daughter interact with and love a younger sibling.

And whether rational or not, it feels like my dream is out of reach. It’s not happening today and there is no guarantee it will happen tomorrow. And life must go on.

Even in the midst of my sorrow, there is joy in this season. As I watch my daughter experience Christmas with her toddler-like wonder, my heart swells. As I cheer for my newly-engaged friends, I am reminded of all of that with which God has blessed me. As I congratulate the new mamas-to-be in my sphere of influence, my focus takes aim on truth. A truth that doesn’t deny my own hurts and disappointments, but rather takes the feelings and turns them into something deeper and stronger than they ever could have been without the struggles. Transforming them into the very type of deep love that is at the heart of Christmas. And I am reminded of the great love God has showered on each of us through the gift of his tiny son on Christmas Day; even knowing that some thirty-three years later mankind would nail that babe-turned-man to a cross to die for our sins.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

So although I grieve, I am also hopeful. Hopeful that someday – through some means – God will grow my tiny family. But even more strongly, I am hopeful that during this season God’s family will grow, and that more of those I love, and those I hope to one day know and love, will come to understand what a gift that little baby-born-in-a-manger was to each of us and how He can bring hope to our private tears and deepest hurts.

And just in case you’re wondering, there’s no follow-up to this story {yet}. No “and since writing this…” This is where I’m at today – right now – where I uncomfortable sit while God works on my head and my heart. Welcome to my mess.

The journey to a grateful heart

November 20, 2014

By Mikkee Hall, Guest Blogger

Today’s post comes from Mikkee who, like all of us, could find many reasons for disappointment and discontent,
but instead chooses to live her life full of grace and gratitude. I hope you will enjoy this chance to “meet”
my sweet friend!

Gratitude. Thankfulness. Appreciation. I have begun and erased, and started this article over countless times. I thought I had so much to say about gratitude, yet I am at a loss for words. How do I nurture a grateful heart? It feels elusive at times. But I yearn for it because when my heart is grateful, it turns everything on its head. But sometimes it is oh-so-hard!

Recently Huffpost ran a piece on The 7 Habits of Chronically Unhappy People. I clicked on the link because I wanted to see if I was one of those unfortunate souls. As I read the seven habits, I was struck with how gratitude changes us. When we find the smallest bit of something to be thankful for, even when we don’t feel gratitude, it comes in time as we focus on simply finding the places in life we can celebrate or murmur a thankful prayer.

Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.
(Melody Beattie)

Several years ago, in place of a New Year’s resolution, I decided to pray and meditate on the word gratitude for the entire year. As time passed, my thinking shifted and my heart was filled with joy – even in the midst of a difficult year. I began to interact with life, and people, in subtly different ways. My year of thankfulness gave me laser focus, a time to wonder and wander over all the roads of gratitude and how it plays out in my life in real ways.

Sometimes I forget to stop, see and feel; I forget to live on purpose. Looking at life through the lens of gratitude anchored me in hope, and gave me the perspective that life is not as bad as it seems, that there is a God who loves me deeply and knows me perfectly.

So, friends, here’s to slowing down, taking a deep breath, and seeing the world anew with glittering eyes!

Home Sweet Home

October 14, 2014

Home Sweet Home

“We need to move.” I texted my husband. Our home was unfit for human occupancy as wild vermin had taken up residence. The outbreak was widespread and blatantly vicious. “We need to move,” I texted a second time to emphasis the urgency.

The specimen of my concern was a foot-long, slithering garter snake. I hate snakes. After snapping its sharp little fangs at the dogs, it slipped into a hole in the cement at the base of our garage door and out of sight.

“They live under the garage floor,” the reptile-honoring-man-I-married texted me back.

They? He had discovered the snakes three days earlier while mowing and had decided to withhold the information. I can’t imagine why.

“I need to move. Possibly without you.”

Marriage is a delicate dance with emotions and feelings that ebb and flow. Although I wouldn’t truly leave my husband over a harmless – or so he tries to convince me – snake, it does point out yet another difference of opinion between J and I. He sees the snakes as a helpful part of the local ecology, eating up bugs and causing no harm. While I feel the goose bumps race up my back just thinking of snakes living mere feet from where I cook and eat, and, in my mind, ready to strike at any moment. Finding ways to overcome our differences is what makes a marriage, and really any relationship, work. In our case, that involves talking it out. Here are a couple helpful tips when having this kind of conversation:

  1. Set aside time to talk when you can both focus on the issue. Talking via text during the work day is probably not going to resolve things in the best manner possible. It can also be hard to focus on a difficult discussion when actively caring for young children. Find time (after bedtime?) to really focus on each other and the issue.
  2. Table an issue if it becomes too heated. Some decisions may need to be decided upon quickly, but taking even 10 minutes to calm down can help get the conversation back to a good place and keep you moving forward.
  3. Be willing to give in. You can’t win everything, all the time. And part of a healthy relationship is – at times – conceding. Because you love your spouse, sometimes you have to let them have the final say. And because they love you, sometimes they will let you have the final say.

While we’re still negotiating how to handle the snake situation (moving is by far the best option, clearly), many issues we’ve faced, and will face again, aren’t as lighthearted, and stretch and strain our marriage. Having healthy boundaries in our disagreements help us move forward together and united.

What’s your best tip for handling conflict in marriage?