Follow the Intercession

Follow the Intercession

The greatest gift in my life as a person, a wife, a mother, and a friend is intercession. CS Lewis says “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” If you are a person, it is inevitable; you know pain.

If you have ever birthed a child, you know pain. If you have every carried a friend’s burden, you know pain. If you have ever had a loved one pass on from this life, you know pain. If you have ever really lived, you know pain.

Pain is often part of our process. Not always, but often. And, unfortunately, many of us haven’t been given many tools to understand pain. We find a myriad of “treatments” to numb it, pill pop it, pass by it, or drink it down. This is a detriment to our culture. A detriment to our children, to our families, to our livelihood.

Ever since Ella was born, I’ve been on a journey to express trapped pain in my body. Because of my sensitive nature, I have a predisposition to absorb every environment I walk into. Not only did I have my own life experiences and traumas to work through, but I also carried the experiences and traumas of others that I encountered. Some call it empathy, some call it hypersentivity, some call it prophetic intercession, some call it psychic abilities. What it is for sure is absorption, and many people are wired this way. Especially women!

What I learned after Ella was born was that I needed outlets to release all of the absorbed energies my body was manifesting. I started having issues with my thyroid, kidney stones, nervous exhaustion among other things. It was the beginning stages of the birthing of my life’s real voice. Just like I had given birth with each child that came into my womb and also left, I was also filled with more and more energy to disperse. But before it turned into positive energy, it showed up as anxiety. When I became touched by new life, I became more and more inspired. And the more inspired I became, the more I needed release. Without the release, the emotions that were tapped into would cause me to grow toxic inside. And that was and is always my cue to create.

When inspiration strikes and emotions are triggered, it’s the perfect time for processing. And often times, it’s the process of pain (can we say childbirth?) that propels us into real life.

It seems that because of our day in age and our ability to communicate with many people in one day (social media) as well as the great opportunity for freedom of expression, many people are in this phase of needed release.  The only problem with this is that many people don’t process their pain before they express their voice, and it actually causes more harmful results to be triggered.

This has propelled the mommy wars, the vaccination fights, the political mumbo jumbo, and all the childish behavior that is overtly overtaking our forms of communication. In all reality, it’s really sad because we have such great tools to make a difference in each other’s lives, and instead it often feels like stones are being thrown everywhere. In my opinion, we need to laugh more! We need more things to be joyful about; which means, we need to be intentional about our personal processes!

What I’ve learned as I’ve processed my own pain is this: it takes inside work to have outside results. If we’re inspired and/or triggered by something, whether it be online or with our spouses or kids or job, it is a gift.  It might not always seem like a gift at the time (because sometimes inspiration requires change), but it is. It is an opportunity to awaken, to look inside and find out what needs expressed. If we are inspired by something we find joyful, this is usually easy. If we are awakened by something that triggers our pain or insecurities, it can be a bit more work. In this case, our first response is often the blame game. The blame game is actually the WORST possible result for a triggered emotion. If we want to influence anyone or anything, it always starts with inside work. If we need to bring correction or perspective to a situation, it starts with inside work. So many of our attempts at expressing ourselves have become swords to chop each other into pieces. And when this happens, we have dug our own grave. There is little planted correction in the tone of an impure voice.

The power in freedom of expression is humility, surrender, and validation. We are each trying to fill gaps in society in some form, I hope! But in order to fill others’ gaps, we start with our own. This is why I love intercession! When I learn how to submit myself into prayer, I receive the grace I need to close my gap.  When my gap is filled, I have excess grace to give someone else. This excess grace can then be translated in conversation and transformation (even when that conversation is a difficult one). The most wonderful part of this is that after emotional pain has been released, control and fear are thrown out the window. When we’re done trying to control one another’s behavior, we are actually free to love one another. And it’s in this place of respect that we can make healthy movement forward.

The interesting part of this process is that everyone is in their own unique process! This means that my path might not look like another’s person’s path. I’m working on closing my own gap; I’m not comparing my gap to someone else’s, and I’m not trying to fix anyone else’s gap. I also work on the inside from a place of humility (because I have baggage as much as anyone else), so I don’t feel a need to judge anyone else’s gap. When I’m free from judgement, I have the perfect platform to share my perspective. When I’ve shared my perspective, it may bring course correction. And if so,  that is REAL LIFE! Then I’ve contributed in a healthy way, I’ve helped carry a burden, and I’ve helped cover a wound.  I’ve interceded. I’ve been part of a solution. This is how we transform harmful pain into productive pain; and once we’ve mastered this, we start to build muscle. And this muscle can be used to support many others.

I’ll be writing a few more blogs in the next few weeks about some personal steps we can individually take to do our own gap-closing. I’ll talk about boundaries, forgiveness, and using our voices well. If you want me to write about anything specific, please let me know. :) I’m hoping it clears a path for new creativity and new life! I’ve enjoyed finding these tools through much trial and error, and I’m really enjoying watching my Lifecoach clients and friends succeed with them as well!

More coming soon……… :)

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Orange Jello

Orange Jello

I spent some time last night working on my upcoming book about Forgiveness. I found this poetic story in one of my journals from several months ago. It reminds me of how important it is to catalog my thoughts each day…because I never know what I really write until I come back to it in the future. What an authentic picture of forgiveness and creativity; and I didn’t even know it’s beauty was hanging around in my back pocket to share. Sometimes we fill up with strength and inspiration so that it gives us the courage and the patience to walk through the process. Mothers live lives full of patience and forgiveness. It can make us bitter, or it can make us come alive.

It’s our choice. Our children are such a gift.


There’s nothing like soaking in meditation and the sounds of God worship only to then be released into a gamet of child whines, and demands, and tears.

What we soak in some moments, gives us the strength for the next wave.

We ebb & flow.

Breathe in so we can exhale Life.

And when the chatter of surroundings competes with the peace of my new heart—

We make Orange Jello.

When the boiling water bubbles and steams–and I have to tell the kids to “Step back; don’t get burned”…

I breathe.

I exhale dust.

And when they are pushing and shoving to see the gelatin melt just as I pour in the cup of cold water,

I breathe.

And when they nag about when it’s going to be done, I grapple my words and say:

“It will be ready when it’s dark outside.”

Because in all reality, we are ripe when it’s dark. When the sun stops shining in our direction and when the torrent blows us through the stormiest of the storms inside, we are ripe.

For forgiveness.

For the empty tomb to reveal our depravity.

For the death that comes before the emerging life.

We make Orange Jello.


(Side note: In biological and art history, the color orange symbolizes creativity and intimacy and the portion of the body that releases life (reproductive organs). Beautiful, isn’t it? I didn’t pick orange jello on purpose, it was what was in the cupboard.  Sometimes when in life’s trenches, we have to work with what we have.  Creativity and intimacy are free and forever healing. They can’t be bought in the store, but they can be found in God and within ourselves.)

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The Wailing Wall

The Wailing Wall




For many years, Jews have gathered around to mourn and cry their hearts out to God at The Wailing Wall. It seems metaphorical that when a wall is built, it is either to hold a building up or it is to keep something out.  So why prayers? Why mourn at a wall?

I find it interesting that often in my own stubbornness, I have refused to mourn or grieve unless I have been closed in by a wall….A wall of my own heart or a wall in someone else’s. Either way, I get placed in a corner. And when locked out by a wall, my only choice then is to face the grief. It’s these walls that get built that make the tears flow. And when tears flow, God calls this our “holy intercession”. Closing the gap. Building a bridge. Making rain (as Ella says).

If I teach my kids anything during our long days together, I hope I teach them how to grieve well and how to pour their hearts out before David and I–and God. It may seem weird to focus on teaching a child to grieve because kids are often so full of joy, and yet grieving is one of the key ingredients to a happy life. So much of our mishaps as a society have been because of our own unreconciled grief. We simply stop learning the ways of compassion when we are filled with our own inner turmoil.

What better way to reconcile grief than at Christmas? Because a baby has been born that reconciles us all to Himself! He takes on suffering and then turns it into joy and light and eternity.

This joy and light and eternity is what we hope to partner with every Christmas. As a family, we started praying for friends at Advent several years ago. It is one of my most favorite (and difficult) things to do.  Difficult because there is a measure of suffering involved. When we take on a request to pray, we take on the burden. We help carry the pain. We help fill in the empty spots of hardship, and heartache, and longing. We say “I’ll walk with you.” But it’s also my favorite in the sense that after we share in the suffering, we also share in the reward. We share in the reconciliation, not only for our friends, but also as a family.

As we “wail at the wall” for all requests spoken, we also become reconciled. When we grieve for another, we end up grieving for ourselves. We end up celebrating in the fullness that is Jesus and we also receive the faith that He will be born again in new ways in our lives.

I love Christmas with my whole heart. It’s a time for reconciliation–with God, with ourselves, with others. It’s one of the most beautiful processes I’ve ever known. A baby that reconciles the world. When He is born in us, no grief can remain–only peace, love, and joy.

And so this Advent and Hanukkah and Christmas, we thank you! We thank you for openly sharing your requests with us, for allowing us to walk with you and carry the burden with you as you cry your heart out to God for reconciliation.

We still have a few days left, and I am anticipating many miracles! Merry Christmas friends–we love you all!

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Child Safety for Essential Oils

Child Safety for Essential Oils

After hearing many people ask questions about the safety of essential oil use for children, I thought I’d add some information on the basics of essential oil use, as well as what is helpful and appropriate for children’s use. I want to stress that before you give your children any kind of medication or essential oil or seemingly food (because it’s complicated this day in age, isn’t it?), that you research as much as you can so that you can make an informed and prayerful decision! We are grateful to live in a country where we are empowered to make healthy preventative choices for our lives; and I am a huge proponent of making informed and wise decisions.

We started using Young Living essential oils over four years ago for our (then) 5 month old daughter after she developed a kidney reflux issue. Medical Doctors wanted to treat her by prescribing a daily antibiotic for an unlimited time (which we felt was not good for her immune system). In addition to the antibiotic, they also were looking at surgery and scheduled several invasive medical tests to further understand her condition. At the conclusion of her diagnosis, not only did she have organ malformation, but she also suffered serious PTSD and sensory stimulation which was propelled by the rounds of “advanced medical testing”.  Though we were grateful to have these means for lifesaving conditions, the traditional route to help her came with bad physical side effects and a very long road of emotional healing and detox. We, by no means, have thrown all traditional medical treatment out the window for our family–but it has been by alternative therapies that we have seen miraculous transformation, not only in our daughter’s condition, but also in our individual and family’s life. Essential oils have been what has aided us through the day-by-day healing of not only her kidney issue but also the emotional and physical toxicity that was brought about by her short-lived traditional treatment. She is a bright and lively and creative little girl who has experienced miracles and LOVES her oils; she has spurned our whole family onto a healthier and more holistic lifestyle.

With that history, it’s important to know that our essential oil journey has been an “intensive”. I’ve had to learn as I go, research a lot, and use my medical background to understand how my daughter (and family) responded to each oil. For most of you, you just want to know the basics. And for the basics, I keep it very basic! But for those of you who may have a more intensive situation, I am also happy to listen and see if I can help in a private message or phone call!

For the basics, here is how I suggest starting your Essential Oil journey for your child or family.

1. Start slow. A little essential oil goes A LONG way. It’s similar to exercise! You don’t run a marathon the first day into it, you instead take a walk around the block. As you try more oils and learn as you go, you will find what works for you and your family.  Using them as directed is key! I also tried one oil at a time (similar to starting to feed a baby solid foods), so that the body has time to respond after each application before moving onto the next one. Young Living oils are therapeutic grade, which means they can be used for medicinal purposes (they are the only oils I personally use). They are very potent, and no more than 1-2 drops should be necessary…especially for kids.  For children, I suggest to start using them as a daily immune booster during fall or winter months and/or when they sick. This is a great and safe way to see how effective and healing they are for the body. My essential oil use for our kids goes down quite a bit in the summer simply because they get sun all the time, they are exercising more, and they are outside constantly. I DO NOT substitute good eating habits, exercise, or other healthy lifestyle patterns with oils. The essential oils are a great complement to those! :)

2. A great way to introduce oils to your kids is by wearing them topically yourself! If you put an oil on your neck or wrists, your child WILL be able to smell it.  Oils work well aromatically, and this is a safe way to test their reactions–especially if it’s for an infant. Putting a drop of Lavender on Mama’s chest as a baby is going down for the night is a safe and effective way to get started! And the benefits get shared by everyone.

3. Another great way to get started is to diffuse the oils. A good diffuser becomes a best friend! Many people have artificial air fresheners in their homes, but an oil diffuser is so much better. Artificial air fresheners are toxic when breathed in, and therapeutic grade essential oils are the opposite. You can choose oils that are effective against airborne bacteria to cleanse out a room (Thieves, Lemon), to take away odors (Purification), and to soothe yourself or over-active children after a long day (Lavender, Stress Away, Peace&Calming). This is a great way to be introduced to oils if you aren’t sure where to get started!

4. If you would like to apply the oils topically, I suggest using a carrier oil on kids (coconut oil works great and is a favorite at our house). You can test a small patch of skin with the essential oil and carrier oil (perhaps on the arm) to see if your child has any skin sensitivities to it. Thieves is often a common oil used for immunity. It is a fabulous oil and one of our favorites, but it does contain cinnamon bark–which can be considered “hot”. This just means that a carrier oil is advised as it can be sensitive to the skin. It’s important to read the label with each oil before applying it to make sure you are not allergic to any of the ingredients (if it is a blend).

5. It’s important to note that essential oils heal the body and stimulate the immune system. This means that essential oils can bring down a fever (by healing the ailment not just “reducing” the fever), so they have been ideal for our family! Many times if I have healed a fever/cold/infection with essential oils, I’ve only been left with residual effects like a loose cough. This is because the essential oil has pushed the toxins or bacteria out of my system. It is a good thing! Essential oils create an atmosphere for detoxification. This allows the body to work the way it was created to by ridding itself of whatever foreign substance is in the body. They can be used as preventative care, and also if you are already sick. If you use an oil, it’s good to recognize how your body responds. Sometimes you bypass the sickness with no residual cough or runny nose, etc but other times you propel nose-blowing or mucus coughing or other similar mild detox symptoms. Drink plenty of water, and enjoy your new found health afterward. You’ll start to discern “sick” cough or symptoms from detox symptoms as you use the oils. This is why a little goes a long way! You would never put a child on a Master Cleanse; you would eliminate one harmful toxin at a time. Slow is better. The goal is to progressively heal the body, one application at a time. The essential oils don’t mask symptoms, they help restore health, but like anything, it is a process.

6. Essential oils are not FDA approved, and they do not come with a prescription. If you want to be serious about using them for your family, it will take time and effort (but it is so worth it!). You will want to do research and choose the oil company best for you. Young Living has been the best for us because of the integrity of leadership, their Seed to Seal program, low distillation temperatures, organic harvests, lab testing of every bottle, and third party lab testing of every bottle. They are top notch! We have had no side effects (other than mild detox symptoms) and continue to love the company the more and more we’ve used them.

7. Some of my favorite oils for kids are Lavender (topically or in diffuser), Peace&Calming (topically or in the diffuser), Thieves (with a carrier oil on the bottom of the feet or in the diffuser), any of the citrus oils (in the diffuser). I tend to stick to calming oils or immune boosters for kids. Unless I’m intentionally dealing with an emotional issue, I stick to the basic oils with children. I use essential oils on a need basis or preventative basis (my daughter is in preschool and it’s winter), but I do not go overboard or use them for everything. Kids heal easily on their own; they usually only need a boost not an overhaul.



Some examples of our daily use would be this:

Morning time: 1-2 drops of Thieves on each child’s feet (in fall and winter usually)

Day time: Sometimes diffuse a citrus oil (Lemon, Orange, Grapefruit, etc), Peace&Calming, or perhaps a mix of Thieves and a citrus oil. I usually diffuse something once or twice a day in the winter.

Night time: Oliver gets 1 drop of Lavender on the neck at bedtime, and our girls have a diffuser in their room for Lavender or another calming oil. Sometimes I’ll also add an oil to the bottom of their feet if they’ve been under the weather or if Ella is going to school the next day.

In general, our kids usually get 2-4 drops of oil a day unless they are sick. Anything else is aromatic oils from our diffuser or from whatever I’m wearing that day.


I hope this helps answer some questions for the BASICS of using EO’s with kids. The field is wide and there is a ton of information and guidance about how EO’s are helpful; this is just the first step. If you want to know more information or want to host a Essential Oils 101 class, we can go into much further detail about how they work. If you have a child who is struggling with emotional issues/ developmental delays and/or sensory issues, there is a whole other side to this subject that is fascinating and full of Hope!

My schedule will open up a bit more next year to do more one-on-one consultations in regards to the oils–as well as how they relate to creativity, holistic healing, and prayer. I’ll keep writing these beginner blogs and hosting classes until then……… :)



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Reconciliations and Honoring a Dream

Reconciliations and Honoring a Dream

I woke up an hour ago to nurse a crying a baby. It’s the middle of the night…..and my creative spirit is lurking. All is quiet. And the pen and paper beckon. The pen and paper turned computer, that is.

Have you ever honored a dream?

Even when others told you not to?

Even when people thought you had left your rocker?

Even when haters said it would never work?

I’ve been doing this for myself; it’s a form of self-care. Nurturing a dream is like a tall glass of living water in a desert.

Somehow in this world of do’s and don’ts; in a place where we’ve tried to find holiness and perfection ourselves, I think we’ve lost our greatest asset.

Honoring our dreams. Reconciling that which was lost.

It’s been my finding over the last few years (as I’m a novice at this practice), that I’ll never look at a dream as silly any longer. Bucket list items matter. And not only because they are fun and thrilling and something to do but because they transform us and cultivate newness in our spirits. They give us the prospect of hope and of empowerment.

I spent a lot of time trying to push my dreams and my soul to the side, trying to tell myself that what I really wanted to do was selfish or silly or that someone else had already done it. It left me feeling depressed and lost. I listened too much to what others said instead of taking the risk of being myself.  Somehow birthing children gives you this sense of strength, this sense of “nobody’s gonna tell me what I can’t do; I birthed three kids out of my body.” Somehow in birthing children, I’ve given birth to my dreams.

And somehow in honoring the smallest request of those children, I see the fulfillment of joy and peace and character growth in their midst. Sometimes it’s not about doing it all right in order to get the reward; sometimes it’s about the ask. It’s about the movement toward what’s stirring in our souls. Sometimes going after the reward actually creates the strength inside of us that develops our humility, and our character, and our joy.  Holiness and wholeness are multi-dimensional. Purity is found in taking risks and daring to be ourselves in the midst of a world that is dying of self-perpetuated boredom and copy-cats. I want to see something new and fresh, something full of hope and laughter.

I want to see people chase their dreams.

I want to see God show up.

Not only for myself, but for everyone around me.

“I have a dream.” It’s famously spoken and creatively inspired. I can’t wait to hear more people agree…

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The Process of Forgiveness

The Process of Forgiveness
I’ve been writing the last couple months. With all the transition from selling a house to building a house, to moving into a new house, to decorating a new house, it’s been a whirlwind. A whirlwind of goodness and of faith and of dreams come true but also a whirlwind of justice and of beauty and of facing ourselves. It’s true that when we find a new space to live, there are adjustments to be made.  Old patterns can’t survive in new spaces. Freedom requires change and discipline but most importantly, love and forgiveness.
In the process of all this moving, I’ve had to catalog my thoughts. I get stuck inside my head without an avenue to release all the ponderings and revelation and ah-ha moments. When I felt God say my next book was at bay, I was a bit relieved and also a bit nervous. I knew the effort the first one took, but this time I also knew the freedom it brought and continues to bring–as well as the hope.  I have many ideas for books to write, but sometimes a good idea is that, just a good idea.  But when the idea flows out of the Heart of God for me and for others, then I know it’s not just a book– it’s Presence. And before I even asked Him what I should write about, He said it: “Forgiveness”. My spirit leapt in excitement and in terror. If I write on forgiveness, I’ll be responsible for forgiving. And in the best of ways, that is exciting and terrifying and self-sacrificing.  But the more and more I look for ways to understand Jesus, the more and more I see what beauty there is in laying down my life for another person. Forgiveness. To give in advance.  To cover shame.  To make a way where there is no way.
Scriptures say that “Love covers a multitude of sin”. That’s where I want to live. I want to live in a place where people offer to cover my shame with comfort and words of life and steps toward the right direction. I want to live where people tell me the Truth because they honestly want the best for me, not because they are trying to control or manipulate or feel better about themselves. I want loving correction and soul nurturing. I want community. I want the simple act of listening to understand, being heard because our voices are valuable, and sharing because light heals darkness. And, so here-in lies forgiveness.
God asked me to write my own process. I’ve been working toward whole-hearted forgiveness intentionally for years. I am always willing to forgive. But sometimes willing doesn’t quite cut it. Many are willing, but few are able to follow through. Few are able to make forgiveness a lifestyle, not just an event.  I want to be one of the few–though I hope there are many.
And so I write. It’s a lofty topic, I understand–but I keep hearing a phrase over and over again in my spirit: “Who will cover my shame?”  Adam and Eve were in the Garden, unashamed. Naked, vulnerable and fully alive.  A serpent steps in.  Deception occurs. And now they live in shame. As do we all.
In a world perpetually trying to find one thing after another to cover our shame, where can we go to find dignity? I need new clothes, don’t you? I need someone to love me when I see sin in my life. I need someone to offer hope. I don’t need someone to make fun of me, shame me, or make me feel bad about myself. If we’re living in sin, we’re already punishing ourselves. What we need is someone willing to carry our shame. And there is He. Fully vulnerable, misunderstood and rejected……carrying my baggage. Stepping into the gap where there was no way, giving in advance when He could be fully denied, and loving to the point of death.
I’ve been practicing this. I’m far from being like Jesus in so many ways, but as I step into this place of listening to Him, of trying to understand His nature, of wanting to see Him perform miracles in my life, I touch this place of forgiveness. He reaches the places of shame that I only I know about–and then He gives me opportunities to do the same for others. He gives me eyes to see. They aren’t eyes of judgement, they are eyes of empathy. They are eyes of “I see you. I’ve been there. I am there.” And in this place of uncovering, light is exposed and lives are transformed.  We become family by carrying each other’s burdens and by choosing wisdom instead of quick retorts and unexpressed grief.
When we share our grief, we share our comradery. We give the grief a place to empty and to bleed out of us and to open up new spaces.  And in new spaces, we get to forgive. Give in advance. Create something beautiful. Cover a multitude of sins.
Forgiveness is becoming one of my favorite places to live. I die a lot there, but I’ll never stop living…
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Welcome to Our House

Welcome to Our House

“If you build it, they will come.”

That’s what we’ve told ourselves anyway. More than six months ago, we searched out plots and chose our field of dreams. And, now, we live in the reality of the bloom.

We’ve been in our new house for a bit over a month now, and as I walk through the open space that our new home affords us, I am still embracing what it’s like to soak it all up. All-this-space.  Not to mention all the clutter we ditched and all the furniture we transformed and all the decor we’ve bought–we’ve been blessed.

In the quiet, I can feel the rooms humming. The energy of the day still looming inside each of them.  Everyone is sleeping, except me.  It’s just how I like it; it sets the perfect stage for me to write.  It’s in the early mornings and the late nights when I take some minutes to pause, and to breathe, and to give thanks.  And in the giving thanks, I always start to dream.

We’ve had visions of guests coming and staying with us for a time of rest and a time of play, of cooking meals and drinking wine and spending late nights sharing stories.  It’s the B&B nature we’ve just become accustomed to. It’s the Life that’s been given to us.  It’s been in those moments of breaking bread and of sharing silence where we’ve seen our spirits come alive, our souls heal, and our relationships bloom.  It’s been the times when we’ve been with people who share their brokenness and their fullness, who give of their talents and receive with great grace, that we’ve truly breathed eternity. And now we have a place to continually do so.

We’re so excited about our new season, and we are equally excited to have guests. We’ve been preparing and sowing and working toward it for years. We hope you’ll stop by………especially if you’re tired or weary, especially if you like coffee and desserts, and especially if you like to dream and to do. You’re welcome here. We can’t wait to have you!



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If you ever decide to write…

If you ever decide to write…



Ya’ll–I am in it. The final-est of the final stages of self-book publishing. In fact, the publishing part is actually done; I’m just in one of my very last i dots. I’ve already crossed my t’s, and now I’m i dotting….

And I never ever thought I was going to get here. I mean, I believed I would get here–but my thoughts were always fighting with my belief.

But now, I can see how real it has become. And I am so excited to share it with you! I am also EXTREMELY grateful for your support of me as I charted completely new territory–and also for your patience with me as I’ve had several delays I haven’t expected. Let’s just say, I’m learning quite a bit in this process–and I am hating it and loving it all at the same time! I’m so grateful for those of you who have come along for the ride with me because it’s been SO nice to have the comradery.

With that, I know several others out there who want to write a book (or do something else), and so I thought along with my “marriage and parenting blogs” that I’d add another one on writing a book.   I often find it quite boring to go with the “guidelines”, so yet again, I have taken the “long” way and wanted to share for any of you that may want a I-learned-the-hard-way roadmap to publishing your own book.

1. If you decide to write a book, my first point of advice is this: TELL EVERYONE. And I mean tell everyone– before you finish, tell them while you are writing, tell them when you’re feeling the euphoric writer’s high, tell them! Because there will be days when you are terrified of what you just wrote and also days where you will be discouraged beyond belief, and you will need these people to be there to ask you how it’s going.  You will need these people to remind you what you are doing and why you are doing it. If you tell no one, it is so much easier to quit. Especially if you are self-publishing, SHOUT IT FROM THE ROOFTOPS like a child who just learned how to ride her bike. I promise you, you will be glad you did! Don’t keep it a secret because it feels easier to “play it cool”. It is scary writing a first book, and the thing is, if you aren’t scared to write (I don’t believe you)….and second, I wonder if your book will probably be all that interesting and impacting. :) Writing is a key to the soul, and it is the vulnerability in it that makes it so beautiful!

2. Don’t let anyone read your book until you are ready for them to make comments. And if you aren’t ready for comments, if you just want someone to “be with” you, let them know that ahead of time if you choose to share it. I selected several friends who I unleashed my rough draft onto….and I said at the beginning, “Would you read this? I don’t need feedback necessarily, I just want someone to read me.” Even though these people were very close to me, it was still scary–but I thankfully chose wisely! They did exactly what I needed; they-read-me. They were with me. And after I grew from my first step of bravery, I was able to look at my draft again and let go a bit. From there, I could start letting other selective people in to see if I should add anything. Let me be clear though; I was very select in my invitations! Because, again, at rough draft stage, it is very vulnerable–so you’ll want to choose the people who know you best or who you trust most. With each person you share with, your confidence will start to grow and you can then start adding to the list of who can preview it (and perhaps help guide you to make it even better).

3. Go with the flow but also force yourself to write. I am very inspiration-oriented, so most of the time I like to write when I get that “feeling”. The problem with this is, I have small children and a house to take care of. So, I was not often inspired at the moments that were convenient to write.  In addition, I didn’t have much time to write either. Evenings are my brain dead hours, so I had to choose to use early mornings and nap times as my writing time. This often meant I had to force myself to sit down to write even if I didn’t feel inspired.  Often times, though, all the post-it notes from my inspired times (between diaper changes and making meals) came together quite nicely when I finally had a few minutes to sit down and put all the “random” thoughts together. Even if I felt too tired to write during kid naps, I’d often make myself. And then, I actually felt more energized to continue. My book was written from “30 minutes here” and “45 minutes there”. I don’t know that I ever sat down for a full day to just write. That wasn’t realistic for me in this season, but I chose to keep going in those small moments and in the small steps, because I couldn’t help myself.  My book needed to come out!

4. Give yourself days off. It’s so important to have days where you don’t think about the overwhelming “responsibility” of what it’s going to take to finish. The days where you take your brain completely out of the game will be the days that propel you into writing your best chapters. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that overworking doesn’t produce quality. The rest will do you good.

5. Don’t be surprised by delays–especially if it’s your first book. I chose to figure this thing out on my own (I’m crazy and bull-headed) because I really wanted my manuscript to be authentic. I refused to change things that I felt were crucial and meaningful, and I most wanted to be my true self in my writing. I didn’t write to make millions, but I did write to be real.  And if I had to delay because I wanted it to be excellent instead of mediocre, I chose to yield to the delay.  To be quite honest, I ended up loving these delays (after kicking and screaming)–because I learned more and healed more and gained more ground.  When a delay comes, a surprise always comes soon thereafter if you can allow yourself to rest and just let things go. Time always has this way of working things out…..

6. Have so much fun! Soak up the process like a big wet sponge. This has been one of my biggest breakthroughs personally. I have come to LOVE process and to relish in good and in difficult and in unknown. It has been so triumphant to put my heart in writing and to leave something for my children. It has been so freeing and exciting and adventurous, and it has been so fun to see God provide through it all.    Though the product is so rewarding, the quiet moments and the thrilling moments in the process are even richer. You go into the experience one way and come out metamorphasized!

All this to say, it’s-almost-time. I will release my printed copy and ebook/audiobook copy at the same time! (Sorry for the delays–I was “planning” to have already released it….but you can just go back to #5). I will announce it on FB, like a child on Christmas, as soon as my last i is dotted. So, I promise you won’t miss it! You will be able to get the links to all copies on my website under Books. I encourage getting both the written and audio–the printed copy is full color, a workbook, and a devotional. The audiobook is my own voice with music and sound added. There’s nothing more powerful than voicing your reality, and I had so much fun doing both!

So, thanks a million for coming along on my journey! I couldn’t have done it without you all!



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Parenting 101

Parenting 101

My friend asked me to do a follow up on my Love and Marriage blog. I quickly abliged and thanked her because I had no idea that my thoughts on marriage would be so well worn! It was food to my soul to know that what I had learned the “hard way” could be articulated to others who were also hoping to be lucky in love.

This one, she asked, would be on parenting.

(And a hush fell over the crowd.)

At least in my house.

What the heck do we know about parenting? Until we looked back, and realized how far we had come, we had no idea that, yet again, what we learned the “hard way” may benefit someone else.  So, as I pondered the topic in my heart and as I lived my normal daily life, I started to scratch down a list (as events occurred) that might not only help me when I say them, but also help you as you read them.

Before I start, a little background would probably help as well as some disclaimers. My first disclaimer is that I am not a family therapist or counselor, though I’ve had more than several people ask for my opinion on inner healing and the like. My thoughts and my process I will generously dish out, but I won’t give a formula as much as I can give suggestions.  And in the suggestions, they are just that–things that have worked for us.  As far as background goes, I can share this: My husband is the keen administrator, I am the highly sensitive artist, my oldest is a combo of the two on steroids, my middle is Christmas every day of the year (except we’re entering the two’s), and my youngest is like a teddy bear that you just can’t stop holding–yet he nurses like a baracuda while teething. They are also extremely close in age. The oldest just turned four, and the youngest just hit 5 months. There’s also some other information I’ll choose to leave out, but let’s just say: We’re a hurricane. We are passionate and loud and fun and quirky and deep and partly wounded and partly healed….and we talk really fast because we never know when someone is going to scream or interrupt us or throw something or spit up or crush cheerios into the carpet.  We also wait for our dog to “kiss” us and steal our dinner off the counter.

But we’re learning how to rest in the eye of the “storm”.

And, if anything, this is what we’re learning when it comes to being a parent:

1. Listen to what you’re children are saying. Whether they are whining, crying, wanting to play, asking for a treat…listen. And then tend to it as best as you can. My children have become some of my greatest teachers. One of the utmost important things I’ve learned as a human being and as a parent is to allow and encourage others to have a voice. This is the most powerful and honoring thing we can do for one another. As a child, it teaches a standard of what the world should be like. It teaches that everyone gets a vote, a right to be heard, and the worthiness of connection. Even if the child isn’t asking “correctly”, he or she is still asking to be heard. After they are heard, the need can be assessed. I’ve been shocked at how many times I thought my child was just being “whiny” when really, she was right! She had a legitimate need; she just was unsure how to communicate it. And the more I listened, the more I could connect with her. This isn’t to say that every answer should be “yes”, and it also doesn’t say that we throw respectful communication out the window. But what it says is that everyone gets heard. After a person is heard (it goes for parents as well), then technique can be worked out. We can get to a point where we make some boundaries if communication isn’t going very well. But sometimes as parents, we focus so much on technique and manners that we stop listening. And that’s where the chasm begins. It can be a balance of the two. We still try to teach our children not to whine; in fact, we try to teach them what overcoming looks like instead–but we also listen to their little voices because they rarely ask for things or say things that aren’t expressing some sort of need.

2. Choose your battles. I think this is common parental advice. Here’s what we all learn the hard way: Our kid, no matter how much we love him/her, is not perfect! There will be power struggles. There will be disobedience. But what matters more than winning is love. I refuse to say no more than I say yes (learned that the hard way). I lay my right to be right down often, because it often teaches my children how to learn for themselves. I set limits, yes, but I also choose what is most important to correct. No one likes a micromanaging boss. Parents are designed to be stewards of life and nurturers of spirits, not task masters and rule makers. Tasks and rules do come (and for good reason) but obedience should always be understood through the lens of love and nurture. They learn to obey because my instruction starts to prove itself as care. And in the care, they start to trust. On the same note, a controlling parent cripples creativity and freedom of expression. Often times, a creative child is much more intent on obeying when they feel they have been heard (Point #1) and when they aren’t always being told no. We can still say no–because it is definitely a good and important practice, but “no” can be fostered through a place of freedom and not hindrance. When everything is “no”, no one has any fun. And chaos abounds. When “yes” is heard more often and when there are safe limits, “no” doesn’t usually turn into the battleground that it could be.

3. Let’s talk about housework and chores (because we have to). No one wants a disaster of a house and no one wants to feel like he/she can’t live in a chlorox-ed house. When kids come about, there has to be a balance otherwise everyone will go crazy.  Long story short, here’s what I’ve learned: Make a chore schedule for Monday-Friday. Make sure it’s realistic. Do the small chore list daily, and let the rest go. I can easily neglect my children by attempting to clean all day, and I can easily lose my children in their piles of toys if I never choose to clean up. I’ll have a spotless house again when they graduate. For now, I’ll make my situation live-able while being responsible (teaching them to clean up, too!), then I’ll let the rest go and play with my kids.

4. Simplify. Everything. Like your whole entire life.

5. Find ways to cope with the frustration, exhaustion, and the learning curve of parental living. Laugh when you want to yell (because it really IS funny). And when you hit your limit, get out of the house and rejuvenate yourself. Your rejuvenation is KEY to being a great parent! And so is chocolate.

6. Don’t get caught in debates over clean eating/vaccinations/discipline tactics/stay-at-home vs. work outside the home/ homeschool vs. go-to-school, etc. with other parents. It won’t help. Everyone starts with a different stack of cards. Everyone has a unique and intricate pathway that will work best for their family. It doesn’t mean you can’t have an opinion. It just means that you are a sensitive human being that realizes that there are (more than) two sides to every story, there is balance and wisdom to be had, and there are lots of options for different circumstances. Would I like my kids to eat organic every day? Yes. But you know what? We hit up Dunkin Donuts today because I-needed-a-break before I went on a major rant. Would I like my kid to have the best healthcare possible? Of course. But that doesn’t mean that I have to refuse to ever go to the doctor because my child will be forever traumatized by one dose of antibiotics–nor does it mean that I don’t think about natural remedies before I constantly induce my children with medicine containing Red 40. We can have a balance. And what works for one person may not work for another….and that’s ok. Take wisdom from each parent’s experience. Don’t judge other parents; make friends with other parents (there is strength in numbers). Don’t assume you know everything or that your way is the “only” way and that your research is the only research; this is a real headache. It’s also really annoying. ;) But give and receive wisdom that is shared–and then go with your gut. The hospital has saved me many times and so has my alternative therapy; yelling has saved my child sometimes (because she did something dangerous) and so has grace (when I let something slide). Donuts have saved me many of times and so has organic green food. We really are lucky in this country to have the best of a lot of worlds! Make many other parent friends and refuse to be a judger before being a listener; we can help one another out by sharing our perspectives and also by opening our listening ears–we don’t want to show our kids how to fight. ;)

7. The young years are often all about putting out fires (when there are multiple children close in age). I’m putting out a lot of fires these days when I have all three children and the dog together. So, we try as best as we can to separate the kids for special one-on-one dates. Dad takes one child to Home Depot when he needs to run an errand; I’ll take another child to Target when I want to buy nail polish (let’s be honest). And we try to get in special dates that require dessert and dresses and special date “pictures” every once in awhile too. It’s so worth it; the one-on-one connection time is so refreshing and makes me appreciate some of those idiosyncrasies that can be frustrating when all three children are together.

8. Have fun. Accept where you are. Accept where you’ve come from. Look forward to where you are going. Let your child “be” while challenging them to grow. Pray (you’ll need to). And then have more fun.

If I could give any counsel on what I’ve learned and am still learning (because things change every day), it would be these! Be patient with yourself, be patient with your kiddos (and spouse), never stop listening, and play really really hard. This has been the best journey of my life!







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Love and Marriage

Love and Marriage

A friend from high school asked me to write a piece for her non-profit’s newsletter about healthy marriage relationships. She and I haven’t seen each other since high school, but because of the fabulous world of social media, we’ve been able to “keep in touch”. She noticed some interactions between my husband and I on our Facebook pages, and she asked if I would write. When my husband came home that evening, I told him about it, and I have to admit we giggled for a minute. “Us? The crazies who just had three babies in less than four years? Us? The one’s with the gigantic dog who slobbers all over everything and wants to go outside five times a night? Us? The one’s who both have big dreams and goals for our family and our careers and are currently ravenously sleep-deprived?”

Yes, us.

Don’t get me wrong. I was flattered.

But then I thought about it. It’s easy to see snippets of people’s lives on a social media platform and believe that that is all there is to their relationship. The happy love notes and funny gestures, I mean. And it’s true, we have our fair share of those in this house; we really are in love with each other and we really do laugh a lot.  But on the other side of that love and laughter, there has been a lot of hard work. And a lot of ugly.

I’d say when we got married (right out of college) that we were both very selfish and broken people. Who isn’t? We had a very sweet college experience and love story, and when we got married, we were totally infatuated with each other and all kind of mushy stuff like that.

And then a few days into being married, we both had thoughts like “Oh-my-gosh. This person I married is crazy. Wait a minute, I’M crazy.” But even with that, when we got married, we committed to one thing that was for sure. And that was this:

This marriage is going to last forever. No backing out, no breaking up. We are gonna stick this thing out through the happy and the sad and the ugly and the sleep-deprived.

And so far, we are on 10 years plus, and I think we’ve done pretty well. We’ve fought a lot, made up a lot, moved a lot, changed jobs a lot, experienced loss, and gained joy. And if I can attribute any wisdom to this experience, aside from the obvious of the absolute Grace of God, it would be these three things:

1. Promise each other that you’re going to stick it out. Make your marriage a covenant. Breaking up isn’t optional. So many times in our society, we’ve seen “commitment” mean nothing. People cheat, people leave, our favorite bands break up. You get the idea. This has done a number on all of us if we want to be honest. So, David and I decided that we were bringing old school back. This marriage was the “Grande Finale” for both of us. Because we said those vows in front of our friends and family, we have what feels like a “promise umbrella”. And in that promise umbrella, we can have freedom with one another to be real, to be vulnerable, and to be honest. The other person isn’t going anywhere, so we can put all the cards on the table. We’re living this life to-geth-er. It creates safety and intimacy—and the perfect breeding ground for a lot of really hyper kids. (And it’s important to make that promise before the kids come around, because that’s the perfect time for you to possibly reconsider if you really like one another.)

With this umbrella, there are a few ground rules though. No one needs a promise umbrella full of abuse. So, in order for everyone to have a voice in this forever love, we do gently call one another out on bad behavior. We also listen to each other for understanding and not for debate, and we put one another’s needs in front of our own. We also are honest with one another (unless it involves a surprise party)–even if we might feel ashamed. Because in honesty, we have the ability to let go and to move forward.

2. Always look for and assume the best in each other. If he comes home and our house is a disaster, he’s learned to assume that the kids were tornadoes that day instead of that I sat on the couch and ate bons bons.  Likewise, if he doesn’t answer my text for several hours when he’s at work, I assume he’s in an important meeting or has a busy agenda and not that he doesn’t make time for my voice. Even though we are committed as a single unit (the two become one), we still have independent work days. And in addition to the work day, we also have our own history of life, and woundings, and process. So in choosing to assume the best in each other, we can stop an argument before it even starts. That means, as we see lack in the other’s attitude or environment, then we first look at why that could be. He didn’t get sleep last night? Check. The kids are teething? Check. Our St. Bernard did the “Beethoven shake” on our bed upstairs? Check. Check. This is life. Sometimes our environments reek chaos, and we have to give one another grace. But if it’s a continual problem, then we also have to give one another a different type of grace, which is asking if there is something that should be discussed. Are there underlying issues as to why his attitude is bad? Are there underlying issues as to why I can’t keep a clean kitchen? This is all important because it leads us back to the foundation in number 1. A promise has been made to one another. Yet inside that, bad behavior is manifesting. So, it’s time to be honest and real about the facts. With that, we can then create some space for a process, and we hopefully can work toward a better solution. Guaranteed, this is way better than nagging, badgering, or passive-aggressive comments to one another. It’s also better than saying nothing and allowing resentment to take root.

3. Be willing to own your stuff. Honestly, I think this has been our biggest ally of all.  Somehow or another, both of us have been born with an innate conviction wiring. When one of us knows we’re wrong, we apologize. Maybe not right away, but eventually it happens (usually within a few minutes to a full day). Sometimes people just need some space to think. We both have realized that an apology isn’t really genuine if it is forced or if it is being used as a band-aid (which will manifest as an explosive hand grenade later). So, we give ourselves some time to work through what the other said if needed, and then we offer an apology when we are in full understanding. Likewise, sometimes we can demand an apology when it really isn’t warranted. So, boundaries are also good. Knowing what isn’t your stuff is often as critical as owning what is. Old wounds of rejection and hurt can be triggered in confrontations, and what one person may think demands an apology could really be a need for comfort from a past wound. So, we can comfort one another’s wounds while not taking responsibility for a previous wrong that is being stirred up.  Being aware of ourselves, our previous history, and our partner’s previous history can be the roadmap to great communication and a really enjoyable relationship.

With all this being said, I realize that when we got married, we really didn’t know much about how to be married. But because we have such a fervor for making our lives more happy and efficient, we really were able to put the effort into creating a great marriage through a lot of trial and error. And it has really become quite beautiful as we look back at where we started.

I know that everyone is in a different situation and everyone has a different starting point.  But no matter where you are, there is hope! Perhaps you’re reading this, and you’re divorced. That’s ok! It is possible to pick up and start over. If you choose to find another husband or wife, you have the opportunity to find one who will complement your forever promise. If you are in a marriage where communication is really difficult, maybe just start by reading this article together. Choose to listen to one another in order to see each other’s vantage points–not to win–but to receive a full scope of what is possibly going on.  If you’ve made some mistakes, apologize. An apology is always good–even if it’s way late. And if your promise umbrella is full of abuse, you can get help from a professional outlet. There are so many great churches and counselors with tons of experience and grace to support you in your journey.

The point is, love and marriage is a great gift that we each have the privilege of stewarding.  This is not only for ourselves but also for the children that will come down the line, and the children that are already present (whether they are small children or adult children). It’s never too late to make strides from a fresh start. And if your partner doesn’t want to change, you can always be responsible for yourself. Sometimes it’s a good example that starts a revolution. People often respond to purity and genuine love, even if it takes some time.

And that is it! Our not-so-secret secrets about a healthy marriage.

Enjoy the gift of loving one another–through the good, the bad, the ugly, and the sleep-deprived. It will be one of the most blessed walks of life if you do!


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