Welcome to my blog. Does the world really need another blog? Well, probably not. But, I believe
we are all on a journey... and I think it is a good thing to process and to analyze the world around us. So being a writer... what better way to do this? This is a blog where I will authentically share with you the way I see life -- which may include the good, the bad and the ugly. I am glad you found me. I hope you come back again. Blessings.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

...and Liberty for all...

One of my favorite experiences from my recent trip to NYC in December was our visit to the Statue of Liberty. I had seen the Statue of Liberty last time I visited NYC, but we had just taken the boat tour around it and did not actually go to Liberty Island and walk around it...etc....

It is quite simply awesome. It was an iconic moment. I felt the same way when I saw Mount Rushmore and when I visited the monuments in Washington, D.C. And I am sure I will feel the same way when I see the Grand Canyon...

It was also an inspiring and humbling moment for me knowing what the Statue of Liberty represents to so many people -- knowing the sacrifices immigrants all over the world made to climb on a boat (or fly on an airplane) and head to the USA where they would see Lady Liberty for the first time -- and knowing when they entered the harbor they were excited and happy because of the hope America would give them.

My entire visit to NYC reminded me of the great melting pot that is the United States. And our visit to the Statue of Liberty was no exception. At one point we tried to get someone to take our picture with the Manhattan skyline in the background, but we could not find anyone who was speaking English. (It was a little surreal for a girl from the heartland and a southern belle.) But it was inspiring too. Visitors from all over the world visit NYC, pay their money, go through airport-level security, board a ferry and head out to an island to visit an old copper monument. Why? I believe it is because of what it represents to the world. Okay, maybe it is because it is expected you visit the Statue of Liberty when you visit NYC. And I realize it is an expected visit. But, I do think it became a "must do experience" because of what it represents.

My continued hope as I process and reflect on this experience (and also my visit to Ellis Island) is the people and lawmakers in our nation will never become complacent (or worse, apathetic) about the freedom and liberty we experience in this great country. People from other lands value it and respect it and honor it and want it. Hopefully, we will always do the same.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

You know the classic story of the Wizard of Oz. In the end, everyone finds out the "wizard" is an just an ordinary man with no magical powers at all. We learn he is exactly like everyone else.

As I think about his character, I realize his claim to fame was he had convinced everyone in the land of Oz he had extraordinary powers and he was a wizard who could solve all their problems. But, in reality, it was all a facade.

Which leads me to the realization of how we are a lot like the "Wizard of Oz." Most of us live behind some kind of facade. We wear masks. We convince people we have it all together. And we may even convince ourselves.

So, why do we live behind the masks? Why do we put up a facade? Why don't we live in a place of authenticity? Why do we try and convince others we are something we are not?

I know there may be several reasons. But I think the most pervasive reason is fear. Fear of judgment. Fear of rejection. Fear of conflict. Fear of condemnation. Fear. It is a powerful element in our lives.

But fear does not come from a relationship with God. Jesus taught us that perfect love casts away all fear. And yet, we live in fear and even at times embrace it.

I guess I am at the point in my life where I don't want to live in fear anymore. I want to live an authentic life. I want to take off the masks and tear down the facade.

I believe God came to give us an abundant life. And I don't think the abundant life has room any room for fear. And I am convinced the abundant life is characterized by authenticity.

What are your thoughts?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

February 17, 1999

We pulled into the driveway. We were meeting at our friends house for a bible study. After the study we were going to celebrate my husband's birthday. I had come out earlier in the day to bring the party goods. It was going to be a good night. A fun and simple birthday celebration following bible study.

As we pulled into the driveway, Chris came out the door. He was crying. He told us the news. The police had just left. There had been an accident. Tina and Caitlin had been killed.
No one is ready for this news. No one is ready to hear that a friend has been killed. Let alone that her eleven year old daughter was dead too. It takes a while to even process news like this. It is weird and confusing and makes you feel as if you are dreaming.

I remember one of the first things I did after hearing the news was start to clean up the birthday party stuff. That was weird too. Here we were planning a party to celebrate my husband's life and two lives were gone.

I stayed there all night. That was the only night I can ever remember where I stayed up all night long. It was an endless night full of every kind of emotion. It is a night I will not forget.
Time is such an interesting dimension in life. In some ways, that night seems like a lifetime ago. So much in my life has changed since then. It seems so far away. And in other ways, it seems like just yesterday. I still remember in detail so much of that night. So many emotions from the grieving process. And then there are the memories of Tina and Caitlin which still come rushing back. Tears still come to my eyes.

I still miss her and her authenticity. Her spiritual perspective. Her giving spirit and her willingness to help others. And of course her laugh. She had an amazing laugh.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day used to mean something completely different to me... It was a day full of expectation where I would think about getting flowers or candy or jewelry from my true love.

Now? Not so much. In recent years, I have found I don't care about this holiday as much as I used to... It seems forced, contrived, manipulated... and I think I am beginning to "dislike" Valentine's Day. (I sound a bit like a non-loving, non-romantic Valentine Scrooge, huh?)

So, I ask myself why. Especially when I consider that I love gifts and words of affirmation. You would think Valentine's Day would be right up my alley.

I think so much of it lies in the marketing of the holiday - it seems to me that more and more holidays are losing their true meaning and are becoming all about purchasing the "perfect" gift or making the "perfect" plan. Marketing encourages you to elevate your expectations and expect the perfect day, date, gift, chocolate, etc... However, because we are in relationships with fellow humans, who are by nature not perfect, our elevated expectations are rarely met and we end up feeling disappointed and frustrated because we realize our lives are not "perfect."

In recent years, Valentine's Day has been more about my kids and giving them some candy. You know because the candy they got at Christmas is gone and it is still a few more weeks until the next candy-fest Easter. I am okay with this. Today, I gave them a homemade valentine with a bag of 15 pieces of chocolate. Yes, I go all out.

And just so you know that I am not a complete Valentine Scrooge, I do think Valentine's Day is a great opportunity to tell those around you that you love and appreciate them. Because, telling those you love that you love them is always a good idea no matter the day.

So, what are your thoughts on this holiday?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Getting Back to Normal...

I remember when our third child was born. We had been blessed with two children already, the oldest, a girl and then a boy. And although we had challenges, the whole parenting thing seemed to be going pretty well. And then we had our third child, a son, and suddenly we were outnumbered. And it seemed life changed in a big way.

In the days following his birth, I remember thinking everything will be fine as soon as "we get back to normal." Well, that was May 2001 and it has not happened yet! As I think about it, I don't think "normal" ever really existed, except perhaps in my mind. Since then, I feel like most days I am just managing the challenging, chaotic, fun, educational, loving, sometimes maddening, experiences that define my life!

Why is it we desire to "be normal?" When you are a kid, you want to be normal like all the other kids. When you get older, you want to be normal like everyone else... Seriously, who is really normal? Didn't a comedian once say, "normal is a setting on your dishwasher." What does normal really mean anyway?

Normal can have different meanings. I think I tend to define normal as "having a plan and following it." I am a person who likes structure and schedules and plans that are executed as planned. But in reality, since I have five children, this never really happens. And when I think it has happened, I am most likely just kidding myself or in a deep delusion.

So after this week's snow storm and the husband being home from work yesterday (which is so not normal) I feel like today is the day to get back on track with that plan, stay on schedule and have that elusive structure... Oh wait, we have a field trip today. That will throw everything off. Okay, then tomorrow.... Tomorrow, we will get back to normal...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Winter of our Discontent...

So it is snowing again today in Kansas. I know, it is wintertime and snow happens. We should be expecting this kind of thing throughout the winter and yet several of us are now tired and bored of the snow....

Why do we so easily get tired of the things we desire? We start out the season (whatever season it is - either a season of life or a season of the year) looking forward to what the season will bring and then when the season delivers, we get antsy, ready to move on, "bored."

Let's take this winter season. We didn't get any snow to speak of during November. We didn't have a "White Christmas." And then January. We were all ready for snow. We were tired of the bleak winter landscape without any white stuff. And then it came. It was awesome. We loved the snow. It was beautiful. And then some more came...and things were canceled, it changed our plans, kids were stuck inside... we started to get tired of it... the beautiful snow piles left started getting dirty... Yuck.

And now, more snow. The very thing we were hoping for a few weeks ago... and yet it doesn't hold it's magical influence on us anymore. My kids are not standing at the window yelling, "It is snowing!" They are almost oblivious to it. What is up with that? Taking an objective point of view, it is beautiful outside. The snowflakes are big and pretty and all that dirty snow is being covered up! It is exactly what we wanted just six weeks ago. And now, we are tired, we want to move on. We are ready for spring!

It is not just the weather where we do this. I know this has happened in the seasons of parenting too. I would look forward to a season of my kids life...and then when we are in it, I would get tired of it and be ready to move out of this particular season or phase of life.

So, I wonder, why do we do this? Why is it so hard for us to just live in the moment and enjoy each and every aspect of where we are at a particular moment in time? My hope is I can look out my window and enjoy what the day has to hold. That is my hope... my intention... but as I look out of my window, I can't help but imagine the trees and flowers in full bloom.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Times Square

Have you been to New York City lately? I recently had the opportunity to visit the Big Apple. It had been several years since I had been there...like twenty-four years... and although, I am sure we went to Times Square when we visited in 1986, I didn't remember it.

Times Square is quite a place. To be honest, I was overwhelmed by it all. We stayed in a hotel just north of Times Square so we walked through it several times a day. And each time I would walk through the area, I would be overwhelmed and excited all at the same time.

Times Square is excessive and exciting, alluring and alarming. American excess at its pique. American capitalism at its best. Sensational and scandalous. Fun and frightening.

There was a billboard/sign/interactive display (I am not sure what you call it) with a camera pointed at the crowd walking by....taking pictures of the crowd and then displaying it on the sign. Pretty cool because I can say I have been on a billboard in Times Square, huh? (Look for me in the top picture in the far bottom left--next to the woman in the white coat.)

But as I think about the excess, the chaos and craziness of it all, it makes me wonder if this is truly all our lives are about in western civilization? Stuff. Advertising. Excess. Constant change. Chaos. Having it all. Wanting it all. Having our senses overwhelmed at all times.

In the relatively small land area that is Times Square you are exposed to all that makes our country "tick." Sex, candy, toys, strip clubs, the media, investment banks, money, entertainment, food, clothes... Is this what we are about? In the "heart" of the largest city in our great country, lies Times Square in all its excitement and excess.

Also, obviously present, and with an overwhelming presence is the NYPD. I have never seen so many police in such a small area. There were surveillance cameras, police on horseback, police patrolling, police up in a tower looking down on the area... the NYPD were everywhere. Times Square is a target for those who want to destroy our way of live in the United States and it is a magnet for those of us who want it all in the United States.

I had a great time in the Big Apple. I will share more of my experiences and thoughts in the days to come. And admittedly, there were many times I looked around and thought, "I am not in Kansas anymore." But more than all that, visiting NYC, and in particular Times Square, makes me wonder why we do what we do as a nation... Who are we as a country? And what do we truly think is important?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Does the world really need another blog?

So, I have officially started a blog. Which of course leads to the obvious question...does the world really need another blog floating around in the blogosphere? Well, honestly, probably not.

So why am I doing it? Will anybody read it? Well, whether anybody reads it remains to be seen, but the following are the reasons I decided to start a blog...

But first, let me say, I am not starting a blog because I have nothing to do... although in the winter, life does "slow down" a bit. (It will be interesting to see if I am so eager to blog away when the flowers return and the warm weather beckons me to visit...) Anyway, many times in my life, I feel like I am just treading water and trying to stay afloat in my life...so I am not blogging because I have tons of free time...

So why? Overall, I think I am blogging as a creative outlet. I like to write. Wow! Did I just write that? For a minute, I just had a flashback to school when we would be given writing assignments -- I don't think I ever would have said 'I like to write.' It is amazing how time can change your perspective.

Anyway, I think that the process of writing is good for me. It helps me think through my life and what I am learning, how I am being transformed, how I am growing. So there you go. My reason for blogging. My hope is that through my blog it will encourage others in their life journeys as well. Maybe we will learn and grow together as we journey. Blessings to all.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


So for the third time this winter, due to the winter weather, our mid-week activities have been canceled -- I don't remember this many weeks being canceled in the past, but that is another story.... Although, this has created some sadness and frustration for my older children, who look forward to hanging out with their friends at their different activities throughout the week, I have rather enjoyed having nothing to do and nowhere to go...

So it makes me wonder...why is it we sometimes need circumstances (e.g. the winter weather) to force some blank space in our lives? We fill our lives with "good" things that take our time -- bible studies, music lessons, book clubs, hobbies, etc... And yet, there is a strange comfort, a peace, a calm, in finding out you have nothing to do for the day or the night. Now don't get me wrong, I will be ready to return to my regularly scheduled life -- after a few days I start to go stir crazy. But, maybe, just maybe it is good to take a break, to be bored for a little while and have nothing to do. It takes something outside of my control to put life on hold. It makes me wonder... Do I have enough blank space in my life?