Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! I know the last couple of years have been hard. A global pandemic, sometimes isolation from the people we care about, and so much instability in the world. It’s hard to see the good things, at times – especially when that’s what fills our Facebook “newsfeeds,” social media, and what we see on the news.

But the Good News is, there is hope. This has been a hard few years for me. I’ve lost a child I believed I would raise, I lost in love, and I faced a toxic situation that has now contributed to my health facing new challenges. But there is hope. There is always hope. No season lasts. No trial endures forever. The Good News for me is in the form of Emmanuel – God With Us – Jesus.

I don’t care much for religion and the ways in which we’ve perverted His message and the reason He came. But I do know with complete certainty that I’d be lost without Jesus. And so, that is where, in spite of all of the ugliness, where my hope lies.

I wish you & yours a beautiful holiday season. And I hope your day today is filled with peace, joy, and all the good things.

Chasing Dreams – A Tip for Beginning Your Journey

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I’ve mentioned that I’m ready for a new adventure & that I’ve got a timeline for making some decisions about the future. The closer I get to needing to solidify my plan, the more convinced I become of this one thing – I have more dreams to chase. When you grieve, it’s easier to lay aside the big, fat scary dreams that require stepping out of your comfort zone. It’s easier. It’s safer. I’ve done that (avoided scary things) since the moment I said goodbye to the sweet boy that made me a mom.

I don’t like easy & safe. I never have. I’m not made for it. I’ve never feared chasing dreams and I’ve never shied away from going after them.

That may mean that I have to travel paths others don’t, but I’ve always been good with that. As a writer and artist at heart, I’m comfortable with the hard things and grey lines. Those hard things make writing and creating, richer. If you’re willing, it also makes you a better lover of people. It makes you better able to love and care for others in their hardest moments. I think it adds more to my writing too. I don’t like to live on the surface. The hard things we face can either make life richer or they dwarf us and make us bitter.

I must be a mermaid, Rango. I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living.”
― Anais Nin

I’ve lived in a dwarfed state, because of my grief, much longer than I’m comfortable with. I’m done with all of that though. I am chasing dreams again – whatever that means and wherever that takes me.

So, if you’re anything like me, and you’re ready to chase some dreams, what’s the first step? The first step is letting go. Letting go of what, you may ask? That I can’t tell you. Maybe it’s other’s expectations. Maybe it’s fear of the consequences of heading in a new direction. Maybe it’s a combination of a few things. Whatever it is, that’s your first step – let go.

By the way, the first step is the hardest one. But if you’re chasing dreams, it’s where the meat is. Make. Up. Your. Mind. And. Do. It.

Let go.

There’s a scene in The West Wing in season 2’s “Two Cathedrals” that I love. If I could have found it for you, I would have shared (below is what happens just before the press conference). The show has spent multiple episodes up to this point, dealing with a popular president’s hidden multiple sclerosis diagnosis. President Bartlet knows he wants to run again. But the looming possibility that by hiding his diagnosis, it will all go up and flames, is consuming the Bartlet White House. They’re all focused on the consequence of what happens when the country learns that he didn’t divulge this important information. They’re worried about the future – all of them.

Meanwhile, President Bartlet is reliving memories of his beloved secretary (that he’s known since high school – she worked for his father) who died in a car accident and is buried the very day he’s going public, with his diagnosis. The truth is, he wants to run again. He believes he has more to do. He has a dream. And in his gut, he knows what he needs to do. But the circumstances are seemingly insurmountable. Their pollster has already given them the skinny – you can’t win after telling the country you have MS (and hid it from the world).

But on this painful day that he buries Mrs. Landingham, he faces down the circumstances, the dream, and work left undone. He fights it out with God in the National Cathedral and has a conversation with “her” afterward – just before his press conference. As he stands there at the podium, soaking wet from an unusual May hurricane-like storm, with questions being shouted out at him, he goes against his Press Secretary’s advice and takes a question from the wrong reporter. She asks him if he’s going to run for President again.

At first, he seems disoriented. And then, and then. His gaze is steely, he puts his hands in his pockets, and he faces the wild press corps. He knows what he has to do. He lets go of the grief, he lets go of the circumstances (all telling him he shouldn’t do this thing), and he lets go of the worries about how hard the path ahead is going to be. The show ends with his Chief of Staff saying, “Watch this.”

He let go and went for it.

So that’s it – friend. Let go. That’s where you have to start. It’s not going to be easy. You’ll face tests along the way. But I’m convinced that’s often a good sign you’re where you need to be. Take the first step and the rest will become clear.

What dream are you contemplating pursuing? What holds you back? What are the chances you’re stuck at what could do wrong? Don’t stay stuck at what could go wrong . . .

Live well. Be well.

I don’t like to wonder about the “what-ifs” in life. I have made it my goal to not reach the end of my days with more regrets piled up, than chances taken. While the road hasn’t been straight & I’ve crashed and burned a few times, I would rather live fully & dream big, then to wonder what might have been {even if I crash & burn}.

I left a job in December. That decision was one of the best decisions I’ve made for myself in recent history. The time I’ve spent since that day has been renewing, restful, peaceful, and a little scary too.

But, if the road ahead doesn’t freak you out a little, are you really living? In my case, the answer is no.

The last month has given me time to rest, create, & hope again. It also gave me time to figure out what my word for 2020 is.

It’s . . . wellness. Wellness is such an all encompassing word. As I’ve read about that word and what wellness really means, I’ve grown more & more excited that this word has settled in & will stick around.

Wellness for me also means not looking back with regret. So though it’s February 10th and not January 1st, this is my 2020 kick-off to living well, being well, and running my race without regrets.

Do you have a word for 2020? How do you choose your word {or does it choose you}?

Foster Care Adventures – Part Two

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October 2015, a little guy hung around at work, for a week or so. On Wednesday of that week, he “helped” me work. He sat on my lap, we hung out with friends, and then he played with my calculator & drew with my pens. He feel asleep there at my desk, in my arms, and I worked around him {not so successfully}. I lost my heart. I think about him all the time. Mostly because he was part of the journey {part one anyway} that I finished tonight as my foster parent training classes came to a close.

He was a reminder of everything I’ve always known about who I am and what I was put on this earth to do. He was the happiest boy. I saw him the following week and he “talked” all about the book he had with him. I will never forget this sweet boy. And I’m grateful for how God used him to remind me of what I’ve always known.

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Throughout the last 11 weeks or so, I’ve grown more confident that though there is more work to be done, there isn’t anything I’d rather do more than provide a loving home for kids.

So with part one complete, I’m on to the next part of this crazy adventure. I don’t know who my first placement will be. I don’t know his or her age, name, or background. But God does and He’s already put me on this path to cross his or her path.

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress…” James 1:27.