Thursday, January 28, 2016

You Don't Belong in my Club

You don't belong in my club. I don't want you here. And I'll vow to do whatever I can to keep you out.

I feel so strongly about this that I will relentlessly and strategically pursue whatever avenue possible to ensure that you do not ever get welcomed into my club.

I will talk about this to every person I see - friends and strangers alike: "she cannot be a part of this!"

I will passionately plead my case to anyone who will listen: "SHE DOES NOT BELONG HERE!"

I will lose sleep and write posts and pray with a fervor none have seen before.

I will organize events with the sole purpose to keep you out.

No, you don't belong to my club. I do not want to see you here.

In my lifetime, I don't ever want to see you here.

You belong somewhere else. Away from this.

You belong to the club of Mamas of Miracles - not to the club of Mamas Without.

You belong to the club of Mamas of Children Who Have Overcome - not to the club of Mamas of Children Who Didn't.

You belong to the club of Mamas Who Get More Time on Earth - not to the club of Mamas Waiting for Heavenly Reunions.

You belong there. But not with us.

Now, before you go all feeling sorry or bad or guilty or awkward for me and the Mamas in my club - don't. Simply put, we know loss - and not a single one of us wishes it for another.

We understand things that those who have never experienced a great sorrow do not: and that is a PRIVILEGE. It is a gift and an honor that we wear with pride. Do not feel sorry for us.

Rather, it is what we have been entrusted by God in experiencing, in learning, in knowing, that makes us a force to be reckoned with.

When we say we'll pray for your baby girl, those aren't just token words. We will get down, bare knees on concrete, arms raised, praising Jesus and pleading for a miracle. Not just one time. Not just before bed. But every second of every day until God has ushered your child safely through this valley.

When we say we'll pray we do it so thoroughly no stone is left unturned. We pray for the healing of your child, of course, and friends and family, but also for anything we think you'll need protection against or help navigating: insurance claims, moody staff, car trouble, utility bills, that nosey neighbor, the cutting words of those who mean well (and those who don't).

We pray that the milk in the fridge doesn't spoil and the toilet doesn't clog because we have first hand knowledge that any small thing has the capabilities of pushing you emotionally over the edge, suddenly becoming the biggest hurdle you've ever seen trying to convince you nothing is working and all is lost. All lies. We know all about those lies...

No, you don't belong in our club. No mama ever does. Our membership already too large for the peace of this mama's heart. So we use our strength in numbers to pray you through. Pray you out. Pray your membership DECLINED.

Pray you into another club altogether.

We hear you, Mama. We hear your pain and your fear and we know you don't want to belong to our club, either. You can say that out loud - we won't take offense to that. We know this club sucks.

That's we pray. Why we share your story. Why we encourage others to pray.

That's why we advocate. For you. For your family.

That's why we encourage others to join in your fight.

We are relentless and we do not stop.

Because you don't belong in our club. We don't want you here. And we'll vow to do whatever we can to keep you out.

Kaitlyn is currently being prayed through a
traumatic brain injury sustained 22 days ago.

This post is dedicated to our dear friend, Lisa, who we've been praying for, through and out... And for her incredible daughter Kaitlyn. You've got a lot of work to do, kiddo, but there's a whole host of prayer warriors praying you through!


Benefit Taco Dinner: Mon., Feb. 1st at Hernandez Restaurant


Kaitlyn's Crusaders: March 5th [Tennis, Zumba, Cycling]

Bowling for Kaitlyn: April 3rd

Kaitlyn's Healing Account [GoFundMe Page]

Follow #prayforKaitlyn on Facebook

Friday, January 8, 2016


The easy part was knowing.

As hard as it was to hear the words Avery didn't make it, at least I finally knew. I had my answer. I knew how to proceed (even if I had no clue how I was going to proceed).

The dying was the easy part.

The hours before it were pure hell.

Not knowing. 

But knowing something wasn't right. But not exactly what that something was.

Pacing the floor. Looking at the clock. Wiping down the counter for the third time.

Looking out the window. Punching in the cell phone numbers.

Listening to it ring. And ring. And ring. Before hearing the voice politely ask me to please leave a message.

Going to the bathroom but not knowing what to do when I got there.

Walking down the hall.

Calling for someone. Anyone.

Saying the words I can't find the girls.

Still not knowing. Hating not knowing.


Punching in more numbers.

Trying to sound calm when I told the police it's not like them; they wouldn't be late.

Pacing. Going to one door. Then another. Looking out the window. Typing in the phone number trying not to cry more pacing back to the door then to the window check the phone call my mom and God please help me!

The rising of fear reaching levels of epic proportions.

The scenarios in my mind growing out of control.

I'm okay, I'm okay, I'm just over reacting. The girls are fine. I know they're fine. They just lost track of time. It's okay. Don't be ridiculous they are going to be fine.

Deep breath.

Over and over.

Hearing the doorbell.

Welcoming them in.

I'm sorry. There's been an accident...

And finally knowing.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

The Red Cup of Starbucks and Why as a Christian I'm Okay With It

Spoken words are just as powerful as printed ones.
Sometimes even more so.
The American Christian world, it seems, is losing its marbles over the redesigned Starbucks cups. Just in time for the holiday season, the company has intentionally decided to eliminated the words Merry Christmas from its new design.

There are articles splashed across the interwebs of how this redesign is emblematic of the Christian culture cleansing of the west.

There's been talk of boycotts.

Of protests.

Of a revolt!

You know what I think about this red cup redesign? Good.

Now, before you draft that hate letter to me, let me publicly declare that I am a Christian and I believe God sent His only son, Jesus Christ, to die for my sins. I also believe that maybe this red cup shake-up is getting under our skin as Christians because there's a truth there we don't really want to admit to ourselves.

Because maybe we need the reminder to say it intentionally out loud more often, instead of relying on some printed words on the side of a cup to be our mouthpiece.

Because maybe rushing in and out at the counter for our Gingerbread Latte and tossing out a hurried Merry Christmas over our shoulders as we side step quickly to avoid running into the next customer is not enough anymore.

Because maybe, just maybe, God wants us to slow down and really think about what those words really mean to us as Christians and why it's important we say them.

And maybe it's time that we take that responsibility on personally - and not expect a big business to do it for us.

One of the most interesting internet challenges meant to counter attack the redesigned cup asks people to "prank" Starbucks by giving your name as "Merry Christmas" so they have to write it on the cup. The challenge makes you have to look at the barista and say the words Merry Christmas out loud.

Look, it's not the cup's responsibility to declare your faith and it's not up to a franchise to speak on your behalf. If you truly believe in your heart of hearts that those words need to be said, then you take responsibility and say them. Now, if Starbucks passes some sort of coffee house rule that forbids us from personally saying the words Merry Christmas, well, that there is a different situation that requires a totally different blog post.

Throughout this holiday season you'll probably see me quite a few times with a bright red Starbucks cup in my hand - and you'll probably see me many more times without one. Doesn't matter. I'll still smile, look you in the eyes and wish you a very Merry Christmas. And I might even invite you to my church.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

An Open Letter to the Girls who Bully Alexis

Thank you! No, really, I mean that. Thank you. Because if it weren’t for you – if it weren’t for the pain you intentionally inflicted and your desire to break one particular human spirit, the rest of us in this world might never have met such an incredible young lady.

I was so angry when I saw the passionate post her Mama wrote. Reading about your behavior sent me spiraling back to the days when I watched my own daughter get bullied. It made me furious to think of another child so close to my home going through the same thing. Except I wasn’t as courageous as this Mama; I just sat quietly. I encouraged my daughter to let it go and watched her get more and more sullen and depressed because those girls never let up. I made a mistake back then. Mamas need to stand up. Because when one Mama stands up, other Mamas stand up with her. 

I pray that you realize it’s time to let up.

Then I started reading more about Alexis. Learning who she is --- and my anger quickly gave way to something else: awe. 

I want to introduce to you this beautiful daughter of mine, her mom wrote.

And what an amazing girl we were introduced to!

We read about how Alexis is a talented cartoonist, has an amazing voice, and is full of spunk and spirit, always trying to make others smile. So many of us don’t have half that talent or near that bright approach to life.

We read about the inner strength of this child who has grown up without a father, who has mourned the loss of a sibling, and who is being monitored for a heart condition. Let me tell you: that there is a strength most of us couldn’t imagine enduring, and yet picture after picture shows her smiling and laughing.

And still, there was so much more to Alexis:

She runs marathons to raise money for special causes. At just 13 years old.

She volunteers to wrap Christmas gifts for free at the mall. At just 13 years old.

She volunteers to work at fundraisers. At just 13 years old.

She’s active in her church. At just 13 years old.

As I read, just as thousands – yes, thousands of others read along with me – I quickly came to the realization that this is no ordinary child. This is a girl with a purpose in life that far exceeds the standard middle school expectations.

Alexis has a passion for animals and, with her skills of giving CPR and IV fluids, has rescued and saved animals for years.

At this point I’m thinking this would be enough. This would be enough to make me so proud if she were my daughter! I would be so proud to simply come in contact with this precious gift of a child who makes what I do pale in comparison.

And yet her passion extends even further with her desire to find ways to fight against and put a final end to Yulin.

Yulin? I had to admit – I had no idea what Yulin even was.

And here’s where I thank you again. See, I – along with the thousands of other people who were introduced to Alexis, were exposed to something we may never would have been.

I learned that Yulin is a festival in China each year – a grotesque, demeaning, awful dog meat carnival. (I’m warning you, Googling it will result in traumatizing photos.)

There are worldwide petitions and activists determined to stop this atrocity from happening – yet here I was, complacent in my little world of comings and goings and coffee dates with friends that I never even knew it existed. Alexis taught us something. She pulled open the curtain and shined a light on something important that God placed on her heart. We should all be so lucky to have such an audience like the one she has today. 

Make no mistakes: there's not a single one of us who feels sorry for Alexis. If that's what you think you're incredibly wrong.

We're impressed by her. In awe of her. We have respect for her. We’re excited to see what else she can teach us, how she will decide to use her voice and undoubtedly how she will work to improve our world.

Thank you. Thank you for allowing all of us to be introduced to Alexis. Because we think she’s incredible.  A shining light for our future. And we're so thankful that she's here. 

Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Forgotten First Chapter

A lifetime ago I took a creative writing class at the private Roman Catholic university I was attending because it made total sense at the time that as a girl who had a long, detailed list of debate questions with the Catholic religion, I ought to pay an exorbitant amount of money in tuition getting schooled by a bunch of nuns. Except, none of my classes were actually taught by nuns. Apparently creative writing did not attract the habits. I kind of felt cheated because it really was a lot of money and you'd think I could have experienced at least one semester of a ruler rapt against my knuckles just to say I survived.

Anyway. My actual point is to tell you I just came across one of my old writings from one of my classes. Our assignment was simple: Write a first chapter of a fiction novel. Since it was a gazillion years ago I have the original on a floppy disk somewhere -- but I wanted to share it with you so I retyped it. Except my chair at my desk is too short so now my shoulders hurt but I can't change the chair because it looks super cute and I threw out all our old phone books because who actually has a need for a phone book, what with Google at our fingertips? Well, except they were useful to sit on. Suffice it to say, there are errors in there. Understand my editor hasn't seen the first draft yet. Also, I don't have an editor. I'm practicing sarcasm. I also didn't include the entire first chapter here because you never realize how long a chapter is until you have to type it out word for word. If you want the rest of the chapter or the rest of the book you'll have to be broker a sweet deal with a publisher. For me. Don't steal my words. It's not nice. 

So. Here it goes. I wrote it about a year before I got pregnant with Avery. 


Often times when I’m sitting all alone, minding my day, a thought just pops into my head, disturbing all that silence that was just up there. And try as I might, I can’t seem to get that thought out of my head. It just keeps droning on and on and on, which makes it quite difficult to enjoy the weather or listen to a conversation I may be involved in. Lately it’s been stuff about dying and what that would be like. Oh, not that I would want to, don’t get me wrong. I have no business doing that sort of thing at this time in my life. Still, I find it fascinating that one minute I could be here, running around and jumping about like a wild bird taking off for its first flight, and the very next minute be lying still on the ground, dead. All the folks in town would line up in their Sunday best, dabbing lacy handkerchiefs at their eyes, waiting to gawk at me lying dead in the casket, saying things like, “my, what a shame to take a life so young.” They wouldn’t know I’d already be watching them from heaven, holding on to the hand of an angel, watching them make quite a spectacle of themselves sobbing and dabbing away.

                My sister’s name is Maury. Actually it’s Maureen, but she’s got a nickname so everyone just calls her Maury. She’s beautiful and looks exactly like my mother with the same golden hair and deep blue eyes. “A reflection of the soul,” my grandmother likes to say clasping her hands over her heart and casting her eyes up toward heaven in a must absurd and dramatic way. Maury says I’m morbid for always talking about death and dying and says I have no business planning such a thing. I tell her I’m not planning it, just thinking about it, but she says that’s one in the same as far as she’s concerned. She’s thirteen and Mama says I ought to mind my older sister because she’s wiser and knows better. I tell Mama that she is the only sister I got and being that she’s only a year and a half older, how much wiser could she possibly be? Then Mama tells me I best quit sassing her if I know what’s good for me. Well, I certainly do know what’s good for me, so I go on outside to think some more about dying.

                I like to imagine what Mama would lay me out in. I’m sure she’d go to town and get one of those fancy while satin dresses, fringed in lace, with a long satin ribbon around the waist and white gloves to match. I really would like one of those brimmed hats, but I can’t imagine how comfortable that would be to lay in one. Besides, it would get all creased and wrinkled anyway.

                When my Daddy died last year, Mama put him in a suit. Everyone kept going on and on about how handsome he was and how good he looked. Personally, I thought he looked stiff and uncomfortable in that get-up. Funny this was, I don’t recall Daddy ever even owning a suit, much less wearing one. I know he wore one for his wedding to Mama because I seen the picture of them on her dresser, but that was the only time. I believe it would be safe to say that my Daddy only wore a suit when he went to church, which, for him, would have been his wedding and his funeral.

                For the most part, Daddy was always wearing those heavy coveralls, filthy with grease and oil. His hair was just about as greasy as his working clothes, sticking out all over the place, never being combed just right. Even straight out of the shower he still looked as if he had a layer of grime on him that couldn’t be scrubbed off. He’d come out smelling like a mixture of Irish Spring soap and WD-40. It sounds unpleasant, and I suppose it’d take some getting used to for one who’s never smelled it before, but it really wasn’t all that bad.

                I don’t look like either of my parents, but bear a strong resemblance to Daddy’s Uncle Arthur, whom I have never met, but take on the word of adults that I do indeed look like him. Daddy’s uncle was killed in a war when Daddy was very young and left behind a wife and newborn child that no one has ever seen. I wonder sometimes if that child looks like him as well. I’m not even certain if it was a boy child or a girl child. But if it were a girl child, who did indeed look like Daddy’s Uncle Arthur, then I sure would love to catch a glimpse of her now as an adult so I could prepare myself for what I would look like in the future. If she is beautiful, I know I would have a most pleasant adulthood. And, if she were to be ugly, then I would know now to buckle down on my schoolwork so as to ensure me a right and proper position as a career woman.

                Maury, who is as pretty as they come, tells me that if you are beautiful then a rich man will surely want to marry you. Then you won’t have to work and you get to buy anything you want on store credit. “However,” she says, turning her nose at my short cut hair and my boy’s blue jeans, “if you are not, then you will have to work in factories all your life until you are eighty.”

                Well, that seems like an awful long time to be putting in at a factory, so for my sake, I pray that Daddy’s Uncle Arthur’s child is ravishing.

                Maury says I ought to grown into my body someday but not to expect too much. I’m long and lanky, with not much curvature, which I know is important. I decided to cut my hair short after seeing Julie Andrews play Peter Pan. I sure wish now I hadn’t because Maury says people often mistake me for a boy and someday I may even become convinced of that myself. Maury and I don’t look anything alike. Maury stands straight and tall and has creamy skin and thick hair. I slouch too much and Mama says if I keep that up I’m bound to become a hunchback.

                Mama and Maury are real close and always talking about clothes and ribbons and hair styles. I used to go on over to the garage and help Daddy when he was working, but since he died I don’t go there too much. Once in a while I stop over to per that old mangy dog, Roscoe. Daddy found him before I was even born in a drain ditch when he was just a puppy, but now he’s almost completely blind and lies around panting like it just might be his last breath.

                I try not to stay home too much, or when I’m there stay up in my room and out of Mama’s way. Mama’s been in a mood of sorts since Daddy died. Maury says it’s just me being dramatic and sensitive because she doesn’t see any problems with Mama. I remind her that’s because Mama actually talks to her where she usually just slides me a sandwich across the table without saying much of anything. Maury tells me that I’m just jealous because she and Mama have a kindred relationship. Fact is, I’m jealous because she has long hair, it has nothing to do about anyone’s relationship.

                See, we’re not allowed in Mama’s room. That’s a private area which we only go in if we’re armed with a can of spray Pledge in one hand and a dusting cloth in the other. Yet, every night before bedtime Mama calls Maury into her room, sets her down at the vanity, picks up her silver antique hairbrush with real camel hair, and brushes Maury’s long hair. “One hundred strokes to bring out the shine,” Mama always says. Maury and Mama sit in there for what seems like hours, staring into that vanity mirror and talking all quiet. I love to go dusting in Mama’s room so I can try to brush my hair. Mama caught me once and yelled at me to quit dawdling and get back to work, then asked why on earth I was trying to brush a bald head.

                I don’t understand why Mama brushes Maury’s hair with that silver brush. Mama’s always telling me how much older she is yet she can’t even seem to brush her own hair. And if Mama really wanted to, I reckon she could brush my hair for me, too. I know it’s short and all but it still could use one hundred strokes for shine.


There you have in. A strange fascination with death in a first chapter of a book that will never be finished, written before the birth of a girl who will never grow old. In my story, the girl is 11 years old. Avery died at eleven. I know it's ridiculous to even entertain this thought - that somehow my words created a destiny for a child - or that somehow, if I had just written the pretend story I would never have the real story I needed to share. I know, it doesn't make rational sense. I blame the stress in my shoulders. Because, really, this chair is way too short.