Happy birthday to me

I turned 41 last week.

A year ago this time I had rich and prolonged celebrations. Friends flew in from across the country. I was surprised in restaurants by out of town soul-friends joining our table, an entire wedding reception sing me Happy Birthday over a cake the bride & groom arranged for me. Then I smashed it in the groom’s face like their wedding was my party…..because #bourbon. And I’m psychotic.

I entered into the year with so much hope and joy. I declared this coming decade would be a great one, but something in my guts told me my declaration was true. The fruits of last year were good. Really good. But the circumstances were ROOOOUGH.

My teenage foster daughter ran away – over cleaning her room. She really ran away, thousands of miles away. I thought she had been trafficked by a co-worker with whom she disappeared. She wasn’t trafficked, and in that moment I felt like she ran away from me…..because I’m a terrible mother, maybe even a terrible woman. That an orphaned child couldn’t stay near me for another 9 weeks to her 18th birthday. The resulting fruit of this was borne out of being made new in the truth, my girl was always the Lord’s first. I love to the best of my abilities. In my lack, God’s power fills in perfectly. My girl’s actions are my identity, nor my value as a mother.

I beefed emotional boundaries and increased surrender of my girl to her Creator. I healed the deepest of wounds around rejection and identity.

I was paralyzed with confusion and overwhelm with my work. I fell short of goals I had set for myself and hung my head in disappointment when I didn’t know what else to do.

I spent a week silent with Monks. I walked away with a personal mission, vision and values. I redesigned my life and career direction to engage my most fulfilling work – focusing on equipping small business owners and women in transition with resources, practices and tools so they can operate in the fullness of who they were made to be. I still grew my business revenues 50%. I started a regular rhythm of writing.

COVID shut down the industry I service reducing national commerce by 95%, like air evacuating a rubber balloon. COVID torpedoed my strategic business plans and devastated my clients.

I innovated a new product, a pathway to a new industry, and education to equip and support an expanding client base. Despite all the circumstances that felt like profound set back, I also spent weeks at the beach, hiked in the mountains, play at our beloved Mexican orphanage, and spent long days with my lifelong friends. 

But in quarantine my family leaned into each other, loved each other, and got so good at forgiving that we grew to desire living small. I ate and drank all the things. And it was yummy. We sent roots deep with each other and another family that quarantined alongside us.

My teenage runaway now has her own apartment and is expecting a child this summer. We will find a way forward. God willing. I think He does will it- He is in the business of redemption and reconciliation. And my girl is happy.

Over the last year I was freed up in the depths of my soul by way of struggle. Each pain was an invitation for some healing, for a wound I didn’t know existed that could be made whole.

The year has leveled me up as a woman, a partner, a business owner, and a leader.

It is well.

The burden of grieving

There is a weight to grief. Yesterday I found it sitting on my chest, compressing my lungs and preventing a full breath. It hurts. Over my heart, a muscle pinch just inside my scapula, and a pumping ache behind my brow.

I sat with it, which is a new quarantine practice.

What am I feeling?

Where and how do I feel it?

What of this is mine?

What of this is to be let go?

What of this can I control?

I find it’s the collective societal wound of racism fueled injustice. It throbs. I am feeling the deep wound first cut at the founding of our country, at the founding of all civilization. The blade of tyranny cut our fellow humanity at the knee so the power holder might seem raised above. The swordsman believed a lie- that there wasn’t enough power or bounty or love for everyone. The poverty began with the first act of subjugation. And the incision has only grown deeper, wider and more putrid.

Some might have thought the sutures of emancipation or voting rights or affirmative action healed the wound. But with an hour of evening news you can see the vile infection that’s lay below the surface is now bursting forth. Many knew it was simmering right below the surface, they smelled the stench. Others have been shocked by the presentation, thinking the pus of one man’s death in Minneapolis is not linked to our country’s foundational beliefs that it is acceptable to treat another human being as livestock, to be owned as though without a soul.

They did not know that the gangrene had been left unchecked because it was hidden with a clean epidermis of what they thought was a functioning society. But the finger pointing and polarizing screeching only served to distract the collective conscious from the growing fever and internal shooting pain. WE ARE SICK. ALL OF US ARE SICK. Accepted injustice against any of us is an injustice against all of us.

The throbbing in my temples asks if this gangrene can even be cut out? What if our sickness is not in an extremity to be amputated like a diabetic foot? What if this sickness is in the very bowels of our society? How do we stop the infection before it kills us all?

We left the oppressive ruler of colonialism on the idol wings of Manifest Destiny to begin afresh on this continent. Given time it seems all we did was expand the sickness to this continent too. Is this the human condition? Will we always seek to rule over others and oppress thinking that less for ‘others’ means more for us? Because what it really does is make less for all of us.

More for ‘others’ means more for everyone.

How does the Kingdom of peace and love and safety and wholeness come here? How do I participate in that Kingdom Come? Because the reign of theft, death and destruction is unacceptable for me, for any future I can influence for my children, and for any ‘other’ I may have in my life and in our world.

I’m so bored

Today is our first day of summer. I have our summer chore charts already hanging on the wall in hopes of healthy summer rhythms. My kids are excited that play lie ahead. The school year closed with more of a whimper than a bang.

One of my trio bombed these COVID home schooling weeks academically. It may be a bigger comment on how drastically the emotional burden of social isolation weighs down on an intellectual metric of a 4.0 GPA. This might be what childhood depression looks like.

In hopes of a changing tide and an aggressive affront to numbing out our family is going to be practicing boredom this summer. Daily, we will sit unplugged from screens, void of entertainment, even physically still. It’s for me as much as for my not-so-little littles.

Dr Caroline Leaf says we are sabotaging the beauty and life of our brains by not letting them process and imaging through boredom. We overstimulate and consequeantly, underproduce. We need at least 16 minutes of stillness. If you aren’t familiar with the good neuroscientist, spare yourself a moment and indulge on her Ted Talk.

Our maiden voyage into practicing boredom. I made it 14 minutes before checking my phone. I just knew the timer hadn’t started and an hour had passed.

So we begin- our summer of saying yes to living in the fruits of boredom, the physiological creation on memory, the bounty of nothing, and invitation of imagination.

Ambition in Times of Quarantine

I’ve spent weeks in quarantine, confused as to how to move forward and proceed with goals I had set a short (or rather, LOOOOOONG) month prior.

I’ve been through the cycle of grief a few times now. I’ve had new ideas on how to communicate in a uncharted moment in time. When it came time to implement new marketing campaigns I found myself stuck in paralysis and emotional fog birthed from confusion and instability. Great. Just great.

I could cut myself some slack here- our entire country is in an emotional fog.

I tried to decipher the next right thing never quite feeling I could commit to what I should do but also not being able to say what I really wanted to do either.

When you cannot find the next right thing, go back to the last right thing. And keep doing that. Or start doing it in the first place. Or do it again. Let yourself align and recalibrate in the last place you knew you were supposed to be.

I almost couldn’t remember what the last thing was, but after journal reading and goal reviews, I said it out loud to myself.

The wind shifted. The emotions and clarity lined up. The gears unseized.

I find, again, where it is well with my soul. My practice of yes today is surrender to doing the same, boring, unsexy work I said I would do three months ago. Unsexy mundane maintenance never felt so good.

Cut yourself some slack. If you don’t know your way forward, remember what has passed, and do that last thing you knew was right and true.

Did that just happen?

2019 was a real doozy. I feel the lightness and energy of 2020 like I have not felt in years. It is going to be so good. Just this week I have had two moments where I feel profound gratitude and elation for what has happened after much endurance and also some hard work.

10 years ago I remember being so frustrated with sleep deprivation as Darrin and I would get twins up diapered, fed, burped, and back to sleep many times throughout the night. That went on for years. Even when they weren’t nursing my sweet Elizabeth did not sleep through the night until she was almost 2. I was borderline psychotic almost the entire time. (Only 10% of that is a joke.)

Twinsies 2010

Last Saturday Darrin and I woke in the morning twilight. We laid in bed as we heard children head to the kitchen to get themselves breakfast. The sun came up and shown through our bedroom windows. I went and got a cup of coffee and made us both toast. I came back to bed and we spent another hour talking. We drank in the beauty of the moment, and both of us recalled a decade earlier what life had been like.

Morning miracles

We dreamed of this day. And it has come.. we laid in bed as we heard children I head to the kitchen to get themselves breakfast and the sun came up and shown through our bedroom window. I went and got a cup of coffee and made us both toast. I came back to bed and we spent another hour talking and appreciating the beauty of the moment and both of us recalled a decade earlier what life had been like.

We had dreamt of this day. And it has come. The Kairos moment was not lost on us.

Another moment of similar weight came today when I hopped on a treadmill and for the first time in my life ran a mile in under 8 minutes. I have always had a strong and sturdy body. And most of my life it has carried pounds of extra mass that make running a lot of work. I am a happy 10 minute mile kind of girl. Or I was. My half marathon at 12 minute mile was just fine. I am so proud of myself.


I did not know this day would ever be realized. I feel all the pride and joy and gratitude of every bit of having a working and capable body that does what I ask it to do. I say YES!!! to more of these moments in 2020.

Cheers to Tears

As you turn your calendar pages from not just a one year to the next, but close out one decade to start a new one, there is weight to that moment’s passage of time. At least, there is for me.

I’ve spent the last year fumbling, bumbling, stumbling through a design innovation book, Designing Your Life. It has been a tool for opening up my mind to possibility and also to force me to address what my core values and purposes are. It will change my life. It has changed my life. But I am still in the midst of the re-orienting. I still have confusion but it is no longer overwhelming. Dare I say, it is waning.

I spent a week at a hermitage on a silent retreat. It had been planned, its timing forced as the only open dates for 2019, and that divine provision allowed me healing from grief as well as stillness to receive quiet rays of light that were the imparting of vision meant for me. Over time, those first sweet rays will become a fierce noon sun of light, but the vision is still the rising of early morning pinks and yellows. I am still discerning.

I can appreciate that this rising twilight cannot burst forth without the closing of the day on a previous vision. It is that day’s death that births a new one. Maybe that is why I am happy to skip ringing in the new year with the drop of a ball. I feel the death more than the life. That will be something I work on this year- practicing all the yes to dwelling in the life until it becomes my instinct as opposed to staying in the melancholy of the elephant graveyard, stroking the dry bones of what has passed.

At my women’s group, we had secret confessions of tears ringing in the new year instead of champagne. A sadness that niggles at you in quiet moments and dulls the sparkle of holiday invitations. Why is it this month needs to be so much more momentous than all the other months? Have we sabotaged a season of joy with the pressure of performance?

Happy freakin’ new year

I wonder if I have done enough with my past year, have I dreamed the right dream for the coming year. I have a place of brokenness that suggests not to dream at all to avoid all the disappointment. The unspoken outcome of that place is that I also avoid the joy too. This year, my dreams weren’t even ready. My 12 month 2019 goal setting calendar doesn’t even end until Feb 1. That might be an unexpected gift to myself.

I’m not behind. I’m right on time. My vision is still rising out of the darkness. I am practicing the wait with expectation instead of dread.

You crown the year with a bountiful harvest;

even the hard pathways overflow with abundance.

Psalm 65:11 NLT

A New Decade

At the turn of the last decade, I had thrown myself months of birthday parties celebrating my 30th. I was pregnant with two girl babies and I knew all the seeds that had been planted in my 20s were going to bear fruit in the coming years. It would be a decade of harvest.

My harvest looked like:

Double portions of blessing- like twin girls being born healthy, Marwa and Jessica then later Tamar supporting our family as beloved ‘sister wives’ (though not sharing a husband), beautiful beach travel, Barcelona without kids, significant career & financial success for my husband in his corporate career, radical generosity that catapulted relationship and faith maturity, and so many roommates through our 100 year old craftsman bungalow.

But there was also struggle. I experienced a persistent depression rooted in old wounds and childhood pain- it was the Lord inviting to experience healing there. My marriage was gutted and passing exit 2 on I-71 south on a cold day, I foresaw my divorce in a lawyer’s conference room five year in the future, passing signature papers over a mahogany table, which prompted a change in our marriage, and a repentant apology from me that night. It was that year my marriage really began. I’m thankful for the happy hormone fueled beginning years of our life together. I still revisit the memories we made like a mothers of a smelly disrespectful teenagers would return to the heart filling remembrance of a powder scented sleeping infant on their chest. It elicits an dopamine buzz and if I dwell there long enough I can generate the emotional euphoria of that naive love. But once the emotions were supplanted by midnight feedings and roof leaks, we saw each other as we were, not as we hoped to be on our best of days some time in the future when we were more evolved. We were broken. Our relationship was bankrupt. There were no reserves to draw from.

We saw our marriage restored and a new vision of our life and family birthed.

Darrin started a new business. It failed.

I sold my business. I thought it was my life’s work. I promptly entered into a career crisis. Isn’t that what you do when you thought you had achieved your life’s work and hand it off to be someone else’s life’s work?

We began foster parenting. Our first little guy is now adopted and thriving. He said he made Santa’s Nice List this year. We took in a teenager, growing our family to 5 kids for a year. She is safe and happily living independently where no one tells her what to do. I am coming into a new normal where I release what I think is best for her so that I can love her freely. I am still learning. It still hurts.

Darrin started a new business. He raised millions of dollars in venture capital. It’s been the leanest financial years of our family.

I ponder what the coming decade may hold with such optimism. I grind my teeth over what the coming year has. I am still turning over the ideas in my mind and pushing them onto an altar in surrender to a plan that’s greater than mine.

As I anxiously await to to plan for and what to ask of the Father for what’s ahead, I am dwelling in the Truth that it’s something worthy of my hope. It’s fruitful. And as I seek Him, I’ll discover Him. Maybe I’ll even stop grinding my teeth.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.   You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Jeremiah 29:11-13

Darrin Turning 40 40/40

I close out 40 gratitudes for my 40th birthday on this final day of the decade. It’s been a good practice to to engage. I look forward to more brain chemistry improving, outlook brightening, settling practices to say yes to in 2020.

The best thing that has ever happened to me was meeting this man. Credit should also be given to a clumsy waitress that switched our credit cards & his praise singing coworkers, Amy & Jack, for giving Darrin rave reviews when Darrin himself could not complete sentences in the presence of a girl that could be a potential romance.

I never thought I would have anyone love me as much as Darrin loves me. His affection and sacrifice for my benefit are more than I could have dreamt. I married up. And what’s crazy is that he thinks he married up.

When Amy told me he was a preacher’s kid and that he made righteous decisions, I thought he was worth considering. She said she had never met someone with so much leadership and she knew he would be a CEO one day. His visionary ways were like an aphrodisiac to me. Coupled with his ability to build and build more. I was enamored. I had never met anyone like him before (that wasn’t already married with 4 kids).

It could be that he’s really an old man on the inside and I’m into silver foxes. Let’s not delve too far into daddy issues, okay?

He told me he loved me 7 days after our first date. He had decided what he wanted, and he would wait until I came around to the same understanding. He has given me a platform to be more successful and fills in the parts where I lack. He has changed the full trajectory of my life for the better.

I think sometimes about the other lives I could have lived had Darrin not chosen me. They pale in comparison to our great adventure. I am stressed out and enlivened by the adventures we’ve taken. I see how God has grown us and continues to do so to this day. I cannot wait to see the work He’ll be faithful to complete in us.

In Love..with my Kids 39/40

I spoke to my girlfriend who just had her fourth child and five years. I felt like I just needed to say, it’s going to be hard. If I could write a message to my young mothering self it would be that you will make it. The early years were so hard for me. You can grow where you are planted and THRIVE where you have landed. That does not mean it’s going to be easy, but like good seasons don’t last forever, neither do the seasons of struggle. The unexpected loneliness of mothering young children was shocking to my system. The unseen, never ending nature of crying-feeding-diapering-comforting was exhausting not just bone-deep but also to soul-deep.


I am in a moment of deep love for my growing children- and them for me. I feel the magic of these days where we desire to be with each other- huddled under the same blanket, sharing laughter or being still with a book in hand, scratching a back or playing cards around our dining table. I realized for the first time in my life since parenting three children that my most sacred moments of the day are in the presence of these people. My time with them isn’t depleting, it’s cup filling. Our family feels like a safe haven where we can all be comforted and recovered after accruing a day of battle wounds at school, at work or out in the world

They are a treasure I didn’t know if I would have. They are a holy moment I didn’t know was meant for me. I suspect these times won’t last forever and teenage hormones may be disruptive to this harmony, but that is not today. Today our family time is sacred. Today our presence is holy unto each other. I am living in the magic.

Advent 38/40

This summer on our trip to Mexico, we spent our DOFO mornings connecting with each other. We checked in about how the previous day had gone, what our schedule was for the upcoming day, and someone lead time in prayer and scripture.

One tender morning, Lydia lead us in prayer with a verse of her choosing. She volunteered to lead the afternoon prior and spent hours scrolling through the Bible to pick what she would use for our time together.

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.

Psalm 20:7

It was the first time she stepped up to lead our family in spiritual matters. There are moments when you realize growth has taken place right under your nose. You child isn’t the babe they were to day before. They had become more of the whole person the Lord had designed for them to be.

It was one of those moments. She had grown. And she lead.

This advent season has had more of those moments. We’ve had longer dinners where the kids have fought over who reads through Christmas story in Matthew & Luke. Our kids want to read scripture from the Bible and linger around the candles to talk about it. They share reading the chapter out loud, passing to the right every few paragraphs.

It’s a moment I’ve dreamt a family of mine would live out- and here it is, happening. My dreams realized. My children meeting the Word- and in these precious moments- they desire it. There is no rush to leave the table or hurry through the task. The words have great meaning, we listen, we ponder on what we don’t fully understand. The weight of the story keeps us seated in wonder.

My cup overflows.