Category Archives: break it down

In the Deep


I have been pulled behind a boat a handful of times. Most memorable was during my middle school years, when a friend invited me to her family’s lake house for the weekend. She was an excellent water skier, gliding and jumping the wake as I watched, seated backwards in the boat. feeling the warm sun on my legs and face. Her older brother took his turn, as well, stepping it up a notch or two by dropping his skis and doing tricks.

My opportunity in the water was spent struggling to rise up, and after surfacing, unsuccessfully keeping the skis from flying in opposite directions off of my feet. I never experienced the feeling of actually skiing behind a boat, only bumping behind it clumsily until the boat slowed or I let go, whichever came first.

Letting go brought an instant halting and sinking into the water, buoyed by the life jacket keeping me afloat. Bobbing up and down, I waited for the boat to circle back to either try again or climb back in for a break. The waiting brought a strange sensation of suspension between what had just happened and what was coming up next. It was a vulnerable place to be, hanging out in the middle of a lake waiting and watching the other boats and watercraft zip around me.

This is the visual that comes to mind when I describe how I am doing these days. It feels as if I am suddenly sinking after years of being pulled at break-neck speed over and across the water, bumping over and skimming the surface, hanging on for dear life. I have been handling a lot of surface things, feeling the spray of the pace on my face. My arms have grown tired of holding on as discouragement from not being able to quite pull myself up and move gracefully settles in as reality.

The release of the rope has caused me to go deep. At least in the water a lifejacket keeps you afloat as you wait for the circling back. I am not sure that I am wearing a life jacket. The water feels murky, and I wonder how to navigate it. Has the driver of the boat noticed I am not there anymore? Will there be a circling back?

So this is where I am. I am in a slower, deeper place, trying to decide what the next step is. Do I wait to reach for the rope and give it another go or climb back up into the boat for a rest? Do I ask for a tube to be thrown to me so that I can do something that feels both fun and successful while I sort it out?

These are the questions that fill my mind and both energize and paralyze me. So I wait in the deep.

Miraculous Change

Miracles can happen. I attest to this in the midst of experiencing miraculous change. I wonder, though, if it is also the result of hard work. Am I in the middle of a miracle? Or is this the fruit of faith?

For years, deep inside my soul, unrest and fear coexisted with a helping of added pressure to perform. It was as if I had lost any ability to make choices. Had I ever experienced the power of active choice?  

I knew how to be passive and allow others to choose for me. I bore a burden of expectations, both other-imposed and self. If you can check off all of the boxes on this big list for everyone else, THEN maybe you can do something for yourself.

It is amazing that I did not self-destruct. In the midst of many struggles and losses, God in his deep kindness kept meaningful parts me intact ~ my singing voice, my body, my health. I am so grateful for that miracle.

There were small spaces that I claimed in the midst of the bigness of life. I found space to exercise, to read my Bible, to listen for the still, small voice, to cultivate what I could of relationships in the midst of whatever chaos was presenting, to care for my children, to love my husband.

I chose to stay open to my husband, even when I could not feel. In the midst of internal loneliness, I continued to engage external connection with him. In the midst of the fear of pregnancy and loss of voice over my body’s capacity to grow and bear children, I kept trying. Trusting. Even when I did not understand and had no words to bring, I tried.

I journaled a lot. It is a miracle that I allowed hard words to flow from my heart to paper.

I said yes to things that terrified me, like traveling internationally to be on a team leading worship at a women’s retreat. I said yes to lowering my guard and letting people peek behind the tinted automatic window of my heart before raising it up when their vision became too intense.

I kept going.

I said yes to an invitation to step deeper into my story at the Journey, parts one and two, with Open Hearts Ministry. I seized the weeks, those two years in a row, in the midst of a full life. I did not wait for the perfect time. That is miraculous.

I started a blog. Not sure of the end, not knowing where it was going, I threw words into cyberspace that would later be read by a woman who would reach back to me when I reached out to her. I risked being seen more closely, and miraculously ended up in a space of transformational friendship.

It feels miraculous that at 45 I am finally connecting with myself on a deeper level. How did this happen? Why now? I do not know. What makes a miracle miraculous?

I did not wake up one morning miraculously changed. I fought for my heart every step of the way and allowed others to fight for me, as well. God fought for me when I could do nothing but stand still and see his salvation. I let people in and relinquished the control that I held so tightly, concerning what people saw in me, when they saw it, and how.

Miraculously, healing came. Seasons and spaces of small heart miracles, sometimes involving just getting out of bed, led to this latest big miracle breaking open over my head, shattering and spilling me out all over the place. Slowing me down.

Your voice is slower.

You sounded different in your voicemail. Slower.

Wow! It’s already 7:00! Usually you have to leave to get somewhere else after this much time.

These words and more were spoken over me in the days following the most current miraculous. It was on the heels of my third weekend in Seattle at the Allender Center, pursuing the Lay Counseling Certificate. In this space I miraculously chose to risk, share, and be seen by others. I succumbed to holy terror.

Something happened. I still do not see the miracle clearly, because, Friends, we cannot see our own faces. All I know is that when we take off the mask or roll down the tinted automatic window, allowing others to see us, we invite miracles to happen. The fruit of that faith is sweet.

Bless the Broken Blog

Last week I broke my blog.

Intentional action I took late Tuesday night, half-heartedly, after not interacting much with the blog at all, caused a white screen. I saw there were plug-ins to update, chose not to take time to create a backup, and clicked away.

Using my phone, no less.

Update now.

Broken. Nothing. No matter how many times I attempted to load the blog, it was not happening and the screen was white. It was late. I had made a choice that caused the problem, and there was nothing I could do but go to bed. It was hard to let that go.

Wednesday morning dawned earlier than usual for me. I seized the opportunity to call tech support to ask for help. I had never called the number before and was nervous. Asking for help is hard for me. I felt embarrassed that I had broken something and inadequate to even be allowed to use technology.

Self-contempt was running thick and deep as I dialed the number and waited.

Navigating the prompts to get to the support I needed felt daunting in itself, but finally Michael’s voice came on the line, extremely chipper for 5:30 in the morning, and willing to run tests to see what he could do to help me.

It took 20 minutes. He kept checking back to update me on progress, while searching for the problem. It was finally located with the news that I could pay their tech support to fix it for me, or he could send me some information to fix it myself.

Time was passing, and every fiber in me wanted the unrest over and the blank space filled again. I hated knowing that there was something I had broken and did not know how to fix, but the cost felt steep, and I chose to let it be. I would look at it later and try to fix it myself.

Cue the laughter and knowing nods and maybe eyebrow raising from my techie friends and relations. Famous last words ~ how hard can it be.

It was really hard for me.

I was obsessing about it as the time to put broken technology away and get ready for my day rapidly approached. Just one more thing. What about this? What is that password? Now I need to change it, because I can’t remember. I can’t go on! I can’t stop! I am so stupid! No, I am not. I made a mistake.

Steve walked into the room and noticed my stress level. Acknowledging his desire to help but lack of skill set, he asked what he could do.

Just recognize that this is really hard for me, and I am struggling to stay out of self-contempt.

Later, he confessed that after hearing those words from me, he realized that me fighting self-contempt could turn into others-contempt. He was in the shower bracing himself for the blowback.

Fast-forward to after school, my son at the table on his laptop working on taxes. I pulled out mine and decided to try calling customer support again to see if they could direct me to the place where I needed to make the fix. I knew it was a plugin, so if I could deactivate it, that should work.

This time Andi answered, her voice equally eager to help. It quickly became perplexed as I fumbled my way through my question. Now there not a white screen but a database error. The server and platform were not connected. In changing that password, I had broken the bridge (image courtesy of me) that connected them. I had fallen deeper into the web of the wide world.

I felt like a middle-aged woman on the loose in a sea of technology, crashing and banging into cyber things, snapping connections left and right. Because I was!

Now I don’t see your site. You need to go in and fix the password. Here, write this down and you can Google how to do it.

It sounded so easy over the phone. I wasn’t ready to pay someone else to do it for me. I needed to figure it out. I planned to persist!

Each time, I understood a little more of what to do, but I couldn’t quite find where to go to do it. Each time I would get close and then have someone need something or run out of time. The unresolved feeling of it all was dragging me further down.

Throughout the process, I began to realize that it was not really about the broken blog. It was about things broken inside of me. It was about me not speaking up for what I needed (time to work on it). It was about being okay with not already knowing something and having to follow careful directions to figure it out. It was trusting that something would work, even when I did not fully understand or could not fully see.

Finally, Friday afternoon I sat on the floor of my room ready to figure this out. Step by step I unlocked and opened and searched for. I watched tutorials and looked up terms I did not understand. I figured out where the code for the broken password was and changed it to match the one I had created.

A white screen appeared! I had re-established database connection. With renewed confidence, I found the location of the plugins and changed the file name of the one that I suspected as the culprit.

The blog reappeared! I had fixed it! With shouts of joy I called to my son who rejoiced with me.

So if you have noticed it quiet in these parts, that is why! I have much to process and hope to do so here, but first things first, working technology!

Family Chores ~ Guest Post

Chores are supposed to clean up things or do things. But when you are, like, six years old, they are plain torture. I don’t remember how old I was, but when I was little when I had to use a spray bottle to clean things, I would spray whatever I needed to spray and I wouldn’t rub it into the surface, I would just leave it there. People who went to the area wouldn’t notice because it would already be dried. That’s how I used to do chores because I was so mad I had to do that chore. But now that I’m older, and Mom  and Dad got smarter, I have to do a good job, because Mom or Dad will check the area I did the chore in, so if I did the chore wrong, they could correct me.

The chores my brothers and sisters have to do at our house : if they are supposed to do a chore because Mom and Dad decide xd : are the downstairs and upstairs bathrooms, the laundry, kitchen helper, and unloading and loading the dishwasher. The worst chore is bathrooms. I am a total germ-a-phobic : not TOO much, really. Just a little bit : so wiping the crusty poop off the toilet seat is SO gross!!! And bathrooms take forever. You also have to clean the sink, too.

The best chore is laundry because it is so easy now that I know how to do it. I don’t really like kitchen helper that much but I don’t hate it. Last but not least is dishwasher. Dishwasher is best to get when an older sibling is here. They sometimes : not all the time, don’t expect it.: do it for you. But some older siblings are lazy buns and only do it if the dishwasher is full and they NEED to wash something in the dishwasher.

Chores bite, and they are really annoying. “If you don’t do your chore, you will get a consequence. HARDY HAR HAR!” says a very annoying parent. See what I mean? Parents are always pulling the excuse, “If you’re not doing the chore, who is?”  Parents just want to get you to do chores so they can lob around eating chocolate covered strawberries watching American House-Wife or Last Man Standing. : I don’t know what parents watch these days but as you can see, I kinda have an idea.
I think a good chore system would be kids do the chores three days a week. Maybe four….. Or maybe parents and kids could go back and forth seeing who gets the extra chore day. It really bites that I have to do chores on the weekend AND the week days. I mean, why do parents make kids do that?! Chores on the weekend are hallway, the easiest, dining room, medium long, kitchen, the longest, living room, pretty long if I do say so myself.

Thanks for reading this!😄 – Anonymous

How We Show Up

We can’t control another’s experience of how we show up in their life.

This is a difficult truth, because I want to believe that everyone is experiencing me at my well-intended best self. My intentions are good. They are. I want you to remember my intention towards you, even if you have no idea what that is, seeing as it is inside of me.

I care. Really, I do.

But you will remember your experience of me. There are times when even at our best-intentioned self, we miss the mark completely. We harm or disappoint not only by things we do but also by those things we don’t. The older I get, the more stories people (including my adult children) share of how they have experienced me, the more real this becomes.


How better-intentioned can it be than to send out Christmas cards to beloved friends? I sat down Monday morning, the first day of break, and diligently began hand-addressing envelopes. I was determined to do better than years gone by and not wait until Christmas Eve.

I did it. I got those envelopes addressed, stuffed, and stamped.

I thought.

Two hours later, a quick walk with the dog to the post office, and I had most of the Christmas cards mailed. A few needed address double-checks or a little something extra added to the envelope. The rest were stragglers or hand-deliverables.

It felt good to have a Christmas task crossed off of the list while spending time with one of my favorite littles.

A few days later, a friend posted a Facebook status and photo of an empty Christmas card envelope she received.

Someone sent me an empty Christmas card envelope.

Immediately I knew it was mine. It’s clear by that silver foil lining and the handwriting showing through. Can’t everybody tell? Is all of cyberspace looking at me right now? I sent an empty envelope to the very friend whose beautiful card I received today.

Seeing the picture and skimming the comments below it brought a feeling of deep personal shame. Thankfully, I was able to recognize that lie and stop the downward emotional spiral before anger and self-contempt took over. I spoke truth to my heart.

There is no shame in not being perfect. It is okay to make a mistake. You don’t have to justify or explain. It was an inadvertent omission. Not. Intentional. You are not defined by a Christmas card, and yes, you will continue to send cards.

I stepped up in the comments, owned my mistake and my feelings, and was immediately surrounded by love, care, and understanding. Stories were shared and my friend told me it actually brought her a lot of joy.


That is the thing, Dear Readers. I fully intended for my friend to open that envelope and receive Christmas Blessings from me in the form of a beautiful card. Sometimes we do show up just as we thought we would and are received as such. The card is there and gets put up around the mirror and the day moves on.

But other times.

Sometimes we think we showed up when we didn’t. And we don’t even know it. We didn’t check social media. We weren’t on social media. Our friend wasn’t on social media. There just wasn’t a card. And life goes on and maybe drifts apart, and we didn’t know and didn’t see and didn’t intend.

Sometimes we find out about it in time and are able to resend a card. We saw the post, recognized the envelope and handwriting, dealt with our feelings, shared honestly from the heart.

Sometimes we show up in our absence. In giving others space to feel their own feelings about the void.

We can’t control another’s experience of how we show up. We can only keep trying.  I will walk to the post office in a bit with card number two and try again. 

Christmas Blessings, Friends! Keep showing up!

Making a List

Maybe it would help to make a list of all the things you need to pack, suggests my husband. It is not the first time this idea has been offered. His diplomacy is sweet, considering I still have not made any lists, yet continue to bemoan all that clutters my mind.

Meals. To dos. Classroom reminders. Items to pack. These all race inside my head, yelling for attention, sending me scurrying this way and that.

I reluctantly follow his suggestion, grabbing a pad of paper and listing out clothing items, each with a box to check once it enters my suitcase. It feels so tedious, yet I immediately sense relief as the words leave my brain and fill paper.

Why do I fight this so?

I am grateful for the growth that has happened in my ability to hear my luvvvah’s words in a spirit of kindness rather than as critique and criticism. He truly is sharing what helps him and in no way is condemning me for my inability to move.

Grateful for the list, I pull out a suitcase and begin rolling bedclothes and stuffing my short boots with socks to begin filling the space. I will wear tall boots on the plane. Where are those grey pants?

This season in Seattle is not one for Toms. I had a trial run of Seattle weather a few days ago while walking Dewey, but that is for another post.

For now, I am grateful for quiet space and a few minutes to write out some thoughts about packing and how I am growing in my ability in making a list.

Now to check it twice! Here we go!

Counting Down

It is the second countdown to Seattle. In a week I will be ending Day One, part two.

What has happened since the last trip? What was the outcome? What am I doing next? What will I be doing with this certificate when all is said and done?

These questions, and more, are asked by friends and loved ones. They are interested and care about this endeavor. Some have invested in me financially, others with friendship and prayer. Acquaintances are curious. In my mind I compose eloquent responses and blog posts. In reality, I work hard to plan and prepare for each module in every area of my life ~ home, work, studies.

This leaves little time for writing much more than lists ~ groceries and to dos, journal entries, lesson plans, and stories for Seattle. Fresh blog posts are moved the back burner and, frankly, by the time I have the space, they feel difficult to compose.

It takes a deep level of acceptance that it is, indeed, the right year for me to be doing this training. If I am not careful, it is easy to slip into envy of others whose lives I imagine as more ideal and better suited for this season of intense mental and emotional work. Then I remember truth and feel grateful for the gift of this journey.

Currently, I am sitting on my bed surrounded by recipes for next week’s meals and the beginning of a crude grocery list. I am navigating the choppy waters of middle school make-up homework enforcement while listening to a complete list of all of my parenting failures.

I am pondering how my own stories are playing out in my responses, both internal and external, that intersect with and shape my children’s stories. This upcoming session is about family of origin and attachment, so those topics are front and center in my thoughts.

My Family Narrative story is submitted, reading assignment is almost completed, a suitcase stands empty, waiting to begin being filled. I am living moment by moment. Each day is filled to the brim with necessary business. There is little extraneous these days. Life is good. Life is hard. Life is a gift.

I have rediscovered the music of 3 Doors Down on this journey. On my iPhone is an eclectic blend of albums and artists accumulated by my children over many seasons. 3 Doors Down is from son #1’s teenage years and several albums were discovered on my iPhone 4 while on the plane home from Seattle in September. Truth. It was such a sweet, surprising discovery!I love music. Have a listen and stay awhile.

This is one of my many confirmations that this year is the right one for me. Blessings! I am off to the grocery store, now!