Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Life is like a creek… butt up and elbows in

It is Spring Break and my husband is between work trips. So, we pack up the camping trailer for a few days and drive away to our favorite spot in Arizona. It is about a 2 hour drive north to this hidden paradise on Oak Creek. This time of the year, the melted snow carves its way through the land at a rapid chilly pace. It is tranquil and then turbulent over the boulders…tranquil and then turbulent again. The sound and graceful motion is mesmerizing. I make several trips to my special spot on a creek-side rock to soak my feet numb and meditate on the effortless liquid flow.

This is a place where children are free-range and roam. No cares or worries. Everyone seems to look out for everyone else. I give my son some cash to have in his pocket to spend freely and at will in the little general store on the premises. He decides to buy an inner tube so he can float down the melted snow creek.

His new purchase inflated and tucked under his arm, we, as a family, walk up creek to a rope swing dangling from a tree. We all decide that this tranquil spot is the gangway for the tubing excursion. He swings from the rope and drops into the liquid snow. Toss him his vessel. He embarks. My husband advises him to paddle his arms to steer in the desired direction. Goosebumps head to toe and he’s off.

Smooth sailing, until he reaches the turbulence. First boulder, kidney shot. Second boulder, blow to the elbow. By the time he has awkwardly pinballed his way to just about the end of the turbulence, he falls off his inner tube. His vessel is gaining distance from him. He panics at the sight of his free-range purchase floating away. My husband is guiding him from the bank of the creek to just stand up in the shallow water. The rocks beneath him are slippery. He gets to his feet and knee-shakingly makes his way to dry land.

He is overwhelmed with the experience. None of us are sure of what just happened. We walk back to camp. Drying off his cold wet body and damp ego, we rest.

He and I talk about how life is like the creek. Sometimes there are obstacles that create turbulence in our lives. In those situations, we need to be like the creek water and flow over or around those obstacles effortlessly. When we struggle or rigidly fight the natural flow… we get thrown off our vessel. We panic and forget that we can just regain our footing and stand up.

We discuss how we get as many opportunities as we need to make it right… to do it again. I hand him more money and tell him to go to the general store to purchase another inner tube. Explaining how this is symbolic of the chances we get in life… as many as we need. As many inner tubes, as many chances, as many fresh starts as we need.  I encourage him to try again. He needs to get back on a new vessel to be reassured that he can handle any turbulence along the way.  Sending him on a solo journey back to the store.

Before he goes, his dad has commandeered his escaped vessel. I send the two of them together back to the creek because this is their journey to conquer the turbulence… as two men against the world.

He returns to camp. Successful.  This time standing a little bit taller, braver.

Later, he and I went to my special spot to numb our toes and be mesmerized by the liquid flow.

We witness the water unhesitantly-unhaltingly-effortlessly flowing over and around the boulders. Confident in the way it handles itself against the turbulence. Gracefully etching its path along the way. Steering itself in the desired direction. I break the silence between us, telling him that we do not expect him to go through life without faltering. If… no when… when the turbulence in life throws him off his vessel he must regain his footing on the slippery obstacles, stand up, and try again… a million times…try again.

And from each of those times, learn from the experience… butt up and elbows in.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Be Brave with Kindness...a letter to my son

My Dearest Shelton,

WOW! You are going into the 8th grade! This seems surreal to me for several reasons. One, because I cannot believe you are THAT old already. Two, because I remember 8th grade like it was last week…last frickin’ week. And, in reality, it was 30 years ago! That’s how long these years will stick to your soul. These years matter.

You are entering one of the greatest and hardest years of your life, son. 8th grade is full of the excitement of being top-dog on campus, getting to graduate and go on to high school, and becoming more independent. Not to mention, all the changes going on in your body.

But I want you to remember a few things as you embark on the last year of your elementary school career…

I do not send you to school so you can get straight A’s or so you can be the best at anything. You are going to naturally learn what is needed to be learned because you aren’t afraid of thinking and working hard. That’s just a given. And you don’t have to earn my love or pride. I already love you as much as I possibly can! I am already proud of the man you are becoming. Those are just a given…you don’t have earn those with straight A’s nor can you ever lose them. I will always love you! But if you want straight A’s for yourself, do it for you...not me.

There will be a lot of competitions and contests at school…some of those will be just in your head. And I don’t care if you “win” a single one of them because those contests are not what really matter in life. I don’t care if you are the smartest, fastest, strongest, tallest, coolest, or funniest. In my mind, you already are all of these things. I don’t send you to school to “win” approval of others or to prove anything.

I send you to school so that you can practice being brave with kindness. Brave means that you choose love, compassion, and kindness over fear, over fitting in, over getting a laugh from the crowd, and over being a follower. Brave is a decision.

God puts people in our lives as gifts to us. The teachers and other students you go to school with are some of God’s gifts to you. God trusts you with these people. So, treat each and every one of them as a gift. The ones who are hard to love are living a hard life…that’s why they are hard to love. Show them kindness anyways. You belong to each other. You are very blessed to have all of these gifts to unwrap!

If you see someone being left out, or hurt, or teased… part of your heart will hurt a little. Always trust that heartache! That’s you instinct. That’s your compassion. It is God’s signal to act on those feelings. When you feel compassion, you should be excited that God is speaking to you and asking you to act on His behalf. It means He trusts you and needs you to help one of His children. You might not feel as if you can step in and help the hurt right away… that’s okay. You can come home to talk to me about the situation and I can help you process the right way to handle the situation… I am always here for you! When God speaks to you by making your heart hurt for another, by giving you compassion, just do something. Please do not ignore God whispering to you.

You will never regret being compassionate and being brave with kindness. But you will regret the times you did nothing when God gave you an opportunity to do something. My biggest regrets in life are times when I should have been brave with kindness and I decided I was “too cool” to act upon God’s whispers of compassion. I was too chicken-shit to be brave. I regret that!

In the 8th grade, and all of your life, I pray that you are brave with kindness and that you never allow anyone or anything to take away your truth…

You are enough…
You are worthy…
You are loved…
Just as you are.
Simply because you are a beloved child of God.
And so is everyone else.

I will always love you to Googolplexian and back! Shine on, sweet boy!
Love, Mom

*I just finished reading Glennon Doyle Melton’s book, “Carry On, Warrior. The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life”. If you haven’t read this book yet, I recommend you do. I’ve used a few of Glennon’s sentences in my letter, because they expressed my sentiments so beautifully.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Free To Become

It was no longer an option to just go through the motions… it was not enough to just survive. I felt trapped. I felt like I had been waiting for someone else to come along with the key to my cage. I needed to be free… fully. I needed more out of this one wild and beautiful life… more abundance, more intention, more authenticity, more love, more un-becoming, more open skies.

The desire to be free eventually and slowly and patiently grew wings. I had to gracefully let go of those things that no longer served me. I had to start flapping my fresh crumpled wings. I had to fly, without permission… without apology… without reservation… without fear. I had to fly, regardless of the consequences… regardless of the outcome… regardless of the judgment… regardless of the journey.   

I didn’t know who I would become or what I would find along the flight, whatever it was it had to be better than the life I was living. So, I broke away… I set myself free… I held the key to my own cage, all along… I was my own hero. I now fly the skies of open possibility.

I have un-become, layer by layer, so that I could become the greatest, truest, loveliest version of myself. I have created a life I love.

The cage could no longer contain my sprouted wings… free to become.

Original Artwork By: Melissa Larance

Saturday, October 24, 2015


Raw. Like a freshly opened wound. Pruned so deeply that your soul is bleeding. So deeply, you feel your humanness as a weight tied around your heart. You want to turn away from yourself and hide from the world due to the wrath of the intense feeling. Raw. You want to numb your heart so the feeling will cease the consumption your being. But instead you choose to bravely lean into the discomfort.

Ravenous, the pruning cuts away the deepest seeded parts of your soul. One cut at a time. Raw. You feel the depth of the blade. You see the limbs falling to the ground. The limbs which no longer serve you. The limbs which pilfer the nourishment from the fruit you attempt to bear. Raw. Your humanness grieves those portions of you; while your soul rejoices the bloodletting, pruning process because it comprehends the necessity of the cut.  

Exhausted from existing in a mindful and intentional space where you respect the pruning, your emotions sit on the brim of your heart ready to spill over. Pouring into a puddle encircling your feet. Resisting the urge to gather your trimmed limbs and clutch them in place… just for a moment to feel recognizable, familiar with yourself.  Raw. Honoring the place within you that realizes the pruning is crucial to your growth. Yet, struggling to perceive yourself as a new being. Forgiving yourself for not noticing sooner how the now pruned branches were negatively influencing the world around you. Raw. Holding tribute to the shame felt from the infliction of anything but love.

Longing for the day to arrive when in place of the rawness of the prune, the buds sprout newborn growth and fresh fruits of the spirit come to bear and harvest. Pausing in expectancy… hope… faith… eagerness for what this tree will become. Trusting the Pruners discernment and precision of incision. Loving the Pruner with all of your heart, soul, strength, and mind. Raw.

Monday, August 17, 2015

I will let you be the hero of your own story

 Dear Friends,

I am not here to rescue you from your pain or fix it for you. I am not here to mend the broken places within you. I am not here to tell you my truth because yours might be different from mine. I am not your hero. I am not here to inflict my path on you. I am not here to catch you when you fall.

In silence, I will allow you to feel your pain without trying to fix it for you. I will sit with you as you glue the broken pieces back together. I will hold space for you to live out your own truth. I will let you be the hero of your own story and applaud each attempt you make to save yourself. I will honor the path you choose to follow. I will watch as you grow your own beautiful wings on the descent of your fall.

I will be here to simply and purely love you… just as you are right now in THIS place.



"When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares." ~ Henri J.M. Nouwen

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Humble Servant

I am not great. I am not meant for greatness. I am but a humble servant of God. Flawed, imperfect, sinful servant of God… less of me and more of Him. God is great and I am a vessel for His greatness and for His glory. Through me, others can see God’s Love. Through me, others can see God’s Light. I am not great. I am not meant for greatness. I am simply a humble servant of God’s Light and Love.

God, be great through me.

Monday, May 4, 2015

One, two step… the trail of life and I dance together

As I ascend to the top of the mountain, I focus on each step that is before me. I am in this moment of careful placement of each foot step. When I look at how far I have yet to go to the top, I become overwhelmed and doubt my ability to get there. When I focus on each step, one by one, I have confidence that I will make it. In the moment of my steps, I am in tune with the trail. I step long over this rock, I step short over that hole, I step sideways around that boulder, I step carefully through the rubble… I place my steps one calculated move at a time. The trail and I dance together… one, two step.

Today, I choose to re-focus back to the immediate trail before me… this moment of trail.  Perhaps tomorrow my focus will be taken away from mine and the trails steps and I will begin to stumble… I will misplace my steps… we will trip over one another’s placement.

One, two step.

There are several forks in the road along this trail. Which way do I choose to go? The trail less traveled is rocky. The trail most chosen is worn and smooth. Undoubtedly, I believe, they both reach the same destination… but certainly are a different journey and a different trail and different scenery. One is not better than another. In free will, I get to choose.

Today, I choose the smooth trail. Perhaps tomorrow I will choose the rocky trail… or it will choose me.

One, two step.

There are many people on this same trail as me; working through the same struggles. Some are alone. Some are with others. Some start out with a hiking partner, and then I see them at different paces of their steps… trail blazing alone for a short while. Sometimes I need to do that too; leave my partner behind so that I can figure out my steps on my own. Eventually, we meet back up again. A solo hike is just necessary sometimes.  

Today, I am alone on my trail. Perhaps tomorrow my hike will be with others.

One, two step.

As many times as I have hiked this trail up the mountain, I don’t think it would be possible for me to take the same step twice. Each step is new. Each step is calculated based on the obstacle before me. Yes, the rocks become familiar, but my perspective of the terrain changes. Same trail each day, but different foot placement.

Today, I step left. Perhaps tomorrow I will step right.

One, two step.

I climb higher and higher… reaching the top. My ascent is over. My reward is the perspective of the world from atop the mountain. I can see beyond each step that is before me. I can finally focus my gaze on the horizon and see all around me. This view is temporary. The descent is now before me. I must lower myself and humble myself before the trail yet again. The dance continues… me and the trail together.

Today, I ascend and descend with grace. Perhaps tomorrow the transition will be less graceful.

One, two step.