Tag Archives: relationships

SuperBowl, Commercials, #tweetstorms, and Freedom

Oh, my.

Sometimes, I know I should look the other way, not say anything, and go on with my life.  However, other times I feel like I just have to say something.  This is probably one  of those times that several readers will fall on either side of the fence and think that I should have done one or the other.  My guess is that we will all have opinions.

And that is the truth, isn’t it? We all have opinions.

To be clear: the SuperBowl is one of my favorite holidays.  I prefer it over Valentine’s Day and Halloween because at Super Bowl parties I get to eat good stuff (like chocolate fondue) and I don’t have to dress up like a clown.  I love how it can pull different groups of people together in a competitive spirit.  And I like watching people watch the game. I learn so much.

Of course, the commercials rarely disappoint.

I love what Doritos has done for the past several years with the “Crash the SuperBowl” contest.  All of the Doritos’ commercials shown during Super Bowl spots were originally part of a contest for amateurs to earn their way into a professional commercial spot. Viewers vote on their favorites, and the prizes are amazing.

Last year’s winner was super funny.  Click here to watch it again.

When I saw one of this year’s ads – the one where the dad ate Doritos during an ultrasound – I laughed out loud.  Seriously.  Super cute.  Did you read that? I said, “Super cute.”

All day yesterday, though, I read tweet after tweet and more tweets responding to those first tweets about how the commercial was controversial.

Excuse me? Is this the same commercial I saw?  I am completely baffled by all sides of the controversy.  This was an advertisement, people – a well-developed, entertaining advertisement.  The fact that the wife/mom was annoyed at the crunching sound of Doritos during an ultrasound was hysterical – and almost any woman I know would love for the baby to have that kind of motivation to prompt a quick delivery.

Tomorrow is my son’s 19th birthday (I can’t believe he is that old!).  I found out that I was pregnant with him well into my pregnancy and had to have an ultrasound to determine when he was due.  A year before, I had an ultrasound to check on his sweet older sister.

When I have an ultrasound of an organ, the tech is looking at that organ, right?

When I have an ultrasound of what is growing inside of my uterus, the tech is looking at a baby…albeit one that is not ready to live outside of me at 20 weeks gestation.  This does not have to be a loaded term, and I am so confused as to why it became a #tweetstorm.

I drove for several hours yesterday and watched this play out on Twitter at my various stops along the way.  The only thing that makes any sense to me at all is that agreeing that “the thing on the ultrasound screen” is a baby gives name to “the thing” that some want to be able end its growth – abortion.

Here is the thing: we get upset when we are pushed into a corner.  Right now, all sides of all debates in the political, social, religious, intellectual, etc., arenas are pushing each other into corners because no one is listening to each other.  So – we get upset, we get used to being upset, and then we just start conversations already upset.

And we are not listening…

You say “cells” – I say “baby” – “cells” – “baby” – “cells” – “baby”!

“We’ve got spirit, yes, we do – we’ve got spirit, how about you?”

…we are at a pep rally, and we don’t even like the sport!

Seriously, none of us want to be wrong.  None of us want to drop the ball or be the quarterback who gets sacked.  And we certainly don’t want to lose the game and then have to sit through a press conference just to have the world pick that apart later.  Come on – give the guy a break…he lost a Super Bowl game, and you want him to do a press conference?

I digressed…sorry – that is another post.  The truth is that often our rhetoric comes from a position of being cornered.

None of us wants to be faced with the decision of a pregnancy that puts us in an impossible situation.

None of us wants to be the parents of the girl who has an abortion because she thought we would be angry – or the parents of the boy whose girlfriend has an abortion because he thought we would be angry.

We don’t want these things, yet we play the game as if it were our game to play.  We go out on the field, we line up on the line of scrimmage, and we hope that the other team fumbles so that we can grab the ball, make the play, and dance the victory dance.

All the while, there are real people living real life, making real decisions, and struggling through it all.

We vote for the politician who claims to support our stance on the issue, and then we realize that the Supreme Court holds the cards anyway.  We protest, picket, and plead – each “team” chanting their cheers, slogans, and angles.

Rarely do we listen to each other.  Rarely do we listen to the people who have made decisions in the past about issues or who are faced with them today.

I live in America where opinions are allowed, tolerated, and encouraged. I get to stand on my side of the field, and you get to stand on your side of the field – regardless of whether that side is the same side as mine or not.  Tolerance means that I let you think your way even when I strongly disagree.

Sometimes, our freedom gets away from us, and we get a little carried away. If only there were a flag on the freedom field for taunting…

It is time to start listening.

Several years ago, I taught a high school speech class.  When it came time for students to present persuasion speeches, abortion came up very often.  As I listened to the speeches, I was stunned at the anger with which high school students could already have toward someone who disagreed with them.  I asked them all to take some deep breaths and to reconsider their rhetoric.  Consider what it might be like to have an abortion.  Consider what it might be like to believe that abortion is murder.

For high school students, the answers seemed easy until they had to consider the other side – not the argument but rather the shoes which the person on the other side of the argument wore.  I’m not saying that abortion is a grey issue – what I’m saying is that we become less angry about difficult issues when we start to listen to people who disagree with us.

When we listen to those who disagree with us, we win the game.  We can have firm convictions, attempt to influence legislation, and help to alleviate the suffering of those around us while listening to those who disagree with us.  We might even be able to work together.

Consider what seems to be an odd pairing of pro-life Catholics with Atheists for Life.  They have some fundamental differences; however, they both want to end abortion.  Rather than focusing on that which divides them, they work together on what they hold in common.  My guess is that this required some listening to each other.

As I wrote this post, I watched the “controversial” commercial again a couple of times.  I still do not see it – neither of the possible “its” that the #tweetstorms suggested.

What I did see was that ultrasounds have gotten a whole lot better than they were 19 years ago when I looked at my son for the first time and found out that he would arrive only six months later.

It kind of makes me want to have another baby just to see that cuteness on the screen in this new way.

Hold on.  Strike that.

I’ll wait – some day, maybe I will get to see a grandchild’s ultrasound in color.

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Filed under Education, Relationships, Thoughts

Mental Health and the Art of Listening

Looking back in my last post, I realize that I was a bit frazzled as I wrote it.

Clue #1: I didn’t capitalize appropriately. Some bloggers do this for style. I was frazzled and writing fast.

Clue #2: I wrote the post in 23 minutes. Yes – from “begin new post” to “publish post” with “categories” and “tags” in between, only 23 minutes flew by.

Clue #3: The post has had more shares than any other post I have ever written. Frazzled, raw, and unfiltered posts grab readers right in the gut, and readers share.

I have had several private messages through Twitter, Favebook, and my email….I’m so glad it is helping people to articulate, share, listen and hope.

I am also really sad that the post even had to exist.

I currently have a lot on my plate. Those who know me recognize that I say this a lot. The truth is: this might be the fullest it has been in a while, and it’s going to stay full for a bit. As a good friend/mentor says, “It is what is it.” The days will be long and interesting, and we will get through them.

What I do not want to do in the midst of this busy time, though, is to lose my ability to listen.

I should pause here and share that I struggle to be a good listener. I tend to want to interrupt, fill in your sentence, and move on to the action part – usually where I fix whatever it is that happens to be wrong. However, I have been trying hard recently (and for the past decade!) to look others in the eyes, be still, and give space for them to explore in my presence rather than dragging them past themselves into a solution.

I have sat on the receiving end of this practice with friends, my counselor, and mentors.  This is where the work of improving mental health happens.  Mental health doesn’t improve because you give me your recipe for success.

Mental health improves because I feel heard.

How can we be better listeners?

  1. Close our mouths as others talk. I’m not kidding. We need to get over ourselves and not want to get in a word.
  2. Breathe deeply and look the other in the eyes. The calm that we present will help the other remain calm even when the situation may be very chaotic.
  3. Do not fear silence – in fact, count to five or ten before talking when the other person pauses.
  4. Ask open-ended questions that allow others to understand their issues better. An example of this happened over the weekend when a friend asked me to clarify a statement I had made. It was not for her understanding that she asked the question but rather as a way for me to see over the issue and past what bothered me.
  5. Just listen. Just be there. If the other person sheds a few (or many) tears, honor those tears, let them flow, and don’t comfort to the point of stifling what might be a very healing or cathartic moment.

I share quite openly that I struggle with mental health issues.  the last post I wrote published less than three hours before I spoke to our church’s youth group about mental health and their faith.

I told them that there are adults willing to help them.  I told them that because I have experienced that truth over and over again in my life.

I have run into the person here or there who has not known how to listen. If it is a tough time for me, that is really, really hard.  When I’m in a more gracious place, I realize that I’m not always so good at this art of listening either.

It’s a new day. It’s a new week.  Football season is over, and the Broncos won (yay!).

As we start off this week, let’s try to practice listening more and taking less. We may learn more about others than we ever dreamed was possible.



Filed under health, Relationships, Thoughts

tapping, rocking, and laughing

I smelled him as soon as he passed me on the way to finding a seat on our flight from Spokane to Denver.  It was the combination of the smells that struck me (not just alcohol, not just cigarettes, and not just something sweet that could have been marijuana). It seemed unnecessary for all of the smells to be tied up in one person at one time.

As soon as he sat down one row behind me in the opposite aisle seat, he started to move.

First, it was his legs and feet. Wiggle, wiggle, jiggle, jiggle.  Nervous energy that seemed to have no end.  It started with toes, then moved to his knees, and finally both of his legs were working up a storm.

Next, it was his fingers. Tap….tap…tap, tap, tap.  A rhythm that only he could hear. One that definitely needed to get out of him.  More energy.  Tap…tap…tap…tap, tap, tap…tap, tap…tap.  Try it – each ellipses set is a pause.  It started with one finger, then moved to his whole hand drumming, and ended with both hands -sometimes alternating while at other times combining in rhythm.

Finally, it was his whole body in motion. He rocked, he swayed, and his head turned and bobbed. He seemed to be at his own wedding dance with really loud rhythms that only the exceptionally carefree (or intoxicated, in my experience) enjoy.  The seat could not contain him.

This was all before take off.

A friend of his sat next to him a few minutes later, and he calmed a bit.  However, the rhythms returned.

“Are you high?” his friend asked.  No response.

“Dude, seriously, are you high? Drunk? Both?” his friend asked again. No response.

The movements continued, and the airplane physically moved with him.

We need to pause here for a moment.  This flight, for me, was a return from a serene – almost retreat type – weekend.  I had enjoyed calm, had learned to drink tea, and had slept well.  Having the world around me forced into movement by a young man kind of shocked my system.

When the plane reached cruising altitude, I had figured out how to ignore the constant rhythm behind me.  Somehow the next hour and a half went by without my mind engaging in the potential anger I could have for the young man’s dance party behind me.

As we started to land, the movements intensified.  And then the laughter started.

I had disengaged to this point, but I could not help but eavesdrop. Nonsense, total nonsense, poured from the two young men’s mouths.  This was followed by an amount of laughter that I rarely have witnessed.

“We are so high,” the friend said, and they both broke out in floods of laughter.

I had clearly missed something during the flight.

By the time we landed, the tapping, rocking, and laughter made it impossible to ignore them.  As we all stood awkwardly waiting for the cabin doors to open, I glanced at these two men.  Clearly, they knew each other well, and this was not their first flight in such a state.  They thought they were extremely funny while at the same time it was clear that they knew they were only funny to themselves.

The good news, for the dance party young man, was that his body had calmed.  Perhaps flying caused anxiety for him.  It is quite common.  Perhaps he had too many chemicals at war within him combined with the movement of flying.  Whatever it was, it stopped when he stood up. I was thankful that he had not vomited at some point during the flight.

As I walked off the plane, stating the required “thank you” to the flight attendants as I did, I thought about how many of us stifle the movement we feel inside of us in order to conform to the social norm.  This man had no conforming in him, and it seemed to free him enough to laugh…and laugh…and laugh.  Lucky man, really.

While the social setting does always permit this sort of freedom, I think we sometimes create an additional layer of reserve.  When I do that, and then you do that, we lose our ability to laugh – or cry – or even engage with emotion at all.  A bunch of stiflers with no access to emotions makes for a tough society, and we all suffer when this happens.

This semester, rather than teaching a class at UMary, I am taking an online class from Brené Brown about vulnerability and being authentic. One of my take-aways so far has been that we do not set each other up for engaging in real conversation with one another.

When we are real with one another, we learn to ask much more authentic questions with the intention of  creating a safe space for the other to respond and expand on that response without any personal agenda (including that the interaction be quick) for that conversation.

This young man was real – a bit too real perhaps? – and part of me envied him for being able to let out all of that energy and laughter with 135+ other strangers around him.

As January comes to a close, I want to encourage us all to identify one place where we need to show up, be present, and provide that space for others to be present.  We cannot change and move airplanes overnight, but one small step in the right direction can happen.


Filed under health, Relationships, Travel

A Public Letter to My Daughter as She Turns 20

Dear Beth:

I told you earlier this week that I had changed my mind about letting you turn 20 today and that I planned to write a blog post about it.  I wanted you (and the world) to know why I would let you do that.

Before that happens, though, I think we should reflect upon why I had thought you turning 20 would be a bad idea.

  1. The first time I saw you, I knew you would do this to me some day.  By “this,” I mean that you would grow out of needing me in the same way that you did then. As each year passed, our relationship changed. That scared me because I had no experience with raising a child before you came along.
  2. I liked you the way you were at each stage.  I want to freeze all of those ages in time and be able to go back and hug that little person at that stage. I also would not mind doing a few things differently now that I know what I know now.
  3. Being a mom for the past twenty years has been the best thing I have done.  If you are an adult, that changes my responsibilities.  I am not sure that I want to learn new things. I am just getting the old ones down.

Earlier this week, I decided I could let you turn 20. In fact, I felt compelled to let you turn 20.

The world is a scary place right now. There is so much wrong in it.  As your parent, it is kind of scary to consider what you will face in your adult life.  However, the world does not get better without having better people in it.

I am going to let you turn 20 because I think the world needs more adults like you.  Keeping you from being an adult also keeps you from being the adult that the world needs.  I need you to be an agent of change because you – and others like you – are the best part of our future.

You are smart, witty, and compassionate.  You see the best in people even when they have given you many reasons not to do so.  You approach learning with a hunger that cannot be satisfied, and you just keep wanting more.  You are a super hard worker, know how to work with people, and are just awesome.

The world needs you, Beth, and keeping you from it would simply be rude and unkind.  There is a limited supply of awesomeness out there, and you have a big quantity of it.  Sharing you – adult you -would help all of us.

The world is a good place because you are in it.

So – Happy Birthday!

Love you,



…and my eyes are not even leaking as I write this.



Filed under faith, Parenting

I Would NEVER….

Over a decade ago, as a late 20-something and first-time pastor’s wife, I sat in a room full of crafting and scrapbooking late 30-somethings at a friend’s home.  The chatter quickly turned to the latest hair-coloring or nail-doing experience with advice and suggestions hanging in the air between us.  At the time, I neither colored my hair nor had my nails done.

I stated clearly and boldly that I would NEVER color my hair and that I would NEVER pay someone to paint my nails.

Several years after that fun evening filled with laughter and my judgmental attitude, I discovered that having someone paint my nails helped me not to pick at the skin around my nails.  I had (finally) been properly diagnosed with bipolar tendencies and placed on medication.  The huz and I had long known that the skin-picking was a tell-tale sign of something being “off” in me, but I struggled to stop.  The kind ladies at the nail shop clipped away the straggling pieces of skin and transformed my fingers from disfigured to beautiful.

So much for NEVER paying someone to paint my nails…

As I passed my mid-30s into my late 30s, I noticed more and more grey in my typically deep brown hair.  As someone who others had mistaken for the nanny of my own children a decade earlier, I enjoyed the age-centering feeling the silver strands gave me initially.  As time went on, though, I started to notice that some of the strands were dull rather than the vibrant silver that I knew would come in another decade.  My dear stylist suggested a little layering of color to ease me into the next decade or so.  Every two to six months, I have her add another layer of blending, and it is fun.  Even though I do not want all of my silver to go away, I love the vibrant feeling I have leaving her place.

So much for NEVER coloring my hair….

This blog has been quiet for several months – over six to be more exact – and there are several reasons for that. I would love to say that “being busy” is the main reason, but that is just an excuse that I allow to rule my actions.  In reality, I think I gave up my voice – that style of thinking and writing that I have relied upon to communicate my deep soul thoughts.  When I started writing a blog a day in August 2011, I started to find my voice again.  I found a rhythm, and I thought, “I will NEVER stop writing.”

And then I did. The blog went silent.

I do not think that there is anything wrong with the fact that I have not written for a while.  For ten weeks of that silence, I compiled others’ voices (and little bit of my own) into a project for Village Creek Bible Camp.  The compilation of voices all focusing on providing a daily devotional thought to anyone who would buy the book is – next to my marriage and raising two wonderful children – the project that has given me the most life. Ever.  I was seriously overwhelmed by nearly thirty others giving their time, energy, and talent to a project that was born from a conversation.

So…what is wrong with NEVER?

The social media world bombards us with information about much bigger NEVERs than hair-coloring or not blogging.  In our efforts to share our deep beliefs on all points on a given spectrum, we often reach a point where we say things that sound a lot like NEVER.  And then those NEVERs start to create walls between us, and our dialogue stops as we pick up our stones ready to throw them toward the words on the “other side.”

Before we say NEVER, we might need to take inventory of our lives and our purpose.

The words on the other side of where we stand have people in front of them. In the same way that I let a stream of judgment flow onto my friend about hair and nails, we cover others around us with our opposition to their words.  We rarely consider the harm that this brings to our relationships.  Even when do consider it, that rarely concerns us.  We want to win the argument.  We want to be right.

And we forget that there are relationships at stake. 

Often our differences and judgments come from our life experiences.  We engaged in some kind of NEVER earlier in our lives, and now we have to stand against that in order to reconcile or to redeem our past decisions.  We have been hurt by the NEVER of someone else, and now we have to stand against that in order to heal.

Anger – judgment – does not lead to healing.

As an opinionated person, I am grateful that – in America – we all get to have our opinions.  With the First Amendment in place, I can be wrong, you can be wrong, and we have to be civil about our disagreements.  If our speech incites actions that would harm others, we lose that freedom. While most people would disagree with me on this, I am going to say that most of our current speech falls into this category.  Rather than engaging in loving conversation that leads to greater understanding of others’ opinions, we lob hateful (and sometimes unrelated) grenades at the other side and then look surprised when an explosion occurs.

I have had a few thoughts bouncing around in my head that sound a lot like “that voice” that I used to have through writing blog posts.  As I share those thoughts, I desire to always come to “the table” with love, consideration, and hope.  In my latest “old age,” I know better than to say that “I would NEVER” (purposefully) be hurtful as I write.  I do hope that I avoid hurtful speech, though, and would appreciate readers holding me to that.


Filed under faith, health, Relationships, Thoughts

Serendipity and Sock Subscriptions

A year ago, Facebook clued me in to the coolest idea: a sock subscription.  Someone shared with someone who is my friend that a company called Foot Cardigan existed.  Their idea is simple and super cool: sign up for a subscription (3, 6, 9, 12 months – you choose) and get a random, cool pair of socks in the mail once a month.  It turns out that I know someone who knows someone who started the company.  So cool – I love when that happens.  Because of the connection and the absolutely cool idea, I decided I wanted a subscription.  I shared the cool idea with the huz one evening – I kind of get excited about cool things – and he listened intently (and might have laughed at me because of how excited I was about a sock subscription).

There was some kind of gift-giving event (Valentine’s Day, maybe) in the near future, and he decided he should get me a subscription.

Shortly after our conversation, the huz gave me a print-out showing that he had purchased a sock subscription for me.  I feel so awful even to this day that my first reaction was to correct him: he had purchased a subscription from Sockgrams.  I should have reacted in gratitude, but it was from the wrong company!  Knowing what I wanted (a sock subscription) but not entirely sure of the name, he had done a search and found a discount code for Sockgrams.  Because of the discount code, he was able to get me a full year (or maybe 13 months) of socks.

Story pause: My man knows that I love a good deal and saving money a lot, so it makes total sense that this happened.  He is a good one.

I was thrilled about a sock subscription, but I still wanted one from Foot Cardigan.  When I get something in my head, it is hard to get it to leave unless I deal with it.  So – I dealt with it a few days later by using some gift money to buy myself three months of Foot Cardigan socks.

Because I have had sock subscriptions from both companies, I thought that I would be in a good position to review the two and compare them on my blog.  The problem is that the two companies really are different (I know, it’s counter-intuitive!). I had even tweeted about this difficulty a while back: “@footcardigan vs @sockgrams – so hard to decide.”  Foot Cardigan responded with a tweet: “How can we help you decide?”

I honestly couldn’t reply to them.  And here is why: the two companies have their place in our society.  They appear to be the same in many respects, but they are very, very different in reality.  And here is the rub: they are both exactly who they say are which makes them attractive in so many ways.

whippersnappersFoot Cardigan is run by four witty guys who share their wit on their website. Imagine Jimmy Fallon  selling sock subscriptions – you laugh, you cry, and you buy…and you feel good dropping $9-$13 (shipping and gift-wrap – if desired – are extra) per pair of socks because they are that cool.  Inventory is limited to the monthly subscriptions and one other option.  Whether good or bad, that is who they are, and they will stay that way.  Cool note: if you get an awesome pair of socks (like I did in my April 2014 package) and want a second pair for a friend because the socks remind you of her (it’s true), they will let you order a second pair if they still have them in stock. This is a fun company. Period. And they have great customer service.  Oh – and their latest thing is a subscription for children called “Whippersnappers.”  I participated in the Kickstarter campaign for this so that my college daughter could get some socks in her size.  She loved them.

Serendipity (noun): an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident. (dictionary.com)

sockgramI discovered Sockgrams through their subscription services, but that is not what makes them awesome.  Even though the economy is recovering, few of us have the cash to spend for subscription services every time we would like to thank someone or just let them know we thought of them.  This is where Sockgrams has the right idea. Sockgrams has an amazing website with hundreds of unique sock choices as well as bags, hats, mittens, and spa “stuff.” Every purchase has awesome packaging – check out this video.  Every single sockgram that I have received had this carefully created look.  Every month, I received a coupon so that I could send someone else some happiness (you get a free card that you can customize!).  A subscription is a gateway drug. Their website is like a gift givers’ candy store.  PS: There is a coupon code available on their Facebook page through February 14. Hint. Hint.

As I drove late in the afternoon/early evening yesterday, my cell phone showed that I had an incoming call from Wisconsin.

Story pause: last week,  I had a scammer call me over 30 times from Florida after I told him to leave me alone. I eventually had to have the number blocked by Sprint.  This makes me hesitant to answer calls from unknown numbers.

I know people in Wisconsin, so I figured it must have been someone I knew.  When I answered, though, it was someone from Sockgrams!  In the past week, I have ordered socks for five different people. Earlier in the day, I had shared on the Sockgrams’ Facebook page how happy everyone was with their socks.  The caller relayed to me that, from time to time, they reach out to their customers. We had a lovely conversation that led me to sharing about how I had found their company by accident.  When we finished the call, I knew that I needed to do this blog post.

I love socks, and I love to give gifts.  There are great options out there, and socks are a great and inexpensive way to let people know we thought of them.  Each of the five people who received socks from me this week had earned a big “thank you” from me.  Surprise socks in the mail communicated my gratitude to them in a way that I could afford.

boyOne last plug for a different company: Out of Print Clothing won my heart last week. I had purchased awesome socks on a whim for my college son as a “welcome to second semester” gift to greet him at his college mailbox after Christmas break.  My son loves books, and Out of Print had a great special (right before Christmas) on socks with banned books listed on them.  The original order was lost in the mail, and Out of Print quickly sent out a second pair.  A day after the second pair arrived, the original pair did as well.  When I offered to pair for the second pair, I was told to enjoy them both.  My boy loves them…both.


Filed under Relationships, Thoughts

Good Dads are the Dads We Need

I started this blog post earlier this week in my head. That is how most of my blog posts begin as I think a lot in my head as I drive, as I shop at the grocery store, or as I stare out the window behind my cube on a mind break from my work.

The problem with starting posts in your head is that sometimes the really good post has a hard time getting from brain to fingers.

I have now been staring my screen for several minutes. Every now and then my brain instructs my fingers to type out some content, but then I erase the words because they do not sound like the ones in my head earlier this week.

I wanted to write a post that could identify good fathering.

The post in my head was very eloquent. It identified three key factors to good fathering that I could share with readers. The formula to good fathering would have been yours…free from me here on the internet. If you – fathers at large –  followed these three concepts, you would be a good father, and your children would be amazing.

Good idea, right?

On Friday, the post in my head pushed me to pursue some research from a quality source – my Facebook friends.  I wanted to be able to use examples from others in order to illustrate my three points.  I used my Facebook status to ask three questions of my Facebook friends (I forgot to turn the privacy setting to public as I sometimes do for these quality research moments):

  1. What did you most appreciate about your dad as you were growing up?
  2. What do you now, looking back as an adult, most appreciate about your dad
  3. What do you – as an adult if you are on – presently appreciate about your dad?

Most researchers would not be super happy with the sample of three responses that I received, but I was thrilled. I had hoped for quality answers more than quantity, and quality is what I received.  But there was one problem – the answers did not line up with my three identified qualities (which, by the way, I no longer can remember…that is probably a good thing…read on…!!!).

The answers I received completely changed my blog post.

I no longer had a grand formula of good fathering but rather a single concept that is much more true and accurate than any formula I could devise. Dads and moms are really different animals. What we need from our mothers differs greatly from what we need from our fathers. And my Facebook research reminded me of something that I have known for a long time.

Good dads are the dads we need.

Perhaps this sound trite, convoluted, or even confusing, but it is true. There is no formula to good fathering because few children are alike. Oh, they may have similar characteristics that we can put into boxes: strong-willed, compliant, soft-spoken, academic, athletic, etc. However, each child is unique and requires unique parenting. Therefore, the good dad is the dad who sees his child as unique and who becomes the best dad for that child.

The responses to my Facebook research revealed this to me as young women said the same thing in different ways in response to what they appreciate about their dads:

  1. “He was always proud of me.
  2. “His strong support of me and of what God has called me to do.”
  3. “[He] had two young girls and took the time to understand us and to accept us as we were.”

Good dads are the dads we need. They see us as we are, the help us become better, and they love us even though we (their children) are often unlovely. They approach each child differently and remind their children that fair does not mean that they treat their children the same way but rather treat them the way they need to be treated. Good dads are not perfect – they cannot be because they are not perfect.  But good dads try to be good dads, they strive to be good dads, and they are intentional about being so.

And let’s face it: we need good dads.

We know a good dad when we see one, and we need to celebrate and encourage him to keep being one of the good ones. I could diverge here about our country’s need for good dads, but I do not want to spend time talking about negative things on a positive day…but we know we need good dads.

So – to all of you good dads out there (though most good dads will not even be on the internet today), have a great day!

To all of you who are reading this, get off the internet and go celebrate a good dad in your life – your own dad, your husband, a friend, or even a stranger.  Make today, and even this week, a time to identify a good dad and tell him that he is a good one, why he is, and why you appreciate him.

Good dads need to be celebrated, so go celebrate them!

ps: I think I wrote a better post about this day in the past. My brain is just not working today. I almost gave up completely, so thanks for reading this far. If you want to read that better post, here you go: A Few Good Men – Father’s Day 2012.


Filed under Parenting, Relationships, Thoughts

Guest Post: Waking Up

Today’s post is written by a former student of mine who is all grown up, married, and having kids.  She mentioned in a Facebook post a while back that she is doing some writing, and I asked her to share some words with my readers about her experiences and what she is learning.


I’m basically positive my husband and I have had the worst first years of marriage of any couple I know.

We got married and had a premature baby two weeks after we moved into a townhome. Then my month old peanut and I got to camp out at the hospital with my husband while doctors did lot of testing to find that he had a disease called CMV( can’t even begin to spell it) which very nearly killed him. The disease took a toll on the transplanted kidney from his mother, so I was working, caring for my little girl and a very sick husband and pregnant with our son.

Kevin ended up having to have another transplant, which was full of its own roller coasters, but also full of blessings. As he recovered, I got to see who my husband was as a healthy man and it was great. I felt like I had a partner for the first time in our relationship rather than another person to take care of.

My son was also born healthy and on his due date after only 3 hours and 15 minutes of labor. It seemed things were slowing down and we might actually reach a less chaotic norm.

Instead of feeling hopeful and relieved, I was a basket case.

All throughout the ordeal with my daughter and husband, I felt a sense of pride that I was handling things so well. Yes it was scary and stressful at times but I never once saw the black pit I once called home. Then, once it seemed things should be going well, there it was, as dark and hateful as before.

Instead of acknowledging it however, I tried to ignore it, hoping my depression was a fluke and that it wasn’t really back after a seven year absence. My denial turned to determination. After all, we had just come through a hurricane, so there was no reason I couldn’t nip this again.

It wasn’t long after this, and I found I am expecting our third baby.

We figured then that it was just pregnancy hormones but coming up on halfway through this pregnancy, I know that it’s not. The last month has been especially hard; I’m not really sure why, but I got to a point where I became angry with my depression. I am sick of feeling broken and crazy and not even feeling like I can cope with getting my kiddos a sippy cup at times. I hate the feeling of being bogged down and just overwhelmed with the slightest thing.

I became desperate in my pleas with God to give me strength and guide to the right resources so I could figure out what was going on inside my head and even learn how to cope once again. I came across the book Mended by Angie Smith, intrigued by the title, and began reading. I’m only a few chapters in, but already the book has helped me see that, even though I prayed like crazy the past few years, I just expected God to be there and to do what I considered to be His job.

It is very humbling to be reminded that He is first and foremost God, and to realize I had looked at Him as a genie, something I scorned in others. Looking back, I began to see the ways God was giving me an opportunity to lean on Him and how I had pridefully taken stock in my own strength. More than anything, I am seeing through the last few years, how desperately God is pursuing me.

One of the things I was most afraid of growing up was living a mediocre life. I never wanted to get caught up in hum-drum.

That’s exactly what I was doing.

My friendships have suffered because I got caught up in my own world. I feel like God is doing what He has to do capture my attention, not to punish me but because He wants an intimate relationship with me. He knows I can be more, even if I’m walking around in a fog half the time.

There is so much I am still learnin, and am still frustrated by depression, but at least I am waking up again, little by little.

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I Like to Run…Away…

As I write this and post it, I am also packing my bags…for another work trip. This makes five out of the past six weeks where I have had at least one night away from home.  While there are times that this gets tedious, the spring is a good time for it to happen because I get the urge to be on the go this time of year anyway.

I struggle with bipolar illness…and spring is a “go” time for me.

By “go” time, I mean I feel the urge to run away. I currently credit it to a manic phase brought on by the change in sunlight.  After being underground in the winter doldrums, the light comes out, stimulates my brain, and sends me soaring.  When I soar, I often feel as though I am in constant motion even though I appear to be still to everyone else.  This is the time when I tend to hear those internal voices that criticize and pester.

And one of those voices says to run…away…

Go. Leave. You are not worthy of the family you have. You do not deserve the life you have. You have to get out of here. You can’t handle this.  What if they (by the way – who is they???) find out what happens in your head? It’s all going to start to unravel sometime; you should just go before you have to deal with that.  What if you can’t pull off what you say you can? How are you ever going to parent/be-a-wife/be-a-pastor’s wife/ do a good job at work? Look at yourself. Listen to me. Run…

I hatched my first runaway plan the summer after I was in the fifth or sixth grade.  Because my parents were divorced when I was quite young, I grew up with my mom and (adopted) dad in North Dakota but spent portions of many summers visiting my biological father and his family on the East Coast.  I have many great memories of those summers, and I prefer to dwell on those; however, on one of those trips things did not go so well at my bio-dad’s house, and I felt the urge to run away.

Facing the situation no longer seemed like a good option, and I wanted to get out.

Running away is not a great idea for me – a wife, mother of two, dean of students at an online high school.  There are loves that would be hurt and jobs that would be jeopardized.I could detail the times that I have run away, but they are not the point of this post.  The point what do we do about this?  I know that I am not the only who feels these tendencies.


It is also not a healthy way to live!

But there is a push from inside, a physical need to go, and the fear of something that cannot be named or is not even real, and the voice gets very loud.  My head noise becomes overwhelming, and running – even a planned run like a work trip – seems like a good answer to help quiet it.

But it is not.

Running away never solves anything.  I still have to come back, and whatever was pushing me out the door (usually my own psychology) greets me upon my return.

I want to be clear: this is not a real voice.

My voices do not have names, they are not multiple personalities nor are they schizophrenic hallucinations that I see.  Rather they are an internal voice that I believe many of us have (I was reassured of that last night when I attended an event at the Art House North where Al Andrews, a counselor from Nashville, talked about this very concept!).

Telling someone else (safe) about the urge to run now usually quiets the voice.Telling the wrong person can cause the urge to increase.  As Al said last night, finding a safe community of people who can speak positively into our lives and balance these voices of the “inner critic” is so important.

This week has been a run time for me. There is not a trigger that I can figure out except that the snow is gone, the sun is out, and work has some stresses. How timely that the event at Art House North happened last night – it was exactly what I needed at that moment.  The tears that flowed down my face for the entire event proved that.

As I made my way to the event via the mall yesterday, I texted two friends and “vocalized” that my head was not doing well.  One responded with an offer to give me her voice to drown out the others.

… (just let that sink in for a minute…)

We need to be these positive voices for each other, and we – as hearers of the destructive voices – need to find those safe places where we can say these awful things out loud so that they no longer hold any power over us.  We name them, we claim truth against them, and we disable the power they have against us.  If you are a Christ follower, there are even more TRUTHS that you can cling to in order to combat these lies that we believe.

And then – maybe – we will stop running away…from ourselves…

This post is part of a brave blogging link-up that’s part of Liv Lane’s How To Build a Blog You Truly Love ecourse. As a participant, I was challenged to step outside my comfort zone and share something with you that felt especially brave. You can see what others have written by clicking here. (insert the link http://blog.livlane.com/2013/05/brave-2013)


Filed under health, Relationships, Thoughts

Music Monday: “The Story” by Brandi Carlile

Some songs pretty much rock from start to finish, and today’s featured song is exactly that.  From the first guitar note pick to the ending strum, this song takes me up and down my emotional ladder while also telling “the story” of my life to a certain extent.

Take a listen:

Found on YouTube–I own no rights to this video.


On May 20, the huz and I will celebrate 18 years of marriage.  These years have been filled with trial, tension, fun, and folly – and every day (at some point) I realize that we were made for each other.

The interesting thing is that I am not convinced that we were the “only” ones for the other.  But – as we have grown together through thick and thin, fun and friction, and sadness and joy – we have become the one for the other.

When I said, “I do,” I meant it…but I had no idea WHAT that would mean.  I doubt any of us have any idea what it means, but we learn pretty quickly what it does not mean.

It does not mean that everything is rosy.

It does not mean that marriage is easy.

It does not mean that we will like each other every moment of every day.

What it does mean is that every minutes of every day I will be married to him.  And – much of the time – because of his love for me, I will love him. 

The circle of the conditional becomes much more unconditional as every minute ticks by – with every fight, with every moment of forgiveness, and with every decision to be a we.

Happy Monday!

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