Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

Life in the Preparation

28 Nov

I used to spend a lot of time writing, thinking, pondering, reflecting. Self-analysis was key to feeling whole and alive, and it has always been through writing. I could write myself down off of a cliff, out of the darkness, into the glorious light.

God would show up and remind me that what I am doing matters, that every moment is sacred.

I write all this to say, that is still who I am, nothing is lost, nothing has been taken from me. My day looks a little different than it did a decade ago, but it’s for the better. I am surrounded by beautiful little people who take up my time and energy and heart and soul, but I’d give up everything again and again just to see them find joy and beauty in this world.

But I dont have to teach them that. They teach me how each moment is scared, if only stop for a moment and open my eyes and ears, be present and stop hurrying, stop comparing, drop all expectations and just live.

My mom reminded of that the other day. She surprised me by reading my own poem to me over the phone right before I hung up. A poem I wrote years ago about what’s important, and how it’s not the grandeous things we all tend to think are superior.

I have this line from a Wendell Berry poem inscribed in my heart, and I hope one day I’ll get it tattooed on my skin as well,

“It soon became clear, I was not so much preparing for an important experience as I was having one.”

I think about today, across this great and broken country, all the people frantically preparing for a feast. The stirring and mashing and boiling and basteing and rolling. The mess of the flour, the grease and the all the butter, the mess of families and all our differences and flaws, all for one moment, one meal.

We rarely live in the moment. We see the majority of life as preparation. At least I do. I am always getting ready for the “next big thing.”

The anticipation is half the high. It’s why Christmas morning is worshipped, why we live in a society where Youtubers make millions of dollars from letting people watch them open boxes.

We forget our ancestors wandered the wilderness, in search of a home, relaying on God and perfect strangers to sustain them. Manna.

We forget our brothers and sisters around the globe just praying for enough water, enough bread or rice to feed their children for one. More. Day.

Living in the moment isn’t simply a trendy saying to add to our other decor, it’s really the only way to truly live.

Because we aren’t promised tomorrow. We have to fully live now, even in what feels like a season of preperation, of waiting, of wandering.

I came here to write a typical “things I am thankful for” post, but maybe thankfullness can only happen when we fix our eyes on today.

Not on the mistakes or the “good ole days” of the past.

Not on the worries or the dreams of the future.

This moment. Here, now. This is important. This matters.

I love how kids have no concept of time. 15 minutes or 2 years all looks the same. Isn’t that just like God? There is no sense of waiting, no sense of a season of wandering in the wilderness for him, He is right here, right now.

And maybe that’s why we feel like we have to walk through those times. When our kids are young and the day feels endless. When the preparation feels unimportant and the menial tasks of life seem to suck our souls dry.

We need to know that God is in the middle of that, too.

That there is life in the preparation.

As we get our hands dirty. As we prepare feasts and wrap presents. As we stop and slowly communicate, slowly speak and write words of life, slowly discipline in love.

As we make decisions every day hoping that one day our children will be better adults than we are.

We began to see, began to feel, begin to know, this moment matters.

As Jesus gently reminds us, we remind each other too.

And thankfulness bubbles up from the inside out, overflowing on dry desert ground.

These are the Beginning Times

2 Dec

I am sitting on my balcony, having a staring contest with the moon. I am sure he is winning. I am wearing shorts and a tank-top and I am not the slightest bit cold.

I am here in Hurst, TX. I am living my life. I am living in the future, at times. Imagining days that feel more bright or free or romantic. Yet they will have their pain and boredom too, I know.

I didn’t write on Thanksgiving, it felt too cliché. Write what I am thankful for… A list felt incomplete. How do you express thankfulness when it is a state of being? It happens naturally, without pressure when I am at peace.

And peace comes when believe everything is all right, that I have all I need, that people are lovely,

That my life is beautiful.

My dog is staring at me along with the moon now, and it’s fairly quiet around my apartment complex for a Saturday night. I smell that warm and spicy baking smell drifting in from my kitchen.

And it’s hard to believe on nights like tonight that there is so much conflict and hate and anger and suffering.

It’s not that I am not aware of it, it’s not that I don’t care. Sometimes I care so much it physically hurts.

It’s just that I need to be reminded that peace is a stronger reality, that love already reigns.

I am working at my local mall for World Vision, trying to get kids sponsored and people to buy gifts for families living in extreme poverty; gifts like medicine, clean water, or a goat.


Click Here to Give a Gift

It’s funny, how my life goes, standing in a mall watching dozens of people pass by, trying to get them to care.

I am not angry or surprised when they don’t care. What is tangibly right in front of them is those shoes they’ve been wanting to get for their child. But when people do care, it always surprises me, in a good way.

What also surprises me is when I continue to stereotype people and they continue to prove me wrong. When a tough hispanic gangster-looking dude with a teardrop tattoo stops and listens, really hears me, and ends up buying a cow to help provide milk for a hungry family.

I love getting to help people make selfless decisions. It makes me want to make more selfless decisions.

I know that we may have bad days where we watch too much news and think that everything is building up, that the whole world is about to break, and people in Christian circles may throw out phrases like,”End Times.”

I can just smile and be thankful. Because when you live inside of peace and Peace lives inside of you, it’s hard to see the bad even if you are looking for it.

The world is full of awful people, but it is also full of so much beauty and kindness.  Your reality really is what you are looking for and what you believe.

So despite the naysayers and constant bad-dayers, I can know in my heart every new day is new and full of people who want to care about another human being, maybe they just need to be pointed in the right direction.

Maybe these are the “End Times,” but so what?  They are also the Beginning Times.


Thanksgiving Dinner With Perfect Strangers

24 Nov

Today I had thanksgiving with a family I don’t even know. I was unsure about it before hand. I text my friend Mere and said it was going to be awkward. She said “Awkward makes for the best stories!” She is wise. So I decided to write about it.

It’s not like I didn’t know anyone. I know the grandma, my temporary next-door neighbor, a spunky lady with red wire-rimmed glasses nicknamed by her kids and grandkids “Ba-poo.”

I walked in and was immediately welcomed with hands, drinks, open arms, questions, jokes, a tour of the beautiful home and introductions and explanations of “who’s who” in the tangled family tree.

“TEXAS?! You’re from TEXAS!? Honey, come here!”

I was hugged tightly by a (Texan) daughter-in-law, finally feeling ok with saying that’s where I am “from.”

As usual, it’s not always simple to explain who I am and what I am doing here.

“Technically, I was born in California but I grew up in New Hampshire but I’ve lived in Texas eight years.”

“What part??”

“East… near Tyler… then near Dallas…”

“So what are you doing here?”

“Working on a book project…blah blah blah explain, explain  la la la.”

“Oh like ghostwriting?”

“Umm sort of… kind of like a collaboration…”

This repeated many times throughout the evening.

I could barely keep track of  who I was meeting,  but I can’t keep track of my own life either and somehow it all works out.

A few drinks in and it didn’t matter. Then the food came.

Sitting at a table together, barriers come down.

It didn’t matter I didn’t know anyones dreams and desires, or even the favorite band of the twenty-one year old next to me or whether he believes in God. We both thought it is damn good cheesy corn casserole and in the moment, that’s what mattered.

It didn’t matter they had been through weddings, births, deaths, divorces, years and miles with each other and I came into their world thirty minutes ago, they accepted me as a human being.

And don’t forget football. Nothing brings people together (especially in the South) like football. Though I feel estranged from that world, like a bored alien observing a foreign planet where men in spandex run around with a ball and people scream,  I could at least relate to the fact the venue they played in was ten minutes down the road from where my old apartment was.

The conversation continued over touch-downs and three types of stuffing and two types of turkey and too much gravy.

“So what’s your book about?”

“Ummm…. well, it’s like… blah blah blah and then sort of like blah blah ‘loosely based’ on The Wizard of Oz.’ Mumble, mumble, na na. Yes.”

Or something like that.

Ok, so maybe I ate and drank too much to make sense, or maybe I never do anyway. Maybe I love the fact it doesn’t take a simple sentence to explain my life.

I  got a bit misty-eyed when I looked around at the love this family had for each other, laughed hysterically at the anecdotes about other years when the cat’s tail caught on fire, and I stifled a giggle when the seven-year old said the blessing,

“And I pray for the pilgrims…. even though they are dead…”

Though I was far from people who really know me (besides my dear friend Becca) it didn’t matter. Because there is something raw and real and beautiful and maybe a little messy about sitting down at a table to eat with perfect strangers on a holiday that is all about friends and family, only to walk away feeling completely satisfied in my stomach and in my heart.

And finally, here are some points of gratitude as of lately…. 

Soundtrack of my life lately: Katie Herzig & Josh Garrells.

Watching Hulu with Becca after a long day.

Memoirs. Brennan Manning’s in particular.

Spinach. (I put it in everything, can’t get enough)

The miracle of writing one more chapter.

Spontaneous Sushi lunches with Steve.


Watching the leaves fall off the trees as I walk around the neighborhood.

Laying on the swing-bench just to look up at the sky and breathe.

Yoga to wake up.

Jean-Thomas randomly calling throughout the day.

That I get to see The Civil Wars finally in two weeks.

That I get to go (home) to Texas in two and a half weeks.

Knowing this book will be completed.

Jesus… all He is… the beauty all around me He is continually opening my sleepy eyes to see….

What if Grace was so thick it hung in the air like a dense fog? With every breath you breathe in pure Grace, there is no distance, no lack, no barrier. You couldn’t take in a breath without filling your lungs with Pure Life. 

This is exactly the way it is…

(Steve Roy)

Naming Grace Moments

23 Aug

I just got home after being away six weeks. I also just finished Ann Voskamp’s book “One Thousand Gifts.”

It is a book you have to read slowly, breathe in every sentence, let it affect you and wake you up.

Indeed, that is her cry: “Wake up!”

See that everything in your life is a gift, that joy only comes when choose to be aware of the grace that surrounds us, always.

In naming these “grace moments” we remember how blessed we are, how beautiful and worth living life really is. We see God.

“When I name it, the naming itself manifests its meaning: to know it comes from God. This is a gift! Naming is to know a thing’s function in the cosmos- to name is to solve mystery. In naming that which is right before me, that which I’d otherwise miss, the invisible becomes visible. The space that spans my inner emptiness fills in the naming. I name and I know the face I face. God’s! God is in the details; God is in the moment. God is in all that blurs by in life- even hurts.”

And so, here is my attempt to name just a few of the gifts that I’ve seen and experienced the past six weeks as I traveled to North Carolina, New England and back.

1. Blueberry pie, made of blueberries picked that day, constructed of awkward whole wheat lattice, actually tasting delicious.
2. The marvelous invention of Air Conditioner, a perfect example of “you don’t know what you go till it’s gone.”
3. Swimming in lakes so cool it takes a lot of guts to dunk under, emerging to see a mountainous background.
4. Picking fresh basil and orangeish cherry tomatoes from my mom’s garden, carrying handfuls of each to the kitchen, inhaling my hands and letting the scent linger.
5. Watching Houdini, the scruffy lovable mutt I rescued in Texas who now resides in New Hampshire, sleep on his back, paws sprawled out, belly open for scratching.
6. My brother’s hugs.
7. Going exploring in the woods with Jean-Thomas, my brother and my nephew, only to “discover” the remnants of a “Native American camp.”
8. Large empty swimming pools.
9. Biting into a roll of Sushi, “I don’t remember what this is called, but it’s my absolute favorite!”
10. The “good burn” of wasabi.
11. Conversations that awaken the spirit.

12. Water wars, the only weapon- the hose.
13. Blueberry pancakes at my favorite diner that is made from a boxcar with my family.
14. Being ok with the memories that hit me every corner I turn in the town I grew up in.
15. Hugging my 98 year old grandma, and getting the sense that even though she has lost most of her memory, she is at peace.
16. Seeing the edge of New York City by train, only to go underground and emerge in the middle of Grand Central Station.
17. Hot dogs and Coke in Time Square.
18. The wonder of going from country to city to country to city and realizing I am a country girl at heart but I love to visit the city.
19. Getting lost of the miles of road the eccentric millionaire hermit has built on the mountain my parents live on.
20. Walking out of the woods to see an extensive field, fruit trees and wild flowers surrounding a large pond.
21. Writing the first few chapters of the book and knowing with God all things are possible.
22. How I can be reading about a civil war veteran, a brain scientist, and a farmer’s wife and somehow make connections with all of them.
23. People who live inside songs- music flows through them and out of them and the world is left stunned by the beauty of their existence.
24. Making poetry with Becca Hall out of the menu at a Italian cafe by crossing out certain words in the history descriptions.
25. How the landscape changes as the coast approaches and the air becomes salty-clear.
26. Lobster rolls, with chunks of lobster meat the size of my thumb.
27. Reading gravestones from the 16th century.
28. Not speaking to old friends for a year and still being able to text them, show up at their house to spend the night, and eat and talk as if we do that every day.
29. Being surrounded by old brick in Boston.

30. Archaic bookstores with hidden back corners and leather chairs.
31. Pugs wrinkles.
32. The way I am known better then I know myself.
33. Breaking through communication barriers, even when it hurts, it is so much better on the other side.
34. The relief of letting go.
35. That I am not forced into a job that I hate.
36.  Dreams, beginning to unfold.
37. Being more excited then afraid of the future.
38. Knowing I am loved, always.
39. You.

40. Messages, scrawled across boulders in Central Park.


“If my inner eye has God seeping up through all things, then can’t I give thanks for anything? The art of deep seeing makes gratitude possible. And it is the art of gratitude that makes joy possible. Isn’t j0y the art of God?”

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