Friday, December 21, 2012

Moving Thoughts Friday--Inspired to Hope

Every Friday I’m going to ask a question. The questions I choose might be ambiguous on purpose. The goal is to have you answer the question according to your beliefs, where you’re at in life or a circumstance that might have recently impacted you. 
The only thing I ask is that you provide an explanation for why you answered the way you did.

It’s my hope to understand you better through this and also to gain a greater understanding of humanity and how people make decisions.

What reminds you to hope?

*photos by stock.XCHNG
**I’ll be posting regularly again starting January 2nd. MERRY CHRISTMAS & Happy New Year!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Not As It Will Be

On Friday night, my youngest asked if she could sleep on the floor next to my bed. She was fighting the flu her older sister had passed down. I fluffed up down comforters and soft, thick blankets, layering her bedding. I piled pillows high so her cough wouldn’t bother her throat too much.  I checked to make sure she was surrounded by tissues, a water bottle, and her favorite stuffed animals. We prayed. Then I asked what book she wanted me to read.

Her older sister had thought of her and had taken out a book from the school library earlier that day.

This is the book my kindergartener asked me to read.

Enter the moment.

Though my eyes sting, I open the colorful pages and begin to read, my voice quivery, my heart a ragged, suffering thing inside my chest.

“Here comes Pete strolling down the street, rocking red shoes on his four furry feet. Pete is going to school, and he sings this song…”

Sandy Hook. 20 children dead. 6 adults. My home state. Another school shooting branding permanent images in my brain, my soul. 
The crushing losses.

Pages later my voice catches but I continue to read.

“Pete has never been to the library before! Does Pete worry? Goodness, no! He finds his favorite book and sings his song…”

I kiss my daughter’s feverish head. She knows little, next to nothing about what media networks will be highlighting for weeks.

Then I get to this…

“Pete and his friends are playing outside on a green, grassy field with swings and tall slides. Where is Pete? The playground! Kids are running in every direction! Does Pete worry? Goodness, no!”

I sniffle and hold the flood of emotions I’m feeling at bay concerned I’ve already let her see me cry enough for one day.

I make it through to the end of the book.

“When school is done, Pete rides the bus home.”

I’m slammed with the memory of rushing earlier in the day to embrace my older two girls as they bounded off the bus.

“Pete’s mom asks him, ‘What did you do at school today?’ And Pete says… ‘I was rocking in my school shoes…And I will do it again tomorrow! Because it’s all good!’”

My resolve crumbles into a thousand pieces because it so isn’t all good. This world is nothing as it will be.

I tuck the covers up to my daughter’s neck, then I collapse over her wishing I could be a barrier, shielding her from everything out there. We’d already encountered a glimpse of how unsafe this world can be in another form earlier in the year. Now this…

I want her to rock in her school shoes.

I crave heaven.

I turn off the light and thank God for Christmas.

I thank God hope came to earth as a baby. And still lives today.

*My email has been down for days. I apologize if you’ve been trying to reach me and you haven’t heard back. The system seems like it’s almost fully restored.
**I will be posting this Friday.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Seeing the Tangle or the Weave?

One of the book clubs I’m involved in recently discussed Jonathan Odell’s The Healing. There were many scenes that struck me in the novel, but one stood out above the rest.

There’s an instance when a girl arrives at a stable to find a woman (Polly Shine) who’s been mentoring her in midwifery and the art of healing. The girl, Granada (with the birth name of Yewande) is wrought with guilt for having set the wheels in motion for this woman to be chained, her life now at risk.

Polly has taken it upon herself to instill cultural values and rich character-building messages in Granada. While struggling to breathe, Polly reminds Granada her mother in Africa was a weaver.

As I read I wondered where she might take this reminder, as it had become clear Polly always takes pieces of information somewhere.

Here’s where she took it…

“When Polly began again, her words were too low to be heard. Granada leaned in closer.

'She told me the secret…what made them so fine, mother after daughter after granddaughter, all the way down the line.’

'What was it, Polly?’

‘She say, the difference in weavers is, some see the tangle and others see the weave. The ones that can’t take their eyes off the tangle, they never rise above it.’

‘Yes, ma’am,’ Granada said, knowing this was important, trying to understand.

‘Granada, this here…what happened to me, to you, to Rubina…ain’t nothing but a tangle. It’s the weave you got to remember, Granada. It’s bigger than you and me. It went on before you and me got here. It’ll go on after you and me leave this place and go to wherever it is Rubina is waiting. Just a tangle, Granada.’

Her whisper became so small, the girl had to put an ear to Polly’s mouth. Granada felt the parched lips brush against skin.

‘Yewande, lift your eyes and see!’”

After reading this I decided I always want to be one who sees the weave. There are so many tangles for all of us at any given second in time. But we have the option of lifting our eyes to see.

What makes it difficult for you to take your eyes off life’s tangles? What helps you remember the weave?

*Congrats to Jaime W. for winning Emily Wierenga’s book , Chasing Silhouettes & to Amy S. for winning a humongous Trader Joe’s chocolate bar (Amy, please send me your mailing address)!
**Trying a new blogging schedule through the New Year. I’ll just be posting on Mondays.
***photos by stock.XCHNG

Friday, December 7, 2012

Moving Thoughts Friday

Every Friday I’m going to ask a question. The questions I choose might be ambiguous on purpose. The goal is to have you answer the question according to your beliefs, where you’re at in life or a circumstance that might have recently impacted you. The only thing I ask is that you provide an explanation for why you answered the way you did.

It’s my hope to understand you better through this and also to gain a greater understanding of humanity and how people make decisions.

‘Tis the season for being stilled.

What stills you?

*photos by stock.XCHNG

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Your Game to Health (+ Win Chocolate)

I was talking on the phone with a friend the other day about how if I can’t see it I’m not apt to be tempted by it. It being chocolate, cookies, and anything that makes up a picnic ant’s sugar-filled dream. I told her how I can usually just stick to one because I’m all disciplined like that. Then as soon as I got off the phone I lifted the tinfoil and peered down at the killer chocolate chip cookies I’d made. I blocked out the words I’d just professed and quickly consumed not one but two cookies.


It’s for this reason I’m offering a little game today. We all want to strive for good health, especially this time of year. So read questions 1-8 and guess away (then review the answers in small print at the bottom of this post. Wish I could write them upside down to make the game that much more authentic).

  1. Of the two which is considered a super food on Dr. Oz’s website because it “boasts more antioxidants than blueberries”: sweet potatoes or lettuce?
  2. Which is the only one not mentioned in the article, “Finger Foods Under 80 Calories”: pink raspberry champagne, 2 Teriyaki shrimp skewers with pineapple, a granola bar, or 8 pitted green olives?  
  3. At you can look up 20 anti-aging foods. Which of these is not included in this list: pistachios, Greek yogurt, coffee, corn, pretzels, spinach, or dark chocolate? 
  4. According to this CBS news report, what is the healthiest fruit juice? Pineapple? Pear? Pomegranate? 
  5. Which dried fruit is the healthiest for you? 
  6. Shape magazine crafted a list of the five healthiest nuts. Which of these I’ve listed is not on it: pistachios, almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, or walnuts? 
  7. The time to run website provides 10 of the worst foods. All of these are on their list but one. Which isn’t considered one of the top ten worst foods according to time to run? Raw oysters, avocados, olestra, alcohol, or soda? 
  8. The scientific name for this food is wolf peach, what is it?  

Oh yes, there will be a prize for whoever guesses the most questions correctly (no cheating by visiting links before you guess or getting your answers from the small font…I’m trusting you on this). I will send the winner a massive Trader Joe’s almond chocolate bar. ;-)

Bonus question: What’s the goofy acronym the first letters of answers 1-8 spell?

What are you doing to be healthy this holiday season?

*photo by stock.XCHNG

1. sweet potatoes 2. a granola bar 3. pretzels 4. pomegranate 5. yes, grandma, it is prunes 6. pecans 7. avocados 
8. tomatoes

Monday, December 3, 2012

What if I Didn’t Know God

I know sometimes it’s a landmine to ask what if questions. But today I’m not walking through this landmine field alone. I’m bringing you with me. In fact, for some, I might be leading you directly into an explosive zone.

What if I didn’t know God?

Would you see me as a project, someone to “witness” to, or would you avoid my blog because you wouldn’t want to associate with me?

Would you care?

How we treat others speaks volumes about the state of our heart. Remember the Pharisee in the Bible who prayed he was so thankful he wasn’t like the other people?

I’m like the other people.

There it is. It’s out there.

Yes, I have a super bloated conscience and yes, my life is not as it would be.

But I’m still here on earth. I still screw up habitually. Swap out the sin, slap a new label on me—any way you cut it I’m a mess.

And the only reason anyone might see a hint of goodness in me is because of God. Sound extreme? Perhaps, but I’m okay with that. 

Because I know where I was. I know where I am.

And instead of judging me, I’d really appreciate your love instead.

Next time you try to figure out “where someone is at with their faith” think about this. Turn the microscope from peering out to looking inward.

No one wants to be a project, most don’t understand what being “witnessed to” means, and I can’t think of a single person who likes to be avoided.

But I guarantee whether they’re brusque or shy they want to feel loved.

Instead of asking how I can help save their soul might we all be wiser to ask how I can get to know them better, how I can better connect with them…how can I love them as I have been loved?

What if I didn’t know God?
*photo by stock.XCHNG

Friday, November 30, 2012

Moving Thoughts Friday—Book Love

Every Friday I’m going to ask a question. The questions I choose might be ambiguous on purpose. The goal is to have you answer the question according to your beliefs, where you’re at in life or a circumstance that might have recently impacted you. The only thing I ask is that you provide an explanation for why you answered the way you did.

It’s my hope to understand you better through this and also to gain a greater understanding of humanity and how people make decisions.

Have you ever asked yourself where have I been all of this book’s life?

I’m having so much fun reading BELONG TO ME by Marisa de los Santos!

When is the last time you remember having fun while reading a book?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Billowing or Extinguishing Your Gift

We do plenty of this on our own in regards to our gifts—billow and extinguish. Our calling, our gifts are like fire inside our souls. Some people fan the gift while some stifle it and attempt to turn it to ash. Today I’m going to address ways to identify those who billow and extinguish your gifts in your life. Time is precious. It’s worth it to evaluate who does what and how often.

Those Who Extinguish:

Make Sarcastic or Cutting Remarks
It’s obvious Uncle Larry doesn’t take you seriously when every time you talk about the book you’re writing you get the eye roll and “I’ll believe it when I see it.”

Ignore Your Gift Altogether
Sister Sophia neglects to mention that project you’ve been buried in for months. Who knows why, but it’s become the proverbial elephant in the room. (Did you know that supposedly elephants like alcohol? Got this from Water for Elephants…too funny if it’s true. Carry on.)

Turn It into a Joke
“Hey, did you hear this whirly bird has written herself a little novel?” Aunt Patty smacks your arm and waits for the rest of the family gathered at the holiday table to burst out in laughter as you bask in being the butt of the joke instead of the life of the party.

Keep You Busy & Distracted
“Oh, sure you can mail out five hundred letters for the school fundraiser. It’s not like you’re working or anything.” PTO rock star Mandy doesn’t get it, does she? This group is most likely to do what they do unaware. They get the least likely to own culpability stamp.

Those Who Billow:

Use Encouragement as a Motivator
You hear it. You feel it. It nestles in your bones every time Aunt Serena pulls you aside and whispers, “You’re going to make it. I read your blog. I believe in you.”

Speak Truthfully, but with Your Best Intentions in Mind
You shout out joyfully whenever you receive feedback from Best friend Becky that’s chock full of wisdom and insight for you to keep on keepin’ on.

Act Supportive & Positive about Your Vision
“It takes a certain kind of tenacity to keep at it in your line of work. Tenacity I’ve seen in few, but I see it in you.” A mom’s billow still burrows deep.

Help You Focus & Strive for Your Goals
“I’m open to hosting the holiday party this year. You’ve told me you’re getting ready to face a tight deadline and I can’t wait to read your work.” Brother Todd words ring bells and give angels wings.

Know who you’re hanging with this holiday season. Oh, and when you click here be prepared to get billowed!

Can you think of any more clues you’re talking to one who billows or extinguishes?

*I am in no way implying in this post we are to hand the power over to others to dictate how we handle our gifts. Only, it does influence the way we think about our gifts—who we choose to spend time with.
**photo by stock.XCHNG

Monday, November 26, 2012

I Am the Movies I Want to See

Holy movies, Batman! I can’t remember the last time this many movies were in theaters that I couldn’t wait to see. When it comes to breaking the bank as I chomp on Twizzlers and stare at the big screen (after I silence my cell phone), I’m inundated with spectacular choices.

Non-stop adventure. Oh yeah, that’s me. Whipping around the house trying to clean before company, planning Christmas on a budget and a prayer, running from carpool to carpool until I’m like Chicken Little in disbelief the sky is falling.

Seriously though, my husband and I have enjoyed these movies since we were newly married and rumor has it (Adele sings theme song) this one is aces.
I’m Skyfall with one exception; I’m stirred, not shaken.

Les Miserables
Depth + redemption + forgiveness

Story . Of. My. Life.

The first Les Mis with Liam Neeson ranks as one of my all-time favorites. And now they’ve gone and done it again but with vocals accompanying the acting. Get me to the movies. And if anyone slips up, forgetting to silence their phone I will not hesitate to clobber ‘em. Thank God for forgiveness. ;-)

My children are not far from teenage years. I’m becoming a CIA operative. Also, as with every person alive, I too have a lot going on behind the scenes.

Besides, I just have to see a movie where a movie (a “science fantasy in the style of Star Wars”) saves the day.

Okay, so I’m not a really tall man with a beard, but I strongly believe in the abolition of slavery—of all kinds. History has always been one of my best teachers.

To boot, my eight-year-old has a tiny crush on old Abe. Better go check out more about who captures her attention while she’s still young.

The Hobbit
Again, not so much a make believe dwarf-like creature but I’m all about taking on a challenge. If you’ve clicked on thoughts that move more than say, twice, you’d know how much of a proponent I am of personal growth. Seems The Hobbit deals with that a smidgen.

I’m sure I’m leaving at least one out. Those are the biggies though (with Les Mis highest on my list).

Are you the movies you want to see? What movies do you want to see? Seen any I mentioned you care to comment on?

*photo by stock.XCHNG

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Moving Turkey

The ship of my life may or may not be sailing on calm and amiable seas. The challenging days of my existence may or may not be bright and promising. Stormy or sunny days, glorious or lonely nights, I maintain an attitude of gratitude. If I insist on being pessimistic, there is always tomorrow. Today I am blessed.” ~ Maya Angelou
Happy Thanksgiving!
See you Monday.

*photo by stock.XCHNG
**I’m seeing a wee bit of irony in posting a picture of a turkey with this quote…poor guy, his tomorrow is not like our tomorrow.

Monday, November 19, 2012

About a Skinny Emily Wierenga

Beyond excited for you to read this guest post by gifted author, Emily Wierenga...
Maybe it’s one of the reasons I whisper hallelujah each time I find a boy in my womb growing long and limber, although I know eating disorders are just as real for them, 25 per cent real in fact, and we just don’t realize it…
That men sometimes hide in toilet bowls and candy wrappers and weigh scales, but 75 % of women struggle with disordered eating and I never really wanted to have a girl. I never really liked the color pink, and I still struggle with OCD and I joke that it’s like ADD only different acronyms but when the stress becomes high it’s truly debilitating.

Prayer is the only antidote and if I did have a girl, I fear I’d always be adjusting her pink ribbons. Or purple or whatever I would insist on her wearing, and I’m still thin. Too thin, my husband says, the one who saw me through my anorexic relapse. The one who prayed me through nights of insomnia, and days of only eating supper, the one who gave me the ultimatum on the side of the highway after I tried to drive us into traffic. It was him, or food, he said. He couldn’t do it anymore, and I chose him, and every day now, I choose him.

I have four boys now, two of my own, and I’m trying not to mess them up. I’m trying not to let my OCD or my dislike of cooking or my struggle with portion size affect them or their understanding of value. I’m trying to sit with them at mealtimes, and eat with them and place my hand lovingly on theirs and to remember that food is much simpler than it seems.

I’m 32, and I like a piece or two of dark chocolate just as much as the next person along with a glass of red wine (or two). But I catch myself looking in the mirror too long after I’ve had a shower, or sub-consciously feeling the bony parts of my arms.

I remind myself of my mum, in many ways, who’s re-teaching herself things like balance and moderation after eight years of brain cancer. I have to re-learn things too. I know I’m recovered in the same way that I’m being healed, in the same way that I’m saved even as I’m being perfected. And it’s all grace, they say, but I say it’s all God.

Because that’s what is growing inside of me now. God. All warm and dark and mysterious.

And I’m beginning to wear pink, because I’ve realized it brings out the blush in my cheeks. And I dream about her sometimes. A girl. With her chubby cheeks (yes, I said chubby, even though I still struggle with eating even though I just wrote a book on eating disorders) and her soft voice singing, as she toddles down the hall and her brothers laugh when they see her, laugh and dance with her to the music on the radio.

She’s wearing lots of ribbons. All kinds of colors. They look like freedom.

And I’m starting to believe the only kind of weight we need to fear is worry. It’s like chains, and it’s only in taking that first bite of chocolate or that first yoga class or that first step across that bridge that makes you shout the hallelujah, chains springing free and your skinny self, clapping for all the world to hear.

Emily Wierenga is giving away a free copy of her newly released book, today: Chasing Silhouettes: How to Help a Loved One Battling an Eating Disorder, with Dr. Gregory Jantz (

To WIN, please leave a comment talking about YOUR FAVORITE FOOD.

To order a copy of the book, please visit here. You can find Emily at her website where she writes about her love affair with her family and her faith.

I’m consistently moved every time I encounter Emily’s work. It’s abundantly clear she’s uniquely blessed to minister to women. I’m honored to call her friend. Thank  you, Emily, for all the ways you move us! ~ WPM



Friday, November 16, 2012

A Somewhere Over the Rainbow Moving Thoughts Friday

Every Friday I’m going to ask a question. The questions I choose might be ambiguous on purpose. The goal is to have you answer the question according to your beliefs, where you’re at in life or a circumstance that might have recently impacted you. The only thing I ask is that you provide an explanation for why you answered the way you did.

It’s my hope to understand you better through this and also to gain a greater understanding of humanity and how people make decisions.
What is somewhere over the rainbow for you?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

8 of the Best Ways to Step Inside the Shoes of Another

If you’ve visited here much you know I’m a huge proponent of empathy. I believe it transforms characters to become more authentic in novels, it draws people closer together, diminishes the fierce intensity to judge, and provides countless opportunities for us to grow.
Whether we’re trying to better understand our main characters or that family member who keeps confusing us into next week…

Here’s my I 8 Wednesday list of ways to step inside someone else’s shoes:
Understand How She Communicates

Some are talkers. Some are writers. Some express freely. Some shy away. Some are passive aggressive. She has experienced life. She wants to share—how will she go about doing so?
Consider Her Past

Everyone has been hurt. And everyone’s hurt places tell a story about who they are today. Scars, emotional or physical can stand out like the equator when we’re trying to understand the map of one’s soul.
Share Her Dreams and Failures

She has hopes. She’s failed. Both have influenced the person she has become. Take a moment to imagine her dreaming…and failing. Is she inspired by People or National Geographic? Does she give up easily or dig in until her fingers bleed?
Which Relationships Does She Value Most & Which Does She Fear Most

What’s that saying that we become most like the five people we spend the most time with? Who does she surround herself with? Who terrifies her? Why?
From R.E.M. to Early When She Rises

Our thoughts are often freshest in the morning, most unscathed by the distractions of the day. Attempt to wake up in her skin, facing the day as she might. Is she wide-eyed, bounding from the bed full of exuberance or dragging herself to the coffee pot as she smashes sleep further into her eyes?
Work with Her

Does she like what she does? If not, does she have a hobby or something she pours herself into outside of work that fulfills her? Take on her hobby for one day.
Take Yourself out of the Equation

We’re all influenced by our own life experiences. Make a concerted effort to view the world as she might. Strip yourself of any preconceived judgment likely waiting to pounce. Does she handle her emotions and take on the world vastly different than you do?
What is She Hiding

So much of communication is unspoken. What do you suspect she hasn’t told anyone? Or only a trusted few? What does this secret say about her?
I believe empathy is one of the most effective antidotes to judgment. We all judge, it’s part of our wiring. But there is a way to salve the sting of our judgment—by cultivating a spirit of empathy.

When is the last time you felt compelled to become more empathic toward someone?

*photos by stock.XCHNG


Monday, November 12, 2012

A World without Reading or Writing

Cue theme music to any horror film. How dare I write such a blasphemous title for this post.
But seriously, I did this, I took time to imagine what it would feel like not to be surrounded with words. Looking back, there was one period of my life when we didn’t own a home computer as we waited, in transition mode, to be assigned our territory. This period stretched on for a year. But I also had a newborn and was fully entrenched in survival mode so I’m not sure I can count this year.

Who would I be if suddenly the director of the show Hoarders decided I owned too many books and he sent his crew to barge in to cart them all away (wah!)? Who would I be if suddenly my brain clenched and I ceased writing the entertaining twists and turns my characters love to take?

No doubt I’d be crabbier, perhaps I’d overcompensate on the social front—but mostly I think I’d go mad.

Why bother exploring a world like this—a world void of words? Two reasons:

1. I’m playing with the idea of creating an illiterate character and I want to climb inside his shoes.

2. Last night I read this in Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones (in the chapter titled, “We Are Not the Poem”)

“Don’t identify too strongly with your work. Stay fluid behind those black-and-white words. They are not you. They were a great moment going through you. A moment you were awake enough to write down and capture.”

Smash number one and number two together and you get something that might shock book lovers and writers everywhere. It’s something I’m still letting seep inside my mind. While we’ll forever be responsible for our words, I’m beginning to grasp the reality they don’t encapsulate who we are in entirety. Yes, words are valuable and they can be hugely important. In fact, I believe words possess the power to be revolutionary and it’s a privilege to be able to read and write as so many of us do without giving it a second thought.

Here’s something I’m going to work hard to remember though as I write to make impact with the world…my words are separate from who I am. They “capture moments I’ve been awake enough to write." They may help keep me sane, fill a passion within, meaningfully reach readers, or enrich my life in innumerable ways, but without them I’d go on. Or at least I think I would. ;-)

Have you ever considered who you’d be in the absence of reading or writing?
*photo by stock.XCHNG


Friday, November 9, 2012

Moving Thoughts Friday

Every Friday I’m going to ask a question. The questions I choose might be ambiguous on purpose. The goal is to have you answer the question according to your beliefs, where you’re at in life or a circumstance that might have recently impacted you. The only thing I ask is that you provide an explanation for why you answered the way you did.

It’s my hope to understand you better through this and also to gain a greater understanding of humanity and how people make decisions.

You read it years ago, a book, a quote, brilliant advice...It’s still with you.

Share with us…

*photos by stock.XCHNG

Fighting Dispiritedness

We’ve begun the initial stages of settling in to our new home. Painting. Arranging furniture. Recycling boxes. While I feel incredibly...