Choosing God in the Darkest Moments

A couple week ago, I (Holly) was a guest speaker at the Bible study I attend at my church.  The chapter in the book that I was nominated to cover was called, Women Who Loved the Lord When All Was Dark. The two ladies in the study that highlight this theme are Mary Magdalene and Madame Jeanne Guyon.  I do weave these historical ladies into the talk, but the talk is mostly centered around the story of my last unimaginable three years and how my faith went through cycles of rock solid to paper thin.  So, if you are washing dishes and not quite ready to turn on the Christmas music, or you need a change of pace from “Frozen” on your car trip, or specifically, if you are in one of those dark, dark, places in life, then take a minute (or about 46) to listen and I pray that in one itty bitty tiny way, you may be encouraged.  You also, get the bonus of hearing Megan do announcements at the beginning (or you can start at minute 11).  

Click on the box below to listen:

Christina’s take:

First of all, make sure you listen to her talk at minutes 28-30, and minutes 46-48 if for some reason you can’t listen to the whole entire thing which is completely worth every minute of your time.

Now my rant:

One thing I know for sure is that faith is perfected in the worst case scenario.

This is it! It is such a refining fire that I’d say a polite “no, thank you” to at any time. BUT this is the hope, this is the outcome when I abide and cling to truth. Scary!? YES. Horrifying? Sure. Consumed? NO. Alone? Certainly not. Will you have a story to tell afterwards?

Oh. Will you.

This is what Holly doesn’t totally get. That her faith (even in scant supply) gives us confidence to have faith and that, in turn, our faith has the power to deal out the same – life giving contagion of faith. And it’s irresistible. (And the great news is that you don’t have to resist – I mean it, you just don’t have to). Reminds me of John 6:68 where Peter says in essence: “Geez, Lord, where else would we go? You are Life.”

Megan’s Take:

So, I got to listen to this talk live and in person.  (I’m sorry you have to sit through my ridiculous announcements to get to the heart of it all – but that’s how our church records things.  Unabridged for better or for worse.)  Christina set out the highlight reel for you, but if you have 46 minutes I would IMPLORE you to listen to the entire thing.  

You cannot help but be challenged and changed by listening to Holly’s first time spoken out-loud testimony from beautifully brutal start to gloriously painful redemptive finish.  I’m not implying her “story” is all tied up with a nice neat bow, by any stretch.  Holly would be the first to tell you (I think!) that much of this is just the beginning.  The redemptive testimony as it stands today is absolutely breath-taking.  And by breath-taking, I mean profound, inspiring, heart-breaking, wonderfully raw and strikingly complex.  In the end, she points you to one place and only one place.  TO JESUS.

Her wry wit and genuine tears convey the bold complexities of the Christian journey.  There is nothing canned or trite. She stopped me right in my tracks when she said that if there would have been ANY other thread to hang onto besides JESUS she would most likely have grabbed on and run for the hills.  But there wasn’t and isn’t anything else that will meet you at your point of pure brokenness.  Holly’s life is proof that Jesus is the only thread that will not only stand the test of trial and fire, but will actually and ultimately raise you up out of the pit and into His glorious presence.  

And I agree with Christina.  The refiner’s fire – however “scary” at first, second and third glance is really the only place to truly burn off the dross and allow the Holy Spirit a place to dwell and thrive. 

Grief vs. Greath


Even though my dad is thought to be on the quieter side as far as humans go, he sure is funny.  I’m a huge fan of my dad and have always thought he was one of the funniest people on earth.  Anything he thought was funny, I would adopt with the same adoration.  I owe my love of Sniglets to his love of Sniglets.  For those of you who may not already know, a Sniglet is: “a word that should be in the dictionary, but is not.”  They bring some levity to life in moments where frustration could take hold.  Like when I sort clothes after removing them from the dryer, only to find that three fourths of the socks are missing their mate. Instead of getting mad,  I can giggle a little about them being in the hozone. “The place where one sock in every laundry load disappears to.”  Another example would be when you make a sandwich on expensive bread and instead of mustard coming out of the bottle, you get “the watery discharge that accumulates and comes out first,” or hydrocondiment.  

So, for a long time now, I’ve wanted to create a new Sniglet.  It wouldn’t make it into the book of Sniglets, because it lacks the comical element required, but it is a word that is not in the dictionary, but should be.  The word is GREATH n. (greth). –  “Grief, but only grief that is a result of the untimely death of a loved one.”  

I never realized how much the word grief is used, until after Dave died.  I have this instant reaction to the word, when people are using it to describe how they feel about a kind of loss.  I try hard not to cringe, because I know, know, know, that what they are going through is not little or insignificant, but it just isn’t the same as when you lose a child, or a spouse or a parent at a young age, through death.  I’m not trying rank the difficulty of anyone’s circumstances in any way shape or form.  In fact, I’m not even trying to take the word grief away from anyone.  I just want to make a new word that is reserved for the crazy and intense emotions that engulf you when someone who is a part of you, dies.  

I will freely admit that I used the word grief before Dave died to explain a lot of feelings in my life.  I remember walking through Target, when my oldest daughter was going through a stage of strange seizure like behavior that we couldn’t diagnose and thinking, “I’m grieving the thought of having a ‘normal’ child.”  She ended up growing out of this bizarre behavior for which I’m so grateful.  But those grief feelings were very legitimate during that uncertain time.  In adoption, they talk a lot about grief. Grief for the adopted child (which is GREATH) and grief for the family.  Families sometimes grieve their life pre-adoption comfort, because all of the sudden the road gets bumpy.  That grief, is nothing like the GREATH I had after Dave died.  I have been grieving being able to run, play volleyball or strap on a pair of skis, ever since my disc situation began.  We all have great loss and we all grieve and the word grief is very legitimate in many cases, but it’s not like GREATH.   

People use grief to talk about a change in jobs, or a change in houses, and I will freely admit that if someone shuttled me out of my life here and said I had to live on Patmos Island, I would say, I would grieve and I would grieve hard.  I would have felt a great loss, but I bet it would still not be the same as GREATHING.  GREATHING is the agony of death that literally can not be contained in your body or expressed hard enough and furiously enough.  It is other-worldy.  Even the sound of the word GREATH explains it.  It is brash, gritty, rude and even when you whisper it, it is sounds like an enemy.    

I don’t GREATH anymore, for which I am very grateful.  I grieve some, but less and less and less and less.  

I think grief is a great word to describe feelings of loss, but until GREATH becomes a real word, try to refrain from using the word grief to describe your feelings about the loss of your 9 to 5 job when becoming a stay at home mom, with a friend that just lost a baby.  That might not sit well.  Just be slightly semi aware of your audience when using the word grief.  And if you know someone who lost someone, pass on the word GREATH. I know I needed a word that described more . . . more something.  See . . . you just can’t describe it.       

Christina’s Take:

Most of us totally use the English language in a lazy way. If I had a nickel for the number of times that people describe something as AMAZING (a talk, a movie, a flavor, an outfit – anything) I would have many hundreds of dollars. I remember my English teacher in 7th grade, Mrs. Rickard, made us write 100 synonyms for the word WALK. It seemed impossible! But once we handed in our assignments, our little junior high brains had been expanded. 

I remember when I joined Holly at the hospital on that dreaded day – it seemed like she was drunk; flitting from thought to agonizing thought, unpredictably switching focus, and….the screaming crying – can’t think about it without tears rolling down my face. Indeed so true that GREATH is a take-your-breath-away reality.

Megan’s Take:

Wow.  This post.  I am convicted and inspired.  Educated and intimidated.  I’m sure I have over used the word “grief.”  Though I have not experienced the sudden loss of a loved one (yet), I can appreciate that this must be one of the most gut-wrenching, traumatic experiences one could have.  Our family experienced exactly what Holly referenced in regards to adoption when we brought our kids home just before Christmas several years ago. 

In the weeks and months that followed, I used the word “grief” to describe what my adopted children were going through and honestly, I also used it in regards to how I was feeling as a mom when I longed for some sense of balance and normalcy, but didn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel.  Watching my adopted son manifest “greath” was indeed different than what I experienced. The problem was that I had limited vocabulary and understanding. Kelel’s violent and heart-wrenching weeping/gnashing of teeth was so different than mine.  Upon further reflection, I suppose it is more accurate to say that I lamented. I pined. I was distressed.  But did I grieve? Probably not. This advent season continues to be a reminder of the complicated labyrinth of feelings that bubble or burst onto the scene, often unannounced, even in the midst of and in spite of celebratory lights, smells and sounds of all kinds. Sending lots of prayers and hugs to all those dealing with their own greath in this season. xoxo

Storyline Conference Summary

The three of us, just returned from the most amazing conference and since we didn’t see a lot of you there, we wanted to give you a couple of brief highlights and tell you sign up to go next year!

Megan’s take:

What girl doesn’t want to get away?  Especially with BFFs sans kids.  And in Chicago of all places?!  Slam dunk.  Though, I believe it was a minor miracle that the stars aligned, our calendars were free (some bribes may have been involved) and all three of us were able to take, what I consider to be, the trip of a lifetime to the Storyline conference, hosted by Donald Miller and Shauna Niequist.

I’ve known OF Donald Miller of “Blue Like Jazz” fame for years.  I had read and enjoyed a couple of his books.  I even heard him speak at a MOPS conference years ago (don’t tell him this), but I wasn’t overly impressed.  Until recently.  When Miller’s book “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years” literally CHANGED my husband’s outlook on life and prompted him to want to “live a better story” and yada, yada, yada, not long afterwards we adopted our youngest two kids from Ethiopia, my faith (and interest) in Miller was renewed.

The message of that book sparked an insatiable desire to actively engage with God’s work in the world rather than (as we mostly had up until that point) wait passively for Him to “show up.”  

Enter the Storyline conference.  

Miller’s authenticity, vulnerability and edgy (at least in the Christian sense of the word!) humor immediately drew me in.  I scrawled note upon note in my cardboard binder under the general banner, “What will the world miss if you don’t tell your story?”  

What if MY life could be a page-turner?  One that needed to be lived and told?  Most importantly, told from my point of view?  Without judgement or comparison.  I am only responsible to live MY script.  Not someone else’s. 

“Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to their graves with the song still in them.”  — Henry David Thoreau

The Storyline conference proved to be one more gorgeously, beautiful note in the song of my life.  I may not be able to carry a tune, but Lord – I want to sing!

Christina’s take:

Do your thing

with great love

right now

Shauna Niequists’ challenge for such intentionality took my breath for a moment when she said it. So simple yet so urgent.

This was the most impactful moment of the Storyline Conference #storylineconf for me.

What if we broke that challenge down?

What’s your “thing? “ Once you figure out your thing, how can you do it with love (much less great love)? I know this is where my best stuff comes from – this place of whole love, fullness in Him. Why do you and I try to “do our thing” without this?

Also, right now means right now. This is the most striking part of the sentiment. Right now means while I’m on this plane or on a lunch break or in the carpool lane or doing laundry – I am to do my thing, no later. That means instead of watching Dancing with the Stars or some other frivolousness. Right now means here, today, in this moment, I can do my thing with great love.

Other parts of our time in Chicago were just as breathtaking. Have you ever had one of those trips when everything seemed smooth? No flight delays, no misunderstandings, lots of laughter billowing up, and not even a mediocre meal. I even seemed to pack right. This was one of those trips. 

And we laughed.  Like the first moment we heard the lady sitting behind us laugh – it sounded EXACTLY like George Costanza’s mom’s laugh. And that time we peppered our uber driver with a minimum of 600 questions. (A writer’s conference will make you want to turn someone inside out to find their story, people…we couldn’t help ourselves). Favorite question of the weekend (asked by Holly): “Muhommad, have you ever been swimming in Lake Michigan?”

And as if Donald Miller, sage teacher on the best elements of a great story, had made it a mandatory assignment on our last night of the trip, we tromped over to see the Broadway musical, Amazing Grace.  Experiencing John Newton’s identity shifts; hardened slave trader to slave to abolitionist to freedom game changer was proof that someone who does their thing with great love right now can make an unforgettable impact on the world around them.

And so step back into the regular routine (which we adore and would never trade) we must. But not without pausing here to look back, give thanks for such a beautiful moment in time.

Holly’s take:

This conference was far better than I ever expected it to be.  It was marketed as a Christian writers conference, but it was definitely not just for those who fall into those two categories.  I would say, it was more like a conference about LIVING life.  Who doesn’t want that?  It was about taking risks, not being afraid to fail, redeeming our suffering, moving forward, loving deeply, living life and not just reacting to it and the list goes on.  

Every single one of the speakers spoke to my heart to get on with the business of living.  I’ve had some for reals blows in the past few years, to say the least.  Sometimes, it makes me want to stay tucked safely away and sheltered from any sort of difficulty, but in my heart of hearts, what it really makes me want to do is make each day count.  

I’m having a hard time narrowing my favorite speakers down.  I loved hearing from Scott Hamilton, because he’s Scott Hamilton and he’s just so little and cute, but with a big giant story.  I loved Glennon Melton from the blog and her quote, “The air on the mountaintop is thin and all there is to do is try not to fall. But in the valley, that is where the water runs.” But I think my big time favorite, was Bob Goff.  He knows how to throw off the chains of religion and LOVE BIG and LIVE BIG. He has a book called, Love Does.  I have repeated those two words in my mind a thousand times, since returning home.  Love takes action.  And when love takes action, life gets interesting.  It’s not always safe, but its is always better.  Here are just a few of the subtitles to his chapters:

“I used to want to fix people, but now I just want to be with them.”

“I used to think God guided us by opening and closing doors, but now I know sometimes God wants us to kick some doors down.”

“I used to think Jesus motivated us with ultimatums, but now I know He pursues us in love.”

“I used to think religion tasted horrible, but now I know I was just eating the fake stuff.”

Who wants to read this with me?  If you do, I am giving away a free copy of Love Does.  Just comment in the section below!    

This picture was just one more perk of the conference.  


A Letter to Faith

Dear Faith,

I just don’t have you most days.

At least not out of my own volition. I don’t have the ability to call up a clarified sense of who Jesus is, how He wiped my sins away so that I could feel joy right in this moment. True, unadulterated faith, is usually not something I possess. I’m sorry, Faith.

And particularly in recent years as I watched my mom struggle, as I watched my dad fade away, and as transition was required almost constantly, I just didn’t have it. Was I spending too little time in my quiet reflection of the Bible and worship music? Could you point to just a total lack of faith – not even a mustard seeds’ worth, apparently or perhaps?

I think I know why I don’t always have faith:

I think it’s because I knew I was covered by the faith of my community.

Nadia Bolz-Webber, a fascinating specimen of a Jesus lover who defies stereotype talks about community in a way I love:

“I don’t think faith is given in sufficient quantity to individuals necessarily. I think it’s given in sufficient quantity to communities. The same with that whole thing like God will not give you more than you can bear. I don’t think God will give you more than a community can bear. And we’ve individualized this thing of faith so much …”

I remember a friend once practically begging me to pray for her because she absolutely. could. not.  There was nothing special about MY prayer – understand that.  She and her family were dealing with legal issues and were so emotionally strung out that she couldn’t sit by and reflect on God and His power. She wasn’t denying His existence or His power. Rather, she knew she needed prayer, prayer, prayer to make it through.

And when I am praying for someone, I develop more focused questions for their heart, better ideas on what could serve them, more intentional tenderness toward their plight. The Holy Spirit moves within us to give us ideas that would never ordinarily occur to us.

So, Faith, I have to address part of this letter to my community

You people are the kind that sends notes of care and sympathy beyond imagining, notes I could frame because of the beauty of their sentiment

You are the people who come with dinner and don’t ask if the time is right – you feed 4 or 40.

You send me notes, texts and emails like this:

Please let me know how we can stand for your family.

My heart is aching for you.

It would be a privilege for me to serve your family in this way

We are lifting you before our Father…

I will rub your feet.

You people are made like that school of fish in Finding Nemo – pointing me forward:

You are makers, doers, prayers and “faith-ers.” You serve and you do it out of the overflow of your heart like His.

But even now as I try to describe the sufficiency of faith in a community, I just cannot fully express it. I am hopelessly phrase-less in the face of it. I think it’s because in a crisis, when we are overwhelmed, numb and unable to move ahead, our community can move us, FOR us.

Nadia Bolz-Webber goes on to say:

“I can’t say the Apostles Creed because I don’t know if I believe every line in the Creed. I’m like, oh, my God. Nobody believes every line of the Creed. But in a room of people, in a room of people, for each line of the Creed, somebody believes it. So we’re covered, right?”

Right?! I love this! Even if it feels a little sacrilegious, somehow together we all can believe and proclaim in a different way than if it’s just me, sitting there alone, trying to really mean it.

In every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil.

Faith, I have you. I live out of you, but not without my people, their hand on that anchor, holding onto mine.

A Letter to Mothers of Teenage Boys

Dear MOTBs:

How do you do it?  

How do you watch the child you swaddled, nursed and cuddled grow into a young man?  The child you got down on your hands and knees to play cars with no matter how mind-numbing it felt to drive around the same track over and over again.  The child you built Lego upon Lego creation with despite your utter lack of creativity and architectural know-how. The child you kicked the soccer ball with in spite of your bum knee.  The child who looked up at you and swooned and told you you were the “best mommy in the whole world.”  

What do you do when the child who once clung to your pant leg in an uncomfortable social situation doesn’t want you anywhere around in a social situation for fear that YOU will be the one to make him uncomfortable?  I mean, I would never!  Doh. 

How do you make the shift from “leading lady” to “best supporting actress?”

My oldest is fourteen.  Gone are the days of looking down into his lake blue eyes.  Those eyes now stare down at me.  Gone are the days of lotioning his soft little bum after a nightly bath.   He would be mortified if I saw any part of him after a bath.  Scratch that – a shower. 

I am no longer an integral part of his daily development.  I feel like George Bailey from “It’s a Wonderful Life” as I watch my son orbit around, beside and in front of me, but not always with me.  The son I tripped over because he was constantly underfoot, now finds solace in the solitude of his basement bedroom.  

That child doesn’t need or want me to engage in his every activity. He doesn’t need or want me to manufacture his fun. He no longer invites me into his world.  In fact, he much prefers I stay out of it.  He wants to navigate his own world.  Make his own mistakes.   Man that stings.  

How do you not only watch your son from the sidelines, but release him to become the young man God is shaping him into?

I have three youngers that will have their day, but goodness, it’s hard to parent the oldest child.  Everything we go through is a “first.”  We don’t always get it right.  In fact, quite the opposite.  I pray to God there’s grace for that!  

I suppose there’s something magical about parenting the first born.  But there’s also something so insanely hard.  Watching your first born grow up is like reliving your first heartbreak all over again. 

So here I stand.  Treading unchartered waters.  I’m learning to talk less and listen more.  To hover not as a helicopter mom, but as one who just wants to be in the vicinity when and IF the mood strikes and my son wants to share a small nugget of the rich mystery of the thoughts floating around in side his heart.

I’m looking to you, veteran MOTBs, for advice, for encouragement, for any bones you can throw my way!  How do you do it? How do strike the perfect balance between connection and disconnection?

Inquiring (desperate) minds wanna know!

A Letter to December

Dear December,

Here you come again.  I’m not sure I am ready for you.  Actually, I think I am???  I’m ready to give December the attention it needs, but I’m eager to get past the two year mark.  I often times STILL have a hard time believing that 4 days before Christmas, less than two years ago, Dave kissed me and whispered, “I love you,” and then died about 10 minutes later.  What the heck? Crazy.  

The week before he died, every time I drove anywhere there were ambulances and fire trucks racing around and I remember having a sense of sadness for people who were experiencing suffering around Christmas time.  I so super vividly remember hoping that if anything bad were to happen to our family,that it would at least wait until after celebrating Christmas in Pagosa. Literally, the next day, he died.  Crazy! 

Last December was a blur.  Everyone felt Dave’s death, but it was more like a strong undercurrent than anything else.  I was in so much physical pain that I couldn’t even address Dave’s death with any meaningful attention.  Spencer had discovered the nurses office as a little hideaway, until I made him do school work for every minute he spent in the nurses office. I didn’t doubt that his little body remembered what December held the previous year.  I think he really did feel sick, but for whatever reason, I didn’t like the shenanigans he had going on.  

The weird thing about it, is that I started this post earlier today and tonight when I got home, the babysitter said that Spencer was missing his dad. Believe it or not, this is not a common occurance.  This hasn’t happened in quite some time.  It must just be time to start thinking about it.  I wonder if it is that Dave loved Halloween and Spencer knew that somehow.  So, we spent a little time tonight, going over all the Halloween costumes of Dave over the past however many years.  Pauly, from Juno, a scuba diver, an 80’s skier, Pooh, (this picture was pre us.  I’m not sure how he ended up as Pooh.  That’s a question I’ll have to save for heaven), a rapper, Speed Racer, and a French guy.  Well, here is a little taste of our conversation, in pictures.

So, December . . . we know you are coming.  We can feel the undertow with Halloween under foot.  However, grace has carried us this far, so we know it will carry us through December. After all, “Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, AND GRACE MY FEARS RELIEVED.” 

A Letter to Harold Fry

Dear Harold,

I know you are a fictitious character in a book but you need to know that there are 3 things I love about you:

#1: You like to walk

For starters, thanks for saying this: “If I just keep putting one foot in front of the other, it stands to reason that I’m going to get there. I’ve begun to think we sit far more than we’re supposed to.” He smiled. “Why else would we have feet?

I don’t know about you, Harold, but walking seems to – step by step – lend me perspective.

Somewhere along the line in my life, things didn’t go the way of the sketched dreams in my 10th grade peechee folder with hearts full of initials and practiced married names written in pretty cursive over and over. Line the reality up to the dream and it’s better to just to say you’re “fine.” And figure out what it all means and what you lost later.  And there’s nothing like a good long walk to pray, reflect and find the light in the path.

And you “found” yourself on your long walk, Harold. It was largely because you got a letter from an old, dear friend telling you she was dying of cancer. You wrote a letter back but soon realized it wasn’t enough. You needed to go see her – live and in person. And even though you are much too old for that sort of thing, you decided to walk and walk and walk until you got to your dying friend – hundreds of miles, across the whole of England.

It’s like you decided you hadn’t ever really done what you really wanted to do. And you were willing to change your tune. Wow. I love that you like to walk but I love that you said yes to adventure which meant you said NO to just being “fine and dandy.”

#2: I love the first sentence of your story:

“The letter that would change everything arrived on a Tuesday. It was an ordinary morning in mid-April that smelt of clean washing and grass cuttings.”

Harold, my favorite thing to do when I start a new book is read the very first sentence and the very last sentence. Often, knowing where we start and where we end has SO little to do with the story told on the pages in between. If the start and end were all I knew of you, Harold, I would miss out on so much like the cast of characters you meet along your INSANELY LONG WALK

But I do love this first sentence. As in life, on a regular, ordinary Tuesday something can come along that absolutely changes everything; life, death, tragedy, celebration. For you that Tuesday it was like you decided to find your life while trying to help your friend fight her cancer. I saw an inner spark in you that changed your trajectory.

#3: You looked in the mirror

Here’s a quote about you that made me think of a project I’m working on – (*Cough this blog Cough*):

“Harold could no longer pass a stranger without acknowledging the truth that everyone was the same, and also unique; and that this was the dilemma of being human.”

Here I am well past the 40-year milestone and the pesky winds of what-difference-will-I-make sometimes blow through my heart. Am I unique or regular? Extraordinary or average? Or something in between? And I think the same winds were the fan in your flame to…


See what it all meant

Find where you got it right &

How it all fell apart.

I love the way you evaluated your life. And you realized your dying friend was a really important part of it all.

__Bottom Line?__

Harold Fry, that was SUCH a long walk (#drscholls). And, truthfully, it wasn’t always super exciting. But for an older guy, you got some chops! Way to leave it all out there. I’ve learned a lot from you.

A Letter to the Rocky Mountain “High” State

Dear Colorado:

I’ve lived inside your borders since before I started to walk.  I’ve called various cities, towns and suburbs my home, from the Front Range to the Western Slope. I’ve cheered on bad-ass bull-riders at the Greeley Independence stampede, donned my country-best (which isn’t much but still…) at Grand Junction’s “Country Jam,” studied in our most “liberal” of arts college, and I faithfully purchase my Epic Ski pass every year.

Admittedly, I’ve never actually climbed one of your 50-some-odd 14,000 foot mountains, but for all intents and purposes I feel like I know you… or at least I thought I did.  

But now I’m not so sure.

The other day I opened my email and looked forward to reading my “Daily Skimm.”  (For those of you that haven’t heard of the best new weekday injection of worldwide news highlights – I highly recommend you check it out!)  I, for one, now feel at least semi-informed.  Perhaps only enough to be dangerous, but I suppose that’s something.

Anyway, I opened my dose of Daily Skimm and noticed a paragraph towards the bottom called, “Skimm the Vote.”  This section exhorted those of us who live in certain states hosting mid-term elections to make sure we registered to vote because it was the last day to do so.  (Rest assured, I am registered so no harm no foul there.)  

I noticed my home state listed among the ranks.  I clicked on the link.  No time like the present to get even more informed, I figured. I’ll take all the help I can get.

I scrolled down the list to the information pertinent to my place of residence and did a double take.  The symbol associated with our beautiful state stopped me dead in my tracks.  

All the other states on the list boasted iconic symbols that represent the best (or at least most cliche) associations their state has to offer.  For example:  Georgia was depicted by a peach, Kentucky – a jockey on a horse, Arizona – a cactus, Arkansas – a banjo, Florida – an orange, Iowa – corn on the cob…. You get the idea.  

But not you, Colorado.  Nope.  No Pikes Peak or Columbine flower.  You are indeed synonymous with nature, but not the kind one might think.  The au-natural of which I speak is not a changing aspen leaf, but a marijuana leaf!  We’re talking – Weed. Pot. MMJ.  

Whatever you want to call it, it seems we are now considered less “Rocky Mountain” and more “High.”

I’m not sure how to process that.  A state I have loved since my youth, a state rich with natural beauty is now getting rich on proceeds from legal drug purchases.  Late night talk show hosts are falling all over themselves with marijuana jokes for their opening monologue.  The young and the restless used to move here to become ski bums and figure out what they want to do with the rest of their lives.  Now, they move here because they can smoke in public and, oh by the way, they can hit the slopes too. 

I find myself being protective of you and making excuses for you.  I feel like I need to fight just a little harder to protect your reputation around the rest of the 49 states.  But with a tagline like, “high stakes in a high state” you’re not making that too easy.

Love ya.  I really do.  But honestly.  Sometimes I don’t know what to do with you.

A Letter to the Ebola Czar

Dear Ebola Czar,

I am sorry to hear about your crappy new job.  What was that conversation like with Barack, I wonder?

O: Hey bud, how would you like to be America’s first Ebola Czar? We could really use your help. I don’t know if you’ve been looking at the news but we haven’t had a great week because #hemorrhagicfever. So what do you say, bud?

You: Um, okay. Thanks for the new job, I guess?

Here are some of my favorite tweets about your new job:

News: Don’t panic about Ebola, but please watch this nonstop coverage about how it could spread everywhere and kill you. Don’t panic though (from: @TheMichaelRock)

I don’t know if you really meant to Like Ebola on Facebook, 8,000 people (from: @MaraWritesStuff)

You didn’t ask me but I do have a word of advice for you:

Please don’t make us more afraid than we already are.

We’re closing schools, we cancelling our dream vacations, we’re taking our temperature every 7 minutes – and it’s all because we are scared.

There’s a reason why movies like Outbreak and Quarantine are hits at the box office and, here’s a hint, it’s not because of the great acting.

I think it’s possible for you to spread something else in your new job. What if you could spread peace? Okay, maybe it’s not as sexy as those protective suits. But it’s a little better for our blood pressure and our outlook on life.

I’ve heard of Passing the Peace which is a time when people reach out to shake hands, look each other in the eye and each in their own way pass on a peaceful sentiment to one another. If you put “Passing the Peace” as one of your Ebola Czar mandates, I’d also pass out free hand sanitizer. Sorry, this is adding up to a lot of advice. But maybe peace is something you’d consider spreading like a germ-free contagion (oxymoron?).

All I know for sure is during my most intense moments of crisis and chaos I can, if I choose to surrender to it, find peace.

This peace says I’m not alone. This peace says I am loved. It says this will pass – whatever “this” is. The peace tells me I am WAY too small to actually control or help this situation in any real way. It gives me permission to take a deep breath and not be “on top of it.” There is a resignation in this peace – a cessation of yearning, searching and clawing for relief.

Mr. Ebola Czar, this isn’t trite. It’s a step off of a cliff….a willingness to try and sit in a chair I haven’t always been positive is there. This is a risk. This is not for the faint of heart.

What happens when, even in 10 minute increments, I say Peace is in charge? All of the sudden for 10 minutes, I don’t have to convince anyone, scoff at others’ inaction or…WORRY.

10 minutes – it’s a tiny word but a grand experiment that takes a small amount of time and a giant dose of courage.

I know you’ve got the chops for this, Sir Ebola Czar Sir. After all, from here on out, you have to show people your resume – THAT SAYS YOU ARE THE EBOLA CZAR. Wow. Pretty niche, I’d say.

And I wouldn’t know but I’m betting it takes courage to run the Get-Rid-Of-Ebola show and I’m sorry for the days ahead for you. No fun. You probably need a little peace, too.

A Letter to Long Time Married People

Dear Long Time Married People,

You are just going to have to take my word for it . . . you still need to date.  I may not have a degree in psychology, but I do have a new vantage point in the world of dating.  I know you have heard it a million times and half, but it really is true.  

When you date, get married, have kids, and then raise kids, somewhere in that process, it becomes hard to go out on a date, especially a creative one.  Money or the hassle of finding a babysitter were always the biggest road blocks to throwing on a little brighter shade of lipstick and heading out for a night on the town (or at least a movie I was going to fight hard to stay awake through the entire time).  

Sidebar -I remember one Valentine’s Day, Dave and I actually got a babysitter and we went to see Avatar.  Not 30 minutes in, a wave of 3-D induced queeziness swept over me in a big way.  I jogged out of the theatre and into the parking lot to get some fresh air. To Dave’s credit, he looked for me in every theatre, but in the end he never checked the parking lot and went back in to watch the rest of the three hour movie.  I ended up bouncing around to “When in Rome,” “Sherlock Holmes” and one other ending of a movie.  It was a bomb of Valentine’s date for sure. Our dating life was not what it should have been.  We were pretty good at getting babysitters to go to parties or events or special occasion dates, but we were not good at going out on random dates with just the two of us.  I regret that.    

Anyway, dating, with a combined total of five kids between us, has given me a huge new prespective.  When you go from a romantic date one night, to spending the next day in the presence of five children, you can really feel the difference in no uncertain terms.  We connect in such a different way when it is just the two of us.  I think when you grow into a bigger family, you gradually drift further away from dating, but when one day, you only know each other and the next day, there are a bunch of kids around, you feel the stark difference.  It’s just hard to have a conversation . . . Let me rephrase that . . . .It’s just hard to complete a sentence with five kids around.  Inevitably, one or more is pouting for no good reason, one or more is sick, one or more is dissatisfied with others around him or her and “teaching moments” occur about every three minutes.  That just doesn’t allow much time for connecting on any sort of intimate level.  

Should I get married again, I am vowing, now, to make dating a big giant priority! I even get to practice now, as I am planning a date for Tony’s birthday tomorrow.  I hope it’s a fun one!!!